The Science of Genesis




Genesis, the first book of the Bible, is a monumental work written either in 1290 B.C. or 1440 B.C. and recording an oral tradition dating from the time of Abraham perhaps around 2000 B.C. [1].  For the first time in history, this simple treatise struck a spark igniting the torch of reason to provide novel answers to universal questions of origin and purpose.  And this light has led us out of the darkness of superstition and magical thinking and into the daylight of rational analysis.  Genesis not only recorded the development of the Judeo-Christian tradition, but was also the basis for the first scientific revolution.  Indeed all other religions are, as a matter of principle and to a greater or less degree, antagonistic to the foundations of science as expressed in Genesis [2].


When Genesis proclaimed God created the cosmos, this was a polemic against a worship of the inscrutable forces of nature rather than their creator.  When Genesis professed the existence of only one God rather than many, this recognized an orderly cosmos unburdened by conflicting and whimsical forces governing it.  When Genesis gave man dominion over the earth to include all the animals contained therein, this was a condemnation of the worship of gods in the form of animals.   When Genesis asserted that man was created in the image of God, this elevated man above nature and affirmed his ability to exercise stewardship over God’s creation rather than being entirely at the mercy of unknowable magical forces.   When Genesis said the world was created from nothing (ex nihilo) creating space and matter and time, this removed the logical difficulty of infinite regression in a world observed to be decaying into a state of ever increasing disorder [3].


These simple concepts created a unified model of the physical universe which is well-ordered, consistent, and knowable subject to human observation and reason.   And so at the dawn of civilization, Genesis was able to demote nature to be free of consciousness and intent while at the same time elevating it to be orderly and devoid of chaotic and unfathomable karmic influences.   The result was no less than the creation of the scientific method and, in fits and starts, all of its technological wonders.




Unfortunately in their zeal to deny the authority of the Catholic Church, Protestant fundamentalists invent novel and nitpicking interpretations of the Bible reversing more than several millennia of understanding and practice.  As Protestants splinter into tens of thousands of different denominations, they substitute the word of man, in the form of firebrands seeking personal power and glory, for that of God, to the detriment of the moral beauty of the message.   For the first 3500 years before Protestants, the Judeo-Christian tradition, unlike all others, held that the sacred text of the Bible, was inspired but not dictated.


And this tradition is maintained by the Catholic Christian Church which continues to assert we should not confuse allegory with literal interpretations or substitute form for substance.   Indeed a unequivocal teaching of the Catholic Church, established by Christ himself, is that there is but one truth.   Accordingly interpretations of sacred scripture can never be in conflict with observation or reason.   And to the extent there are apparent conflicts, we need to rethink and perhaps refine our interpretations.  This again supported the development of scientific inquiry and method.


This is because while the Bible necessarily touches tangentially on cosmological issues, it is primarily a theological treatise.  Because of our God-like qualities of self-awareness and free will, Genesis also attributes to mankind a universal moral sense comprising those attitudes best suited to both make us happy and harmoniously united with God.  In confirmation these are truths everyone recognizes in any honest examination of conscience.  Unfortunately many Protestants lacking the scholarship and objectivity of the Catholic Magisterium twist the passages in Genesis so as to misunderstand not only the moral precepts but reject common sense and deny the founding principles of science as well.


But as to the thankfully small minority of strict Fundamentalists, we would recommend St. Augustine’s (354-430 A.D., Catholic Bishop of Hippo), commentary on Genesis a quote [4] from which is


“Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience.


Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking non-sense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men.”



Strictly speaking, secondary Causation is the philosophical proposition that all material and corporeal objects, having been created by God with their own intrinsic potentialities, are subsequently empowered to evolve independently in accordance with natural law.  This was a primary theme of the book of Genesis.  Jews and Christians would slightly modify this injunction to allow for the occasional miracle as well as the exercise of free will.  This was further molded into the philosophy of the Western Tradition by St. Augustine, Catholic Bishop of Hippo, and St. Thomas Aquinas, who was ordained into the Dominican order of the Catholic Church.

Secondary causation is a necessary precursor for scientific inquiry into an established order of natural laws which are not entirely predicated on the changeable whims of a supernatural Being.   To be certain, Christians believe God is the not just the creator but the conservator of natural law.    But in stark contrast to all other religions of the world, the Judeo-Christian God made a convenient with man and granted him dominion over an orderly world subject to consistent natural laws that he can understand.   Accordingly this does not create a conflict between science and religion for, given a Creator, it is not inconsistent with the paradigm of a clockwork universe.  It does however remove logical contradictions concerning the unfettered expression of man’s free will which would otherwise require not just God’s acquiescence but rather His direct intervention to implement.



In the creation myths of pagan religions, timeless and formless chaotic forces without structure or reason magically gave rise to the first particles of the cosmos. 


There are only two possibilities for the nature of the universe.  Either the world has existed forever or it has not.


