Consider the evidence contained in the book of Genesis and the world around us
|HEALTH WARNING – This is a very long article!
If the Genesis narrative is, as many have insisted, mythological, then the entire account of Christianity and it's written Bible would, subsequently, also be mythological. There are many articles and books which attempt to discredit the the book of Genesis. Too often though, these writers make certain assumptions and start from a pre-conceived viewpoint.
Albert Einstein, who believed in a creator, though not in the Judeo-Christian manner, once stated “The only knowledge is experience.” All knowledge, historical, geographical and scientific, is passed on by education. Education is delivered by humans, humans with prejudices and tendencies to inaccuracies.
The comparison has been made between the Biblical creation account and other religious writings. This is an unfair and unjustified comparison, for the following reasons;
The narrative of Genesis lists times places, dates and historical figures, something that other ancient writings avoid in general. Also, rather than encourage the worship of any aspect or creature in nature, as all other ancient religions did, the Bible strongly condemns such practices, arguing that such things cannot hear or help the worshipper (Isaiah 44.15).
The consequence of death, according to the Bible is non-existence, “Back to the ground from which you were taken.” Unlike all other ancient writings, the Bible does not teach the existence of an immortal spirit or soul. Neither does the Bible teach that all good humans go to heaven or that there is a fiery hell. In fact, the Bibles says that mankind's natural home is the earth, not heaven.
But now consider the actual beginning described in the book of Genesis itself. While considering this, keep in mind the other so called ancient creation accounts, with their gods being split apart and the elements being personified.
The book of Genesis is the only religious book which describes a “beginning.” It correctly reveals the conditions on earth before life arose. It lists the geological stages of the formation of terrain and life. Note the words of one of America’s leading geologists, Wallace Pratt: “If I as a geologist were called upon to explain briefly our modern ideas of the origin of the earth and the development of life on it to a simple, pastoral people, such as the tribes to whom the Book of Genesis was addressed, I could hardly do better than follow rather closely much of the language of the first chapter of Genesis.”
Regarding the age of the earth, Genesis puts no date on this but simply states “In the beginning.” This was before any life was created on the earth. As for mankind however, Genesis does indicate that we have existed for about 6,000 years. All evidence supports this fact. The oldest writings, agriculture and dwellings are less than 6,000 years old.
The first man is described as being “Formed from the dust of the ground.” This is a scientifically sound description because we are in fact formed from the elements of the earth. The Bible writer, Moses did not witness such a beginning yet stated it.
Adam is anaesthetised before his rib is removed. Incidentally, science now reveals that the rib is the only bone in the human body which is capable of regenerating itself.
The description of “days” over which creation was done by God has often been cited as an embarrassing error in the Bible, but this is not the case. The Hebrew word for “day” ("yohm") is indefinite and can mean any specific period of time, from a period of daylight, to thousands of years. This is shown by the many various uses and contexts that the word day is written in the Bible. The first six days of creation are concluded one by one, but when it comes to the the seventh day, it does not have this ending, indicating that this period, during which God has been resting from his creative works toward the earth, continued on. At Hebrews 4:1-10 the apostle Paul indicated that God’s rest day was still continuing in his generation, and that was more than 4,000 years after that seventh-day rest period began. This makes it evident that each creative day, or work period, was at least thousands of years in length. At the end of the creative period Genesis says “This is a history of the heavens and the earth in the time of their being created, in the day that The LORD God made earth and heaven.” Here the book of Genesis refers to the whole creative period as a “day”.
When God warns Adam not to eat from the tree, He uses an interesting phrase. Genesis records that God says “In the day that you eat from the tree, you will surely die.” Notice that it does not say “on” the day but, “IN”. That word changes the whole context of that statement. When we describe a particular day we always use the preposition “on” (on Monday etc.), yet when it comes to a longer period of time, we change to an adverb (“in January, in 1988”). Adam did not die on the same day that he disobeyed his creator, in fact, he went on to live for hundreds of years and had many children. The Bible was not referring to a 24 hour period, neither were the creative days 24 hour periods. Elsewhere in the Bible it tells us that God uses “A day for a year” when making certain prophecies (Ezekiel 4.6). Finally, Peter tells us that “One day is as a thousand years to God” (2 Peter 3). Sometimes a lifetime is described by the word “day” (“in Noah's day”).
