Difficulties with the Genesis Creation Story
As-salamu ‘alaykum, may the peace and blessings of God be upon everyone.
I just wanted to get this out of my head. I am a biology major, and as such, I have a scientific-oriented mind. As a result, I have found a few impossibilities found in the Judeo-Christian view of the creation of the universe. I want to let them all out here not only to show everyone, but also just to help me arrange my thoughts. Please feel free to comment, but only after you read the whole article please.
List of Difficulties in the Genesis Creation Account:
1) – The first thing God made in this universe is the planet Earth and its waters, before everything else, even before light (Genesis 1:1). We have been able to observe hundreds of thousands of things in this universe that makes our planet seem like a newborn baby. For example, our own solar system is said to be about 4.5 billion years old, found from methods such as radioactive dating of meteorites (along with terrestrial and lunar samples) and helioseismology (1). However, the universe itself is thought to be about 13.7 billion years, a number derived from methodologies such as using a function of cosmological parameters, or using NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Problem, or just WMAP (2). If that general statement isn’t enough, some objects in the universe are thought to be older than our solar system as well. For example, on March 30, 2008, astronomers in New Mexico were able to observe an explosion that took long before the planet even existed (3). The light from this gamma-ray burst travelled 8.4 billion light years to get to Earth, where scientists were finally able to observe it this year. Since light travels at a limited speed, what we see in the sky is actually history – light had to travel all the way from the origin to get to Earth. What we see is the light from events that took place at a previous point in time. Even sunlight takes around 8 minutes to reach us. If the sun suddenly vanished, we wouldn’t know for an entire 8 minutes! All in all, it looks bleak that the Earth came first. Even if all this evidence was wrong, it still doesn’t change the fact that there is no evidence at all to persuade on to believe that the Earth came first – all arrows point to the contrary.
2) – God created light before He created stars, or any other possible alternative source of light (Genesis 1:3, 14-16). This one is simple. How can you have light without a light source? For those in the dark (no pun intended), the stars of our universe are the source of all light. Now, there is a valid counter-argument from Christians, and that is that if God wills something, it HAPPENS, no matter how impossible it is. If God wanted to inverse gravity, it would happen. If God wanted men to bear children, it would happen. If God wanted Richard Simmons to become the prime minister of Israel, it would indeed happen. This is something that i must concede. My only rebuttal is that although their point is indeed valid, it doesn’t fit God’s tendencies for a natural and orderly Creation as shown and observed all about us. Although anything is possible, the universe usually follows a set of laws that are constant and predictable. There isn’t anything blasphemous about these laws. After all, all the “laws of science” are truly just the laws of the Creator. As such, we have no reason to think that Allah (SWT) indeed performed a miracle by creating before stars, while we have patterns that imply that God usually follows His own laws of physics. If the Universe was created with just free-flowing light without any source, then where is that light now? Is there any evidence, of that light, any sort of radiation or anything? No. All evidence suggests that the Universe had a precise beginning, and that it came from nothing. Indeed, most Christians accept the Big Bang Theory. If you accept that the Universe came out of nothing, then you must accept all the other physical evidences that we have that support that theory. Some Christians claim that the Universe was created with things already in motion, like light created already traveling between two points, instead of it shooting out of a star first. This conflicts with current data, and is totally based on whimsy. Once again, the Bible simply just supports an otherwise unsupported series of hypotheses that even contradict themselves.
3) – There was Night and Day on Earth before the Sun was created (Genesis 1:5, 16). This is sort of like a tangent off the last point. How do you have Day and Night without the Sun? The earth rotates to have Day and Night, with one light source. Yet light had no source until the 4th day. You see, we have Day and Night thanks to the rotation of the Earth. The side that faces the light source is experiences Day, while the other side is experiencing Night. Since there was no light and no light source, how could there be Day and Night?
4) – God created vegetation before the He created the Sun (Genesis 1:11, 16). I was beating a dead horse on the last point, and now I’m shooting it with a shotgun. You can’t have plants without their source of nourishment. Of course, you can point to the fact that there is light already from the First Day. However, that light is also in question. However, since according to the Bible there still was light, no matter how many issues I have with that, it still provides the plants with light, so I will not go any further. I just want to point to the fact that Jews and Christians are saying that even grass came into being on Earth before the rest of the entire universe. This view is just so incredibly geocentric and arrogant. It’s no wonder that when Galileo Galilei proposed his heliocentric theory (that our solar system revolves around our Sun), he almost got himself excommunicated. Not only that, but it goes in COMPLETE contrast with paleololgical records, and you can see below.
