Genesis: Science and History
"Why should the Bible be believed concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of
heaven, when it is considered to be erroneously written as to points which admit of direct demonstration or unquestionable
reasoning?" - St. Augustine De Genesi ad
literam i, 19
- "In the beginning"
When was the universe created?
The Gap Theory 1:1-2
- The Genesis 1 creation account conflicts with the order of events that are known to science. In
Genesis, the earth is created before light and stars, birds and whales before reptiles and insects,
and flowering plants before any animals. The order of events known from science is just the
- God creates light and separates light from darkness, and day from night, on the first day.
Yet he didn't make the light producing objects (the sun and the stars) until the fourth day
(1:14-19). And how could there be "the evening and the morning" on the
first day if there was no sun to mark them? 1:3-5
- God spends one-sixth of his entire creative effort (the second day)
working on a solid firmament. This strange structure, which God calls heaven, is
intended to separate the higher waters from the lower waters. 1:6-8
- Plants are made on the third day before there was a sun to drive their photosynthetic
processes (1:14-19). 1:11
- God lets "the earth bring forth" the plants, rather than creating them directly.
Maybe Genesis is not so anti-evolution after all. 1:11
- In an apparent endorsement of astrology, God places the sun, moon, and stars in the firmament so that they can be used
"for signs". This, of course, is exactly what astrologers do: read "the signs" in the Zodiac in an effort to predict what
will happen on Earth. 1:14
- God makes two lights: "the greater light [the sun] to rule the day, and the lesser light [the moon] to rule the night." But
the moon is not a light, but only reflects light from the sun. And why, if God made the moon to "rule the night", does it spend
half of its time moving through the daytime sky? 1:16
- "He made the stars also." God spends a day making light (before making the stars) and separating light
from darkness; then, at the end of a hard day's work, and almost as an afterthought, he makes
the trillions of stars. 1:16
- "And God set them [the stars] in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the
- In verse 11, God "let the earth bring forth" the plants. Now he has the earth "bring forth" the animals as well. So maybe
the creationists have it all wrong. Maybe God created livings things through the process of evolution.
- God gave humans dominion over every other living thing on earth. 1:26
- God commands us to "be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have
dominion over ... every living thing that moveth upon the earth." 1:28
- "I have given you every herb ... and every tree ... for meat."
Since many plants have evolved poisons to protect against animals that would like to eat them, God's advice is more than a little reckless.
Would you tell your children to go out in the garden and eat whatever plants they encounter? Of course not. But then, you are much nicer
and smarter than God. 1:29
- All animals were originally herbivores. Tapeworms, vampire bats,
mosquitoes, and barracudas -- all were strict vegetarians, as they were created
by God. 1:30
- "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." He purposefully designed a system
that ensures the suffering and death of all his creatures, parasite and host, predator and prey. 1:31
- In Genesis 1 the entire creation takes 6 days, but the
universe is 13.7 billion years old, with new stars constantly being formed. 1:31
- Humans were not created instantaneously from dust and breath, but
evolved over millions of years from simpler life forms. 2:7
- After making the animals, God has
Adam name them all. The naming of several million species must have kept Adam busy for a
- God fashions a woman out of one of Adam's ribs.
Because of this story, it was commonly believed (and sometimes it is still said today) that males have one less
rib than females. When Vesalius showed in 1543 that the number of ribs was the same in males and females, it created a storm
of controversy. 2:19
- God curses the serpent. From now on the serpent will crawl on his belly and eat dust.
One wonders how he got around before -- by hopping on his tail, perhaps? But snakes don't
eat dust, do they? 3:14
- Because Adam listened to Eve, God cursed the ground and causes thorns and thistles to grow. Before this,
according to the (false) Genesis story, plants had no natural defenses. The rose had no thorn, cacti were spineless, holly
leaves were smooth, and the nettle had no sting. Foxgloves, oleander, and
milkweeds were all perfectly safe to eat. 3:17-18
- Seth lived 912 years. 5:8
- Enos lived 905 years. 5:11
- Cainan lived 910 years. 5:14
- Mahalaleel lived 895 years. 5:17
- Jared lived 962 years. 5:20
- Enoch doesn't die he just ascends into heaven. 5:21-24
- Enoch lived 365 years before he was taken (alive?) by God.
- When Lamech was born, nine generations were alive at once. Adam, Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, and Lamech were all alive at
the time of Lamech's birth. Adam lived to see his great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson. 5:25
- Methuselah lived 969 years. (World record holder.) 5:27
- Lamech lived 777 years. 5:31
- "There were giants in the earth in those days." 6:4
- God tells Noah to make one small window (18 inches square) in the 450
foot ark for ventilation. 6:14-16
- Whether by twos or by sevens, Noah takes male and female representatives from each
species of "every thing that creepeth upon the earth." 7:8
- God opens the "windows of heaven." He does this every time it rains.