I will not bother to respond to the accusation that Genesis contains two creation accounts that contradict each other, one in the first chapter and one in the second. Any reasonable mind can tell that this is a baseless accusation and that these chapters simply elaborate on the details of each other without necessarily recording events in chronological order.
But on to Eden. Was it real? Was there an Adam and Eve? Has science “dis-proven this account” as one writer boldly claimed? Consider the following facts (please feel free to verify these for yourselves with other sources, reliable ones without prejudice).
Anthropologists have confirmed that civilized mankind had it's beginnings in the middle east, specifically Northern Iraq/ Southern Turkey. This is the precise location of Eden given in the Bible. The three rivers which converged at the location of Eden are named in the Bible.
Biologists have also confirmed that all humans are descended from a common gene pool, in other words, we are all related and descended from a common ancestor. Scientists have even gone so far as to name these ancestors “Adam and Eve.”
Science confirms that, despite the fantastic claims of the evolution camp, the human race cannot be hundreds of thousands of years old. One scientific source is Dr. John Rosholt of Miami University, working with Dr. Cesare Emiliani. They worked out an age prospectus based on minuscule amounts of uranium which have settled to the bottom of the seas as proactinium 231 and thorium 230. Uranium requires thousands of years to decay, and, by testing amounts found in sediment on the ocean floor, the so-called warm period of the earth can be determined. Their tests show that, if man came from the sea as a two-legged fish, or as an ape, it took place 95,000 years ago. The time is too short for the fish (or ape) to have evolved into a twolegged man with a will of his own and the ability to impart knowledge to his young. In the universe, 95,000 years is nothing.
Simple mathematics and a statistical analysis reveal that the human population only reached one billion in the eighteenth century. Working backwards proportionately, the numbers dwindle to a handful less than ten thousand years ago. That is not to say that the earth is not millions of years old, the Bible gives no age for the earth, only for humans. The Bible simply states that “In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth,” it does not give a time period for how long the earth was “in darkness and covered with water.” It could have been millions or billions of years (although there are question marks against many of the carbon dating methods used to date the earth).
Regarding the introduction of sin and death, this is not such a far-fetched concept as one might immediately imagine. Geneticists have recently discovered that the human gene, the coded DNA double-helix has the capacity for endless replenishment but that, some mechanism is triggered at a certain age in the human body which begins the deterioration process known as ageing. Scientists can offer no explanation for this sudden change in the human condition and are, in fact trying to solve this riddle at present. Geneticists are even speculating about the possibility of extending the human lifespan indefinitely, some time in the future. The limitless capacity of the human brain testifies to the possibility of genetic endurance on an endless scale.
As to the actual fruit eaten by the first human couple, it is irrelevant which fruit this was. The fruit is a representation of God's authority and man's dependence on his creator. Our creator reserves the right to define what is right and wrong. One translation of Genesis 3.5 reads “You will become like God deciding good and bad.”
Was there a real flood?
The story of Noah's Ark in the book of Genesis is probably the most famous ancient story passed down through human history. It has become a subject of children's fables, songs and even comedy films. Relatively few people today place any credibility on this story and it is widely considered to be simply a myth to teach a moral lesson.
But if that is the case, then that would constitute Jesus himself either a fool or a liar because He used the Biblical flood as a comparison to the destruction which He warned would come upon the modern world. Was Jesus fooled or a liar, or did He know something about human history that today's experts have missed? Is it possible that there really was an ancient flood which covered the earth? Is there any evidence to suggest this and, what of the often cited criticisms of a flood legend, such as, “how could every animal fit into an ark?
