A Matter of Faith

I’m a Christian.  I’m not ashamed of that and never will be.  As far as matters of faith are concerned, you will find me solidly in Christ’s camp.  I’m also a well-educated guy with two degrees and a lot of life experience.  I studied geology in college as well as the subjects, like Biblical Greek, that were intended to prepare me for seminary.  Because of that experience, there is, for me, a disconnect between what I learned in Sunday School and what I learned in college.  On one hand, the stories about Noah’s Ark, Jonah and the Whale, the Tower of Babel, Cain and Abel, and Adam and Eve and the Creation Story.  On the other hand, the Cambrian Discontinuity, Vishnu Schist, the Jurassic Era, peneplains, fossils of trilobites and Tyrannosaurus Rex, how we got coal, oil, and natural gas, and how many billions of years old the Sun is and when it will go phut.  How do we connect them and cause them to make sense?

But, they say, the Bible isn’t meant to be a science textbook; it’s the record of God’s salvation of the human race.  Okay, I agree.  But what if it were?  How would, say, the first chapter of Genesis  read if those who recorded the story knew what we know about the origin of Earth?  Now, some of you gentle readers will be upset with me; you’ll call me a heretic and a blasphemer for what I’ve just proposed, because you have been taught and believe that the Bible was written by God and the humans just held the pen.  I won’t quarrel with that.  I’m just supposing.  So here is my take on Genesis 1.

*    *    *

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  There was nothing; then God said, “Let there be space!”  Suddenly gas and matter was spreading violently in all directions, filling the emptiness that had been.  God said, “Let there be stars!” and the gas started to clump together, forming balls of matter that started to glow.  The stars grew, burning; and died, exploding or getting bigger, then collapsing.  Other stars formed.  Some stars, with their disks of gas and dust swirling around them, got other little blobs of stuff that contracted and formed planets that circled the stars themselves.  God saw that it was good.  And it was evening and morning, the first day.

Then God chose one star out of the multitude of stars that He had created.  He named it “the Sun.”  He looked and saw that a lot of planets had formed around the Sun and were circling it.  He saw that the closest two were too hot, and the fourth one was too cold.  He saw that the rest were big gas giants with no place to walk.  But the third planet was just right.  God called this planet “Earth.”

God said, “Let the Earth grow cool.”  And it was so.  The Earth became a barren rocky ball with a poisonous atmosphere.  Then God saw that the Earth was light when the Sun was in the sky, but dark at night when only the stars were shining.  So He caused a huge space rock to strike the Earth and knock a big chunk of it into space.  He caught the chunk, formed it into a ball, and sent it going around the Earth.  God called it “the Moon.”  He saw that when the Moon was in the night sky, it reflected sunlight and so now there would be light at night on the Earth.  And God saw that it was good.  And there was evening and morning, the second day.

God remembered that the Earth, though it was now cool, was also barren.  And He caused comets to come from far away in space beyond the outer planets and strike the Earth.  The comets had large quantities of ice in their nuclei; the ice melted and the water ran down into the low regions of the Earth.  God called the water “the Ocean.”

Then God said, “Let there be living creatures in the Ocean.”  And suddenly there was a multitude of tiny creatures swimming in the water.  They multiplied, growing and changing.  God realized that the Earth’s atmosphere wasn’t right for the life He wanted the Earth to have, so He caused the hydrogen and methane in the air to be replaced by nitrogen and oxygen from inside the Earth.

Now, water from the ocean was evaporating in the Sun’s heat, forming clouds and raining on the Earth.  Plants started to grow in the soil of the Earth, coming from out of the oceans.  God saw that it was good.  There was evening and morning, the third day.

Then God saw that life was becoming more complex.  He said, “Let some of the living creatures that swim in the ocean also come out onto the land.”  And it was so.  Animals came out of the water and started to live on the land, breathing the air and eating the plants.  The creatures in the ocean made shells for themselves out of substances in the water that came from rivers on the land.  Some others became fish.  On the land, some animals became things that crawled: snakes, lizards, bugs; others flew through the air: insects.  Some of the animals became gigantic.  Animal forms grew, flourished, and died off.  God saw that this was all part of His plan for the Earth, and that it was good.  And it was evening and morning, the fourth day.

Then God guided His animals:  Creatures with feathers appeared, having wings, that flew through the air.  They nested in the trees, or on the ground in the tall grass.  Other animals with hair appeared, covered in fur, that walked on four feet on the ground.  The animal types  grew, developed, and died off, as the giant lizards had done.  More and more kinds of animals appeared and more and more kinds of plants and ocean creatures.  The Earth became a place of diverse kinds of life, from creatures so small that only God could see them, to large and heavy brutes on land, and the giants of the ocean.  And God saw that all this was good.  It was evening and morning, the fifth day.

Now God was ready for the creatures He would call His own.  He took two of the middle-sized, upright-walking animals, breathed His Breath into them, and named them.  The male He called “Adam;” that is, “Man.”  The female He called “Eve,” and He named them His “People.”  He could talk to them and they could talk to Him; they could all walk together and be with each other.  He told them to be fruitful, and to take care of His creation; they would be His people and He would be their God.  And God said, “It is very good!”  It was evening and morning, the sixth day.

On the seventh day God rested, because He was finished with His work.

*     *     *

Now, just a final word:  I did not go into the account of mankind’s fall from grace, or of the things that followed it.  That is out of the scope of this little exercise.  For those of you who are still not happy with me, you will find in the Bible, in the first two chapters of Genesis, two distinct, different accounts of the Creation; the second one continues into the account of the fall of mankind.  Later in Chapter 5 there is a mini-comment on the Creation, that begins the account of the lineage of Noah.  Other places in the Bible comment on the Creation account.  Especially in the first chapter of the Gospel of John there is a short comment upon the Creation identifying the Word (Jesus) as the Creator.  Each of these accounts are to some extent different from the others.  I believe that God is not so much concerned with the scientific data of the creation of His universe as He is that we know Him in the person of His Son and come to love Him as He loves us.

I am not a cosmogonist or a paleobiologist, so my rendering of the Creation story may not agree with the present state of knowledge in those disciplines.  I was just…

Supposing.

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