June 28, 2011

Basic Cell Types Never Evolved

Consider if you, as an alien from another world, saw a thousand different houses each built with doors, lights, couches, rugs, A/C units, plumbing, sinks, etc that were all very similar in design. You would assume rightly by implication from the designs that these houses were built by intelligent beings who were reusing basic devices, supplies, and inventions over and over again with some variation. You would, in this case, be sure that the basic building components were designed. Theoretically, a complex computer program could generate houses using the basic components, but the components themselves would be marked by design. The individual components, in many cases, are more complex in design than the overall house structure. (In other words, some components require more intelligence to design than the building blueprint. No disrespect to architects.)

Taking this analogy to another level, if you saw that the TVs, A/C units, doors, dish washers, etc were all nearly identical from house to house, you would assume that the same intelligent developer was responsible, or you might assume that the house equipment was so perfect and efficient that no one would think of using other equipment.

As it turns out, living organisms are built using cells, and there is only a relatively small number of cell types. According to recent studies, it has been concluded that cell types only “evolved” once [1]. The design of a heart cell, for example, has remained relatively unchanged for 500 million years. The photoreceptor cells have remained “unevolved” for about 500 million years. Starting around the Cambrian explosion, many kinds of cells sprang into existence. These basic cell types haven’t changed significantly for 500 million years or more. So, I ask you a simple but critical question: How is it that such complex and useful building blocks of life forms formed rapidly over tens of millions of years and then stopped evolving for hundreds of millions of years? Another simple but critical question: How is it that there are no known intermediate types of cells? If hundreds of cell types could spring into existence over about 20 million years, how is that hundreds of cell types haven’t been springing into existence over and over again during the last 500 million years?

Evolution apparently formed the necessary cell types, and then started working on how to rearrange cells to form basic body plans, and then finally decided on tweaking body plans to form specific species. Thus, it appears that great complexity sprang into being rapidly, followed by complex body plans, finally followed by relatively simple adjustment to those basic body plans. The majority of the complexity seems to have appeared instantaneously without intermediate steps. This is consistent with the genetic information being created and rapidly expressed, but it is not consistent with the idea of randomly mutating organisms that stumble upon greater complexity through millions of years. Random evolution does not account for the rapid rise of complex building components (cell types).

Now, an ordinary evolutionist is forced (for better or for worse) to assume that the basic cell types and genetic information for complex creatures was covertly developing millions and millions of years before complex life formed (~550 Ma). Somehow (through random processes, we are told) eukaryote cells were amassing a library of useful designs (a “toolkit”) for later use. You think I’m joking? I’m not, for I have seen actual science articles suggesting this very idea [2]. They suggest that somehow, through unknown processes, simple life was genetically evolving into more complex life without much physical evidence to show for it! Through millions of years, life was “experimenting” and trying to find good designs and was “saving” useful designs. The problem with all of this is that it lacks any good evidence. The other problem is that it sounds way too much like an intelligent process, for how would life know to save just the “good” designs? The process whereby this would happen is not exactly known.

The evidence supports a rapid emergence of complex cell designs. Naturalistic evolutionists don’t have any grounds for assuming that cell complexity gradually evolved. The evidence is nonexistent. The only reason they believe that the cell types gradually evolved is because they have unshakable faith that evolution (or some natural process) can explain exactly how we got here—how space, time, and matter conspired together to make intelligent, complex beings called humans. It’s the greatest conspiracy theory ever made... and like all giant conspiracy theories, the evidence is misinterpreted and the theory is taken on faith.

[1] http://www.biosciencetechnology.com/News/2011/05/Study-Suggests-Successful-Blueprints-are-Recycled-by-Evolution/; http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-05-successful-blueprints-recycled-evolution.html
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2280037/; http://www.nymc.edu/sanewman/PDFs/Developmental-genetic%20toolkit.pdf; http://www.fossilmuseum.net/Paleobiology/CambrianExplosion.htm

June 26, 2011

BCOE: Day 6 of Creation - Land Animals and Man

Please read the following Bible passage:
24And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: livestock and creeping things [‘remes,’ רמשׂ] and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so.  25And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps [‘remes,’ רמשׂ] on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.  

26Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing [‘remes,’ רמשׂ] that creeps on the earth.”  27So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  

28And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”  29And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.  30And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.”  And it was so.  

