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Creation's Parables - Genesis 1
Genesis 1 with Interpretations from Nature
By Jo Helen Cox
Creation's Parables is a paraphrased account that leaves perfectionism out of the Biblical story, simply because the Bible never stipulates God created everything perfect or anything perfect. Instead, nature acts as interpreter to relate the events of biblical creation: the story of nature told by nature. Below is a text analysis of Genesis 1 with notes where the text details match or do not match the evidence expressed by standard science. Surprisingly, all of the details match the evidence.
Perfectionistic assumptions overshadow the creation story. Most details people envision are not biblical. The writer never uses words that convey an idealistic world of immortality. Everything God made was good not perfect.
This story was written in a circular poetic form and must be handled as it was told.
Passages quoted are from the New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by Permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Introduction to the ONE
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
The poet starts with a creed of faith, of worship. One line conveys the entire poem’s content. One line tells it all.
In early human knowledge, heaven and earth (up and down, spiritual and physical) were the basic elements of everything. Today, we lump these into the singular concept of “universe.” Creation is one, as its Creator is one.
Day 1 Opens the Universe to be Filled by Day 4
2 Now the earth was formless and empty, …
The poet began at a point before what he knew existed. Whatever his vision, his words describe our understanding of the initial singularity. It was dimensionless, thus formless. There was no type of matter, thus empty.
… darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering (wind from God, God fluttered) over the waters.
The writer may have envisioned the “primal ocean” common in the creation stories of the region. However, God’s inspiration lets the words express the Big Bang.
The initial expansion (big wind, the force that moved outward, movement toward God) was so hot that no particles existed, thus the universe was dark.
Plasma was the initial form of matter, all that was. It acts like a fluid, thus water.
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
With expansion, the plasma cooled enough to form photons. The entire universe glowed uniformly. The first light was universal.
4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.
As particles and atoms formed, they absorbed the photons (neutral hydrogen) and the universe became dark again. More expansion and cooling let gravity clump atoms together. Mass collapsed enough to start fusion, first star. The second light separated from darkness. Biblically and scientifically, there were two first lights.
5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.”
This verse hints at the poetic structure of Genesis One. Instead of going straight to day 2, the poet opens the universe in day 1 then fills it in day 4, which contains the same words. Similarly, the content of day 2 pairs with day 5, and day 3 with day 6. The main details within these pairings complete poetic circles.
And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
The Hebrew word “day” is not exclusively 24-hours. Its length is defined by the context. Proverbs 25:13 is often translated “harvest time,” but literally it is “day of harvest,” an unspecified number of days. Or as in, Isaiah 4:2 a future era of undetermined length, not just one day. With this definition of “day,” the words interpreted as “evening” and “morning” are simply the “end” of one day and the “beginning” of the next, no matter how long that “day” lasted.
Day 2 Opens the Universe to be Filled by Day 5
6 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
This passage may again show the writer’s view of the “primal ocean.” However, the wording is so strange that interpreting and translation are difficult. Nature helps.
Scientifically, there was a time of water separation. Astrogeology starts with the primal Earth before atmosphere and oceans. Asteroids, from above the vault, provided Earth with enough water-ice to cover the surface. It evaporated on impact and formed an atmosphere, which separated Earth from space. The gasses condensed cooling the planet surface allowing the oceans to form under the vault.
Day 3 Opens the Universe to be Filled by Day 6
9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.
No matter what the poet’s concept, inspiration lets this passage match science perfectly.
Geologically, dry land actually grew out of ocean. Plate tectonics recycled the surface. It combined oceanic plates with water and gas to form new kinds of stone. These stones, continents, were lighter than oceanic bedrock, so in a collision, they always rode above. Additionally, erosion allowed sedimentary stones to form (often underwater). More plate collisions and more new stones formed above the water.
11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.
Grains and fruit trees were some of the first domesticated plants. They were very important for the survival of communities larger than a couple families. Not listing other kinds of plants did not negate their existence. The poet simply praised God for supplying these.
Paleontologists have found that plants were the first multicellular life form to colonize dry land. Once established, evolution (see day 5) diversified their “kinds,” and they filled the earth quickly, long before any critter ventured onto land. Long after that happened, grains and fruit trees developed. Our species grew up with these as the dominate plants on Earth.
Day 4 Fills Universe of Day 1
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.
Poetic structure places day 4 with day 1, the sun and moon define light and dark. This removes the problem of days existing before hours could be counted. It lets the universe evolve naturally. It lets plants grow in sunlight.
Cosmologically, stars should be created first, not be an afterthought. However, this passage relates astral objects to human use. A poetic viewpoint rationalizes the “out of order” aspect. We use the sun and moon to navigate in our world every day. Understanding stars instituted the first long term “science” project, astronomy, a much deeper mystery.
Day 5 Fills Sky and Water of Day 2
20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
Poetic structure places day 5 with day 2, where the poet opened two extreme environments, sky and ocean. He filled them with “extreme” animals. But instead of filling the sky first, he filled the ocean first. This matches the evidence of paleontology and the theory of evolution.
