The First Week
Dr. Dennis P. German, PhD
To begin with, of course, this is about the first chapter of the biblical book of Genesis and everything from the big bang (not the TV show) to evolution of species and everything in between. Since I am not likely to write a lengthy tome worthy of publication in a scholarly journal this will be short and sweet/sour and include no citations. If I were a composer of music (maybe I am), I am would not be one to write operas and symphonies but only pop songs with two to four verses and a chorus, lasting three minutes plus or minus any number of seconds.
My intent is to provide a rough idea, on the level of a thumbnail sketch, of how the Genesis account can be seen in the scientific realm. The dating is a guesstimate and periods will likely overlap or could be completely incorrect. Thus, all duration values are suspect. But for the atheist/agnostic who wants to believe in a transcendent reality of absolute infinite essence (aka God) but just cannot get over the scientific data, perhaps this will bring comfort to the soul. Indeed, if one were to simply assume that this entity, we call God, is just extremely advanced, we might be able to talk about the same thing with a different name. Also, for the believer who is looking for scientific evidence as a help to faith, this might be what you need to be meditating on (Selah!).
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 1:4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 1:5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
We can easily see that this day covers a lot of ground. The scientific evidence is replete with details which can only be refuted by challenging foundational assumptions. The issue here, and further as we go along, is that all too often the assumptions seem to be no more than statements of faith. That is, if one does not believe in a God, designer/creator, then there must be some other explanation for the existence of the universe, or whatever this thing is where we are. The standard line is that one cannot prove a negative; that is, one cannot prove that a God does not exist. I will say with certainty that neither can one prove that extraterrestrials do not exist.
We must also see that whether there is a God or just matter and energy the concept of time is only a human construct that we invented to measure reality as we pass through it. The biblical reference that points to this is 2 Peter 3:8:
But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
This is not a principle that allows us to extrapolate as if this were a value which can be used in ratios to determine any prophesied future event. It simply means that time means nothing to God. Of course God would by necessity be ever present in all eternity, all knowing and all powerful as well as unchanging.
Day 2 – 4.543 to 3.77 Billion Years Ago
Genesis 1:6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 1:7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. 1:8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
It is thought that our planetary sources of water has been a variety of celestial object crashing into the earth over this period; asteroids, to be exact. This produced a veritable “water world”, unlike today, where we only have about 70% coverage of the planet surface.
Day 3 – 3.77 Billion to 500 Million Years Ago
Genesis 1:9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. 1:10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. 1:11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. 1:12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 1:13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.
And then the tectonic plates began to shift and rise above the water. During this period, we would see Gondwanaland and Pangaea. Eventually we arrived at the current continental structure and pattern perhaps about 250 million years ago. See; I told you there might be overlap and other issues with the time values.
Day 4 – 500 to 317 Million Years Ago
Genesis 1:14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: 1:15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. 1:16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. 1:17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, 1:18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. 1:19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
Day 4 seems to describe a final state of the solar system. Again, overlap and dates are questionable. This would be perhaps the first of many instances where the biblical record is more metaphorical than literal or making a general statement about a previous detailed event or giving details about a previous generally described event.
Day 5 – 317 to 55 Million Years Ago
Genesis 1:20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. 1:21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 1:22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. 1:23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
This is when life began to bloom on the planet. Yes, there were apparently microbes around about 3.7 billions ago, but they were at best also rans rather than the winner or eve a runner up.
Day 6 – 55 Million to 200 Thousand Years Ago
Genesis 1:24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. 1:25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. 1:29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 1:30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
And then came hominids. It is estimated that the earlies showed up around 5 to 7 million years ago. We can only estimate but what is a few million year between family and friends.
And now we find ourselves in the garden; yes, it is beautiful and wonderous. You do not need to believe in a transcendent reality of absolute infinite essence to know this. Yet, we have not adequately kept and dressed this creation we have received as a gift. Instead, we have raped and pillaged. What of tomorrow, humanity?