Can Genesis be validated by science, or does the Documentary Hypothesis refute it?

Five articles appear below:

1 Genesis, Creation and Evolution

2 A Rationalist Commentary on Genesis
3 Genesis, Creation and Evolution, Part 2
4  Reply to Anonymous on Genesis
5 Genesis, Creation and Evolution, Part 3


(Investigator 199, 2021 July)


This image: From IMSI's MasterClips/MasterPhotos 202,000 © 1997 Collection,
1895 Francisco Blvd. East, San Rafael, CA 94901-5506 , USA


The message of Genesis Chapters 1 & 2 is simple — "God" prepared Earth to be the home for humans. If we want to understand creation in more detail, as well as scientifically, it's more difficult.

My position is that Genesis reveals "God" as creator and maker but leaves it to humans to discover the physical details of how it happened. I'll be quoting the NRSV Bible but have also supplied the text of Genesis Chapters 1-2 from the King James Bible.

Genesis 1:2 describes Earth prior to the "six days of creation". We get no clue how long this prior-period lasted, therefore perhaps billions of years.

Even earlier, before 1:2, came the Universe which the Bible also attributes to "God". The start of the Universe would have included the creation of the laws of physics, chemistry, biology, genetics, geology, etc. If these laws later did most of the "creating", "making" and "bringing forth", "God" would still be creator because the laws would be like tools that he uses.

With this position I don't challenge discoveries in science, or try to fit all astronomy, geology, and history into 10,000 years, or claim that all animals had eternal life until sin "corrupted" everything — these being claims of "young Earth creationists".

I  regard science as the method for determining the scientific facts. By consulting scientific discoveries as reported in newspapers and science journals I have confirmed numerous biblical statements in the areas of archaeology, history, zoology, astronomy, geography, psychology, ethics, etc. Having established a foundation of "facts" I then generalize and predict the trend will continue and more will be proved. This is the objective way to establish who or what is reliable — check their past record, from it predict the future, then observe what the future brings.

However, if Genesis disagrees with science, if creation is myth, then the scientific confirmations of other Bible topics might be merely a mix of lucky guesses and careful observations by the Bible writers, therefore irrelevant as proof of the Bible.

Therefore, the answer to "Can Genesis 1-2 be understood in a way that accepts science?" is important.


I previously wrote, "The six days of creation can be regarded as six significant interventions of God superimposed on a planet that otherwise evolved naturally... I think the Bible allows for literal days separated by unspecified intervals of time." (Investigator #83)

Lennox (2011) in Seven Days That Divide The World, mentions the 24-hour-days-of-one-literal-week viewpoint, then writes:

However, there is another possibility: that the writer did not intend us to think of the first six days as days of a single earth week, but rather as a sequence of six creation days; that is, days of a normal length (with evenings and mornings as the text says) in which God acted to create something new, but the days might well have been separated by long periods of time. (p. 54)

James Freeman (1972) states: "The Jewish day was reckoned from evening to evening..."

Notice therefore, in Genesis 1, that the phrase "And there was evening and there was morning, the first [second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth] day" follows each creative period. (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31) Creation, apparently, does not occur on each numbered day but prior to each day. Each creative period is of unspecified length; but there comes a literal day in the story when "God" named what was created and called it "good". Creation, or much of it, occurred prior to each day. I say "much of it" because being labeled "it was so" and "good" does not mean creation stopped.

Newman & Eckelmann (1977) similarly suggest: "the days of Genesis 1 are 24-hour days, sequential but not consecutive, and that the creative activity largely occurs between days rather than on them." (p. 74)

An objection would be Exodus 20:11 which says "For in six days [not "prior to six days"] the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them." A possible answer is that this is a one sentence summary and being short it's also less informative. Perhaps "In six days" can mean "within six days".


In the beginning [when] God created the heavens and the Earth... (1:1)

John Collins (2006) in Genesis 1-4 examines the Hebrew grammar of Genesis 1:1-2 and says: "these verses stand outside the main stream of the narrative." (p. 42)

But is 1:1 — "God created the heavens and the earth" — a separate and earlier creation than the six days, or is it a summary of the story of the six days that begins in 1:3?

If 1:1 refers to a separate, earlier, event, then it teaches that God created the Universe and planet Earth. If instead 1:1 is a summary of the six days, then the six days start with the Universe and Earth already in existence without comment on their origin.

Collins argues the first is what's meant — 1:1 refers to an earlier creation event:

The verb created in Genesis 1:1 is in the perfect, and the normal use of the perfect at the beginning of the pericope [= a narrative with definite boundaries] is to denote an event that occurred before the storyline gets under way. (p. 51)

On the theological level, it seems plain that later Jewish writers had a doctrine of creation from nothing, and if they did not get it here [from genesis 1:1], no one can say where else they could have got it from. (p. 52)

The first verse of Genesis briefly records the creation of the universe in its essential form, and the second verse singles out a part of this universe, viz., the earth, and describes its condition... (p. 54)

Lennox (2011) similarly says:

...the initial creation act (Gen. 1:1-2) is separated from the six days of creation that follow it... The reason is that there is a clear pattern to the days: they each begin with the phrase "And God said" and end with the statement "and there was evening and there was morning, nth day." This means that, according to the text, day 1 begins in verse 3 and not in verse 1. This is made clear in the original text by the fact that the verb "created" in Genesis 1:1 is in the perfect tense, and "the normal use of the perfect at the very beginning of a pericope is to denote an event that took place before the storyline gets under way." The use of the narrative tense begins in verse 3...

The initial creation took place before day 1, but Genesis does not tell us how long before. This means that the question of the age of the earth (and of the universe) is a separate question from the interpretation of the days... (pp 52-53).

I take the opposite view — that 1:1 is like a heading which introduces and summarizes the content below it:

We should note that the first sentence in The Bible—"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth"—does not refer to the creation of the Universe or of planet Earth. Rather, this initial sentence summarises the creation story that follows. And upon reading onwards we see that what we recognize as planet Earth already exists before the start of creation! (#79)

Professor Paul Davies (1998) writes:

Biblical scholars tell me that…the opening line 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth' is not in fact the description of a miraculous act, but a statement of the overall agenda that is itemized in the subsequent verses.

This viewpoint, as Collins notes, seemingly leaves the Bible without comment about the origin of the Universe and planet Earth. Newman & Eckelmann (1977) similarly state: "...the origin of matter remains a mystery or it is assumed that matter has always existed." (p. 68)

In response to this objection, perhaps the following verses allow for a time before Genesis and imply creation of the Universe by God:
Psalm 8:3-4; Proverbs 8:22-23, 27; John 1:1-3; I Corinthians 8:5-6; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:10-12; Revelation 4:11.


"...the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters." (1:2) (NRSV Bible)

Whether 1:1 is a quick mention of the creation of the Universe or whether it summarizes the subsequent narrative, need not affect the interpretation of the subsequent verses.

Verse 2 describes the world before the six days of creation.

Most Bible translations have "spirit of God" instead of "wind from God". The translators assume in the word "spirit" a reference to the "triune" nature of God officially accepted in Christianity in the 4th century CE. Collins (2006) too supports "spirit of God".

I consider that the translation "spirit" is erroneous and conceals scientific evidence supporting Genesis. The Hebrew word is "ruach". When "ruach" occurs together with the word "God" the phrase is often a figure of speech referring to a mighty wind or storm. I explained this in Investigator #38, #79, #83 and #193. "Ruach" occurs 374 times in the Hebrew Old Testament including about 15 occasions where in conjunction with "God" it refers to wind.

