I promised yesterday that I would write a blog post about the 2010 Christian movie, The Genesis Code, specifically the scene in which it claims that the sequence of creation in Genesis 1 matches what scientific consensus says about the order in which things appeared in the universe and on earth. You can watch snippets from that scene here.
I've long been interested in this question, ever since I read biblical scholar Joel Rosenberg's statement in the HarperCollins Study Bible
that "Remarkably, [Genesis 1's] order of life-forms resembles that of
our modern theory of evolution: vegetation, swarming creatures, fish,
birds, animals (mammals), and human beings." Granted, as I talked about yesterday, The Genesis Code
does not appear to agree with the existence of macro-evolution, but its
scene in which science and believers in Genesis 1 dialogue about the
order of natural events in the history of the universe and the earth was
the sort of thing that I've long desired to see (in real life, though,
with real scientists).
What I'll do in my post today is this: I
will post Genesis 1 in the King James Version, which is in the public
domain, and I will add comments about each day of creation. When
appropriate, I will mention how the pastor in the movie summarizes the
content of the creation day under discussion. More importantly, I will
tell you what the scientist-characters in the movie say about what
occurred at each stage of natural history. My question will be
this: Is there truly agreement between Genesis 1 and science regarding
the order of events in natural history, or is the movie fudging one or
both sides to artificially foster an agreement? I'll be
referring to sources, some of them pretty good, and some of them, well, I
wish I could find better! Moreover, please keep in mind that I am not a
scientist----far from it! But this post is not intended to be
the last word on this subject, but rather my aim is to ask questions.
Please feel free to correct me, but I will not publish or interact with
comments that say or imply that I or anyone else is stupid.
Here we go!
1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the
face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
The pastor said that the waters of v 2 represent all that was, and that
the darkness in that verse is symbolic of chaos. What happened on the
first "day" of creation, which (according to the presenter on the movie)
was 15.75-7.7 billion years ago? A scientist-character said that there
was the Big Bang, and with it came the raw material for all that would
exist (i.e., protons, neutrons, electrons). The earth was only in the
form of stardust. There was a ball of plasma from which light initially
could not escape, due to gravity, but, with cooling, expansion, and the
reduction of gravity, electromagnetic radiation finally managed to
escape, meaning there was light. Stars and galaxies were formed.
thought that the pastor was fudging Genesis 1 here by not taking the
waters of Genesis 1:2 at face value. The waters, in my opinion, are
significant, for it is on the issue of the waters that Genesis 1
overlaps with the ancient Babylonian creation story, Enuma Elish.
In Genesis 1, God separates the waters; in Enuma Elish, the god Marduk
splits up the sea-goddess Tiamat. The pastor near the end of the
discussion says that Genesis 1 (whoever is its human author) must be
divinely-inspired, for an ancient author on his own could not have been
so accurate about the order in which things came to be, long before
science found out about it. But, by interpreting the waters in Genesis
1:2 as symbolic, the pastor is (intentionally or unintentionally, I do
not know) obscuring where Genesis 1 overlaps with another ancient
creation account. Is Genesis 1 ahead of its time, or is it (in
some manner) echoing or reflecting its ancient context? In his push to
prove the former, the pastor is interpreting the waters of Genesis 1:2
as symbolic, when they very well might be literal, which would mean that
there is good reason to believe that the latter (that Genesis 1 is
reflecting its own ancient context) is the case.
I was surprised, however, that a bigger deal was not made about the plasma. I was expecting for someone to say that the plasma was the primordial waters of Genesis 1:2. Plasma, according to this article, can have properties like those of a liquid.
I'll talk more about stardust and stars when I talk about Day 4.
6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the
firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was
8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
The pastor said that, on Day 2, the heavens were created and chaos was
separated out. A scientist then said that the second period of time had
the galaxy and the Milky Way, along with the sun and the earth. I'll
talk more about the sun when I get to Day 4.
I agree with the
pastor that Genesis 1 is about God bringing order out of chaos, for the
sea and the waters in the Hebrew Bible often relate to chaos. And yet,
as I said in my comments on Day 1, I think that the pastor is fudging
Genesis 1 by not interpreting the waters as literal. On Day 2,
God divides the waters, putting some waters above the firmament and some
waters beneath the firmament. In my opinion, that's different from the
galaxy and the Milky Way forming.
9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.
And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed,
and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in
itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
12 And the earth
brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree
yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw
that it was good.
13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.
The pastor said that Day 3 had oceans, dry land, and the "first forms
of plant-life." A scientist said that, 3.75 billion to 1.75 billion
years ago, the earth cooled, water formed, and there emerged early plant
and animal life, bacteria, and photosynthetic algae.
I have a variety of points, which may come across as nit-picking, but you can do with my points what you will.
