Created: September 9, 2015
April 2017 - ReWrite

Material is added as it is developed
Last Update 27 April 2017

The Creation Narrative of Science and the Bible

Dr. David C. Bossard

Dr. David C. Bossard
Biographical Information

The Purpose of this website

This website concerns the Creation Narrative of modern science and of the Bible. A creation narrative describes how the universe and the earth came to be in their present state.

A full Creation Narrative begins with the creation of the universe, and ends with the Creation of Man. What this website attempts to show is that there is an astounding areement between the Bible's Creation Narrative (CNB) and the Creation Narrative of Science (CNS). Both narratives, if properly understood, are full narratives in this sense. Each narrative, of course, emphasizes the aspects appropriate to itself: thus CNB emphasizes the activities of the Creator God, and CNS emphasizes the discoveries of science. Each aspect has its proper place.

The full Creation Narrative of Science is quite new, developed only within the past 50 years—and of course continually advances to provide fuller detail. Until the 20th century few scientists thought that a factual scientific narrative was even possible: cosmology was viewed as something beyond the reach of objective science. But scientists today know that a full, scientific narrative is possible, and many (not all) of its parts are now in hand.

The Bible's Creation Narrative has existed for over 3,000 years—but one's understanding of the basic facts of science affects how one understands the Biblical Narrative. Even if you disagree with a particular contemporary scientific view, your understanding of the Bible depends on how you view science. And since science has evolved over time, then naturally and inevitably the interpretation and understanding of the Biblical account has also evolved over time. Even yours has: you no longer think (I trust) that the sun goes around the earth, although that is the superficial appearance of observations, and many very sincere Bible scholars and scientists thought that the Bible took that view.

Science would be impossible if the Divine Creator had not embedded into creation an extensive and detailed narrative line written in a language
01 that can, with effort, be understood by the persistent investigator. This is a basic theme of the website. The Psalmist explains this in the immortal line, "The heavens declare the Glory of God, and the firmament sheweth His handiwork." That glorious statement is followed by an assertion that the Creator has embedded a "line gone out through all the earth" into the natural world, a silent voice that makes this proclamation. This line  can be understood with persistent and determined effort: that is the essence of science and it is not given to us without effort!02  

Within the past century science has interpreted that line with the result that the world today is blessed with a fairly comprehensive description of that Creation Narrative of Science, from the very beginning of the universe through the creation of the elements, of earth, and of life on earth. This narrative has vast gaps which time may fill, but the main outline is now known with some confidence.

A major purpose of this website is to explain how the two narratives—of Science and of the Bible—compare, a comparison that has been possible only within recent decades. They agree quite well, if one lays aside old misconceptions in the true spirit of a search for truth wherever it can be found.

The approach used here is to construct a consistent narrative using a number of short presentations. The intent is that these presentations give the essential development in a fairly accessible way, and then point to further resources with various excursions on the general theme.


Other websites that I have developed or helped develop (and which you, of course, are welcome to visit), are:

- The HMS Challenger Library and the Golden Age of Geology Library
        These libraries are part of my website;

- The website which gives a more comprehensive discussion of the various stages of the Genesis creation narrative; and

- The website of the Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute,
        See that site for a statement of IBRI's purpose and  membership.

These sites record, for the most part, the thoughts and views of many people with expertise in science and theology (although my own views appear on occasion), but this website gives my own views, for which I alone am responsible.

Scattered throughout are some theme boxes, explained here:

silent speech
Silent Speech

sharp points
Sharp Points

Synopsis: Creation Narratives of Science and of the Bible

The creation texts of the Bible have been established unchanged for almost 3,500 years. This text has led to many diverse narratives, as  Bible scholars and theologians attempted to interpret the text.
My own interpretation (CNB) is based on a valid interpretation of the Bible's text.

Over history scientists and philosophers have also given many narratives based on their best understanding of the science of their day. The latest generally accepted creation narrative of science (CNS), the Standard Cosmological Model was developed within the past century.

This website argues that the two narratives
agree on the essential points.  This agreement has been possible only within the past 50 years or so.

Here are Synopses of the Creation Narratives:
     Creation Narrative of Science (CNS): CNS Synopsis  .pdf   .doc
     Creation Narrative of the Bible (CNB):
CNB Synopsis  .pdf   .doc

This website gives some of the details that provide additional support to these synopses.

The Science of Cosmology and Beginnings

  It is astonishing that science can determine what happened in the earliest seconds and minutes of creation. This discovery has only been made in the past few decades. Prior to this, many scientists questioned the very notion that it would be possible to study these early moments with rigorous scientific precision, or even that the universe had a definite beginning. Cosmology—the physics of the universe and its beginnings—was relegated to the realm of religion or superstition, declared to be beyond the methods of rigorous science. Today, the science of cosmology is universally recognized as among the exact sciences and capable of fully rigorous mathematical treatment.

    In contrast with the former view, there is now a general understanding and agreement as to the fact of the Big Bang, and how the early universe grew from the Big Bang over the first few minutes. The precise age of the universe is
13.799 billion years old with an error of 21 million years, about 0.1%, based on measurements of the cosmic background radiation. This background radiation is a remarkable example of the Silent Speech of Psalm 19 preserved by God since the very beginning of time to reveal his glory and handiwork.

I. Before the Beginning
CNS: I. Creation of the physical world.
CNB: I. Before the Beginning (Genesis 1:2)

One astounding conclusion of CNS is that there was a definite beginning to the entire universe. The observable universe—all of space that scientists can view and measure—is 13.799 billion years old with an error of 21 million years, about 0.1%. This beginning is broadly called the Big Bang. At this beginning, the entire universe began as an intense point of light that has expanded and cooled since that time to the present.

The early seconds and minutes of the universe have two physical explanations at present: Einstein's General Relativity concerns science in the large; and Quantum mechanics concerns science in the small. Richard Feynman (one of my favorite role models in science) developed  Quantum electrodynamics which
explains how quantum particles interact.   Both of these theories have an outstanding record of confirmation, but there is no theory at present that combines these two extremes of science in the large and science in the small. The widely accepted overall Standard Model description of the early universe uses insights from both of these theories.
What (if anything) existed before this beginning? Experimental science is unable to say what came before the beginning, because it is limited to the observable universe. In fact, our understanding of quantum theory appears to break down for times less than the Planck Time, 5.39 × 10−44s: an extremely short (but not zero!) time after the Big Bang. At present, experimental science can replicate the temperature of the universe at less than 10−12s after the Big Bang, so many of the events in the early universe can be confirmed by actual experiment.

How do you describe the sitz before the beginning???

A Multiverse? Some scientists speculate that our own universe is just part of a vast (if nothing can be "vast"!) multiverse in which countless universes spawned since eternity past.

There are basically two reasons to postulate a multiverse:

(1) Philosophy appears to demand that any effect must have a cause.  Since many scientists reject the existence of God, the multiverse provides a natural "explanation" for what cause resulted in the observable universe. Another way to state this philosophical view is that anything with a finite existence implies something else with an infinite existence—a view that can be satisfied by having a God as prime mover, or by having eternal physical constructs and processes—a multiverse—that spawned the finite thing;03

(2) Our universe appears to be exquisitely fine-tuned to support the existence of intelligent life04. The multiverse "explains" this fact without a personal Creator (and of course without fine-tuning!), provided each universe involves an accidental, random selection of laws and constants. Our own universe accidentally has the particular selections in which all of the requirements for life just happen to exist: if it didn't then we would not be around to observe it! When one looks at the figures, this means that there must be vastly many more universes than there are atoms in our own universe—a truly staggering number. If I am struggling to describe the truly staggering number of universes, it's only because the concept itself is staggering—but necessary if one does not accept the concept of a Prime Mover.

I suspect that scientists generally believe that there is some grand unified theory to explain it all, that would not require all of these futile universes. But we just don't know what it is.

What does the Big Bang universe expand into? Creation Narrative descriptions.

By necessity, a creation narrative must say something about the situation before the beginning. Perhaps nothing exists outside of our universe, and after the Big Bang the universe expands into nothing? But frankly that sounds like nonsense: what is "nothing"? From the viewpoint of science, the closest that one can come is to say that before the Big Bang there was no matter, no radiation, no space or time.

There appear to be two early (roughly contemporaneous) religious descriptions of this indescribable state: The Genesis creation narrative, and the Hindu Rig Veda Hymn Nasadiya Sukta.

• Genesis 1:2 states:

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.

St. Augustine of Hippo, about 400AD, understood "without form and void" as "formless and empty", meaning the earth did not yet exist. In his view, it had been created "formless" and later made concrete. Eventually, about 900 years later, St. Thomas Aquinas developed this into a theological view in Question 66 of his masterpiece Summa Theologica, Whether formlessness of created matter preceded in time its formation?

St. Augustine extended this concept of formless creation not just to the earth, but to all aspects of creation. I do not agree with this understanding. For me, "without form and void" simply means the earth did not yet exist, without extending the concept to mean "virtual" creation precedes all steps of creation. I do not agree that the intent to create is equivalent to actual creation.
• The Nasadiya Sukta states that before the beginning:

Then even nothingness was not, nor existence,
There was no air then, nor the heavens beyond it.
What covered it? Where was it? In whose keeping?
Was there then cosmic water, in depths unfathomed?

Then there was neither death nor immortality
nor was there then the torch of night and day.
The One breathed windlessly and self-sustaining.
There was that One then, and there was no other.

At first there was only darkness wrapped in darkness.
All this was only unillumined water.
That One which came to be, enclosed in nothing,
arose at last, born of the power of heat.*


But, after all, who knows, and who can say
Whence it all came, and how creation happened?
the gods themselves are later than creation,
so who knows truly whence it has arisen?

Translated by A.L. Basham (1914-1986)

* For a physicist, heat and light are just forms of radiant energy, so I view this "birth" as a reference to the beginning of the universe with the light of Day One.

The words used in these descriptions are figurative, by necessity (after all, there is nothing in the universe to match it!). The Nasadiya Sukta says this very nicely: "even nothingness was not, nor existence" and "darkness wrapped in darkness", "enclosed in nothing" (meaning there were no limits or bounds). The "Spirit of God" is "The One breathed windlessly and self-sustaining."
06 The Genesis account says the same thing in a minimum of words.

• One other Bible passage is also set before the beginning. Proverbs 8  is a poem about Wisdom that participated with God in the creation, before the earth existed:
The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.
I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water.
Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:
While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.
When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:
When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:
When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:
Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;
Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.
Proverbs 8:22-30

Even the darkness before the beginning was different. Physics would say that the darkness of "nothingness" is absolute zero. This temperature is unattainable anywhere in the universe, because there is always the cosmic background radiation, about 2.7°K, left over from the Big Bang, or more precisely, left over from the onset of darkness when neutral atoms formed about 379,000 years after the Big Bang. See below.

Where did these Creation Narrative descriptions originate? Of course nobody knows, but my guess is that both of these narratives came from a common oral or written tradition (see
01). The Bible frequently notes that other sources—now lost—were consulted in its composition.

