(January 25, 2014)
One of our largest challenges in dealing with modern science is the fact that the prophets who received revelation on the Creation and the Fall didn’t likewise know modern science – so their inspiration and revelation is given, almost, in a different language. The Lord couldn’t tell Moses that He created the world by gathering material into a supergiant star, using fusion until iron began to develop, then having gravity collapse the star upon itself only to create a supernova – the resulting explosion creating the heavy elements which would then gather over a period of millions or billions of years into the star we have now and the planet we call home. Moses’s first question, of course, would have been ‘what is a supergiant star?,’ or ‘what is a supernova?’ and things would have gone downhill from there. And even if the Lord could have educated Moses in an instant, that would still have left Moses having to communicate with the people of Israel in a way that they understood without the benefits of modern science.
The amazing thing about Genesis (and all of the Creation stories that we have, actually) isn’t so much what they say, but what is lingering just below the surface. As we come to understand the origins of the universe better, we can almost squint our eyes a bit and see what Moses was seeing and what he was trying to convey. I don’t happen to believe in the young Earth theory (I think it is telling that in the two versions of the Creation we have written in Hebrew [Moses and Genesis] it uses the word “day,” which is the only applicable word in Biblical Hebrew regardless of how long it is, while Abraham, written in Egyptian [a language with more options for showing duration] uses the more general term “time”), and so I look at this as Moses’s attempt to convey in a short writing what he learned about how the Lord over billions of years guided the Creation of this Earth. We see the formless Earth, being pulled together by gravity over the course of millions of years. We see the evolution of plants, then animals in the sea and the air, then beasts in the fields. We see the Sun and stars becoming visible as the Earth continues to change and the dust settles to allow light to pass through the atmosphere that we now have. I can understand why Moses wrote it in this fashion, but it is all there.
Religion has nothing to fear from science simply because some of the prophets of old and of modern times weren’t scientists and didn’t speak the lingo. If we are willing to look we can find the truth right there.