Genesis Re-Examined: Could the Torah Be Scientifically Correct?

    June 2010            
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Could the Book of Genesis be correct after all?

By Robert Wingfield © 2010

Creation myths are normally regarded as essentially harmless, quaint phenomena – conceived by relatively primitive, ancient people in an attempt to put meaning to their existence. Most of them now lie slumbering on the pages of history books, disturbed only by those who might occasionally pass an eye over them as part of some academic research, for example. In the main they no longer attract our interest, except, that is, for the most famous myth of all – the Creation Story in the Book of Genesis – the continuing survival of which is leading to heated conflict in such arenas as the Evolution-versus-Intelligent-Design debate, as Christians in particular, adhering to what they see as The Word of God, come up against atheists who believe that religious philosophy can have no foundation in truth.

Atheists always claim the moral high ground in this dispute due to their argument being scientifically based, and usually ignore the fact that such an approach can carry its own flaws. Scientists themselves are naturally aware that the theories they produce are sometimes just the ‘best-guess’ at the solution to a problem, and treat their results with the relevant caution. However, the general public does not care for such hesitancy and wants science to answer all the major questions of life with clinical finality. As a consequence some people genuinely do believe that science now has ‘all the answers’.

This use of science to solve all philosophical problems has now become so prevalent that religious beliefs in the Western world are declining sharply as a result, but despite the modern propensity for ‘logical’ answers, the scientific knowledge of the ordinary individual in the street is often shockingly incomplete.

In reality, the average person’s understanding of the Cosmos is largely based on an early-20th-century, Newtonian view of the Universe. Ask most ordinary people to explain Einstein’s theory of relativity and they will probably be unable to do so; ask them to describe some of the quite revolutionary theories in particle physics and cosmology that have appeared over the past 30 years, and they will almost certainly not even be aware of their existence.

This is unfortunate, because anyone who familiarizes themselves with these very hyper-modern theories will have difficulty returning to the idea that the Universe is an accidental result of random processes. The truth is that the scientific community has been put into a philosophical turmoil of which the rest of the world is largely unaware.

However, those who arm themselves with these latest scientific discoveries and then happen to pass their eye over the dusty pages of history books filled with ancient creation myths – persons such as myself – will notice something quite remarkable: that there is an astonishing similarity between the two. Impossible as it might seem, these forgotten stories of the ancient world could not only be responsible for transforming the science-versus-religion debate, they could give religionists the moral high ground. What they reveal is the highly unexpected possibility that all the major religions of the ancient world could have been based on scientific principles after all.

The modern scientific theories to which I refer originate from the results of experiments conducted in particle accelerators such as the one built under the Swiss Alps by Cern (Centre Européen de Recherche Nucléaire) in the 1980s. The original aim of the project was to find the smallest particle of matter, but what scientists discovered was the strange fact that there is no smallest particle of matter. The solid substances that form our entire Universe are apparently just another form of energy, an idea that is difficult to comprehend. It seems that matter is formed through the combination of tiny ‘strings’ of energy, a process that can occur in five different ways, called the five String Theories.

There are a number of hypotheses about how these strings work, but the one of interest to us states that, in the 11th dimension (another very difficult concept for those of us used to just three), these strings of energy grow in size and merge into a single, vast membrane – our Universe. This is called Membrane Theory, which, in effect, says that our Universe is nothing more than a single membrane of energy.

Through further calculation scientists then discovered the presence of other membranes – believed to be parallel universes – all of which sit in a very strange place called the Multiverse that seems to exist beyond the parameters of space and time. However, the Multiverse does contain ‘branes’ of energy assembled together in ‘layers’, layers that are believed to be rippling like water. Occasionally the waves of energy from adjacent branes collide together, and where this happens a universe is created.

There is no doubt that these ideas are all extremely bizarre. Attempt to convey the above concepts to colleagues in casual conversation, as I have done on a number of occasions, and they will usually refuse to believe it. If you find yourself struggling to come to terms with any of these ideas, then you are not alone.

Despite the fact that these theories have been created by some of the most eminent scientists on the planet, even they have difficulty making sense of it all. One particle physicist once said: “We have an explanation for the Universe but not an understanding.” In other words, there is no overarching philosophy to give these theories any credible meaning.

What I shall attempt to demonstrate in this article is the fact that this missing philosophy might already exist. The problem for scientists is that it exists in religion.

In Taoism, a branch of Buddhism formed over 2,000 years ago, the Universe is considered to be a single entity – called the Tao or Great Ultimate – formed from two equal and opposite energies, Yin and Yang. These two energies combine together to form everything present in the Universe, both physical and metaphysical. However, when they combine together to create solid matter they do so in five different ways, called the Five Agents.

The similarity between Taoism and Membrane Theory is quite startling. The Tao is the membrane universe; Yin and Yang are the two waves of energy that collide together in the Multiverse; and the Five Agents are a very obvious representation of the five String Theories.

