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The Genesis of Man

The characters within my novel Flying a Kite enter into debate about the meaning of Genesis with regard to creation. Despite all that, it is a light, accessible story. This article goes much deeper into some of the things talked about. My non-fiction work Reality Check: Science Meets Religion also covers some of this ground. This article seeks to explore those mysterious areas of the Holy Bible, to show how it is validated by modern science, and to provoke further thought into the complementary aspects of science and religion.

Creation Versus Evolution

Genesis 1 gives us a detailed account of how the universe was completed. Before analyzing what it says, do remember it was written by an unknown human author, goodness knows how long ago. We are going back the 2,000 years since the birth of Christ (covered by the New Testament), plus more than the 2,000 years that the Old Testament concenrates on; in other words, to pre-history. So take into account the author(s) of Genesis would have no comprehension of science or astronomy and they may well have been recording legend handed down over generations before it was written.
The authors of Genesis would certainly have no knowledge of evolution. We can also be confident they believed they were on a flat earth at the centre of all creation: or "the universe" as we now call it. They imagined God created everything for them: including the dome of the sky and the lights upon it (which we prefer to call stars).
The left-hand column of the table below is a summary of what Genesis 1 tells us, where creation is divided into "days". (Although the concept of time measurement in "days" must be regarded as a rather loose term. More on this later.) The right-hand column is a summary of what science tells us about how our world came about and evolved to the present age.

PERIOD
in Genesis 1

FROM THE BIBLE (Genesis 1)

FROM SCIENCE

DAY 1

v1-5. Formless earth with oceans. Day and night. [This implies the earth, and hence other stars, were present. How else could there be day and night? How else could a "day" be measured if this was a real "day"?]

The Big Bang took place. Time began. Energy and matter came into being. From that point the total amount of energy would never change.

DAY 2

v6-8. The waters of the earth and sky separated.

An atmosphere developed on the earth.

DAY 3

v9-13. Dry land emerged from the seas. Seed-bearing plants. Trees. Vegetation.

Light allowed bacteria and sea life to develop. Plants, trees and vegetation also grew and developed.

DAY 4

v14-19. Sun, moon and stars separated day from night. It says these were to show when religious festivals were to begin. [This is where things go a little off-track. This is discussed below.]

Initially there would have been a lot of volcanic dust in the atmosphere and this would have made it quite dark and impossible to see any stars. But they must have been there—even though man was not! Once the sky was clear life would really take off.

DAY 5

v20-23. Teeming life within the waters. Birds in the skies.

Evolution is steaming ahead, life creeping out of the waters, taking to the skies.

DAY 6

v24-end. Living creatures on the land.

The first humanoids evolved.

COMMENTS:

This sequence describes everything up to evolutionary Man. God has not yet created a Man with a soul. (He called such beings "sons of God" in Genesis 6.) DAY 7 is dealt with at the start of Genesis 2, which is an interesting point I take up later.

I take this to be those well before 300,000-400,000 years ago when Homo Heiddelbergensis ("Heidelberg Man") was around.


