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An Analysis of Creation

I'm constantly surprised by how many Christians literally believe the Biblical story of creation. Its just so full of holes, its impossible to imagine how anyone could take it seriously. I'm often asked what's wrong with it, and have to list off the same facts, over and over. So instead, I've listed the major problems I see with the story, here.

I admit I'm not a Bible scholar, and have no doubt misinterpreted some of the text, but try to look at the big picture. Just read through this and ask yourself at the end: how can you believe something with so many flaws? Even if half can be explained (which I don't think they can) what about the rest?

I've used the American Standard Version of the Bible, because its easy to follow. But I've also used the King James to clarify certain points. I don't think the Bible version used makes a big difference, although it does change some details. The Bible text is in italics, and my comments in plain text.

In the beginning

OK, this is good. We know there was a beginning because there was an event which occurred about 14 billion years ago, which is normally referred to as the Big Bang, although other interpretations are possible. Its easy to use the Bible to establish when this happened, and it works out as 6,000 years ago. That's off by a factor of 230 million percent! We know the age of the Universe because we can measure the distance to the most distant and ancient objects. Their light takes over 10 billion years to get here, so the Universe must be at least that age. We can also age the Universe through observing changes in stars - stellar energy is produced at a specific rate.

God created

This is neutral. if you're a theist then you will believe in a god. If you're a scientist you usually won't. Although there's no real evidence against god in general (its almost impossible to prove a negative), there's no evidence supporting one either.

the heavens

This refers to a place which we have no reason to believe exists, but I'll place it in the same neutral category as god.

and the earth.

This is wrong. The Earth was not created in the beginning. We know through many independent sources of evidence, that the Universe is almost 14 billion years old, but the Earth is only around 5 billion years old. We know the Earth's age through a significant number of independent methods, such as many different dating methods which all give similar results, geological layering, the energy production of the Sun, and many others.

And the earth was waste and void;

This is almost reasonable because the early Earth was certainly very different to what it is like now. It was in a molten state, and undergoing constant bombardment. Of course, what waste and void means is debatable. And it would be a safe guess to say the Earth was empty to start with anyway.

and darkness was upon the face of the deep:

Well no. The Sun and stars were there already. I don't think we could reasonably say that the Earth was dark. in fact solar energy is required for rocky planets to form. Without that we would get gas giants like Jupiter instead of rocky planets like the Earth.

and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters

OK, so what waters were these? There was no water on the surface of the earth at this early stage. The water came later through bombardment by comets, etc.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

I'm not sure what this light is, but if it divides night from day, mustn't it be the Sun? We know the Sun was there before the Earth. We see other solar systems forming this way. So the light should be there before the Earth. This is wrong.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

If the light comes from the Sun, then it was always divided. The Earth is a spheroid so there will always be night and day. Why was this step necessary? It doesn't make sense. And if the light was something else (I guess it must have been, because the Sun is created later) when did the Sun take over as provider of day and night, and why?

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.

As I said above, night and day on Earth always existed.

And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

One day for all this? We know that solar systems take long periods of time to form: probably about 10 million years. We see this happening in other solar systems, so one day cannot be true. We can actually see other solar systems forming elsewhere in the Universe, so the process can really be observed happening. For example, the star Beta Pictoris is surrounded by a disk of gas and dust, which is what planet systems form out of. Different star systems are at different stages, giving us a picture of the total process, even though it takes long a period of time.

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters,

Only a day after its creation the Earth was not covered with water, so this must be wrong, no matter what interpretation you put on the meaning of firmament here.

and let it divide the waters from the waters.

If the water wasn't there, then all this elaboration is just building on a false belief.

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.

This is a weird one. The Hebrew word that firmament is derived from implies something thin and spread out. We normally think of the atmosphere, but because the stars are in the firmament, it must mean all of space. So what is this water above the firmament? No one seems to know, and it appears to be nonsensical.

And God called the firmament Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

There's no reason to believe the whole surface of the Earth was ever covered with water. The dry land was there first, and the water filled the lower areas later, as collisions bought water ice to the surface of the Earth after it had cooled after forming.

And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called the Seas: and God saw that it was good.

And God said, Let the earth put forth grass,

We know the order different types of plants appeared on the Earth, and we know grasses appeared quite late (in the Eocene), certainly well after many other types of plants and many animals. So this is certainly wrong.

herbs yielding seed, [and] fruit-trees bearing fruit after their kind, wherein is the seed thereof, upon the earth: and it was so.

All of this happened before sea life appeared? No, this is undoubtedly wrong. The fossil record clearly shows these types of plants appearing quite late. And is there a mention of earlier plant types at all? No.

And the earth brought forth grass, herbs yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit, wherein is the seed thereof, after their kind: and God saw that it was good.

I'm also confused about why these plants are here, before the Sun was created (see the next step) but after the light which divides the night from day - isn't that the Sun?

And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years:

The stars are there to be signs of the seasons, apparently. Then why can we see only about 600 of the 400 billion stars in our galaxy alone? What do the rest, which we can't see, do? They aren't really fulfilling their purpose as signs very well. And that's not even to mention the hundreds of billions of other galaxies out there. And remember, only a small fraction of the matter in the Universe is even in stars - most is dark.

and let them be for lights in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

And God made the two great lights; the greater light to rule the day,

He made the Sun now? After the plants which require Sun light? And if the light which divides night from day (in step one above) wasn't the Sun, what was it?

and the lesser light to rule the night:

Sounds like the Moon. How does the Moon rule the night. Its in the sky just as much during the day as the night. Its not in the night sky at all half the time.

[he made] the stars also.

