Created: September 9, 2015
Revised:Synopsis Sept 2017  

The Creation Narrative of Science and the Bible
 

Dr. David C. Bossard

Dr. David C. Bossard
Biographical Information

X. Creation of Marine Animal Life
Creation Day Five


20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. 21 And God created (barà = to create by God) great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. 23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

Day Five is a major pivot in the creation narrative. In Day One through Day Four, the focus is on preparing the earth for animal life, which is then described in Days Five and Six. The signal for this pivot is  the word barà = to create (by God), the first creation day to use this special word for creation by God. On the earlier days God spoke and made—even on Day One, when he created the universe itselfX.05—but here he created using barà, a word only used of God's own actions. This word will only be used on one more occasion, in Day Six when Adam is created in God's image.

This is a curious fact. As a scientist, I look with awe at the creation of the universe with the light of Day One, I marvel at the creation of life itself—the first microscopic life with all of its vast digital complexity: the invention of the digital coding of life in the genes; the use of many motor molecules to copy the gene coding into working proteins; of complex processes to fix carbon (RuBisCo) and nitrogen (Nitrogenase)—one of the most difficult "fixing" tasks in all of the natural world.

In Day Three the first visible life appears—green plants—to prepare the land with food for the future plants and animals. Life itself, even the most "primitive" involves the invention of the many elaborate processes involved in photosynthesis that apparently appeared on earth together with the first living species—making the energy batteries (ATP and ADP) to store energy, inventing the sugar-making Krebs cycle to store energy in the form of sugars as food, creating specialized cells to fix nitrogen using the nitrogenase molecule—a very fussy process that is easily poisoned by the waste oxygen produced by photosynthesis.

But the creation of animals that have life—nephesh chayah, having life or breath—is celebrated with the word barà. It celebrates the sort of life that has soul—not the soul in the sense of Man's immortal soul, but animal soul: something that is capable of movement, feelings and emotions, a certain amount of free will (it seems), and the ability to make (limited?) decisionsX.01, in contrast to plants and bacteria, which, although alive, do not have any of thisX.02. This is a considerable step beyond just life itself, as miraculous as that is. Evidently it is such a step that it qualified for the special word barà.

The Day begins with another word that is repeated: the waters "bring forth abundantly"— sharatz, a verb, "moving creatures"—sheretz, a collective noun: literally, swarms of (small) swarming creatures. This thought is repeated in verse 21: "… creature that moveth"—ramas, to glide swiftly or swarm, in analogy to sharatz—"which the waters brought forth abundantly." It is interesting that the "great whales" and the (small) swarming creatures are mentioned as being created in the same sentence, the same breath so to speak: the point is not the size of the creature but its animal nature and vast complexity, regardless of size.

This suggests to me that the creation of animal life—the animal soul—involves a depth and complexity of creative activity that is not fully appreciated in science today—much like the incredible miracle of the creation of life itself was not appreciated by science a century ago (and by some, even today!). I expect that time—probably not in my lifetime—will unfold some of the special marvel of this creation, with new evidence of the Creator's divine handiwork.

The "fowl"—Hebrew òwph—include birds and flying insects. Flying insects such as locusts are also called "fowl"X.03. It makes sense to refer to such insects as creatures that the "waters brought forth abundantly" because the insect egg and larval stages are in water. In the fossil record, flying insects accompany the movement of plants to land. Birds do not come until much later (in Day Six). So at this point, I would understand the "fowl" to be flying insects. This is another case where the geological record beautifully supplements the Genesis account with vast amounts of additional information about the development of early animal life in water.

One thing that is evident in this account: animal life is first mentioned as living in a water environment, and this is exactly what one finds in the geological record.

The Cambrian Explosion. The geological record contains many great surprises. Perhaps the greatest surprise is the sudden appearance of animal life during the Cambrian period, with many of the animal Phyla (basic body plans) appearing within a short period of 10-20 million years.X.04 This is barely a blink of time from the perspective of geological timescales, hence the name "the Cambrian explosion". 

connections

Preparation for future life on Dry Land:
Eggs and the Amniotic Sac

The "fowl" that "waters brought forth abundantly" represent animals that require a watery environment for fertilization and nourishment in the early growth stages. This includes most sea creatures and the reptiles which may live on land for part of their lives, but must begin (at least) in water or at an early stage of development. Reptiles typically live near shorelines.

Eggs are an advance because the egg includes a protected "watery" environment and some initial food. Many reptiles lay eggs (or hatch them internally). This is an advance because they may, in principle, live their entire lives on dry land. The eggs have a shell to prevent drying out. Among fishes, some breed in water (spawning fish) and some mate and develop the young internally, bearing them live. The coelacanth, one of the most ancient "fossil fish", gives us an example of live birth, at least the modern ones.

All mammals have an amniotic sac, which holds, feeds and protects the embryo in a watery environment during development. This completes the move away from dependence on a watery environment during embryo development—by providing each embryo with its own custom-made "watery environment."

The newly born of mammals often require help from adults until they reach the adult stage.




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