Probing Genesis for scientific truth
Andrew Parker is a respected evolutionary biologist, a professor at the Natural History Museum in London and a honorary fellow at Oxford University. In his previous book, "In the Blink of an Eye: How Vision Sparked the Big Bang of Evolution," he argued that the development of sight was pivotal in creating the earth's variety of species. In his latest book, "The Genesis Enigma: Why the Bible Is Scientifically Accurate," published in October by Dutton, Parker wades into controversial waters. He examines the first book of Genesis for signs of scientific truth. His conclusion offers a new way of viewing the dilemma of science vs. religion.
GUEST BLOGGER: Andrew Parker
In a fully-fledged age of science, religion may seem just a matter of ceremony. But there is something sort of rational to it. Something suited to rigorous, careful, responsible consideration.
I recently volunteered to place the creation account of Genesis 1 side-by-side with our new scientific understanding of the history of life and the universe. Excepting the absurd fiction that the world was created in seven days, I found an eerily-close match. Amazingly, the precise wording of the Bible's first page, and the events inferred and the sequence with which they are placed, tells the story of life's history according to our current best scientific understanding. That a man without scientific knowledge , should write such a thing in 700 BCE is almost scary. And then another man of similar stock placed it on the first page of his people's most important book. This is what I call a genesis enigma.
On the Bible's first page 'Let there be light' is mentioned twice, why? Recently science has provided answers in both physics and biology -- the formation of the sun followed by the introduction of vision -- and I played some scientific role in the second.
In Genesis 1, emphasis is placed on sea creatures, despite this biblical author being landlocked with little or no knowledge of marine life. Who in their right mind would have placed these center stage? The more I looked, the more the Genesis creation story seemed unlikely to be the result of a lucky guess. That got me thinking a few winters ago.
Are those words really sacred, in some way? As a scientist not in the habit of contemplating the divine, I was later surprised to discover within religion some good old rationality.
My senses are limited and do not discern the entire world around me, and indeed my brain distorts the information I do receive. Under these circumstances, I accept the possibility of a God in a form that I could never perceive or comprehend. Here, God is something like the 'mind' once suggested by C. S. Lewis, rather than the old man with a beard that an atheist might pillory.
Although science is sound, does it have its limits beyond which we enter a realm that does not conform to mathematical formulae? Science cannot tell us whether something inexplicable -- God -- exists or not. Atheists' claims cannot be substantiated -- indeed, they are unscientific because atheism becomes as much a faith (in no God) as religion is itself. It carries a bias, and science does not. Actually, science and religion can co-exist peacefully. Einstein thought so.
If we stick to science and avoid concocting theories of creationism, God may be revealed without self-deception...and in a form so much more powerful and guiding. So it has been for me.
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