Reprinted from the August/September 1993 issue of Homiletic & Pastoral Review
Genesis 1: A Cosmogenesis?
“Nihil pulchrius Genesi, nihil utilius.” Nothing more beautiful than Genesis, nothing more useful.
Genesis 1 is the most newsworthy chapter in the Bible. There can never be more fundamental news than that all depends on God because he made all, indeed the all, or the universe. This news did not come from any of the sages of ancient cultures. Genesis 1 is the most memorable source of that news, though in a way which has been all too often taken for a confrontation with news science seems to provide about the origin of the universe. Legion is the number of exegetes and theologians who in modern scientific times wanted to appear more newsworthy by showing that there is an agreement, a concordance, between the majestic diction of Genesis 1 and the science of the day.
The latest frenzy along these lines was sparked by the news, disclosed at the Spring 1992 meeting of the American Physical Society, that irregularities were discovered in the 2.7°K cosmic background radiation through a satellite in charge of COBE, or “COsmic Background Experiment.” The discovery merely filled a gap in an already impressive evidence about the so-called Big Bang theory of cosmic development.
The term Big Bang may mistakenly suggest that it is about the absolute origin or beginning of things. Rather, it is merely about the fact that science can trace cosmic processes to 15 or so billion years back in the past and that the farther back into the past those processes are traced, the more crowded upon one another they are found to be. At that distant point all matter existed in the form of an extremely condensed radiation. Does this mean that Moses, or whoever wrote Genesis 1, received an early revelation about the 2.7°K cosmic background radiation or about Maxwell’s equations of electro magnetics?
However, really serious questions arise. If one gives a scientific twist to “Let there be light,” then consistency demands that the same be done through the rest of Genesis 1. One should then answer scientifically the following questions: How could the earth, a planet, come before the sun? How could plants, which live on photosynthesis, thrive prior to the sun’s appearance? What constituted the outer confines of the upper and lower waters? Last but not least, in what sense can the firmament, produced on the second day, be an object of science?
Read the complete essay at Homiletic & Pastoral Review