5 & 6) – God created grasses, seed-bearing plants and flowering plants on the same day, and all came before animals were ever created (Genesis 1:11, 20-21). Seed-bearing plants are called gymnosperm, and fruit-bearing plants, which in turn are flower-bearing plants, come from angiosperms. According to the geological time scale and fossil records, the earliest true gymnosperms appeared during the Permian Period, at least 253 million years ago (4)(5). However, the first ever seeding plants, called progymnosperms, began to appear in the Devonian Period, at least 374 million years ago (4)(5). Angiosperms popped up during the Cretaceous Period, 135 million years ago (4)(5). Do the math. To make matters worse, grasses were true late comers, squeezing in at only 37 million years ago, during the Eocene Period (4)(5). That is a day that lasted roughly 340 million years. One explanation would be that the word “Day” in Genesis meant a long period of time, since the Hebrew word “youm” can mean both. However, but for some reason must Christian Creationists insist that it meant 24-hour days due to contextual reasons. Whatever the case, there is an even bigger problem. You see, these plants were all supposed to come BEFORE any animals appeared. However, as we can see in the fossil records, animals came before even the progymnosperms, as early as 630 million years ago, in the Ediacaran Period (4)(5)(6). These pre-progymnosperm animals included sponges, trilobites, priapulid worms, inarticulate brachiopods, anomalocharids, bivalves, nautiloids, ostracods, bryozoa, echinoderms, both jawed and jawless fish, sea scorpions, corals, and crinoids(4)(5)(6). Animals that came inbetween progymnosperms and gymnosperms include both winged and wingless insects, goniatite ammonoids, coleoids, early sharks, and reptiles(4)(5)(6). Animals that appeared between gymnosperms and angiosperms include dinosaurs, teleost fish, many modern insect clades, crocodilia, and small mammals(4)(5)(6). Lastly, animals that came inbetween angiosperms and grasses include monotremes, marsupials, placental mammals, Eusuchia, and modern sharks(4)(5)(6). What we see is a complete dismantlement of the Genesis Creation account on gymnosperms, angiosperms, and grasses. Lets say the dating was all wrong based due to whatever reason. The fact is that there isn’t even any room to even allow a hypothesis supporting the Bible. Just because you think you can disprove the fossil record doesn’t mean that you can prove the Biblical accounts. Not only are all 3 types of plants spread out the fossil records, but all sorts of animals bespeckle the records between them. Dinosaurs are both created and become extinct during the K-T extinction event, before the first grass ever sprouted (4)(5)(6)(7). The fact that the fossil record shows the complete opposite of what the Bible proposes is too much to ignore. It’s not that there are slight discrepancies; the fossil records show the EXACT OPPOSITE of what the bible says – you can’t get more opposite than this. Also, there is no evidence that supports the Biblical accounts at all, so even if one were to disprove the fossil record, the Biblical account still has no weight. Whereas the Bible says these plants appeared on the same day, we see that they appeared throughout the fossil records in 4 stages. Whereas the Bible says that these plants came before any animals, we see that animals actually came before these plants, and different types of plants actually appeared between each stage. It is as if the fossil record designed strictly to combat the Bible…potential reason for Creationists to yell conspiracy of the scientific community against them? I don’t know. I don’t think so, because as much as Christians would love to claim, it isn’t Science vs. Bible. It is just science investigating. Science isn’t a necessarily religion or organization – it is a method of observation and learning from those observations. If God created the Universe, then science is just studying God’s creation. Science can be wrong sometimes, yes, and scientists can be rather biased, definitely yes, but science isn’t trying to disprove anyone. Scientists just study what they see. All I know is that there isn’t much theory involved, as Jews and Christians would like to claim. It’s like looking at a ruler and seeing how tall something is. You just read the scale. A lot of Christian Creationists like Lee Strobel and Johnathan Wells actually use the fossil record to support Creationism, and rightly so. Therefore, the sad fact that Creationists both disparage the fossil records while at the same time use it for their needs is evidence of a double standards characteristic of Christian apologetics today. It also shows that “Christian science” isn’t really a science, but a series of incoherent rebuttals to everything science puts out, rebuttals that tend to conflict one another. By the way, it is important to note that according the Biblical science, there are only 2 kingdoms of life on Earth – plants and animals. Nowhere in the Bible is the creation of the kingdoms of Bacteria, Archea, Protista, and Fungi mentioned. The Bible doesn’t even account for the creation of the earliest land plants, bryophytes. Bryophytes include liverworts, hornworts, and mosses, and reproduce through gametophytes. It seems as if the early Jews saw the observable world around them, and came to the understandable conclusion that plants are less advanced then animals, so they must have come first. Thus, they wrote that into their Scriptures. Perhaps they thought fungi were plants. The Jews didn’t mention the other microscopic kingdoms since back then such microorganisms weren’t even observable. This fact also explains the Christian belief that disease comes from demons, not God – without the knowledge of the existence of germs, who else could they think of else except Satan and his evil minions that would cause such suffering in people?
