Genesis: The Scientific Version

P.Z. Myers posts a video immodestly entitled “I Know More Than God” that’s been on YouTube since at least March but that I’d never seen before:

Myers notes that the video puts “the actual creation story as revealed by modern physics into the same kind of portentous, simple language that even a Mesopotamian goat-herder could understand, the point being that if a god had chosen to tell primitive people how the universe came to be, he/she/it could have done so in just as awe-inspiring a way as the false myths we’ve got.”

I’m not so sure. A Great Being tale is much more awe-inspiring, I think, than scientific happenstance. This is especially critical if the mythos is intended primarily to inspire obedience and good behavior and only incidentally to explain the natural universe rather than vice-versa.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    A God who works through rules is even more awe-inspiring, at least to me.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Sure, but you’re not an illiterate, uneducated shepherd from several millennia ago, either.

  3. Rick DeMent says:

    What would be awe inspiring is if we could abandon the mythology of an ancient culture the holds us back in so many fundamental ways and start thinking for ourselves. Obedience to an invisible god who doesn’t exist, whose desires for us we have to guess at by parsing texts from 2 to 4 thousand years is the cause of more pain, suffering, and violence then any other single source save our own individual hubris.

  4. Eric says:

    I have to somewhat agree with James here, boys. To us moderns, the creation myth seems silly and inapplicable in this day and age. But we have sophisticated and mature science. To those who lived in the past, however, especially the “illiterate, uneducated shepherd,” all there was was church and god to help explain the mysteries of life and natural forces.

    At the end of “The Origin of Species,” Darwin says of evolution that there is “grandeur in this view of life.” I believe that too, and that that view is more awe-inspiring than simply being created by a god. But to the those who lived in the past, the latter was more believable than the former.

    Now, that gets the ancients off the hook. How to explain the many people who believe the creation myth today? That’s a separate question!

    Good topic, James.

  5. Bithead says:

    How to explain the many people who believe the creation myth today? That’s a separate question!

    It’s fairly simple…As I said about a year ago, in response to, I think one of Verdon’s posts, I fail to see much in the way of contradiction between the two ideas. It comes down to a matter of exclusionary (or perhaps reductive) logic. To wit:

    God making a Universe WOULD make a big bang, wouldn’t it?

    and…

    Creationists say 6 days. Evolutionists say 6 million years at a minimum. Who’s right? They both are. Think about it God is held to be a timeless being, to whom “a day is as a thousand years”. Wat is the working definition of a ‘day’ to such a being?

    Has man… and most everything else… evolved and change since their creation? Without question. But that still doesn’t enter into the issue of their creation itself, and doesn’t negate the concept of a higher being than ourselves being at least part of that happening. Thereby, there’s still no real conflict, here.

  6. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    If creation is a myth, who or what started the big bang? Look up the term universe and then explain what it is expanding into. What is awe inspiring is the concept that a biological accident somehow evolved to the state of being able to understand its own existence the the universe it lives in. If the big bang theory is anything more than myth, though a modern one, how did galaxies get further away from the beginning then they would have had time to get there? Some stars are more than 14 billion light years away.
    Second, if not God or a god, who do you think wiser, God, who makes being good optional or liberals who would force it upon you? Last, by what biological accident would you invent the making of bread? If you understand the process, somebody had to teach man how to make bread. There is just no logical process for primitive man to create bread.

  7. od says:

    If creation is a myth, who or what started the big bang?

    Doesn’t work, you can ask the same question about whoever or whatever started the big bang … ie what started the starter. You get an infinite regression of “what started whatever came before”. You can try to get around it by defining a prime starter, but its not convincing … you can also define an even prime number greater than two, but that doesn’t mean there’s a number which meets the definition.

    There are reasons to believe in God, but that isn’t one of them.

  8. William d'Inger says:

    There is just no logical process for primitive man to create bread.

    You can’t be serious. Bread (essentially) is flower and liquid that’s heated. It borders on the insane to think it wouldn’t have been created accidentally millions of times over. I’m afraid it’s your logic that’s faulty. I mean, since we invented the laser, bread seems pretty low tech.

  9. sam says:

    A Great Being tale is much more awe-inspiring, I think, than scientific happenstance.

    Ya think?

    In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. 3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

  10. Anderson says:

    Probably the original revelation from God was along the lines of the video, but then was debased (a la the “telephone” party game) to the version in Genesis ….

    I *have* always thought that the Genesis myth is at least presentable as a childishly reduced version of the real story, as opposed to those myths where a deity masturbates or performs some other sexual act that produces the cosmos. The Hebrews appear to’ve been downright prudish by comparison.

  11. Grewgills says:

    I *have* always thought that the Genesis myth is at least presentable as a childishly reduced version of the real story

    The order is not in line with our current understanding. ex/ Grass, plants, and fruiting trees did not exist prior to the sun, moon, and stars. It seems no more or less tied to actual events than the Hawaiian mythology or most others.