The Genesis 1 creation account is primarily proclaiming that God is the one who creates. This can be seen in the way the sun and the moon are described in Creation Day 4 (ie, the "greater light" and the "lesser light"). Most scholars agree that this wording was chosen to help keep the Israelites from idolizing and worshiping these heavenly bodies the way many of their neighbors did.
But beyond that theological point, it also appears that the Genesis 1 creation narrative is a chronology. Now, many people object to this point of view, saying that "the bible isn't a science textbook". While that is true, it is also a mischaracterization of the problem. Even though the bible isn't a science textbook, it does speak the truth on matters that it discusses. You won't find descriptions of electrons, gravitational theory, or optics in the bible, but when it does speak of natural phenomena, it should be error-free (when interpreted correctly).
So, back to the chronology of Genesis 1. If we are so bold as to examine it as a chronology, we see remarkable accuracy. There are at least 11 major points discussed in the Genesis 1 account that are now known to be scientifically accurate in their statement or in their chronology:
- The universe is created from nothing, and time had a beginning.
- The primordial earth was dark (ie, blanketed with thick clouds).
- The primordial earth was unfit for life.
- The primordial earth earth was covered with water.
- Early on in earth's history, the thick cloud cover was exchanged for a thinner atmosphere.
- The water cycle began.
- Dry land appeared.
- Photosynthetic plant life appeared.
- The oceans swarmed with life (Cambrian Explosion).
- Advanced animals appeared.
- Humans appeared.
One last thing. I am not saying that all the answers lie in Genesis 1. There are parts of this chronology that we don't understand, or, perhaps, seem to contradict what we have discovered through studying the natural world. However, there are other interpretations of the text, and I think it would be instructive to peruse these as well, in particular the "framework hypothesis" and the "analogical day view", which we'll get to in the next posting.
But for now:
Comments are welcome!