Sunday, May 21, 2006

Genesis vs the Big Bang … a blow by blow account …

Every so often, one or another of my groups gets into the discussion of science vs religion. And while history shows a great deal of conflict between the two schools of thought, its important to remember that both schools seek to answer the same questions. They do so from different angles … they frame the questions differently … but the essential questions asked are largely the same.

Take creation mythology. If you ask a Christian, Jew, or Muslim where we all came from, they will point "Then God said, "Let there be light"" as the fundamental starting point … Genesis forms the core story of creation from their religious perspective. Ask a scientist today, and you are still likely to get some version of the big bang theory as your answer, and while the specifics how it happens, and what happens when is constantly being updated and modified, the basic story text is roughly the same.

Below, I compare the two … Genesis vs the scientific theory. The fact is, they tell very much the same story … the story of order coming from chaos in an orderly series of events. They may differ in the fine details of how, and when, but the larger context is all the same. In the paragraphs below, I start with passages from Genesis, and then talk about the big bang science that corresponds. Human cognition comes in many forms, only some of which are rational. I think its worth looking at both sides of the question … see what you think below.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was[ a] on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3 Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

that, in a nutshell, is how science describes the Big Bang. First there was nothingness, or "without form and void" and then in a blinding flash of light (the big bang) day and night come into existence … or in scientific terms, the beginnings of space-time start to form.

9 Then God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear"; and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

Over the next few billion years, the cosmos seethed with formless energy and mass, as it coalesced into the sort of universe we see around us today.

14 Then God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth"; and it was so. 16 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. 17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 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. 19 So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

Over the next few billion years, the stars and galaxies began to form and take shape, literally putting lights on the firmament of heaven.

24 Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind"; and it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

In the last few billion years, life has evolved, at least on our planet, literally sprung forth from the ground to hear evolution talk.

I don't see the two as incompatible in any way … I see them as addressing the same issue using different language, but in fact, giving precisely the same answer. Probably no one read this far … but to me, its all a matter of perspective.


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