- All of the animals boarded the ark "in the selfsame day." 7:13-14
- The flood covered the highest mountain tops (Mount Everest?) with fifteen cubits to
- "The windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained." This
happens whenever it stops raining. 8:2
- Noah sends a dove out to see if there was any dry land. But the dove returns without
finding any. Then, just seven days later, the dove goes out again and returns with an olive leaf.
But how could an olive tree survive the flood? And if any seeds happened to survive, they
certainly wouldn't germinate and grow leaves within a seven day period.
- When the animals left the ark, what would they have eaten? There would have been no
plants after the ground had been submerged for nearly a year. What would the carnivores have
eaten? Whatever prey they ate would have gone extinct. And how did the New World
primates or the Australian marsupials find their way back after the flood
- "And the Lord smelled a sweet savor."
Noah kills the "clean beasts" and burns their dead bodies for God. According to
7:8 this would have caused the extinction of all "clean" animals since only two of each were
taken onto the ark. 8:20-21
- "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth." Although this would have been good advice for the mythical Noah, it
is deadly advice for humankind as a whole. Overpopulation is one of our greatest problems, yet there is nothing in the bible to address it.
- According to this verse, all animals fear humans. Although it is true that many do, it is also
true that some do not. Sharks and grizzly bears, for example, are generally much
less afraid of us than we are of them. 9:2
- "Into your hand are they (the animals) delivered." God gave the animals to humans, and they can do whatever
they please with them. This verse has been used by bible believers to justify all kinds of cruelty to
animals and environmental destruction. 9:2
- "I do set my bow in the cloud."
God is rightly filled with remorse for having
killed his creatures. He makes a deal with the animals, promising never to drown
them all again. He even puts the rainbow in the sky so that whenever he sees it,
it will remind him of his promise so that he won't be tempted to do it again.
(Every time God sees the rainbow he says to himself: "Oh, yeah.... That's right.
I promised not to drown the animals again. I guess I'll have to find something
else to do.").
But rainbows are caused by the nature of light, the refractive index of water, and the shape of raindrops. There were rainbows
billions of years before humans existed. 9:13
- "Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided."
Some creationists believe that this verse refers to continental drift, which, they say,
began to occur during the days of Pelag (which means "division"), about 100 or so years after the flood. But many
other creationists disagree. 10:25
- "The whole earth was of one language." But this could not be true, since by this time (around 2400 BCE)
there were already many languages, each unintelligible to the others. 11:1, 6
- "Now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do."
God worries that the people will succeed in building a tower high enough to reach him (them?) in heaven, and that by
so doing they will become omnipotent. 11:4-6
- According to the Tower of Babel story, the many human languages were created
instantaneously by God. But actually the various languages evolved gradually over long periods of
- The ridiculously long lives of the patriarchs. 11:10-32
- Shem lived 600 years. 11:12-13
- Salah lived 433 years. 11:14-15
- Eber lived 464 years. 11:16-17
- Peleg lived 239 years. 11:18-19
- Reu lived 239 years. 11:20-21
- Serug lived 229 years. 11:22-23
- Nahor lived 148 years. 11:24-25
- And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years. 11:32
- Camels were first domesticated in the tenth century BCE hundreds
of years after the biblical patriarchs supposedly lived. 12:16, 24:10-64,
30:43, 31:17, 32:7, 32:15,
- "Abram ... pursued them unto Dan."
This is an obvious anachronism, since the city of Dan was not named "Dan" until the time of the Judges
(see Judges 18:29). In fact, Dan (for whom the city
was named) was not even born yet (see Genesis 30:6). 14:14
- "And they returned to the land of the Philistines."
But the Philistines didn't arrive in the region of Canaan until around 1200 BCE --
800 years after Abraham's supposed migration from Ur. 21:32,
- Laban learns "by experience" that God has blessed him for Jacob's sake. "By experience"
means "by divination", at least that is how
most other versions translate this verse.
- Jacob displays his (and God's) knowledge of biology by having goats copulate while
looking at streaked rods. The result is streaked baby goats. 30:37-39
- God inspired Jacob's science experiment (on speckled cattle breeding) so that Jacob could take all of Laban's cattle. 31:9
- God (or an angel) praises Jacob for his fancy genetic work in 30:37-39.
Jacob sent his favorite son (Joseph) to check up on his brothers who were tending flocks in
was about fifty miles north of Hebron.
When he got there, he found out that his brothers weren't there, but were another thirteen miles away in
Dothan. The trip
must have taken poor Joseph a week or so. 37:12-17
- Joseph and his magic divining cup. 44:5-15