Many historians have accused the Genesis writer Moses of simply parroting the flood legend from the “Epic of Gilgamesh”, found on cuneiform tablets in the clay-tablet library of Assyrian ruler Ashurbanipal. Though that version of a flood was dated to the seventh century B.C.E., scholars realized that the source material used in its composition was much older. Today some of the more ancient accounts have been discovered. The oldest known non-Biblical Flood account is found in a Sumerian narration. Fragments of that narration on a broken clay tablet were found at Nippur in southern Mesopotamia. Some experts believe that it was written between the 21st and 18th centuries B.C.E. Regarding the dates of these two accounts of a global flood, although the Biblical Genesis account was written in the 16th century BC (despite some historians claiming a much later date of the 2nd century BCE), the events recorded in the book of Genesis are chronologically listed, along with events and time periods, as occurring between the creation of Adam (approximately 4,000 BCE) and the departure of the Israelites from Egypt (1657 BCE). That the book of Genesis was not written in the 2nd century BCE is proven by the many references to Moses and Genesis in the other books of the Bible which are known to have been written in the 8th, 7th and 6th centuries BCE (Psalm 29.10, Isaiah 54.9, Ezekiel 14.14).
After noting differences between Flood accounts from the Bible and ancient Babylon, P. J. Wiseman wrote in New Discoveries in Babylonia About Genesis: “The Bible account is simple in its ideas, and irreproachable in its teaching about God, while the Babylonian tablets are complex and polytheistic. The difference may be compared to that between the pure waters of the springs at the source of the Thames, and the contaminated waters of the docks of London. There are resemblances between a river at its source and at its termination, both are in one sense the same river; so in Genesis we find the story at its pure source, while in the Babylonian it is seen at its contaminated development.”
As for the Bible’s being dependent upon Flood accounts from ancient Babylonia, the Lexikon zur Bibel by Fritz Rienecker contains the remark: “A literary dependence of the Biblical, entirely unmythological Flood account on the Babylonian stories appears to be, however, totally unlikely in view of the differences of both texts in manner and contents.” Just because two sources record the same event, it does not mean that one was taken from the other.
When comparing the two flood accounts it is easy to see that the Genesis narrative is simple, concise and consistent whereas the Gilgamesh account relies on multiple gods and all manner of superstitions and exaggerations. The book of Genesis provides a reason for the flood and a naturalistic mechanism for it, whereas the Gilgamesh epic does not dwell on such details but simply states that it rained for 7 days. According to the book of Genesis, the flood was caused by the “floodgates of the heavens” (the sky) being opened. This does not refer to simple rainfall but to a “canopy” which encircled the earth at that time. Genesis describes this as “waters above the expanse.” (Genesis 1:7). This canopy would have had the effect of regulating radiation and heat on the surface of the earth.
Computer model studies have been conducted by geologists and others and have surprisingly suggested that, if such a water canopy were to encircle the earth, it would create a temperate climate globally. Geological evidence has been discovered which seems to validate this claim. An international team of scientists conducted drilling into the floor of the Arctic Ocean between Siberia and Greenland. They say that the area once enjoyed a subtropical climate. The Arctic Coring Expedition relied on the assistance of three icebreakers during the work and obtained sediment samples from nearly 400 meters below the seabed. Tiny fossils of marine plants and animals found in those samples indicate that ocean temperatures were once about 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees C), instead of the current 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-1.5 degrees C). According to Professor Jan Backman of Stockholm University, quoted by BBC News, “The early history of the Arctic Basin will be re-evaluated based on the scientific results collected on this expedition.” The theory of an “ice age” could not explain this phenomenon, for several reasons, firstly because such a catastrophe would not result in an instant lowering of temperatures around the globe but would trigger a gradual reduction in earth's surface temperature, covering vast periods of time. A sudden deluge, over the course of days, on the other hand, would result in the loss of the insulating canopy, and would have an immediate and significant effect on the global temperatures and the topography of the earth. Even radio carbon dated ages of strata would possibly be affected if such a canopy once existed and was removed. The levels of radioactivity would be affected by such a phenomenon.
The Epic of Gilgamesh makes no reference to these details, nor is its creation myth logical or scientifically sound, as is the creation account of Genesis.
The “box” built to survive the flood according to Gilgamesh was 60 metres square. The Genesis account tells us that the ark was 133.5 m by 22.3 m by 13.4 m (437 ft 6 in. × 72 ft 11 in. × 43 ft 9 in.), less than half the length of the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth 2. This proportion of length to width (6 to 1) is used by modern naval architects. This gave the ark approximately 40,000 cu m (1,400,000 cu ft) in gross volume. It is estimated that such a vessel would have a displacement nearly equal to that of the mighty 269m (883 ft) Titanic of this 20th century. No cargo vessel of ancient times even slightly resembled the ark in its colossal size. Internally strengthened by adding two floors, the three decks thus provided gave a total of about 8,900 sq m (96,000 sq ft) of space.