31And God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.  –Genesis 1:24-31

Genesis 1:24-25: Land Animals

So, what was created on Day 6 before man?  It lists three types of living creatures: cattle, creeping animals, and beasts or wild animals.  Some people insist that the “creeping things” (KJV) is actually insects; however, we must question that assumption.  The Hebrew word is “remes” (רמשׂ) and is defined by Strong’s Concordance as, “A reptile or any other rapidly moving animal.” The word is used in these ways elsewhere in the Old Testament:

  • Man is given dominion over the “remes” (רמשׂ) – Genesis 1:26
  • “remes” (רמשׂ) are implied to have the “breath of life” – Genesis 1:26-30
  • Two of each “remes” (רמשׂ) went into Noah’s ark – Geneis 6:20
  • Noah was told to “bring forth” the “remes” (רמשׂ) from the ark – Genesis 8:17
  • “Every” “remes” (רמשׂ) was given to Noah for food – Genesis 9:3
  • There were “remes” (רמשׂ) in the “sea” – Psalm 104:25
  • “remes” (רמשׂ) were portrayed upon the temple walls by the apostates – Ezekiel 8:10
  • The “remes” (רמשׂ) are going to “tremble” at the presence of the Lord – Ezekiel 38:20
  • The “remes” (רמשׂ) are going to “lie down safely” – Hosea 2:18
  • The “remes” (רמשׂ) have no ruler over them – Hab. 1:14

Ten out of the seventeen occurrences (59%) of “remes” (רמשׂ) appear quite likely to be referring to animals rather than insects.  So, we would conclude that Genesis 1 is strictly referring to smaller animals that “creep about” on “the ground”.

This appears to be the meaning since both Gen. 1:24 and Gen. 1:30 strongly imply that the “creeping things” have the “breath of life” or a “living soul”—depending upon the translation that one uses.  Insects don’t have the breath of life or a soul.  The literal translation of verse 24, “Let the earth bring forth the soul of life according to its kind: cattle, and creeping things/animals, and beasts of the earth . . .” only fits for creeping animals and not insects.

(Also, the Septuagint translates this word “creeping thing” more clearly as a kind of animal.)

Therefore, we should conclude that only land animals are being explicitly created on Day 6.  Furthermore, these land animals are said to have souls, which likely indicates emotional creatures.  The creeping animals are defined as animals that move along the ground, also.  So, we could define the three animal types created on Day 6 as: (1) “cattle” or easily tamable quadruped (four-footed) animals, (2) “beasts” or relatively untamable/lively animals, and (3) “creeping animals” or smaller animals that scurry along the ground, all of which have emotions.  Most (if not all) of these would be mammals.

It is my belief that only mammals are being referred to as being created on Day 6, though that is admittedly speculative.  According to the fossil record, around 60 Ma, modern mammal types were coming into existence.  This was well after modern bird kinds had started being formed.  For that reason, I believe we see that established science once again fits with the Bible’s account and order.

“Creeping animals” could possibly include some reptiles, but I suspect that those are not included in the actual, contextual meaning, since reptiles don’t seem to display emotions.  Of the reptiles that might fit, you’d have primarily lizards.  If we did include lizards, even then, most of the modern forms of lizards arose later than 100 Ma, and generally after 65 Ma, which still fits with the Bible’s order.  Modern bird kinds probably started being formed c. 130-100 Ma.

Whichever view is correct, the fossil record shows that modern birds definitely started being formed before there were hardly any of the thousands of modern land animal species; and, the primary diversification of birds clearly happened before the primary diversification of modern land animals.  By 60 Ma, the modern bird kinds were well established, but the modern land animals were just barely getting formed.

Naming the Animals

Adam and Eve were both created on Day 6.  We read in Genesis 2 that Adam named all the animals before Eve was created, so that must have been all done during Day 6.  There are considered to be about 24,000 basic kinds of mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and birds.  If we assume that Adam took an average of two minutes to have each animal brought to him and named, then the whole process would have taken about 33 hours!  If we reduce the time to one minute per animal, then he could have named all these kinds in a little under 17 hours.  This would be a long work day, especially since the first Sabbath day was at sunset—probably not much more than 12 hours after sunrise.  Realistically, on average, Adam would need to have named each animal in about 30 seconds.  The task would have been quite intense and probably tiring.

Some have suggested that the animals he named were a subset of all the animal kinds, and for some reason the amphibians and reptiles weren’t named.  However, there is no good reason to exclude these animals, since the words that are used could encompass all types of land animals.  Most young-earth creationists argue that the animals created on Day 6 were all land animals and insects.  There are only three types of creature names, as we’ve already noted.  In Genesis 2, where Adam names the animals, the only type of creature not listed is the “creeping things,” which is the insects in the young-earth view.  So, there is no real basis for excluding particular land animals from the naming event.  Another way that young-earth creationists get around this problem is by saying that Adam only had to name the “head groups” of animals.  However, that is inconsistent, since the passage uses the modifiers “all” and “every.”  It is highly inconsistent for young-earth creationists to argue that “all” and “every” do not mean all the animals without exception, and then to turn right around and say that “every” must mean all in chapter 1 where “every herb” was given to Adam and Eve for food.  (The same Hebrew word is used in both cases.)

A Perfect World?

