QUESTION:

         Andy said “I have been fascinated by the ish/adam thing and have been doing some more reading and so I very much look forward to reading your findings. May I just clarify one thing from the book?

 

On page 135 (of the first edition 'Genesis for Ordinary People') you quote Luke 3:22 as:

 

'Yahweh walked and ate with men, so too did Jesus, and the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in bodily form like a dove.'

 

Is this your own translation or from any particular version as it is not quite the same in my usual NIV."

 

ANSWER:

          Thanks for the inquiry. Luke 3:22 is a reference not a quote (Note the absence of quotation marks in the book) - referencing the Holy Spirit descending like a dove. The point being made in the section of the book is that each person the Trinity have appeared on earth in a corporeal form.

 

I have been putting the finishing touches to the God and Primordial People book. The subtitle is The Fall of Man and Rescue through Christ.

 

Paul 

 

 

 

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Questions

 

QUESTION:

             Doesn’t the arbitrary nature and bad behaviour of human beings rule out the universe being made by a good God?

 

ANSWER:

            I understand this point of view but I think it serves to support the biblical worldview rather than undermine it.

 

We know the universe took a long time to get to where it is now. Plasma is one of the four fundamental states of matter, the others being solid, liquid, and gas. The universe first began as plasma, it took 370,000 years for simple Hydrogen atoms to form within the plasma and then gravity got to work forming stars. The stars eventually yield other types of atoms: the stars are "atom factories" that God uses to make the atoms needed to form planets and life. We can see the process still occurring in the current stars. When we think of the patient care God took in creating the physical universe which started some 13.8 billion years ago and the amazing energy, beauty and size it has, we can immediately see King David’s perspective when he wrote,

 

   “Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the         heavens. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”

 

Humans are supposed to be one of the high-points of God’s creation, and we are, but it was hard for David to grasp that when he saw the pitiful behaviour we humans are capable of.

 

God took all that skill, effort and time to create a majestic universe for us human beings to live in and we end up with - Internet trolls spending their hours writing anonymous hateful messages - Petty criminals and organised crime - Hedonistic users and abusers - Slave traders - A human history that is written largely about the wars that have been fought.

 

It all seems a sorry sight in the history of the universe: All is striking and stunning to anyone observing the universe from outside it, then free-agents called humans appear and the mayhem begins - All that time and energy creating it, for what?

The humans have lost their way, they are not heading down the correct path. David’s son Solomon said, “There is a way that seems right to them but it leads only to destruction," something that is attested by taking a step back and looking at what we actually do. Humans are lost in the universe in more ways than one. The buying back, or redeeming human beings is what the New Testament tells us about.

 

Paul 

 

QUESTION:

          Is there any more light to throw on the "days" in Genesis chapter one?

 

ANSWER:

          "Time" is there for the observer. For instance: the astronauts on the International Space Station experience time slower than we do on earth. The clocks on the ISS run at a slower pace than clocks on earth. A day for the workers on the ISS is different to our day here on earth. It's not a big differential but it's there and we know it takes place, confirming Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

 

So let’s say there's an astronaut called Rick on the ISS, and for his daily devotions he happens to read Genesis chapter 1. Now let’s suppose that Rick’s wife Bonnie is following the same reading plan as Rick, and she reads the same chapter in her house in Wisconsin - is Rick to assume that the day referred to in Genesis chapter 1 is the same length as his day or his wife’s day?

 

A period of time will measure differently depending on a number of factors relating to the observer. The Bible is written for humans so if at some point in the future humans are able to build a space station on Mars, the men and women stationed there will experience 24 hours slightly faster than people do on earth, because Mars has a weaker gravitational field, so which humans have the true 24 hours? We see that the length of a day doesn't have to be regarded as exactly the same for each individual person. On planet earth, a long haul flight travelling at 550mph will alter time for the people on the plane very very slightly. Furthermore, due to gravity, people on Mount Everest will experience time minutely faster than people around the Dead Sea area.

 

Think of a graph, and place "time" and "space" at right angles to each other. (The technical term is orthogonal). North and east are also at right angles to each other - you can travel north, but this does not affect where you are in terms of east or west, and you can travel east without getting closer to north or south. In a similar way you can travel through time without it affecting where you are in space - by sitting still. You can also travel through space without affecting where you are in time - if you travel fast enough. Keep the right-angle graph in mind and call the graph "space-time." Space-time is one thing. We cannot say the universe is big without saying it has a lot of time. If the universe were young we would see that because it wouldn't be nearly as big as it is now. We cannot have space without time attached to it - anymore than we can have north and south without having east and west attached to them.

 

Creation is explained to us from God's perspective. That's why Genesis chapter 1 says, "And God saw that it was good." It was God who was doing the "looking," the "observing." The days in Genesis chapter 1 are commensurate to God's perspective. "The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." So the rest of Genesis chapter 1 is told to us from God's frame of reference. It was he who was hovering over the waters, it was God who was doing the observing, and his ways are not our ways, nor are his days our days as Psalm 90:4 points out.

 

In 1933, the mathematician and priest Georges Lemaïtre took part in a seminar. After Georges' talk Albert Einstein stood up and said, "This is the most beautiful and satisfactory explanation of creation to which I have ever listened." Part of the talk that Einstein was so impressed with included Georges explaining that the Big Bang was in fact "a day without yesterday." Beautifully put; and it helps us to put the first day Genesis speaks of into context. We are speaking a universal language: years, and days are units of moments that help us grasp the enormity of what the universe is in a simple way.

 

Georges Lemaïtre was part of the vast army of learned men who worked hard on helping us understand what an amazing universe we all inhabit. Some people wondered if being a believer in the Bible and science was problematic to him. Duncan Aikman of the New York Times shared some thoughts about Lemaïtre's view: There is no conflict between religion and science… His view is interesting and important not because he is a priest, and not because he is one of the leading mathematical physicists of our time, but because he is both.

 

Paul

If you have a question about 'Genesis for Ordinary People' or the book of Genesis, please email us and we'll try to get an answer published here for you.

Email your question

 

QUESTION:

            In Genesis for Ordinary People we are told that Adam and Eve began to make clothes from fig leaves to cover up their nakedness because they were ashamed. The question is then asked, "who were they ashamed to be naked in front of?" The book states that it probably wasn't each other because husbands and wives are not normally ashamed to be naked together. And it probably wasn't God because they hid when he came along. But doesn't that show that it probably was God that they were ashamed to be naked in front of?

 

ANSWER:

          No, because they were already clothed with the fig leaves when the Lord came along. It seems they hid - 'not' because they didn't want God to see them naked, but because they didn't want him to see them clothed, which would let the Lord know they both knew they were naked. Later in the book this is mentioned.

 

Paul

 

QUESTION:

             Isn’t there a problem with Eve being taken from Adam’s rib because of the Y chromosomes? Also why do men have nipples?

 

ANSWER:

          There doesn’t seem to be a problem with Adam’s chromosomes because a man has Y and X chromosomes and the woman has X and X. If Adam had been made from Eve there would be a problem, but Adam already had the chromosome that a female needed. Genesis has the biological arrangement correct.

 

I think the answer why men have nipples is that the genetic blueprint always starts out as female in the womb but sometime after eight weeks the sex of the foetus is decided. But before the gender was decided provision had to be made in case the baby was a female.

 

Paul

 

 

QUESTION:

             In the book there's a point about different ways of looking at people being made from dust, one of which is that our food comes from the soil and dust of planet earth, we eat the food, the food becomes us, so we come from dust too. Okay, but what about when we eat fish? Fish eat other fish!

 

ANSWER:

A lot of fish do eat other fish, but the fish they eat are smaller fish, which in turn eat even smaller fish - it’s the food-chain of the ocean. Some of the smallest creatures are Phytoplankton which utilise sunlight to help them with growth but they also need inorganic nutrients such as nitrates, phosphates, and sulphur which they convert into proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. So the inorganic compounds can still be classed as “dust of the earth” which once converted make their way through the food chain to humans.

