Created: September 9, 2015
29Jun2016 - Expanded table of questions
11Jul2016 - Summaries:
Creation of the Physical and Chemical Worlds according to Science
The Geological Record of life on earth

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 as revealed by modern science and the Bible.

The creation narrative is a description of how the universe and the earth came to be in their present state.

The Creation Narrative of Science is quite new. Only within the past 50 years or so has science been able to give a full (but not complete; certainly  not exhaustive!) narrative.

The Bible's Creation Narrative has, of course, existed for over 3,000 years. But your understanding of the basic facts of science affects how you understand 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 many very sincere Bible scholars and scientists (but not all ancient scientists or theologians as we will note at the proper time!) may have had that view not too many centuries ago.

Science would be fruitless and impossible if the Divine Creator had not embedded into His Creation an extensive and detailed narrative line written in a language 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 statement, "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—it is not given to us gratis!

So, in short, Science within the past century has interpreted that "line" with the result that the world today is blessed with a fairly comprehensive description of that Creation Narrative, 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, and that is what the creation narrative of science describes. Only in the recent decades has this narrative achieved a fullness that matches the Bible's narrative; and a major purpose of this website is to explain how the two narratives—of Science and of the Bible—compare. In fact, it is argued here that the comparison is surprisingly complete and that the two narratives are clearly compatible 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.

Those 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.

The Plan for this website

The plan for this website is to present the Genesis Creation Narrative as a series of questions to highlight critical points and to introduce short powerpoint shows that together give a full view of the narrative. Everything centers on the Creation Narrative of Science, which can be viewed here together with a complete transcript: powerpoint ... text (pdf).

May take a while to construct the full site. Meanwhile, you are welcome to browse which gives much more information, but with  less of an effort to present a "storyline".

Scattered throughout are some theme boxes, explained here:

silent speech
Silent Speech

sharp points
Sharp Points

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===

Material is added as it is developed


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 the Creation 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."

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)


Material is added as it is developed

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?




^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."

^n16  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).

^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.

^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).

This Website is developed and maintained by Dr. David C. Bossard, who is solely responsible for its contents.

mailbox Any comments or suggestions are welcome. Please email:
Dr. David C. Bossard.

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