One of the biggest arguments against the old-earth view is that there would have been death and decay and other problems before the Fall of Adam and Eve.  The young-earth view maintains that the world was “perfect” before the Fall and sin was the cause of all evils and all pain in the world.  The problem is that the Bible doesn’t seem to strongly support the idea that the world was perfect before sin entered in.

It is true that there are many references to things being “good” during the creation week, but I would argue that “good” is a far cry from being perfect.  The Hebrew word is relatively weak in expressing perfection.  Similar to English, “good” in Hebrew is relative and can be interpreted as nothing more that God had made “good” designs.  There are at least fifteen other words in Hebrew that are stronger and could express the idea of perfection better, for example: “very beautiful” (יפה־פיּה), “perfect” (גּמר), “excellent” (יתּיר), “glorious” (הדר), “lovely/delightful” (מחמד).  The word used in Genesis 1 is, by no stretch of the imagination, proof that things were perfect and without problems.

If things were perfect, then there would be no dangerous animals.  That means that man should have been given dominion over the “beasts”.  However, man is only said to be given dominion over: (a) the fish, (b) the birds, (c) the “cattle”, (d) all the earth, (e) all “creeping animals” (Gen. 1:26).  Although, Gen. 1:28 does mention man being given dominion over “every living thing that moves . . . ”  In verse 26, where the land animals are mentioned more specifically, only cattle and creeping animals are mentioned, and “beasts” is conspicuously missing.  I would argue that man was not directly given dominion over the wild beasts.  This should be compared with Psalm 8 that mentions man being given dominion over Creation, specifically: (a) sheep and oxen (v.7), (b) “cattle” of the field (v.7), (c) birds (v.8), (d) fish (v.8), (e) other marine life.  Beasts are not mentioned, just like in Gen. 1:26.  The parallel is clear.  Nothing changed between before the Fall and after the Fall.  (It is interesting that the Septuagint, for what it’s worth, translated the word “beast” as “wild animal” or a “dangerous animal”.)

The young-earth creationists (YEC) also argue that man was only vegetarian before the Fall.  Perhaps.  They also argue that there were no poisonous plants because it says that all the plants were given to Adam and Eve for food.  At this, we make the counterpoint that Noah was told something nearly identical: “. . . even as the green herb have I given you all things” (Gen. 9:3).  All “herbs” were given to Noah for food, just like to Adam: “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed . . .” (Gen. 1:29).  All “creeping animals” were also given as food to Noah (Gen. 9:3).  So, to be consistent, if Noah was given “all” the herbs, then no plant must be poisonous today—unless there was somehow a further curse of the ground.  No, it is most reasonable that the language is hyperbole and refers to the idea that much of the plants and trees were given for food, both to Adam and Eve and also to Noah and his descendents.  Clearly, “every” and “all” do not always mean all things without exceptions.

To further underscore this point, Noah was told that the fear and dread of him would be upon “every beast of the earth” (Gen. 9:2).  Naturally, we can and should assume that this promise has held true to humanity, but certainly not every single beast is entirely afraid of humans.  There are a number of animals that have great boldness to attack humans.

YEC will also argue, consistently, that the animals were all vegetarian.  However, most animals are vegetarian or partially vegetarian even today.  The Genesis passage does not require that the animals be 100% vegetarian.  It only requires that a majority of animals be able to get nourishment from plant life.  The point of the Genesis 1 passage seems to be just that humans and animals had the majority of plants available for food, whether or not they actually took advantage of the plants.

It is fair to ask how everything could have been “very good” if there was death in the animal kingdom.  The answer is that “very good” is subjective.  The world is very good from the perspective of it being extremely well designed and a perfect system in which God’s glory can be displayed to mankind.  Hard as it may be to accept, the world was a system prepared for the Fall, I believe.  God knew what Adam and Eve would do, and He was ready for them to rebel and live in a difficult world of pain and death.

Psalm 104 talks about lions being “filled with good” (v.28) as they “seek their food from God” (v.21).  How is it that God is calling the killing and eating of other animals “good”?  It is the same Hebrew word as used in Genesis 1.  This is a perfect example of how “good” can be used in reference to something young children might consider horrible and “bad”.  By allowing a lion to kill another animal, God gives the lions something “good”.  Please consider that “good” is highly relative.

It is inconceivable that there was no plant death before the Fall.  All YEC accept that kind of death.  However, why is it that plant death would suddenly be the one exception to the rule of no death before sin?  Obviously, we cannot conceive of the world without some form of death.  It seems likely that there would also be insect death before the Fall by mere accidents.

Genesis 1 doesn’t require a perfect world, only a “good” one.  The perfect world is yet to come.  However, even so, Ecclesiastes 3:11 seems to say that this current world is “beautiful.”  “He has made everything beautiful in His time . . .” 

