I am asking for help from those who know Hebrew and science. Does my description of the Genesis creation work as well as it seems?
My lifelong question, “Does Genesis describe nature, or is it a myth?” It literally took decades, and lots of prayer and frustration, to come to the conclusion, “Yes! Miraculously, YES!” The Bible literally describes the Big Bang and evolution, including human evolution. However, to harmonize Genesis with standard science we must be flexible on four things.
The first part of harmony requires inspiration that transcends beliefs held. Those beliefs come from drastically different historical times. If God could not inspire the writer to describe creation adequately to us, then why do we insist the writer’s beliefs about spiritual things are inspired? A literal interpretation must be maintained, but that interpretation must match standard science. Only then, does the passage become miraculous to today’s outsiders.
The second part of harmony concerns the entire Bible’s description of the creation. Not one text establishes a perfect creation as dogma. Not once is the concept mentioned explicitly or is perfection mourned as lost. If the writers believed it, we have no proof. Perfectionism includes immortal humans cursed with mortality and a hereditary original sin for every person thereafter. All the passages used to support these beliefs require a belief in a perfect creation first (circular logic). The Bible says God made everything in an ordered manner, and then called each part good and the whole very good. All other references to God’s creation tell of a wonderful, but not safe, creation, not someplace recreated by sin.
The third part of harmony concerns writing style. Many preachers and teachers have concluded the biblical creation passage must be read as a literal narrative list only. They find little or no poetic elements to add to the understanding of that list. Other people insist it has enough poetic elements that it must be poetry. Poetry removes some of the constraints of narrative form. However, proposals for any one particular style of poetry have not gained great approval because something technical always keeps them from being “that kind of poetry.” The biggest problem occurs when either group lets the text fall from a literal interpretation into a mystical or mythical interpretation. There is no longer any need for physical evidence that supports the assertion of inspiration.
The forth part of harmony concerns our view of God. A lost perfection endorses an inept God who was not in control then and not in control now. Sin and Satan gain much more influence on our lives then He does. This view is not consistent with any biblical text, except for those describing beliefs that are not in alignment with God.
I propose that Circular Poetry provides a solution to each of these issues. When read as Circular Poetry, the Bible matches standard science, which gives evidence to inspiration. Genesis 1 draws an outline and science fills in all the wonderful details.
The creation texts generalize every “kind” of animal, including “human-kind” (except for the two humans and a serpent in a garden). Not one life form is described bluntly enough to specify a Genus let alone a species. Some groupings are so vague that “Kingdom” is too specific (sea creatures). On the other hand, generality accepts every plant and animal form that ever existed. And… generality accepts whatever lineage God used to produce the animals from the beginning to those living at the time of the writer.
The ancient Hebrews may not have used our verbiage, but they could differentiate between species. However, they did not segregate species as uniquely created. They grouped animals according to similar traits (Leviticus 11). They knew those similarities showed kinship. To us, those similarities represent Families and Genus, a kinship of lineage. The Ancient Hebrews grouped animals the same way evolution theories group them. Generality lets “kind” accept “linage” as a definition. Evolution theory simply describes the causation of linage without unique creations for each species.
Instead of rejecting evolution, one can express evolution as God’s “sculpting tool.”
This is the basic structure of Genesis 1. The first three “days” open up spaces. The second three “days” consecutively fill those spaces.
Introduction and content
Day 1 opens the universe with light -------Day 4 fills the universe with objects
Day 2 opens sky and ocean -----------------Day 5 fills the ocean and sky
Day 3 opens land with plants ------------Day 6 fills the land with animals and people
Day 7 conclusion and foundation for weekly contemplation (not called Sabbath)
Connecting the days poetically creates circular pattern, a path that ends where it began, which is called circular poetry. This type of poetry does not require consistent rhyme or meter. Each “opening day” contains two major elements that are related. Each “filling day” carries two major elements that relate and link to their “opening day.” As poetry, Gen 1 describes natural relationships science only recently recognized.
The introduction proclaims in creed form that everything created comes from (a) One Creator.
Linking Day 1 to Day 4 – After the beginning, (b) first light leads to separation of © light from dark, which produces (d) stars like our sun, around which (e) unlit bodies form, which reflect and guide us to understand the (b) light.
Linking Day 2 to Day 5 – From the “heavens,” (f) atmosphere collects and precipitates (g) oceans, which provides suitable environment for prolific (h) sea life, which slowly transforms into (i) flying animals capable of dominating the (f) atmosphere.
Linking Day 3 to Day 6 – Out of the oceans (j) dry land expands and provides suitable minerals to support life, from which came the first multi-cellular life forms to dominate land, (k) plants. They provide an environment for prolific (l) land animals, which slowly transform into (m) humans, which dominate the (j) land and carry the image of the (a) One Creator.
Day 7 invites the reader to contemplate the loving details of God’s creation. It links expansive time span with the time it took for the Hebrew nation to form. Both need time and involve continued ongoing processes.
