Pharyngula

The KEY to understanding Genesis!

Daniel Friedmann has found it! It’s the scaling factor that lets you convert the ‘days’ of God in the book of Genesis into human years. This is reported with total credulity in the Toronto Star.

Let’s take the word “day.” In terms of the first six days, they’re “creation days,” which are different from just days. There are a number of sources in all the religions that interpret those days as periods of time.

I’m certainly not the first. What is unique about my work is that I went into the sources and I said, “Look, if the Bible is self-contained and if I say a day is not 24 hours, then what is it? Whatever it is it, it must be in the Bible. I can’t make it up from science, or from what I know today, and push it back on the Bible.”

What I discovered was a scaling factor — just like when you look at the blueprint of your home. It doesn’t make a lot of sense until you look at the right-hand corner and it says “one inch equals eight feet” and so on. So I went looking for that in the Bible and I found it. It told me that one day is 2.56 billion years. That is the epoch of time that each of those six “creation days” is.

Now when you read Genesis, which tells you what happened on each day, and use other sources to put those events in a timeline and then convert through this 2.56 billion per day you get an astonishing thing! You get the age of the universe to the decimal place of where science has measured it. You get the first life to the decimal place of where science has measured it. You get the age of the sun and so on.

In my first book I showed 19 different dates that came out of the Bible and came out of the scientific record and they match. That’s mathematically impossible unless the scale of 2.56 billion years works.

This is standard day-age creationism; it’s a tactic that’s been used to try and reconcile the Bible with geology for over a century. One problem: it doesn’t work. It doesn’t matter what your scaling factor is, the biblical order doesn’t fit the scientific order, and a a simple linear scaling factor produces dates that are totally out of whack with reality. Here, look: these are the events by day from the first book of Genesis, multiplied by the magic scaling factor. Multiplying 6 god days by 2.56 billion years per god day, doesn’t give you a number that’s even close to the scientifically measured age of the universe, and the dates don’t line up in even an approximation for the origin of life.

Day 1 15.36 billion years ago God creates the earth The currently known age of the universe is 13.8 billion years; the earth is 4.5 billion years old.
Day 2 12.8 billion years ago God separates firmament and waters This one doesn’t make a lick of goddamn sense, until you understand that in middle eastern mythology 3,000 years ago, the universe is filled with water, and we’re inside a bubble floating in it.
Day 3 10.24 billion years ago God creates dry land and plants fruit trees, grass, and herbs 10 billion years ago, the earth didn’t exist. The oceans formed as a hot rock cooled, at the end of the Hadean, and plate tectonics were in action about 4 billion years ago.
Day 4 7.68 billion years ago God creates the sun and the moon The sun’s formation preceded that of the earth. Need I point out that this model has plants growing for 2.56 billion years without a sun?
Day 5 5.12 billion years ago God creates birds, whales, and fish 5 billion years ago, the solar nebula was condensing from clouds of interstellar gas. “Fish”, loosely speaking, evolved in the Cambrian, half a billion years ago; his dates are off by an order of magnitude. Birds evolved in the Mesozoic, and whales in the Cenozoic, so he’s off even further there.
Day 6 2.56 billion years ago God creates cattle, creeping things, and people So cows and people would be older than Eukaryotes? I don’t think so.

Daniel Friedmann’s model only works for people so primitive that they don’t know how to use a calculator and are baffled by simple algebraic manipulations. He claims he has made the scientific and biblical timelines correlate — I don’t see how.

Furthermore, he claims that the biblical account is perfectly concordant with the scientific explanation, with just three exceptions, phenomena that science fails to explain but that the Bible can account for perfectly.

The most famous one is the beginning. If you look at the Big Bang theory, it explains absolutely everything from the beginning until today very nicely but it has no idea how the beginning came about.

The next most famous one is what the Bible calls the human soul. The Bible says the bodies of humans were made just like the bodies of animals. In some cases science recognizes the soul, in some cases it says there is no soul, we’re just super-intelligent. The key thing is, what does a soul bring to a human that it doesn’t bring to anyone else? The ability to speak and the ability to envision the future.

We’re the only species according to science that can do that. That leads to painting and art and things that in an evolutionary context are completely useless. The Bible tells us that these behaviours come from the soul, the divine soul, from the outside. Science agrees that these behaviours are completely unique to humans but they don’t have an explanation for where they come from.

The third thing is the appearance of sea creatures during what science calls the Cambrian explosion. What happened then came out outside of the scientific natural process. God interfered and did something miraculous.

Those are the only three times that something was happening that was not just cause and effect within the normal laws of nature.

No, we’ve got a good idea of how multicellular animal life evolved prior to and during the Cambrian—which was 500 million years ago, not 5 billion, as his timeline would claim. The capabilities of humans are a product of their material brain, no soul (which kooks like Friedmann can neither define nor measure) required. And if we have no idea what initiated the Big Bang, neither does Friedmann — “God did it” is not an explanation.

Would you believe that Friedmann is an “engineering physicist” and “CEO of Canada’s leading aerospace company, MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates”? Incredible as it sounds, I checked, and it’s true. There’s no denying he must have a certain kind of intelligence, but jeez, religion can really throw a good brain off the rails, can’t it?

