“We come to it at last …” – Gandalf
Actually, if you were reading the full quote beyond the ellipsis, Gandalf was speaking about a different context. I must be conditioned by formal education to avoid even the appearance of plagiarism when it comes to verbatim quotes (even if they were uttered by fictional characters?).
For my first true post, I wanted to examine the text of Genesis chapter 1. Why the Bible? It’s the only printed source I’m aware of that presents a coherent narrative of creation events in one convenient place. I tend to worry that my blogging style might be too “dogmatic” or “didactic,” but I hope you can catch some of the passion I have regarding the study of these words and the kind of value I place on them.
What was created on the first day, as described in Genesis?
The temporal phrase “In the beginning …” (Genesis 1:1) only seems to make sense within the dimension of time (not to mention later references to days and years).
My English translation uses the plural for this word, which I think is important. My understanding is that there are three possible “heavens.” One is the Earth’s atmosphere (although, that “heaven” isn’t mentioned until day two). A second is what we’d call “outer space,” containing all the other matter in the known physical universe. The third is a spiritual realm, often (appropriately) called “Heaven.”
Although there were already “heavens,” it’s interesting to note that stars, the sun, and even the moon don’t appear yet. The Earth seems to be either made entirely of water, or the outer surface is watery (Genesis 1:2).
I almost typed light and darkness, but that doesn’t sound accurate from a straightforward reading of the text. It makes me wonder if there’s special significance to God only speaking light into existence. He gives the darkness a name (“night”). I guess the darkness naturally occurred in any place that wasn’t permeated by light?
At the end of the first day, you can see how my curiosity is already posing several questions.
What was created on the second day?
Early in the process, there seems to be an emphasis on separation between two objects or two concepts. First, there were the divisions between day/light and night/darkness. This day focused on a division between the Earth’s surface and the atmosphere.
Question from the second day: Why isn’t there a mention of God seeing that this work was good?
What was created on the third day?
That makes me wonder whether the land was submerged up until that point. Also, with the water being “gathered to one place” (Genesis 1:9), did that leave one large continent? If so, then it’s slightly confusing to read about plural “seas” in verse 10.
Vegetation (ground plants and fruit trees)
Keep in mind that there isn’t a sun yet, or even insects to pollinate some of these plants.
What was created on the fourth day?
Lights in the sky (sun, moon, and stars)
This is where the process starts to sound like 24 hour days (if it hadn’t before). The plants would be in need of heat and a light source to photosynthesize their own food.
What was created on the fifth day?
Every type of sea creature
Now the birds, and possibly flying insects, would be able to pollinate flowers and other plants.
What was created on the sixth day?
At first, it sounds confusing that man seems to be plural. Then I remember how God often looked at certain individuals as if they were already fathers and grandfathers of future generations (prior to the birth of any offspring).
The seventh day isn’t described until chapter 2, and it was considered a day of rest, because God was finished creating new things.
You may wonder why any of this is important, so long as God was the one doing all the creating. I suppose a skeptic or a “mocker” looks at the sequence and points out “flaws,” because he/she would’ve done it differently. All I personally know is that I’ve never built any universes. Yet, why not create a sun before the plants? All I can figure is that I wouldn’t want to spend a minimum of 24 hours scorching the ground prior to any seeds being planted. The longer each “day” becomes, it would only seem to compound the problem of scorching the ground.
At a certain point, it also becomes apparent (at least to me) that these events can’t be synchronized with various details of an evolutionary timescale. In a future post, I hope to talk about the miracle of lizard-hip dinosaurs somehow morphing into flying birds. In the creation account, you see that birds predate anything that moved along the ground. In that case, how would a dinosaur becoming a bird represent either a) the addition of a new species to the diversity of animal life, or b) a step forward in the evolutionary process?
In the process of preparing this post, I consulted these resources, which may be of further interest:
(Technically, I own a hard copy, but the text should be very similar. My printed copy doesn’t contain any edits that were copyrighted in the 2011 edition.)
(A very thorough [yet more concise] summary of the creation events.)
I plan to write one or more future posts describing some of these chronological “continuity errors,” which further suggest that only one view of how matter and life originated seems to be accurate and consistent.
On Tuesday, I hope to cover a much lighter subject – the “Metroid” series of video games. Until then, happy reading!