In addition, Taoists use a symbol called the ‘Taijitu’ to depict how the Yin and Yang operate (figure 1).

 Figure 1: The Taijitu.

In this diagram the dark areas represent Yin while the light areas represent Yang, with the two being shown as fish-like objects, thus creating the idea of constant motion. There is also a small circle of both aspects at the head of each opposing aspect, so that at the largest part of the Yin is a small circle of Yang, and vice versa. This represents the way in which the Yin and the Yang are supposed to turn into each other, thus creating the cyclical nature of life.

However, these two fish-like objects could also be described as ‘waves’, waves that are possibly crashing into each other. Therefore, the Taijitu could be representing the creation of the Universe – the Big Bang.

Buddhism does not have a creation myth, but Membrane Theory can clearly be seen in one of its mainstream philosophies. In other religions it appears through symbolism.

In the Hindu creation myth, before time began there was no heaven, no earth and no space between, just a vast, dark ocean washing upon the shores of nothingness [the Multiverse]. The Lord Vishnu lay asleep inside the endless coils of a giant cobra floating on the waters [the two energy waves]. When the night ended and dawn began to break [the Big Bang], Vishnu awoke and from his navel grew a magnificent lotus flower [the membrane Universe] that floated on the sea. The World was created inside the lotus flower.

While there is uncertainty about when Hinduism was conceived, as a religion it is quite possibly over 3,500 years old. Nevertheless, its description of something that happened “before time began” in a place containing “a vast, dark ocean washing upon the shores of nothingness” carries all the hallmarks of the Multiverse.

In Zoroastrianism we can also see a description of the Multiverse containing two opposing forces, called Ohrmazd (or Ahura Mazda) and the Destructive Spirit. Ohrmazd saw that the aggression of the Destructive Spirit could only be stopped by an act of creation [the Big Bang] in which the Destructive Spirit could be made powerless by being brought to battle. Therefore, from Infinite Time [the Multiverse] Ohrmazd made Time of the Long Dominion [finite time, or the Universe]. From Time of the Long Dominion he then brought forth permanence [matter] so that the works of Ohrmazd might not pass away.

The true age of Zoroastrianism is currently under debate, but some scholars believe it could have started around 1,000 B.C.E. While it might be a coincidence that the two opposing forces of Ohrmazd and the Destructive Spirit can be seen to represent the energy waves of the Multiverse, is it possible that the people of the Middle East around 3,000 years ago could have been capable of even conceiving of such ideas as Infinite Time and Time of the Long Dominion?

Buddhism, Hinduism and Zoroastrianism were three of the great religions of the ancient world, but of course there was a fourth, Judaism, born between 1,500 B.C.E. and 1,000B.C.E. with the writing of its founding literature – the Book of Genesis.

The Creation Story, which occupies chapter one plus seven verses of chapter two of the book, has long been discredited because it appears to describe the development of the Universe in the wrong order. We can see this at the very beginning, with chapter 1 verse 1 saying:

1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

[Please note that all biblical text is taken from the King James Version, the English translation that is closest to the original Hebrew. It is possible that subsequent versions have been twisted slightly to represent a preconceived idea of what the text means rather than what is actually being said. The underlines are mine.]

As planets were not created until after the formation of stars, which do not appear in the Book of Genesis until later, this appears to be nonsense. However, what is strange about the Creation Story is that God makes everything twice, a fact that seems to have passed largely unnoticed for millennia. So, having created heaven and earth in verse 1, he then creates them again in verses 6–10:

1:6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

1:7 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 so.

1:8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

1:9 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.

1:10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

What is noticeable here is that when ‘heaven’ and ‘earth’ are used in verse 1 they are not capitalized, but when they are used in verses 8–10 they are (Heaven and Earth). As Hebrew does not use capital letters these must have been added during the first translations, almost certainly into Greek. Did the translators intend to impart different meanings to the words? It is impossible to say, but if we do consider these two creations to be separate events, suddenly it is possible to see another meaning in the text.

Returning to verses 1–5:

1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

1:2 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 waters.

1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

1:4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

1:5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

While God creates “the earth” in verse 1, verse 2 says that it is “without form and void”; in other words, not yet matter. However, in Taoist philosophy ‘heaven’ is sometimes used as one of the meanings for Yang, while ‘earth’ means Yin. Verse 2 also mentions “the face of the waters”. This seems to be describing ‘ripples’, ‘waves’ or even ‘seas’ of something that does not consist of matter.

If Genesis chapter 1 verses 1–2 is read without any preconceived idea as to what it means, it is very easy to believe that it is describing the two energy waves crashing together in the Multiverse, but if this is the case then it has to be followed by the Big Bang. In verse 3 we have it: “Let there be light”.

When Albert Einstein was building his ideas on space and time, much of his attention was focused upon the properties of light, such as its speed and how it behaved. He came to the conclusion that light was very much wrapped up with the concept of space-time. Later, Stephen Hawking came to the conclusion that space and time were created at the Big Bang; apparently they did not exist before it. Therefore, we could also interpret “Let there be light” as meaning “Let there be space and time”.

