Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Science Behind Biblical Creation (Part 2 of 2)

The following comrises part 2 of my comments regarding how the Biblical creation account may fit into what modern science today teaches about Earth's history. In Part 1, I commented on the First through the Third Creationary Periods. Below, I have included thoughts on the Fourth through the Sixth Creationary Periods.

[NOTE: Since I am neither an astrophysicist nor a biologist, I have placed my scientific references at the bottom of this post]

The Fourth Period – The Appearance of the Sun, Moon, and Stars

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; . . . And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so” (Gen. 1:14-15)

As explained previously, once the fusion of hydrogen and helium in the sun had commenced, light pressure gradually drove out the remaining gases and astro-dust of the original cloud from which the solar system was formed. Once driven out, the various heavenly bodies we see today progressivley became visible. During this period, the positions and motions of the various heavenly bodies were arranged to provide light, heat, and a means of keeping track of time.

The Fifth Period – The Creation of Sea Animals and Birds

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven” (Gen. 1:20).

In significant agreement with scriptural accounts, both plant and animal life first appeared in the oceans. Once oxygen levels reached about 5% of our present value around 800 million years ago, more complex multicellular life besides cyanobacteria and green algae began to appear. About 600 million years ago there was a rapid increase in higher forms of life, and by 590 million years ago exoskeletal animals such as trilobites, brachiopods, and shelled mollusks appeared. Around 145 million years ago the first aviary species appeared.

The Sixth Period – The Creation of Land Animals and Man

And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so” (Gen. 1:24)

The weathering of rocks on the Earth’s surface eventually produced soil to establish land plants that would one day provide food and oxygen for the land animals. Fossil records indicate that about 370 million years ago amphibian species appeared, while 20 million years later the earliest reptiles were present. Twenty 20 million years after that mammal-like reptiles emerged. Winged insects appeared around 310 million years ago, followed by dinosaurs around 240 million years ago. It wasn’t until 90 million years ago that marsupials, or placental animals (animals that develop their young in either a pouch, womb, or placenta), appeared.

Is is well documented, around 65 million years ago there was a period of mass extinction in which the dinosaurs and many other kinds of life disappeared. Some scientists believe this was the result of a massive asteroid crashing into our Earth’s surface. Interestingly, fossil records also indicate about 250 million years ago there was another massive extinction event. About 62 million years ago the first primates appeared. Rodents arrived on the scene about 45 million years ago, and hominids (man-like creatures) about 19 million years ago.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen 1:26). Laying religion aside for the moment, from the scientific perspective, the first appearance of fossilized remains of homo sapiens (human beings) seems to have been about 125,000 years ago.

Sources:
Emiliani, Cesare, “The Scientific Companion,” New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1988.

Rich, Patricia V., Thomas Hewitt Rich, Mildred Adams Fenton, and Carroll Lane Fenton, “The Fossil Book, A Record of Prehistoric Life,” 2d rev. ed. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1996.

Zeilik, Michael, Stephen A. Gregory, and Elske V. Smith, “Introductory Astronomy and Astrophysics,” 3d ed. New York: Saunders College Publishing, 1992.

8 comments:

Nate said...

Wow, part 2 already...you're making me look bad.

So, for the obvious question, what do you do with the ~119,000 year gap between homo sapien and Adam?

Jeremy said...

That's why I premised that tidbit of info with "[l]aying religion aside for the moment, from the scientific perspective..."

Honestly, for people that think like myself (and I venture to guess yourself also) I don't think anyone has a really good answer for this. To my knoweldge, nothing has been explicitly revealed.

Nibley asserts that there were hominids before Adam, but explains that none shared a story before Adam. In other words, none had a relationship with God in any way and certainly did not write their history for later generations. I'm not sure how to tie that into revealed religion; I mean, were these beings God's children also? If so, why was there a general neglect?

These unanswered questions have not only perplexed us, but early leaders of the Church like Widtsoe, Talmadge, and Roberts. In the view of what science has explained, however, I see it naive to take a JFS/McConkie literalist view of the creation and sweep all the scientific evidence under the rug.

Nate said...

I could speculate on a couple things to fill the gap.

1) Man was still evolving and wasn't capable of having the necessary higher brain function to implement the test. Once these beings had proper functionality, God was able use these materials to organize Adam in his own likeness.

Sounds creepy, I know...but God is the perfect one to judge whether this is ethical as he understands the similarity and differences of spirit and matter.

2) 125K years is a long time...especially in light of the fact that our existence is only for ~7000 years. He could have sent through generations of the plan (we know other worlds are part of our plan, maybe this one was used likewise and not celestialized after). Most evidence of that would have hid itself, and any remaining is easily hidden in the ocean, underground, etc.

I know it is way out there...and these answers will never come in this life. Still fun to speculate though.

Jeremy said...

Well, according to several GA's, Adam was "created" just like you and I were (I know, I know, I need cites - but I'm at work now). Now, we cannot claim this as doctrine, but since several have said it and, to my knowledge, none have given alternate interpretations, that throws a wrench in your evolving argument.

One of the best answers I recall reading somewhere is that Michael was literally "placed" in the Garden when he was ready to act as Adam. Thus, there were no pre-Adamites, as he was the first of his kind. However, there were pre-hominids, as scientific evidence shows.

Bruce in Montana said...

If the earth were made from 2 or 3 earlier "earths", then the fossil record could simply be the remnants of a former creation.
Indeed the scriptures never indicate that Adam was born here but, as Jeremy stated, he was "placed".

Jeremy said...

Hey Bruce,

I have three thoughts on the theory that the earth may have been formed from parts of other earths.

1) The theory stems from a Joseph Smith quote that "this earth was organized or formed out of other planets which were broken up and remodeled and made into the one on which we live." The problem, however, is that this was hearsay from the journal of William Clayton. William McIntire was at that same sermon and recorded Joseph's thoughts differently: "Earth has been organized out of portions of other Globes that has ben Disorganized."

Obviously the difference lies between the use of the terms "planets" or "globes." The scientific creation explanation agrees with the interpretation that the elements of this earth did indeed come from other "globes" that were disorganized - a supernova is a fairly substantial disorganization.

2) It is reasonable to assume that our own earth is typical of what God does in preparing all worlds for His children. That said, after an inhabited world passes through its mortal state, it is not disorganized and thrown into a junk-pile for reuse elsewhere, but is rather resurrected and celestialized.

3) Fossil remains of plants and animals likley do not originate from fragments of other worlds because of the sequential way they are preserved in the Earth's strata. For example, fossilized plants and animals found at great distances from each other all over this Earth are found in equivalent strata, and in the same order within these strata. Were the Earth formed from bits and pieces of other planets, that would hardly be the case.

Thanks for stopping by.

Trevor said...

The creation you outline is based on the mainstream scientific moel of the big bang theory and fusion/fission star model. Both failed theories according to scientists and researchers advocating the electric universe theory. Check out www.thunderbolts.info. This theory is very consistent with teachings from Joseph Smith and other modern prophets and shows that McConkie may have been closer to the mark than we typically give him credit for.

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