Genesis is not scientifically accurate

There’s been a little debate that’s been raging in one of the posts I put up a few days ago, and while I have no forum (yet), I thought necessary to respond to this comment made by our resident Christian, Brandon.

Michelle, Those “myths” in Genesis match the order in which scientists tell us the earth, the moon and everything on the earth were formed.

Please give me evidence to prove otherwise.

I’ll proceed to dissect Genesis to show just how pathetic the scientific knowledge of a primitive desert tribe really was. We’ll start with the first 4 days of creation. This was actually part of a project I called “The Good Atheist Annotated Bible”. Let me know what you guys think:

1:1 In the Beginning God created the heaven and the earth

Ok, not a bad beginning, but obviously it’s a little bit confusing for you. You thought it started out with some king of light, or something related to the Big Bang maybe? Yeah, not so much. Even at the very beginning, it doesn’t sound like anything a scientist would say when describing the birth of the universe. We’ll get to the light part soon (which will show you how much “science” there really is in this thing), but for now I have to say I’m fairly unimpressed with this character so far. He begins by creating a tiny, insignificant planet, and follows this master stroke by immediately building some imperceptible magical fun land where he supposedly lives. It kind of like building your house and then building a little doghouse on the side even before you get a puppy.

According to Professor Ellen van Wolde, a respected Biblical scholar, there is a mistranslation from the Herbre word “bara” which should have made it “In the Beginning God separated heaven and earth”. If that’s true, it makes the whole “build your house and doghouse right after” beginning less than stellar.

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.

Is he surfboarding here? Did God finish building his magical play land and decide he needed to hang ten?

1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light

So is this the point in the Bible you think might be a parallel to the Big Bang or something? Was it after the Earth was created or before God was surfing on it? It’s almost freaky those millions of priests never really figured out the Big Bang with such an obvious clue…

1:4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

Here we have God boasting about his achievement, presumably to himself. I guess you can create something without seeing it, but the only activity where that happens is when I shit, so I’m going to have to assume that God shit out light, turned around, saw it was very good, and then went about separating it from darkness. No offense, but it just seems like darkness and light don’t really need any help separating. They seem to do it just fine on their own.

1:5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Yeah, after naming something, I’m usually pretty tuckered out myself. So, this is the first day, and so far no a lot has happened, but he’s got 6 more, so we’ll let him finish up the others before we really start judging his performance.

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.

It’s the beginning of the second day, and again God is still just entirely focused on Earth here. It’s another fairly mediocre start. So far the Universe consists of heaven, some light, and now a planet that finally has some dry land.

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.

If you are wondering why they feel the need to practically repeat themselves here, it’s just because they want presumably to avoid making him seem like a laborer of some sort. God doesn’t “do” anything. He likes to say shit, and then things just happen. It makes him look more regal and less servile. That’s a PR job right there. Here he commands land, which was previously under the water, to float to the top. So basically, ancient Jews believed that the earth was just a large landraft floating on a body of water. They go into more hilarious detail of their vision of the Earth later, as we’ll soon see.

1:8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

Is he creating heaven again?

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.

So now he needs to separate the land and the waters again for some reason. He doesn’t seem to really understand how the planet is actually formed, but that’s not unusual for a group of nomadic desert people living thousands of years ago to have a level of scientific knowledge comparable to a 3 year old.

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.

Here he is looking back at his creation, really breathing it in there. He’s thinking to himself “what a fantastic job”. And for what? Day two and he seems about as efficient as a government employee.

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.

So far we don’t even have a sun, and already God is busy making grass, trees, wheat and a bunch of stuff human beings can eat. The authors seem especially fond of seeds, which I’m sure back then was like talking about diamonds. When food is your main concern, each fruit seed is a chance to not die of fucking starvation. So obviously, these writers might be a little seed happy. Just saying.

1:13 And the evening and the morning were the third day

It’s the third day, and even now there are no stars, no galaxies, no other planets. There isn’t even the Sun yet, and somehow God is all tuckered out. He has to be the laziest cosmic laborer ever.