 

Paul

 

QUESTION:

             Lucia was asking about sin and death only being around since Adam. Genesis for Ordinary People highlights Romans 5 and talks about sin being in the world before the law that Adam was given, but what about I Corinthians 15: 21-22 which says, 'For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.'?

 

ANSWER:

           Romans 5:14 informs us that Adam is a symbol, a representation. The NIV calls him "a pattern of the one to come." So it's good to remember that what happened in the garden of Eden appears to be a microcosm or model of what was happening in the wider world. God used it to show us that we all fall short of the mark he sets. Adam represents Christ because Christ became a man. Adam also represents humanity, hence ‘Adam’ can be singular or plural, i.e. Adam the man or the generic name of the human race. So we can interpret I Corinthians 15: 21-22 as the King James Version does by saying, “For since by man came death”, “man” being all humans. We can also view it as one man too, Adam in the garden who disobeyed, but also as all men everywhere at every stage of human history because we all miss the mark. The word used in Greek for “man” in 1 Cor 15: 21 is “anthropou“; in Galatians 3:15 the same word is translated as “human” – “Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant” – So we see how the word "man" can be used to mean a man or man in general. Ecclesiastes 7:29 says, "Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices." The first humans endowed with God's image were upright but they went in search of many schemes. Adam, the man, tells our story.

 

Paul

 

 

QUESTION:

           Christian people may be convinced by saying that the storyline of Genesis chapter 2 follows chapter 1 chronologically, but what about Religious Study Courses at universities? I thought creationists used to try to say that Genesis chapter 2 was a rehash of chapter 1, the book didn’t say that but the modern point of view is that Gen 1 was written by “P” and Gen 2 by “J”, both of whom had different ideas of how God created life.

 

ANSWER:

          I can see this question’s point. The Pentateuch is sometimes said to be a composite work of four groups of people represented by the letters J. E. D. and P. “J” being the Yahwists, (from the German Jahweh). "E" is for the Elohist. "D" is the source called the Deuteronomist and “P” is the Priestly strand. The Pentateuch itself is taught by some people to have got into its present form around 400 BC. Genesis is thought to have been put together by E. J. and P. This theory is known as "the documentary hypothesis," because it supposes the Pentateuch is made up of different documents by different authors. However, there is a problem with this theory.

 

There is nothing improbable in Moses having records that had been handed to him from previous generations of Abraham’s family. And while the division of Genesis into Elohist and Yahwist portions usually breaks down, Moses could well have collated the sources of information handed to him that were prior to his birth.

 

It seems self-evident, owing to the serious and fundamental nature of Genesis, that the compilers of Genesis wanted the people who read their story to believe what they are reading. If the compilers of Genesis thought there were two different stories of how God made life, it's unlikely they would put them side by side, which would confuse people rather than encourage them to believe what is written. So we are left to conclude they didn’t think there were two different stories in chapter 1 and chapter 2 of Genesis and that the first two chapters of Genesis follow the normal route of books by placing the sequence of events in chronological order, as highlighted in Genesis for Ordinary People.

 

Paul

 

QUESTION:

            So if Adam wasn’t the first person to live and die, did God create men sinful because men only die because they sin? And if there were men before Adam they must have been sinful because they died."

 

ANSWER:

        Adam was told that the day he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would be the day he would die. But he didn’t die on that day, so God must have been talking about some other kind of death. Jesus said, "Whoever lives and believes in me shall never die." But we still die a physical death so Jesus must have been talking about some other kind of life. That is the message of the Bible - humans, who are made in God’s image, can partake of the life of God if they choose to do so.

 

God didn't create us sinful, but he did create us with freewill. And freewill is exactly what it says: Free to do wrong as well as right.

 

When God first started to create life on earth, the ‘life’ started small. We have many fossils from those early days, and if we have fossils then it must mean the creature died. As ‘life’ got bigger we have fossils for the larger life too, and if we have fossils then it means those creatures died too. God gives and God takes away. That’s the rule; a rule that applies to humans too. However, each human has an opportunity to grasp eternal life.

 

This universe was never meant to last forever; it is slowly running down as entropy takes its toll. The Apostle Paul said, "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God". It seems that humans were never meant to live in this universe forever. Even Adam was not going to live forever, he needed to eat from the tree of life to do that.

 

Paul

 

QUESTION:

            What about the book of Exodus, many people don't seem to believe there even was an Exodus?

 

ANSWER:

        Genesis and Exodus have received their fair share of sceptical criticism over the last few years, but both books continue to stand strong. A book called Exodus for Ordinary People has recently been published.

 

Paul

 

QUESTION:

           So Genesis chapter 1 actually supports what science has been telling us for a long time - Humans came at the end of a long line of living creatures! If that is so why do some people still say that science is wrong and that God made man instantly?

 

ANSWER:

         Genesis chapter 1 informs us that living creatures came from the ground. “And God said, ‘Let the land produce living creatures.’” God doesn’t say, “Let the land produce” again when man is made in his image, because he said that right at the beginning of the process - man comes at the tail-end of the procedure, which is what scientists tell us and Genesis confirms. God then says, “Let us make man in our image,” not referring to the land producing at all.

 

We read, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock, creeping things and wildlife.” (Gen 1: 24) Notice the order: livestock, creeping things and wildlife. The root of the last word “wildlife” is “chay” which means “living,” and is sometimes used to describe God himself as the “living” God. Included in “wildlife" (or "chay”) were early pre-humans. There came a point when God saw that the condition of some of the living creatures had reached a level where he could endow his image on them. God doesn’t say, “Let the land produce” again when man is made in his image, because he said that right at the beginning of the process, God now says “Let us make man in our image”.

 

If we think about God saying "Let us make man in our image," the statement seems to suggest that man is already there. If “man” wasn’t already there God could have said, “Let us make man and let us make him in our image”. But God didn’t say that. The main point being made is not the making of man, but the making of man in God’s image. It is the “image of God” that is the focus of the sentence. For instance: let’s suppose Keith and Joan are in the kitchen making gingerbread men. Firstly, they prepare the ingredients, then they mix the flour, ginger, cinnamon and syrup etc. then they cut the shapes out and place them in the oven for the required time. When they get the gingerbread out of the oven they see some nice shapes of gingerbread men, although they still seem a little bare with no icing sugar or cake decorations on them. Now if Joan says to Keith, “Hey Keith, let's make gingerbread men in our image.” Keith would say, “Good idea, let’s make them look like we do, then we can show our friends some ‘Keith and Joan look-alike gingerbread men.'”

 

So when God said, “Let us make man in our image.” It seems to presuppose that the basic ‘man’ is already there but that God is going to add one important final ingredient, which is spirit.

 

Why some people seem to think that God made man instantly, is a question for them. The Genesis account agrees with science.

 

Paul

 

QUESTION:

           Paul H and a few other people have asked what made Paul want to write about Genesis?

 

ANSWER:

         Quite a number of people are interested in the creation account of Genesis but my interest lay in the whole book of Genesis. When I sat in a London archaeological meeting about recent “discoveries” in what used to be southern Mesopotamia (modern southern Iraq), I was fascinated because the book of Genesis tells us that “the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building.” The Lord was active in southern Mesopotamia, he planted a garden there, walked with Enoch, spoke to Noah, and met with Abram, all in the same region. So when archaeological information throws light on how people lived in those days it's exciting. Finding artefacts from when Yahweh walked around and spoke with Adam, Eve, Abel and Cain etc. was riveting for me.

