Genesis 1 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Genesis 1 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

(1:1-2:3) "In the beginning"
The first of two contradictory creation accounts. Compare with Genesis 2:4-25 in which the order of events is entirely different.
The two creations
Who created heaven and earth?
When was the universe created?
The Gap Theory
The author of the SAB claims there are two creation accounts in Genesis. This is a 19th century invention. And because there are no 2 creation accounts, there is no contradiction. I.e. the premise is false, therefore the conclusion doesn't follow. For a more in-depth discussion see Genesis contradictions.
For those interested in the history of the book Genesis, it appears that Genesis is far older than originally assumed by the church. It seems quite likely that Moses did not write Genesis, but compiled it from very ancient sources, clay tablets taken from Ur by Abraham or perhaps given to Abraham by Sem, son of Noah. The ancient form and composition of these clay tablets is still visible in our Bible, but the knowledge of its particular features was lost. It was only understood again after archaeologists had dug up the tens of thousands of clay tablets we now have. See for a brief introduction Who Wrote Genesis? Are the Toledoth Colophons? or The Tablet Theory of Genesis Authorship and see also P.J. Wiseman's original article Creation Revealed In Six Days: The evidence of Scripture confirmed by Archaeology.
On who created the heaven and the earth, all three persons on the Godhead were present and active. In the next verse (verse 2) for example we also see that the Spirit of God was present.
On when the universe was created: I personally agree with bishop Ussher's calculation, but it's not important to agree exactly with him. Everyone who reads the Bible without ‘scientific’ preconceptions will come to the conclusion the earth is some 6,000 years old. Isaac Newton calculated a date of about 4000 BC for example. But note that the age of the earth is thought to be much younger than the age of the rest of the universe, see verse 31.
On the Gap Theory: the author of the SAB gives sufficient links that disprove this theory compellingly.

2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

(1:1-2:3) The Genesis 1 account conflicts with the order of events that are known to science.
In Genesis 1:1, the earth and "heaven" are created together "in the beginning," whereas according to current estimates, the earth and universe are about 4.6 and 13.7 billion years old, respectively.
In Genesis, the earth is created (1:1) before light (1:3), sun and stars (1:16); birds and whales (1:21) before reptiles and insects (1:24); and flowering plants (1:11) before any animals (1:20). The order of events known from science is in each case just the opposite.
First, I agree with the author of the SAB that the order in Genesis conflicts with the stories told by those who call themselves scientists. So trying to fit Genesis into such accounts, won't work. They are clearly opposed. One of them has to yield.
There is some difference between us in reading Genesis though. The creation starts in verse 3, the first two verses are an introduction on what was to be created.
Lastly I want to protest against the phrase “events that are known to science.” Because where does truth come from? Is that from things told by scientists? In that case we have been deceived many times in the past as the facts turned out to be different. But also, were scientists present when these events unfolded? They were not. Can they repeat them in a laboratory? They can not. As even many young earth creationists believe that the rest of the universe is much older, one could say that we could use that as some constraint on our hypothesis. But have we ever seen a star form? We have not. Have we ever seen planets form? We have not. Does our current solar system conform to theories that have been invented on how solar systems come to pass? It does not. Every feature of our solar system is thought to have come to pass by an act of God, or as scientists like to say: some comet hit something and that's why things are the way they are. That's not a scientific explanation. For a detailed and sometimes hilarious account on ‘scientific explanations of the original of our universe’ see Our Created Solar System.

3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

(1:3-5, 14-19) "Let there be light"
God creates light and separates light from darkness, and day from night, on the first day. Yet he didn't make the light producing objects (the sun and the stars) until the fourth day (1:14-19). And how could there be "the evening and the morning" on the first day if there was no sun to mark them?
Obviously there were photons before there were stars...
For those less well-versed in physics: light comes from mass-less particles called photons. Photons are emitted by the sun, and when they hit your eye (either directly or after hitting other objects first), this produces a reaction by which sight is possible. Although the sun is the biggest source of photons, it's obviously not necessary. Light bulbs produce photons as well.
For those interested in physics: it's interesting to see that the first created things are water and light. The chemical formula for water is H2O. Meaning that it consists of two elements, H, hydrogen, and O, oxygen. Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. It's the most simple one as well, consisting of two particles with mass: a proton and an electron. So at the beginning of creation we see Scripture mentioning the most basic elements. But we also see a far more complex element O: this indicates that atoms were not formed after millions of years by naturalistic processes, but immediately by God.
The Bible never mentions these elements as we call them, as the Bible is not a shortcut to scientific knowledge. But the Bible does not contradict science, and when science contradicts the Bible, science itself will prove such science to be wrong, although we might have to wait some years for that to happen.