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

So now finally we get a bit of action here. God supposedly creates all the tiny lights in the sky as a way for people to read signs. Astrology was the latest fashion back then, so if you didn’t have a crazy nutjob yelling out some stupid absurdities based on all the blinking lights in the sky, you couldn’t be a half decent empire. Christians now don’t like astrology very much, but it’s a pretty big part of their history, and we’ll be referencing it pretty extensively in some of the later chapters. Rest assured: they thought it was pretty cool back then.

1:15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

Yes, we know he made the stars, it’s mentioned twice, since the writers can’t seem to decide what stars are supposed to be for. If you think about it from their limited perspective, the actually purpose for stars must have seemed pretty confusing. They didn’t seem to do anything, and if they did, it usually scared the crap out of people.

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.

Here he makes the Sun, and since the authors of the Bible were essentially scientifically retarded, they actually think the moon generates its own light. To be fair, a lot of kids ask this kind of question. You would be shocked by how few parents know the answer, or believe in something similar.

So far we’re only at day 4 and there’s nothing even remotely close to anything resembling the picture of the Universe we have now thanks to modern science. Discuss!

Comments (24)

  • avatar

    Brandon

    A great article to read about the old earth model is http://www.reasons.org/does-old-earth-creationism-contradict-genesis-1 and I’ll quote from it to answer your questions.

    It seems as though the biggest problem you have is concerning the sun being created on the fourth day and how light is able to come from something other than the sun.

    The short answer is he sun and the universe was created in the first day(era) and all light mentioned in Genesis comes from the sun that was created on the first “day”.

    Verse 16 tells us God made the Sun, Moon and stars on the fourth “day.” Most young-earth creationists focus on the English translation and interpret this verse to mean God created the Sun and Moon that instant. The Hebrew does not support that interpretation. The Hebrew word for “made” (asah) refers to an action completed in the past.(see reference 1 below) Thus, the verse is correctly rendered “God had made” rather than “God made.” This indicates God “had made” the Sun, Moon and stars earlier than the fourth “day.”

    Genesis 1:1 tells us, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The Hebrew phrase “the heavens and the earth” (hashamayim we ha’ erets) refers to the entire universe, entire creation and everything that can be seen or has physical existence.(see reference 2 below) This indicates the heavenly bodies — the Earth, Sun, Moon, stars and other planets — were created “in the beginning” prior to the six creation “days.”

    As to the issue of light on Earth, science maintains our young solar system was filled with a cloud of gas, dust and debris. As the Earth cooled and its gravitational field strengthened, it attracted meteorites and other objects that bombarded the earth for over 500 million years (known as the Hadean Era).(see reference 3 below)
    Thus,although the Sun ignited before the Earth formed, the early Earth would have been surrounded by a thick, dense mixture of cosmic gases and debris that blocked the sunlight for many millions of years.

    Does this conflict with the Bible? No. The Bible tells us the earth was dark and formless as God prepared to begin His creative activity on Earth. On the first “day,” God separated light from darkness and caused daylight to appear. On the fourth “day,” God caused the Sun, Moon and stars to appear in the sky. This agrees perfectly with the scientific view of the early Earth. Initially, the atmosphere would have been opaque and blocked all sunlight. Over time, the atmosphere would have become translucent, allowing some sunlight to penetrate the darkness (the first “day”). Later, the atmosphere would have become transparent, revealing the heavenly bodies in the sky (the fourth “day”).

    —————–

    I’m pretty sure I’m not going to change your mind about this but I at least want to give you an idea of the sort of research that is out there so you can find your own answers. I can’t answer them well since I’m not an expert but the people over at Reasons to Believe (www.reasons.org) can.

    The article mentioned above is a great start and answers many questions that people have about the fallacies that young earth creationist have created. It is a shame that they want to stick to their model because it is hindering many people from believing.

    —————–

    References:
    1) Rodney Whitefield, Reading Genesis One-Comparing Biblical Hebrew with English Translation (San Jose, R. Whitefield, 2004), 104.

    2) Whitefield, p. 17; W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary (Nashville, Thomas Nelson, 1996), 110.

