Friday, July 12, 2013

Book Review: "The Genesis Enigma"

For once I'm reporting on a book I didn't buy at a thrift store or yard sale. The Genesis Enigma by Andrew Parker [Plume Books, an imprint of Penguin; ISBN 978-0-525-95124-7] is a good book. I'm glad I spent the money on it at Barnes & Noble (the remainders table, of course). The subtitle of the book is Why the First Book of the Bible is Scientifically Accurate.

The premise of Parker is that science has all these tremendous discoveries; they seemed to go against church teachings; science learned even more that was against church teachings; the church dug in their heels before grudgingly yielding; the church's recalcitrance was due to a literal interpretation of the earliest part of Genesis; and when you read the creation story in Genesis figuratively rather than literally, it exactly aligns with the last 400 years of scientific discoveries.

The general format of his chapters is to first state something from Genesis chapter 1, then discuss something learned by science, something that he says worked to destroy the message of the church, but that it only did that because the church held too strongly to literal interpretation of what was figurative. He starts with "And God said 'Let there be light' and there was light." He then deals with the creation of everything, including our sun.

Actually, he starts with a chapter about the Old Testament record as being true based on various archaeological findings, and how the more they find the more true it becomes. In this first chapter be brings the scientific personalities into it, trying to tell something not just about the discoveries but also about how they went about their work and even something about them. It's a little distracting, but it does break up the purely scientific information.

Parker then goes through the steps of Genesis one by one, chapter by chapter in his book, showing how what Genesis says came next was exactly what science says comes next. He says if only the church had realized that at the time, how great it would have been.

I think Parker makes a fair case. He will make a statement something like "and this discovery was devastating for the church." If so, it was only because the church was trying to make the Bible say something it didn't say. I don't think he says that all that well. That could have been brought out more.

I have much more to write about this book, so I think I'll end this now and pick it up in a day or two. Right now I think I'll need two more posts to tell all I want to about this book.

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