Is Genesis 1 coincidentally accurate?

This post is relevant:

If note, the work we done on Adam shows they are wrong in that assessment that of a scientific error. Also who is right, you or them? How could we know?

Because you are tying Scripture (which you think as infallible) to a specific hermeneutic that constrains the science, your assessment of scientific evidence is no longer unbiased. Now you’re obligated to defend giant impact moon theory because you believe the Bible teaches it. All scientists have biases, but you’re deliberately introducing big additional biases.

In your opinion, what would be an example of a scientific finding regarding the atmosphere of the early Earth that would definitely falsify your interpretation of scripture?

1 Like

I’m sorry, Joshua, I don’t understand what you are saying here. Who is wrong? What scientific error?

The artiticle I linked says:

A review of how the 12 elements of the biblical creation story compare to science.

  • Nine are scientifically correct, and just two are in the wrong order: birds and plants.
  • One is scientifically wrong: the creation of man.
  • Two are not relevant to science — the hallowed seventh day, and the second mention of light.

The one that is scientifically wrong in their estimation, the creation of man, we’ve shown here is not necessarily in conflict with science.

1 Like

I don’t believe the Bible teaches the moon-forming impact. I’m saying that the evidence for the moon-forming impact fits with what the Bible teaches. Also, science and the Bible can learn from each other. For example, Bible scholars have learned from science. Both Luther and Calvin condemned Copernicus because he taught that the earth moves around the sun. Luther and Calvin misunderstood a couple of passages of scripture. We know that now. No modern Bible scholar pleads for geocentrism. Similarly, science has falsified the young earth creationist view and that view will do the way of geocentrism. But scientists have also admitted that the Bible arrived at the idea the universe had a beginning before scientists did. Also, archaeologists have successfully used the Bible to decide where to search for certain finds. I believe physicists and chemists can use the Bible to learn where to look for their discoveries.

I’ll give you another example. Origin of life researchers have the idea that abiogenesis has to be true. They are driven by their philosophy and so they haven’t held to the standards of science and sought to falsify their own ideas. In other words, their philosophy is limiting their search for truth. If they were to falsify abiogenesis, then they would open the door to real science in origin of life.

The first idea to falsify Genesis 1 would be to show that the universe is eternal into the past. That would be the best way to falsify Genesis. Regarding the atmosphere, if they could show that our atmosphere was always clear and oxygenated, then that would falsify Genesis 1:2. Or if they could show that the ocean never covered the entire planet, then that also would falsify Genesis 1:2.

Okay, I follow you now. Yes the article is relevant and pretty much proves my point that Genesis 1 is far too accurate scientifically to have been written by man. I appreciate your contribution to the science.

The article did not really even mention the strongest evidence for the claim Genesis 1 could not have been written by man alone - that the author got the initial conditions correct. The fact the order is basically correct is powerful also.

The fact a couple of items are considered to be out of order is not terribly problematic for me. Future discoveries may cause the science to be revised.

You still haven’t engaged the challenge of the Koran.

No, I did respond. I don’t think the analogy you are trying to draw between what I and the author of the HuffPost article are doing is anything at all like the Koran apologists. Here’s what I wrote:

The statements in Genesis 1 are clear and could be falsified by science. There is no way to falsify the claims of the Koran apologists.

I too am thankful for the interchange.

My quere iw regarding Gen 1 not the whole Bible.

I agree with Jesus, but none of these appear in Gen 1.

Mere assertion.

We’re only talking Gen 1 here.

[quote=“Ronald_Cram, post:8, topic:993”]
3. On what grounds should ‘yom’ be translated ‘epoch?’

This is argument from authority, but OK (though it’s the minority report in the discipline). Archer, yes. Kaiser–I’m aware of his support on the John Ankerburg show (specifically that Days 1-3 can’t be literal), but I know of nowhere else (I’d love to know of other references to his work on Gen 1). Waltke was a theistic evolutionist (in his later years), which usually assumes a non-concordist reading, so I’d love to know where he makes such a claim (especially in his later years).

I agree that this discounts a “literal” reading, but it does not necessarily comply with an “epoch” reading since it also complies with a non-concordist reading.

Mere assertion. What exactly does “historical narrative” mean as a genre anyway? I know it’s common in herneneutical books, but it’s not a clear genre in any useful sense. History is not a genre but a way of referring to the past (with several levels of specificity). Narrative is too general.

another mere assertion

The issue is not what God knows, but what our expectations should be of the human author’s intent (and if the divine authorial intent seeks to give natural history/science details beyond the human author’s understanding).

Yah a problem with NJPS. Here it is: When God began to create heaven and earth—the earth being unformed and void with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water—God said, “Let there be light,”; and there was light.