    3) “Deep Time,”
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/change/deeptime/precam.html (July 21, 2006).

  • avatar

    Joey3264

    good job man, I enjoyed this rant :)
    the moon is a huge rock that reflects the sun’s light. if they were using real science, then 1:16 would have described the moon as a dark mirror.

  • avatar

    Bradley

    Until these theists are able to provisionally admit that it’s possible that no god exists they are going to continue to be incapable of grasping that atheism simply works better for explaining known physical phenomenon. It shouldn’t be surprising that they do contortions to fit god into the picture. They have no other choice, given their assumptions.

  • avatar

    Homeoquackery

    I guess you could argue that creating the stars and creating blinking lights in the sky really were two separate acts. They’d have to be, if you were going to reconcile Genesis with what we know about the distances between stars and, for that matter, galaxies. He made it all, to trick us!

    And as for the rest… ah, yes, once again we are being told that the translators actually mistranslated all common versions of the Bible (and once it is translated “correctly,” we can make a convoluted sort of sense out of it). I’m not buying it. It beggars belief to think that the people who wrote Genesis 1 thought they were standing on anything other than a flat Earth with stars and great lights swivelling around over their heads.

    All of which still ignores the fact that apparently God made the plants before he gave them daylight. It must have been a miracle that the plants survived at all.

  • avatar

    Gregory Sams

    And of course, with the Sun being created on the third day, how was day separated from night before that?

    There is an “creation” option that is neither as bizarre as the Biblical of as sterile as the scientific, which sees our Universe self-organized by a consciousness that builds from the bottom up, much like a termite mound or our own brain.

    This is not as absurd as it might first sound, and brings us a Universe full of intelligence and design that needs no Intelligent Designer. This concept is explored in the book titled “Sun of gOd – discover the self-organizing consciousness that underlies everything.” And yes, I wrote it.

  • avatar

    Brandon

    Homeeoquakery, with new scientific evidence comes new interpretations of the Bible. It’s not a big leap to go from “made” to “had made”. Young earth creationist are still holding on this old interpretation.

  • avatar

    My Own Christian

    I have never claimed to be nor ever will claim to be the complete expert on all things known and unknown. What I’ve noticed in all aspects of these arguments against the bible is how mad people get about the inaccuracies that are found, and helps makes things clearer.

    Through the evolution, yes, I’m Christian and I used the word evolution, of Science, there have been breakthroughs that have challenged old scientific theory and modern scientific theory. Doctors used to bleed patience to help cure illnesses, which in most cases caused death, when they thought it was helping. Just like scientific theory has an evolution so does linguistics. With linguistics, we find that meanings of words or interpretations of past verbs, nouns, adjectives etc. has evolved over time as we have learned more and understood more.

    For those that are looking for ALL the physical facts that prove God’s existence, you will never find them. As cliche as it may sound and as hard as it would be for most to accept this, Faith has a large part in the hearts of most Christians. There is a reason for the saying, “A leap of faith.” As Christians, we have followed the god of centuries past. I myself have read the bible, and find some very tough passages to believe in. Where the line is drawn is when I start relying on my faith to guide me. I will never stop searching for the physical evidence, because in most cases, it is the only way I could prove to you that God exists.

    The one thing I will not stop doing either is praying for those that have hardened their hearts to hope and possibilities.

    God’s peace and love to all of you.

  • avatar

    McTaffity

    As far as the Moon being a “lesser light to rule the night” is concerned, it’s actually out during the day just as often (50 / 50).

  • avatar

    Homeoquackery

    Brandon,

    You shouldn’t need scientific evidence to interpret the Bible. The Bible is a literary document; the only question there should be translation. The question is whether the theory of creation described in the Bible matches up with the observed universe in any conceivable manner.

    In this case, I’m afraid it is a fairly serious leap. It’s going from saying God made X on Day Y, to saying God made X on Day 0 and it became visible from the surface of Earth on Day Y.

    This introduces a new layer of complexity to your “theory”: that God not only described the origins of the Earth accurately to Moses (or whomever you believe wrote Genesis), but chose to do so from the perspective of a viewer on the surface of the Earth.