The Recreation of the Universe

Probably the biggest problem with the YEC view is that at the Fall of man, you’d of necessity need some measure of recreation of the universe and earth.  God rested on the seventh day from all of His creation work, and so there is a problem with God recreating things shortly thereafter, I believe.  Some of the more obvious recreations after the Fall would be:
  • Sudden death of animals and plants (would require remaking plants/animals)
  • Creation of exclusively carnivorous plants and animals, designed to kill other things (such as spiders, sharks, Venus fly traps, etc.)
  • Viruses and bad bacteria
  • Sunburns, tornados, hot weather, cold weather (answered by the canopy theory?)
  • Asteriods, comets, meteors
  • Woman’s menstrual cycle and bleeding
  • Creation of poisonous plants and animals with poison (some frogs have poison that makes them deadly to even touch!)
  • Law of entropy (or decay)
  • Highly unpleasant creatures, like the foot-long cockroach that has been found in the fossil record
  • Thorns, worse soil for the plants, legs removed from the serpent
It is possible that some of these could be explained in various ways without a direct recreation, but it is impossible that all of these could be explained apart from some miraculous intervention by God.  Appealing to some kind of evolutionary process for the animal changes doesn’t help the YEC position whatsoever.

Now, you might rightly ask how the curse could have been natural rather than supernatural.  The answer is not entirely pertinent to this paper, since there is really nothing in the old-earth view that prevents some degree of miraculous recreation at the Fall.  The point that is being made is that the YEC view requires an extensive recreation of the universe and life, whereas the old-earth view does not.  For the sake of argument, however, we would note that the ground was cursed for Cain in a similar fashion as it was for Adam.  It is unlikely that the curse on Cain was a supernatural occurrence.  Why should we assume that Adam was cursed supernaturally when Cain was not?  Many of the problems that came in for Adam could be tied back to the fact that God excluded him from eating of the Tree of Life, and that Adam was now sinful and would struggle with negativity.  Death was the primary punishment for sinning, not the curses pronounced after the Fall.

What about death?  Certainly Adam would have needed to have been recreated to undergo the dying process.  Actually, if you take the Bible at face value, then this verse is instructive: “. . . Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever . . .” (Gen. 3:22).  This means that Adam and Eve could have still lived forever even after the Fall if they had access to the Tree of Life.  So, does that not seem to imply that their deaths were the result of not having access to the Tree of Life?  I believe so.  Therefore, there is no reason to believe that Adam and Eve were recreated physically such that they began dying.  Eternal life was conditional upon taking of the Tree of Life, much like our eternal life is conditional upon partaking of Christ, spiritually.

BCOE: Day 5 of Creation - Marine Life and Birds

And God said, “The waters shall swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas! And, let birds come to multiply on the earth.” 23Then there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.  –Genesis 1:20-23
I have my own personal interpretation of this passage that may not fit with traditional old-earth views, but I have some reasons for why I believe what I do.

First, it is clear that the bird formation comes after the marine life formation.  Three times the birds are mentioned after the filling of the seas with creatures.  This is a clear indication of the order in which this happened.

Next, there is no phrase that says, “It came to be so.”  This indicates, to me, that the formation of the birds was not complete, or was perhaps hardly begun, during Day 5.

Also, I note that the focus for the marine life is that the waters “swarm with swarms of living creatures.”  The birds are not said to fill the skies, but the marine life is said to “swarm” and to “fill the waters in the seas.”  Therefore, as a result, I suspect that this is not talking about the fish and other sea animals first coming to exist, but a time when they flourished in the oceans and modern marine life was formed (v. 21).  It’s also a time when birds soon after came to multiply on the earth.

So, does the fossil record have such a time when marine life exploded with modern kinds of animals and birds shortly started being formed and multiplying?  Yes, indeed.  Around 251 Ma, there was a massive extinction event that killed off about 95-97% of all marine species.  Few of the modern types of marine animals were survivors of this extinction event.  In other words, almost all modern kinds of marine life exploded in the oceans after 251 Ma.  It is from this point that about 96-97% of all the marine life came into being.

Also, as the marine animals were filling the oceans, birds started being formed around 160 Ma.  Most of the basic bird kinds had been formed by c. 70 Ma, according to the fossil record.  Modern mammals, however, were almost nonexistent at 70 Ma.

So, once again, established science seems to fit with Genesis 1.  The marine life exploded and the waters did indeed “swarm with swarms of living creatures” and birds did come to “fly above the earth” during 251-80 Ma, and this was clearly after plants had multiplied on the earth and many kinds of plants and trees had formed, just as Genesis 1 says happened on Day 3.

I want you to notice that I am making full use of all the words in Genesis 1.  The young-earth view doesn’t truly make use of all the words and the order of events.