This presupposes that the sun exists in v. 2, which I don’t see in the text (since the sun is created on Day 4).

All this assumes scientific concordism.

Using “planet” (and perhaps “oceans”) is anachronistic to the perspective of the ancient world.

Not that easy. ANE creation accounts disagree among themselves on important things. Also these ANE accounts pre-date Genesis, and it looks like Genesis is written in response to them (not just the true story of what really happened). And, where did these other nations “get” their creation stories (which involve way more than “minor discrepancies”)?

I understand the metaphor of nature as a “book,” but this can be taken too far. After all, nature is not really a book so we must see the limits to the metaphor.

Again, you are assuming scientific concordism. But if the biblical author(s) do not mean to make a scientific claim, you are wrong to seek concordance. A straightforward reading does suggest that the sun was created on Day 4.

Still assuming concordism. And, that’s all their saying? See my discussion of what “light” really means for Day 1.

Correct, we don’t know. And we should be open to other options than the ones mentioned.

doesn’t answer the question

My Bible says for Day 4, “And God made the two great lights” (v. 16). This is a far cry from your explanation. You see the creation of the sun as an act of v.1 not Day 4.

:wink:

Kenneth, @deuteroKJ I have been lurking and now against my better judgement I want to weigh in. I know there is a lot of overlap between some forms of bara and asah, but the text does not say that the sun was “created” on day four. It was “asah”, made, which as you know has a wide variety of meanings. Even just setting in place. The sun was created before the first day when God created the heavens and the earth. The only “creates” are in verse 1, day five, and the creation of man on day six. Everything else uses another verb.

I agree the light spoken into existence is not primarily speaking of sunlight, but I believe each of those days uses words that have a double-meaning- one for the land below and the other for the land above. Earth copies the eternal realm. To make it all about scientific accuracy is missing the point, but its not inaccurate either. Its not trying to be a science text but its still not wrong on the science.

But what if one day a strong piece of evidence against the moon-forming impact model shows up? Does the Bible now teach falsehood?

Genesis 1:2, in my reading, doesn’t really say that the waters covered the whole Earth. (Maybe you could correct me by giving an argument based on Hebrew for this.) It only says that “the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” If there was never a time that the whole Earth was covered with water you could just say that the verse would still “fit” with modern science as long as oceans (waters) of some kind existed. Sure, the Earth was “formless” and “void”, but one could interpret that in many ways as well. I would say that this reinterpretation is no different from your position that a “hazy” but not “opaque” atmosphere doesn’t falsify “let there be light”. Do you see where I’m going with this?

1 Like

True, so why suppose “create” is limited to bara? Are we talking 6 days of creation or only 2 (+ v.1, whatever that is referencing)? I’m not using “create” in any special sense. I agree bara has a nuance, but simply using “create” is not it.

This is an assumption, and it also assumes that v. 1 is prior to the first day. There are several ways to understand v. 1 in relation to the rest of the chapter.

That would need to be argued.

1 Like

I think Adam does appear in Genesis 1, but not by name. Genesis 1 certainly mentions God creating the first man and that’s Adam.

On Kaiser, I don’t have any specific reference to give you but I know that he supports Hugh Ross’s reading. On Waltke, I’m believe he has accepts epoch because he is TE.

An historical narrative is a narrative about real history. It isn’t an allegory or a myth or any type of fiction. It’s history because it happened in space and time. How is such a claim “too general?” It seems very specific to me.

What God knows is the point. I’m making it the point because people who complain about science being read into the text do so because the human author couldn’t have known the science. That’s fine, but misses the point that Genesis 1 is inspired by God. I’m not sure why this very important point is so difficult to grasp.

You aren’t trying. We know that God is the Author of both the Bible and Nature. We know the Bible and science cannot be in conflict. If we think they are in conflict, it is because we misunderstand one or the other or both. In the case of Genesis 1:2 we know from science that the sun was already shining when the earth was formed. The sun was not created on Day 4. That is a naive reading of the text. In the HuffPost article @swamidass linked above, Dr. Schcroeder also offered the explanation that the sun, moon and stars come into view on Day 4 because the atmosphere changed and became clear.

Yes, I’ve already given a doctrinal defense of concordism. It is the clear teaching of the Bible. If you want to defeat my view, then you have to show an error in my defense of concordism.

I’m explaining the text to modern readers and how it fits with science.

It looks like Genesis is written in response to them? Really? You think the author of Genesis read the earlier accounts in Akkadian? I don’t think so. There wasn’t a library in Alexandria at the time, but there was no Alexandria. It’s bizarre to think the author of Genesis is aware of the other creation accounts.