The Origin of Record-keeping? Writing?
Where did the "unknowable things" of the Genesis Narrative originate?
  It is a mystery to me how and when the principle ideas expressed in the Creation Narrative began. The Genesis account asserts several things that (until within the last century) could not be known by man apart from God's revelation because they concern things that are totally beyond the human wisdom of the day:

1. That the Universe had a beginning and came into being from nothing.
2. That the Universe began with the creation of light.
3. That advanced life (multicellular life) could not exist without an effective shield that separates inner from outer space.
4. That the early earth was completely covered with water: there was no dry land.
5. That dry land emerged from the global ocean, but the ocean still is in one place.
6. That animal life began in water, and later moved to dry land.
I challenge anyone to explain how any of these facts that are now known to be true could have been rationally discovered by  early humans. I would love to see a secular explanation apart from direct revelation from God. In addition there are some known and abundantly clear facts that the Bible notes but no rational scientist can explain how it happened or might conceivably happen:

7. That the first life began as a vastly complex, organized, self-replicating entity in the universe, with no plausible precursor. Anything but random for even the simplest forms of life!
8. That animal life has qualities that cannot be explained by any rational extrapolation from prior life—the nephesh chayah on Day 5.
9. That there is a vast gap between the human creation and any other living creature.
The Genesis creation account emphasizes all of these points, which lifts that narrative far above any other scientific "explanation" or pagan "evolved" myth.


II. Creation of Light in the Big Bang
CNS: I. Creation of the physical world.
CNB: II. Day One: The Creation of Light and Darkness. (Genesis 1:3-5).
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
St. Augustine puzzled over these verses for many years.07 Fortunately he recorded his puzzlement in his book,  The Literal Interpretation of Genesis, and so we have a full record of it. I believe no other theologian has given comparable details of his struggles to understand the Bible. He had a truly scientific mind, and he recorded many of his questions "in the raw" so to speak without prettying them up. He asked such questions as, Why is the creation of light so important that it is the very first thing mentioned? Should we understand "light" to be taken literally or figuratively—as for example, perhaps it is "heavenly" light, or perhaps the term is used figuratively for the creation of celestial beings, the "angels of light" so to speak? How is it possible that light was created apart from darkness: doesn't light imply the existence of darkness, so how is it possible that darkness was created later, as verse 4 implies? Was this darkness a different sort of thing from the darkness of verse 2? And how could it take an entire day to merely create light: surely God could just speak the words, and it would be done immediately? Finally, if the light is literal light, how could it have been created in Day One, when the sun itself was not created until Day Four?

I think it is fair to say that—reading between the lines—St. Augustine was not himself completely satisfied with his analysis of Day One.

These are really interesting questions, and many theologians other than St. Augustine have suggested answers. But still these answers seem to require making special assumptions or adding something to the text rather than taking the words with their natural meaning. For example, the Scofield Reference Bible notes on Day One are typical of a line of exegesis that is still strong today. The Scofield Bible was very influential during the first half of the 20th century. He stated,
13 "The 'light' here of course came from the sun." To reinforce this conclusion, he had to conclude that the sun was obscured by a heavy cloud cover until Day Four. This led to a whole speculative view that involved a prior ruined earth and other features developed in his notes, but that are not contained in the passage. In fact, the light of Day One did not come from the Sun, answering St. Augustine's puzzlement (note 07).

This situation all changed with the discovery—only since the mid-20th century—of experimental evidence for the Big Bang and the subsequent evolution of the universe since that event. The true facts revealed by  the  Standard Cosmological Model give a natural explanation that does not require all of this added speculation.

First and most important, this discovery showed that Day One is not just the creation (or some say, the renewal) of the earth, but it records the creation of the universe itself. From nothing, as far as science can determine.

Why is the creation of light mentioned as the very first act of creation? Because at the Big Bang instant, the entire universe began as a point of light, and has expanded into nothingness at (nearly) the speed of light from that time to the present. Space and time were created at that instant.

Should we understand "light" to be taken literally or figuratively? The light of the Big Bang is physical light, so the light of verse 3 could be interpreted as literal light. It is so concrete an event that its time can be precisely determined (see above remarks). Whether it is also the creation of "spiritual" light is something that the theologians can discuss, but at least the Big Bang was physical, literal light, albeit at such high temperature that no light or heat on earth or in today's universe can compare with it.

So Day One marks the beginning of the universe, of space, and of time. As we remarked above, the setting for Genesis 1:2 is before the beginning.

How is it possible that light was created apart from darkness? There is no contradiction here, since the light is quite physical. Within a small fraction of a second after the Big Bang, the universe expanded and cooled to the point where some of the elementary particles could hang together: electrons, and the quarks that  combine to form protons and neutrons.

About a second after the Big Bang the nuclei of hydrogen and helium began to form. These are the primordial elements from which all of the elements formed much later. [For a very readable description of this see the book First Three Minutes] This continued for about 20 minutes, and then the universe cooled to the point that further fusion ceased for the time being. There was no darkness in this new universe; it was all light created in the original Big Bang.

Doesn't light imply the existence of darkness? Answer, No.

How is it possible that darkness was created later?
Darkness entered into the universe when the temperature dropped to the point that neutral atoms could form (i.e. Hydrogen and Helium nuclei could hold onto orbiting electrons to produce neutral atoms). This occurred about 379,000 years after the Big Bang, when the background temperature of the universe dropped to about 3,000°K. When this happened, photons of background radiation would not be sucked up by nuclei, and could travel (on average) undisturbed to the edges of the universe.The background sky then darkened and darkness entered the universe. [Something analogous explains why days are bright and nights are dark and show the stars].

Was this darkness a different sort of thing from the darkness of verse 2?  Very interesting question. And I think the scientific answer is (as far as we can determine), Yes. Because the temperature of "nothing" is 0°K (absolute zero) which is a temperature that cannot be reached in the entire universe because of the residual echoes of the Big Bang (about 2.7°K).

... Now I suppose someone could maintain that these verses do not describe the Big Bang. But identifying the Big Bang with these verses provides very nice and scientifically accurate answers to St. Augustine's questions. And if that identity is denied, then they are left with the same puzzles that St. Augustine faced.

Was the sun itself not created until Day Four? 
This question has nothing to do with the interpretation of Day One, so it is not necessary to answer it here.

The True Interpretation of Day One
Probably no verses better illustrate the confusion caused by misunderstanding of what is actually being said. It's good, though, that the theologians were puzzled, because in fact they had no basis for understanding the actual events of the day or their true meaning, and so it led to many attempts at rationalization. The basic puzzles (and the true answer from modern science) are:

• Is Day One actually the start of creation, or is it a re-creation?
Answer: Day One is the actual start. It is the Big Bang, the beginning of space and time. At the Big Bang there was no matter: the whole universe consisted of radiant energy—light.
• How could there be light before the sun was (apparently) put in place in Day Four?
Answer: The Sun itself was formed from the light of the Big Bang. There had to be light before there could be the matter needed to form a Sun or the solar system, as nonsensical as that may have sounded to both scientists and theologians before the mid-20th century.
• How could there be light before matter?
Answer: All matter was formed from the light of the Big Bang. But the creation of matter other than the primordial elements Hydrogen and Helium, had to be preceded by the creation of darkness which converted the universe from radiation-domination to gravitation-domination—from a plasma universe to a material universe.
• Is the "light" to be spiritualized or taken figuratively? (Augustine)
Answer: It makes complete sense to take it literally, as meaning radiant energy. Whether there may also be a figurative or spiritual aspect is something the theologians have to figure out! In my own view the Creation account of Genesis 1 only concerns the physical universe—our own space and time—and does not treat the beginnings of the spirit world which is a separate creation.
• Is the light a clearing of earth's atmosphere?
Answer: No. The earth does not exist on Day One. The meaning of "empty and void" in verse 2 means that the physical earth did not yet exist.

With the discoveries of modern physics, the correct interpretation of Day One is evident!

Further Thoughts: From the viewpoint of both theology and of science, these verses of Day One are the most profound and most unexpected statements of the entire creation account, perhaps in the entire Bible. Who would have thought that the proper way to begin a creation account is with the creation of light? And yet, with the insight of modern science, this is exactly the correct way to begin the creation account.08 In truth, the universe did begin with the creation of light—pure radiant energy at intense heat: so hot that no elements, not even protons and neutrons, or the quarks that form them, could exist. This beginning is  the Big Bang.

Who would have thought that light is the most important thing to begin the creation account? Isn't the most important thing something material? Or objects: the Earth and Sky (as the Egyptian myths have it)? Or perhaps that elusive thing life? Or even the Sun and Moon—names that do not appear in the entire Genesis account—and stars? Some people imagine that "light" in this verse is a stand-in for the Sun, and that this verse refers to the light from the Sun (that's Scofield's view09). All of this misses the point—forgivably, because the full truth of the matter was not even known until the mid-1900s. Even Albert Einstein didn't know.

III. Creation of Darkness
CNS: I. Creation of the physical world.
CNB: II. Day One: The Creation of Light and Darkness. (Genesis 1:3-5).

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

St. Augustine was puzzled about the separate creation of darkness. He thought that light and darkness naturally came together: darkness being the absence of light. His (understandable) error was that he did not realize that light is an actual physical object.

About 379,000 years after the Big Bang, when the background temperature of the universe dropped to about 3,000°K, the universe had cooled down enough so that neutral atoms and molecules could form by capturing and holding electrons. Before this time, atoms could only form briefly before the electrons would be stripped away by the energetic ambient heat. Before stable atoms could form, the sky was always bright because photons were constantly being absorbed and scattered from everywhere at once. When stable atoms could form, light photons could travel long distances without being scattered, and hence the sky could appear dark, for the first time since the creation. There was darkness, separate from the light—of course nobody but God was around at this time to witness it.

This creation of darkness was not just an incidental action. It changed the universe from one dominated by strong electrical forces to one dominated by the much weaker force of gravity. The electrical forces were neatly captured into neutral atoms of hydrogen and helium. Over time the gravity caused matter to come together to form stars and galaxies which formed the other elements by nuclear fusion (see  IV. below).

So now we have a universe -- pretty useless at this point. The CNS says what happens next.  There are many excellent books that discuss the next steps in the CNS.

Formation of Stars and Forging of the Elements.
CNS: I. Creation of the physical world.
CNB: III. Creation of the Sun and Earth
Ch 4 Creation of the elements

By 20 minutes after the Big Bang, essentially all of the matter in the universe was forged by nuclear fusion, into hydrogen and Helium (with small amounts of beryllium and boron). After 20 minutes the universe was too cool to support further fusion. See Steven Weinberg, First Three Minutes for details.

When neutral atoms formed with the creation of darkness, the matter began to clump and heat up as gravity pulled it together. After about a billion years, the clumps heated up to millions of degrees and ignited into nuclear fusion. The hydrogen and helium fuzed to form heavier elements, beginning with the elements carbon, nitrogen and oxygen that are essential for life. The processes of element formation in the stars were first fully described in 1956 in a famous paper called
B2FH14 after its authors' names. This paper described how each element is formed in star-burning (forming elements up to iron, nickel and copper) as well as in the cataclysmic supernova deaths of stars which caused a tremendous flux of radiation that forged all of the heavier elements through uranium, and filled the surrounding space with its debris.

Over time, this debris of supernovas again coalesced under the force of gravity and formed second and higher generation stars, including the sun and the solar system, which formed about 4.65 billion years ago.

This description in
B2FH of how the elements form in star interiors and in supernovas is a remarkable feat, because, of course, it is impossible to directly disect a star to see how it is constructed. But the conclusions of this paper have been confirmed repeatedly in high-energy experiments over the 60+ years since the first publication, and there would be few genuine scientists that question its main conclusions (although there is a constant effort to test the validity of the claimed results).


