The genesis of Genesis


Here is what I think might have happened.

Sam the scribe, a very religious man, was hanging in front of his tent one day when he heard the voice of the Lord.

“Sam,” boomed the voice. “Get some parchment and ink and prepare to write. I want you to write a book about how I created the world and everything in it.”

Trembling, Sam said, “Yes Lord”, and ran inside to get the required tools of his trade.

“I’m ready, Lord”, he said.

“Good. Now then, this book will be called Genesis, because it is about how everything started.”

God paused for a minute. Then He intoned: “Listen, Sam, I don’t want you to interrupt Me. I will speak and you just write down what I say as best you can. Some of this will probably be over your head, so just try to get the gist of it. Do you follow me?”.

“Yes, Lord” said Sam, who had learned that that was the only appropriate answer to anything that God might ask or say.

“OK. In the beginning there was a state of nothingness, no space, no time, no matter, no energy, just Me. I created the universe though a singularity in which there was the creation and rapid expansion of matter and energy, and the laws of physics emerged. There was a period of inflation during which the  universe expanded faster than the speed of light. After a while, the universe got less dense and photons were able to escape the dense cloud of matter, and so there was light.

Four  forces, including  gravity, emerged  from the first microseconds of the universe. I set the physical constants for these forces just right so that the universe would come out perfectly to allow for the formation of galaxies,  stars, carbon and planets,  and eventually life. Did you get that?”

“Yes, Lord”.

So Sam wrote down, “

In the Beginning, God created the universe,

but universe came out heaven and the Earth. because that was how the universe was called.  God had also said that at the very beginning there wasn’t any light. He tried to picture what God had said about expansion of matter and he thought of the river overflowing its banks. So he pictured a formless dark void filled with flowing, rushing, expanding water. So he wrote:

Now the Earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Then he remembered that God had started talking about light coming out of the void.  So he wrote:

And God said, let there be light, and there was light.

Sam kept on writing about the light and added (because it made sense, although God hadn’t specifically said so) that the Lord had made daytime and nighttime. While he was writing all of this down, God had stopped speaking, allowing Sam time to finish this first part. When he was done, Sam wrote down “end of part one”. But when he read it over, it seemed insufficiently poetic, so he changed it to:

And there was evening and there was morning – the first day.

Ah, that sounded better. Then he looked up expectantly.

Sure enough, the Lord was ready.

“OK, so here is what happened next. The expanding cloud of matter in the form of very hot particles began to condense and cool over billions of years, and the effects of gravity led to aggregation of particles and the formation of stars composed of gas, and eventually with further cooling, planets such as the Earth. As the Earth cooled, some of the land surface became covered by condensing water vapor from the atmosphere (or you can just call it the sky), and the oceans formed.  Did you get all that?”

Sam said  “Yes, Lord”, but of course he didn’t. Still, he had to write something, and he did know what land and the sky and the ocean were, even if things like gravity, stars, particles, gas, planets, and water vapor were mysteries to him. So he wrote down the second  verse about the creation of heavens and the sky and dry land, separating the waters. And he ended the verse with his flourish about evening and morning, and used up another day.

God continued. “Now, finally the Earth had cooled enough, and I created life. It wasn’t easy. I had to get a bunch of amino acids, nucleotides (cytosine was really tough to find), and other stuff into these tiny cells, and then make a genetic code, which means I had to create information, but anyway, eventually I got this living cell complete with DNA, and all the cellular and molecular biology necessary to allow for further evolution. Then I sat back and watched. It did take a while, but with time those cells evolved into multi celled organisms, they started doing photosynthesis, and finally the first green plants evolved. I was really happy to see those come about, because then I knew that it was all working out as planned. And sure enough, with that photosynthesis working, the plants did great and that’s why there are so many trees and bushes and flowers around.” God paused and waited expectantly.

So Sam bent over the parchment and spent a long time getting his quill wet with ink. But he was stumped. Genetic code? Cytosine? Cells, DNA, evolution, photosynthesis? Nothing made any sense. So he skipped all of that crazy talk and went straight to what he did understand:

And God said, Let the land produce vegetation and seed bearing plants…

and the rest. And then he remembered that God said he was happy about this, so he wrote down:

And God saw it was good.

And then he added another day.

To be continued….

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