 

There were a number of other reasons why I wrote about Genesis, but Yahweh's presence in southern Mesopotamia in those early days of human civilisation was one of them. The Akkadian people who lived there, called him Ea. The word is pronounced as E-ah or Ayah. If the “E” sound is soft we hear the Hebrew sounding Yah—a shortened version of Yahweh, as in Hallelu”jah”. Yahweh instructed Moses to tell the Israelites that, “I am” had sent him to them. “I am” in Hebrew is Eyah, corresponding to the Akkadian Eya or Ayah, which would resonate with the enslaved Israelites because Abraham, who was from Mesopotamia, would have known this name well, and passed the information on to his offspring. Hebrew and Akkadian are both Semitic languages.

 

We ought not to think it strange that God walked on earth and had fellowship with early humans. Jesus taught us that he was God’s Son, and sons exhibit the inherited characteristics of their fathers. Jesus dwelt on earth for a time, walking around in a body. God is Spirit, but should he desire, he also was able to walk around in a like manner to Jesus and this is one of the points Genesis makes.

 

In the book Exodus for Ordinary People, I have explained more about Yahweh's presence on earth in those early days.

 

Paul

 

QUESTION:

           John said, "What about the missing link?"

 

ANSWER:

          I haven't heard that term for a while, probably because it's not used much these days. In fact scientists seem to say there is an embarrassment of riches where fossil evidence is concerned. There are presently over 6,000 early human fossils and a rapid pace of new discoveries every year.

 

Paul

 

QUESTION:

          Marie was saying that people these days don’t seem to want to identify with the Bible.

 

ANSWER:

          One of the things I like about Genesis is that it spoke to the early Hebrews and it spoke to the people of the 'middle ages' and it still speaks to us now in today's generation. It's a powerful book, and it cannot be undermined. We have more knowledge about the world and the universe than previous generations did and yet the book of Genesis is still accurate, it agrees with science and it also agreed with previous generations' outlook on the universe. The book of Genesis reaches every generation, and stands strong.

 

Paul

 

QUESTION:

            Does the New Testament have anything to say about prehistoric humans?

 

ANSWER:

          The New Testament may have a few things to say. Jesus told a parable in Matthew 21:28 - 32:

 

“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

 

‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

 

Which of the two did what his father wanted?

 

'The first,' they answered."

 

That's the parable, which was told a few days before Jesus was to be crucified. The local application is that the first son is the publicans and sinners and the other son is the chief priests and elders. But for a wider application notice that one son came 'first' - God made humans in Genesis chapter 1. The humans became wayward, but over the years many of them have come to follow God's Son.

 

The other son began with the man Adam, who we read about in Genesis chapter 2. We can trace Adam's genetic line through to Jacob whose 12 sons became the nation of Israel. At first they said they would follow the Father - Moses specifically asked them: "All the people answered together and said, 'All that the LORD has spoken we will do!' And Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD." (Ex 19:8) But after some time God said to Ezekiel, “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me to this very day." (Ezek 2:3) When God's Son, Jesus, came to earth the Pharisees, Sadducees, teachers of the law and the general population rejected him.

 

Genesis chapter 1 seems to deal with humans who are the "first son" and Genesis chapter 2 tells us about the beginnings of the "other son."

 

Paul

 

QUESTION:

            Did Eridu have its beginnings when Adam and Eve went to live there or was it already up and running?

 

ANSWER:

          Steve Watson from Bond University says that,

 

“we find that mud brick construction and sophisticated pottery styles are present from its inception, and that its first findings are set upon virgin soil. These features indicate that the origins of the Eridu culture lie elsewhere.”

 

The pottery artefacts go back to about 5000 BC and what Steve says is true, there are some sophisticated patterns on the plates and jars etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genesis chapter 2 tells us that the location was arid. The name Eridu relates to the modern word 'arid'. Genesis tells us that “there was no man to cultivate the ground”, but as soon as the Lord God brought water to the area people who had lived elsewhere went to live in the area and Eridu had its beginnings. The supply of water meant the land could be worked and used to produce crops.

 

So if Eridu is where Adam and Eve went to live after they left the garden, (and it looks probable that it was), Eridu would already have been up and running as a viable city. Archaeologists estimate that there could have been up to 5,000 inhabitants in those early days.

 

Paul

Pottery

 

QUESTION:

             Jonathan asked, "Wasn't the ground over the whole earth cursed when Adam sinned so that thistles and thorns would grow, as there weren’t any weeds before Adam fell?

 

ANSWER:

          We have to be careful and make sure we’re not upholding a denominational doctrine rather than what Genesis says. I have heard some people make a big thing of the ‘ground’ being cursed.

 

The picture we get from Genesis is that the piece of land Adam had been working in – the garden of Eden – would be left with no one to tend it. Originally the area was arid but God irrigated the area allowing fruit trees to grow. Adam tended the trees and generally did what gardeners do to make sure their land is productive. When Adam was dismissed from the area the irrigation and tending of the garden would quickly fall into a state of disrepair.

 

The general area had also benefited from the plain of Edin (as the Sumerians called it) being watered, and that seems to be why the area suddenly became populated around the 5,000 BC mark. Northern Mesopotamia had received a better supply of fresh water for many years before, which is why Northern Mesopotamia had been inhabited by communities from before 6,000 BC but men did not go to Southern Mesopotamia (as Genesis says, "There was no man to work the ground"). If we look at the area where Eridu was located nowadays it looks barren, dry and hard to imagine it was once so productive.

 

Towards the end of the six days of creation we are told that the creation was “complete,” and so God rested on the next day. Thistles and thorns have always grown from when God created them during the third day of creation: otherwise the creation wasn’t complete.

 

So Adam was sent away from the garden, and the water supply gradually became sparse. By the time Noah was born his father named him Noah because he would comfort them in the labour and painful toil of their hands caused by the ground the LORD had cursed. Lamech, Noah’s father, was still living in Southern Mesopotamia. We know two of the rivers mentioned in Genesis stopped flowing, and as a consequence the agriculture suffered. Hard work was needed to make the area productive now God wasn’t providing water the way he had in the past.

 

There is also another way we can look at the ‘cursing’ of the ground. Job and Jeremiah spoke about cursing the day they were born: they were, of course, using a figure of speech which helps us see the feelings of the person who said it. The Lord God had worked hard planting a garden for Adam but now Adam had rebelled against God and God said, “Cursed is the ground because of you”. It was Adam’s fault that the hard work put into the area would now go to waste. God said, “because of you”. We might say a similar phrase to somebody who had spoiled something we had made.

 

Paul

 

QUESTION:

            Where is Lilith mentioned in the book of Isaiah?

 

ANSWER:

          Isaiah 34:14 “the lilith also shall settle there, and find for herself a place of rest.” (DBT)

 

Various versions of the Bible and Bible commentaries have differing ways of translating “Lilith”. A couple of versions translate "Lilith" as it is in Hebrew: “Lilith”, others go for “night monster” or “screech owl” or “she demon”.

 

There is no doubt that translators and commentaries struggle to find the correct meaning for Lilith. Ellicott’s commentary remarks on the King James Version's translation of "Lilith" as "screech owl" thus: “while the 'screech-owl' is the Lilith, the she-vampire, who appears in the legends of the Talmud as having been Adam’s first wife”.

 

Isaiah 34:14 is the only place in the Bible where the word Lilith is used.

 

Paul

 

QUESTION:

            Don't the ‘young earth’ theorists say there is time for all the different races of people – Asian, African, Oriental, Aboriginal and European etc. - to get their specific racial features from the time of the Flood, when Noah’s three children started to repopulate the globe?

 

ANSWER:

          The date for the Flood, according to people who say the earth is only about 6,000 years old, is 2348 BC. So let’s go along with that for the moment. The year I am writing this is 2015 AD. That leaves 4,363 years.