During an ocean voyage in 1974 I read the book Bombarded Earth (1964). This book proposes that strikes by giant asteroids influenced the geology of planet Earth. I loaned Bombarded Earth to 23-year-old fellow-tourist Rudolf, a science graduate of Flinders University. Our meeting influenced me, years later, to also attempt University studies.

Meanwhile I wondered why impacts of rocks so huge that they changed our planet get no mention in Genesis if The Bible is, as many claimed, the "word of God".

The answer came after I understood the word "ruach". If "ruach of God" means "mighty wind" then Genesis 1:2 says nothing about a supernatural "spirit", but is a physical/oceanic/climatic description of Earth before the six days.

The obvious question was, "Did Earth ever look like that?" Was our planet ever lifeless, landless, water-covered, its surface so dark that night and day were the same, and with mighty wind raging over it? If so, "What could have caused this condition?" The obvious answer was, the impact of a gigantic asteroid into an ocean.

With this reasoning Genesis 1:2 contained testable information which future science could either refute or confirm.

It is now estimated that:

In the last 650 million years, the earth had been struck by a "bolide" (meteor or comet) large enough to form a crater at least 20 kilometers (12 miles) in diameter about 355 times.

Bigger asteroid impacts occurred earlier:

... an enormous 3.26-billion-year-old asteroid impact on Earth that boiled the oceans, turned the sky red hot, and generated a half-hour-long earthquake that shook the planet… The gigantic object was about 30 miles wide… The energy it released boiled the top layer of the ocean and sent tsunamis hundreds of feet high through the remaining waters.

On the Moon some impacts were so huge that the scars are still visible from Earth to our unaided eyes. There were on Earth impacts that vaporized entire oceans:

...a liquid ocean likely existed by ~4.4 Ga [billions of years] ago… The estimated median age of the last impact big enough to vaporize the entire ocean is ~4.3 Ga ago, which provides a crude upper age limit on the origin of life… (Catling & Zahnle, 2020)


1.    Nowadays, in the 21st century, it is standard science that Earth suffered many gigantic asteroid impacts. Planet Earth probably looked as described in Genesis 1:2 more than once.

Some impacts raised tsunamis that circled the world, or splashed oceans into orbit. The atmospheric debris circling the planet would have rendered Earth's surface totally dark. This is one evidence for the truth of Genesis 1.

2. That the whole Universe had a start — whether we cite Genesis 1:1 or the other verses I listed — is also confirmed. The "steady state model of the Universe" postulated that the Universe  is eternal — no beginning and no end. (See: Wikipedia) However, the "big bang" theory, which implied  a beginning, triumphed in the 1960s. The Bible implies a start, and science now agrees. This is the second evidence.

3. A third evidence I presented in "Probability of a Living Planet" (Investigator #194 & #195). Genesis implies that it required "God" to make Earth a living planet conducive to civilization. Psalm 8:5-6, furthermore, implies that humans are the highest form of physical life, being in God's "image and likeness". (Genesis 1:26)

What are the odds of complex physical  life, intelligence and civilization developing without supernatural intervention? We can judge the odds by looking into Space. Astronomers are now finding exo-planets by hundreds. But so far no life of any kind is confirmed anywhere, let alone intelligent life and civilization. Therefore, so far — by observation — the odds are zero. Godly intervention, as Genesis indicates, seems necessary.

4.    Humankind's long-term goals include "subdue the earth" (1:28) and develop technology such that "nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them." (11:6). To allow time to achieve such goals implies that Earth is safe for physical life long-term. Reich (2006) reports:

Of all the threats to life on Earth, gamma-ray bursts are probably not uppermost on anyone's mind... It seems that the very nature of the Milky Way precludes these dangerous explosions from going off in our galaxy, let alone anywhere near enough to obliterate us.

A long gamma-ray burst within 6500 light years of Earth could produce enough radiation to strip away the ozone layer and cause a mass, or even total, extinction... Only four have been spotted within 2 billion light years of Earth...

New Scientist magazine says that Gamma ray bursts can sterilize whole galaxies. (1999, January 23, p. 16) However, Earth and humans have avoided them (and probably other threats).


Genesis 1:3-31 describes creation from the viewpoint of a hypothetical observer. It describes what a person watching from ground level or sea level could have seen.

The word "day" (Hebrew yom, Wigram, p. 508) occurs first in Genesis 1:5 where "God" says "Let there be light" and calls the light "Day", and the darkness "Night." Here "day" is about 12 hours like when Jesus said, "Are there not 12 hours in a day [or of daylight]?" — John 11:9

The next occurrence of "day", also in 1:5, says: "And there was evening and there was morning, the first day." "Day" here evidently includes daytime and night i.e. 24 hours.

Each of the six days of creation ends with: "And there was evening and there was morning, the first [second, third , fourth, fifth, sixth] day."

What came about before each "day" is:

1    Light (1:3-5)
2    The "dome" between the oceans and the "waters above" (1:6-8)
3    Dry land, vegetation, trees (1:9-13)
4    Lights (sun, moon, stars) in the sky (1:14-19)
5    Ocean life and winged creatures (1:20-23)
6    Land animals and humans (1:24-31)

How could Sun, Moon and stars appear three "days" after light on Day 1? Remember that creation (and atmospheric and astronomical phenomena) is depicted in the Bible according to what hypothetical observers could have seen. Light would have appeared after the Earth-circling debris from a giant impact began to settle. And by Day 4 it settled sufficiently for Sun, Moon and stars to become visible. Compare cloudy days when we have light but cannot see the Sun nor (at night) the Moon or stars.

Could trees (Day 3), especially fruit trees, grow in diffused light? Perhaps some could. However, Newman & Eckelmann (1977) propose that creation did not stop when "God" declared each creation "good" but continued until the "day" of rest. (p. 84) Trees that require full sunlight could therefore have arrived late in the time of creation.

Another observation is that the numbers "1" to "6" might not refer to sequence but have some other purpose. Many interpreters have noted that creation of Day 4 explains the light of Day 1; Day 5 complements Day 2; and the Day 6 events happened after Day 3. This would mean that the Sun, Moon and stars appeared after Day 1 before the "dome" and dry land of Days 2 and 3.

"Dome" refers to the atmosphere and how it appears to our eyes. It's not something hard, but soft where birds fly (1:20).


Three of the statements of "God", prior to the third, fifth, and sixth days, are:

•    "Let the earth put forth vegetation..." (Genesis 1:11, 12);
•    "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures..." (1:20);
•    "Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind..." (1:24)

Collins (2006) notes: "nor do we learn how the earth "brought forth vegetation" or how the animals appeared in their respective environments." (p. 44) Since we're not told "how" the earth and the waters "brought forth" it could be by the processes that promote evolution.

We should consider here another scientific idea — Chaos Theory:

Chaos theory is a branch of mathematics focusing on the study of chaos — dynamical systems whose apparently random states of disorder and irregularities are actually governed by underlying patterns and deterministic laws that are highly sensitive to initial conditions... The butterfly effect, an underlying principle of chaos, describes how a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state (meaning that there is sensitive dependence on initial conditions). A metaphor for this behavior is that a butterfly flapping its wings in Texas can cause a hurricane in China... (Wikipedia)

Hall (1994), cites physicist Paul Davies: "We know from chaos theory that the tiniest change even among atoms is going to change the way very large phenomena occur."

Examples of small changes developing into colossal events might be the Universe from something smaller than an atom, and World War II from a sperm cell in 1889 that became Adolf Hitler. With this thought in mind, the supernatural interventions prior to each "Day" could have been small, but so precise as to naturally amplify into the consequences "God" wanted.