June 23, 2011

BCOE: Day 4 of Creation - Sun, Moon, and Stars

Please read the following Bible passages:
1) 14And God said, “Let there come to be [“hayah,” היה] lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them come to be [“hayah,” היה] for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15and let them come to be [“hayah,” היה] lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it came to be [“hayah,” היה] so.  16And God made [or ‘did’] the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars.  17And God set [or ‘gave’ or ‘ordained’] them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.  19And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.  –Genesis 1:14-19

2) . . . the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever . . . –Psalm 136:9

3) Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night . . . –Jer. 31:35

Genesis 1:14-19: The Sun, Moon and Stars

Now, here is probably the very best argument that the young-earth crowd makes: The sun was clearly created on Creation Day 4, and therefore the plants of Day 3 could not have been growing more than a day or two without it.  I will attempt to answer this reasonably and fairly.

Notice the phrase, “in the expanse [sky] of the heavens,” which occurs three times.  Almost anyone knows that the sun, moon, and stars are not literally in the sky or atmosphere.  It is only true from the perspective of the surface of the earth.  We are brought to realize that this passage is clearly speaking, again, from a particular point of reference—the same one as earlier in Genesis: the surface of the ground.  To make sense of this passage we need to think in terms of a human perspective from earth.

The meaning seems to be that God made these lights visible in the sky.  Technically, there would be no need to use the ground as a point of reference if God made the sun, moon, and stars instantaneously out of nothing on this day of creation.  It could have just said, “Let there come to be lights to separate the day from the night,” etc.  The “in the expanse of the heavens” is somewhat pointless if these celestial bodies were literally being created.  However, on the other hand, it would be perfectly reasonable for this passage to be saying that the sun, moon, and stars were just now becoming seen in the sky—that is, that the sun and moon and stars were being put in the sky, not technically, but from a certain relative perspective.  If the “in the sky” part is not literal and technical, it becomes perfectly reasonable to view the “set” and “made” to be also not literal and technical creation; so, all phrases should be interpreted equally as from the vantage point of the ground and not in absolute terms.

So, the passage can reasonably be interpreted to mean that the sun, moon, and stars were just now becoming truly seen from the ground.  They were now being put “in the sky.”  We have already noted that the atmosphere was thick and dark originally, and that it began to become clearer, such that there was a clear night-and-day cycle.  However, from this part of Genesis 1, I believe we see that the sun, moon, and stars were obscured for a long period of time, until this point when the atmosphere cleared further allowing them to become visible and therefore useful for signs and seasons.

Can we justify this?  What about it saying that the sun was “made,” and what about the phrase, “He made the stars also”?  The KJV has in Gen. 1:16, “And 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.”  However, the words “he made” are not anywhere to be found in the original Hebrew.  It literally says, “And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night—the stars also.”  Comparing scripture with scripture, we see in Psalm 136:9 that the moon and stars were both to rule over the night.  So, I believe it is reasonable to interpret Gen. 1:16 as saying that the lesser light (moon) was to rule over the night, along with the stars.

Also, the word in Hebrew for “made” (‘asah,’ עשׂה) in v.16 is the most basic of words that may mean nothing more than “to do.”  It can mean a wide range of things, like to “fashion,” “furnish,” “prepare,” or “provide.”  The meaning is likely that God was furnishing the lights in the sky by clearing the atmosphere and so making them visible.  From the relative perspective from the surface, these “lights” were truly being made.  Before this point, there were no lights called the sun, moon, and stars; after this, there were perpetually lights in the sky called the sun, moon and stars.  God had, in relative terms and from the perspective of earth, made these lights in the sky.

The other word used is “set” in v.17: “And God set them in the expanse . . .”  Again, this is clearly a relative statement since they were not literally set in the atmosphere.  The word “set” (‘nathan’, נתן) is also broad in meaning, and means basically “to give,” and can be translated as to “appoint,” “ordain,” “place,” or “put.”  The meaning I get is basically that God appointed the celestial bodies in the sky to be for lights and signs and to rule over the night and over the day.

The sun appears to have become visible first and then the moon and stars.  This is consistent with the order in which things would have become visible as the clouds were diminished.  The sun, which is the brightest, would certainly become visible first, then the moon as the second brightest, and then eventually the dim stars.  Even the order used in this passage is fully significant, I believe.

The Purpose of the Sun, Moon, and Stars

Finally, it is notable that the sun, moon, and stars are here described as being for signs and seasons, for lights, for dividing the darkness and the light, and for ruling over the day and over the night.  We see from vv. 4-5, that there already was light that was dividing the darkness and the light and creating Night and Day on Day 1.  So, we may appropriately assume that on Day 4, this separation between light and darkness was intensified further.  This is in line with our interpretation that the atmosphere cleared further and allowed the sun, moon, and stars to become visible.

