Origins and Perspectives 4

John Zimmer (
Tue, 15 Oct 96 18:45:05 CDT

Glenn M. writes:

>Actually it isn't too bad. However, you still avoided the problem of the sun
>being created after the first plants. But a vision does get you far along the
>road to a solution. My own view has been criticized for avoiding the temporal
>problems of Genesis 1 by removing Genesis 1 from time and placing it prior to
>the start of the universe.

>The problem I have with what you are doing is trying to have a temporal order
>out of a vision. I think you would be better off avoiding the temporal
>problem by saying that he vision order does not have to match the scientific

D. Fischer writes:

>My book does cover this.

Thanks for the comments. The world is a strange place, Dick. I guess
great minds work along similar paths. But I'm not a rich man, so if you'd
like to send a complementary copy of your book, I'll send you my address.
The question is not really new - and I know the idea of Genesis One being
a series of visions is not new either. What's new here is the recognition
that every phrase in the Creation Story might not be a visualization.
Visions can contain meanings (words) and images.

In this regard, we can compare day four to a long term change in the
chemical composition of the earth's atmosphere following the exposure
of continental rock (above the ocean's surface) and the start of photo-
synthetic life. Returning to our steps:

Step 1.
Originally, the atmosphere was 10 times
greater than today and cosisted of 90% carbon dioxide, 10% nitrogen,
and other gases. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. Consequently,
the earth had warm temperatures despite a fainter sun. Water plays
a complicated climatic role in that it is a greenhouse gas that also,
in the form of clouds, reflects sunlight. Less heat escapes and
less energy gets into the system. With such a strong CO2 induced
greenhouse, I would guess the early earth had total cloud cover.

Exposure of continental rock initiated a long term change in the
chemical composition of the atmosphere, spanning from the mid-Archean
through the Proterozoic ages. Calcium ions in continental rock (silicates)
were dislodged by the acid of carbonic acid (forming silica) and
later precipitated with aqueous carbon dioxide as calcium carbonate or
limestone. 80% of the original carbon dioxide ended up as limestone.
Photosynthesis also removed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and
released molecular oxygen, which reacted to oxidize the environment.

Between the early Archean and the start of the Proterozoic (2.6 Gyr),
carbon dioxide levels may have fallen 10 fold. First evidence of
glaciers date to this time. Carbon dioxide levels fell another 10 fold
between 2.6 and 0.7 Gyr due to photosynthesis removing carbon from the
environment and "burying it" (as dead bacteria settled on floors
of seas and lakes). Carbon burial is responsible for the increase in
atmospheric molecular oxygen. During the early and late Proterozoic,
banded iron deposits were laid down as soluble ferrous ions reacted
with molecular oxygen to produce insoluble ferric oxide. Oxygen levels
rose to a few % during the middle Proterozoic, then rose to over 10%
during the late Proterozoic.

Finally, since atmospheric molecular oxygen was rare during this
whole period, photosyntetic and other bacteria lived without oxygen.
The major producer of methane today is cow flatulence, which comes from
anaerobic bacteria in cow's stomachs. In the Proterozoic, bacteria
would have released methane which, when exposed to solar UV light, would have
produced high atmospheric 'smog'. Consequently, some scientific
pubs depict the early earth's atmosphere as a thick orange haze. The
increase of molecular oxygen in the Proterozoic would have reacted with and
eliminated this haze.

Step 2 and 3

2 God made the sun moon and stars
3 From the point of view of an observer on the surface of the planet,
the atmosphere became progressively more transparent and the sun, moon
and stars increasingly visible.

But how would we know the point of view is on the surface of the
planet? The phrases, " provide for signs (for festivals) and
for seasons ... to give light upon the earth..." may be regarded
as phrases which resemble the relevance of this epoch to humanity.
During this period,the sun moon and stars became visible for us.
These phrases also set the point of view for appreciating this
passage. After all, where else are signs (for festivals) and
seasons experienced?

So if we combine these ideas into a vision for Step 4, we have the observer
on the earth's surface. The voice says, Let us make the lights
in the heavens, for signs and for seasons... all the while, the
sky becomes more and more like the sky we know today.

So even though it took a while to account for day four. I think that
one could say that it resembles the long term change in the
chemical composition of the atmosphere during the period following the
appearance of the earliest continents and the photosynthetic life.
So far, the temporal sequence is preserved - but maybe
even weirder, the each epoch in the comparison demarks a major field
in the sceintific study of the earth's origins.

So far, so good.

J. Raymond Zimmer