 

So let’s think of it like this: Say the average man lives 75 years, the procession of men from that Flood date to today, if we laid them all out in a historical sequence, would be 61 men long. 61 men is a short queue, it’s a line someone may wait in to get tickets for a football match. 61 cradle to cemetery lives. When we think of Noah's time like that, we realise Noah is not very far away from us at all, in fact he’s quite close, just 61 men’s lives away.

 

If we also remember that Noah’s family lived longer and tended to have children later in life, then the line is less than 61 persons long. I’m not a geneticist but I can see quite easily that 61 lifetimes is nowhere near the time needed for all the racial features that we celebrate across the globe to form.

 

However, someone may say, "A generation is shorter than a man's lifetime." So perhaps we could look at the subject this way: I have a photo of my grandmother's great grandmother taken in the 1800s and I can see the family resemblance in my son: That's 7 generations of people. We are a lot closer to people in the past than we realise. What geneticists say about hundreds of thousands of years needed to get all the features we see around the globe today makes perfect sense.

 

Geneticists are still working out how the human tree branched out from its trunk and they are making good progress. If we read Genesis chapters 1 and 2 in chronological order, (like any other book we read,) then the book of Genesis supports the book of geneticists.

 

Paul

 

QUESTION:

Les said, "Couldn’t the speed of light have been different in the past?'"

 

ANSWER:

Creation was a supernatural event, so in the very early stages of creation (cosmic inflation) the laws of physics themselves were being created. Jeremiah 33:25 says, "Have I not made my covenant with day and night and established the laws of heaven and earth?" So we read in the Bible that the laws of physics were “established”. And during the time they were being established the universe was different to what we now observe. And what we now observe is that the speed of light is a part of the fixtures and fittings of space-time. The speed of light is not something that can be “singled out” for special treatment. E = mc2 tells us how energy in the universe is related to matter; the speed of light, “c” in the equation, is integral to the fabric of space-time. The speed of light is the constant datum line in the universe. Space-time works with the speed of light, and it's space-time that accommodates itself to suit, not light.

 

Try thinking of it like this: When the universe was one second old it needed to be bigger than 186,000 miles in any one direction, because 186,000 miles is the distance light (electromagnetism) travels in one second. The universe was tiny compared to what it is now, because since the beginning of the universe we have had many seconds, so the universe is a lot larger now to accommodate for all those extra seconds. The speed of light dictates how big the universe needs to be. It needs to be a lot bigger now than it was in the first second of its existence because light has travelled a lot further. The universe is actually a bigger than even the speed of light dictates, hence the theories about cosmic inflation. And because space continues to expand, time also continues its forward motion; space and time are inseparable. As long as time continues to move forward space will continue to expand. It seems that cosmic expansion will continue to occur because time moves in one direction and the universe is expanding in one direction (outward) too.

 

When physicists talk about the expansion of the universe they mean that every single thing in the universe is expanding outwards. If we ran a very long tape measure to the moon it would tell us how far the moon was from us, but when we reeled the tape measure back to earth it would be longer than tape measures here on earth, because the space-time between the moon and us is inflating and the tape measure would grow accordingly. Where there is a glut of matter – a large energy dense object, like the sun, that slows the expansion down slightly. So, time on the sun runs at a slower rate than here on earth. And because the space the sun occupies is expanding slower, time is also running slower, because space and time are intrinsically linked. So space and time work by hanging on the frame-work the speed of light lays down.

 

Paul

 

QUESTION:

            The Sumerian King List has longer lives for the kings before the deluge than the kings who lived after the Flood, which certainly ties in with Genesis. However, when I took a look at the Sumerian King List the kings before the Flood lived to be something like 28,000 years or 8 Sars as the Sumerians used to measure their time. Adam and his children lived long lives, 900 years or so, but none of his family made it to 1,000 years old, let alone 28,000 years. Do you know why the Sumerians had such long time spans for their early kings?"

 

ANSWER:

          The record passed down to us through Abraham, Moses and the scribes assigned to the task of preserving the scriptures contains the exact years that Adam and his family lived because Adam was aware of how long he’d been alive, Seth too, and all of Adam’s successors who were after him right up to the Flood. Yes, they did live to be over 900 years old, and this information was passed along the family line all the way to Abraham and Moses etc. They wrote down the exact amount of years Adam’s family members lived, which we have preserved for us in the Bible.

 

However, the Sumerians who had normal life spans may have found it hard to know exactly how long Adam’s family members were alive. For instance Adam lived to be 930 years old, that means if the average Sumerian man lived 75 years there would have been 12 generations of Sumerians during Adam’s lifetime. Adam may or may not have shared with the local Sumerian people how long he’d been alive, let’s say that Adam only told his son Seth and Seth only told his son Enosh and so on all the way to Abraham and Moses who recorded the precise information. That means the Sumerians would have to get the information of how long Adam had been alive from their own fathers who got it from their fathers and so on. If that was so, then the exact years Adam had lived, according to the local Sumerians, may not be anywhere near as accurate as the information that was passed through Adam’s family itself.

 

The Sumerians knew Adam and his family lived long, but how long, was not so easy for them to quantify. The method they had of measuring time using Sars plays an important role too. Strictly speaking a Sar is 3,600 years. But Irving Finkel, who is an Assyriologist at the British Museum, explains that although Sar means 3,600 the Mesopotamians could use it to mean any number which is large. For instance, today we use the word “myriad” to mean any number which is massive; although strictly speaking, myriad means 10,000. The Sumerians might say “may the moon god keep you well for a Sar, (3,600 years)”, which means may you enjoy good health for a long time. Or we may say “I looked up at the night-time sky and saw myriads of stars”. Both examples mean many.

 

So to sum up: The exact record is preserved in Genesis but the Sumerian King List may give us glimpses of how other generations who were living at the same time passed the information on to their children. A Sumerian father may say to his son, "I’m not exactly sure how long the chief of Eridu has been alive but he was alive when my grandfather was, and his grandfather before him." So when it was written down in the Sumerian King List several Sars were assigned to the kings before the Flood, to show the enormity rather than the accuracy of their length of life.

 

Paul

QUESTION:

            What about the doctrine of the fall? When Adam sinned the universe changed and bad things started to happen, like disease and disasters, earthquakes and famine. God didn’t originally make the world like that.

 

ANSWER:

Our fallen nature is mentioned in Genesis for Ordinary People. Adam fell, as we have all fallen. There are consequences to choosing evil over good.

 

But first, it’s good for us to remember that doctrines are formulated by men. For instance the doctrine of the fall and original sin are viewed differently in the western church and eastern church. And there is a range of Christian thought about how our fallen nature affects us. Take Gregory, the 4th-century Archbishop of Constantinople, he is well known as a Trinitarian Theologian and still influences modern Christians, Gregory taught that infants are born without sin. However, most theologians recognise that humanity has a flaw. Jesus himself made it quite plain: "He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man." (John 2:25)

 

Augustine helped develop the doctrine of fallen humanity. It seems that since Irenaeus (in the second century) started talking about the subject of sin resulting from the fall of man, the doctrine has had a spectrum of adherents, from some who think our fallen nature is a slight deficiency, to others who say we are totally depraved. The truth seems to lie somewhere in the middle. We are marred, we have a fault. God told Jeremiah to go to the potter’s house and watch him work. The potter marred the first pot that he was making so he made another pot from the same clay. That’s a good picture of fallen humans, we must be born again because the life we have from our first birth has been marred, so we need, as Jesus put it, new wineskins because the old ones will crack.

 

Humans have a tendency to veer off-course; we are free agents who can become our own despotic gods. Moses pointed out that “They are not His children, because of their defect.” (Deut 32:5) The King James version translates “defect” as “spot,” which is the Hebrew word, too. Humans are marred with a spot or blemish. The reason we have a tendency to veer off-course is because the “spot,” or the "law of sin and death," is at work in our lives. Originally: "God created mankind upright, but they have gone in search of many schemes." (Ecclesiastes 7:29) A piece of fruit that has a blemish will start to erode and rot from that point - Sin works its way through us starting from our blemish.