7 & 8 ) – God created sea creatures and birds on the same day, and created them before He created land animals (Genesis 1:20-21, 24). These 2 points mirror the last 2 points, almost like a corollary, only this time we are talking about animals instead of plants. Same argument and reasoning as above – the fossil record not only shows the opposite, but even if the fossil record is wrong, there isn’t any sign that the Biblical account is correct. It is as if God arranged the fossils the way they are now just to show that Christians that their Scriptures are corrupted. The only thing the Bible got right is that ocean life developed before life on land (4)(5). However, birds came much, much later, after the dinosaurs, insects, etc. If I go into detail, I would just be posting the entire paragraph above, so just reread the previous paragraph. Basically, the earliest birds came into being during the Jurassic Period, at least 150 million years ago (4)(5). Birds as we know them today finally started to appear in the Miocene Period, 7 million years ago (4)(5). In contrast, the earliest land vertebrates appeared in the Carboniferous Period, 326 million years ago (4)(5), with land invertebrates probably establishing themselves earlier. Here is the thing – nothing the Bible says really matches the geological records except the fact that fish were among the first animals to be created. However, EVERYTHING ELSE is in complete contrast. It isn’t that the Bible got a few things wrong – the Bible gives a completely different and opposite story than what we find today (what we find, not just what evolutionists WANT to find, although there is sometimes bias on the science side too). There is no evidence at all to support the Bible. There is conflict among so many points, that one must stop and think. It is as troubling as if the Bible were to describe deserts as tropical paradises.
So all in all, these are the 8 impossibilities that I find in the Book of Genesis. I will concede that I am a Biology STUDENT, not a bio-whiz or anything, so I am not an authority. However, that is why only listed simple points and used simple arguments, without going into detail. It doesn’t take much brainpower to figure all this out. There is one thing I want to note, however. There is a raging fight between Jewish and Christian Creationists and evolutionists. Creationists are wrong to say that science is trying to disprove the Bible – it’s just that whatever science finds seems to show how inaccurate the Bible is. This is why the Internet is filled with many Creationist sites that try to prove the Bible using their own methods, while at the same time contradicting themselves and other Creationist sites. While one site uses the fossil record to prove that evolution is wrong, another site claims that the fossil is record is a myth, and so on. There is no coherency among Creationists, while science just sticks to what it finds. Evolutionists have become “religiously fanatical” themselves, and unfortunately see what the want to see, too. However, for the most part, scientists remain fairly honest. All this being said, let me get to my point. In the end, only one person is right. No matter how incoherent anyone is, the thing is that there are a lot of good valid arguments on both side, some which even give me pause to think and ponder. Yes, Creationism is still valid – after all, Islam does believe that Allah (SWT created the world. Luckily, Islam in silent on the details, as if Allah (SWT) knew in His Infinite Wisdom that the early days of Creation would fall under such hot dispute. This way, Muslims don’t have anything to worry. We just don’t believe in macroevolution, and there is enough evidence to support our claim. Everything else Islam lets science figure out. Allah (SWT) knew that it would be impossible for us to come to a common agreement. There are so many arguments out there from both sides; it almost makes someone want to cry. How do you know what is true, and what is false? Especially for a layman, who doesn’t know that much into the details of science, how does he/she know what is the truth, and what is false? Allah (SWT) knew this would happen, masha’Allah, and He didn’t let Islam fall into this battle. Christians and Jews have it bad in this respect, as they actually have a detailed account to prove against all odds. In the end, my point is that one should take the Genesis Creation Story into consideration, but one SHOULD NOT use only this story to accept OR dismiss the Bible as the inerrant word of God. There is just too much information to shift through. It would take a lifetime just to hear all the arguments, and another life time to see if they are valid, and even then, one might just never be able to truly find out. God knew that one can never find yaqin (absolute certainty one’s faith in God and religion) using the story of Creation, even in our modern age, so the details were never given in the Qur’an. This fact is evidence in of itself that Islam is the TRUTH. Instead, the Qur’an alludes to many scientific facts that are used to support its moral teachings, and in such surprise scientists. How could a 7th century illiterate shepherd/merchant know that the Earth and the Moon each travel in their own orbits (Qur’an 21:33)? How did he know about the Big Bang Theory (Qur’an 21:30)? How did he know that mountains are leg pegs, that most of a mountain lies hidden underground, sort of like how an iceberg is mostly underwater, and they keep the Earth’s crust stable (Qur’an 21:31, 78:7) ? These facts, which represent but a drop of water in the pool of scientific facts found in the verses of the Qur’an, are found in the Qur’an, but how did they get there? The answer is that the Qur’an is the Word of God. In any case, even if the Biblical account was proven true by science, it wouldn’t cause much consternation to Muslims since we believe that the Bible contains fragments of the Word of God, fragments strewn with corruption by the hand of humanity. Thus, the Qur’an always wins against the Bible when the two books conflict on a scientific matter (like on whether the Earth is flat of spherical). Anyways, thank you for reading, and remember – this article is meant to bring certain facts to attention. Due to the nature of the prehistory being uncertain, and thus hard to know for certain what happened, these facts should not be used alone to accept or dismiss the Bible. There are a lot more stuff in the Bible to argue about. We will probably never know what really happened in the beginning of time.
1 – http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/geotime/age.html
2 – http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/age.html
3 – http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=25109
4 – http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/exhibits/geologictime.php
5 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geologic_timescale
6 – Levey, Judith S. The World Almanac for Kids 1998, pg. 19. K-III Reference Company, United States. 1997.
7 – http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/diapsids/extinction.html
8 – http://www2.una.edu/pdavis/bryophytes.htm