Preparation of a Haven For Life
CNS: II. Preparation for Biological Life 
CNB: IV. Day Two: The Creation of Shields to Separate Inner and Outer Space.
Ch 5: A Haven For Life

The solar system had to have many specific physical features in order to be a host for living species. [Give references to books describing some of these requirements]. Here are the first requirements.

(1) The earth is near the co-rotation radius of the Milky Way galaxy. See Rich Deem, The Incredible Design of the Earth and Our Solar System for a number of remarkable features about the Sun and Earth, including placement of the solar system near the co-rotation radius of the Milky Way galaxy. This placement gives many benefits, particularly: (a) an unobstructed view of the universe for viewing by his special human creation; and (b) relief from the task of plowing through the galaxy's dense spiral arms as it rotates. This greatly reduces the likelihood of a collision between the solar system and nearby stars. See also Preben Grosbol, et al, Spiral Structure in the Milky Way: Confronting Observations and Theory (2010) on the co-rotation radius "just outside the Sun".

(2) The earth's orbit must remain in the habitable zone of the sun.
The habitable zone is defined as the distance from the sun that will have liquid water temperatures—the ambient surface temperature must be between freezing (0°C) and boiling (100°C). The inner and outer limits of the habitable zone are roughly between Venus and Mars, with Earth situated about midway within this zone.

In particular, the earth must remain within this zone throughout the entire time required to fit the earth to support advanced life.12 This time must be on the order of billions of years (for reasons that will be explained below), which is such a long time that there is no mathematical way to ensure or demonstrate such a high level of stability (See the following sharp point).

The Needed Stability of Earth's Orbit
The remarkable stability of the earth's orbit cannot be explained by any mathematical demonstration. Newton himself, the first to describe the planetary orbits in exact mathematical form, wrote about his puzzlement in the Principia, his seminal work on gravity.

The problem that he saw is that the planets form a many-body system orbiting the sun, and the orbits of such a system, are chaotic, that is, the orbits can be radically changed over the long-term, by very minor perturbations. This phenomenon is sometimes called the Butterfly Effect. Newton concluded that God had to tweak the earth's orbit from time to time to keep it in a stable orbit.

About 100 years after Newton, a French mathematician Laplace wrote a book, Celestial Mechanics, in which he claimed to prove that the earth's orbit was stable. There is a famous exchange with Napoleon in which he asserted that he "had no need for that hypothesis", meaning Newton's remark about God's tweaking. However Laplace was wrong, and there is no known way to prove the stability for Earth's orbit for billions of years, which in fact was needed to provide a place for advanced life (as will be seen below). At present, the limits of provable stability are on the order of 100 million years.

(3) Within the habitable zone shields are needed to protect life on the surface of the earth. The basic difficulty is that the habitable zone is too close to the sun, and so is subject to sterilzing hard alpha (charged) and gamma (uncharged) rays and coronal mass ejections from the sun as well as from outer space.

These shields are the specific subject of CNB, Day Two:

6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. 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. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

The "firmament" in Day Two is a shield or fence between inner space and outer space. It is a protection of the Earth from the rest of the universe, so that the project of life can proceed. Proverbs 8:27 describes it as "he drew a circle" (ESV) or "he set a compass" (KJV) on the face of the deep – literally "encircling" or "encompassing"; i.e. placing a fence: the same Hebrew word chuwg can be a noun or verb.

No life could exist without an effective protection from outer space: a shield is an absolute necessity. This is why life randomly forming in outer space is unbelievable (to me).

In Hebrew, this shield is called the raqia, a word derived from an ancient meaning of "expanse" or "covering"—i.e. a shield. The word does not include the concept of solidity. That is an ancient addition that was inserted when the Hebrew was translated into the Greek Septuagint by the most advanced scientists of the ancient world. The best science of the day recognized the need for a separation of inner and outer space. They figured this must mean a something solid. So the translation of the Hebrew raqia into the Greek stereoma, and the Latin firmamentum seemed to these early scholars as simply expressing the obvious fact that the raqia had to be a concrete, solid entity to shield the earth.

However the Hebrews made no such presumption of solidity—as is evident in the fact that later in the same creation account, Genesis 1:20 says that fowl fly above the earth in the open firmament, using the same word raqia.

A shield is absolutely necessary to protect inner space, but this shield is not solid; in fact multiple shields exist, each essential to the existence of advanced life on earth: Examples: a magnetic shield to deflect high-energy charged rays and solar mass ejections of plasma*
[* charged matter consisting of a mix of positively charged nuclei and negatively charged electrons]  from the nearby sun; and an ozone shield to filter out high energy alpha (positive) and gamma (negative) rays.

In the case of any "habitable zone" surrounding a star, these shields against high energy particles (charged and neutral) are needed because this zone is necessarily too close to the star: all life exposed to these rays would be killed without the shield. On Day Five, animal life began in water, before the shields were fully built: the water itself provides an effective shield. Life on land and in the air had to wait until the ozone shield was in place some 100 million years later (around 400 Million years ago).

Note that the ozone shield is neither solid nor visible, so early man, however "scientific" could not know about it.

Shields between inner and outer space (Day Two)

A number of shields are needed to protect inner-space life from outer space. The most important are:

• The Magnetosphere surrounding the earth which deflects charged rays (hard alpha (+) and beta (-) rays) from outer space, and also the periodic (charged) coronal mass ejections which may flood over the earth during solar storms in the direction of earth.

Magnetosphere shield surrounding Earth

• The ozone shield also protects the earth from hard (uncharged) gamma rays that come from the nuclear fusion within the sun and from outer space. This shield was effective around 400 million years ago, which marked the first movement of life from the oceans to land and the air.

• The massive outer planets also deflect many large space objects that might otherwise cause catastrophic collisions with the earth. [A recent example is the 1994 Shoemaker-Levy comet which Jupiter swept up]


The following material is still being prepared.
Update  to this point on 27 April 2017

Creation of Life
CNS: III. Life Itself
CNB: V. The Creation of Life.
Ch 5: A Haven For Life

The creation of microbial and plant life occurs next. The CNB implies but does not specifically mention this.

Creation of Dry Land
CNS: I. Creation of the physical world. SET
CNB: VI. Day Three: Creation of Dry Land and Vegetation

Provide Plant Food for Life on Land
CNS: I. Creation of the physical world. SET
CNB: II. Day One: The Creation of Light and Darkness. (Genesis 1:3-5). SET

Material is added as it is developed

^n01 Written language before writing. Shortly before 3,000 BC archaeology records the earliest evidence of written language, written in Egyptian, Sumerian and Akkadian (these two alphabetic languages from the region of Ur/Babylon in southern Iraq). The idea of alphabetic language is to represent sounds with "sounds like" images. Archaeology can trace the development of the writing as the images become more abstract—for example, the form of the letter "A": "[It] may have been a pictograph of an ox head ... styled as a triangular head with two horns extended." (See Wiki on "A")

Before writing, how did early humans make records? It is evident that they did, because a literal interpretation of Day Four, to "measure times and seasons, days and years" requires a retention of observations conducted over long periods of time (discussed later in connection with Day Four). The astronomer Walter Maunder argued that the constellations were a form of "written record" which predated writing. See Walter Maunder, Astronomy of the Bible (1904). The Lascaux Cave paintings appear to include an accurate sky chart from about 17,000 BC, which must have been reproduced from records written down in some way.

Ugarit (Ras Shamra) is a port city on the Mediterranean in Northern Syria, with a fortified wall dating to 6,000 BC, guarding the trade route between the Mediterranean and the Euphrates/Tigris trade routes. It is near to Ebla, the source of the Ebla Tablets, an ancient library from the early bronze age, c. 2500 BC, which contained many hundreds of literary texts and trade records. At the time, Ebla appears to have been a major educational center for prospective scribes.

[NOTE: GET John Healey, The Early Alphabet, and "Egypt, Ancient: Hieroglyphics and Origins of Alphabet" in Encyclopedia of African History 3-volume set]

Ugaritic tablet from Ebla Wikimedia

^n02 One thing that I have learned over time, is that God doesn't usually hand things over to us on a platter. We have to work to get it.  Fortunately, one characteristic of good scientists is dogged persistence, and God rewards that with insight. One of the remarkable and unexpected features of this "line" that God has woven into the natural world, is that it gives a remarkable record of the past—going all the way to the very beginning in the Big Bang. Who would have thought that scientists can discover what took place within fractions of a second after the very beginning of the universe, or could learn what goes on in the interior of stars (which was revealed in that landmark 1957 paper by my one of my favorite scientists, Fred Hoyle, called B2FH after the authors Berbidge (man and wife), Fowler and Hoyle).

^n03 Before the demonstration that the universe is finite and had a definite beginning, many scientists assumed that our universe was infinite in space and time. So the multiverse concept applies that assumption one step earlier: the multiverse—infinite in space and time—spawned our finite universe and perhaps an infinity of other universes, each perhaps with a different selection of physical laws and constants. Of course, scientists are not entirely happy with this. It would be preferable to have a grand unified theory that would explain how such universes begin, how they chose laws and constants, etc. But, alas, such a (generally accepted) grand theory does not (yet) exist.

^n03a See Introduction to Astronomy (pdf).

The Rig Veda was an Early Sanskrit document composed 1400-900 BC (roughly contemporary with the Genesis composition). Hymn 129 "Nasadiya Sukta" concerns Creation. Translation by Ralph T. H. Griffith. Translated by A. L. Basham. It was a long oral tradition until finally put into writing around 900 B.C.  The name means "not the nonexistent" and its composition is  possibly contemporary with Genesis (but I'm not ready to go to the stake over this!). Or, more probably, both the Genesis account and the Rig Veda accounts reflect an older oral tradition passed down from the distant past. Genesis and other Old Testament books frequently cite sources for the information, which no longer are extant.

^n04 A number of recent books have been written about this. See Geraint F. Lewis & Luke A. Barnes,
A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos(2017). This book is a comprehensive discussion of the topic, and also lists many other recent books.

On the physical events that occurred in connection with the Big Bang, see, for example, Steven Weinberg, The First Three Minutes: A Modern View Of The Origin Of The Universe (1988) and Jonathan Allday, Quarks Leptons and the Big Bang (1998).
^n05 St. Augustine of Hippo (13 November 354—28 August 430), The Literal Interpretation of Genesis. His view was that Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" to signal the creation of everything, including the earth and all the events of the Creation Days. In my view this verse, together with Genesis 2:4 are the "bookends" of the creation narrative, which take place in the intervening verses. He says, in Book I, §8, "Are we to understand that by the expression, heaven and earth all that God made is to be included and brought to mind first in a general way, and that then the manner of creation is to be worked out in detail, as for each object the words God said occur? For whatever God made, he made through His Word." My short answer is "yes". However he went on to give this verse a deeper meaning (which I do not agree with).

Augustine concluded that (because God is timeless) the creation of everything was instantaneous (omnia simul), but that they were created in potential, with the realization occurring in time. At one place [V.5.13] he said that God "Created potentially, for time would bring them into view in the ages to come." Henry Woods, Augustine and Evolution (1924) p. 14, remarks on omnia simul: "He conceived creation as proceeding from the Creator, a unit including all things whatsoever that are to exist to the end of time, and corresponding to the single creative mandate. ... [H]e places the analogue of all things, as yet without individual existence, existing in elementary matter as forms in potency, forms decreed to exist, therefore no figments of the mind... distinguishing objectively the things that are to be, from mere possibilities never to be actuated."; p. 16 "St. Augustine takes unformed matter in the scriptural sense for matter without definite external form." As noted earlier, St. Thomas Aquinas formalized his view in Question 66 of Summa Theologica. see - article1. The answer of Aquinas states that "holy men differ in opinion." He then cites the views of various Church Fathers. This view also provides an understanding of "without form and void" in verse 2. Clearly he did not consider adherence to a particular view as essential to the Faith.

