Spirit at the Edge


We live in an age of extreme scepticism, and that is not, in itself, a bad thing. On the question of what Truth really is, modern philosophers tend to a depressing nihilism, reducing the discussion to one of logic and empiricism.  By this they mean that statements can be shown to be true by two means. They can be internally consistent, their truth being obvious in their own terms, agreed by all reasonable people. To say that all people are human would be true by this measure. If a statement is not so simple, there needs to be evidence that it is true. If I claim that I am bigger than my dog, the truth of the statement can be shown by visual comparison or measurement. Statements which cannot be shown to be true by either of these criteria are considered nonsensical. In this way many spiritual statements are insulted by this adjective.   The basic question is about what gives us the right to say what we say,  or believe what we believe.

We have become used to challenges from science, against traditional beliefs, and seldom encounter sound challenges that move in the opposite direction.  It is therefore refreshing when a sceptical view of our sceptical assumptions jolts us into thinking challenging thoughts. Andrew Parker’s book, now ten years old, is just such a view. The Genesis Enigma[i]  discusses the monumental challenge the creation story in the book of Genesis poses for Science.  The presumed scientific demolition of the biblical account focused on the age of the earth and the time the whole process took, as opposed to the biblical seven days. This overshadowed the remarkable fact that the Genesis account could easily be a modern summary of the scientific findings.  In both accounts events unfold in precisely the same order:

  1. First came light (the sun),
  2. Then the waters,
  3. followed by the separation of land from water,
  4. followed by the development of grass and herb yielding seed.
  5. The division of day from night came next
  6. followed by moving life ‘brought forth by the waters.’
  7. The winged creatures came last.

The parallels are, in fact, astounding, going far beyond the possibility of chance correlations.

We have to begin wondering how the writer of Genesis got it so very right.  The writer of Genesis, like science, saw birds as a special case, and this is on top of his remarkable account of the pre-eminence of the sea.   The question of how someone living in one of the most landlocked areas on earth, could possibly have stumbled on such formidable truths  is itself an enigma. This is an enjoyable and well written book that presents much food for thought.


[i]  Parker, A. (2009) The Genesis Enigma. Doubleday

Bless you for reading this page.

© Ken Davies 2019