Friday, October 12, 2018

Genesis and Science Reconciled


There seems to be a common belief by both Christians and non-Christians that modern scientific discoveries about the origin and development of the universe contradict the biblical account of creation in Genesis. Many people from both groups claim that any attempt to reconcile science and the Bible is a forced alliance that compromises the integrity of the Bible, science, or both. In the last few blog posts I have presented a coherent narrative that naturally reconciles the Bible and science without distorting either. I first cautioned us as Christians against using poor science to try to support the Bible. I then warned against making the same kind of biblical interpretive errors that led to the trial and persecution of Galileo. Third, I pointed out that the proper interpretation of any literature requires an examination of the language, culture, and literary context of the text. Finally, I showed from the Bible itself that the story of creation must be understood from the reference frame that is presented in Genesis 1:2, on the surface of the primordial earth. From that perspective both scientific findings and the biblical narrative agree that the environment was formless, empty, dark, and watery.

Most of the supposed discrepancies between the biblical account of creation and the scientific observations about the origin and development of the universe and our solar system are reconciled once it has been established that the creation story is told from a perspective on the surface of the earth. As such, Genesis 1:1, the creation of the heavens and the earth, takes a little over nine billion years from the big bang origin of the universe to the forming of the primordial earth. Starting in Genesis 1:2 and throughout the rest of the chapter, the story of earth's 4.5 billion year history is conveyed. In the brief description given here, we'll simply touch on how some of the alleged discrepancies are resolved by affirming that the perspective of the story is on the surface of the earth.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Unlocking Genesis One

In order to understand the meaning of any piece of literature we must consider the cultural and linguistic context of the text. By taking these important factors into consideration, it becomes clear that a straightforward reading of the account of creation in Genesis leads to creation days that are long periods of time, not 24 hours each. That realization is a critical principle for understanding the creation story in Genesis 1. But perhaps the most important key for unlocking everything in the story, from the order to the timing of creation, is to look in the passage for the proper perspective, or point of view, from which the story is being told. As discussed in a previous post, the church of the seventeenth century made a fundamental mistake by not considering the point of view of the writer in the many biblical passages that discuss the movement of the earth, sun, and moon. In each of those passages the point of view is that of an observer on the earth. From a perspective on the earth, the sun, moon, and stars, do move across the sky which is why we still say that we observe a "sunrise" or "sunset." The biblical description of the motion of the astronomical objects is accurate from the perspective of the observer.

To properly understand the creation account in Genesis 1, we must also adopt the proper point of view. That is the key to unlocking the story. Fortunately, the text itself tells us the needed perspective. It is stated in Genesis 1:2; "Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." My young earth creationist friends have pointed out that there were no humans around to observe the creation of the universe so we must rely on what God says to know what happened at the beginning. I do agree that God's word will give us an accurate and truthful description of how he created the universe. Since no one was around to observe the creation, it would make sense that God's account should be given from God's perspective. Genesis 1:2 tells us where God is and, therefore, the proper vantage point from which to view the story of creation as it unfolds in the rest of the chapter: "the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." God's Spirit is hovering over the waters that cover the surface of the earth. The rest of the story of creation as told in Genesis 1 is not told from a perspective outside of the universe or from somewhere in outer space looking at the earth, sun, moon, and stars, but is told from where God is on the surface of the earth. The key to unlocking the mysteries of the rest of the creation account is a proper understanding that the story is told from God's perspective on the surface of the earth.