^n06 The Bible uses the same root word for "spirit", "wind" and "breathing" (in both the Old and New Testaments). An illustration of this is found in John 3:8, "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." In this verse the same Greek word pneuma is translated "wind" and "Spirit".

^n07 St. Augustine, Op. cit., Ch. 19, §38 asks whether this light is "spiritual light … or material light, celestial or supercelestial, even existing before the heavens?[emphasis added]" How close he was to the truth of the matter! This is followed (§39) by the famous statement that warns theologians against making assertions regarding matters of science of which they are ignorant: "Christians should not talk nonsense to unbelievers."

Many theologians thought that the light of Day One should be understood in a figurative or spiritual sense. Augustine tended to move in this direction. See John F. McCarthy, A Neo-patristic Return to the First Four Days of Creation, Part III - The Days of Creation According to St. Augustine (1993) "He puzzled over the creation of light on the first day, if the sun, the moon, and the stars came into place only on the fourth day….Not having found a satisfactory solution to this question, he considered the possibility that the light created on the first day was a spiritual light…."

One theologian even argued that the Creation could not begin with light in Day One, because the creation of matter must come before light. This led to the conclusion that the creation took place in Genesis 1:1. But in fact, the truth is the exact opposite of this: modern science asserts that matter comes from light (radiant energy) and so light must come before matter.

[Give other Refs for interpretations of "light" in Day One]

^n08  To my knowledge, Pope Pius XII was the first recent theologian to suggest this deep meaning of Day One. See his paper, "To the Members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences" 22 November 1951 (Latin: translate with Google Translate).

^n09 "The 'light' of course came from the sun, but the vapour diffused the light. Later the sun appeared in an unclouded sky." The Scofield Reference Bible, 1917 Ed., Note 4 on Genesis 1:3.

Augustine had several perplexities. Ad. Lit. 1.10.19 "Why was the creation of light so delayed until a day had passed and evening came?" (that is evening and morning) … "And the separation of light and darkness was done, surely, in the very act of the creation of light. There could not have been any light unless it was separated from darkness." 1.10.20: "As for the fact that God called the light Day and the darkness Night, how much time could this have taken? … No one certainly would be so foolish as to think that, because God is great beyond all beings, even a very few syllables uttered by His mouth could have extended over the course of a whole day." For these reasons Augustine leaned towards spiritualizing the light, connecting the light with Angels, etc. All is explained once the true meaning of Day One is understood!

Note that the darkness created here is quite another thing from the primordial darkness of Genesis 1:2. It is a new kind of darkness, created as a result of the cooling of the universe to the point where hydrogen and helium nuclei could hold onto electrons to produce neutral atoms.

^n12 It was absolutely necessary for the Earth to have been formed from the debris of a supernova because that is how elements up to Uranium were formed and ejected from their mother-stars. The earth could not have remained warm enough for life if it were not for the warming produced by uranium decay deep in the earth's interior. This fact of Earth's long-extended warmth was a source of great puzzlement by physicists in the days before the discovery of radioactivity. Lord Kelvin (William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin (26 June 1824—17 December 1907) estimated the age of the earth in 1862 to be 20-400 Ma based on the loss of heat from an initial molten state—unaware, of course, of uranium's radioactive heating. See James Dana, Manual of Geology (1896), p. 1026. [EDITOR QUESTION: To what extent does the earth's surface temperature depend on heating from the Sun, as compared with uranium heating in the earth's interior?]

^n13 Scofield, (2nd Edition, 1917) note on 1:3 "The 'light' of course came from the sun, but the vapour diffused the light. Later the sun appeared in an
unclouded sky."

11 ^n11 See Introduction to Astronomy (pdf).

Timescale for star burning (From  B2FH )

^n14 B2FH = Geoffrey Burbidge, Margaret Burbidge, William Fowler and Fred Hoyle, Synthesis of the Elements in Stars,
Reviews of Modern Physics 29 (1957) p547-650. See the Wikipedia article. See also a brief preceding article by the
Burbidges, Cosmical Alchemy (1956). For a Forty year update see: G. Wallerstein, Synthesis of the elements in stars: forty
years of progress (1997).  This is a prime exemple of what evolutionary theory should do, and which biological evolution lacks. The B2FH paper,
op. cit., explains how the evolution occurs with testable assertions.

See Introduction to Astronomy (pdf).

^n16 The difficulty is the so-called "Many-body problem". Systems of more than two objects (such as the sun and multiple orbiting planets) are inherently unstable, because minor influences can cause unpredictable long-term effects, popularly called the "butterfly effect". Isaac Newton noted this
stability problem and concluded that God had to "tweak" the orbits from time to time. (See ???GET QUOTE). A century later the mathematician LaPlace claimed to prove the stability of the earth's orbit, in his famous (and erroneous) remark "I have no need for that hypothesis," referring to the necessity for
God's stabilizing the earth's orbit. However LaPlace was in error, as is acknowledged by later mathematicians. Modern computations cannot predict stability of the earth's orbit beyond about 100 million years, much less than the required billions of years.

10 ^n10

10 ^n10

10 ^n10


Table of Questions

Day One: Creation of physical light
Why does the Genesis Creation Narrative begin with the creation of light? What sort of light is it? The first act of creation: creation of light in the Big Bang. Universe—space and time—created from nothing; expands into nothing. Second act of creation: creation of darkness. Light of Day One  preceeds the creation of the Sun and Solar System.
Day Three, Part 1—Creation of Dry Land
How could dry land appear out of the global ocean? Dry land appeared out of a global ocean. Oceans form one global water-mass. Dry land also began as one mass. Role of plate tectonics.
Before Day One
Why does the Genesis Creation Narrative begin with verse 2—before Day One? What is the setting of Genesis 1:2? Before Creation began. Earth did not yet exist—"shapeless and empty". Contemporary use of words indicate this—Rig Veda. Universe expands into "the deep"—empty nothingness.
Day Two
(Creation of the earth implied before Day Two)
What is the "firmament" in Day Two? Why is its description the second event in the Genesis Creation Narrative? A Raqia shields "inner space" from "outer space". Mis-translated in earliest Greek LXX by "firmament". Error persists to today.


Summary thus far: Creation of the Physical and Chemical worlds.

The Geological Record of Life

Introduction to Life: The Geological Record from Science.
When did Life Begin?
(Implied before Day Three)
Overwhelming complexity and unity of all life. When did life first appear on earth? First evidence on earth as soon as liquid oceans cooled to below pasteurization temperatures (~4.85 Billion years ago). No plausible scientific (falsifiable) explanation of how life began (within the timeframe of the entire universe). Remarks on complexity of the "minimum" possible form of life and the 1998 NAS Symposium on this question.
What is “Advanced life” and when could earth support it?

This is a set-up question. The (correct) implication is that the early earth could not support advanced life. First living bacteria prepared for advanced life over a span of 2 billion years. How did the earth prepare for it? The critical pathways: photosynthesis; carbon fixing; nitrogen fixing. Formation of oxygen atmosphere to provide oxygen respiration required by all advanced life. Distribution of fixed carbon and nitrogen worldwide. What is advanced life? The eukaryotic cell, visible plants and animals. Cambrian explosion. These answers come from science, not from the Bible. But science, in turn, gets its answers from the “silent voice” which God wove into the natural world. “It is unreasonable that we can answer these questions.”
Day Three, Part 2—The Greening of the Land
When did Plants appear on dry land? The Fossil record of migration to land in the Silurian/Devonian era. The Rhynie chert. Ozone shield; concurrent appearance of flying insects.
What does "creation after its kind" mean?
Sexual reproduction and implications. Preparation of food on land for animals. Spores, Seeds and Fruits.
Day Four: How do stars mark off the seasons, days and years?
Unexplainable stability of the solar system. Early development of Astronomy as the first deliberative science. Earliest (current) evidence for advanced Astronomical observation at Lascaux cave in 18th Millennium BC.
How do animals differ from plants?
First reference to special creation by God—barà. Significance. The animal "soul"—nephesh. Cambrian Explosion of animal phyla (body types)
Why did advanced life begin In the Oceans?

Note about reproduction in water environment. Eggs and amniotic sac as a sort of “water environment”. Eggs. Dry land sterilized before ozone shield completed.

What are the longest extant animal species?

Meaning of "kind" in this context. extant shellfish lines.  Bony Fishes—The Coelacanth "living fossil"
Day Six, Part 1—When did land animals first appear?
When did animals appear on dry land?
Day Six, Part 2—When did true humans first appear?

Creation of Adam. When did true humans first appear? Note: Only other use of barà in the creation narrative. Applies to both man and woman. Mandate to reproduce and “fill the earth” What is the scientific evidence for the earliest appearance of humans. Dressed stones, bows and arrows, Cave art. ??Cava ~30k BC Lascaux Cave ~18k BC. Later evidence: boats, advanced tools.
When did the alphabet and writing first appear?

Coincident with bronze age (smelting) ~3000 BC. Mid-East. (All written languages appear to derive from early cuneiform. (Chinese, Egyptian, etc.) Evidence for accurate astronomical record-keeping as early as the 18th millennium BC.

Other questions to tease your mind:
• When did the first smelting occur? (See Gen. )
• Earliest clock mechanisms?
• Are Humans and Neanderthals related?
• When was the Flood? Coincident with the annihilation of neanderthals?
===That's enough for now===


Question 1 - Day One (Genesis 1:3-5):
Why does the Genesis Creation Narrative begin with the creation of light on Day One?
    -- What sort of light is it? Is it physical light, or is "light" used in a figurative way?

  And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
Discussion: Well, suppose a scientist was asked: How would you begin the Creation Narrative of Science? The answer would be: the universe began with the creation of light in the Big Bang. Perhaps a different term might be used: radiant energy; but light is the same as radiant energy, just another word for it. Of course, whether the Big Bang created our universe from nothing (which is a pretty reasonable Biblical view) or whether it came from something else (which is a prety reasonable view from Science)17, is an interesting question, but that is beyond the ability of science to answer in a verifiable way. All of objective, testable science is trapped within our universe as we experience it.

But here is something that Science adds, something that is prettty startling, and totally unexpected and non-intuitive: Space itself began with the Big Bang. Now that really clashes with our intuitions. As the universe (yes, the universe!) expanded from that first intense point of light in the Big Bang, space itself grew from nothing. The universe didn't expand into space, it is space itself, and grew from nothing. Outside the universe is nothingness—at least as far as science can determine: science is, as it were, trapped inside of our universe. We'll say more about this later.

Here is the fact: All forms of energy, all of the chemical elements in the universe, all matter, began as light. This fact is the greatest, most illuminating, scientific discovery since the invention of writing, and it was first discovered in the early decades of the Twentieth Century. It took until the 1960s for the full significance of this to sink in.

Every material thing in the universe began with light: the Sun itself began as light; and all the energy in the universe was created in that one instant. This is the conclusion of the empirical observation that energy is never created or destroyed, the law of energy conservation.

For all preceding centuries, scientists and philosophers marveled about light and tried to explain its nature. The nature of light has always been a subject of wonder. The early Greek poets and philosophers had many words to describe light, which ranged the properties of illumination, vision and perception (both physical and mental), spanning the realm of the physical and the mental or psychic. 15 

But its true physical nature was only discovered in the last, 20th Century.