The important thing to notice here is that the biblical account in Genesis 1 details the correct sequence for evolution. That is amazing! It proves that somehow the author received God-given inspiration, since mankind was not around to witness creation or evolution. It was not until Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species on 24 November 1859 that mankind began to understand evolution.
However, there is a hiccupon Day 4. After the (inspired) account implies the sun is present on Day 1, because "day and night" are mentioned, the sun is also mentioned as being set in place by God in verse 14 (on Day 4), where God says: "Let there be lights in the expanse of sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve to mark seasons and days and years... God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night."
Whenever human-beings are involved in anything there is ample scope for error. As when an author seeks to clarify something he or she does not fully understand by putting his or her own spin on it. This must be what happened here. The writer assumed everything in the sky was put there as a kind of celestial calendar, along with the sun and moon, purely for our illumination. Errors make this human error clear. Firstly "days" have already talked about, even though the sun, which helps define a day, is only mentioned at verse 16. Also, as we well know, the early life described on days 2 and 3 could not have come about without the presence of sunlight. Yet verse 3 introduced light, and clearly the author would not have understood the implication of his God-given inspiration when he wrote (or first passed on the word) of this.
These human errors revealing the limitations of the author's true knowledge, combined with the true account of the beginning of our world and evolution, provide scientific corroboration of the spiritual nature of Genesis. That knowledge had to come from somewhere other than man. The correctness of Genesis 1 provides the scientist with an explanation for how the Big Bang came about in the first place. Science and the Bible are complementary and neither is whole without the other. What beautiful synergy! Science does not know where all the energy came from which started the Big Bang. Religion tells them: God. God is beyond space and time: because he created them both.
The law of Conservation of Energy states energy cannot be created or destroyed, but it can be transferred or transformed from one form to another (including transformation into, or from, matter). The total amount of energy in a closed system never changes. All that energy allowed the Big Bang to set into action the chain reaction that would lead to our ever expanding universe anda the mysterious nuclear binding energy that holds the nucleus of atoms—and hence our world—together. Of course science tells us we're talking billions of years for the universe to expand to its present state, not days. A week was regarded as a suitable period for early celebrations, which is probably why the author of Genesis 1 divides creation into seven days. All neat and tidy!
The fact our universe is observably ever expanding creates a problem for Creationists who insist on it having been created over 7 days. Why? If the stars, including our own sun, our earth and our moon, were created in a day, we must assume they took up initial positions favourably placed to avoid gravitational disaste. So how come they are now moving apart? Did God create them stationary, in an instant, and then start the acceleration (as if from a central point)? Does it not make more sense for them to start from a central point and then to be placed at moving start positions? We do need to apply some logic if we expect to understand this kind of stuff.
Those who argue there is not a creator-God, like Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion, generally take extreme comparisons: such as Creationist theory versus science, his favourite eggagerated comparison. Hardly fair, given many Christians do not deny science. Even the Catholic Church now officially recognizes that evolution is likely to be part of the process of God's creation. In 1996, in his message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Pope John Paul the Second gave a defence of theistic evolution talking of 'a caring God who employed evolution'. Part of what he said was: "New findings lead us towards the recognition of evolution as more than a hypothesis. In fact it is remarkable that this theory has had progressively greater influence on the spirit of researchers, following a series of discoveries in different scholarly disciplines. The convergence in the results of these independent studies—which was neither planned nor sought—constitutes in itself a significant argument in favour of the theory."
So he accepted the biological implications of evolution so long as it is carefully balanced with the spiritual perspective. And that line followed on from John Paul's predecessor, Pius Eleven, who said: "If the origins of the human body comes through living matter which existed previously, the spiritual soul is created directly by God." There is written evidence that the Catholic Church now accepts Big Bang and evolutionary theory [see Paragraph 63 here]. I attempt to provide some evidence as to why Big Bang and evolutionary theory should be accepted by those who also believe in God. Why should God not have chosen to use evolution? It might take time, but God has plenty of that!

Why Two Creation Stories in Genesis?

