> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jim Eisele [mailto:email@example.com]
> Sent: Thursday, February 14, 2002 10:05 AM
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: Genesis One that Fits
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
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,
day 5 - large, active, "higher" animals in sea and air (the first
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, <email@example.com> 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" -----------------------------------------------------------------
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