Genesis One that Fits

From: Peter Ruest (
Date: Sun Feb 24 2002 - 13:29:34 EST

  • Next message: Glenn Morton: "RE: Jewelry among modern humans"

    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: Jim Eisele []
    > Sent: Thursday, February 14, 2002 10:05 AM
    > To:
    > Subject: Genesis One that Fits
    > [snip]

    I was out of town from Feb.9 to 16, I unsubscribed ASA during that week.
    So I missed your posting of Feb.14, but received this copy - I think it
    was yesterday. Let me just make a few remarks to it now.
    > So far, numerous attempts have been made to reconcile Genesis One with
    > science. Many are impressive. But something is missing.
    > Day 3 overlaps into day 6. And so does day 5. I guess that you could argue
    > day 2 does also.

    I see no problem with such overlaps. Let's take the example of day 3. We
    know that the land produced new kinds of plants all the time since the
    first greening of the continents up to the present. Gen.1:13 reads: "And
    there was evening and there was morning, a third day." This sounds like
    that was the end of the origin of new plants. But the translation is
    misleading in this respect.

    "Evening" [^erev] could be translated: going or entering into
    (something), going down (setting of the sun), or a transition (mixing
    between the previous state and the following one). "Morning" [boqer] can
    quite generally mean a dawning (e.g. of a new day or age)". V.13 comes
    after the "day's" work, which would be quite abnormal for a literal
    (short) day: then it would have to be "morning - day's work - evening"
    in our customary way of looking at things, but "evening - morning -
    day's work" in the traditional Hebrew reckoning. Neither of these
    possibilities suits the text of v.9-13. This indicates that we have no
    24-hour days at all, but long periods of time, ages (which is confirmed
    by various other indications in the text).

    In the case of "day 3", the age is characterized by the rise of
    continents and their being covered with plants ("day's work"), followed
    by a merging of this age into ("entering into and mixing with") a new
    one ("dawn of a new age") whose main characteristic is something new.
    The merger certainly does not end the pattern of the previous age. The
    plants' life cycles definitely continue - why shouldn't their
    development or evolution continue if it has already been going on for a
    long time?

    On each one of the "creation days", a new characteristic of the earth
    originated, and all of them continue to the present:
    day 1 - day-and-night cycle;
    day 2 - water cycle;
    day 3 - chemical elements cycle (plate tectonics, continent buildup and
    weathering, carbon dioxide/oxygen cycle driven by plants);
    day 4 - oxidizing atmosphere (energy and clear visibility for large,
    active animals);
    day 5 - large, active, "higher" animals in sea and air (the first
    "living souls");
    day 6 - large active terrestrial animals (which require a food web based
    on land plants, the animals including humans);
    day 7 - covenant of Yahveh with Adam (and what follows out of it: more
    covenants with Noah, Abraham, Israel, David, then fulfillment of
    salvation through Christ, new covenant).
    Today's biosphere includes all of these characteristics, and is
    dependent on all of them. There certainly is overlap between the main
    characteristics of the "days".
    > What I've read seems very unwilling to accept this reality. I'm not sure
    > exactly when fruit trees began, because this information is avoided. But
    > Genesis 1:29 indicates that fruit trees are for human food. So pretending
    > they are some other type of primitive trees is an effort to reconcile
    > without reconciling. Real fruit trees come after reptiles.

    No such problems with overlap. All it says is that the first plants (not
    all of them) came before (higher) animals. And since the first higher
    animals required appreciable amounts of free oxygen, there must have
    been extensive plant life before that (to produce the oxygen).
    > Likewise, birds (day 5) come after reptiles. Some try to say the text
    > refers to insects. At best, that is an unnecessary stretch. I couldn't
    > help but laugh at a God who would mention insects but not birds. (Even if I
    > didn't laugh out loud, He would know that I was laughing on the inside).

    This is not an unnecessary stretch. The Hebrew "^oph" (from "^ooph", to
    fly or flutter) means literally any winged animal, from insects to birds
    and bats. In the fossil record, the first winged insects and the first
    amphibians appeared about at the same time, but of course, winged
    insects are much less prone to be fossilized than amphibians, therefore
    insects probably came before amphibians. But with overlaps of the ages,
    the precise sequence of all types of animals doesn't matter so much. The
    first macroscopic and active higher animals (day 5) certainly came
    before the first land animals (day 6).
    > Look, the text indicates fruit trees on day 3, birds on day 5, and reptiles
    > (including the unpleasant reality of the serpent) on day 6.
    > Does the "day of Adam" come before the "day of Seth?" Of course it does.
    > Do they overlap? Of course they do. Does day 3 belong before day 5 which
    > belongs before day 6? Of course. Is each day a grouping? Of course. Do
    > they overlap? Of course. Does God care too much about the ordering of day
    > 6? Apparently not. Otherwise, why would Gen 1:24 carry a different order
    > than Gen 1:25?

    I agree, there is no temporal order implied within day 6. From the
    beginning of that age to the present, there must exist a functioning
    ecology with food chains comprising all animals.
    > Is Genesis One a prophetic foretelling of future scientific knowledge? I've
    > been stunned by the evidence. I feel much more secure on the Yes side of
    > that than I would feel on the other side.

    I would not call it "foretelling", because we wouldn't be able to deduce
    modern scientific knowledge from the text. All we can do is to confirm
    today that "Gen.1 fits". But this is no small feat for a text which
    probably predates Moses. But we could call it backward prophecy. There
    are also forward prophecies in the Bible whose real meaning can only be
    recognized once they are fulfilled.

    The purpose of Gen.1 is certainly to teach us theology, not science. But
    I see no valid biblical reason to believe that God wanted to use the
    scientific errors of the time. If there is a possibility to formulate
    the theological content he wanted to communicate, without burdening it
    with factually erroneous myths, why shouldn't he have used this
    possibility? I believe God has the means of guiding a biblical author in
    such a way that the text is formulated in the author's own language and
    vocabulary, but without conflicting with any real facts. In doing so,
    God need not even infringe on the author's personality and freedom of
    choice, since language is very flexible. It should be possible to
    maintain this standard while keeping the text understandable by all
    peoples at all times.

    This implies that the scientific aspect of the text may have been
    understood differently at different times, but that it was not possible,
    at any time, to demonstrate errors of fact (as we could today if it
    specifically taught a young earth). The mere possibility of a
    harmonization of the text with reality unknown by the writer may both
    help unbelievers to acknowledge God and strengthen believers' faith. It
    is essential to be aware of the fact that our great God is both the
    Creator of "the heavens and the earth" and the Author of the Bible.


    Dr Peter Ruest, <>
    CH-3148 Lanzenhaeusern, Switzerland
    Biochemistry - Creation and evolution
    Creative providence in biology (Gen.2:3):
    "..the work which God created (in order) to (actively) evolve it"

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Sun Feb 24 2002 - 13:28:20 EST