© 2019 by Dr. Zvi Aviner
Genesis Vs Evolution: How did Moses know?
Class 1: Is Genesis Another Bronze Age Myth?
: Questioning the validity of Genesis
To most people, the story of Genesis poses an enigma. The Fundamentalists believe that the world was created 5000 years ago in just a regular week, yet Science says it was born 13.7 Billion years ago and that life has evolved by natural selection and adaptation. Can we reconcile the two narratives?
For most modern scholars the answer is simple- what could Moses really know about the history of the world, 3500 years ago? His story of Genesis is therefore just another Bronze Age myth, no different from other myths told in his time.
Indeed, most ( 50.2% in one pole) of college student who have recenlty forsaken religion, have pointed Genesis as a source of their doubt about the truthfulness of the Bible.
Many attempts to reconcile Moses with Science have failed. When I was at high school, my rabbis told us either that only great rabbis know the truth, or that the story of Genesis should be taken allegorically. Well, I have not met a great rabbis who knwoes the secret, nor do I think that the story should not be taken on its face.
Moreover, if Moses knew that the story is just an allegory, why did he place it at the front-page of his Fiver Books, for everyone to read?
Indeed, placing the story up front renders it importance. Because if the story is invalidated – like by our science- it would shed a bad light on the rest of his Five Books; they too would be invalidated. On the other hands, if the story of Genesis is validated by our science, then we would stand in awe – how could he know all that? who told him such a credible story? Finding Genesis a truthful story would validate Moses’ entire revelation. The stakes are high! .
2: Genesis in comparison to ancient myths
So can Moses’ Genesis be counted among other myths of his time?
Luckily for us, we know today what the Bronze Age societies told about CREATION. The famous author, Karen Armstrong, the queen of Comparative Religion, write it down for us in her best seller “The History of God.” Shew says the following- .
The Egyptians in Moses time believed that the world was created when a male god named Rah (like in Rah-Amssess) impregnated a goddess named Nun (‘water’ or ‘darkness.’) Fearing that her embryo would one day rebel against him, Rah slashed Nuns’ belly, killed his son and threw his testicles into the Mediterranean Sea near the city of Aka. The lamenting mother-goddess Nun then dived into the Sea, retrieved her sons’ testicles and resurrected him. From this, the world was somehow created.
Now we can empathize with the story, clap our hands with excitement to the good news of the embryo’s resurrection from its testicles, but one thing we we can’t do – say that the story concurs with our Science. No way. The Egyptian story is a myth, whereas our Scientific narrative is dry and factual. Moses, having grown in Pharaoh’s home, must have been familiar with this story.
The Greek too, in Moses’ time, told a similar story about CREATION. They believed that a ‘male god’ named Uranus impregnated the goddess of Earth, Gaia. Fearing that her embryos- the Titans- would come out and rebel against him, Uranus pushed them back into Gaia’s womb causing her much pains. Whenever the ground is shaking under your feet, it is the goddess Gaia twisting in labor pains.The youngest Titans Cronus however, stood up against his father. He waited for the right time, and when Uranus cohabited with Gaia, he cut off his father’s sexual organ and threw it to the sea. The rest of the Titans were able to escape and thus the world began to flourish.
Again, we may empathize with the Titans and even play football in their name, yet we can’t say that their story has anything to do with our Science. No way!
Other ancient myths
According to Karen Amstrong, all civilizations in Moses time told similar stories about CREATION. The Japanese, Chinese, Indians and African nations they all told stories full of sexual perversions, rivalry, jealousy and murder. . We can assume that Moses, having grown in Pharaohs’ palace, must have known these myths. And yet, he tells us in Genesis a completely different story.
3: Moses’ Genesis in Comparison with the Myths of His Time
Moses story is clean
First of all, Moses story is ‘clean’ of any Jealousy, killing, power struggle and sexual perversion. It is a factual story, a dry account of events Day by Day. It does not raise any emotion in the reader, besides a sense of awe to the power of the CREATOR. By this alone Moses story differs so drastically from all the myths of his time.