The fact that the Epic of Gilgamesh even resembles the actual account of the global flood recorded in Genesis is actually evidence itself to verify the flood as an event. In almost all cultures around the globe there is a flood legend. This is true even in areas far from water, areas of elevation and isolation. The Chinese character for “ship” is derived from the idea of “eight persons in a vessel.” This bears a striking resemblance to the Bible account about Noah and his family, eight persons, who survived the Flood in an ark! Regarding these worldwide legends, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Vol. 2, p. 319) states: “Flood stories have been discovered among nearly all nations and tribes. Though most common on the Asian mainland and the islands immediately south of it and on the North American continent, they have been found on all the continents. Totals of the number of stories known run as high as about 270. The universality of the flood accounts is usually taken as evidence for the universal destruction of humanity by a flood and the spread of the human race from one locale and even from one family. Though the traditions may not all refer to the same flood, apparently the vast majority do. The assertion that many of these flood stories came from contacts with missionaries will not stand up because most of them were gathered by anthropologists not interested in vindicating the Bible, and they are filled with fanciful and pagan elements evidently the result of transmission for extended periods of time in a pagan society. Moreover, some of the ancient accounts were written by people very much in opposition to the Hebrew- Christian tradition.”—Edited by G. Bromiley, 1982.
Seventy percent of the earth is covered by water and only 30 percent is dry land. Moreover, 75 percent of the earth’s fresh water is locked up in glaciers and polar ice caps. If all this ice were to melt, the sea level would rise much higher. Cities like New York and Tokyo would disappear. Further, The New Encyclopædia Britannica says: “The average depth of all the seas has been estimated at 3,790 metres (12,430 feet), a figure considerably larger than that of the average elevation of the land above the sea level, which is 840 metres (2,760 feet). If the average depth is multiplied by its respective surface area, the volume of the World Ocean is 11 times the volume of the land above sea level.” So, if everything were levelled out, if the mountains were flattened and the deep sea basins filled in, the sea would cover the whole earth to a depth of thousands of meters. If there was a global flood, the pre-Flood sea basins would have to have been shallower, and the mountains lower than they are now. Is this possible? One writer explains “Where the mountains of the world now tower to dizzy heights, oceans and plains once, millions of years ago, stretched out in flat monotony... The movements of the continental plates cause the land both to rear up to heights where only the hardiest of animals and plants can survive and, at the other extreme, to plunge and lie in hidden splendour deep beneath the surface of the sea.”
Most geologists would agree that at one time the mountains were not as high as they are now and the great sea basins were not as deep. But where did all the water from the flood go? They must have drained into the sea basins. How? Scientists believe that the continents rest on huge plates. Plate Tectonics can cause the level of the earth’s surface to buckle, causing elevation and sinking. In some places today, there are great underwater abysses more than 10 km deep at the plate boundaries. The emptying of billions of tons of water onto the earth would almost certainly have caused such distortions in the earth's crust, causing the sea bottom to sink, and the great trenches to open, allowing the water to drain off the land.
Sometimes, geological evidence can be misinterpreted and consequently, with recent discoveries, it is proving necessary to re-assess previously held conclusions. Many geological anomalies, particularly those that are found at great heights, have now been re-considered, with surprising results. Russian scientists have obtained detailed images of a mammoth’s internal organs. The animal, three to four months old when it died, was found intact in the ice of the Yamalo-Nenets region of Arctic Russia. “This is the best preserved specimen not only of the mammoth but of any prehistoric animal,” said Alexei Tikhonov, deputy director of the Russian Academy of Science’s Zoological Institute. Computer tomography, similar to that used to scan human patients, showed no injuries. That the mammoth’s airways and digestive system were “clogged” with what appears to be silt leads scientists to the conclusion that the animal “Must have drowned.” How does a large mammal drown thousands of feet up in a mountainous range?
