How on earth could the universe have been created from absolutely nothing?
Well of course it couldn't.
And it wasn't.
The universe was not created "on Earth", but we mere mortals are only capable of thinking from an earthly, human perspective. Therefore, the Creation account in Genesis is a bit hard to reconcile.
Some stuff just happens, doesn't it?
We're not great fans of the term "Intelligent Design", since it suggests that God is only some sort of super engineer.
But for the sake of argument, imagine that you are a brilliantly talented technician, study shelves bursting with Nobel awards, and at your fingertips is a machine that can create stuff from nothing. You, of course, built the machine (from nothing) and designed it to churn out perfectly-weighted atoms that have different numbers of protons, depending on the chemical element you are creating.
Next, you must cluster these atoms precisely, and I mean really precisely, to create just the right amount of gravity for each thing you make – whether it's a sunflower seed or the sun.
I know, it sounds pretty complicated, but that's a fact of life. Make just one little mistake and the whole thing collapses into a big heap of useless matter.
Then make mega-billions of life cells, sufficient in variety to prevent life becoming boringly mundane, yet where even the most modest cell has so great a complexity that for such a design to have "just happened" is simply an affront to reason.
Labels "penumbra" and "umbra" are not really needed for this diagram, but it looks a bit more academic if we include them. — No umbrage intended.
You've probably seen the joke about three scientists and you don't have to be a scientist to notice in a solar eclipse it gets quite dark. But have you ever considered why this should be so?
After all, the sun is gigantic in relation to the moon. So why does our tiny moon block out the sun? Why do the moon and the sun look almost exactly the same size?
The answer is that although the sun is about 400 times as wide as the moon, it's also 400 times further away; hence they appear from Earth to be the same size. This is a unique situation among our solar system's eight planets and 166 known moons.
And there's more.
Not only do these numbers match up, but the size and positioning of the moon is just right for life on Earth as we know it.
- As the world spins on its axis, it has a natural tendency to wobble because the side that happens to face the sun is being pulled in that direction by the sun's gravity. The moon's gravity also affects the world (as we see in the ocean's tides).
The moon's density, size and distance are just enough for its gravity to gently dampen the wobble created by the sun's gravity. In other words, the moon prevents rotational instabilities which would otherwise cause dramatic changes in our climate, and that would not be conducive to life on Earth.
Pure coincidence? Well, that's not such a loony question and is worthy of an answer.
Could you calculate the probability of such a perfect chain of events ever happening, that ultimately lead to perfect conditions for life on Earth?
Did God choose the moon size to align so neatly during an eclipse, so that astronomers would notice and ask questions about such things?
The probability of the universe, which as far as we know is infinitely large, creating itself accidentally by some freakish event, in a form so perfect for life as we know it, is nothing short of a miraculous.
Which leads to the obvious: Creation.
In the Bible, Genesis 1:26-31 tells us that God created the universe, Heaven and Earth, and all living things on Earth – plants, animals, and mankind.
And He did all this in less than a week!
Was the world really created in just a matter of days?
Non-creationist: "How can you believe that God created everything out of nothing?"
Creationist: "How can you believe that nothing created anything out of nothing?"
An actual week of 24-hour days might be an acceptable period for children who are brought up on fairy tales, but makes no sense when we get older and consider things rationally.
It's difficult to reconcile that the first day had light and darkness, an evening and a morning, yet there was no sun to produce those until the fourth day. Plants were also created before the necessary sunlight existed, or insects for pollination, which sounds a bit odd. Indeed, the creation of something from nothing is really hard for us to fathom.
Hexaemeron is the posh word used to discuss the work done during those first six days at the beginning of time. Genesis says that the first humans didn't exist until the sixth day, which means nobody was around to know when or how events happened on the preceding five days. So where does the information come from?
- Hebraic recycling of Babylonian theories of The Beginning (cosmogony)
- Divine inspiration and/or revelation
(The possibility of being seeded here by alien beings from distant galaxies, is an exploration we'll leave to the UFO conspiracy theorists.)
Even before Pagan religions or gods existed, myths developed about The Beginning of the universe and sentient beings.
- Ancient Babylonian cuneiform accounts relate that the universe began a long, long time ago, with god Abzu and goddess Tiamtu. Yes, male and female, yet at the same time personifications of a big lump of salt and several gallons of sweet water. These were mixed together with a big spoon (by whom?) and produced Lalimu (dawn) and Lahamu (twilight).