Genesis One does not reject evolution. All the life forms mentioned are generalized, even “human kind.” Not one passage stipulates a species or even a Genus. All are large generalized groupings: Families, Orders, and Kingdoms. (Genesis 2 is the same, except for two trees and two humans.)
Generalization is unique among ancient creation stories. The nonspecific word “kind” encapsulates evolutionary lineage with no time or species left out. Each grouping includes all life that existed at the time of writing and all that came before, no matter what they looked like.
“Kind” means “lineage,” and lineage changes kind. We trace each lineage through many shapes, which branch to produce cousin forms. All link back to a first creature. First life came from the minerals (“dust” in Genesis 2) abundant on Earth and throughout the universe. That lineage of mineral takes us back to the beginning of everything.
Our God wants us to know. Creation is one, as its Creator is one.
Day 6 Fills Prepared Dry Land of Day 3
24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
Poetic structure places day 6 with day 3.
Paleontologists have found that after plants filled dry land, aquatic gastropods and arthropods ventured out to eat them. As evolutionary adaptation let them not need to return to the water, new “kinds” multiplied and filled the land. Amphibians then pursued the snails and bugs. They too, evolved to not need to return to the water. Their “kinds” multiplied and filled the land. Geologically speaking this happened in a very short amount of time.
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
The word “us,” from verse 26, references the only other character mentioned so far in the poem, the universe. God’s tool to make humans was evolution; we are made from the exact stuff that makes up everything.
The word “mankind” is not just Homo sapiens. It includes our lineage of not-quite-humans, not-at-all-human, and not-even-mammal. It reaches back to mineral, to the stars that gave us carbon atoms, and includes the initial singularity that produced everything. Creation is one, as its Creator is one.
“Image of God” does not mean God looks human. Our lineage did not receive such an honored distinction from other animals until something made us distinct from other animals. Genesis 2 starts our distinction; receiving the Breath of God (plants and animals are alive but did not get this blessing). Genesis 3:22 continues the change. Eating the fruit removed innocence and gave humanity knowledge like God and angels. Choosing goodness over evil reflects the image of God. Knowledge is not sinful if it acts like God. Time was necessary to learn this lesson. We are still learning.
Paleontology and genetics show human lineage changed quicker than the apes, our nearest relatives. Something happened, and kept happening, in our lineage. No one knows what that might have been, but it happened about the time our lineage started making tools, sewing, and forming rituals. Just about the time the garden story describes.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Well, we surely obeyed this command.
However, for most of our existence we have simply moved nature over or subjugated it into extinction. To “rule” effectively we must understand nature. God made everything “good.” That means pathogens and tsunamis are good for something. We must appreciate that something. No other force or deity produced these things (or anything), and none of them should be counted as “natural evils.” They do not have a choice but to do God’s will. Only our choices include evil.
29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
This passage feels not quite scientific. However, people will eat about anything, even if it kills them. As in day 3, the list of plants contains a human perspective. We are quite fond of grains and fruits. Every culture has collected, cultivated, and domesticated multiple forms. It is a hereditary obsession. Plus, animals eat more types of plants than humans. So the passage actually is scientifically correct.
These verses do not insist humans were exclusively vegetarian or that there were no carnivorous life forms. It simply says God created plants for animals and humans to eat.
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
Even humans are considered good by God. He has given us time to tame our animal instincts, learn good from evil, and accumulate knowledge that makes the poem miraculous.
Day 7 Conclusion, and Time to Contemplate God
1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. 2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
The poet concludes in rest. He says God ceased creating. That does not mean natural processes stopped. Just like the continuation of Earth orbiting the sun, life continues, as always, to evolve. The results God wanted had begun to unfold, so He waited. God waited for things to change into what He wanted. He always interacted gently with creation to further its development. God concentrated one species out of many. He grew one people out of nations. God developed knowledge out of ignorance.
This “holy day” is not Sabbath, which was instituted at Mount Sinai. The Poet invites the reader to contemplate the loving details of God’s creation in relation to covenant with our Creator. God expects us to take time to understand. He makes this a sacred endeavor.
The Second Genesis
4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
This long version of the first line of Genesis One express the same sentiment. We begin in worship of the only One with enough power to create everything.
5 Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, 6 but streams (mist) came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground.
This passage does not support teachings that dictate no rain until the Great Flood. It relays something much more insightful. Long before Aristotle, a Hebrew poet encapsulated the creation using the concept causality.
Before there was man, there was a time before plants.
Before there were plants, there was a time before rain.
Before there was rain, there was a time of mist.
The poet’s order is correct per standard science.
 Geology is the study of rocks and minerals, mostly those of Earth. Astrogeology combines astronomy and geology to study how planets and other astral bodies formed into the configuration they possess today. Studying other planets help us understand our own.
 Paleontology is the study of fossils and trace fossils (like leaf imprints).
 Cosmology is a branch of astronomy that studies the structure and evolution of the universe.