Why does this matter? This matters because the Genesis Creation account begins with the creation of light, with God's command: "Let there be light." And for thousands of years, scholars, scientists and theologians wondered why that was so: why such a primary position for the creation of light in the Bible's creation narrative? All sorts of explanations were given—Is it physical light? Does it presume the prior existence of the Sun? Is it spiritual light? Is it intellectual understanding and insight (an example would be personified Wisdom in Proverbs 818)? Is it the creation of heavenly beings "of light"?—

But nobody, no scholar, no theologian, no philosopher, even the very best of them, guessed at the true fact—that literally every material thing in the universe (including the Sun itself) began with light—if you trace it back to its original source. If you think it is impossible that the ancient writer of Genesis could have sensed such a deep fact about our universe—And I do believe that it is impossible apart from Illumination (there's that light again!) from the Creator Himself—did he just luck on the truth? Is it just an incredible accident? For myself, I don't think it is accidental. I believe the Bible is inspired by the Creator himself. The Bible is not a book of science—but when it touches on matters of science, it speaks accurately. Even if the true facts were not known to any human, they were known to the Creator, and He did not allow error to creep into the Biblical narrative as the original writer wrote it down. In the case of Day One, the Creator knew what we humans have only learned within the past century. The first thing in the universe was light, physical light. This is what I believe.

Answer 1: Day One describes the creation of physical light as the very first act of creation. Scientists are even able to give the time that this happened: 13.77 billion years ago. Before this, the universe itself did not exist.

 Big Bang

Day One: Let There Be Light (Genesis 1:3)
slide from presentation: the Creation Narrative of Science:
powerpoint: Creation Narrative of Science ...  handout (pdf)

This is a remarkable discovery and it has a profound impact on how the Genesis Creation Account should be understood—if, that is, you agree with me that the Bible is divinely inspired by the Creator Himself. For one thing, it clears up the question: is the light of Day One to be understood as physical light? The answer is yes. Now it is possible (I'll leave that to theologians to hash out!) that God intended the verse to have a spiritual or figurative meaning as well, perhaps a reference to the Wisdom of Proverbs 8. But the plain, direct meaning of physical light is indeed exactly what the most recent understanding of science would say should take the first place in Science's narrative.

Puzzlement: So what does this say about the mention of the Earth before Day One (Genesis 1:2)? Not going to answer it now—it will be answered in Question 3.

Incidentally...this discovery clears up many things about Day One that have puzzled theologians and scholars for thousands of years: Does the light of Day One mean that the Sun already existed? (No!) Why did Day One describe a separate creation of darkness? (Because the creation of darkness was a separate event). Does the Genesis creation account include creation of the universe itself? (Yes!).

Presentation: See the Presentation on Day One: Powerpoint: Day One ... handout (pdf)


Question 2 - Day Three (Genesis 1:9): How could dry land appear out of the global ocean as described in Day Three?
    -- Note that this implies the early earth was covered in a global ocean, because dry land was made to appear out of the water.

  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.

Discussion: On the surface there seems to be a difficulty. This was a considerable concern of the theologians who knew quite well that dry land does not appear by gathering together the oceans. Frankly, it takes no subtlety to understand what this says, and it defies rational thought. As one commentary says, "The retirement of the waters from its surface, is to reverse the ordinary processes of nature." Another commentary remarks: "But of this we have no physical explanations." My own favorite ancient theologian, St. Augustine of Hippo states it plainly: "Now, where were the waters gathered if they had originally covered the whole earth? When some were pulled back to lay bare the land, to what region were they brought? If there was some bare portion of the earth where they could be gathered, dry land already was in evidence, and the waters were not occupying the whole. But if they had covered the whole, what place was there in which they might be gathered so that dry land might appear?"19

But what does science say? Science itself had no explanation until a solution was suggested in 1958, and has since been widely accepted: that the continents move around and float on the underlying semi-liquid mantle.21 The floating ensures that the continents are permanent dry land, floating high above the ocean surface—not floating on the oceans (that would be absurd as the theologians were well aware), but floating on the denser mantle that underlays the earth's solid crust.

Yes, indeed, science agrees that the earth was initially covered in a global ocean over 1000 ft. deep. That ocean first formed when the earth finally cooled from a molten state nearly 4 billion years ago. When the earth's crust first cooled, it was fairly smooth. But a nearby moon caused huge tidal forces which wrenched the crust resulting in frequent violent volcanoes. These thrust volcanic cones through the ocean surface, but the cones quickly eroded because of the tides, forming extensive tidal flats—shallow areas that followed the lines of the volcanic activity. But this initial land was not "dry land" in the sense of being permanent because of the constant erosion and extreme tidal effects. Another thing was needed.

Over many millions of years the heat radiating from the cooling earth's interior, formed convection currents under the earth's thin surface crust. The crust broke into huge plates that spread apart or collided as they were tugged along by the convection currents. Along collision lines one plate thrust under the other and melted as it went deep into the earth's mantle. The less dense molten material rose to the surface through cracks in the underthrust crust. This separation of matter according to melting points and density, is a well-known gradual process of fractionation.20 This process, over vast amounts of time, produced the granites which form the base of the continents. The continents literally float atop the denser mantle, forming in this slow way and gradually thrusting permanent dry land through the ocean surface. This "dry land" is  more permanent than the volcanic cones and can withstand the moon's tidal forces. The mountain ranges trace out the lines of the upthrust/underthrust action along the plate edges, that caused this continental formation. It is an observable fact that the average density of the ocean floors is higher than the average density of the continents, although scientists until the 1950's did not understand this mechanism of continental formation.

On the one side these continental plates form the continents and raise the mountains that generally line the borders of the continents. On the other side of these same continental plates, they separate and form the ocean deeps and the spreading abyssal plains which generally have the same density as the mantle and are therefore denser than the floating continents.

Conclusion: There is no physical impossibility at work here. The concerned theologians and scholars can apply balm to their worry-warts. The process of continent formation violates no physical laws. Dry land indeed is formed out of the oceans.


Continental Underthrusting and Mountain Formation
slide from presentation: the Creation Narrative of Science:
powerpoint: Creation Narrative of Science ...  handout (pdf)

Further Discussion: forming in one place. The Genesis account goes on to say not only that dry land appeared out of the global ocean but that the oceans were "gathered together unto one place." And here is another interesting fact: the oceans have always been and still are a single connected global water mass. All of today's oceans are connected in one global super-ocean with global currents circulating through them. One practical effect of the global ocean currents is to regulate the ocean temperatures and smooth them out worldwide—and also to allow an open water pathway for marine species to distribute worldwide rather than just in limited localities, as is characteristic of land species.

Finally, it is also true, if we accept the Gonwadaland theory, the dry land itself was at one time "in one place" although in my view, that is not necessarily implied by the text of Day Three. Today, of course, the original unified continent itself broke into large fragments and drifted atop the earth's mantle to form today's continents.  This happened 250-300 Million years ago (quite recently in comparison with the 4.5 billion year age of the Earth itself). Since that time, continental plate movements separated the continents and moved them to their present positions on the earth.


Dry Land in One Place
slide from presentation: the Creation Narrative of Science:
powerpoint: Creation Narrative of Science ...  handout (pdf)

The dry land is permanent in the sense that the formation of dry land balances over time the losses due to erosion.

Reflection. So the Biblical Creation Narrative is exactly correct at this point—both about the fact that the early earth was covered by a global ocean, and about dry land "appearing" out of the global ocean which was, and still is today, "gathered unto one place". And for thousands of years the Bible expositers puzzled over this and concluded that somehow a miracle had to have happened, because the facts seemed to conflict with the natural laws. But in fact the process was entirely in harmony with science—as science itself belatedly discovered only since the mid-1900s.

Presentation: See the Presentation on this part of Day Three: Powerpoint: Dry Land ....  handout (pdf)


Question 3 - Before Day One (Genesis 1:2): Why does the Genesis Creation Narrative begin with verse 2—before Day One? What is the setting of Genesis 1:2—is it before the beginning? If so, how is the mention of the Earth to be understood? What does it mean that the Earth was without form and void?

  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.

Discussion. Well, we've mentioned Day One and part of Day Three and thus far skipped over the mention of waters and the earth in Genesis 1:2 which is set before the Creation Day One started. So... how are we to understand that verse?

St. Augustine translated "empty and void" as meaning "shapeless and empty" and he concluded that the earth did not yet exist at that time: it had not been shaped or filled—it was shapeless and empty.

He then developed this thought into a view that there are two stages of creation: creation in potential and creation in actuality. Over time this developed into a full-blown Church theology of creation which you can see in St. Thomas Aquinas' question in Summa Theologica: Question 66, Whether formlessness of created matter preceded in time its formation?  In this interpretation, verse 1, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" is the entire "formless" creation, and then the "form" is worked out over the six Days. In my view this is strained and unnecessary: it requires a "creation" in which a thing is created virtually and then comes to realization later.

Personally, I think there is a much more reasonable answer for this verse. I see Genesis 1:2 as set, literally, before the beginning, where there was no universe, and of course no earth, no water, only God's Spirit was there. Before the beginning. So the question to ask is, how would an ancient contemporary to the author of Genesis have described such a condition of nothingness?

In fact, we have such a description (the only one I know of), likely from a contemporary source or common tradition. It is the Hindu Rig Veda description of creation.
22   Without accepting that this Hindu account is inspired by God, it does give us an  example of how contemporaries would have described such a condition before anything existed.

 Rig Veda

Rig Veda Creation Account
slide from presentation: the Genesis Creation Narrative of Science: Before the Beginning
powerpoint: Before the Beginning  ... handout (pdf)

This describes a time when "even nothingness was not, nor existence". It uses similar terms to Genesis 1:2 such as water, darkness, depth, even "void and form less" but these refer to nothingness. This view is further discussed in the presentation.

So one can conclude that this verse in Genesis refers to a condition of nothingness prior to the creation of light in Day One, and that it uses terms that would be used to describe such a setting in the contemporary word usage at the time that the Genesis account was written.

What does Science say?  Well, first you must realize that science, at least any kind of science that can be based on experimental information, is completely trapped inside our universe. It cannot make any authoritative experimentally verifiable comments about what happened before the Big Bang or about what happens outside of our universe. 

According to Creation Narrative of Science, the universe began as a point of intense light in the Big Bang and the  universe has expanded since that time at about the speed of light. This expansion is not into space because the universe is all of space. It is expansion into emptiness. Outside of the universe is nothingness. This agrees very well with what the Rig Veda says about the situation before the beginning.

It is very hard to visualize this. Scientists usually describe the expansion with a 2-dimensional analogy in which the universe is pictured as the surface of an expanding balloon as indicated in the following figure:

Expanding Universe
Surface of an expanding  balloon
as a 2-dimensional analog of the expanding (3-dimensional) universe.

In this picture the balloon is expanding into emptiness. There is emptiness everywhere except on the surface of the balloon, which pictures the universe itself.

Before the beginning the only thing was the emptiness. The universe began out of nothing and is expanding into nothing. Nothing, pure emptiness, is both inside and outside the "balloon".  If there is something there, it is totally beyond the ability of science to describe it.

