Thursday, July 18, 2013

"The Genesis Enigma" and God and the Bible

In The Genesis Enigma, Andrew Parker makes his case that science and religion don't contradict each other. Science gets down to the nitty-gritty about how the universe and life in it came to be, while religion stands back and looks at the big picture. At least that's what I believe he's saying.

But at times he talks about how this or that scientific discovery gave religion a black eye. And by "religion" he's essentially referring to Judeo-Christianity. He says, however, that the black eye occurred because Christianity clung to a rigorous interpretation of Genesis chapter 1, rather than realizing it should be interpreted figuratively. The specifics of that are: young earth vs. old earth; and whether a supreme being had any part at all in creating life. He, of course, comes down on the side of an old earth. He also says God was unnecessary for the creation of life.

Interestingly, however, he seems to believe that God was necessary for the creation of what came before life, that is what created the universe. He says that science has no answer—other than the Big Bang—as to what created all the energy necessary for the universe to have formed and then for life to have formed from natural processes. But that energy had to have come from somewhere; he says God is as good an explanation of that as any.

He also, in the last chapter, talks about what God is, and what he isn't. He doesn't like the anthropomorhic God that is seen in Christian art, man-like in appearance. The God that deals with so many things that science can't—emotions and intellect, for example—need not be confined to the shape of humankind's body. He could be much different.

Since Parker says that Genesis has it right as to how life began and diversified, he wonders who wrote Genesis and where he got his information. Parker deals with this in the lengthy appendix. He subscribes to the biblical scholarship of Richard Elliot Friedman [Who Wrote the Bible?, 1989] in saying Genesis had four authors, and that these authors can be somewhat known by the style of the writing and how they deal with Moses vs. Aaron and Levites vs. priests. His conclusion is that most of the words in Genesis were written by two authors, Jermiah the prophet and Ezra the priest.

I personally think Parker is on shakey ground with this. I'd have to read Friedman's book to know, but Parker doesn't give us enough information to make a convincing case.

I'm going to do one more post on this book, more of a "where I come down on the debate" type of post. Stay tuned for this.

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