Comments

  1. #1 jrkrideau
    Canada
    June 16, 2013

    I think I’m staying away from airplanes!
    Even the pyramid inch makes more sense.

  2. #2 Jack Golan
    Sacramento
    June 16, 2013

    Without getting into the creation-evolution debate, Gen. 1 offers a literary clue that might indicate at least part of the author’s thinking.

    Gen. 1:2 sets the stage with “The earth was without form, and void.” The act of creation, over the next six days, involved defining forms and filling each one’s void with content — not unlike defining the structure of a database and then populating it with information.

    On day one, God created the forms day and night. On day four he filled them with the sun, moon and stars.

    On day two, God created the forms of sea and sky. On day five, he populated them with sea creatures and birds, respectively.

    On day three, God created the form land — already covered with vegetation — and separated it from the seas. On day six, he populated the land with animal life and man.

    Considering Gen. 1 on its own terms, as the author structured it, avoids trying to validate the Bible by fitting it to some external standard and doesn’t require plants created on day 3 to survive until the sun shows up on day 4 … however long that period is supposed to be.

  3. #3 Rob Crompton
    Leominster, UK
    June 16, 2013

    So a day is lots longer than a day. And when we get to Gen 5:5 which tells us how old Adam was when he died, a year is presumably lots shorter than a year. Makes perfect sense.
    (And sense in that sentence is understood in the same sort of way – it means something quite different from sense.)

  4. #4 TomS
    June 16, 2013

    One doesn’t need to do calculations. Just the order of events is enough. The flying creatures, according to Genesis 1 preceded land creatures, but according to standard science, it’s the other way around. One of the two is wrong. Also, there’s a problem with there being days and nights before the Sun, Moon and stars were placed in the “firmament”. And it’s worth noting that the Bible doesn’t have a word to say about the majority of life on Earth. And, by the way, there is nothing about the majority of the Universe: dark matter and dark energy. On what days were those created?

  5. #5 Cat
    June 17, 2013

    It’s always odd when people take some parts of the Bible so literally… I just dont understand how this guys feels the need to reconcile genesis with science when the Bible was written by people, who I’m pretty sure weren’t witnesses to creation. I’ve always been of the opinion that the creation story was really just a nice tale about saying that God created everything ..considering there’s more than one version in the Bible, I don’t know why you’d think it was set in stone.

  6. #6 Russell
    June 17, 2013

    Who needs this upstrart when my alternative geochronology is still going strong ?

  7. #7 Eric Lund
    June 17, 2013

    I just dont understand how this guys feels the need to reconcile genesis with science when the Bible was written by people, who I’m pretty sure weren’t witnesses to creation.

    There is a certain subset of Christians who feel that they have to take the Bible literally, every word of it, or their worldview comes crashing down. Their worldview is so fragile that they are correct to fear its crashing when they find they can’t take the Bible literally (more than a few atheists arrived at that view in precisely this fashion). But, as you say, the Bible has enough internal contradictions (of which the two creation stories is but one example) that it takes a fair amount of cognitive dissonance to maintain the illusion that it’s possible to take the Bible literally.

  8. #8 Dai
    June 19, 2013

    “So I went looking for that in the Bible and I found it. It told me that one day is 2.56 billion years. ”
    So where exactly is that found? Chapter and verse?
    Why do interviewers so seldom ask really, really obvious questions like this?

  9. #9 brightmoon
    NYC
    June 20, 2013

    jack Golan ..I always saw this as a literary device also

    3 days of separating “intangible” stuff followed by 3 days of adding things to those separated regions…

    to think of this as any kind of history was always ludicrous to me as I don’t even think that accurate literal histories were even around when Genesis was first written down …always some stuff about ancestors or other important figures being descended from the god(s)

  10. #10 Dave
    Orlando
    June 24, 2013

    When I was young, a teacher once explained to me that the first few chapters of Genesis was simply a parable about the power and authority of God.

    I wish I could remember the teacher’s name, because he did me a great favor. He separated my love of science from people who think the Bible is a cudgel.

    When we free ourselves from the odd dogma of literalism, we can learn much from the Bible. Not science, of course, but then it isn’t a science textbook.

    Put yourself in Moses’ place. When he wrote down the story of creation, so you really suppose he intended it to be used to teach science? Or was he trying to teach people about God?

    When Robert Frost wrote “The Road Not Taken”, do we suppose he intended it as a guide to cartography? Suppose the road names had fit in the verse. Would people really be writing in to point out how easily he could have travelled both?

  11. #11 David Marjanović
    Museum für Naturkunde
    June 25, 2013

    Put yourself in Moses’ place. When he wrote down the story of creation

    What makes you think he did? For example, why would any single person write two creation stories, one right after the other?

    (And that’s before we get to the “question” of whether Moses even existed in the first place.)

  12. [...] a recent post titled, The KEY to understanding Genesis! (June 16, 2013), Professor P. Z. Myers (photographed above, courtesy of Wikipedia and Larry Moran) [...]

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