As I see Genesis 1:2 this emptiness is what the universe came out of and expands into. The "deep" (Hebrew tahom) is the unfathomable depth of nothingness that surrounds the universe. Water is the fluid unformed vastness of nothingness. Darkness is absolute darkness such as never occurs within the universe—there is always some radiation everywhere in the universe, but outside the universe, darkness is absolute. The earth in 1:2 is non-existent, as St. Augustine understood the words: he is absolutely correct about this. Only the eternal Spirit of God is there moving through the emptiness.

One further interesting thought may be made about this verse: The word translated "moved upon" in this verse has a better translation: "brooded over" which is a word used of a hen brooding over eggs about to be hatched. This picture seems particularly appropriate in view of the creation of light in the next verse.

Conclusion: Genesis 1:2 is set before the beginning, when there was nothing. The earth was "empty" because it did not yet exist. The "deep", "darkness", "waters" express the formless and boundlessness of emptiness, nothingness. This is, I believe the correct understanding of Genesis 1:2, and is consistent with the Creation Narrative of Science.

I am aware that many Bible scholars assume that the Creation Week is a reconstruction of an original creation that was destroyed and then re-built in the Creation Days. One reason why this conclusion was made is because of the remarks about the earth in 1:2 and the failure to understand the significance of light in 1:3—it was thought that the light required the prior presence of a Sun. I believe that those objections are overcome by the recent discovery of the real significance of light in Day One as the basic building material for everything in the universe, including the Sun itself. And therefore that Day One describes the creation of light in the Big Bang, which includes the light that will eventually form the fuel to make the Sun shine.

Presentation: See the Presentation on "Before the Beginning: Genesis 1:2": Powerpoint: Before the Beginning ... handout (pdf).


Question 4 - Day Two (Genesis 1:6-7): What is the "firmament" in Day Two? Why is its description the second event in the Genesis Creation Narrative?

  Genesis 1:6-7 "And God said, 'Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.' 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."

Discussion. I skipped Day Two earlier because I wanted to point out two places in the Genesis Creation Account where a recent accurate understanding in science cleared up some problems in understanding the Genesis account.

Here in Day Two we have the opposite problem: an early and false understanding in science caused an out and out error to get in the way of a clear understanding of Day Two. The error came in when Genesis was translated from the original Hebrew into Greek in the LXX translation (traditionally by the "70 elders"), done somewhere around 200 BC.
24  The subject of Day Two is preparation of the earth for the future development of living plants and animals, the subject of Days Three, Five and Six.

These verses state that God made a Raqia to separate inner space from outer space. With this Raqia in place, the project of creating life could commence.

The LXX translators used the best Egyptian "science" of the time to interpret this Raqia according to the Egyptian cosmology which covered the surface of Earth with a solid dome. So they translated Raqia with the word stereoma which became firmamentum when the Bible was later translated into Latin: stereoma and firmamentum have the same meaning of solidity. Hence the word "firmament" in the King James Translation above, with the word transliterated directly from the Latin.

To these scientists it seemed only logical that the Raqia would be a solid shield protecting inner space and life on earth and they thought that was the meaning of Raqia in Day Two. Some modern translations carry on this notion by translating the word "Dome"; other, more conservative translations use a more neutral word such as "expanse"—which could be solid or not, according as one understood the use of the word. Thus this ancient error is still carried on in many modern translations of the Bible.

The fact is, the Hebrew word Raqia used here does not imply solidity (as firmament does—it even includes the word "firm"). It means "stretching out", as a covering, such as a tent. This was pointed out in a book by the astro-scientist Maunder in his book Astronomy of the Bible, first published in 1908.
23   Maunder is famous today for his discovery of the cycles in sun spots and of the "Maunder minimum".

What does Science Say? Life could not exist exposed on the surface of the earth (or in the air), without a number of shields to protect life from destruction. One obvious requirement for life to exist on earth is that the planet must be within the "habitable zone" of the Sun. This is a band around the sun that will allow water to exist in liquid form—in the Solar System, the habitable zone lays roughly between Venus and Mars. But the problem is, at this distance the earth is subject to bombardment from particles and lethal radiation from the sun which would quickly sterilize the earth and destroy any life-forming activity on its surface, particularly land life. So, after creating the universe on Day One, creating the Solar System and the Earth (not explicitly mentioned but somewhere between Days One and Two) the next important thing is to protect the earth from this bombardment. So God created the Raqia, shields which protect the earth to allow for future life.


The"Firmament" or "Raqia"
slide from presentation: the Creation Narrative of Science:
powerpoint: Creation Narrative of Science ...  handout (pdf)

Conclusion: Without the Raqia of Day Two life could not have developed on dry land. The Raqia of science are immaterial shields that surround the earth and protect it from space debris and lethal radiation.

Presentation: See the Presentation on "Day Two: A Haven For Life":
Powerpoint ... handout (pdf)


Summation: Creation of the physical world.

To this point the creation narrative concerns the physical universe: the world of radiation, matter and space. This is truly a marvelous universe.

The marvelous thing is that CNS doesn't just agree with CNB, but it also enriches CNB with new insights and clears up a number of questions about how to understand certain statements. Specifically, through the CNS we learn that:

The universe itself including space itself had a definite beginning. CNB is not just limited to the earth itself, but applies to the whole universe. The idea that the universe—that is time and space and everything in it—had a beginning is something that is a radically new departure from what most scientists and many theologians once understood. In the new CNS cosmology the universe doesn't expand into existing empty space, because space itself is part of the universe and is part of the Big Bang beginning.

This universe is all that we can investigate in science. For one thing, scientists cannot investigate anything farther than the visible universe that the speed of light defines. What is beyond the universe? Of course, CNB says that God is eternally existent, and so clearly He exists beyond the limitations of the universe. But there is no objective way for science to say, except by way of pure, unverifiable speculation. Does nothingness surround the universe? Who can say? I think we can argue that the Rig Veda hints, rather elliptically, at such a conclusion and yet hedges by implying that (perhaps) there is something there.

But we do know that the universe we occupy, began about 13.77 billion years ago, and that this universe has a radius of something less than 13.77 billion light years (the exact radius depending on how much the gravitational mass of the universe retards its expansion).

This is a wonderful extension of our understanding that CNS contributes to the CNB—and at the same time it is completely compatible with CNB's expression of Day One.

No matter existed at the very beginning. It was the inverse of what St. Peter said in II Peter 3:10, "The elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also ... shall be burned up." The temperature at the very beginning of the universe was so high that no matter could hold together—no physical force could bind it—so everything was radiation, that is, light. As the universe expanded and cooled in the first few minutes, the primordial elements formed—the nuclei of hydrogen and helium. These would eventually fuse in star interiors to form the other elements . And much later—8 billion years later—the sun would form and light up. But the light of the actual, physical Day One was not sunlight! It was much more primordial than that!

The earth began as a molten body. CNS asserts that the solar system condensed out of a vast cloud of matter. The sun and planets formed, pummelled with the debris that surrounded this primordial sun. The primitive earth melted, and after the debris surrounding the sun clarified, the earth cooled from its molten state and formed a fairly smooth crust under a global ocean.

Gradually the continents formed to make dry land, and immaterial shields built up to surround the earth and divide inner space around the earth from outer space.
This describes the material world, and sets the stage for the beginnings of life.

Summation: The Geological Record of Life on Earth.

The CNS does not explain how life began, but it shows its presence and progression in the geological record from very early times. This geological record marks out a number of stages in the creation of life:

a. Establish the Central Dogma.
b. Form Simple cells (bacteria)
c. Prepare the earth for advanced cells
d. Form Advanced cells (eukaryotes)
e. Form visible plants and animals (more-or-less in tandem)
(1) Marine plants and animals
(2) Land plants and animals
f. Humans appear as the most advanced life (30-50,000 years ago).
This is the sequence traced out by CNS through the geological record. The Bible is silent on the beginning of life, but plant life on land shows up in Day Three. So it is a great and welcome contribution of CNS to provide this level of detail, which in no way contradicts the CNB.

As is true of all conclusions of science, they are always subject to change, and you may of course quibble about some details, but I believe this is a pretty definite and fairly assured sequence laid out in the geological records. Subject of course to further discoveries and developments in geology and in science in general. We'll say something about each step in sequence.

a. Establish the Central Dogma.

Sorry if that sounds anthropic. But all forms of life share the same basic collection of features usually called "The Central Dogma". It involves hundreds of choices which appear to be contingent, as far as one can determine. By "contingent" I mean that a feature is chosen out of what seem to be a number of possibilities. There seems to be no particular physical or chemical reason that compels that choice. Hopefully, as science progresses, some of these contingencies will be seen to be not arbitrary at all; but at present they seem a bit arbitrary. That's one reason why most scientists who really know what they are talking about, say that life could only have arisen once—otherwise one would see different sorts of life with different sequence of choices.  It is impossible to think that an independent generation of such a complex sequence of steps could have come together exactly the same way.

Biological life is fiercely digital. That's a surprise because the natural world seems to be analytical rather than digital. Every species of life is determined by a blueprint consisting of literally hundreds of digital genes of varying length, mostly hundreds of digital "codons" in length. All life, however simple or complex is determined the same way from these genes which reside in one or more chains of DNA. All life forms carry this genetic information within a regulatory apparatus that is itself determined by these same genes. If that sounds a bit circular, well ... it is.

The central dogma dictates how the information for these carbon chains is recorded in the DNA and transcribed to form the proteins which carry out the various cellular functions. Everything in a cell, every specialized molecule or tissue, is formed in this same say, starting with DNA, transcribed into proteins, which then produce the miniature "factories" that produce the final product.

And all of life from the simplest to the most complex is programmed in essentially the same exceedingly complex way. This complex procedure appears to have been put together one time only, and then copied in all other living species.

The components of all known life from the simplest to the most complex, involve at least hundreds of the same (essentially) complex inter-relationships that must exist simultaneously and work together in exquisitely delicate ways.  Colloquially that goes by the name Central Dogma. 

In 1998 there was a colloquium of the National Academy of Sciences that tried to define the features of the simplest possible living cell—of any sort, not just the kind found on earth. The conclusion was that the simplest possible cell is exceedingly complex.
b. Form simple cells (bacteria).

It's fair to ask, "How can something like the central dogma be 'established' before a single living cell exists?" I can't answer that for a secular interpretation of CNS, but for CNB it is easy: God did it. That's not a cop out, because scientists are invited, even encouraged to answer the question—and many have attempted, resulting in many interesting insights, but no fundamental success in answering the basic question—so far!

The geological record shows that the first living species were bacteria, or bacteria-like. Their basic task in life was to reproduce themselves and die. You might think this is a pointless objective for life, but it is not, because the carcasses of these early cells provide food for more advanced cells in the form of molecules that contain fixed carbon, nitrogen and other nutrients. 

One question is, where did these early cells get the focused energy needed to carry on life? The answer, as far as we know, is photosynthesis, which captures energy from the sun and converts that energy into simple sugars which then fuel the basic cell processes. Photosynthesis is a very complex process.

LIfe's most urgent task on the early earth was to fix carbon and nitrogen to build the molecules that carry out the cell's tasks. Carbon must be released from its natural oxidized state, CO2, and made part of a simple sugar; nitrogen must be converted from its natural binary state, the nitrogen gas N2, to form nitrates or other single-N molecules. Once "fixed", then C and N can go on to participate in the many molecular chains that carry out the cellular functions.

A waste product of carbon fixing is oxygen, which will be essential later in the metabolism of more advanced cells. But for these cells it is an unwanted waste product.