All of our observations indicate the universe was “created” in a “Big Bang” some 13.7 billion years ago.   The observational evidence includes


1.      The universe is now getting bigger and so it must have been smaller in the past.  We see all our neighboring galaxies “red-shifted” or receding from us in direct proportion to their apparent distance.  The observation of a uniform Doppler shift implies a beginning.

2.      Einstein’s model of the universe as described in this theory General Relativity predicts the universe evolved from a single point without dimension at a specific time in the past.   This was discovered by Georges Lemaître an ordained a Belgian Catholic Priest.

3.      The universal abundance of elements, mostly hydrogen (75%), helium (25%) with trace amounts of lithium, is precisely explained by an expanding universe that was initially very hot and very dense.   Indeed when the temperature of the initial fireball had dropped to the range of 109-4x108 degrees Kelvin from 10 seconds to 20 minutes after its creation, all atoms were synthesized.  Interestingly these calculations are independent of earlier conditions and well understood from the constants of nuclear binding energies observed on much smaller scales in high energy colliders.  That the calculations exactly match observations of the heavens, it strong evidence for a “big bang”.   Note that the absence of stable nuclei having 5 or 8 nucleons means that any higher elements would have only undetectable, if any, concentrations.

4.      Everywhere we look, we see a uniform sea of microwave radiation at a temperature of about 2.7 degrees Kelvin.  And more than that, this radiation precisely follows the predictions of a black body radiator.  This is explainable only by a universe that obeys the “standard model” of quantum mechanics and is consistent with a moment of creation in a “Big Bang.”

5.      Our models of stellar evolution note that the oldest stars we can observe are no older than 13.7 billion years.  Likewise our models of galactic evolution as evidenced by the large scale structure of the universe are only consistent with the “Big Bang” as well.


Other considerations lead us to believe that our universe is physically finite but unbounded.  And further that our universe, of necessity, must be finite in time as well.


In addition, everything we understand about modern science demands the creation of the universe was a one time event.   Endless cycles are completely at variance with all fundamental precepts of modern science, especially entropy from the Second Law of Thermodynamics.


Logically, time must also have begun at the “Big Bang” and have been non-existent and meaningless otherwise.


No interpretation of quantum mechanics, except for the “Standard Model”, is mathematically consistent and no interpretation actually predicts what we observe in our many physics experiments.  And only the standard model is consistent with a one-time ex-nihilo creation event.


If the universe began at the “Big Bang”, then it could not have been caused by any natural laws but had to have been created by some super-natural agency.   This overwhelmingly implies a “Creator” who acted with purpose.




We are of this world and not of this world.  Our consciousness is grounded in our bodies but soars above them.  Indeed, every act of free will, to the extent it exists , is a miracle necessarily being independent of the strict determinism of natural law.


When we contemplate our place in the universe, we are necessarily humbled by the relative scale of things.  We may be insignificant grains of dust but we are more than nothing.   Along among the stars and planets and oceans and rocks, and even the animals, we know we exist.   And that spark, fleeting and transient as it is, makes all the difference.




1.      “Genesis”, attributed to Moses 1440 B.C. or 1290 B.C. originally in Hebrew but translated into Greek in the Septuagint in Alexandra, Egypt about 285 B.C. and later into Latin by St. Jerome in 382 A.D. at the request of the Catholic Pope Damasus I; and since then into all the languages of the world.


2.      Most of the great religions of the world reject the fundamental principles of science as so eloquently expressed in Genesis.  A few examples include the following


Buddhism cultivates a rejection of the world and embraces a personal struggle for an inward peace impervious to suffering.   Science which describes worldly things is seen at best as an annoying distraction to be avoided if not rejected entirely.  The result is a passive aggression to science and the scientific method.  Typifying this attitude are the “Four Questions on Which the Buddha was Silent” but which modern science strives to answer with ever increasing confidence.


Islam envisions Allah as a god of absolute power enforced by a tribal chief who ensures submission with mind numbing ritual five times daily.  The existence of natural law on which the scientific method is necessarily based is rejected entirely as a heretical limit on Allah’s prerogatives to be violently and ruthlessly suppressed.


Hinduism is a mishmash of conflicting views so as to be effectively impervious to strict analysis.  The utter rejection of many if not all of the basic assumptions of science, to wit that natural law is consistent and unchanging as if it were the product of a single mind and not a pantheon of competing deities, that the universe behaves in a consistent and predictable manner not subject to mysterious unknowable forces, that one’s fate or karma is determined by predictable natural law and not some unknowable and incalculable cosmic force striving to achieve balance.  All of which amount to a total rejection of a reason based universe and the scientific method.


3.      “The Believing Scientist”, Stephen M. Barr, published by William B. Eerdmans (2016).


4.      St. Augustine, Catholic Bishop of Hippo (354-430 A.D.).


The Christian faith holds that while revelation is divinely inspired it cannot be contrary to reason or to the evidence of our senses.   In the latter case when parables are fanciful, the long standing interpretation is that allegory is being used to teach a moral truth.   And so the author is enclosing the lesson in the best science of his day which may serve to dramatize the issue but is irrelevant to the basic purpose.