Genesis 2:4 can be added to this poem as a return to the creed or used as the beginning of the “second” creation story. It works equally well for both.
The Creation Days interpreted:
The Creed. One God created everything above our heads and everything below our feet. No other gods need apply.
Day 1 describes the Big Bang to the first star. What is more formless than a singularity? What is more void than the universe before plasma or particles existed? Yet all that “nothing” contained the potential for everything we know.
God’s movement caused expansion, and plasma formed, which physicists describe as a fluid energy. The writer saw this as water. One of the first particles was the photon. On command, they lit the entire universe, and it glowed evenly throughout. The formation of larger particles and atoms trapped the photons and the universe went dark. The gravity of atoms drew them into big balls (proto stars) that eventually burst from the darkness in released light.
Light and dark are not gods. They are creation.
Science says the beginning was formless and void. Before there were planets, science says the first stars had to form and explode. Science says there were two first light events. Science describes those events outlined in Genesis 1.
Day 4 fills Day 1 with all the astral bodies. One might say the order is not scientific, sun and moon before the stars. However, the passage is more about their use than about their structure. It states the order from a logical human viewpoint, big to small, most useful to less useful. The sun counts days. The moon counts months. The stars count years.
Astral bodies are not gods. They are creation.
Genesis 1 does not support the beliefs of mysticism and astrology, a spiritual control over our lives by astral bodies. These objects were created just like everything else, naturally. We find benefits from studying the sun, moon, and stars in that order. Seen from a human viewpoint the passage matches science.
Day 2 describes the infant earth, a big ball of rubble (the no rain from chapter 2, see below). From the “heavens,” meteors and comets bring water ice. These evaporate and mix with the volcanic gasses to form a thickening atmosphere. From the atmosphere, water fills basins and builds oceans that cover all the earth. (Yes, water covered all the earth. Geologically, earth’s continents needed water to form.)
The earth, wind, and water are not gods. They are creation.
The wording matches science.
Day 5 fills day 2. First life started in water. The oceans filled with a myriad of life before any plant or animal (beyond microscopic) lived on land. In the ocean, all forms of life were produced. One of the first forms proliferated so much that it polluted the atmosphere with oxygen and the planet was never the same. Because of the available oxygen, animal life proliferated. Out of the ocean came the lineage that eventually became birds.
This is a passage of extreme environments, which humans still do not control. The writer proclaims that from the bottom of the ocean, to the highest-flying bird, God created all the animals. That sentiment echoes the heaven and earth creed.
Water creatures and air creatures are not gods. They are creation.
From the heavens, atmosphere formed which formed the ocean. From the oceans, life began and spread to the atmosphere. The order is correct per science if the passage is read as a circular unit of poetry.
Day 3. Earth’s continents grow from the combination of plate tectonics, volcanism, water, and erosion. Continental rock is lighter than oceanic rock, so they “float” above as tectonic plates collide. That means they buckle and bulge instead of subduct. Volcanism grows them taller, and erosion grows them wider. These processes form new kinds of rock: metamorphic and sedimentary. Continents are still growing out of the ocean.
According to paleontology, plants started in the ocean. Plants were the first multicellular life forms to live on land. In a geologically short time, a myriad of plant forms burst into existence. They were so prolific their remains produced most of the coal we have today.
Land formations, rocks, and plants are not gods. They are creation.
Science says “dry land” grew out of the water and plants filled the land before animals arrived. The text matches science.
Day 6 fills day 3. Critters invaded fresh waterways then ventured onto land. In a geologically short time, a myriad of forms burst into existence as land animals. Late in that process, the human lineage formed. Except for a few very distant relatives, we are the only ones left of that lineage. We have knowledge like our creator. We are creators like our creator. He gave us the responsibility to learn about His creation so we can govern it well. We are still learning.
Chapter 2 says God made humans from dust and animals from dirt. Dust and dirt is not the specific material clay. No biblical text says God sculpted statues than brought them to life. No biblical text requires these creations to be instantaneous or non-sequential. However, evolution theory says our lineage goes all the way back to minerals that formed first life. We are made from the dust of the earth. Earth is made from the dust of dead stars. Stars are made from the atoms formed just after the Big Bang. Nature is one, as its creator is One.
Land animals, including humans, are not gods. They are creation.
The text matches standard paleontology and evolution theories.
The Second Creation
This verse can be added as an ending to the Genesis 1 poem, as it returns to repeat the creed. Or it can be used as the “same” creed to begin the “second” creation story. It works equally well for both.
This passage is a basic statement of causality, and stated long before Aristotle came up with the concept of causality. It does not dictate a lack of rain until Noah’s flood; instead, it is a restatement of Genesis 1 in reverse order. The Bible never says God changed the physical laws of nature to form rain.
(I paraphrase for clarity)
There was a time before man who tills the soil to grow plants.
There was a time before plants that need rain to grow.
There was a time before rain when only streams (mist etc) came up to water the earth.