And of course these conversions must occur under natural ambient conditions of temperature and pressure. That's the catch. There  to be only one natural way to fix carbon (the RuBisCo molecule) and one way to fix nitrogen (Nitrogenase). These molecules are exceedingly complex.

Nitrogen-fixing is particularly hard to do because of the energy needed to split apart the nitrogen gas molecule. The nitrogenase is also poisoned by oxygen, so it requires special cells that have to be elaborately isolated to concentrate on that one task. These specialized cells have to get their food from other nearby cells because they can't make it themselves.

Evidence of life appears in the geological record almost as soon as the earth had cooled from a molten state, formed a global ocean, and then cooled further to something just below or at the pasteurization temperature (perhaps 140-110°f).

This is the very first appearance of life on earth, probably the first in the universe. This rapid appearance challenges the assertion that life formed naturally by random chance. Where was the time for this random chance to work? That's of course a problem for CNS but not for CNB.
c. Prepare the earth for advanced cells

Unlike the simple cells which appear as soon as the earth had cooled enough that they could survive the heat, the geological record shows a 2 billion year gap between the first simple life and the first advanced cells. During this time, the simple cells were busy preparing the earth with food (their own dead bodies!) and atmospheric oxygen, both of which must be in place before advanced cells can thrive. The food consisted of fixed carbon, fixed nitrogen and atmospheric oxygen . Other nutrients of course, but principally these.
d. Design Advanced cells (eukaryotes)

Again I use an anthropic term. The advanced cells are called "eukaryotes" because they have a nucleus, generally easily visible under a microscope. That's just one of many features that come in a vastly complex package: many other organelles in addition to the nucleus (these perform specialized tasks that are used by the cell as a whole); a cytoskeleton, which gives structure to the cell (among other things), and many other specialized capabilities. It is a vast jump from the bacterial cell. I won't say that a eukaryote is to a bacterium as a bacterium is to a rock, but that's not far off. The eukaryote is so complex compared to bacteria that it almost (not quite!) amounts to a new creation of life. Not quite because many of the individual things that make up the eukaryotic cell can be found in certain bacteria. We'll say more about the nature of these advanced cells in some of the questions below. The central dogma is the same, just a bit more complex.

For about a billion years, the eukaryotes did their thing as single celled species. Then...
e. Form visible plants and animals (more-or-less in tandem)
(1) Marine plants and animals
(2) Land plants and animals
All visible plants and animals are made up of eukaryotic cells; and in addition there is a large collection of single-celled eukaryotes, such as the amoeba, paramecium, and other such microscopic animalcules that are familiar in the biological laboratory.

In the geological record, visible plants and animals appear around 500-600 million years ago, most famously in the Cambrian explosion around 530 Mya. Perhaps plants in the form of algae are a bit earlier. Some algae are eukaryotes and some are bacteria living in colonies so large that they become visible to the eye.
f. Animals (marine)

The CNB asserts that animals have a "spirit" created by God. There is a huge gap between plants and animals.

Essentially all the basic body plans for animals—the animal phyla—appear within a very short period of time during the Cambrian explosion, including all of the modern-day phyla and a few others that apparently didn't survive the weeding-out.

All of the early animals were marine; that is, they lived in the global ocean.
g. Land animals

Land and air plants and animals did not appear until  around 450-400 mya, the late-Silurian and Devonian eras. There is a basic reason for this: the air and dry land were washed with harsh cosmic and solar rays, and this persisted until the ozone shield built up as an adequate shield at about this time. Meanwhile the dry land was gradually emerging from the oceans—see the first part of Day Three—with thousands of feet of luscious sedimentary rocks prepared with the necessary nutrients. So when the shield was in place, land plants started "greening" the land, and they were accompanied by insects which were necessary for pollination.

As the plant food proliferated, land animals appeared and prospered—both the plant-eating and carnivorous types.
h. Humans

Last but not least came the humans. Again with a marked advance over all other animals. They are correctly called the crown of creation (and some other things too).
This is how life began and flourished. The story is mostly told in CNS. The CNB passes over it except to imply the existence of plants in the second part of Day Three.


Question 5 - When did life begin on earth?

Discussion. Now we will talk about the origin of life. The Genesis creation narrative mentions life with the greening of the land, the second part of Day Three, but the actual beginnings of life are not specifically mentioned—presumably between Days Two and Three. Since the Genesis creation account is not intended to give a systematic discussion of beginnings, it leaves out a number of things. There is no mention of the creation of the sun or the earth either.

In both of these instances that the Genesis narrative omits, the Creation Narrative of Science gives very valuable and interesting information, so for a full picture the science narrative is very much needed, and the question of when life began is an important instance of this.

By Day Two, the earth exists, and in the second part of Day Three, plant life "greens the land"; the actual beginnings of the Earth, of the Sun, and of Life, are assumed but not mentioned. Of course, bacterial life which preceeded plant life is not mentioned, nor would one expect the invisible world of microbes to be part of the Genesis account.

What does Science Say. On the time that life first appeared on earth, science has a lot to say—see theCreation Narrative of Science for further details. On the question of how it might have appeared by natural means, science has almost nothing to say, the basic problem being that even the most basic living cell is so exceedingly complex that there seems to be no way it could just "happen" by purely natural processes. Even a passionate believer that all things came to us by natural means, can say nothing about it because evolution can only proceed once life already exists, and the complexity of what has to be in place for it to begin  is boggling. There is no rational explanation.

All living processes depend on very subtle energy exchanges which are dwarfed by most ordinary chemical processes. Despite all expectations of science to the contrary, there is positive evidence that bacterial life began on earth at the earliest possible moment--about 3.85 billion years ago, as soon as the earth had cooled from a molten ball, formed a crust covered with a global ocean, and cooled to about 110° Farenheit (43°C). From that beginning, the bacteria were busy creating a suitable environment for more complex life. Over the next 2 billion years, the earth atmosphere built up to about 25% oxygen, and the whole earth was filled with organic food which included fixed nitrogen and carbon—essential for advanced life, particularly the visible plants and animals. Anything, in fact, that is made up of "proper" cells—the eukaryotes, cells with a nucleus. Essential, I say, because eukaryotes cannot make their own nitrogen, and their many other essential tasks take up such an effort that they must feed on prepared organic food—particularly for the carbons and nitrogen.

And at about 2 billion years ago, the proper cell appeared—vastly more complex and more capable than bacteria, but requiring food that the bacteria had prepared, in order to live. At first all living cells were microscopic, although large mats of bacterial algae (such as cyanobacteria) might be visible to the naked eye. Visible plants and animals appeared about 530 million years ago. At first they were marine animals, but as the dry land built up and in particular the ozone shield built up, there was a general migration to land and the air. The rest, as they say, is history.

Presentation: See the Presentation on "The Creation of Life": Powerpoint ... handout (pdf)


Aside: The Structure of the Genesis Creation Narrative; teleology. Days One to Four of the Genesis Creation Narrative have as the main goal to prepare a habitat on earth for the creation of animals and finally of man, the subjects of Days Five and Six. I should also note that the special word used in the Bible for creation by God Himself, the word Bará, appears in the narrative on only three occasions: (1) In the general summary statement of 1:1; (2) In Day Five when God creates the animal "soul"; and (3) In Day Six when God creates Man (explicitly male and female) in His Image. We will discuss these special events at the appropriate place, but for now, it is worth noting that in Days One through Four God "made" or "said", but the special word Bará is not used, so that at least to this extent these four days are a unit, which I interpret as preparation of the habitat for land life.

If this structure sounds like planning, the technical term being teleology,  happenings that are designed with an end purpose in  view—if it sounds like that, that is because it is like that. See my talk, Science and Teleology: Dice or Deity: ppt  handout(pdf)

Question 6 - What is "Advanced Life" and when could the earth support it?

Question 7 -
Day Three, Second part  (Genesis 1:11-13): When did Land Plants Appear on Land?
Question 8 - Day Three, Second part, Genesis 1:11-13): What does "Creation after its Kind" mean?
Discussion. These two questions are connected because both are introduced in the Creation Narrative at the same place—the second part of Day Three. Here the Genesis Creation Narrative mentions not only life but also reproduction of life—and that has implications for the evolution of life. So we will consider both matters together.

  Genesis 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 it, upon the earth: and it was so."

The second part of Day Three is the first mention of life in the Genesis Creation Narrative, specifically land plants, after the formation of dry land (see Question 2). As remarked in Question 5, this was not the first life on earth: microscopic life had been around for almost 3.5 billion years, and visible plant and animal life had existed in the oceans for over 100 million years. But of course, being invisible to the unassisted eye, this ancient narrative did not mention those invisible beginnings.

Of course plant life on land is not the first plants: marine plants (algae for example) had been around for perhaps 200 million years. Nonetheless dry land is in a sense the natural place for plants to flourish because in the atmosphere and on dry land there is a much greater scope for the blossoming of a great variety of plants.

Land plants first appear in the fossil record about 430 million years ago, in the late Silurian Era, and it's evident that dry land up to that time was essentially sterile, for good reason. Hard cosmic and solar rays sterilized the atmosphere and any land brazen enough to appear above the ocean surface, and this condition lasted until the ozone shield had developed sufficiently to filter out those hard rays. Of course the ozone shield could not do its thing until the atmosphere had a stable 25% oxygen content. That happened over a billion years earlier, but the build-up of the shield took a long time.

So for nearly 90% of the earth's existence, the land and air space—anything above the ocean surface—was effectively barren. Life prospered in the oceans because the water itself filters out the hard rays. We'll say more about that on Day Five.

Incidentally along with land plants came insects and other beasties such as grubs, worms and so on. Some of these show up as early fossils—including huge dragonflies with a 2-foot wingspan. They show up in the fossil record at the same time as land plants first appear. Many land plants rely on flying insects for pollination.

Almost as soon as land plants could exist (because of the up-building of the ozone shield) we have a wonderful 3-dimensional cameo shot of the world's first "forest" in miniature: the Rhynie chert, discovered in 1910 in an area that was once low-lying marshland.

Rhynie Chert
Devonian Scene and the Rhynie Chert
slide from presentation: the Creation Narrative of Science:
powerpoint: Creation Narrative of Science ...  handout (pdf)
The mention of plants reproducing after their kind has given rise to lots of misunderstanding. What this celebrates is the marvelous fact that plants reproduce to make similar plants: the seeds don't look anything like the plants, but they have the genetic information so that they reproduce the parent plants. The miracle is that this faithful reproduction occurs, not that the offspring are exactly like the parents, because in fact they aren't. In fact, a feature of sexual reproduction—perhaps the main reason why sexual reproduction exists—is that the offspring will not be exactly like the parents because they combine the separate male and female parents.

It is a true and unexplainable innovation from the viewpoint of natural evolution, because in fact, it is vastly more difficult and liable to failure than non-sexual reproduction. But with the miracle of sexual reproduction over time, this can result in great diversification of the species. "After their kind" doesn't argue either for or against natural evolution, except, I suppose, it does argue  that the offspring will be similar to the parent. The phrase would not include sudden radical changes in the genetic information. But the point is to celebrate  reproduction, not to set down a rule that limits variation in the offspring.
What does Science Say?
Land was first colonized by plants, insects, grubs, etc. about 410 million years ago, during the Devonian age after a long delay while the ozone shield (Day Two) built up. The first colonists lived near water but over time plants invaded until eventually they inhabited every part of the dry land. The plants began small, but rapidly huge ferns and trees took over the lowlands, accompanied by pollinating insects and bugs which sometimes grew to enormous size -- much larger than can be seen today. The trees at first had soft, pith-like centers, but over time pines and then hardwoods developed.