Lee Strobel (2000) writes:

...what is encoded on the DNA inside every cell of every living creature is purely and simply written information. We use a twenty-six-letter alphabet in English; in DNA, there is a four-letter chemical alphabet, whose letters combine in various sequences to form words, sentences and paragraphs. These comprise all the instructions needed to guide the functioning of the cell. They spell out in coded form the instructions for how a cell makes proteins. It works just the way alphabetical letter sequences do in our language...

Each cell in the human body contains more information than in all thirty volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica ... it's the unmistakable sign of an Intelligent Designer.  (pp153-155)

Strobel is using "DNA ... language" as an argument against evolution and for God's existence, whereas I would propose it as a "small" change or "intervention" that facilitated evolution.  

Genesis 1:21 adds: "So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind...", and 1:25 "God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind..." This still omits details of how God "created" and "made", and therefore allows for "God" making essential starts and natural processes amplifying them.

After the animals but still during the creation period of Day 6 came humans, whom we'll consider below.


The Englishman's Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance, lists all Old-Testament occurrences of Hebrew words, including:
•    Create [bara] (p. 270)
•    Make/Made [gahsah] (p. 981)
•    To form [yatsar] (p. 556)
•    Brought forth [yahtsah] (p. 548)

The word "created" [bara] occurs in:
•    Genesis 1:1;
•    Genesis 1:21, Day 5, when God "created" ocean creatures and birds (or winged creatures);
•    Genesis 1:27, Day 6, creation of man (1:27);  male & female (5:1-2);
•    Genesis 2:3 — all of "creation".

"Bara" is used only of God; never of human work. God's "rest" on Day 7 differs to human rest since Psalm 121 says He "neither slumbers nor rests". The human work-week differs further to the creation week because humans rest every day not only on the 7th.

The things "God made" [gahsah] were:
•    The "firmament" or atmosphere(1:7)
•    Two great lights (1:16)
•    Land animals (1:25, 31; 3:1)
•    Adam/Man (1:26)
•    Helper for man (2:18)
•    All his creative "work" (1:31; 2:2,3)
•    The earth (2:4)

And fruit trees "make" [gahsah]:
•    Fruit (1:11-12)

Things humans "made" include:
•    Aprons from fig leaves (3:7)
•    Disobedience to God (3:13-14)
•    Murder (4:10).

The things "God formed" (yatsar) out of the ground were:
•    Man (2:7, 8)
•    Animals and birds (2:19)

Things "brought forth" (yahtsah) by the earth were:
•    Vegetation/plants (1:12)
•    Animals and creeping things (1:24)

Some interpreters distinguish "create" and "make" as different activities, where "create" might refer to origin or a fresh start, and "make" to working on something already in existence. (Collins 2006, p. 67)

But it's not clear-cut. "God" made (gahsah) Adam (1:26) and created (bara) Adam (1:27), but also formed (yatsar) Adam (2:7-8) from "the dust of the ground" (2:7). Later, "God" created (bara) and formed (yatsar) the nation of Israel (Isaiah 47:1, 7) from Abraham and his offspring.


The seventh day when "God rested" makes no mention of "evening and morning".

Long-day creationists interpret this absence as implying that God's rest continues indefinitely. It's not avoidance of all work, merely rest from creating, since Jesus said, "My Father is still working, and I also am working." (John 5:17)

The events of days 1 and 3 to 6 are declared "good" — Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31.  But this evaluation or refrain is missing from Day 7.

Collins suggests, "the  lack of refrain on the seventh day leads us to wonder whether that day is open ended — which would mean that the rest of human history takes place during God's Sabbath." (p. 74)

My preferred understanding, that six literal days were separated by long time periods, implies the 7th is literal too (although Hebrews 3:18 – 4:11 would need explanation).

Note also that "God rested". It's the past tense. (Genesis 2:2; Hebrews 4:4)


The next section (or "pericope") begins:

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created. In the day [Hebrew yom] that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens... (Genesis 2:4) (NRSV)

Critics often interpret Chapter 2:4-25 as a second story of creation by a separate writer which a later editor tacked onto the first story. The NRSV Bible translation actually subtitles this section "Another Account of the Creation".

Collins (2006), however, finds that Genesis is not a paste-together job but displays a unity and structure that suggest one story, one author: "on the literary level, the book displays unity." (p. 102)

The phrase "These are the generations of..." occurs in Genesis 2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10, 27; 25:12, 19; 36:1, 9; 37:2; Numbers 3:1; Ruth 4:18; I Chronicles 1:29.

Collins (p. 40) says this phrase "functions as a heading that introduces new material". Kidner (1967) similarly says, "…this phrase in Genesis always looks forward, introducing a new stage of the book." (p. 59)

"Generations" translates the Hebrew "toledot" (Wigram, p. 1341) meaning "offspring", "family history", "descendants". Genesis 2:1 says "the heavens and the earth were finished". Therefore 2:4 "These are the generations of the heavens and the earth" introduces what metaphorically are "offspring" of the "heavens and the earth".   

The new material is not a new creation story. Day 6 finishes with everything that "God" had made being "very good". (1:31) This included the creation of man and woman. But Chapter 2 says "Then the LORD God said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone...'" (2:18) This suggests that Chapter 2 jumps back to 1:27, where God creates man, to explain how Adam's creation became "very good". Collins (2006) says: "Genesis 2:4-25 fills out events of the sixth day..." (p. 74)

Genesis 2:5 "no plant of the field was yet in the earth" refers to agricultural plants since "field" [Hebrew sadeh, Wigram p. 1197] refers to land owned and/or tilled. And "God had not caused it to rain upon the earth" is not planet Earth but an area of land during the rainless, dry season.

Events supplementing 1:27  in Chapter 2 include:

... the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. (2:7)

And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden...  Out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food... (2:8-9)

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.  (2:15)

So out of the ground the LORD God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them... (2:19)

The phrase "Formed [yatsar] man" in 2:7-8 corresponds to "create" [bara] in 1:27.

Verses 2:20-23 describe the creation of Eve, and Adam saying "This at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh..." where "at last" implies that Adam's time alone had been lengthy.

"Long-day" creationists argue that forming, planting, tilling, growing, naming all animals and feeling lonely is too much for 24 hours, and therefore Day 6 and the other days represent long eras.
My proposed interpretation, whereby creation is lengthy but occurred before each day, has no problem with how long the events that ended with Day 6 took.

However, the description of Adam and Eve's creation looks like a "hands on" job, a product done quickly, not by evolution.

In Genesis 1:24-25 animals are created before humans but Genesis 2:19 says: "Out of the ground the LORD God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man..."

Some argue that "formed" in 2:19 should be translated "had formed". This would resolve the seeming inconsistency.

Alternatively, 2:19 could refer to natural births. The same word "formed" is used in Amos 7:1 where God is said to be "forming locusts".

This raises the question of biblical causation. Hundreds of Bible verses speak of God forming/making/doing such things as lightning, rain, drought, night, fetal development, peoples' thoughts, death, deception, earthquakes, poverty, affluence, calamity, fire from the sky, wisdom, the Moon, the result of casting lots, protection, food, etc — it goes on and on.

The Bible's ancient readers knew nothing of modern science or  scientific causation. Therefore everything mysterious or inexplicable the Bible attributes to God — sometimes in the sense that God supernaturally acted, and sometimes in the sense that God permitted it, i.e. did nothing. Therefore "out of the ground God formed every animal" could refer to natural reproduction.


Many English Bibles refer to "the first day", "the second day" and on to "the seventh day — each with the definite article, the word "the".  The Hebrew actually omits "the" for days 1 to 5, but uses it for days 6 and 7. A better translation would therefore be "a first day", "a second day" on to "a fifth day", followed by "the sixth day" and "the seventh day".

