tormod (tormod) wrote in neurotheology,

connections between Genesis and science

Just the week before I saw this community featured on the main page and started posting, I had given the speech under the cut below to Toastmasters.  It was one of those Jungian coincidences, which may qualify as a neurotheological phenomenon in its own right.

I don't post this to restart the argument about validity of connections between creation myths and science, but merely because I finally got around to typing that speech and thought some here might be interested.


Fellow Toastmasters, Honored Guests.


There is a dangerous movement in this country.  There are people who want to subvert the Truth for political gain, and have no respect for the Constitution.  They have manufactured a conflict between science and religion, between Creationism and evolution, merely to distract Christian voters from real issues, like fighting poverty and protecting the environment.  They want us to forget that science and religion exist to answer different questions, and that our understanding is incomplete without both.


Religion asks “Why?”  Science asks “How?”


For example, the entire Bible is devoted to answering why we are here, but only the first 1/10 of 1%, the first two pages, mention anything about how we got here.  Such a brief and vague account is clearly not meant to compete with the logical conclusions drawn from systematic and careful observation of the universe.  The strangest thing about the Biblical creation story is that, even passed down by word of mouth for hundreds of years by prehistoric people before being written, and then repeatedly transcribed and translated, it remains remarkably close to the story pieced together by science.  In fact, it reads like an outline of the most important steps science says were necessary for the evolution of life as we know it.


According to Genesis, "In the beginning... the earth was formless and void" until God said, "Let there be light," and separated light from darkness.


According to physics, there was nothing at all in the universe until 13.73 billion years ago, when a massive explosion caused huge amounts of matter and antimatter to come into existence.  Normally, there are equal amounts of each when this happens. But mysteriously, there was more matter than antimatter, just enough to form our universe, when the two canceled each other out again.


On the second day, God said, “Let there be an expanse” called “Heaven” or “sky.”


Physics says space continued expanding after the Big Bang, faster than anyone can explain.


On the fourth day (I think the days were mixed up at some point), God created the Sun (4.59 billion years ago), the Moon (4.53 billion years ago), and the stars (between 1 and 13.2 billion years ago).


On the third day, God "let dry ground appear," "gathered the water to one place," and "let the land produce vegetation.”


The Earth formed 4.54 billion years ago.  Volcanoes and asteroids brought water to the surface, initially covering most of the earth.  Gradually, landmasses formed.  Photosynthetic lifeforms developed about 3 billion years ago, making the atmosphere more suitable for larger organisms.


On the fifth day, the waters teemed with living creatures, and birds flew through the sky.


Life began in the oceans.  396 million years ago, insects colonized the land ("bird" perhaps means "flying thing"?), allowing flowering plants to exist.


On the sixth day, the land produced all the living creatures.


365 million years ago vertebrates came to land.


Also on the sixth day, God created man to rule over the Earth. 


About 250,000 years ago, our ancestors became Homo sapiens, and developed agriculture soon after.


Genesis leaves out many details of how, but says repeatedly why: "God saw it was good."


So, assuming the accidental transposition of days three and four, and that the ancient Jews had no good words for photosynthetic algae or insects, science and religion give us the same story.


Creationists should be happy that the universe confirms their faith.  They should allow biology teachers to teach biology, and teach religion in Sunday school.  If we try to mix the two, our children will get a flawed understanding of both science and religion.  Worse, we will be giving the State control over what children learn about religion, a clear violation of the Constitution.  State control over religion and willful misunderstanding of science sounds like a recipe for a return to the Dark Ages.

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