If you want me to buy that, you are going to have to give me more to go on. You can think of God as the Author of Nature because he created everything. You can think of our understanding of the book as what is contained in the scientific literature. Of course, there are competing viewpoints and theories about many things just as there are different interpretations of the Bible. There are different interpretations of nature. There are different interpretations of the Bible. The right interpretation will be one in which they both agree. And we may not understand either exactly right just yet.

Concordism is never wrong. A particular attempt at concordism may be wrong. A naive reading suggests the sun was created on Day 4, but an informed reading realizes the sun has been shining since Day 1 when we had day and night for the first time.

The Bible often uses ellipses. The translators should have supplied the word 'visible" as in “And God made the two great lights visible.”

:smiley:

No, but if science could conclusively prove that the atmosphere of early earth was never opaque, then that would cause problems for Genesis 1:1 just as it would cause problems for Genesis 1:1 if scientists could prove the universe was past eternal. God is the one who made these claims when he inspired Genesis 1. I don’t have to be nervous about them.

I take it that the earth was formless because it was completely covered with water. If it had some ocean and some land, then it would have some form.

No, I don’t. The atmosphere had to be opaque in the very beginning because the scene was dark. The “Let there be light” happened on Day 1, changing the atmosphere from opaque to hazy or translucent. But in this hazy condition, the sun, moon and stars were not visible. They became visible on Day 4. If you wanted to falsify this, you would have to show that the atmosphere was clear and transparent from the very beginning.

Kenneth I am going to post an excerpt from the end of the article in the link that I posted to you in my previous reply, since it also answers this question.

"Exodus 20:11 while I am on this subject, and it is a verse which I will have more to say about later. It says that “For six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth” as well as what is in them. Though the King James Version says “For in six days….” we find that the word “in” is not a part of the original text. Plus the word translated “made” here, and in Genesis, is different from the word translated “created” in Genesis 1:1.

I will go into more detail in a bit but my point is that you cannot equate Exodus 20:11 with Genesis 1:1. This is because 1) Genesis 1:1 speaks of the creation of the earth and the universe before God spoke the first day into existence in Genesis 1:3 while Exodus 20:11 speaks of God’s work on the heavens and the earth during the six days of Genesis chapter one. And 2) the word “in” is not in the text. It is not saying that God created the world “in” six days. Rather He worked on His creation for six days. He created it “in the beginning”.

This fits a lot better with the context of the verse, where it is arguing that man should rest from his own labors on the land for one day out of seven because the Lord Himself did the same. He worked for six “days” and on the seventh He rested. Farmers do not “create” the earth they farm, but they do make it into something productive. That is mostly what the Lord did during the so-called “Creation Days.”

That is why I object to even the term “Creation Days” (I prefer Creation’s days). The Hebrew word translated “created” is not even used in regards to God’s activities on days one through four. He did most of His “creating” prior to the first day. Until the creation of Man, the rest of it was ordering the heavens and the earth He had previously created. Then He worked on them."

I argue in the book that in Genesis chapter one “create” bara is used where God is producing something new, which never existed before in any form, and “made” asah is used when what is going on in the natural realm is only a copy of that which is above or a re-shaping of things already in existence.

Here is the way I look at it, again from my previous link, and if I am making a hash of it please be gentle in setting me straight.

I support that claim based on two things. First, in verse one the Hebrew word translated “created” ( bara ) is in the “Qal perfect” form. That form is used to indicate completed action. That means it is talking about something which had already happened. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The text moves on from there to say that the earth was formless and void “and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters”.

So verses one and two are like a “set-up” of the account of God’s intervention on the earth, which starts off “formless and void”. These two verses are not a part of the first “day”. Instead they are setting the scene for the account of the days, each an intervention of God in some area, which follow.

Just look at the structure of the other days. Each one starts with “And God said”. God makes a statement, creation responds, the text describes God doing something related to His statement, and then the text says (in all but the seventh day) that the “evening and the morning” of this process was day “X”. Here is the pattern of the six days….

  1. God speaks…

  2. Creation responds (sometimes recorded only as “and it was so”)

  3. God acts (sometimes only “seeing” and sometimes more direct action)

  4. Day is summed up: The evening and the morning, day X.

Each of Creation’s days starts off with “And God said”. To fit the pattern, this would include the first day. The first “And God said” is found in verse three. Therefore verse three is the beginning of the first “day”. The first two verses then can only be referring to things which occurred before the first “day” occurred.

I do present the arguments for it. They are in the same book where I put forth resolutions to the mystery of why the 2nd day was not seen as good and why only the sixth day has a definite article.

This gets into the heart of my critique. Because “concordism is never wrong” is an axiom, then by definition no scientific finding will disprove it. We’ll just keep revising our versions of concordism. I think this undermines the improbability of the coincidences between Genesis 1 and science, because there are a variety of interpretations that can match.