    The only reason we would add this new caveat is to somehow shoehorn the evidence into the Biblical record. The simpler thing to do, and one which makes far more sense, is to say that the Old Testament was written by an ancient tribal people whose ideas about where we came from, like the ideas of all other tribal peoples I’m aware of, were simply wrong.

    Beyond all that, we’re left with the frank implausibility of all this happening in days. But the main point is that the typical evangelical “I’m smarter than the translators” approach smacks of reading the Bible with the goal of making it say what you want it to, rather than looking at it objectively.

  • avatar

    Brandon

    Sure we need science to interpret some parts of the Bible. If we believe the Bible says that the earth was created in 6 days but then discover that it was created over billions of years then this helps us understand the the hebrew word for “day”, yowm, which can mean “era”. So we now know that the days in Genesis were not 24 hour periods but millions of years.

    There are plenty of mysteries in the Bible that Bible scholars don’t understand and through science and archeology we learn more.

    Hopefully a typical evangelical will be the translator. Any person who wants to know more about the Bible has the direct Hebrew and Greek to read from to understand exactly what the Bible is saying and therefor does not have to rely on the translators to understand it’s meaning. After researching we can check our own research against other scholars and know if we’re correct or not. The Bible is such a deep and mysterious book that no one should claim to know for sure exactly what every verse means.

    For example, go here http://www.blueletterbible.org/Bible.cfm?b=Gen&c=1&v=1&t=ESV#conc/8 and see the Hebrew for the different words for Genesis 1:8.

    Also, as I mentioned in another post, I think it’s pretty cool that the Bible told us the order of creation many years before scientist dated the orders. See this chart: http://www.reasons.org/files/articles/creation_timeline_chart_color_200805.pdf

    These dumb tribal people were able to know this order and now scientists agree.

  • avatar

    Bradley

    Science and literary criticism are required to understand the ENTIRE bible… just like any other book from the bronze age.

    When you really do understand the bible you’ll understand just how ignorant it is to rely upon it as evidence of anything.

  • avatar

    Homeoquackery

    Brandon,

    You’re approaching this book from a fundamentally different direction than me, which is why you claim science has to used. Which approach is more sensible: to assume it must be true and therefore change your interpretation of the book to keep it reconciled with current scientific knowledge, or to assume that it may or may not be true and attempt the most reasonable translation, then compare that theory to the observable facts?

    Your notion that Genesis refers to periods rather than days is a common one, but I doubt you would find many scholars (outside of the OEC community) willing to agree that the writers of Genesis meant anything other than days when they wrote that passage.

    Once again, the tribal people in question did not know the “order of creation.” The only way to make it appear as if they did is to manipulate Genesis 1 into saying what you want it to say.

  • avatar

    Brandon

    Regardless of whether a day means 24 hours or millions of years, the order of creation in the Bible is still correct.

    Agreed?

    I’ve answered Jake’s question about when the sun was created, in the first era.

  • avatar

    Brandon

    “Which approach is more sensible: to assume it must be true and therefore change your interpretation of the book to keep it reconciled with current scientific knowledge, or to assume that it may or may not be true and attempt the most reasonable translation, then compare that theory to the observable facts?” -Homequakery

    I have to reconcile the other ways that I started believing as well. I was an atheist up until age 21. I was brought to a point where I just couldn’t ignore that He was real. Too many coincidences in my life happened.

    So I fit God into science because I first believe that He is real. Everyday something happens that helps me to believe more. You guys also go through mental gymnastics to ignore pieces of evidence that you see. ie. video of a woman being healed. You claim the effects of a placebo are very strong. But I’ve seen amazing healing in people.

    Maybe I’m being fooled by my own brain’s survival techniques. That’s a possibility that I’m open to. Believe it or not I’m (mostly) here for debate. You guys force me to find answers that I may be too lazy to find myself.

    Please try to deconvert me. I’m not trying to convert you. I’d be wasting my time. I’m here to learn and to present the apologetic argument to those Christians that stumble onto this site.