Might this be important? We've already seen that improved understanding of just one word, "ruach", can alter interpretation and predict scientific discovery, and Genesis may have other insights not yet noticed! (Ecclesiastes 8:17; 3:11)

The Bible's creation story was originally written for people lacking modern scientific knowledge. Imagine a scientist who meets a native who knows about nothing outside his hunting grounds and tries to describe to the native the development of huge cities like London. For the explanation to make sense to the native would require such drastic simplification as to make it useless to students studying the same topic at university.

Genesis may be similar — a style of writing that made great complexities understandable to ancient audiences comes across today as error or myth unless studied carefully.


Freeman, J.M. 1972 Manners and Customs of the Bible, Logos International, p. 429

Marchi, S., Bottke, W.F., Elkins-Tanton, L., Bierhaus, M., Wuennemann, K., Morbidelli, A., & Kring, D. A.  2014 Widespread mixing and burial of Earth's Hadean crust by asteroid impacts. Nature 2014, Volume 511, 578-582

Catling, D.C. & Zahnle, K.J. 2009

Catling, D.C. & Zahnle, K.J. The Archean atmosphere,
Science Advances  26 Feb 2020: Vol. 6, no. 9

Collins, C. John 2006 Genesis 1 — 4, P & R Publishing

Davies, P. 1998 The Fifth Miracle, Penguin Press, Page xxi

Hall, N. Staring into the mind of God, Focus, February 1994, pp 74-76

Investigator #38, September 1994; #79, July 2001; #83, March 2002; #193, July 2020

Kidner, D. 1967 Genesis An Introduction and Commentary, Inter-Varsity

Lennox, J.C. 2011 Seven Days That Divide The World, Zondervan

Newman, R.C. & Eckelmann, H.J. 1977 (Reprint 1981) Genesis One and the Origin of the Earth, Baker Book House

Reich, E.S. Earth escapes gamma-ray-disaster, New Scientist, 22 April, 2006, p. 12

Strobel, L. 2000 The Case for Faith, Zondervan, pp 153-155

Wigram, G.W. Englishman's Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament, Samuel Bagster & Sons


Zahnle, K.J. et al Creation and Evolution of Impact-generated Reduced Atmospheres of Early Earth, The Planetary Science Journal, 1:11, 2020 June

A Rationalist Commentary on Genesis
Kirk Straughen

(Investigator 201, 2021 November)

There is no basis for believing Genesis gives us an accurate account of cosmic origins. The Biblical story is a myth — sacred account that embodies the cultural values of an ancient people. It is not, nor was it ever meant to be a scientific description of the emergence of the Universe, Life and Humanity.

That Genesis is of purely human invention rather than an infallible divine revelation is proven by the fact that it contains two different creation stories: The first story (Gen. 1- 2:4a) is the priestly version of creation, and dates from about the 6th century BC. The second version, (Gen. 2:4b-25) which scholars call the Yahwist-Elohist version (a joint work of either two schools or individuals) is the older story, and was probably written in the 8th century BC. Both accounts were written by unknown persons, and were probably combined into the final form before 400 BC by another unknown author. These stories draw their imagery from older Mesopotamian ideas of which the Garden in Eden is an example:

"Recent Sumerian studies have shown that the conception of a divine garden and of a state when sickness and death did not exist and wild animals did not prey on one another is to be found in Sumerian mythology. The description of this earthly Paradise is contained in the Sumerian poem which Dr Kramer has called the Epic of Emmerkar". (Page 114 in Hooke, Samuel Henry: Middle Eastern Mythology.)

 Moreover, the two accounts of creation contradict each other as the following table (based on Hooke’s: page 105-106) shows.

Gen. 1-2:4a Gen. 2:4b-25

Original state of Cosmos

Watery chaos.

Elohim creates in 6 days
Original state of Cosmos

Waterless wasteland, no vegetation. Yahweh Elohim creates.
No timeframe given.

Order of Creation

1. Light
2. Solid Firmament or heaven.
3. Dry land.
4. 3 orders of vegetation.
5. Sun, moon, stars.
6. Birds, fish.
7. Animals and humans. Both male and female created together.
Order of Creation

1. Man out of dust.
2. The Garden in Eden.
3. Trees.
4. Animals, beasts, birds.
5. Eve, from Adam's rib.

These different creation stories reflect the different stages in the development of Israelite religion. The reason why they were joined together despite their contradictions is probably due to both being so well known that the final editor felt neither could be left out.

The ancient Hebrews, along with most of their Middle Eastern contemporaries, viewed the Earth as a flat disc overarched by a solid vault to which the celestial bodies were attached:

Jews simply adopted or accepted the cosmologies of the various civilizations in which they lived... The cosmological picture in the Bible, for instance, clearly owes much to the Mesopotamian cosmologies, especially the Babylonian. The universe is conceived of in geocentric terms. The earth has the shape of a flat disc. (Page 102 in Jacobs, Louis: The Jewish Religion).
The essentials of this mythical cosmology can be glimpsed in the order of creation as described in Genesis, which is illustrated in diagrams 1 to 4:

1. Watery chaos (Gen. 1:2)
2. Separation of waters by firmament (Gen. 1:6-7)
3. Appearance of dry land (Gen. 1:19)
4. Creation of sun, moon and stars (Gen. 1:14-19)

The illustration as shown above delineates this mythical process of creation, whose order makes sense in the light of common underlying assumptions concerning the primordial state of the universe as conceived by most ancient Middle Eastern cultures such as those of Mesopotamia, Egypt and so on.

The idea of a watery origin for the cosmos may have arisen from observations of floods and swampland. From the chaos of the flood, earth slowly emerges as the waters subside, and new life arises from the formless mud. The Cosmos,then, was possibly thought to have arisen by a similar analogous process behind which stood the controlling divinities responsible for the emergence of cosmic order.

That the Hebrews were influenced by other surrounding cultures and borrowed aspects of their creation myths is quite plausible when we consider that no Middle Eastern civilization stood in isolation from its neighbors, for all were linked by trade routes along which not only goods, but also ideas, could travel. Furthermore, that Genesis is most likely a compilation of various creation myths has been deduced by researchers in the field of Biblical literature:

"The basic document [of Genesis] is now normally called ‘Priestly’, since its features suggest that it derived from a circle of priests and highly educated people, whereas the older document (normally called J, or Yahwist, because God is normally indicated by the name he had among the Hebrews) is more anthropomorphic in outlook. In the one the picture is wider, embracing the general problem of the origin of the Universe, while in the other the horizon is restricted to man and the question of his duties, his purpose, and so on. Moreover, the cosmology in the Priestly account is dominated by the element of Water, regarded as something hostile to man, to the point at which conquest of cultivable soil consists in redeeming it from Water. But in the Yahwist version the dominant feature is a desert which has to be made fertile by rain and springs, even though these waters too must be regulated by man before they can take proper effect.

What we have said so far may help in identifying the provenance of the two accounts, the older of which may be placed in Syria and Arabia, the later in Mesopotamia. As to date, the Yahwist version may be ninth or eighth century BC, the later version belongs to the late seventh or early sixth, but the data on which its priestly writers worked are distinctly earlier. Links with the cosmology of other eastern Semitic peoples are many and obvious." (Page 246 in Pareti, Luigi: History of Mankind: Cultural & Scientific Development, Vol. Il, part I).

