Re: Accepting Genesis 1 as scientific truth

Vernon Jenkins (
Thu, 27 May 1999 21:57:07 +0100

Hi George,

Thanks for your observations. Herewith my response.

George Andrews wrote:
> Hi Vernon,
> you wrote to Paul
> You have written substantial papers on this topic, and I am
> impressed.
> However, with respect, I can't agree with your statement:
> "... the basic
> scientific picture in which this revelation (Genesis 1) is
> embedded is
> the science of the times." In my view the creation narrative
> is a simple
> statement of revealed truth. Further, however the ancients
> understood
> this truth can hardly be of any concern to us today, for
> through
> empirical observation and deduction we now have, by God's
> grace, a
> fuller view of reality. In respect of how we come to be
> here, why should
> it be supposed that God would speak truth only to the
> contemporaries of
> the Patriarchs? So, I don't believe I am being inconsistent
> in accepting
> the narrative as literal truth.
> Was not Moses well aquainted with the scientific world view; being
> an Egyptian prince? In particular, is it not safe to presume he was
> aware of the enuma elish (Semetic creation myth) of ancient Babylon.
> The latter parallels - day for day - the chronology of the creation
> events of Genesis with the important difference being its polytheistic
> and limited gods struggling against Chaos with the need of assistance
> from mortals. Germane to this thread is that the enuma elish has the
> same objects created in the same order over six days with the gods
> even resting on the seventh! And, it predates Genesis!

But you are surely not suggesting that Genesis 1 is merely an edited
version of the Enuma Elish! Concerning the facts you present, isn't
there a simpler explanation, viz that the truth concerning the creation
was communicated intact to the patriarchs, and on to Moses, while its
parody - the Enuma Elish (generated from the same tradition) - came
through those who had lost contact with their Creator?

> The revelatory Truth of Genesis is monotheism and omnipotence - in
> stark and amazing contrast to the Babylonian epic. God communicated
> the truths of creation in a language Moses could understand: Semetic
> not modern science.

You seem to imply that 'science' is, somehow, an essential component of
'truth'. Generations of scientists who were also men of faith had no
problem with Genesis 1. They accepted it as revealed truth.

> It is my opinion, that taking Genesis "literally" (i.e. in a wooden
> sense as many do) does not do justice to the truth it does reveal. and
> is only causing confusion and misapplication of Christian faith.

I am intrigued by this statement! In my view, the unopposed claims of
evolution have created many problems for Christians. For example, a real
Adam who fell appears to be an essential component of Paul's theology.
Again, the genealogy provided by Dr.Luke (Lk.3) takes us back through
Adam directly to God (Lk.3:38)! How are you TEs to explain these
> I think you will agree that for many people science has
> become a god.
> They seem to believe that answers to all man's problems can
> be found
> outside the Scriptures. Unfortunately for them evidence is
> now to hand
> that Genesis 1:1 is supernaturally designed! - with
> interesting
> implications for the future course of the creation-evolution
> debate. As
> an example, consider the sequence of creativity given in
> Genesis 1. Is
> it now reasonable to argue that our Creator got it wrong
> when he stated
> 'birds on day 5 'and 'land animals on day 6'? Something has
> to give! -
> and, logically, it can't be Genesis 1! Perhaps TEs should
> expend some
> effort in devising a line of descent which circumvents this
> anomaly.
> Honestly, I have been practicing science professionally for over 16
> years and I have not met anyone who would claim science to be a "god"
> (however, I did meet an undergraduate while at Wesleyan, CT. who
> rejected her Judaism to embrace a metaphysics based on quantum
> mechanics as her "religion"). I think you mean that many people
> subscribe to a metaphysical naturalistic philosophy which implies or
> states atheism; but this is a philosophy not a science.
No, I am reasonably happy with my original statement. Encouraged by its
practitioners, by the media, and by the multitude of technical wonders
it has spawned, science has become a hallowed thing in the minds of the

> Are you aware that Genesis 1:1 can (some say ought!) to read: "When
> God set about to create heaven and earth - the world being formless
> waste, with darkness over the seas and only an awesome wind sweeping
> over the water- God said ...." ( Speiser; Genesis, The Anchor BIble
> series). This translation IS interesting for it does not imply
> creation ex-nihilo (spelling?) but pre-existing matter - again in
> accord with the enuma elish! Speiser acknowledges the import (not to
> mention the impact!) of his translation but offers that creation
> ex-nihilo IS taught in the Bible; just not here in Genesis 1:1.

Yes, I am aware of such a translation, but - because in the view of many
scholars, it is forced - regard it as a sop to the TE. Does Speiser
elaborate on the matter of an ex-nihilo creation?

> Taking this translation to be accurate, what does the
> (numerological?) evidence for supernatural design it is supposed to
> contain then support? If you are referring to numerology as
> "evidence", then would not - momentarily ignoring the dubious nature
> of such a "field" - we than have "evidence" to support the possibility
> of pre-existing matter? Would it not be better to, as Speiser
> admonishes, "Let the text speak for itself" in the language it was
> intended to do so; that of ancient Mesopotamia.

Let me first address the matter of how we categorize the phenomena
referred to. The term 'numerological' suggests something that no
self-respecting scientist would want to get mixed up with. Indeed,
'ignoring the dubious nature of such a field', sums things up precisely!
But, surely facts are facts - whatever we decide to call them! I am
disappointed you haven't checked them out; they are really quite
remarkable and provide us with a more elevated view of our Creator!

> Correlatively, how do you handle the Genesis (and Babylonian!)
> narrative attributing the Sun as being created on the fourth day and
> maintain a wooden interpretation of the term "day"? If like most YEC
> thinkers, you believe the Earth hung in space, spun with a period of
> "24 solar hours", and was illuminated by Divine light for the first
> three days, then this is extra- (i.e. un-) biblical and fully
> unsupported by any evidence (imaginable or real!). This is where I
> first had to loosen up on my own wooden interpretation of Genesis as a
> young man trying to understand God's revelation. This alone
> irrevocably refutes a 24 hr solar day which implies at least that the
> word day is subject to interpretive analysis.

In attempting to interpret everything in terms of modern science, I
believe you are forgetting the capabilities of the Creator.

> Any attempts to read into the Genesis account modern notions is
> foolhardy, unnecessary and damaging to scripture.

I have already drawn David's attention to the fact that our Lord (and
Creator) appeared to believe (and taught) that what was written in the
early chapters of Genesis was to be accepted as true. Have you not
considered that, from the beginning, he has foreseen the current efforts
to discredit the Gospel, and has taken the appropriate action? Don't you
find it interesting that every word of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek is also
fairly interpretable as a number? These phenomena surely serve to
elevate rather than depress. I really think you should examine them
carefully before coming to erroneous conclusions.



"When I show a man he is inconsistent, I make him decide whether of the
two he loves better, the portion of truth he already holds, or the
portion of error." (J.H.Newman, Tract 85)

Vernon Jenkins MSc
[musician, mining engineer, and formerly Senior Lecturer in Maths and
Computing, the Polytechnic of Wales (now the University of Glamorgan)]