2019-05-19: The story of the creation is a fairy tale

The story of the creation in the bible states that the entire universe was created in 6 days. The events as reported in the first chapter of Genesis are as follows:

Day 1: God created light and separated day from night

And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.

Genesis 1:3 – 5, Revised Standard Version (RSV)

Day 2: God created Heaven

And God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven.

Genesis 1:6 – 8

Day 3: God created the Earth, the seas, and plants

And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together in one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was 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 put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed,each according to its kind, upon the earth.”

Genesis 1:8 – 12

Day 4: God created the sun, the moon, and the stars

And God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens, to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and for years, and let them be lights in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also.

Genesis 1:14 – 18, RSV

Day 5: God created sea creatures and birds

And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens.” So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the water swarms, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind.

Genesis 1:20 – 22

Day 6: God created land animals and human beings

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth, according to their kinds.” … Then 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 air, and over the cattle, and overa all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

Genesis 1:24, 1:26

There is nothing of any significance about this story that is actually true. The story is part of the larger narrative of the old testament books, which include a religious chronology that traces the lineage of Jewish kings all the way back to Adam. According to that timeline the creation took place about 4,117 BCE. (Note: This date is dependent of key assumptions about which there is little agreement. I’ll write another blog entry about it.) But the latest evidence we have says that the universe is at least 13.7 billion years old.

Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is almost as old as the universe– about 13.5 billion years. Our solar system, our star, the sun, and our planet are all about 4.5 billion years old. And life on this planet has existed for at least 3.5 billion years. The story of the creation isn’t just wrong about the timeline– it is stupendously wrong.

As the story itself says the creation of the entire world took a total of six days; but the scientific data say that it took very nearly the full 13.7 billion years for the universe to reach a state in which the earth was inhabited by human beings.

The story says that birds were created before land animals. That is also wrong, as the fossil record shows that birds only appeared about 150 million years after the first four legged animals (tetrapods) crawled out of the Devonian swamps onto dry land. And there are footprints of arthropods about the size of modern crayfish that walked on land at about 530 million years ago– roughly 390 million years before the time of the first birds.

The story is even wrong about what was created. According to the story God fashioned the earth and the heavens from the preexisting material of the chaos. God did not create that material– it existed before he began the act of creation. So who or what created it? Was there perhaps another god who created the material of the chaos? Or did that material just always exist? The bible doesn’t tell us.

There is nothing about the creation story that is actually true. It’s a story that has an appeal as far as storytelling goes, but it has no value at all to the advancement of knowledge.

Copyright (c) 2019 David S. Moore