In my opinion it is reasonable to conclude that the authors of the Genesis creation myths borrowed ideas from other prevailing cosmic origin stories, modifying them in the light of Hebrew monotheism. The consensus of Biblical scholars suggests the conclusions presented above are most likely true.
The suggestion that Genesis somehow prefigures scientific discoveries rests, in my opinion, upon questionable interpretations of Scripture. Indeed, with a little imagination, the ‘scientific accuracy’ of non-Biblical cosmogonies can also be ‘proven.’ To illustrate my point, consider The Song of Creation, (a hymn from the Rig Veda) which is:

"One of the oldest surviving records of philosophic doubt in the history of the world, [and] marks the development of a high stage of abstract thinking, and it is the work of a very great poet, whose vision [is] of the mysterious chaos before creation, and of mighty ineffable forces working in the depths of the primal void." (Page 249 in Basham, A.L: The Wonder that was India.)

Please note: My exposition of The Song of Creation is purely illustrative of the fact that sacred literature can be interpreted in a way that creates the illusion of scientific accuracy. I am not seriously proposing that it prefigures modern scientific discoveries.

The Song of Creation

 1. Then was not nonexistent nor existent: there was no realm of air, no sky beyond it.A What covered in, and where?B And what gave shelter?C Was water there, unfathomed depth of water? D
Commentary: Modern cosmology envisages the Universe emerging from a state of nothingness. This is expressed poetically by the series of negations in 1A This nothingness is further emphasised through a number of rhetorical questions (1B and 1C) that illustrate this non-spatial state. The poet then closes by questioning a common assumption (1D) that the Universe emerged from a watery chaos, which is a frequent theme in creation stories.

2. Death was not then, nor was there aught immortal:A no sign was there, the day’s and night’s divider.B That one thing, breathless, breathed by its own nature: apart from it was nothing whatsoever.C

 2A — the symbolism of death and immortality are used to represent time (death = cessation; immortality = unending duration). This becomes clear at 1B where reference is made to the non-existence of the celestial bodies: there is neither night nor day — a timeless existence. This is scientifically accurate because time is a property of the universe, and did not exist before the beginning. At 2C we have a reference to the instant of creation — that indefinable moment when the universe burst into being. The imagery here, which is consistent with modern cosmology, symbolises the fact that the emergence of the universe is not dependent on any known antecedent causative agency. The cosmos emerges of itself from an ineffable unknown and unknowable.

3. Darkness there was: at first concealed in darkness, this All was indiscriminate chaos.A All that existed then was void and formless: by the great power of warmth was born that unit.B
Commentary: 3A — a reference to the chaotic state of the early universe and the fact that it was opaque, or dark (about 300,000 years after the Big Bang, the universe was cool enough for electrons and protons to form hydrogen. Light could now travel long distances without being scattered.) This state, and its origin, is further emphasized at 3B — the universe is born of the Big Bang (by the great power of warmth was born that unit — viz, the incredible temperature of the early universe) and, at that time, had none of its current organization.

4. Therefore rose desire in the beginning, Desire, the primal seed and germ of spirit.A Sages who searched with their heart’s thought discovered the existent’s kinship in the non-existent.B

The primal seed 4A or, poetically speaking, Desire, symbolises the laws of Nature that guide the development of Creation. 4B: An accurate observation that our understanding of Nature and ourselves depends on our understanding of cosmic origins, inasmuch as it is humanly possible. In this case "non-existent" refers to the unfathomable causeless emergence of the universe.

5. Transversely was their severing line extended: what was above it then, and what below it?A There were begetters, there were mighty forces, free action here and energy up yonder.B

5A: This paragraph refers to the inflation of the early universe, and 5B to the birth of matter when the energy driving inflation was transformed into particles and antiparticles that annihilated each other, releasing prodigious amounts of energy.
6. Who verily knows and who can here declare it, whence it was born and whence comes this creation?A The gods are later than this world’s production.B Who knows, then, whence it first came into being?C

The poet reminds us that scientific explanations are not ultimate truths 6A, and that the gods, or our concept of them, are of human origin: 6B. Consequently, religion can't provide us with ultimate explanations either because it is the product of fallible human minds. 6C

7. He, the first origin of this creation, whether he formed it all or did not form it, whose eye controls this world in highest heaven, he verily knows it, or perhaps he knows it not.
The final paragraph serves to reinforce the previous one
even if God exists, there is no guarantee it has answers that are any better than our own.
In conclusion:

The scriptures of Judaism and Hinduism are the product of pre-scientific people. The accounts of creation found within them represent early attempts to explain the existence of the world and the human condition. They were not intended to be (indeed, they cannot be) scientific theories of the world’s origin, and to impose modern meanings upon them is to misrepresent the intentions of their authors.



Basham, A.L. The Wonder that was India, Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1967.

Blackburn, S. (Ed.) The Big Questions: The Universe, Quercus, London, 2010.

Fohrer, G. History of Israelite Religion, S.P.C.K, London 1975.
Hook, S.M. Middle Eastern Mythology, Penguin Books, England, 1981.

Jacobs, L. The Jewish Religion, Oxford University Press Inc., New York, 1995

Pareti, L. History of Mankind: Cultural & Scientific Development, Vol. II, part I), Unwin Brothers Limited, London, 1965.

Part 2


(Investigator 202, 2022 January)


Barbara Sproul (1980) in Primal Myths supplies the text of many creation myths from Africa, the Middle East, Europe, India, Eastern Asia, North and South America, the Pacific islands and Australia.

The difference between the Bible and myths of ancient cultures is that Genesis, after a little analysis, as in Investigator 199, can be taken literally yet agrees with science, and even predicts some scientific truths that the whole world now accepts. This makes Staughen's (2021) claim that the Genesis creation story is "purely a human invention" wrong.


Straughen's main back-up argument is that creation in Genesis 1 & 2 was originally two stories that someone cut up and combined together.

This is part of the "Documentary Hypothesis" which states that the first five books of the Bible originally consisted of a P (Priestly) author and a J (Yahwist) author, which R (an unknown "Redactor") spliced together. Other versions of the Hypothesis claim that the original creation stories numbered three or four or more.

Even if this Hypothesis is correct it would not necessarily make Genesis false, although Straughen seems to think it would.

Scholars routinely write articles that include dozens of quotes — in effect produce a "story" by trimming and combining dozens of others. Nevertheless the single, composite result is not necessarily erroneous but sometimes groundbreaking.

Straughen's paste-together claim is of doubtful relevance for another reason, which is: It is a hypothesis, not a fact, and is disputed.

The "dozens" of references a scholar might quote can be consulted and checked and dates and authors' names confirmed. Straughen in contrast cannot show us any separated-out ancient copies of the alleged creation stories, and he only guesses at dates of compilation, and has no authors' names.

Any story can be split into multiple stories. I own a book about World War II, the worldwide story of the conflict. I could pull out chapters dealing with Europe, the Pacific, Africa, etc, and claim that these chapters existed, prior to the larger story as separate books and the author of World War II combined them. Even if such an amalgamation of, or plagiarism from, previous books occurred, it would not prove that WWII never happened.

Straughen provides a table of "contradictions" between the alleged creation stories of Genesis 1 and 2. This is the same mistake as listing differences in the chapters of World War II and calling them "contradictions". The differences are different events in different areas of the war, not "contradictions".

Straughen's table shows that Genesis 2 makes no mention of the creation of light, sky, dry land, Sun, Moon, stars and fish. With almost all creation absent, Genesis 2 cannot be a rival creation story.

Correct is that Genesis 2 jumps back to the creation of humans (Genesis 1:27) to add details about the Garden of Eden and explain how the human creation went wrong. The phrase "These are the generations of..." in 2:4 occurs regularly in the Old Testament to introduce new or additional information.