These lights in the sky were expressly put there for the purpose of being for signs and seasons.  Before the lights were visible, they would not be able to be used for signs and seasons.  It therefore makes sense that these lights were now being made useful for signs and seasons.  Once they became clearly visible they were useful for such purposes.

I believe that Day 4 is specifying that the heavenly lights were now becoming visible in the sky and thus useful for signs and seasons, and more useful for separating the darkness and the light and ruling over the day and night.

Science and the Sun, Moon, and Stars

Obviously, if this is a good interpretation, then you would also expect that science would also fit with this idea.  There is little information that can be obtained about cloud cover in ancient history.  All the information would seem to be indirect.

It is widely believed in the scientific community that CO—a so-called greenhouse gas—was much more abundant in the atmosphere in the past.  It was about 15 times more abundant some 450 Ma.  CO is supposed to create a greenhouse effect that would cause global warming, and yet around 500-400 Ma the earth is believed to have been roughly the same temperature as today.  How does one account for this?  There is one easy explanation: the strong greenhouse effect caused massive cloud-cover that shielded the earth from direct sunlight and reflected a good portion of the sun’s energy back into space.  So, the greenhouse effect would trap large amounts of energy but also cause increased cloud cover that reduced the amount of energy becoming trapped in the atmosphere.  This would seem to be the best explanation.  Somewhere around 450 Ma and before, the skies were highly cloudy.

(It is interesting to note that there are scientists that would argue that an increase of manmade CO2 today might result in increases in cloud cover.  So, this is not an unlikely or bizarre scenario that I have presented.)

Now, it is well established that CO2 decreased drastically from c. 450 Ma to about 300 Ma as the plant life and plate tectonics removed much of the CO2.  Therefore, according to this theory above, the cloud cover would have drastically been reduced also during this time period.

But, how could plants live with 50% sunlight for so long?  We have said that algae and fungi and early plant life came into existence on land about 1200-900 Ma.  So, how did these plants live with so little sunlight.

The answer is interesting and insightful (as shown elsewhere on this blog). The earliest plants in the fossil record appear to be all shade-loving or shade-tolerating plants:
  • Algae, c. 1200-900 Ma, love shade and cannot live in direct sunlight
  • Fungi, c. 1000-900 Ma, prefer shade
  • Liverworts, c. 500 Ma, prefer shade
  • Ferns, c. 390 Ma, thrive in shady environments
  • Mosses, c. 350 Ma, prefer shade
  • Conifer Trees, c. 330 Ma, are well-suited to thrive in shady environments
  • Cycads (seeding plants), c. 315 Ma, can thrive in semi-shade
So, although Darwinists would shun the idea and will not admit it, the fossil record shows that all of the early plant life was well-designed to survive in the shade.  It seems likely that these plants did indeed live in a shadier world than today.

BCOE: Day 3 of Creation - Land and Vegetation

Please read the following Bible passages:


1)  And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together [or collected, ולמקוה] into one place, and let the dry land be seen.” And it came to be [‘hayah,’ היה] so.  God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.  And God said, “Let the earth be sprouting vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it came to be [‘hayah,’ היה] so.  The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.  Then there was evening and there was morning, the third day.  –Genesis 1:9-13

2) He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved.  You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains.  At your rebuke they fled; at the sound of your thunder they took to flight.  The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that you appointed for them.  You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth.  –Psalm 104:5-9

3)  Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it [the sea] and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?  –Job 38:10-11

Genesis 1:9-10: Creation of the Land

We see from parallel passages like Psalm 104:5-9, that a process of formation was used to create the land.  It should be clear that Psalm 104 is talking about the formation of the earth, since it starts by talking about the laying down of the earth’s foundation, which clearly is a reference to forming the earth.  The “gathering together” of the waters (Gen. 1:9), then, was accomplished through mountains rising and valleys sinking down, etc.

Again, we cannot overemphasize that this description of land formation is consistent with established science.  In fact, one of my talks with a coworker was quite interesting in that when I presented the Bible passages put together as a whole, he claimed I was rewriting the Bible so that it fit with science!  He was accusing me of forcing the Bible to fit with science, just because I had pieced these parallel passages together in the most logical way.  The Bible simply does fit with science; there is no need to “force” it to fit.

Here is a parallel with science:

The [earth’s] initial land masses were hundreds of micro continents and island arcs. The first continental grouping is thought to have appeared about 3 billion years ago. Called Ur, it consisted of relatively small pieces of present day Africa, India, Australia and Antarctica. . . . These lands moved continuously as ocean beds formed and spread. When larger bodies of land impacted with smaller bits, they were added to their margins. Collisions with larger land masses raised mountains and unleashed flows of magma which welded the colliding pieces together.