A good while later came Ansar and Kisar, the personifications of Heaven and Earth, followed by Anu (sky), Bel (soil), and Ea (water, or eau in French). The god Ea married Dauke, who gave birth to the sun god, Belos.
After a few more gods appeared, the inevitable happened. Too many chefs in the kitchen led to almighty custard-pie fight between chaos and order.
Things settled down a bit after a few zillion eons and the gods started to cooperate and create the stars, the zodiac and nature in general, such as plants and animals.
That's all just as fantastic as the Biblical Creation story, but we doubt the Babylonian myths inspired the writers of Genesis for the following reasons:
- Firstly, the Babylonian version is a mish-mash of events for a trial-and-error attempt to get the world spinning. This differs markedly from Genesis, which lists the chronological order, uninterrupted day-by-day account, of the Creation process. And of course, Genesis doesn't refer to a demiurgical team effort, it required no mating of the gods and goddesses – there is only one God of Creation.
- There are similarities between the Babylonian Creation theories and later myths that civilisations have concocted, based on the natural surroundings at the time.
Even today, we enjoy works of fiction, inventing events and creating characters who can do wonderful things. Disney makes $billions from fantasy every year. And all these great works are based on what we know, what we see, what we experience. They involve love and hate, good and evil, male and female, sex, money, time, space, etc.
But the Genesis account doesn't rely on these human ideas for Creation. It simply says that "God made this" and "God made that".
- Further, Genesis tells us that God was the Creator of everything, and consequently God existed before 'time'. This differs from the Babylonian cosmogony, which goes back to a 'time' before the gods existed, without hinting how the pre-creation chaos came to exist.
The cuneiforms make interesting reading, but lead to a big gap, a big black hole – that nobody seems to have created.
It follows that if the Babylonians could concoct a story, then so could the Hebrews. Or if the Hebrews didn't just make up the Creation story, then they could have used their more modern civilisation and education to enhance existing myths.
That's all possible, of course, but unlikely. As the Semetic faith developed, it was clear that knowledge of man's origin was part of understanding the reason for our existence. The ancient yet more advanced Hebrew civilisation would realise that the question was too important to be explained by mythology.
The truth? God only knows, since only God was around when Creation happened. So it was to God that questions were put, and answered. And the answers are infallibly recorded in Genesis, also believed to be later revealed again to significant people such as Moses.
Distinguishing between literal and allegorical explanations of the Hexaemeron
What is unfailing, however, is the fundamental belief that God created the universe, the world, and everything in it – including you and me. That is certain – whether the first six days were 24-hour periods, 24-µsec miracles, or something else, makes no difference to the truth that it was God who created all.
Allegorically, the light created on the first day (before the sun appeared on the fourth day) was the light of angels. The cosmogonic "evening and morning" before the sun and nightfall existed can be understood as the completion and start of each stage of Creation.
As we all know, especially if home is a country that has its fair share of earthquakes and volcanoes, this planet we are temporarily living on is STILL BEING CREATED. (Followers of this website will notice that very rarely do we resort to using capital letters.) This means, according to Genesis, that Day Seven has not arrived yet, and God, as we know, is certainly not resting.
We'll leave the theological controversy of the length of a Hexaemeron Day for others with more time and bigger brains to discuss, and on this webpage bring the issue to a very personal level.
The creation of your world and my world
Like the proverbial silent crash of a falling tree in the forest if nobody is there to hear it, for you and me, the world doesn't exist unless we are living. Therefore its creation is very important to each of us, and the world, our personal world, will end when we die.
On the basis that we are now at Day Six, we are just one day away from the Day that God sees that all is good and rests on the Seventh Day. We are almost at the final day, so time, for you and me, is running out.
Yes, that admittedly sounds like a motivational poster for a doomsday cult, but it's quite in line with Christian eschatology: the world continues to head toward God's final goal for Creation, which is Day Seven, the world to come. Remember that for you and me, "the world" is our world, a spiritual world, created by God.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new Creation has come." (2 Cor. 5:17)
Astronomy, biology, chemistry, Earth sciences and physics
At least not a scientific manual in the way that we understand science today. If it were to be a science manual then the authors would have qualified what they meant by "day".
That's presuming that 'light' is what we understand as light, and also presuming that there was/is no other way for plants to thrive.
Let's be honest; Our simple minds are a long way off from fully understanding what God is capable of.