My book on WWII has an introductory chapter outlining the entire conflict, followed by chapters that return to earlier stages to add details. That is what Genesis does with creation: The entire story comes first (Genesis 1 to 2:3) after which Genesis 2:4-24 returns to an earlier stage to zoom in on the first humans. Without Chapter 2 readers would not know how the human race went corrupt, and the rest of the Bible, which describes humanity's pathetic situation and God's agenda to restore perfection, would lack meaning, context and foundation.


The earliest versions of the Documentary Hypothesis, centuries ago, accepted Moses as the author of the Pentateuch and speculated about what sources Moses used. Then came the theory that the Israelites/Jews did not adopt writing until centuries after Moses may have lived. This implied that Genesis is of later origin than Moses, and also gave extra centuries for legends from other cultures to reach Israel and influence Jewish authors. Straughen (2021) suggests Genesis was written around 400 BCE.

However, recent archaeological discoveries show that Jewish writing is more ancient than critics assumed. Richelle (2020) writes:

According to the current consensus among scholars, it was in the eighth century B.C.E. at the earliest. Indeed, in archaeologist Israel Finkelstein’s words, "Writing is not in evidence in Judah before around 800 B.C.E." Likewise, biblical scholar John Van Seters wrote a few years ago, "Not until the late eighth century was Judah sufficiently advanced as a state that it could produce any written records." Similar doubts concern the kingdom of Israel, so it looks as though we have a relatively precise terminus a quo (earliest possible date) for the composition of any Hebrew literature.
However, current knowledge in epigraphy and archaeology leads us to call this conventional wisdom into question. Indeed, the main reasons that underlie it prove ill founded.

An important reason for postulating late dates for Genesis is therefore in retreat.


I investigated the Documentary Hypothesis in Investigator 153 and showed that most of its variations are defunct. Present-day versions too are breaking down. Wikipedia says:

The Jahwist, or Yahwist, often abbreviated J, is one of the most widely recognized sources of the Pentateuch (Torah), together with the Deuteronomist, the Priestly source and the Elohist. The existence of the Jahwist is somewhat controversial, with a number of scholars, especially in Europe, denying that it ever existed as a coherent independent document. Nevertheless, many scholars do assume its existence, and date its composition to the period of the Babylonian captivity (597–539 BCE) or perhaps somewhat later. The Jahwist is so named because of its characteristic use of the term Yahweh (German: Jahwe; Hebrew: יהוה) for God...

The explanation called the documentary hypothesis dominated much of the 20th century, but the consensus surrounding this hypothesis has now broken down. Its critics suggest that contemporary upholders tend to give a much larger role to the redactors, who are now seen as adding much material of their own rather than as simply passive combiners of documents.

The simple form of the documentary hypothesis has come under criticism from within its own constituents as well. The most notable revision in recent decades has been to suggest that the individual E and J documents are irrecoverable altogether, major parts of them having been scrapped by the first JE redactor; or that the E document was never independent at all, but rather is a part of the J document.

Garrett (1991) says:

The time has long passed for scholars of every theological persuasion to recognize that the Graf-Wellhausen theory, as a starting point for continued research, is dead. The Documentary Hypothesis and the arguments that support it have been effectively demolished by scholars from many different theological perspectives and areas of expertise... Many scholars are exploring the inadequacies of the Documentary Hypothesis and looking toward new models for explaining the Pentateuch.

Collins (2006) describes a new version formulated by Friedman (2003) but concludes: "For each feature that is brought forward to support the source theory, it turns out that literary and grammatical considerations supply a better explanation in terms of the overall flow of the narrative."


Straughen's other main argument is: "with a little imagination, the 'scientific accuracy' of non-Biblical cosmogonies can also be 'proven'."

He illustrates this premise by quoting The Song of Creation from India. He treats its phrases as poetic and symbolic and then finds parallels in modern astronomy.

The difference with Genesis is that I took Genesis literally and nevertheless predicted (decades ago) several future discoveries. Even the Genesis "days" can be taken literally by noticing that "creation" occurred outside of the six days. The numbered days were when God, in the narrative, declared major results "good". Even evolution can, to a large extent, be accepted by noting that "the waters" and "the earth" are what "brought forth" living things in great variety. (1:11,12, 20, 24) It would not be amiss for an evolutionist to phrase his belief in these same words.

What the Bible writer(s) did, which no one today can replicate, is this:

a)    Write a creation story for people who have never been to school and know nothing about science or the wider world.
b)    Limit himself to using the vocabulary that they use and employ their words literally so that they understand the story.
c)    Within these constraints include scientific information that scientists will discover thousands of years later.

In #199, page 30, I listed four discoveries in which modern science agrees with Genesis.

Another, or fifth, scientific discovery is the close genetic relatedness of all people. The whole human race has a common origin, which Genesis calls Adam and Eve. This makes racism and belief in the innate superiority of certain nations crap. Therefore racial discrimination and many wars, genocides, and crimes, lose their justification. Perpetrators and victims together numbered billions. The perpetrators were misled by fantasies which they could have avoided by believing Genesis! Bible critics should consider that.


Bible critics whose main evidence is the Documentary Hypothesis seem to assume  that theologians are always right. But are they really?

Faulty theories previously endorsed by some theologians but now defunct, or nearly so, include:

•    Exodus and Deuteronomy have two conflicting versions of the Ten Commandments.
•    Theory of "Corporate personality" — that ancient Israelites had pre-logical thinking which did not distinguish individuals from the group.
•    The Babylonian exile is a myth.
•    There was no King Belshazzar (Daniel 5).
•    1st and 2nd Chronicles were written in the Maccabean period (2nd century BC).
•    The Gospel writers were inspired by hallucinogenic mushrooms. 
•    The "Tubingen theory" that the New Testament documents are products of a struggle between Jewish and Gentile Christians.
•    The Book of Acts is a 3rd century CE fraud.
•    The resurrection narratives cannot be reconciled.
•    Jesus survived the crucifixion, married Mary Magdalene, and fathered three children.
(See Investigator #71 for more detail)

We notice here a trend of the Bible getting progressively confirmed in theological points and criticisms being exposed as faulty speculation.

Elsewhere I've shown similar trends in other areas of science such as archaeology, astronomy, biology, history, ethics, etc — Bible statements, thought to be erroneous, became facts as science made new discoveries.

To extrapolate this trend, and expect further vindications of the Bible, is the same logic everyone uses every day — called inductive reasoning or inductive logic. If a source of information is regularly correct, for example an encyclopedia or a doctor diagnosing illnesses, people trust that source rather than trust a critic of it.


The Documentary Hypothesis implies that unknown "redactors" were so skilled that they changed the religious scriptures of a nation and got away with it, yet were so incompetent that modern critics easily expose it.

The New Testament's claim that "All Scripture is inspired of God" is consistent with writers consulting prior sources or having prior knowledge. Therefore, although most versions of the Documentary Hypothesis are defunct, the Bible is not disproved if a future version finds that Moses consulted other creation stories. The test would still be "Is what the Bible teaches, accurate?" — which Genesis in testable points is.


