Genesis Revisited: A Scientific Creation Story
To the Citizens of Kansas (along with those from Ohio, Georgia, Michigan, and a dozen other states contemplating the teaching of “Intelligent Design” creationism as a “balance” to the theory of evolution in public school science classes), I present you with a small literary sampling of how the opening chapters of Genesis will have to be revised to accommodate modern scientific theories and data. I call it Genesis Revisited.
In the beginning — specifically on October 23, 4004 B.C., at noon — out of quantum foam fluctuation God created the Big Bang. The bang was followed by cosmological inflation. God saw that the Big Bang was very big, too big for creatures that could worship him, so He created the earth. And darkness was upon the face of the deep, so He commanded hydrogen atoms (which He created out of Quarks and other subatomic goodies) to fuse and become helium atoms and in the process release energy in the form of light. And the light maker he called the sun, and the process He called fusion. And He saw the light was good because now He could see what he was doing. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be lots of fusion light makers in the sky. Some of these fusion makers appear to be more than 4,004 light years from Earth. In fact, some of the fusion makers He grouped into collections He called galaxies, and these appeared to be millions and even billions of light years from Earth, so He created “tired light” — light that slows down through space — so that the 4004 B.C. creation myth might be preserved. And created He many wondrous splendors, including Red Giants, White Dwarfs, Quasars, Pulsars, Nova and Supernova, Worm Holes, and even Black Holes out of which nothing can escape. But since God cannot be constrained by nothing (can God make a planet so big that he could not lift it?), He created Hawking radiation through which information can escape from Black Holes. This made God even more tired than tired light, and the evening and the morning were the second day.
And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the continents drift apart by plate tectonics. He decreed sea floor spreading would create zones of emergence, and He caused subduction zones to build mountains and cause earthquakes. In weak points in the crust God created volcanic islands, where the next day He would place organisms that were similar to but different from their relatives on the continents, so that still later created creatures called humans would mistake them for evolved descendants. And in the land God placed fossil fuels, natural gas, and other natural resources for humans to exploit, but not until after Day Six. And the evening and the morning were the third day.
And God saw that the land was lonely, so He created animals bearing their own kind, declaring Thou shalt not evolve into new species, and thy equilibrium shall not be punctuated. And God placed into the land’s strata, fossils that appeared older than 4004 B.C. And the sequence resembled descent with modification. And the evening and morning were the fourth day.
And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creatures that hath life, the fishes. And God created great whales whose skeletal structure and physiology were homologous with the land mammals he would create later that day. Since this caused confusion in the valley of the shadow of doubt God brought forth abundantly all creatures, great and small, declaring that microevolution was permitted, but not macroevolution. And God said, “Natura non facit saltum” — Nature shall not make leaps. And the evening and morning were the fifth day.
And God created the pongidids and hominids with 98 percent genetic similarity, naming two of them Adam and Eve, who were anatomically fully modern humans. In the book in which God explained how He did all this, in chapter one He said he created Adam and Eve together out of the dust at the same time, but in chapter two He said He created Adam first, then later created Eve out of one of Adam’s ribs. This caused further confusion in the valley of the shadow of doubt, so God created Bible scholars and theologians to argue the point.
And in the ground placed He in abundance teeth, jaws, skulls, and pelvises of transitional fossils from pre-Adamite creatures. One he chose as his special creation He named Lucy. And God realized this was confusing, so he created paleoanthropologists to sort it out. And just as He was finishing up the loose ends of the creation God realized that Adam’s immediate descendants who lived as farmers and herders would not understand inflationary cosmology, global general relativity, quantum mechanics, astrophysics, biochemistry, paleontology, population genetics, and evolutionary theory, so He created creation myths. But there were so many creation stories throughout the land that God realized this too was confusing, so he created anthropologists, folklorists, and mythologists to settle the issue.
By now the valley of the shadow of doubt was overrunneth with skepticism, so God became angry, so angry that God lost His temper and cursed the first humans, telling them to go forth and multiply (but not in those words). They took God literally and 6,000 years later there are six billion humans. And the evening and morning were the sixth day.
By now God was tired, so God said, “Thank me its Friday,” and He made the weekend. It was a good idea.
This article was originally published in Darwin: A Norton Critical Edition (Selected and Edited by Philip Appleman.) 2001. New York: W.W. Norton: 625–626.