After the Big Bang, God divides the “light”, which he calls Day (with a capital ‘D’), from the “darkness”, called Night (with a capital ‘N’). In this new context, the Day must represent our Universe while the Night represents the Multiverse. Genesis chapter 1 verses 1–5 appears to be describing the creation of the Universe through Membrane Theory.

The question now is, can the rest of the Creation Story also be put into a scientific context? The surprise answer is, yes it can. The key to reinterpreting the remainder of the text is again the fact that God seems to duplicate some of his ‘creations’.

In chapter 1 verses 11–31 God makes all living things, commencing with plants:

1:11 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.

1:12 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.

He then proceeds to make great whales, creatures of the sea and air that move, winged fowl, cattle, creeping things, beasts of the earth, and finally man:

1:26 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.

1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Having finished his creations, God then rests. However, in chapter 2 we have something quite bizarre, because, despite all God’s efforts there does not yet appear to be any life on Earth:

2:4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,

2:5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.

Then, in the next two verses, God makes man for the second time:

2:6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

[In later versions of the Bible, chapter 2 verse 7 is translated as “and man became a living being”, but I think this is a mistake as there might be something significant about the word ‘soul’.]

Assuming the ‘second’ creation of man represents the point at which humans appeared on Earth, then what was God doing when he first made man in chapter 1 verse 27? Is it possible that the huge process of creation taking place in chapter 1 verses 11–31 could have something to do with the soul of the living beings?

This could have serious implications for the debate on evolution. One important fact that seems to have been lost in the heat of discussion is that, in reality, Darwin created two theories: firstly, that higher-order species are descended from lower-order species (evolution); and secondly, that this evolution is driven by natural selection.

The Creation Story is seen as being in conflict with the idea of evolution, but this new interpretation most definitely is not. However, what it could be threatening is natural selection, as it seems to imply that evolution is driven by the soul of the living being – what it calls the “living soul”.

Therefore, we now have an unexpected resolution to the argument. The Bible actually embraces both evolution and intelligent design, because it is saying that the design process occurred before life appeared on Earth.

Despite this totally surprising result, if we are to continue to look at the Creation Story in this scientific way there is one other question we must answer: “How did God manage to make everything in six days?”

The problem here is that we have always interpreted “day” as meaning an Earth day, but why would God, in his timeless heaven, use any chronological system at all, let alone one determined by the rotation of a planet that he has not yet made? Perhaps the term has another meaning.

This conundrum can be solved by looking into Eastern religion. In the philosophies of both Buddhism and Hinduism, life is said to be determined by the ebb and flow of cycles. All things are affected by these cycles, which supposedly create an effect similar to the seasons of the year. Some cycles are short and some are long, but there is one cycle that embraces them all, a cycle described by some Hindus as being the heartbeat of the Universe. It is called a Cosmic Day and its length is believed to be about 4.2 billion years.

Surprisingly, possession of this fact now allows us to calculate the age of the Universe from the Book of Genesis. The Creation Story tells us that God made everything in six days, therefore:

6 x 4.2 = 25.2 billion years

Life then appeared on Earth at the beginning of the seventh day, while God was resting. From fossil records we now know that the first microbes emerged about 3.5 billion years ago; therefore, this allows us to make the final calculation. According to the Bible, the age of the Universe is:

25.2 + 3.5 = 28.7 billion years

Admittedly this is a little larger than the current scientific estimates of 10–20 billion years, but it is clearly not a ridiculous figure.

With the completion of this reinterpretation some people might now look at the Book of Genesis in a new light. We have always regarded it as a religious document, but now it could even be described as a very early science paper.

I am certain that the first reaction to this article will be complete disbelief, possibly followed by ridicule. However, these responses should not be allowed to hide the fact that this is a valid exercise. The effects I describe really are there; what we need to decide is their true significance.

I fully accept that if my theories are to be taken seriously, then I do have to explain how modern science could have found its way into ancient religion. For now though, we should try and digest what this means.

Whether or not you can accept that the early verses of the Book of Genesis are describing Membrane Theory, this reinterpretation has revealed one other important fact: that we have always misunderstood what the text is really saying. If atheists still want to dismiss the Creation Story as being unimportant, then they have to explain why the original author of the book – presumably a Hebrew tribesman trying to explain his new beliefs to others – would need his All Powerful God to make everything twice. If the text is not describing Membrane Theory, then what was this ancient author really trying to say?

For me, though, there is another significance to this. If the Book of Genesis really is presenting a credible, scientific description of how the Universe was formed, then when it tells us that this process was controlled by a God, perhaps we should start believing.

And we should also remember that Judaic lore claims the book of Genesis was written by Moses through a process of divine inspiration – in other words, Moses was writing the Word of God. Who now can say that this is not true?


from the June 2010 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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