Collins, C. John 2006 Genesis 1 – 4 A Linguistic, Literary, and Theological Commentary, P & R Publishing, pp 225-231

Friedman, R.E. 2003 The Bible With Sources Revealed: A New View into the Five Books of Moses, HarperCollins

Garrett, D. 1991 Rethinking Genesis: The Sources and Authorship of the First Book of the Pentateuch, Baker, USA

Human Genetic Variation

Investigator #199;  #153;  #71

Richelle, M. Epistles: When Did Literacy Emerge in Judah?, Biblical Archaeology Review 46:2, Spring 2020

Robinson, H.W. 1980 Corporate Personality in Ancient Israel, Fortress

Sproul, B.C. 1980 Primal Myths, Rider and Company

Straughen, K. A Rationalist Commentary on Genesis, Investigator # 201, November 2021


Kirk Straughen

(Investigator 203, 2022 March)

I have read Anonymous’ analysis (Inv. 202 pg, 8) of my article A Rationalist Commentary on Genesis (Inv. 201). I found what he had to say interesting, and thank him for taking the time and effort to provide me with this information. Regrettably, I am unable to agree with him.

With regard to Anonymous' interpretations of scripture: On page 12 he says that he took " Genesis literally." That is fair enough, but to take Genesis literally gives us insights into the ancient Hebrew’s view of the world, (not modern cosmology) which was a flat disc overarched by a solid firmament. This idea of a solid firmament is also seen in other parts of the Bible such as Job 37:18: "Can you like him [God], spread out the skies, hard as a molten mirror?"

For those interested in the ancient Hebrew view of the universe (which is still believed in today by some evangelical Christians as shown in the third link below) I offer the following links, which give a more in depth exposition:




Certainly, there are always going to be disputes and disagreements among theologians concerning the literary origins of Genesis and how it should be interpreted. However, the general conclusions I have reached from long years of research is that:

(A) The majority view of theologians is that Genesis reflects the pre-scientific ideas that prevailed in the age it was written.

(B) Although the Documentary Hypothesis Anonymous refers to is rejected by conservative Christians and Orthodox Jews its basic conclusion of multiple authorship is still widely accepted by contemporary biblical scholars. The Documentary Hypothesis has its critics, true, however:

"Thus the very correct criticisms of anti-documentary scholars from the earliest days of the theory until our own time are not necessarily grounds for dismissing the whole hypothesis; they are, rather, a call to refine and revise the methods employed by scholars when describing and applying the hypothesis. When such refinements and revisions are undertaken, as they have been recently, the Documentary Hypothesis regains its place as the most economical, comprehensive explanation for the literary phenomena of the canonical Pentateuch." (1)

Unfortunately, the validity (or otherwise) of the Documentary Hypothesis isn’t going to be settled by either Anonymous or myself. That is a matter for experts in the field. However, for those interested in more information on the Documentary Hypothesis I offer this link which gives a greater in depth explanation:


The idea that Genesis in some way prefigures discoveries in modern science hinges in my opinion on questionable interpretations of scripture. From what I have seen most apologists tend to assume that the bible is true and then work their way towards proving that it is. This is usually done by reinterpreting passages of scripture so they align as much as possible with scientifically obtained facts.

The method of biblical interpretation is called hermeneutics. Naturally, the method used to interpret the bible will determine to a large degree the outcome. Unfortunately, there is no consensus on how the bible should be interpreted. Some of the methodologies, for those who may be interested, are outlined below:

•    "Of course, there is no agreement about the best hermeneutic approach to the Bible. Should Biblical passages be taken literally or symbolically? Should prophecies be interpreted in a preterist sense (referring to events going on in the prophet's own time) or a futurist sense (predicting events that happen centuries later or on Judgement Day)?

•    Catholic Hermeneutics: The Catholic Church bases its teachings on TRADITION. This means that Catholic hermeneutics are free to reinterpret the Bible in new ways, so long as they stay within the traditional teachings of the Church. An example of this would be the way Raymond E. Brown (a Catholic priest) interprets the Fourth Gospel as an allegory for the Johannine Community's expulsion from the Synagogues.

•    Traditional (Protestant) Hermeneutics: Protestant Churches base their teachings on "Sola Scriptura" ('Only Scripture'), which means the word of the Bible rather than traditions. Because of this, Protestant interpreters are more likely to treat the Bible literally and regard the four Gospel-writers as independent eyewitnesses, rather than redactors. An example of this would be Morna Hooker's rejection of Wrede's theory of the Messianic Secret in Mark.

•    Liberal Hermeneutics: Liberal Christians (often from the Protestant tradition) are sceptical about the supernatural elements in the Bible and interpret miracles naturalistically. They are less likely to view the Gospel-writers as eyewitnesses and more likely to view them as redactors who have brought together different sources or constructed a narrative out of pericopae (textual units) from an earlier oral tradition. An example of this would be Rudolf Bultmann's idea that the Bible should be demythologized (stripped of its supernatural elements) to reveal its moral teaching." (2)

Interpreting Genesis using each of the above methods will yield different results with each proponent no doubt vigorously arguing that their conclusions are correct. Considering interpretations more broadly — globally, there are 45,000 different Christian denominations, many of which have arisen from different interpretations of scripture. (3)

Often I have found Anonymous' explanations, which attempt to reconcile biblical contradictions, simply too convoluted to be convincing. Indeed, to me it seems in many instances an attempt to fit a square peg into a round hole. In my opinion there is no sound rationale for many of his assumptions except that by assuming certain things a saving explanation appears to be provided.

For example, on page 12 he says of the biblical authors that they would "Within these constraints include scientific information [in Genesis] that scientists will discover thousands of years later."

The assumption here is that the authors of scripture possessed such scientific information. But what evidence is there that this is in fact the case? Just because it is possible to reinterpret passages of scripture to give the appearance of scientific accuracy doesn’t mean that the authors of scripture intended this interpretation. Unfortunately, they are long dead and we cannot ask them. Nor do we have a hotline to heaven whereby we can phone God and ask him to clarify the situation.

The bible is a product of a pre-scientific culture. Its authors knew nothing of modern science. Apologists may argue that such knowledge was divinely granted to them. But again this is an assumption for which no sound evidence is given. It is an act of faith, not fact.

My comments are not intended to belittle Anonymous’ efforts or insult or offend, and I apologize if they seem this way. Anonymous is dedicated to defending the truth as he sees it and I respect him for it. We simply have different and probably irreconcilable world-views. Despite these differences I wish him well in his efforts to validate his beliefs.

Additional References




Part 3


(Investigator 204, 2022 May)


Regarding Part 2 of "Genesis, Creation and Evolution", Mr Straughen says, "Regrettably I am unable to agree with him." (Investigator #203, p. 14) 

In Part 1 I supported the interpretation that the "six days" of Genesis Chapter 1 were literal days on which "God" declared various results "good". Creation itself mainly occurred outside of the 6 days. It proceeded by the laws of chemistry, physics, geology and biology as taught in textbooks, and needed only occasional supernatural assistance.

Creation is therefore comparable to a garden which a man establishes and leaves to itself, visiting it only occasionally to maintain it and announce "It looks good."

I also listed four points in Genesis that anticipated discoveries in modern science.


Straughen's first regret is Job 37:18. He apparently assumes that an error in the book of Job would make Genesis wrong also.
Straughen says that ancient Hebrews [= Abraham's descendants, in particular Israelites] believed the world is "a flat disc overarched by a solid firmament". We discussed that topic previously in Investigator #52. We learned that "circle of the earth" and "circle of the sea" in the Bible do not refer to flat discs but to the circular horizon. Some translators actually translate it as "horizon". (e.g. Life Application Study Bible, Tyndale House Publishers, Proverbs 8:17)

Furthermore, what ancient Hebrews believed is not always what the Bible teaches. This is particularly obvious in the case of idol worship which, as archaeology confirms, was popular in ancient Israel although condemned throughout the Bible. Compare modern "Christian" nations where many people have non-biblical beliefs.

