Hi Everyone –
I came here because BioLogos was mentioned in a New York Times article a few days ago. I have long-running (24 years) project which is essentially a mathematical and scientific analysis of the stories in Genesis. I hope I haven’t wandered into yet another apologetics organization, but so far it doesn’t look like I did. I spent about three years jousting with Reasons to Believe for my theological position: There is or was a Special Phenomenon of some kind at play either in the actual appearing of a universe, my second choice, or in the writing down of the biblical cosmogony at some point between 900 BCE (date of the Assyrian Fragment) to 100 CE (the Essenes) with such cosmogony not literal by design, my first choice. I will give you all a small example of my exegetical and academic style, which is to start with the big picture and drill down from there.
The Universe is widely believed to have started just shy of 14 billion years ago. There are six days of creation, each one lasting 2.33 billion years. On Day 1, we see a universe with space, matter, energy and time, and that day being dark (evening) before it was light (morning). This is a poetic story in Hebrew and it just happens to be true. Or is it? Just for the record, I’ll mention that in 1951, Pope Pious XII just up and decided that the Big Bang - this is a direct quote - validated Roman Catholicism. Georges LeMaitre, an astronomer priest, who proposed the Big Bang theory, called the Pope and told him to sit in the big chair, wear the funny hat, and let the scientists do the sciencing
Day two of creation comes with matter solid enough to have geological features, presumably a planet, somewhere in the universe, maybe ours, maybe not, between 11.5 and 8 billion years ago. Feel free to check the NASA exoplanet database, the European exoplanet database, and the open catalogue, my last check showed no solid planets before 11.5 billion years ago. Gleisse 581 and its planetary system was actually moved back in age to be inside the day 2 time period. Now here’s a big ticket item, and yes, I’ve started drilling down, the planet or planets is/are described as having a firmament separating this water below from that other water above. There is no word in biblical Hebrew for plasma, but plasma is certainly a fluid stuff. According to the Voyager 1 & 2 probes, the bow shock/Heliopause of our particular solar system separates our paltry loose plasma inside (“below”) the Heliopause from the interstellar plasma (“above”), which is 50 times the density of our local brew, and if not for this firmament, none of us would ever be here.
Day three, 9.2 to 6.9 billion years ago dawns with autotrophic life, just like in the TV show Big Bang theme song. Nitrogen is necessary for life. Today, there’s plenty of nitrogen in the universe, but it wasn’t always so. First, there had to be generations of Population 3 stars, mainly hydrogen and helium, which would super-nova after about 50 million years. the ejecta from these super-novas attracted gravitationally captured hydrogen and became population 2 stars. Then those stars, stars of medium mass, via fusion over a hot carbon shell, allowed for nucleosynthesis of nitrogen and consequently, life somewhere in the universe, maybe here. Based on what we observe on our own planet, autotrophic life began within a billion years of liquid water. This is an open question which may be answered when we get instruments with greater range and resolution.
Drilling down again to our local neighborhood: day 4. sees the construction of our local solar system. Question: How did someone writing in the First Millennium BCE place the beginning of our solar system in the correct chronological slot between the beginning of time without help from somewhere or someone?
Day five: Animals. By 4.6 to 2.3 billion years ago, we see fossil evidence of this life on our planet. At this point in the life of the universe, nucleosynthesis gifts us with enough nitrogen (animal life needs 10 times as much nitrogen as autotrophic life), magnesium, selinium, and other elements to support vertebrate life. This is also an open question.
We show up on Day 6, unlike many other cosmogonies which have people first. So. of six creation days, Genesis is accurate on four and two are subject to verification.
And now I get to ask you: Is Genesis more like a textbook or more like a storybook?