The angiosperms (flowering plants) were the crowning achievement for plant development, first appearing in the fossil record about 125 million years ago, almost 300 million years after the first land plants. All of the plants mentioned in Day Three are flowering plants, which now dominate the plant world.

The early plants were so prolific that they formed extensive deposits of coal, oil and gas, without which the industrial revolution would never have happened. This was noted by many of the early geologists until the time in the late 1800s when it became unfashionable to dwell on providential or fortuitous events in the context of scientific discussion. See my talk mentioned above on Science and Teleology for quotations and further discussion of this fact.

Presentation: See the Presentation on "Day Three: The Greening of the Land":
Powerpoint ... handout (pdf)

Question 8 - Day Three (Genesis 1:11b) What does "Creation after its kind" mean?

Question 9 - Day Four (Genesis 1:14-19)What is the point of having such a vast universe with innumerable stars?
       —How does that contribute to the project of Life on Earth?

Discussion. Now we come to Day Four. This is the first Day that gives a reason for its particular tasks: to be for signs, and to count of the seasons, days and years. It is set before the arrival of humans on earth, but the planning and design of the universe anticipates their coming and their scientific questions (there is that Teleology again!). In particular this Day provides the way that the very first true scientific disciplines can begin—astrononomy and its application to time-keeping. One might even argue that it provides humans the first opportunity for writing and making a permanent record of human achievement—writing in the sky in the form of the constellations and the zodiac.

Presentation: See the Presentation on "Day Four: TimeKeeping": Powerpoint ... handout (pdf)

Question 10 - Day Five (Genesis 1:20-23) How are animals different from plants?

Discussion. Day Five is the creation of marine animals. Not the first mention of life, though, because plants already "greened" the earth on Day Three. But it is pretty clear that the author of the Genesis creation narrative knew that something very special was happening when animal life was created. This is the first creation Day that uses the special word for creation, bará, only used for creation by God. On all previous days, the creator "made" or "said" or something just happened. But on this Day God Created, using the special word bará.

What is special is the creation of "living creatures" where the word translated "creature" is the word nephesh which usually is translated "soul". God created the animal soul, and this was such a great act that it is described using the special word bará.

Up to this point, in Creation Days One through Four, everything created is physical: light, the universe itself, the elements, the sun and earth, stars, planets and galaxies, the firmament. All of these things are physical and can be described by physical laws, equations and so on. But here on Day Five, the animal soul is created, and it is not describable in physical terms. 

You might object that life was already created, and life can't be described. But I would disagree here: a hundred years ago or so,  life was indeed thought to be some mysterious force; but in the past century, great progress has been made in describing life as subtle interactions describable (in principle) as subtle chemical and physical interactions, and science has been quite successful in reducing all of the observable activities of life in such physical and chemical terms. Even the basic body plans have been discovered to reside in complex genes and regulatory mechanisms controlled by mechanisms that are describable in physical/chemical terms—for example the detailed mechanisms of the so-called Central Dogma: a dogma, perhaps, but science understands the details of how that dogma is carried out, and that detail is describable in physical terms. 

In contrast, the soul, that mysterious factor that controls living animals, volition, sensation, decisions, and so on, cannot be described in mechanical terms, nor can its physical presence be located in the physical animal. Although some scientists claim that it is purely physical, there research is singularly unpersuasive, in my view.

Rhynie Chert
The Cambrian Explosion
slide from presentation: the Creation Narrative of Science:
powerpoint: Creation Narrative of Science ...  handout (pdf)

What does Science Say? Science agrees that animal life began in the oceans—the fossil record clearly shows this. Animals on land appear in the fossil record at least 100 million years later than marine animals. Nearly all modern body plans (phyla) (and some that are now extinct) appear suddenly in the fossil record in a very brief time, the Cambrian Explosion, within a space of 10-20 million years around 520 million years ago.

Marine Animals
Marine Animals of Day Five
slide from presentation: Day Five: Marine Animal LIfe: Powerpoint ... handout (pdf)

Presentation: See the Presentation on "Day Five: Marine Animal Life": Powerpoint ... handout (pdf)

Further questions are in preparation:

Question 10 - Day Five: Excursus:
Are Plant and Animal Life Fundamentally Different?

As Question 9 noted, it is pretty clear that the author of the Genesis creation narrative knew that something very special was happening when animal life was created. This is the first creation Day that uses the special word for creation, bará, only used for creation by God. On all previous days, the creator "made" or "said" or something just happened. But on this Day God Created, using the special word bará. The animal "spirit" nepesh haya is something qualitatively different from all of the preceeding creation narrative. Something radically new happened with the creation of animals. Here is the point where many scientists split on the question of whether the animals  and particularly humans can be described in a purely materialistic way. Many materialists (such as Skinner) argue for strict materialism, but these pure materialistic views are generally seen as problematic. In particular they seem to argue for a sort of determinism that many find distasteful. They seem to argue against free will.

Question 11 - Why did Advanced Life begin in the Oceans?

Question 12 - What are the oldest extant animal species?

Question 13 - Day Six, Part 1: When Did animals first appear on dry land?

Question 14 - Day Six, Part 2: The Creation of Man

Question 15 - When did humans first make written records?

(Lascaux Cave; earliest alphabet and writing)

Question 16 - What are the Nephilim -- do they have any connection with the Neanderthals?

Question 17 - Is the Flood of Genesis 6 part of the Creation Narrative?



Material is added as it is developed

^n15  See Raymond Adolph Prier, Thauma Idesthai: The Phenomenology of Sight and Appearance in Archaic Greek (1989). Chapter 1, "Sight and Cite: The Vocabulary of Sight and Appearance in Homer" lists the following words for sight, vision and perception: "dokein, paptainein, athrein, derkesthai, laein, skeptesthai, dokeuein, eelios, selene, auge, selas, lampein, lampros, to phaos, phainesthai, leussein, ophthalmoi, ossesthai, ops, agasthai, theaesthai, thaumazein, thambein, eidesthai, idesthai, semainein, theuchesthai." Prier summarizes (p. 114) "Sight and light become one."

^n17  The general view of science (not provable, but it sure seems reasonable!) is that every effect must have a cause. Hence if one does not entertain the possiblity of a divine Creator then there must be a "natural" predecessor to our universe. Of course any such predecessor is beyond the reach of observation, and therefore must be a matter of faith or presupposition. Science (as it is usually considered) can only deal with the observable, and that restricts it to things that happen in our own universe.

^n18  Proverbs 8:22-30:
The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.
I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water.
Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:
While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.
When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:
When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:
When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:
Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;
Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.

^n19  St. Augustine, De. Lit. I.12.26. See the powerpoint (below) for more of St. Augustine's quotes on this subject.
^n20  This process is called fractionation or fractional crystallization. In essence a mixture of molten minerals (the magma) crystalizes with like materials forming crystals (the granites) that have a density lower than the original molten mixture. The details of crystallization during cooling are heat and pressure dependent, with hotter (deeper) temperatures and pressures associated with denser crystals. Cooler temperatures result in less-dense granites.
^n21  Alfred Lothar Wegener (1880-1930) first proposed continental drift in 1912. See the remarks from His original thoughts did not include a mechanism and so he was widely disbelieved by scientists. The mechanism (convection currents in the earth's mantle) was developed by Samuel Warren Carey in the 1950s. For a description of the Earth's interior see News 30Mar2006.
√√√√√ OK moved up ^n22  Rig Veda: Early Sanskrit document composed 1400-900 BC (roughly contemporary with the Genesis composition). Hymn 129 "Nasadiya Sukta" concerns Creation. Translation by Ralph T. H. Griffith. Translated by A. L. Basham. It was a long oral tradition until finally put into writing around 900 B.C.  The name means "not the nonexistent" and its composition is  possibly contemporary with Genesis (but I'm not ready to go to the stake over this!). Or, more probably, both the Genesis account and the Rig Veda accounts reflect an older oral tradition passed down from the distant past. Genesis and other Old Testament books frequently cite sources for the information, which no longer are extant.

^n23  "The Hebrew word raqia as already shown, really signifies 'extension', just as the word for heaven, shamayim means the "uplifted". In these two words, therefore, significant respectively of a surface and of height, there is a recognition of the 'three dimensions'—in other words, of Space.

"When we wish to refer to super-terrestrial space, we have two expressions in modern English by which to describe it: we can speak of 'the vault of heaven', or of 'the canopy of heaven'. 'The vault of heaven' is most used, it has indeed been recently adopted as the title of a scientific work by a well-known astronomer. But the word vault certainly gives the suggestion of a solid structure; whilst the word canopy calls up the idea of a slighter covering, probably of some textile fabric.

"The reasons for thinking that the Hebrews did not consider the 'firmament' a solid structure are, first, that the word does not necessarily convey that meaning; next, that the attitude of the Hebrew mind towards nature was not such as to require this idea. The question, 'What holds up the waters above the firmament?' would not have troubled them. It would have been sufficient for them, as for the writer to the Hebrews, to consider that God was 'upholding all things by the word of His power', and they would not have troubled about the machinery. But besides this, there are many passages in Scripture, some occurring in the earliest books, which expressly speak of the clouds as carrying the water; so that the expressions placing waters 'above the firmament', or 'above the heavens', can mean no more than 'in the clouds'. Indeed, as we shall see, quite a clear account is given of the atmospheric circulation, such as could hardly be mended by a modern poet." E. Walter Maunder, Astronomy and the Bible 4th Ed. (1922) Ch. IV "The Firmament".

^n24  The LXX was used in the time of Jesus and until Christianity became legal in the 300's. Eventually it was replaced by Jerome's Latin Vulgate as the standard text for the Christian Bible. Maunder (see previous footnote) states: "But the Seventy, in making the Greek Version of the Old Testament, were naturally influenced by the views of astronomical science then held in Alexandria, the centre of Greek astronomy. Here, and at this time, the doctrine of the crystalline spheres—a misunderstanding of the mathematical researches of Eudoxus and others—held currency. These spheres were supposed to be a succession of perfectly transparent and invisible solid shells, in which the sun, moon, and planets were severally placed. The Seventy no doubt considered that, in rendering raqia by stereoma, i.e. "firmament", thus conveying the idea of a solid structure, they were speaking the last word of up-to-date science." (Maunder, ibid., p. 34)
^n25  This same problem exists in space travel and particularly in the building of space colonies on the Moon, Mars or elsewhere. Over the long term, measured in years and decades, certainly not millennia, the likelihood of lethal bombardment by space debris, hard radiation or solar particles becomes a driving consideration, and requires elaborate protection, in effect, requires a substitute for the Raqia. There are a number of NASA publications on this problem. One proposed solution is to bury space colonies underground or with an artificial dome built with some substantial thickness of locally extracted materials (since it would be too costly to transport it from the Earth).
26   ^n26  n
27   ^n27  n
28   ^n28  n
29   ^n29  n
30   ^n30  n

Richard Dawkins, The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, Free Press, 2009.

E. Walter Maunder, Astronomy and the Bible 4th Ed. (1922). See the annotated Amazon ebook.

Space Studies Board, National Research Council, Size Limits of Very Small Microorganisms, Proceedings of a Workshop of the National Academy of Sciences (1999) (available as a PDF download).

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Last updates:
11Jul2016 - Summaries:
Creation of the Physical and Chemical Worlds according to Science
The Geological Record of life on earth