 

Paul says, "Although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened." (Romans 1:21) "Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts." (Romans 1:24) That's our fallen nature; we have been "given over" to our sinful desires. Jesus was the only one who was born without the “spot”. He is without spot or blemish. Faith in Christ saves us from the law of sin and death, and the "futile way of life inherited from your forefathers." (1 Peter 1:18)  -  Jesus had a human mother but not a human father, so he shared in our humanity but did not inherit the flaw or blemish the rest of humanity has. The human "heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure." (Jer 17:9) Jesus was crushed, bruised and killed because of the flaw. Humanity needed to be thrown out and discarded and Jesus did that on our behalf and was able to because he shared our humanity.

 

Moving on to the state of the universe: Let’s remember that even before humans had learned sin God did not make the world free from sharp corners where humans could hurt themselves, there are cliffs that a person may fall from, there are accidents waiting to happen if we don’t use our reason and try to negotiate difficult situations carefully; we may get injured or injure someone else. The first humans could get hurt just as we can get hurt. Responsibility is given us as a part of being made in God’s image. Let’s say someone is cutting down a tree but doesn't bother to warn anyone and someone gets hurt when the tree falls. That would be a result of someone not being responsible. A person's fallen nature has resulted in someone being injured. Or deceit will hurt people who thought they could trust each other, relationships fail because of infidelity. The tangled web we weave leaves a trail of pain in its wake. So in that sense, human sin has made the world a more treacherous place to live - There are also micro-organisms that can spread among humans. An explosion of bacteria may occur, sometimes caused by human behaviour that facilitates a disease through unhygienic practices; and other times we’re not sure what brought a disease among us. Or an earthquake may devastate an area. Plus war, criminal behaviour and hundreds of other things go wrong that stop life on earth being as God wills. All of the trouble in the world cannot be attributed to human agencies but some of it can. God allows other things for his own reasons.

 

The doctrine of the fall includes - "we reap what we sow", and God uses the physical world as a reflection of our spiritual state. He teaches us spiritual truths through the mirror of the material world. (I explain this in my book Fishing for Praise). The present universe shows us that all is not as it should be; that includes the state of the human soul. We see that man is born to trouble but the trouble can also teach us important lessons. If someone is ill then those who are well have an opportunity to show love and care for the sick person. If there has been a natural disaster then the surrounding people have a duty and responsibility to show care, help and love to those affected.

 

The danger in the universe alerts us to the fact that humanity is not in the eternal home that God has made for us, we are not ‘there’ yet. The danger and trouble shows us that this universe is temporary. The trouble also allows us to see that we need help, each one of us can cry out to God. Trouble can be what CSLewis called a "severe mercy". That we see things go wrong, and sometimes disastrously wrong, helps warn us of our need.  

Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us where disasters, disease and death will be no more. We are presently living in what John in Revelation calls the "old order of things." At present, evil is in the world and creation groans under the weight of reflecting that fact. The universe is predisposed to react negatively to evil; God created it that way. God saw that all he had made was "very good" and part of that goodness was an inbuilt alarm - if humans took an evil course, creation would alert us that something was amiss. Part of the message in Romans 8 is that creation groans under the weight of evil that's done.

 

Paul

 

QUESTION:

           David pointed out that, "Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden are probably a parable. There are lots of parables in the Bible, they are stories from which we learn something but parables didn’t actually happen, did they?"

 

ANSWER:

           We hit problems straight away if we look on Adam as a figurative character. For instance, Luke’s genealogy of Jesus goes all the way back to Adam. So if Adam wasn't a real person what should we say about Adam’s son Seth? Was he fictitious too? And then we have Seth’s son Enosh? Was Enosh invented? If Adam was imaginary where did the genetic line actually kick in? When did the people in the line become real? If we say Adam wasn’t a real person we could go all the way to Jesus and say none of the genetic line was actually real people.

 

But we know that Jesus was real and lived among us and his genetic line started somewhere and Luke explains it started with a real man called Adam.

 

The account of Adam and Eve took place in a genuine garden in southern Mesopotamia. The Bible explains that the garden's location is near to where the rivers Euphrates and Tigris join together. The account of the garden is not a parable but we can look on it as a representation of what takes place in all our lives. For instance let’s look at Proverbs 30:20

 

"This is the way of an adulterous woman: She eats and wipes her mouth and says, 'I've done nothing wrong.'”

 

When the adulterous woman "eats and wipes her mouth" we immediately see a parallel to the garden of Eden. The sin of adultery is different to the sin Adam and Eve committed, but the adulterous woman wiping her mouth informs us that the temptation in the garden of Eden is a model for all sin. And all of us have sinned in some way.

 

 

Paul

 

QUESTION:

"Is it really true that the “five cities of the plain” are mentioned on archaeologically excavated tablets from Ebla?  Alan Millard Professor Emeritus of Hebrew and Ancient Semitic languages at the University of Liverpool says not?"

 

ANSWER:

There is some disagreement about the claims of Sodom and Gomorrah etc. being written on the tablets found in the ancient kingdom of Elba. In 1976 the epigrapher for the expedition, Giovanni Pettinato, stated that a tablet had been found at Ebla containing the names of all five of the Cities of the Plain (Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, and Bela), listed in the same order as in Genesis. The 17,000 tablets are now kept in three museums in Syria.

 

I read an article by Alan Millard some time ago and he’s certainly a respected professor of languages, but I spotted something with his analysis about Sodom and the Ebla tablets that conflicted with what I'd read on a Syrian site that talks about the Ebla tablets. The Syrian site says, “The tablets tell of an 'empire' and names many areas under the control of Ebla, such as Sinai, Assyria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Carchemish, Lachish, Gaza, Hazor and others.” Alan Millard says that the name ‘si-da-mu’, which was identified as Sodom by Giovanni Pettinato, isn’t Sodom as mentioned in the Bible because the Sodom that Genesis speaks of is too far south.

 

Alan says, “Did the scribes also know of places some way to the south, stretching through Syria into Palestine? Unfortunately, the answer is no.”

 

Yet the Syrian site states that not only did Ebla’s influence reach into the Palestine area but it also reached as far south as Sinai, which is a long way further south than Canaan. Also Alan doesn’t give us an alternative translation to ‘si-da-mu’.

 

Translators of cuneiform are not easy to come by. There are over 100,000 unread cuneiform tablets in museums and collections and a relatively tiny number of cuneiformists working on them. We may possibly get some misinformation from time to time and conflicting translations, but in time, if we are patient, further light will be shed and our picture of the past will be more accurate.

 

 

Paul 

 

QUESTION:

           We had an inquiry from someone who is reading Genesis for Ordinary People who said, they’d been told that God would not use evolution to create life because it involved mistakes and God doesn’t make any mistakes. There’s no law to evolution, it’s a random chance thing and God doesn’t use random chance. God, they were told, can make things in a flash. Ping, and there’s a pig etc."

 

ANSWER:

           Saying there are mistakes that were made as life made its way to where it is today, is not the right way of looking at creation. God uses laws, and the principles we see in creation are still around us today. For instance we could say, “Why does God need to have 100 million sperm to fertilize one egg in a woman’s fallopian tube?” God could do it with one sperm if he wanted to. Yes, he could, but he has chosen to use the principal of probability, or what is known as the law of large numbers, it’s what a layman calls the law of averages. Or we could say, “Why does it rain on the sea?” It is the land that needs the rain not the sea. Furthermore, researchers have calculated that each of the billions of the stars in the Milky Way have at least one planet. Why the need for so many planets when only earth is needed? But that’s the way God has designed the universe, things have a way of working out well using the ‘law of large numbers’. An oak tree may drop 10,000 acorns but very few may germinate, but oak trees survive well. So it’s not correct to say there is no law in place as life progressed to where it is today.