  • avatar

    Bradley

    “Too many coincidences in my life happened.”

    So, if i win the lottery it means that god exists… but for everyone who plays but doesn’t win doe god not exist for them?

    Honestly, in all the breadth of human experience it would be far more notable if coincidences didn’t occur with a fair degree of regularity.

  • avatar

    Bradley

    “You guys also go through mental gymnastics to ignore pieces of evidence”

    I’ve never seen a genuine piece of evidence that needed to be ignored. There are lots of dubious claims. Ever here of this http://www.steorn.com/orbo/ ? There’s videos of it working… but at the same time it is a total scam.

    And people can simply be mistaken as well. If you believe god exists because it makes you feel good, then fine, but don’t delude yourself into thinking that it is based on evidence.

    You have made a claim that we are doing mental contortions to avoid evidence of a deity. This means you must have access to this evidence. Please present this evidence or i will have to assume you are simply blowing smoke.

    To be more concise: Put up or shut up.

    Or withdraw your claim.

  • avatar

    Bradley

    “Regardless of whether a day means 24 hours or millions of years, the order of creation in the Bible is still correct.

    Agreed?”

    Not agreed. They don’t even get the sun and stars right.

    Did you read Jacob’s article? Have you read the genesis account? Also keep in mind that “Fish, birds, mammals” were not created in a particular order but have co-evolved. Fish keep changing, birds keep changing… new species are born and die… this fact is certainly not included in the biblical account… though god certainly should have known about it.

    I do agree that you can rationalize these problems away, however, if you try really hard.

  • avatar

    Brandon

    “They don’t even get the sun and stars right.
    Did you read Jacob’s article?” -Bradley

    Of course I did and it was pitiful. His rant is based on a flawed understanding what what the Bible says. I don’t expect much from him though. He doesn’t claim to know a whole lot about the Bible. I don’t understand why you would want to get your information about the Bible from him. He’s clueless about the Bible and this post proves it. But you guys have your mind made up so you interpret the Bible they way that you want to. The Sun wasn’t created on the 4th day. It was created on the 1st day.

    Did you read my response? And read the article I posted in the fist comment of this post. Would love your thoughts.

    “Also keep in mind that “Fish, birds, mammals” were not created in a particular order but have co-evolved.” Bradley

    We start seeing these fish, birds and mammals arrive on the scene at different times.
    Fish and shelly invertebrates ~543mya
    Earliest terrestrial animal fossils ~346mya
    Oldest reptile fossil ~340mya
    Older Dinosaur fossil ~230mya
    Earliest winged birds ~155mya

    If they co-evolved then why don’t we see birds until 400mya after fish?

  • avatar

    Bradley

    Is there some reason that I am missing that the bible omits a mention of “one form changing to another” or some such thing… it would have been easy enough to put in.

    I don’t want to wave my flag all that hard but i was a hardcore evangelical Christian before I realized that it was all a bunch of BS. I’ve read the bible numerous times, and in numerous versions, all the way through, and in focused bible studies. I’ve read it while a believer, and while a non-believer.

    I am not counting on Jacob for my bible knowledge, but i don’t see where he falls off the rails either.

    In order to make it gel with the real world you have to do logical backflips. Kudos to you for trying, but bro, trust me when i say that the contents of the bible are just like any other ancient book. Excellent for the time (2-4 thousand years ago) but not terribly relevant now.

    …And I guarantee that my worldview makes a more coherent view of the world and relies on less (and more coherent) assumptions.

    Do your backflips if you want, but the truth is that the bible does not gel with science, or ethics, or history.

  • avatar

    Kenny

    Actually, the sun was created “In the beginning.” The “days” of creation are all about the earth’s transformation. Notice that Genesis 1:2 states that the EARTH was formless, void, dark and covered by water. This means that earth needed more work, not the universe. Sure, things were still happening in the universe, but the focuse of Genesis one is the earth.

    I guess this article is by someone named Jacob. He is the only person I have ever heard of mistakenly thinking day 2 has to do with land. This day is about forming an open expanse (raqia) between the waters above (clouds) and the waters below (ocean).

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