Sometime between 1.2 and 1 billion years ago, the [arguably first] supercontinent Rodinia formed. It was surrounded by an ocean called Mirovia. Three or four existing continents collided in a large mountain-building episode [sound familiar?] . . . When two continents collide, neither will sink (as they are both low-density continental crust, like corks bobbing in the ocean). Instead, they thrust over one another near the surface and fold at depth . . . to form fold-and-thrust mountains. . . . The rocks formed in this process became the suture zone that joined the continents into one.

Continental plates . . . have periodically collided and assembled in geologic periods of orogenesis (mountain building) to form supercontinents.

A convergent (colliding) plate boundary occurs when two plates collide. If the convergent boundary involves two continental plates, the crust is compressed into high mountain ranges [sound familiar?] such as the Himalayas. If an oceanic plate and a continental plate collide, the oceanic crust (because it is more dense) is subducted under the continental crust [sound familiar?]. . . .

So, the Bible highly simplifies this process, but the general idea is the same: bits of land formed and grew, these micro-continents were gathered together forming bigger land masses, until a supercontinent formed and a single ocean formed.  During this whole process, as the Bible says, the mountains rose up and valleys sank down, and God established boundaries for the seas.  I would argue that the phrase, “Let the waters . . . be gathered together,” speaks of the process whereby the land was gathered together and the waters were also simultaneously gathered together.  The mountains rising and valleys sinking down (Psalm 104) is a valid description of what happens during plate tectonics and the formation of continents.

As we can see in the Appendix A, this order of events is consistent with established science.  The earth’s foundations were laid down, seas were made, the atmosphere was cleared, the water cycle was established, the land was formed, and then the land was gathered together to make the first supercontinent.  Coincidence?  Not likely.  When you see that the whole order of these events in Genesis 1 (combined with other passages) fits with established science, it because quite unbelievable to say that it is all coincidence.  It would take more faith to believe it is not describing the same things that scientists describe than to believe that the Bible is summarizing in simple language the same exact things. 

Genesis 1:11-13: Creation of the Vegetation

Note that the “earth” would cause vegetation to spout up. Normally this would take days and months and even years to complete.  The “fruitful” trees would take several years to start producing flowers and fruit.  The natural understanding here would be that this was a rather lengthy period of time.  However, the young-earth view requires that this process be highly accelerated.  The growth process would need to be accelerated.  Not only the growth would need acceleration, but physics would need to be suspended also; otherwise, the plants wouldn’t be getting enough sunlight and energy to grow so rapidly.  Basically, this growth would need to be entirely supernatural.  I don’t have a problem with supernatural growth, but why wouldn’t God have just miraculously created the plants out of nothing?  Why did He have the earth sprout this vegetation?  There is no indication that the plant growth was accelerated, other than the, “There was evening and there was morning, the third day,” sentence.  To me, the natural meaning is that the ground caused vegetation to sprout just like normal, but the “day” was a longer period of time.

Hebrew does not have past, present, and future verb tenses in the same way as does English.  The phrase, “The earth brought forth . . .” could better be translated as, “The earth was bringing forth . . .” I believe.  Hebrew does have a perfect and imperfect tense, which indicates if an action was completed or was ongoing.  The Hebrew here could indicate that the earth was continually producing vegetation, since the word “bringing forth” is in the imperfect tense, and may easily indicate that the process of producing vegetation was incomplete at the end of this day.

The reason I mention that is because we find out from the fossil record that simple vegetation did indeed come into existence first before any other form of life. According to the fossil record, there was algae and fungi that first started growing on land somewhere around 1200 to 900 million years ago.  Next, simple plant life started growing around 600 Ma, and later familiar forms of plants like liverworts around 500 Ma.  However, fruit bearing trees (also known as angiosperms) didn’t start growing until maybe 250-150 Ma, with familiar fruit trees not existing until about 100-50 Ma.  So, the point here is that the fossil record does show vegetation was the first form of modern life, but it shows that there was a very long process before all kinds of plants came into existence.  Yet, as I have just mentioned, the Genesis passage does allow for the creation of vegetation to be incomplete by the end of creation Day 3.

From what I can tell, Genesis 1:11-13 is specifying three basic forms of vegetation that came into existence: (1) simple, seedless vegetation; (2) plants with seeds (or spores); and (3) fruitful, flowering trees.  If one looks at the fossil record, this order fits well.  Simple vegetation like algae was first on the land.  The simple vegetation came around 1000 Ma, the seeding plants came roughly 550 Ma, and the flowering plants came roughly 200 Ma.  The order fits with the fossil record and established science.  (In line with this, insects useful for pollination are found at c. 200 Ma in the fossil record.)