First of all, Genesis 1 does not say that liquid water came to exist on
the third day of creation; rather, the waters already existed during
the first and second days. What is occurring on Day 3 is that God is organizing the waters beneath into seas. Second,
there's not supposed to be any animal life on Day 3, for God created
the sea-creatures on Day 5, and the land-creatures on Day 6. This is
actually significant, for, according to this article,
scientists generally maintain that fruit trees came to exist after
there were fish, and that marine organisms existed prior to the
development of land plants, whereas Genesis 1 appears to present the
opposite (fruit trees and land plants preceded sea-creatures).
is a literary pattern going on in Genesis 1, as many observers have
noted: On Days 1-3, God created places. On Days 4-6, God created
the inhabitants for those places. God creates day and night on Day 1,
and he populates day and night with heavenly bodies on Day 4. Day 2
sees the division of the waters above (in the firmament) from the waters
beneath, and, on Day 4, God creates the birds for the firmament and the
sea-creatures for the waters beneath. On Day 3, dry land and plants
appear, and, on Day 6, God creates animals and human beings. Genesis 1
has a neat pattern, but my impression is that most scientists do not
believe that real life followed that neat pattern to a T (even though
there may have been some overlap----sea creatures came before land
creatures, for example).
14 And God said, Let there be lights
in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let
them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
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.
17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
A scientists talked about what went on 1.75 billion to 750 million
years ago. Initially, the atmosphere was "opaque." But, as oxygen
became concentrated into the atmosphere, it became more translucent, and
the sun, moon, and stars became visible.
I have two points. First
of all, this movie says that there were stars and galaxies on Day 1,
and that the sun came to exist on Day 2. But, as far as I can see, that
is not what Genesis 1 is saying. Rather, Genesis 1 appears to be
saying that God created the sun and the stars on the fourth day, not
that they merely became apparent after having already existed for a long
time. My second point is merely a question, not a dogmatic statement:
How did the plants of Day 3 survive for so many years without sunlight?
This is a critique that I have heard of the Day-Age interpretation of
Genesis 1----the view that each day in Genesis 1 represents long periods
of time. The movie tries to distance itself from the Day-Age
interpretation, saying that it believes that God made the heavens and
the earth in six days----but what were days to God amounted to longer
periods of time from the standpoint of the universe and the earth.
Still, the same question can be asked of this movie's scenario (and
maybe even of science, if science indeed believes that the sun became
visible to the earth after plants had been around for a long time).
And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature
that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open
firmament of heaven.
21 And God created great whales, and
every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth
abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and
God saw that it was good.
22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
The fifth day, for this movie, occurred 750 million to 250 million
years ago. During that time, sea life was dominant. But, a
scientist-character continues, 530 million years ago, the Cambrian
explosion occurred, and every specie of land animal simultaneously
I have some points. My first one will be rather nit-picky. So
is this movie saying that land animals came to exist on the fifth day?
Genesis 1 says that land animals came to exist on Day 6 of creation.
Second, referring again to the table in this article,
most scientists believe that birds evolved from land animals, not that
they existed before land animals (whereas Genesis 1 says that birds were
created on the fifth day, and land animals on the sixth day). See also
this article, which discusses the debate about which land animals birds evolved from.
Regarding the Cambrian explosion, this article aims to account for it from an evolutionary perspective.
24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after
his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his
kind: and it was so.
25 And God made the beast of the earth
after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that
creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
And 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 fowl of the
air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every
creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and
multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over
the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every
living thing that moveth upon the earth. 29 And God said, Behold, I
have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all
the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding
seed; to you it shall be for meat.
30 And to every beast of
the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that
creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green
herb for meat: and it was so.
31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
sixth day, according to this movie, went from 250 million years ago to
the time of Adam. During that time, there were extinctions, and mammals
and birds came to be dominant. Then, human beings appeared.
I like this interpretation better than Young Earth creationism, for The Genesis Code
simply places the dinosaurs in Day 6 of creation, rather than holding
that they co-existed with human beings. But I have some points. First
of all, to repeat what I said regarding Day 5, there is the bird
problem: Genesis 1 says that birds existed before land animals, whereas
science says that they evolved from certain land animals. Second, this
movie obviously believes that there was death before the Fall of Adam
and Eve, whereas Romans 5:12 says that death entered the world by sin.
Granted, there are Christians who will argue that Romans 5:12 is talking
about human death, not animal and plant death. Fine, that would make a
fine topic for discussion. I'm just saying that the movie invites this
sort of discussion. Third, Genesis 1:30 says that God has
given plants to the animals as food. It's on the basis of passages like
this that many interpreters maintain that, according to the Bible (or a
voice within the Bible), people and animals were vegetarians until
after the Flood. Does The Genesis Code agree with this, or
does it maintain that animals ate other animals prior to the Flood? It
seems to me that, if there were extinctions going on during the sixth
day of creation, as the movie suggests, then animals eating other
animals had to play some role in that. But would acknowledging
that animals ate other animals before the Flood go against Genesis 1,
which appears to maintain that people and animals were originally
My conclusion: Genesis 1 and science
may overlap in areas (i.e., sea creatures came before land creatures),
but there are also differences between them. In my opinion, The Genesis Code fudges the Bible to make it fit with science.