NOTE: This discussion is a clarification of a point made in the
"Compatibility of Genesis and Science"
Christianity and Science are Amazingly Compatible Essay.
and also in the shorter and more specific
Genesis and Science are Compatible Essay.
The fourteen identifiable events mentioned in Genesis 1 are presented in a specific sequence, Light was first, etc, man was last. As the main Essay notes, modern science has FINALLY (within the past 50 years) gotten to the point of determining dates for each of those events, and the SEQUENCE of the 14 events is exactly the same, with the possible exception that the appearance of birds might be one step out of the sequence as presented in Genesis 1. So, what does that mean?
Say that God was NOT involved! Say that some ancient human writer decided to think up a Genesis story! He makes himself notes of 14 events that he wants to mention. To start with, he could have selected ANY of the 14 as his first event. Personally, I might have had man created first so that he could witness all the rest! But the human writer had 14 possibilities for his first event. Now, for his SECOND event, he has 13 remaining things to mention, so he could pick any of those thirteen. So far, he could have started out with 14 times 13 or 182 possible combinations of the first two events he would mention.
This choosing process would continue for each remaining event. After he had written about 12 of the events, for example, he would only have two possibilities left for the next one, and then the remaining one would have to be last. The total number of combinations that a human writer could have written down is therefore 14 x 13 x 12 x 11 x 10 x 9 x 8 x 7 x 6 x 5 x 4 x 3 x 2 x 1 or what mathematicians call 14 factorial.
It is certainly true that a human writer would probably not have considered certain of those possibilities, such as where trees appeared first! So a more realistic number of the possibilities is probably well less than 87 billion. However, it is my guess that a human writer would have eliminated LIGHT as being first as well! But even if you logically weed it down to a billion possible sequences, or even down to a million, it still means that that human writer would have then had to do a one-in-a-million or one-in-a-billion lucky guess at getting the exact sequence that is presented in Genesis 1. Keep in mind that ancient people thought the Earth was flat and that the Sun and stars revolved around the Earth! It is not like such an ancient writer would have had research books to consult! His sequence would have been his best guess at the right sequence of those million or those billion or those 87 billion possibilities.
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It is my opinion that if any serious scientist would carefully examine this subject, the sequence in which things are mentioned in Genesis 1, and any valid statistical analysis is then applied, it would be hard to then deny that God must exist, because He must have helped get the Genesis 1 sequence right.
Personally, if I was Moses, or the first Scribes to write down Genesis 1, and I was told that Light was first, I really think I would ask "Are you SURE?" But now modern science knows that there were countless billions of stars creating light far before the Earth ever formed. So I guess Light really WAS first! And then the rest!
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C Johnson, Pastor, Theoretical Physicist
Physics Degree from University of Chicago