4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

(1:6-8) The Firmament (Heaven)
God spends one-sixth of his entire creative effort (the second day) working on a solid firmament. This strange structure, which God calls heaven, is intended to separate the higher waters from the lower waters.
The Hebrew word translated with firmament is plural. See Is the raqiya‘ (‘firmament’) a solid dome?

7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

(1:11-13) "Let the earth bring forth grass"
Plants are made on the third day before there was a sun to drive their photosynthetic processes (1:14-19). Notice, though, that God lets "the earth bring forth" the plants, rather than creating them directly. Maybe Genesis is not so anti-evolution after all.
Were plants created before or after humans?
Does the Bible teach evolution?
As per verse 3, plants do not need a sun as anyone who has ever lived close to a modern green house can confirm. They only need photons.
On if plants were created before or after humans, see chapter 2:5.
On the phrase “let the earth bring forth grass”, it seems the author of the SAB reads this as God giving a command to the earth to start the evolutionary process. But evolution, even if it could work, would require a bit more than a day. So the phrase simply means that God created from the elements in the earth the grass and other herbs. So God spoke, and the grass was there.

12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

14 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 signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

(1:14) "Let them be for signs"
God placed the sun, moon, and stars in the firmament so that they can be used "for signs". This, of course, is exactly what astrologers do: read "the signs" in the Zodiac to predict what will happen on Earth.
Does the bible condemn astrology?
What the Bible says about astrology
It appears the phrase “for signs” is interpreted by the author of the SAB as “they can be used for fortune telling.” That's not a very likely interpretation. As John Gill has it:

for "signs" of good and bad weather; for the times of ploughing, sowing, reaping, &c. and for the "seasons" of summer and winter, spring and autumn; for "days" by a circular motion for the space of twenty four hours; and for "years" by annual motion for the space of three hundred sixty five days and odd hours.

And yes, the Bible condemns astrology, not astronomy, see Deut. 18:10 and Matthew 2:2.

15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

(1:16) "God made the two great lights."
"The greater light [the sun] to rule the day, and the lesser light [the moon] to rule the night." But the moon is not a light; it only reflects light from the sun. And why, if God made the moon to "rule the night", does it spend half of its time moving through the daytime sky?
(1:16) "He made the stars also."
God spends a day making light (before making the sun and stars) and separating light from darkness; then, at the end of a hard day's work, and almost as an afterthought, he makes the trillions of stars.
When were the stars made?
On the light of the moon: obviously the author of the SAB hasn't spend much time outside at night at full moon. That's a lot of light... But the moon was not only for giving light, also for days and years. Thanks to its phases it is possible to count months and years.
On the second point, obviously from an earth-centred, human perspective, the sun and moon are somewhat more important, so that's why they are singled out in this verse. But the previous two verses talk about all stars, not just sun and moon, I.e. we use stars for signs, that is navigation, we use them for dating historical events, etc.

17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

(1:17) "And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth."
Then why is only a tiny fraction of stars visible from earth? Under the best conditions, no more than a few thousand stars are visible with the unaided eye, yet there are hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy and a hundred billion or so galaxies. Were they all created "to give light upon the earth"?
As said before, the stars had more functions. But the stars are also created by God for his glory, to show his glory and infinite capacity, even to human civilisations that possess a Hubble telescope.

18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

20 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.

(1:20-21) "Let the waters bring forth the moving creature that hath life, and fowl."
From what were the animals created?
From what were the fowls created?
The author of the SAB confuses two kinds of animals. This verse is about the animals that live in the water. The waters are commanded to bring forth the animals that live in the water. A few verses later (verse 24) the earth is commanded to bring forth the animals that live on dry land.
The verse chapter 2:19 is clearly about the beasts of the field, not about the fowls and creatures that live in the water as in this and subsequent verses. So chapter 2:19 should be compared with verse 24 and they are perfectly in harmony.

21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

24 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.

(1:24) "Let the earth bring forth the living creature"
Does the Bible teach evolution?
No. If readers follow the link the author of the SAB quotes A.D. White, an extremely unreliable witness who just makes up things as he goes. See also Psalm 93:1.

25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

(1:25) "And God made the beast of the earth"
Were humans created before the other animals?
"The beast of the earth"
Humans were created last, see chapter 2:19.
The author of the SAB also has a link on “beast of the earth.” Supposedly there are some groups that consider certain humans on the same level as beasts, for example non-white persons. It does not need to be said that such views find no warrant in this text or in the Bible. And how the amount of pigment a skin can make determines if one is human or not is clearly as inhuman as believing a person does not need the protection of the law while in its mother's womb.