June 18, 2011

BCOE: Day 2 of Creation - Making the Firmament (Atmosphere)

Please read these Bible passages before we get into Genesis 1:6-8:
1)   And God said, “Let there come to be [‘hayah,’ היה] an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it come to [‘hayah,’ היה] separate the waters from the waters.”  And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above in the expanse. And it came to be [‘hayah,’ היה] so.  And God called the expanse Heaven. Then there was evening and there was morning, the second day. –Genesis 1:6-8

2)   . . . I was there, when He drew a circle on the face of the deep, when He established the clouds above, when He strengthened the eye of the deep . . . –Prov. 8:27-28

3)   Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?  . . . Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band . . . –Job 38:4a, 8-9

4)   Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! –Psalm 148:4

Genesis 1:6-8: Piecing It Together

According to Prov. 8:27-28, right after God “drew a circle on the face of the deep,” which we have shown correlates with the making of light for earth, God “established the clouds above . . . [and] strengthened the eye of the deep.”  What does that mean?  The young-earth view has no good explanation.  Job 38 talks about how the seas were formed by it bursting out and forming dark clouds over the earth.  With all of these pieces of the puzzle, Prov. 8:27-28 seems to be talking about forming the seas at around the same time that the “clouds above” were “established”.

The picture that is presented by these passages is that water burst out of the earth and formed a thick, watery and cloudy atmosphere and darkness.  Then, God made light shine through this atmosphere by causing some of the water vapor in the atmosphere to condense and form the “deep” or Ocean.  Following that, according to Genesis 1:6-8, God separated the sea waters from waters above/up in the sky.  We could take these waters above in the sky two different ways: (1) there was some kind of water canopy high above the atmosphere, or (2) clouds and the water cycle were established.  The former answer has nothing to do with Prov. 8:27-28 and the “clouds above” being established.  The later answer fits perfectly with Prov. 8:27-28.  Here is the consistent message that is presented by the passages:

  • Job 38:8-9: Water from within the earth bursts out and forms a watery and cloudy atmosphere that is dark.
  • Genesis 1:2-8: The light comes to penetrate the dark atmosphere and strike the surface of the waters. The water vapor, pervasive within the atmosphere, is collected together to form clouds, as more of it condensed down to deepen the seas, and the water cycle gets established.  So, the atmosphere gets changed to its modern form.
  • Prov. 8:27-28: The dark atmosphere shrinks and clears enough for light to penetrate the atmosphere and to light the surface.  Standard clouds get formed within the sky. The seas become deepened (or “strengthened”).

These passages cannot be harmonized with the young-earth view, but end up being references to separate things.  However, this view presented above is perfectly reasonable scientifically.  The most recent model of the early earth suggests that the seas were indeed formed by degassing and water bubbling up and forming a steamy atmosphere that eventually condensed down to form the seas.  After that, the water cycle got formed.  Science appears to be consistent with this order listed in the Bible.

Now, I’ve included Psalm 148:4 above in the passages list because it seems to be good biblical evidence that Genesis 1:6-8 is talking about the clouds when it talks about the “waters” above the firmament or expanse.  Psalm 148:4, which was written after Noah’s Flood, talks about waters being above the heavens.  This is a close parallel with Genesis 1.  However, the young-earth view says that this water above the expanse was a unique water canopy that does not exist any longer.  Psalm 148:4 must be calling the clouds “water” above the heavens; so also, Genesis 1 is likely referring to clouds as the “water” that is above the heavens or expanse.  (The “expanse” was actually called “heaven” in Genesis 1:8.)  As we have seen, this is also consistent with Proverbs 8:28.  Scripture again interprets itself.

Formation of the Oceans
So, there is a history here, the earth beginning with only oceans, . . .

. . . [Geologist Linda Elkins-Tanton of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge] conducted a chemical and physical analysis of Earth's library of meteorites—a useful analogue for the building blocks of our planet. She then plugged the data into a computer simulation of early Earth-like planets. Her models show that a large percentage of the water in the molten rock would quickly form a steam atmosphere [sound familiar?] before cooling and condensing into an ocean. The process would take tens of millions of years, meaning that oceans were sloshing around on Earth by as early as 4.4 billion years ago. Even the scant amount of water in the mantle, which is much drier than the sand in the Sahara, should produce oceans hundreds of meters deep, Elkins-Tanton reports . . .
Formation of the Atmosphere

As Earth began to take solid form, it had no free oxygen in its atmosphere. It was so hot that the water droplets in its atmosphere could not settle to form surface water or ice. Its atmosphere was also so poisonous [and dense] that nothing would have been able to survive.

Earth's atmosphere was formed mostly from the outgassing of such volatile compounds as water vapor, carbon monoxide, methane, ammonia, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrochloric acid and sulfur produced by the constant volcanic eruptions that besieged the Earth. It had no free oxygen.

About 4.1 billion years ago, the Earth's surface -- or crust -- began to cool and stabilize, creating the solid surface with its rocky terrain. Clouds formed [and thus the water cycle] as the Earth began to cool, producing enormous volumes of rain water that formed the oceans [or single ocean].