This is so wrong. Some stars were there for billions of years before the Sun and Earth. There isn't any doubt about it. There are stars out there whose light has taken billions of years to reach us. how could they have been created after the Earth just 6000 years ago? And why mention something like this in three words? The mass of stars in the Universe is 40,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times greater than the Earth, but they are dismissed so quickly. Seems strange. Maybe the writers of Genesis didn't really know what stars really are. Psalm 147:4 says "He determines the number of the stars, He gives to all of them their names." Big job, the letters in the alphabet can't be re-arranged in enough meaningful patterns to give them all names!

And God set them in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth,

Again, I'm confused. I thought we already had light in day one. And if we didn't, why create the plants first, which require light to survive?

and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.

The Sun, the Moon, and the stars were all created on one day? So stars we know are only a few hundred years old, stars in galaxies we know are 10 billion years old, and the Sun which is 5 billion years old, were all created at the same time. I don't think so.

And God said, Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures,

Well there was life in the oceans a long time before grasses and fruit trees appeared. I don't just mean a little bit of time before. I mean billions of years before. the fossil record cannot be wrong on this. Its consistent across the globe. The layering cannot be wrong.

and let birds fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

Birds were created at the same time as sea creatures? No they weren't. Birds appeared about 140 million years ago. The earliest sea life appeared over 3 billion years ago. That's a rather large error! And the evidence also indicates the first mammals were here before the first birds.

And God created the great sea-monsters,

And these monsters were what, exactly. The King James version mentions whales. That's so wrong! Whales are mammals which returned to the sea about 50 million years ago. As I said above, other sea creatures had been around for over 3 billion years.

and every living creature that moveth, wherewith the waters swarmed, after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind: and God saw that it was good.

No, totally wrong. Even if you don't accept the dates, the order of creation is all wrong. Fossil layering is clear: simple sea life first, then birds and whales much later.

And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.

And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.

And God said, Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind, cattle, and creeping things, and beasts of the earth after their kind: and it was so.

According to this, all land animals were created at the same time. We know this isn't true. The order of creation of life in Genesis is really mixed up and can be shown to be untrue through analysis of the fossil record, analysis of similarities of different species genetic code, and morphological studies.

And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creepeth upon the ground after its kind: and God saw that it was good.

And God said, Let us make man in our image,

Christians can't seem to agree on what this idea of "in our image" means. Does it mean man is physically the same as god? That's crazy. Does it mean we have the same emotions or thoughts? I hope not, because if god is like man, he could do with a lot of improvement!

after our likeness:

This really sounds like man looks like god. So god shares all of man's anatomical and physiological problems? Just unbelievable. Does god eat? If he does, then what? He must have existed a long time before there was food. if he doesn't eat, but we are created to look the same as him, he must have teeth. Why?

and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

So man is in charge of everything else. Unfortunately, because humans only appeared 2 million years ago, 99% of species which ever existed had already become extinct. OK, I guess we can still be in charge of the 1% left.

And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

And God blessed them: and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food:

and to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the heavens, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, [I have given] every green herb for food: and it was so.

This idea of humans being given total control of all other living things is a dangerous one. Maybe this is the origin of the exploitation of the natural world by people of the western (Christian) world. But I don't know how seriously that can be taken because other civilisations also excessively exploit the natural world when given the chance.

And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

And the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.

This is clearly not possible. The creation process has never finished - its continuous. New stars and planets are being formed in the Universe all the time (we've actually seen this happening in the star forming areas in the constellation Orion), and new forms of life have formed continuously since life first arose. So if God is responsible, he never did finish the creation process.

And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

Just a small point. If God is perfect, why did he need to rest? Another point I have never heard an answer to. If God is eternal (he has always existed, and always will exist), what did he do for the infinite amount of time he existed before creating the Universe?

Discussion

Comment by Anonymous on 2007-03-26 at 10:32:19: I read the creation analysis you wanted me too and answered back to a few of the things you said about that part of a verse but not all of it yet. Here are my notes: -the heavens. My comment: You should not write an opinion on something that you are trying to explain the facts, especially if you don't state why you don't believe it is true. -and the darkness was upon the face of the deep. My comment: You don't know anything about it! You weren't there! That is opinion that you stated not f...

Comment by OJB on 2007-03-26 at 10:43:16: The heavens. I said we have no evidence it exists, and we don't. But I gave the Bible the benefit of the doubt and put it in a "neutral" category. Seems fair. The darkness. Not an opinion. We know exactly how solar systems are formed and the Suns light up well before the planet surfaces are solid. The waters. We know where the water came from and large bodies of water occurred much later than the Bible suggests. We don't have to be there to deduce what happened. Light. Nothing to do wi...

Comment by Anonymous on 2007-03-29 at 02:38:26: Okay, you completely missed my point. You do not know anything about what happened back then so stop saying what your opinion is after each verse. You have to read it as somebody who doesn't support either belief and that doesn't know alot about science or religion. Then you can have valid points. The people that are going to be looking at it aren't the people that know things about the subject but people who don't. I was putting down things as it mentioned in the Bible, trying to be a neutr...

Comment by OJB on 2007-03-29 at 09:05:54: Of course we know what happened. There is evidence in many different forms all around us. Nothing there is my opinion, its all well accepted science. I read the Bible (from no particular perspective), then compare it with verifiable facts. Genesis just doesn't work. By saying things like "God can do anything" you are effectively giving up any hope of establishing the truth. I could say: "None of the creation sequence in Genesis agrees with the observed facts". You could say "God can do anythi...

Comment by Anonymous on 2007-03-31 at 00:32:46: Okay, you believe that by me saying that my God can do anything, I am practicing magic, and I believe that some of your facts are absurd. Unfortunately, we are both wrong in some way. God isn't magic, and apparently some of the science facts are correct. Here, I will just say it this way, seeing is not believing.

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