Genesis 1 covers Days 1 to 6 of the creation story, but Genesis leaves it until the first three versus of Genesis 2 to tell us that God then rested on the 7th day after completing his work—thereby termination the first creation story. What then follows is another account of creation starring Adam and Eve. Why does this end part go to another chapter? Perhaps because that time of rest was a very long time.
So why another creation story in Genesis 2? This time man comes first: before the Garden of Eden, trees, birds and animals. Then Eve is created from Adam. Why does it differ? Given how the flow follows on from the preceding chapter, I suggest we read the first two chapters of Genesis as a sequential account of human development, where Genesis 2 contains a recap. I think it is another example where the author feels man comes first, at the centre of everything, and all the other stuff was put there for him... including Eve, in the end: company for Adam. Adam gets to name all things.
I believe that, in its own colourful way, Genesis 2 tells us about a further stage in both the physical and spiritual evolution of man. It appears to be much more allegorical, given things such as talking serpents. But is it?
Science tells us that the original line of human beings split, as confirmed by the discovery of what has been called Homo Heidelbergensis, remains dated at around 300,000-400,000 BC. The split led to Neandertal Man and Chromagno Man. The latter led to Homo Sapiens, our ancestors, including Homo Erectus. There was interbreeding between our ancestors and Neandertal, and caves in Israel show they co-existed and used similar tools, although the more primitive Neandertals died out, probably killed of by our lot. By the time 'modern man' evolved, his brain gained the outer layer called the neocortex and expanded from around 1lb to some 3 lbs. This allowed for increased intelligence and reasoning capacity.'Thinking man' had arrived.
The knowledge of how to tame fire and use it for heating and cooking was one of the things which led to the physical advance. Cooked food meant easier digestion, more calories, more brain food, and the ability to support that much larger brain. Genesis 2:7 tells us "God took some soil from the ground and formed man out if it". I suggest what this really means is that the raw material from evolution was used for this new breed of man, a man with a bigger brain... and a mind and soul! This man lived alongside the mindless race and, to distinguish them, Genesis calls these advanced beings the "sons of God". This is quite clear in Genesis 6:1-3, which states: "When men began to increase in numbers on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw the daughters of men were beautiful and they married any of them they chose." The fact there were two different races, and one was clearly spiritually superior, confirms God had a creative hand in the development of our ancestors as well as natural evolution. This tells us that both science and the Bible are correct in their beliefs, and offers us a viewpoint which allows this. I believe God waited until natural development through evolution led to a being worthy of being given a soul. Natural evolution was a deft process for God to use in order to ensure his chosen creatures were the superior race on earth.
The Adam and Eve story seems a bit allegorical, especially when it comes to talking serpents, and it is tempting to dismiss it. But I shall now take a deeper look at that, in order to show there may be more truth in it than you might initially imagine.

Exploring the Garden of Eden

Firstly I want to explore the Garden of Eden, as described in the Bible. Genesis 2:9 tells us God planted two trees in the centre of this garden: The Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. My researches into this have led to numerous different theories which attempt to explain what is going on here, and no one can claim any particular one is true. However, the following gets closer to anything else I have yet found in providing a logical explanation for these mystical trees. So let us take a wander in the garden.

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

The serpent-like vine ayahuasca

© Rafael Guimarăes dos Santos, Banisteriopsis Caapi vine, October 2004

In Western Christian art, the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is usually depicted as the apple. This may have originated as a Latin pun: by eating the malum (apple), Eve contracted malum (evil). Maybe we think this because of religious artists' poetic licence. The Bible does not specify apple. (Some joker says is must have been a pear, because it was the pair below it which caused us all so much grief.)
In Judaism, the prophets and rabbis identify the serpent of Genesis 3 as "Ha-Satan", the one who deceives and accuses 364 days of the year. (Only on one day is Ha-Satan not able to accuse: on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.) Ha-Satan, in this capacity, is many times translated as 'the prosecutor', and is apparently charged by God to tempt humans and to report back to God all who go against His decrees.
It is common to identify the serpent as Satan. But what if the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil at the centre of the Garden of Eden, was the hallucinogenic ayahuasca, a serpent-shaped vine? (It is also known as the Banisteriopsis caapi vine.) The term "ayahuasca" comes from the Quechua language. The word "huasca" is the usual Quechua term for all vines. The word "aya" refers to something like a separable soul or the spirit of the dead; hence the two common English translations, 'vine of the soul' and 'vine of the dead'.
Shamans of the Amazon drink or inhale a preparation from this. The effects appear in thirty to forty minutes and last around four hours. They claim to see serpents who teach them the medicinal and sorcery uses of other plants. The shamans are said to be able to see galaxies and planets, distant relatives, lost objects, the cause of a patient’s sickness and to even travel through space and time. So we have two things here: a snake-like vine and hallucination. Imbibing causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, even vermifuge (evacutation of worms), so there is a price to pay for its hallucinogenic properties.
So I propose this. If the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was the ayahuasca, there would be good reason for God to tell Adam to stay away from its forbidden fruit. Apart from making him feel groggy, to say the least, its hallucinatory properties would lead to him reaching forbidden access to an enhanced level of consciousness: and perhaps to good as well as evil spirits. As a result of partaking of this fruit, Adam and Eve realized they were naked. Hence Adam and Eve disobeyed God, committing the first sin of the new advanced human being. As a result God said his time would be limited to his physical life on earth and they were banned from the garden and all access to the Tree of Life. Perhaps this meant they would never have a spiritual afterlife in heaven.
At least this explanation gives rise to some grounds for the introduction of a serpent. The tale might have got twisted a little between Adam and the author of Genesis 2!