 

Paul

 

QUESTION:

            Michael asked about the Flood: if it was confined to the Mesopotamian area why are fish fossils found on mountains?"

 

ANSWER:

           These fish died a long time ago, the earth’s landscape continued to move into place after they died. The movement of two opposing tectonic plates lifted the earth’s crust and mountains formed. Tectonic plates move slowly, that's why mountains take a very long time to form. The Himalayan mountain range is still growing. Some of the fossils that are found on mountains are clams, and clams move much too slowly to climb to any great height in the space of time the Flood took. When the clams died they died on the sea floor that was lifted into position by the earth’s plates.

 

Also magmatic eruptions can cause the sea bed to be elevated. The Canary Islands emerged from the ocean depths as a consequence of magmatic activity, consequently marine fossils that are found on the islands died in the sea.

 

The Flood was for a specific reason and the Bible tells us the reason, which is something that is explained in Genesis for Ordinary People.

 

 

Paul 

 

QUESTION:

           "If the atoms that make up each human being came from the stars, why does Genesis say we came from the dust of the earth?"

 

ANSWER:

          Most of the atoms that make up the earth came from the stars, but not all of them. The stars themselves were constructed from simple atoms like hydrogen and helium, so we can’t say a star manufactured a hydrogen atom for example, because hydrogen was already there before the star existed.

 

When a star goes supernova other atoms that are more complicated are then made. So human beings did come from the dust of the earth; a lot of that dust came from the stars, but not all of it. So Genesis is exactly correct when we are told that God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures."

 

Paul 

 

QUESTION:

           I’d like to go back to the subject of how death entered the world please. Did God make creatures that would eventually die or did the creatures themselves do something to merit their own death? And why did men start killing animals to eat?"

 

ANSWER:

          Lions, wolves and human beings have eyes to the front, we are hunting creatures. Sheep, horses and deer etc. have eyes to the side; they are defensive creatures or prey. Defensive creatures have eyes that can see what’s happening to their side and behind them, because they may need to run away at any given moment. A sheep’s range of vision can be up to 300 degrees. That’s the way God made the world.

 

There is no command to refrain from eating animals in Genesis chapter 1. In fact in Genesis 1:28 we read that humans were told to “have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air.” What did God mean by telling human beings to have dominion over the fish of the sea if humans were not eating animals at that time? What meaning is there in having dominion over the fish of the sea? How could man have dominion over sea creatures? Men live on the land, there would be no need for us to go onto the sea to have dominion over creatures we are not allowed to catch. But the reality is that humans do follow God's command and rule over the fish and have been catching fish since we first became humans. Land-animals too, as Genesis 4:2 says, "Abel kept the flocks."

 

Land-dwelling creatures live on a foundation of plant-based vegetation in one way or another, which is what Genesis chapter 1 tells us. Sheep, deer and cattle eat vegetation, and humans eat the sheep, deer and cattle, we eat the vegetation that the animals have processed into protein. God made predators so that the protein yielding livestock would not overrun the earth. Their numbers needed to be stabilised. Human beings tend not to eat creatures that hunt - lions, dogs or eagles etc. They are what Noah called "unclean" animals. Carnivorous animals eat other animals, so a carnivore's protein is second hand, it's not acquired directly from vegetation but from prey.

 

Physical death has always been in the world, and God uses it to teach us about spiritual death and spiritual life, which has always been the Lord’s priority. God is shaping us up for something more splendid than this universe. The last book in the Bible calls this world “The old order of things”.

 

Paul 

 

QUESTION:

           "Ken said, 'The eye couldn’t have evolved because it needs all its parts to function, and scientists have no answer for that?'"

 

ANSWER:

           It’s misleading to say that the eye needs to be a complete unit before it works.

 

A photoelectric cell will keep an elevator door open if you walk through the beam of light aimed at the cell. A biological cell receives light sensitive information in a similar way to a photoelectric cell.

 

Early on in life’s development some cells reacted to light. For instance our skin cells need to react to light to make sure we get melanin to the surface of our skin, which gives us a suntan if the sun is strong. The suntan helps stop DNA damage. Skin cells contain rhodopsin, the same photosensitive receptor that the eye uses to detect light.

 

God has given us a small insight into how he fashioned the eye over a long period, because a similar process occurs in a woman's womb as human eyes develop over a short period.

 

Eyes, with their tightly packed light receptor cells, developed much the same way as any other animal body part developed.

 

 

Paul 

 

QUESTION:

          1 Corinthians 11:7-9 says, ‘A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.' That’s pretty conclusive isn’t it? Women came from a man, so evolution has no place in the Word of God!

 

ANSWER:

          This scripture is considered carefully in Genesis for Ordinary People – chapter 16.

 

But it may be worth noting here that “Women came from a man” is not what the verses say. The verses say, “woman (singular) came from man.” Paul started this discourse by saying “I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man.” Notice “every man” is plural but the word “woman” is singular.

 

Paul was addressing the customs of the Corinthian church meetings. He is not highlighting the route that humanity emerged from, but the route the Christian church emerged from. There was a woman (Eve) who came from a man, whose genealogical line led to Christ being born, leading to the Christian church.

 

Paul 

 

QUESTION:

          Going back to the subject of men not eating meat before the Flood: When God spoke to Noah after the Flood, in Genesis 9:3, he said, "Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything." Wasn’t God referring to Genesis 1:29 which says, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food"? So men didn’t eat meat until after the Flood when God gave them permission to eat meat.

 

ANSWER:

          God told Noah to “bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you.” (Gen 6:19) On the ark Noah and his family didn’t kill any animals to eat because they were told to “keep them alive.” While Noah was on the ark there was a restriction about killing animals. Noah's cargo of pairs of animal species was not for eating but for preserving. Once the Flood was over, that restriction no longer applied because the animals would breed. In Genesis 9:3 God tells Noah that he is no longer obliged to keep the animals alive but may now kill them and eat the meat. So Genesis 9:3 does not refer back to Genesis 1:29 but to Genesis 6:19.

 

Paul 

 

QUESTION:

           How does prehistoric man fit into Genesis?'"

 

ANSWER:

          The early chapters of Genesis fit well with what we know from science and archaeology. Genesis chapter 1 informs us that humans were hunter-gathers, (The Palaeolithic Period,) who followed the animals and ate from what naturally grew in the ground or from trees. They were under an edict from God to “fill the earth, and subdue it,” which they did because we can see the evidence they left behind. Genesis chapter 2 informs us about humans settling down and learning how to cultivate crops. (The Neolithic Period.) The area where much of this agriculture took place was called the Fertile Crescent. The Lord God helped with some of the planting: in southern Mesopotamia he planted a garden.

 

Paul

 

QUESTION:

            If Adam wasn’t the first man why does Luke’s genealogy trace Christ’s line all the way back to Adam?

 

ANSWER:

          The fact that Luke highlights the genealogical line all the way back to Adam shows us that Adam most probably wasn’t the first man. Otherwise there’s no need to highlight the line all the way back to Adam. If Adam is the progenitor of the whole human race then there’s no need to mention Christ’s line goes all the way back to Adam because everyone’s line goes all the way back to Adam, so why mention it in the first place? Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus doesn’t go any further back than Abraham. Luke could have followed Matthew’s example because scholars tell us that Matthew's Gospel was written before Luke’s Gospel. Going all the way to Adam seems superfluous if everyone’s genealogical line ends with Adam. But if Adam was chosen as a representative human and God breathed into him in some special way, and made a woman from his rib so that the generating of this couple would lead eventually to Christ’s birth, then Luke would have every reason to mention the line all the way back to Adam.  Paul in Romans 9:3-5 explains that to "his race, the people of Israel... belongs the human ancestry of Christ... traced through the fathers." i.e. Son of David, Son of Abraham, Son of Adam, all of whom were fathers in the line to Christ. Adam means "man" - Christ is the Son of man.