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

There is one God, but there are three persons in the Godhead. Already in the first chapter of Genesis we find a clear indication of that when the one God says, let us make.
The author of the SAB also claims that this verse has given justification to fundamental Christians for mistreat and disregard of the environment. Yes, only fundamental Christians mistreat the environment as only they have a justification for that. But the facts are that it are the atheistic nations that have had the greatest disrespect for nature. I think not a single example of a fundamental Christian with an actual disrespect for nature can be brought forward, while on the other hand we have indisputable proof of the communist regimes absolute mistreatment of the environment.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

On the creation of Adam, the author of the SAB links to another failed prophecy of the Jehovah's witnesses. Jehovah's witnesses are not Christians and use only those portions of the Bible that suit them. This failed prophecy puts them firmly into the category of false prophets as per the Biblical test in Deut. 18:20-22.
On the creation of Eve, this verse only says that God created both Adam and Eve. Both were created by God. No mention of a time line. More details follow in the next chapter.
On if God is both male and female: God reveals himself in the Bible mainly, but not exclusively, see for example Is. 66:13, in male form. But God is neither of course, if God speaks in these categories it is for our understanding.
The author of the SAB continues to say “men and women are of equal value and importance.” This is true, but it does not mean there is no distinction between them. But in heaven the distinction will be removed, see Gal. 3:28.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

(1:28) "Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over ... every living thing that moveth upon the earth." [more]
What the Bible says about birth control
Is childbearing sinful?
On having dominion, see verse 26.
On being fruitful, it is becoming clear that those nations which are not fruitful whither away. But the meaning of fruitful here is not to be as fruitful as one possibly can with disregard for all other concerns, such as health, ability to raise up children, and such. On the other hand, it appears that the more people there are, the more life has improved, and that considerably. On birth control itself, assuming married couples, anything that is abortive is clearly sinful. Opinion differ on other methods. There are of course natural and not so natural methods. Is it healthy for females to take in chemicals, hormones, for a considerable portion of their lives? We don't really know yet, and those who take these are part of a scientific experiment on a grand scale. More natural methods seem a wiser choice for those who think it is not contrary to the will of God to avoid becoming pregnant.
The Bible also says that children are the delight of old age, see Psalm 127:3, so anyone should think twice before robbing themselves of such delights.
On if childbearing is sinful, see Lev. 12:6.

29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

The command given here, to eat from every tree, was given before The Fall. There were no plants that could harm humans. There were no thorns and thistles. The author of the SAB links to “Biblical Nonsense: Science to the Rescue,” which appears to be a text written by someone with very little learning in Hebrew, the Bible and the sciences.
On if Adam was allowed to eat from every tree: yes, all trees on the earth, except one tree specially planted in the Garden of Eden. Note that there is a restriction in this verse, Adam is not given every tree, but every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed. It is unsure if the tree of the knowledge of good and evil fit this definition, but if it did, I see no contradiction by God giving him every tree, that means every kind, on the earth, except a special one. For that conclusion to hold this verse should have added: “every single tree, no exceptions.”
On what we should eat: this command is given before The Fall and before the flood. Very different circumstances.
On if it is OK to smoke marijuana: I think a facetious answer to a facetious question will do: smoking is not eating.

30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

Indeed, all created animals were herbivores. The species we have now might have devolved into a different direction. There are many different species of bats nowadays, but many still eat only fruit. On how blood drinking bats could have evolved, see The Dracula connection to a young Earth.

31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

(1:31) "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good."
In Genesis 1 the entire creation takes 6 days, but the universe is about 13.7 billion years old, with new stars constantly being formed.
The author of the SAB claims that the universe is 13.7 billion years old. Depending on what decade you would have lived in, it would have varied from millions to billions to infinity. What will science assure us is the age of the universe in the next hundred years?
But the author of the SAB makes a mistake in believing that creationist scientists do believe the universe to be 6,000 years old. Many young earth creationist scientists believe the earth to be 6,000 years old, but the universe to be billions of years old. On the fourth day of creation, when God created the stars, the space around the earth was expanded, creating a white hole effect, which would cause time beyond the earth to run much faster, while not effecting time on earth. This solves the distant star light problem and does not violate known laws of physics. This theory is testable. For example all stars and galaxies move away from the earth. Secular scientists have to believe we are not special and affirm this holds for every point in the universe: i.e. wherever you are, every point in space would be receding from you. This is not true for this creationist model.
On stars being formed: no one has ever witnessed that, scientists have no clue how stars could form in the first place, and there are simply no obervations of stars being formed. See Our Created Universe.