Moses sees an order in CREATION
Secondly, unlike all the myths of his time, Moses’ Genesis recognizes an ORDER in Nature. Some elements or creatures came first, others followed. Thus, the Dry Land was first separated from the Sea, and only then the Vegetation appeared. Then , during the Fifth next Day, Fish appeared in the sea, followed by Birds in the sky then Crocodiles (Amphibians) on Land. Only then, on the Sixth Day, Cattle-like creatures appeared, followed by Beast-like creatures that feed on Cattle, and so on. Man appeared as the last creature on the list. .
We should realize how extraordinary dry and factual this story is, in comparison to all Bronze Age myths of Moses time. No one else saw any order in Nature. For Pharaoh, the animals roamed free for his hunting game and pleasure. None of the famous wise men of Egypt wrote anything resembling Genesis. Although the Egyptians depicted their gods with faces of birds, crocodiles, beasts and snakes, they did not recognize which creature came first and which came later. Nor did the Geeks, Babylonians, Persians or Japaneses recognize any order of creature in CREATION, that might resemble Genesis. .
How then can any scholar regard Moses’ Genesis as another Bronze Age myth?
And if so, who told Moses the story, 3500 years ago, having been grown in Pharaoh’s great house?
Moses’ Genesis Compared to Science
Since none of the stories about CREATION told in Moses time is compatible with Science, what about Moses’ story itself?
words with our Scientific knowledge. The first topics that should be addressed are:
- The age of the Universe
- The length of a Day of CREATION
How long was a Day of CREATION?
According to Science, the Universe exists 13.7 Billion years. Moses seems to say that the world was created 5000 years ago in just one week . But Moses actually never mentions this age of the Universe explicitly. The number 5000 have been calculated backwards by extrapolation from Cain and Abel . Moses imself does not mention the age of the Universe. it can be any number of human years.
Kabbala tradition has indeed offered several calculations that show that the age of the Universe is much more that 5000 years.
First, a Day of CREATION – kabbala says – can’t be our day. At the end of the First Day the Bible says
“And it was evening, and it was morning, One Day.”
How can this be our day, when the sun and the Moon were seen regularly on Earth only later a the Fourth Day?
Moreover, the verse does not say “ Day One ” (like Day Two, Day Three, Day Four etc) but rather “One Day.” By this, Moses actually defines for us the length of One Day of CREATION– the time it took CREATION to advance from the Beginning to have in it Light and Darkness, Chaos and Order, Matter and Water, as described in the text. It could have taken any number of years.
Kabbala also have calculated the length of One Day of CREATION. Certain rabbinic scholars (quoted by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan) have used Psalms to calculat the length of a Day. Most Psalms were composed by King David, yet one is attributed to Moses who writes-
“For a thousand of our years are like a one Day of yours” (Psalms 90)
Since there are 350 days in a year, a Year of the CREATOR equals 350.000 human years.
Now another kabbala tradition says that 6000 “Heavenly Years” equal a Day of CREATION. Hence A Day of CREATION equals 6000×350.000=2.1 Billion human years.
Hence 6 Days of CREATION are 6 x 2.1=12.6 Billions human years – quite close to what Science says- 3.7 B years.
Another kabbala source (see rabbi Aryeh Kaplan) calculated the entire Six Days to be 15 Billions years. since we live towards the end of the Sixth Day, the current Age of the Universe is 12.6-15 B years, very close to what science says.
Our point is that Moses’ Genesis CAN be seen consistent with Science. Each Day of CREATION is an era, that could have taken many human years, 2.1 Billion years on the average. . You can’t do such a match with any myths told in Moses time!
if so, why does Moses describe Creation as done in a week? To establish our human week as a token for Genesis. He wishes us to remember that story of CREATION all our lives. Because the story would also tell us who created us, when, and for what purpose. and that information should be on our minds ALL THE TIME!
Next let’s ask, can we match Moses’ Genesis with our Science? . .
END OF CLASS 15