 

Isaiah points out that it is Israel's ancestry that comes from Adam, "Your first forefather sinned" (Isa 43:27). A little later Isaiah mentions that it is Israel who were established from ancient times. "I established my ancient people" (Isa 44:7).

 

Furthermore, Genesis 4:1 states that "Adam lay with his wife Eve and she conceived and gave birth to Cain." Why mention that "Adam" lay with his wife if there were no other men around? Genesis wants us to know that it was Adam who was the father of Cain, not another man. The signs are throughout Genesis if we look - that is why we get the feel that there were other people around at the time of Adam and Eve. Genesis for Ordinary People provides more examples.

 

Paul

 

QUESTION:

            Jesus clearly stated that angels do not marry, (Matt 22:30). So the “sons of God” in Genesis 6 who married the daughters of men were likely from the godly line of Seth.

 

ANSWER:

          Jesus stated that angels do not marry in heaven. Adding the “in heaven” words are important. ”They will be like the angels in heaven.” (Matt 22:30) Angels who walked on earth with a material body were able to procreate. They did not come from the same stock as humanity so we are not able to say they had a human body, but they had a body with all the necessary features that a physical body needs for life on earth. Angels in heaven are spirits and have no biological body, that’s why Jesus stated “angels in heaven”.

 

The Nephilim were a hybrid race. The Bible explains that the Lord went to some pains to get humanity back on track.

 

Paul

 

QUESTION:

           Could the tree of life, in the Garden of Eden, actually give a human being eternal life? How can a piece of fruit do that?

 

ANSWER:

           God used what happened in the garden of Eden to reveal some important truths to us. The tree of life is Christ. “Truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (John 3:53) “Taste and see that the LORD is good.” (Psalm 34:8) - Christ was hung on a tree. The tree of life in the garden of Eden is a parallel of Christ.

 

We only get to hear that the “tree of life” was capable of giving Adam eternal life after he is ejected from the garden. That’s the way God planned the drama. We don’t read that God told Adam or Eve to obtain eternal life while they were in the garden.

 

When Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, it was probably the fact that they broke a command (rather than the actual fruit,) that helped them realise that commands, could in fact, be broken. Before that, they were similar to children who automatically obey their parents. Most of us are like that when we are very young, then we see some older children disobeying their parents and we try it ourselves. Innocence is destroyed by disobedience.

 

The fruit, growing on the trees in the garden of Eden, were probably players in the drama, as much as the people. After all, shouldn't the tree of life still be there somewhere, probably to the west of Eridu? But we don’t hear of theologians arranging archaeological expeditions to dig it up. If it is a tree of life then surely it would survive all manner of weather conditions and ravages of time. But if it was a player in a drama then once the drama is over the player is no longer needed.

 

The story of the garden of Eden, really happened, and God used each part of it to teach us something important about the “life” he wants us to partake in, which is far higher than simple biological life.

 

 

Paul

 

QUESTION:

           How can snakes talk?

 

ANSWER:

          This question is addressed in Genesis for Ordinary People.

 

However, we can say here that the garden of Eden scenario ought to be read with a discerning mind. Adam named the living creatures that were in his vicinity. The Hebrew word used for “creature” is “Nephesh,” which means “soul,” or “living being,” or “life,” or “self,” or “person.” Therefore the naming of the creatures could include creatures who have spirit attached to them, such as angels who were on earth at that time. After all the serpent, that Genesis talks about, is an animal but we also understand that this particular creature was a guardian cherub too.

 

Figurines have been found in southern Mesopotamia that have humanoid bodies and reptilian heads. (A quick internet search will show you photos of them. Search for “Ubaid Figurines”.) As Bible students we ought not to be quick to dismiss these figurines. The local Ubaid people in 5000 BC had their own way of relating their story of the serpent. Ningishzida was a guardian. His name in Sumerian is translated as “lord of the good tree”. Ningishzida is depicted as a serpent. In 2 Kings 18:4 we read that Hezekiah broke up the bronze serpent that Moses had made, because the people of Israel had been offering sacrifices to it. They called the bronze serpent Nehushtan.

 

Furthermore, we read (just after the creatures were named by Adam) “for Adam, no suitable helper was found”. That statement informs us that Adam was looking out for a spouse. He wasn’t looking for a mate among eagles, cows or snakes, we see something further. Archaeology has informed us that once water came to the southern Mesopotamian area, people quickly followed - about 5500 BC. The first society to settle in the area was people who shared a common way of life, known as the Ubaid Culture.

 

If Adam was going to live until he was 930 years old he needed a wife who would also live that long. If Adam married one of the local Ubaidian women he would have to marry about 11 times, presuming the Ubaidian women lived to be an average of 75 years old.

 

Paul

 

QUESTION:

             Homo sapiens have been on the planet for maybe as long as 200,000 years. Is Genesis able to explain that?

 

ANSWER:

           In Genesis chapter 1 God called humankind "Adam" reminding them, and us, that we originally came from the "land" the same as all the other creatures. "Adamah" is Hebrew for "ground", so there is some word-play involved. Man named the animals but God named man.

 

The word "Human" is in the same category as the word "Adam", it reminds us of the ground. "Humus" is dark, organic material that forms in soil. "Humility" means down-to-earth. "Exhume" which means to dig something out of the earth.

 

In the early Proto-Indo-European language the word “ghomon” means “earthling” or “earthly being,” if you look at the word "ghomon" we can see "human" in there as well as "homo". Latin uses "homo" from where we get "hominis" or “man”. We see it in homicide, meaning to kill a human. In French "man" is homme and in Spanish it's hombre.

 

We are from the genus Homo. We are Homo sapiens. Homo, reminding us of the "ground" or "earth" and sapien, meaning "sapient" or "wise".

 

Genesis tells us there came a point when the creatures from the ground became homo sapient - from the ground yet with the image of God upon us.

 

We didn't get lowered to the earth by angels, the gods didn't make us from wood and we are not made of snips and snails, and puppy dogs' tails. Genesis gets the biological details correct, and we still have the same name to prove it.

 

Paul 

 

QUESTION:

           Christine asked about the people who lived before Adam. Romans 5:14 says that “death reigned from Adam to Moses.” So who were the people before Adam and did they die? Also 1 Cor 15:22 says, “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” So if all die in Adam who were the people before Adam and did they die?

 

ANSWER:

         Genesis chapter 1 informs us that

 

“God created mankind in his own image,

in the image of God he created them;

male and female he created them.”

 

The Hebrew word for mankind is “Adam”. Both male and female were called Adam. Adam is a plural word. We know from science that there were quite a few Adam in those early days of humanity and they were, as Genesis chapter 1 states, male and female.

 

But Adam can also be used in a singular sense too, such as in Genesis chapter 2 when we are told that God took one of the Adam and put him in a garden. His name was also Adam. "Adam" is now being used in a singular sense. The woman in Genesis 2, was called Eve not Adam. So when we read that “death reigned from Adam to Moses,” we acknowledge that fact because the many Adam that God made in Genesis chapter 1 did in fact die. They were called Adam too.

 

And when we read “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” We also agree because Adam in the garden acts out the point that we all sin. He was relating the fact that all people, whether those before him, or those after him, sin.

 

Paul 

 

QUESTION:

            Andy said, "I am currently re-reading Genesis but using a different version of the Bible that I am used to in order to endeavour to see things afresh.  It is a very intriguing translation undertaken by a Jewish believer with all sorts of interesting background detail to the Hebrew words and phrases.