The above account is but one of thousands of cases where creatures have been found preserved intact, sometimes with food still in their mouths. Even on the tops of high mountains, there have been found whole trees sunk deep under ground, also teeth and bones of animals, fishes entire, seashells, ears of corn, etc., petrified. Gradual Plate tectonics, over millions of years, could not explain this mass deposit of well-preserved creatures. Neither does a theory of an ice age explain this phenomenon but, a sudden deluge does. Furthermore Scientific American wrote “They were finding ice ages at every stage of the geologic history, in keeping with the philosophy of uniformity. Careful re-examination of the evidence in recent years, however, has rejected many of these ice ages; formations once identified as glacial moraines have been reinterpreted as beds laid down by mudflows, submarine landslides and turbidity currents: avalanches of turbid water that carry silt, sand and gravel out over the deep-ocean floor.”
But what about the claim that Noah stored two of each kind of animal on the ark? Is this possible? Before answering that question, consider the following facts:
It has been estimated by some that the hundreds of thousands of species of animals today could be reduced to a comparatively few family “kinds” the horse kind and the cow kind, to mention but two. The breeding boundaries according to “kind” cannot be crossed, no matter how desperately geneticists try to do so. With this in mind some investigators have said that, had there been as few as 43 “kinds” of mammals, 74 “kinds” of birds, and 10 “kinds” of reptiles in the ark, they could have produced the variety of species known today. Others have been more liberal in estimating that 72 “kinds” of quadrupeds and less than 200 bird “kinds” were all that were required. These estimates have been dismissed by some, especially since such sources as The Encyclopedia Americana indicate that there are upwards of 1,300,000 species of animals. However, over 60 percent of these are insects. Breaking these figures down further, of the 24,000 amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals, 10,000 are birds, 9,000 are reptiles and amphibians, many of which could have survived outside the ark, and only 5,000 are mammals, including whales and porpoises, which would have also remained outside the ark. Other researchers estimate that there are only about 290 species of land mammals larger than sheep and about 1,360 smaller than rats. (The Deluge Story in Stone, by B. C. Nelson, 1949, p. 156; The Flood in the Light of the Bible, Geology, and Archaeology, by A. M. Rehwinkel, 1957, p.69). So, even if estimates are based on these expanded figures, the ark could easily have accommodated a pair of all these animals. The “pairs” need not have been fully grown animals but could simply have been newborn or young, or even eggs.
Regarding the actual structure of the ark, many of the criticisms fail to take into account several important details, firstly that the dimensions given are those that are still used by mariners and shipbuilders today. Secondly, the ark was reinforced on all decks and was not an actual ship but a vessel, a box, and was constructed of a “resinous tree”. It was sealed by a covering of bitumen, tar. The ark was not designed to sail but simply to float. If one acknowledges the possibility of a creator who constructed the physical universe, it is no great leap of faith then to realize that such a being, with dominion over the laws of physics themselves, would have no problem ensuring that a wooden vessel stayed afloat for a short period of time.
History, geology and science validate the flood recorded in Genesis. This was no myth but an actual historical event. The main reason why many “experts” refuse to acknowledge this is perhaps more contingent upon their refusal to acknowledge the presence of a designer of life, rather than a recognition of the actual data presented.
It is an absurdity to imply that the writer of the book of Genesis would include fictitious or misleading information. From what has been established in this article so far, Moses wrote accurately, providing precise details, names and dates. Furthermore, He wrote with an unprecedented knowledge of science. The commandments he recorded were far superior to any moral code that can be compared to them. Among the laws of the Torah were commandments that could not be measured or enforced by human leaders, one example being “Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart and soul and strength”. Why then, after establishing such credentials and actually recording the fact that he fell out of favour with God and did not get to see the promised land, would he go on to invent such events as miracles and prophecies? That is not reasonable or logical.
The book of Genesis in the Bible, when evaluated against what we know, rather than what we suppose or choose to know, stands up solidly to criticism. Perhaps it is the simplicity of the account that draws criticism and ridicule. Or maybe, the fact that the Bible invokes the necessity of miraculous events. Neither disproves the account and most honest scientists now admit that nothing can be dismissed as impossible when one considers the scientific discoveries being made continually. To a person born in 1200, an aeroplane, a telephone and a computer would be miraculous and impossible but, with knowledge these things are explained.
Genesis is real, actual history and it carries warnings for our day.