Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Curve ball

Okay, now that I've made my claim about how Genesis is all about what happened at my house yesterday afternoon, etc., that it totally misses the point of Genesis to speculate about what happened back when -- I still hold to those points of view, by the way -- I need to share with you a book I've been reading.

I was at a bookstore not long ago looking for something by N.T. Wright (highly recommended) and they didn't have the book I was looking for. But I did run across something else. It's called The Genesis Enigma and it's written by Andrew Parker, an evolutionary biologist from England. He subscribes to Darwinian evolution and writes rather tongue-in-cheek about how the church has been on the wrong side of so many scientific advances. But the subtitle of this book is "Why the Bible is scientifically accurate." Parker's claim to fame is his research into the evolution of the eye, which he says first appeared in trilobites about 521 million years ago. He writes in great detail about the whole process of evolution from the Big Bang down through the formation of the solar system, the earth, and the appearance of life. For a non-scientist like me, he writes very accessibly and not only tells what scientists believe happened, but also about the scientists through history who made the discoveries that lead us in these directions. It's a fascinating read.

The thrust of his book, though, is that he makes a detailed and specific set of claims that the Genesis 1 creation account is matched in great detail with evolutionary chronology. The deeper he dug into the resemblance between the two sequences, the more mystified he became. How could a desert people like the Israelites come up with a mythology that tells about the appearance of life in exactly the same order (according to Parker) that evolutionary biology does? He has finally come to the conclusion that this sequence in Genesis 1 is strong evidence for the divine inspiration of the Bible. Parker himself is uncomfortable with his conclusions -- it's almost funny to read when he gets squirmy about claiming divine inspiration. But he follows the evidence resolutely where it leads him (I skipped ahead and read the end of the book already.)

There are some holes in Parker's argument that even I could drive a truck through. But those holes don't necessarily threaten his overall assertion -- that there is an uncanny resemblance between the chronology proposed by evolutionary biologists and the sequence of creation in Genesis.

So while I don't believe arguing about what happened back then is particularly helpful when it comes to Genesis (I still say that's missing the point) it is fascinating to me to think that God might have been planting seeds in that account through which Andrew Parker and others like him might someday be drawn to know him. Good stuff.