It is also offering me the opportunity to re-read a certain book by a world famous Black Country author and muso par excellence!"

 

ANSWER:

          Thank you for the encouragement Andy.

 

The Jewish version of Genesis sounds interesting. Hebrew is the best way to read Genesis, remembering that biblical Hebrew doesn't have a pluperfect tense. Critics say that chapter 1 has the animals created before humans but chapter 2 has a human created before the animals, that objection disappears once we take into account the absence of the pluperfect tense in Hebrew.

 

So when Genesis chapter 2:7 says "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." The meaning is "The LORD God, who had previously formed man of the dust...". Exactly the same as Genesis 2:19 that says, "And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them." The meaning being that the LORD God had previously formed the beasts, which we read about in Genesis chapter 1.

 

Genesis chapter 2 naturally follows chapter 1 chronologically, once we grasp that then the events described in Genesis fall into place historically, scientifically, geographically and theologically.

 

Paul 

On this page there are quite a few subjects relating to the book of Genesis. If you have a particular area of interest - try a page search.

 

You can use the keyboard shortcuts Ctrl+F (or

     -F Mac) to open the find bar. Then search

for the subject you are after.

loop

 

QUESTION:

         Sandy asked. “Can you help us out with a problem? How did Eve know she couldn’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?”

 

ANSWER:

          I understand why you are asking this question - Eve wasn’t created when God told Adam not to eat from the tree.

 

Moses, who is credited with writing Genesis, expects us to use “context” when we read what he has written. Once we put context into play we get the answers we are looking for:

 

When families get together, they talk. We tell each other anything important we think our family members ought to know. So the answer to your question is - Adam told Eve about the restriction of eating the fruit. That’s why the serpent came to Eve and said, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

 

Paul 

 

QUESTION:

        When God said he was sorry that he'd made mankind because their thoughts were continually wicked (Gen 6) was he talking about the whole of the human race?

 

ANSWER:

          I don't believe so, no. The Lord God was talking about the offspring that had been formed (these days we might say “formatted,”) to live long lives. Cain's offspring was among them. Noah was the only member of the family to find favour with the Lord.

 

Most of the long-livers dwelt in southern Mesopotamia, hence that was the area where the flood hit. After the flood the length of years lived by the long-livers was dramatically reduced.

 

Paul

 

QUESTION:

        I have a couple of questions about Genesis 14: I heard that King Amraphel, king of Shinar was probably identified as Hammurabi the Babylonian ruler. So that's one question, are they the some person? Question two is that if they are the same person your chronology of Abraham's timeline (on the “Chat page” of the web site,) doesn't agree. For instance, Abraham was born in 1906 BC and was 86 years old when Ishmael was born, making the year 1820 BC but Hammurabi's reign started  in 1792 BC? A good 32 years out. Any thoughts?

 

ANSWER:

          Yes, I have had thoughts about this for quite some time. Firstly, I think the likelihood is high that Amraphel and Hammurabi were the same person. Hammurabi was of Amorite descent and spoke a Semitic language. The Sumerian language was disappearing at this stage, as told in Genesis 11:7 “Come, let us go down and confuse their language.” The Sumerian language has no current successor, the language went extinct. So we can take Sumerian out of the equation. That's helpful because we can see links between Hebrew and the Semitic Amorite and Akkadian languages.

 

Let's break the name of Hammurabi down.

 

Hammu or Ammu is an Akkadian word meaning a male (paternal) family member. The Hebrew word “am” means the same. The Hebrew word Amraphel begins with Am.

 

The second part of the word rabi, or as the Encyclopaedia Britannica remark, the name is “also spelled Hammurapi.” The Akkadian word “rapi” mean healer. The Hebrew verb for healer is “rapha”. The famous verse in the Bible is Exodus 15:26 Jehovah-Rapha: The God Who Heals.

 

So linguistically the name works in both Hebrew and Akkadian.

 

The time line often quoted for the date that Hammurabi began his reign is indeed, 1792 BC. This is the middle chronology. But there are three timelines that can be used, only one is correct of course. The three possible timelines relate to cuneiform tablets that record observations about the planet Venus rising on the horizon in conjunction with the new moon. The astronomical observations were made during the reign of the fourth king after Hammurabi, so it's easy to work backwards to obtain the time of Hammurabi's reign because we know the length of the reigns. We have modern day expertise regarding the movements of the planets and can check the dates ourselves when Venus and the new moon were in sync during that period. We now know that there were three occasions when Venus and the new moon appeared. If we extrapolate the dates to the beginning of Hammurabi's reign we get the three dates of 1848 BC, (long chronology) 1792 BC, (middle chronology) or 1736 BC (short chronology). We can go for either option but if we go with the long chronology then the dates tie in perfectly with Abraham's dates.

 

Abraham was 86 years old when Ishmael was born and the battle with Amraphel took place shortly before this. So the year would have been around 1822 BC, according to the long chronology Hammurabi would have been in power for 26 years at that point. His reign ended in 1806 BC.

 

In his book, “Episodes From the Early History of Astronomy,” Asger Aaboe writes, “P. Huber has convincingly shown that only the “Long Chronology” … makes sense. So Hammurapi began his reign in 1848 BC."

 

Paul

 

 

QUESTION:

        If Genesis chapter 1 speaks of Adam in a plural sense i.e. the bulk of humanity, and Genesis chapter 2 speaks of Adam (singular) in the garden why is Adam the individual relegated to chapter 2 seeing it is from him that Christ descended?

 

ANSWER:

          The book of Genesis appears to stick to a plan, we could call it a literary device: The chosen people through whom Christ’s line descends are mentioned second, and the “bulk of humanity” get the first mention. After all, there needs to be a bulk of people from whom to choose the chosen people.

 

We see that Cain’s family and descendents are explained to us first and then Seth’s story (through whom Christ descended) is mentioned second.

 

In a similar way in Genesis 10 Japheth and Ham’s family lines comes before Shem (through whom Christ descended).

 

In Genesis 25 Ishmael’s toledoth is mentioned before Isaac’s (through whom Christ descended).

 

Also in the same chapter we note that Esau arrives before Jacob (through whom Christ descended).

 

We see that Genesis seems to consider the non-chosen before the chosen, that is probably why the majority of humankind are mentioned in Genesis 1 and Adam the man chosen to begin the descent of Christ is mentioned second.

 

Paul

 

QUESTION:

        Brian pointed out that Jesus believed that the world was only 4000 years old because Jesus said “Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah” (Luke 11:50-51). Jesus linked Abel’s death with the beginning of the world and Abel lived approximately 4000 years before Jesus was born.

 

ANSWER:

          Okay let’s have a look at this scripture; I can see three important points:

The Greek word used for “world” is “kosmos” which does not necessarily mean the “world” as we think of it, as a planet in the universe, but the “world” as in the “affairs of men.” For instance James refers to the tongue being a “world of evil”. Or Shakespeare said, “She gave me for my pains a world of sighs.” Jesus uses the word to refer to the affairs of men regarding the prophetic line, which started with Adam in the garden.

 

Also important to note is that the word “beginning” is not in the New Testament Greek text. The King James Bible uses the word “foundation” which is the word we find in Greek – “katabolé”. The word means “a laying down.” Jesus is talking about the laying down or the founding of the affairs of God and man in relation to the prophetic line.

 

Lastly, we don’t hear of there being any prophets before Abel so there could have been 4.453 billion years (the age of the earth) before Abel was killed and not one prophet among any of the people who came before him. And even if there was a prophet among the people prior to Abel their blood does not appeared to have been shed. So Abel’s blood was the first prophetic blood to be spilt since the creation of the earth, however long ago you believe the creation of the earth to have been. Either way, Jesus did not encourage us to believe that the world was only a few thousand years old.

 

 

Paul