The Tree of Life

Moringa Oleifera

©Iaminfo, Moringa Oleifera: flower and fruit. Taken at MacRichie national park, Singapore, January 2010

Back to the jungle and another fruiting tree that might be the Tree of Life. It is called the Moringa Oleifera and is perhaps the most nutritious source of plant-derived food. Moringa is the Tamil-Dravidian name. The Hausa name for the tree is Zogale, meaning the helper. It is sometimes called the cabbage plant and is exensively used in Afro-Arabian pharmacology.
For centuries the natives of India, parts of Africa, Asia and South America have benefited from the Moringa’s leaves, pods and flowers, which are rich in nutrients important to humans and animals. The seeds are used to purify surface water and can produce a 90.00% to 99.99% bacterial reduction in previously untreated water. Given there would not have been many diseases around in Adam's time, the beneficial effects of using this tree's seeds to purify water are obvious: extended life! But not, I think, to live for ever.
When the Tree of Life is referred to the Hebrew word olam is often translated as 'for ever' where it usually means 'for a very long time'. [More] So when it says in Genesis 3:22: "And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever," this could be translated as "and live for a very long time."
The fact many of the people mentioned in Genesis lives for so long might be partly down to the pods of the Moringa, and its use in water purification. [More] Or maybe because there was not much disease then?

Conclusion

I might be wrong about the trees in the centre of the Garden of Eden, but the foregoing does, at least, serve to demonstrate there might well be a true explanation for some of what it says in Genesis 2 other than myth or imagination: namely hallucination! Perhaps it was not a talking serpent that tempted Adam and Eve but the fruit of a tree that led to them believing snakes were involved in their downfall: the first act of disobedience of God's direct commands, and hence the first sin.
This article has shown that the most ancient book of the Bible, namely Genesis, does actually contain an accurate account of the sequence of evolution, something its authors could not possibly have known about without God-given inspiration. Their understanding of the world was limited to one in which they imagined they were on a flat earth created just for them, with sun and stars formed just for them. Yet the influence of God is clear within the writings... which may well record stories verbally handed-down over generations before being written down. It is small wonder there may be a few human errors. Yet not only does Genesis 1 correctly describe the evolutionary sequence, it begins its account from what we know of as the 'Big Bang': long before man had evolved!
One scientist, famous for having headed the Human Genome Project in America, is Francis Collins, author of The Language of God—a Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. So do not assume all scientists take Richard Dawkin's stance against there being a creator-God. And bear in mind this is the man knows more about the human genome and its relation to evolution than just about anyone else on the planet.
Science ultimately aims to derive a Theory of Everything, a theory which pulls together everything it can observe. Some scientists think that would obviate the need for a God. To me, however, it would prove the unity of all things and a stablility that can only be explained by one creative force: a single God.
The big outcome of this article is that science and religion are shown to complement each other. As the world greatest scientist, Albert Einstein, once said: "Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind."


Please read my book Reality Check: Science Meets Religion for a deeper analysis of this, including refutation of many of the traditional arguments against there being a God, and logical evidence to prove the brain and mind are separate entities, allowing our consciousness and mind to live on after physical death in spirit bodies. You might also like to read my novel, Flying a Kite, for an entertaining tale of those tasked with finding answers to some of these tricky problems; whilst a novel, its End Notes point to facts supporting everything its fictional characters discuss.


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"Fluent, graphic writing and excellent use of description... Characters alive with captivating dialogue." (Elijah Iwuji, author of Praying in the Will of God)


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"'Reality Check' is an interesting and accessible book... that sets up the basic argument well, an intriguing one at that: proof of God in brain and mind being two different things, mind existing beyond the time-space continuum. At this stage my interest was piqued. I haven’t come across an argument like this before so it appears original... I was entertained and informed along the way and feel richer for the debate. Anyone interested in these themes would do well to have a read of 'Reality Check'." (Ross Clark - Authonomy)


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