(Stephen J. Godfrey and Christopher R. Smith)
In the beginning, God created the sky and the land. At first there was no land, with any shape or with anything on it. There was just water, and darkness. But God’s Spirit hovered over the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light!” And there was light. And God saw that the light was good. God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “Day,” and the darkness He called “Night.” There was evening, and there was morning, the first day.
And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And it was so. God made the dome, and separated the waters that were below the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And God saw that it was good. God called the dome “Sky.” There was evening, and there was morning, a second day.
And God said, “Let the waters under the dome be gathered into one place and let what is dry appear.” And it was so. The waters under the dome were gathered together and what is dry appeared. God called what was dry “Land,” and the gathering of the waters he called “Sea.” And God saw that it was good.
And God said, “Let the land sprout greenery: plants that bear seeds openly, and fruit trees whose seed is in their fruit, upon the land.” And it was so. The land brought forth greenery, plants that bore seeds according to their kind, and trees whose seed was in their fruit according to their kind. And God saw that it was good. There was evening, and there was morning, a third day.
And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky, to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and to set appointed times, and to mark days and years, and let them be for lights in the dome of the sky, to give light upon the land.” And it was so. God made the two great lights—the greater one to rule the day, and the lesser one to rule the night – and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the land, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. There was evening, and there was morning, a fourth day.
And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living things, and let flying things fly above the land, across the dome of the sky.” And it was so. God created the great sea creatures and the teeming living things with which the waters swarm according to their kinds, and every winged flying thing according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters of the sea, and let flying things multiply upon the land.” And there was evening, and there was morning, a fifth day.
And God said, “Let the land bring forth each living thing according to its kind, cattle and teeming things and wild beasts according to their kinds.” And it was so. God made the wild beast according to its kind, and the cattle according to its kind, and everything that teems upon the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
And God said, “Let us make humanity in our image and according to our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea, and over the things that fly in the sky, and over the cattle and the wild beasts and all the teeming things that teem upon the land.”
And God created the human in His image;
In the image of God He created him;
Male and female He created them.
God blessed them and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the land and tame it, and rule over the fish of the sea, and over the things that fly in the sky, and over the beasts and the cattle and the teeming things on the land.”
And God said, “Behold, I have given to you humans as your food every seed-bearing plant that is upon the face of the whole land, and every tree whose fruit makes it a seed-bearing tree. And to every wild beast and to everything that flies in the sky and to everything that teems upon the land, in which is the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning, a sixth day.
And that is how the sky and the land, and everything in them, were completed.
God ceased, on the seventh day, from the work that he did;
He rested on the seventh day from all the work that he did.
And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work of creating.
After many years of reflecting on the question of origins from the perspective of both the Bible and science, we have each concluded that the original audience of the Genesis creation account would have heard and understood that account in the way just presented. Dr. Smith has already related how his biblical research and teaching, combined with an extended opportunity to view natural scenes, led him to this conclusion. Dr. Godfrey had a similar experience shortly afterwards.
In preparing for a debate with a young-earth creationist, he decided—after several years of avoiding the Genesis creation account because of painful experiences associated with it—to reacquaint himself with it by reading it through many times. In so doing, he made a startling discovery. He realized that to that point he had not been able to make sense of what was written because he had automatically but subconsciously been interpreting the text based on a 21st-century cosmological understanding. His reading was suffering from the proverbial “paradigm effect.”
Therefore, in rereading the creation account, he made a conscious effort to forget what he knew about the structure of our solar system and the universe beyond. Some information from Dr. Smith about what certain words in the account meant helped in this effort. The result of this experience was a radical new appreciation for what this account actually says.
We hope, in the posts that follow, to enable you to have the same experience of seeing this passage with new eyes. We will walk through the first several days of the Genesis creation account slowly, showing that it presents an observational cosmology, rather than an objective scientific one. Once we have established this, we then will explore the implications of this discovery for the scientist and for the student of the Bible. Read along with us . . .