Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Genesis (aka The First Book Of Moses) holds the dubious distinction of being the most doubted book in the Bible.

They tell us that the first chapter contradicts the second, however all that proves is, consistent with the rest of the Bible, it's not strictly chronological. (this was more common before word-processors)

They tell us that Cain (Adam's son)'s marriage contradicts the assertion that everyone is descended from Adam and Eve, despite how God made Eve from Adam's rib less than two chapters earlier.

They tell us that science has proved evolution, although scientists cannot even prove how the weather will behave tonight.

I have no problem with the creation story, partly because when I first read the big bang theory, afterwards I found I was still waiting for the promised cause.

Let me be very clear about this – the big bang theory contains no explanation of how even one atom of the universe was made.

Even as a kid, I could see that the theory was avoiding the question, rather than answering it.

I remember when I was first told a very simplified version of how Charles Darwin came up with his theory of evolution, too. I had the end of the story sussed well before we got there. The different shell designs proved that each breed of tortoise had been created recently, because, y'know, in millions of years they would have all found each other and interbred.

Boy was I wrong. It turned out the theory stated the exact opposite. In much the same way as new episodes of Doctor Who don't tend to hold together for me, neither did that one.

But you know what? I was a well-behaved kid at school, so I believed what I was told. Because they told me to always do what my teachers said, so I did. For years.

A while back (as in about six years ago) I went to a church talk by a creationist. Here I found myself at the other end of the spectrum. He had a big acetate drawing of a man and a huge Bible with a caption that said something like "The absolute basis of everything we believe." The argument "because the Bible says it" seemed very similar to the argument "because the scientists say it."

Somewhere along the line I realised two things:

1. Broadly speaking, both Christians and scientists have agendas regarding what they hope is true.

2. Nearly everything that I expect to happen today will transpire differently to my calculations. How much more so what happened millennia ago.

Note: I use the word "millennia" in point two, because I think both points apply to both science and Christianity.

However Christianity has an edge over science – it can be checked.

The scientist cannot nip back in time and check whether his rocks actually do take millions of years to form, or thousands, or hundreds, or even less. Science requires another scientist, long deceased, to have also made notes at the earlier time.

You can see where I'm going with this – Christianity has those notes. Somewhere along the line Moses (we think) wrote Genesis.

That still leaves the question of where the author got their information from though.

I was taught at (a Christian) school that the first chapters of Genesis were allegorical, and plagiarised from other religions. I've never heard that theory anywhere else to this day, but I have consequently found it very hard to look at my teacher's words objectively.

If Moses was real, and he actually was the author of Genesis, and his words haven't been changed that much down the years (which they sure don't seem to have been – there are no nice guys in the Bible, and even Jesus is painted as having a temper) then where did Moses get his information from?

He may have pieced it together from written records. (the earliest reference to the existence of writing is in chapter 40, when Pharaoh gives Joseph his signet ring) He may have been recounting spoken history. He may have just made it up.

He may have been told it by the bright light / cloud being that was claiming to be God, who we're told he spoke to regularly. In fact, according to later on in the same document, (now separated into another book) he was.

And God spoke all these words:

For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.

- Exodus 20:1, 11a (NIV)

If that last suggestion is where he got it all from (and it seems reasonable that he would have asked God those questions at some point, and unlikely that he would then have commited to paper a different version) can we trust what this being who claimed to be God told him?

If only we could go back and check. But then I think that's why we call Christianity a "faith."

It's the same reason why I call the scientific version of history a "faith" as well.


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