But there is no precise definition of formless (tohu) as referring to liquidity in ANE literature. Please correct me if I’m wrong. Can you give me a clear linguistic argument why it can be taken to refer to viscous, liquid magma instead of an “empty, trackless waste” (BDB Hebrew Lexicon)? We’re take it as referring to Earth’s liquid form only because we know from science that the Earth was covered with liquid in the beginning. So it’s a form of eisegesis.

OK. But this is hard to falsify, no? Any change in the atmosphere from dark to transparent would pass the test. Even if the atmosphere was clear and transparent in the beginning, then became opaque, then became hazy, then clear again - that would still allow a scientific concordist reading according to your terms.

1 Like

I see where you are coming from, but I disagree. The fact concordism is taught by scripture means that I believe that science and the Bible must agree when we understand both correctly. And this is a powerful incentive to change your interpretation of Bible or science to reach agreement. But if the Bible says “The universe is 6,000 years old” and we can look through our telescopes and see astronomical events that took place millions of years ago, then the Bible would be falsified. It’s that simple. Thankfully, the Bible doesn’t say the universe is 6,000 years old.

You are correct that to tohu does not require water, but it is the only interpretation that makes sense to me and water is mentioned in verse 2. I am not reading into the text.

You are correct. I should change my comment to say that to falsify Genesis 1:2, science would have to show that the atmosphere was transparent from the beginning and never became opaque.

Some say yes, some say no. Gen 1 has God creating 'adam, which is most naturally read as a collective (of more than two). This could include Adam, but that needs to be argued (which can be done).

This makes no sense. TEs tend not to read the days in Gen 1 in a non-concordist fashion. I’ve got Waltke’s OT Theology in front of me, and he does not speak of days as epochs but of the whole as a creative work that is not straightforward history and that exhibits temporal incoherence (pp.190-93). Waltke took quite the theological journey (from YEC and dispensationalist to TE and covenant theology), so it’s possible to find earlier work that said other things.

You’re using myth (and fiction) in their non-technical senses, so I won’t try to unpack that (just to say that myth and history are not opposites). What I’m saying is not all historical references are of the same specificity or precision. Consider the analogy of film, in which we have a continuum: documentary, movie based on history, movie inspired by history, historical fiction. All these can claim to be “historical” or “accurate” but not at the same level. The question is what level of specificity does an author intend when he refers to the past? If you got in a time machine and went back to situation X, what would you really see? Calling something “historical narrative” doesn’t settle this. (Neither have you argued for Gen 1 as historical narrative).

No, what God reveals is the point

It 's not about misunderstanding you; it’s that we disagree about the process of inspiration at this point

Oh give me a break

We’ve gone round and round on this. I don’t have time or desire to defeat your view at this point. You haven’t satisfactorily responded to several issues that have raised against your view.

This is quite naive. Moses may very well have read the Mesopotamian accounts in Egypt. He also had the Egyptian accounts available to him. It’s not about necessarily reading the accounts, though, for the stories were “in the air”–people knew what other people believed. What you call bizarre is the near unanimous opinion of OT scholars (including Kaiser and Waltke). But, alas, this does not mean much to you (except when you can find a scholar who agrees with your position).

Perhaps we’ve exhausted our dialogue here? Or maybe others want to chime in. But we’re just going back and forth now on concordism and history.

1 Like

@Ronald_Cram, I’ve never seen an OT scholar engage someone with this much care and attention. He absolutely is trying. The issue is that you have different views. You can keep your views as they are. No one is trying to change you. I’m honestly interested in learning from @deuteroKJ on this one.

1 Like

Your points are logical, but unconvincing to me. I’m not convinced that v. 1 temporally precedes the Six Days. I think the Fourth Commandment is referring to the basic story in Gen 1, not parsing out every jot and tittle (and the focus on prepositions may be off track). On bara/asah, I’m assuming you’ve checked your lexical work with Walton’s?

Nope, that’s not how Hebrew verbs work (it’s really more about aspect than tense). The so-called Perfect often is used to refer to the past, but it’s not its only function. (But I agree the narrator reports as a past tense here.)

Most likely not. First, v. 1 could be a title for vv. 3-31. Or, v. 1 could be a dependent clause–subordinate to v. 3 (NJPS). Both of these options (and there are others) see v. 2 as the state of affairs before the creation of v.1 and vv. 3-31. Second, the Hebrew syntax of v. 2 makes it background rather than foreground (it’s based on the disjunctive waw at the beginning and delay of the verb). Thus v. 2 is not part of the main line, but providing parenthetical, background information. (This is one of the reasons all OT/Hebrew scholars reject the gap theory.)

I do agree that vv. 1-2 is prologue to the six days beginning in v. 3.

1 Like