Posted 03 June 2010
In Celebration of Psalm
God's handiwork in Creation
INTRODUCTION TO THE
The creation narrative is a major theme of the [silent speech] that God
has embedded in the created world to declare his own glory and
handiwork. Just in the past century, scientists have learned
astonishing details of this narrative, but in truth, the narrative has
been gradually unfolding since the beginning of history.
The silent speech is there, but whether it impels a person to glorify
God depends on the person's relationship with God. The speech "goes out
through all the earth". It "rains on the just and the unjust". It
resounds alike to atheists and to worshipers of God. The latter have no
special hidden message: it is the same message.
It is like the appreciation of art: one person looks at a work of art
and see depths of beauty and meaning, while another person looks at the
same work and sees nothing. It is the same work and conveys
the same physical impressions on the eye, but the eye of spiritual
understanding sees it differently.
My purpose here is to unfold the creation narrative and describe it as
well as I can, in order to express some part of that glory and
God has marvelously showered his blessings on us today, because many
things in the creation narrative have only recently been possible to
understand. This gives the narrative particular poignancy, and perhaps
urgency: what is it that God has in store for the modern world that he
should bless us with such insight that until very recently would have
been impossible to attain?
At many places in this narrative there are startling facts that imply
God's purposeful and intelligent activity. These are what I call [sharp
points]. The nature of sharp points is that they may be resisted with
effort, but the cumulative effect is either to lead men to acknowledge
God's glory or to take on ever more absurd and even irrational stances
(as it seems to me). Personally, I try to make a study of these
attempts to resist the sharp points, so there will be frequent
references to the non-theistic explanations when they seem relevant.
These are, after all, comments of intelligent people, and thus worthy
of attention. If I make a reply, I will try (I hope) to do it in the
spirit of scientific inquiry without any depredation or insult intended.
Many things in the universe are unfathomable -- or at least are
not yet understood. This has been true since the beginning. The
question is, how do humans address such things? It is part
of the human condition that we cannot just let such things alone. And
always has been, since the earliest records of human history.
got to hunt;
Bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder, “Why, why, why?”
Tiger got to sleep;
Bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.
Kurt Vonnegut, Cat’s Cradle
There seems to be a built-in impulse to tell ourselves we understand.
For those who believe in a Creator, this understanding can pull in
opposite ways. On the one hand we can take the attitude that there is
no need to explain: God did it, and that's it. On the other hand we can
try to pass off the unexplainable as some improbable natural event, or
tie it to a known or plausible natural phenomenon.
For example, consider the Biblical account of two partings of water
during the Exodus (at the Red Sea and the Jordan River): to some it is
a miracle, and that's it; others comfort themselves in finding a
natural event that might produce such a result -- high winds backing up
the Red Sea, a rock avalanche blocking the Jordan river upstream. I
welcome either position but sometimes I find some of the "natural"
explanations to be a bit of a stretch (such as Jesus "walking on the
water" by stepping on submerged rocks, as if the disciples who spent
their lives on water would miss that possibility).
Perhaps many Christians think of the creation process in the same way:
no explanation needed. To a person who thinks that way, this website is
not of much use -- and might in fact be annoying. But for me, it is
quite satisfying to be able to make sense of many of the things that
science has discovered about creation, and to try to see how these
things fit in with the creation narrative.
• Why is the universe so large and
empty -- is it a profligate waste of creative effort?
• Why can scientists come up with good explanations? Why is the
universe scrutable to the remarkable extent that it is?
• Why is evolutionary theory such an effective explanation of
life? What are its limits?
• Why is there so much built-in information about the distant past?
My explanation for some of these things is that in creation God used
natural processes whenever they would suffice to achieve a sought-for
result, regardless of the time required to achieve it, provided it
could be done within the broad natural constraints of the life of a
universe or a solar system, or the need to perform a sequence of such
tasks to achieve the contemplated end of the human creation. Thus the
universe is (we shall see) necessarily large and at least 10 billion
years old, the earth is over 4 billion years old, the first life is
over 3 billion years old, and for over 2 billion of these years all
life was bacterial, that life began in water and did not emerge on land
for over a billion years after the first advanced life began: all of
these for good and sufficient reasons that we will explore in the
Of course, to describe a natural way that something could happen is not
the same as asserting that it happened without the Creator's
involvement. A secular naturalist would conclude this, and (justly)
congratulate himself for coming up with natural mechanisms, but a
Creationist might admit that God also "nudged" the natural processes to
head in a particular direction. Hens may lay eggs, but cared-for, fed
and sheltered hens may lay them quicker and surer.