Job 37:18 at first sight seems to support the "solid firmament" idea:

 "Can you like him [God] spread out the skies, hard as a molten mirror?"  (NRSV)

"Hast thou with Him spread out the sky, which is strong, and as a molten looking glass." (King James Bible)

Ancient mirrors were metallic, made of a mixed metal, mainly copper, therefore "hard" or "strong", and in size and shape resembled modern hand-mirrors. (Freeman 1972) The speaker in 37:18 is "Elihu", the youngest of five men who were arguing about the fairness of God, given that one of them, Job, who claimed to be totally innocent, was undergoing terrible suffering. God's answer to this puzzle is in Chapters 1-2 and 32-37.

We would expect "God" to get all his facts right, but not necessarily the five humans. However, regarding Elihu's sky-and-mirror comment, he is correct. The problem is translation.


The Hebrew shachaq occur 21 times in the Old Testament and in the King James is translated: cloud 11 times, sky 7, heaven 2, small dust 1. Young's Concordance gives the basic meaning as "thin cloud". (It is a different word to the word for "heavens", shamayim, translated "heavens" 398 times and "air" 21 times.)

Elihu refers to clouds in verses 15,16 and 21. This provides a context that suggests shachaq in 37:18 is better translated "clouds" which is also its most common meaning instead of  "skies":

"Can you like him spread out the clouds...?"

"Hard" or "strong" is the Hebrew chazaq, translated in the King James: strong 28 times, mighty 20, sore 3, hard 1, hot 1, loud 1, impudent 1, stiff-hearted 1. (Young's Concordance)

Elihu's point seems to be that clouds are "strong" or "mighty" as evidenced by the lightning they emit (v. 15), and their "balancings" (v. 16) perhaps a reference to the water they hold up. The comparison object, the metal mirror, is "strong" in that it does not break easily.

Elihu's comment in 37:18 points to mysteries about clouds but expresses nothing contrary to science.


Straughen finds "questionable" the "idea that Genesis in some way prefigures discoveries in modern science..."

I listed five "prefigured" discoveries (Investigator #199 page 30 and #202 page 12) besides stating, "Even evolution can, to a large extent, be accepted by noting that 'the waters' and 'the earth' are what 'brought forth' living things in great variety."

Straughen is doing what people who jumped into a conclusion from prejudice or misinformation often do. When faced with scientific challenges, they deny the science or quote someone else who denies the science.


Genesis has many more scientific points than the ones mentioned in #199 and #202.

Genesis 2:6 says it had not rained (in Eden) but "a mist ... watered the ... ground". Is that possible — can a mist (or fog) without rain supply enough moisture for plants including fruit trees to grow? This is an objection I've heard.

Is the reaction of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3), after their disobedience was exposed, psychologically plausible? Here we could consult psychology, perhaps the topics blame-shifting and guilt.

The narrative implies that Adam and Eve would never die provided they avoided the fruit of a certain tree; nor would women experience pain in childbirth. From this the implication follows that the original human genome or genes allowed humans to live forever, disease-free, and with incredible self-healing abilities. If the Genesis story is true then future medical science including genetics may be able to restore humans by "genetic engineering" to the physical condition of Adam and Eve. After all, in Genesis 11:6 it says: "nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them." A further implication from Genesis is that foods may interact with the human genome and produce genetic change.

Some early, but suggestive, reports into these possibilities are:

"Scientists have found a whole family of genes that appear to control lifespan…" (Radowitz 2005)

"By removing a gene, biologists have created mice whose wounds heal more than twice as fast as normal, opening up the possibility of drugs that vastly accelerate healing in humans…" (New Scientist 21 August, 1999, p. 10)

"Researchers in Germany claim that DNA fed to a mouse can survive digestion and invade cells throughout its body. Because food contains DNA, this may be a way for species to acquire genes, they argue." (Cohen 1997)

"genetic material in food survives digestion and circulates through the body…"  (Jabr 2012)

These discoveries may be the start of future scientific confirmations of parts of Genesis. My science examples in #199 and #202, however, were of Genesis claims already confirmed.


Straughen also summarizes different "Hermeneutics" — which refers to different approaches, including different starting assumptions, to interpreting the Bible. "Liberal Hermeneutics", for example, often start by rejecting Bible statements that refer to "eye witnesses" and anything supernatural.

Of course if there were eyewitnesses or amazing events that seemed supernatural, and the interpreter begins with the assumption that there weren't, then his starting assumptions will lead him to false conclusions. It's similar to a historian who starts with the assumption that Germany won World War II — many of his conclusions about WWII are going to be either wrong or very suspect.

My "hermeneutics" for the purpose of investigating the Bible is, as I've often stated, "Test what is testable and generalize the result." This method compares the Bible with the discoveries of science. Whether any biblical claims about, for example, the presence of "eyewitnesses" and occurrences of supernatural events are correct, or whether present-day Bibles perfectly reflect the wording of the original ancient scrolls, are points to be investigated and not assumed one way or the other.

Investigator #202 p. 13 has a short list of conclusions that theologians who followed biased hermeneutics got wrong and which subsequent theologians refuted, thereby vindicating parts of the Bible. Hermeneutics based on dubious assumptions can make the Bible seem wrong. But to "Test what is testable" omits dubious starting assumptions and lets the Bible be correct when it is correct.


Straughen says, "Just because it is possible to interpret passages of scripture to give the appearance of scientific accuracy doesn't mean that the authors of scripture intended this interpretation."

Modern science was not known to the Bible writers, therefore they obviously did not have the intention of conforming to it. When I "test what is testable" I'm investigating the claims that "All scripture is inspired by God..." (II Timothy 3:16) and that "Every word of God proves true..." (Proverbs 30:5) The Bible writers themselves did not always understand what they wrote, therefore speculating on their intentions is sometimes unhelpful.

What is helpful, and what I try to do, is find statements in the Bible that can be checked by consulting the scientific literature and check them.


As argued previously Genesis implies that it required "God" to make Earth a living planet with intelligent life and civilization. I considered the odds of life and civilization developing without supernatural intervention and found that so far, as judged from the discoveries of exoplanets, the odds are zero. That's zero out of 5000 planets. But 5000 is a small sample and bigger numbers might be more convincing.

Earth's radio and television signals have travelled about 100 light years into Space. Any alien civilization as advanced as us or more, would presumably be doing the same, leaking weak signals onto Space, but also deliberately beaming powerful signals directly toward plausible targets.

Current estimates for our Milky Way galaxy are:
•    Diameter, 100,000 light years
•    Number of stars, 200 billion
•    "Sun-like" stars, 20 billion
•    Planets approximately the size of Earth, 5 billion
•    Potentially habitable planets, 300 million.

So far no signals of intelligent origin have been received. The odds of an advanced civilization developing without God's help appears so far to be zero out of billions. Godly involvement in Earth's development, as Genesis teaches,  seems necessary.


In Parts 1 and 2 of this series I suggested that Genesis describes Earth's development in a way that made sense to primitive tribal people. Genesis employed their vocabulary, and the literal meaning of their words, yet includes scientific insights that scientists would confirm far in the future. Could any human write like that?


Freeman, J.M. 1972 Manners And Customs Of The Bible, Logos International, p. 75

Cohen, P. Can DNA in food find its way into cells? New Scientist, 4 January, 1997, p. 14.

Jabr, F. Eating greens alters genes, New Scientist, 1 October 2011, pp 10-11

Radowitz, J. von Biological controls for a long, happy life, The Advertiser, July 30, 2005, p. 65

Young, R. 1939 Analytical Concordance To The Holy Bible, Revised Eighth Edition, pp 470; 897, 942; Index-Lexicon, p. 11