The task of science is to determine the limits (if any) of what can be
done by natural processes. In fact for me this is a sort of definition
of science. A secular evolutionist may assert that all of life arose by
purely natural processes. This is a possibility in my definition, but
it must be demonstrated by the accepted methodology of science: it is
not a going-in assumption -- of course one could elevate it to a
metaphysical assumption, but from a scientific point of view that seems
a bit rash, a spoiler in fact because it short-circuits a lot of
One feature that I see in the story as it unfolds in the creation
narrative, is that there is no wasted time: things move apace, as
quickly as natural processes (when they rule) allow. Thus the earth and
the universe are about as young as may be; the first life appeared
almost as soon as the earth cooled to the point that life could exist.
The ecosystem that supports advanced life developed apace. The modern
oxygen atmosphere that is essential to advanced life came about at the
earliest possible moment, followed almost immediately by the first
complex (oxygen-based) life. Animal life and plant life came into
parallel "just in time", often in a symbiotic synchronization.
Land-based life came as soon as the land could
support it and it was possible to survive without suffering the bad
effects of cosmic rays. There is a remarkable "arrow of time" that
upwards. Even the mass extinctions that occurred periodically in the
past served a purpose to clear the way for another advance in the
The plan of this website is to identify the illumination of science
with the Silent Speech of
Psalm 19:1-4. The existence of a built-in
and detailed record of the past in the geologic record, the ability
through a systematic development of science to probe the unreachable
universe and very beginnings of time, in short, our ability to
understand the past, even to delineate the special features of the
Creation that are required for life to exist -- the so-called Anthropic
Principle -- is a result of God's gracious provision of the silent
speech. So understanding that silent speech is the essence of science,
and its message as regards God's creative activity is the subject of
What sort of things do we now know about the creation narrative that
were previously unknown? Here are just a few:
universe had a definite
beginning: many scientists and philosophers -- as recently as
the 1950s --
assumed that the universe has always existed. Even many of the mythical
creation narratives from ancient times assumed that things were made
from something that was there before. Creation out of nothing seemed to
be a logical impossibility.
• Matter also has a definite beginning.
In fact all but a few of the
lightest elements were formed in stars, or in the explosive destruction
of stars (supernovas). This has only been hinted at since about the
1930s, but only proved in the 1970s.
• All living matter is exceedingly
complex at its most basic level --
every form of life uses (essentially) the same complex "central dogma"
that codes and translates genes into the most basic building matter of
the cell. This has been known since the mid-1960s -- and refutes the
confident proclamations made in the late 1800s by evolutionay
scientists such as Ernst Haeckel.
• The very existence of a
life-supporting universe requires
unimaginably precise fine-tuning of its fundamental physical
This fine-tuning was hinted at by remarks as early as the 1950s, and is
exhibited in numerous instances. The excruciating precision in the
fine-tuning of some critical features have been known only within the
last 30 years -- and the saga continues even to the present.
AND SYNOPSIS OF THE ARGUMENT
Development of the Creation Narrative
The development of the Creation Narrative in this website has the
on Psalm 19:1-4. This introduces the theme of the Silent
Speech. and includes an example of that speech in Astronomical time-keeping,
which serves as a prototype. Constellations. The Ecliptic. The Zodiac.
Precession of the Equinoxes. Star Catalogs. The Solar System.
The Creation Narrative: This webpage.
Introduction: Physical and
Chemical Properties Tuned for Life. An overview of the
Principle and how the most fundamental features of physics and
chemistry are precisely what is required for life to occur in this (or
I. In the Beginning: Starting "Without Form
and Void". -- The laws of physics, chemistry, and the elements.
Cosmology as a scientific discipline.
II. Formation of the Habitat: "Form and Content" -- Formation of
the Solar System, the Sun, and the early Earth.
III. The Beginnings of Life and Preparation for Advanced Life
IV. Advanced Life
Chapter 9: Creation of the Animal Phyla.
Homeobox genes. Development genes.
Chapter 10: Creation
of Marine Plants.
Chapter 11:Creation of
Marine Animals. The Cambrian Explosion.
Chapter 12: Creation
of Land Plants. Transport systems.
Chapter 13: Creation
of Land Animals. Symbiosis.
Chapter 14: The
Geological Ages and the Advancement of Life.
V. Human Life
Chapter 15: The Creation of Humans. Humanoids.
VI: Topical Studies
Chapter 16: Connections to the Bible's Creation Account.
17: Sharp Points. Sharp
Points for the 21st Century.
18: Silent Speech.
19: The Rare Universe. Alternative
Universes. Abuse of Infinity.
20: The Rare Earth.
21: Special Topics. The
Anthropic Principle. The Role of Geometry. Symmetry in Mathematics.
Kinds of Evolution.
Chapter 22: Resources for Further
Posted 03 June 2010