Part 2: The Genesis Account
The trouble is, up to this point chapter 3 has considered nothing that leads to this conclusion. The only things it has covered are descriptions of Genesis' creative days and certain obvious facts, i.e., light exists, night and day exist, there is dry land, the sun and moon can be seen in the sky, there are seasons and there are many forms of life. Only in the discussion that follows paragraph 32 does the writer touch upon the idea that Genesis is scientifically sound. Paragraph 33 continues:
Note here that the writer has already assumed Genesis to have been proven scientifically sound, even though he has not yet done so, and he says explicitly he is about to prove such by his next argument, in paragraph 34, which states:
The key point claimed is that science agrees that the stages of creation occurred in the general order stated in Genesis, and therefore God must have informed Moses of them.20 How does the writer show the order in which science says the stages occurred? He does not do so in the main text. However, in a side box not referenced in the main text he says the following:
So Creation supports its key point with a quotation from a single geologist. It provides no geological data, and no references to geology texts or any other science reference material. The author apparently assumes the reader will read the sidebox, and from that single anecdotal reference draw the conclusion that geology supports Genesis. Likewise, from this one quotation and the list of ten creation events, the author draws the conclusion that there is next to no chance that the writer of Genesis just guessed the right order of creation. But is the key "fact" correct, namely, is it really true that science agrees that the stages of creation occurred in the same general order as presented in Genesis? The following is a summary of what most geology books say. Note that what science says concerning the early universe and earth is highly speculative because of the scarcity of data from those early periods. This is widely acknowledged by geology texts.
The most recent theory on the origin of the universe postulates that everything began in a sort of explosion called the "Big Bang." Science can make no statement about what existed prior to the Big Bang because the physics are not understood.20a So science and Genesis may agree that there was a beginning, but the details are radically different. This eliminates agreement with point (1) above.
What was the primitive earth like? Again science cannot say with any certainty. Many theories have been advanced, but almost all are acknowledged to be speculative because there is no conclusive evidence. One category of theory postulates that the early earth was extremely hot because of the gravitational energy released by matter falling onto it as it condensed from the primordial nebula from which the solar system formed. The earth then slowly cooled, releasing the gases that formed the atmosphere and the water vapor that eventually condensed to form the oceans. Another category of theory postulates that the early earth was relatively cool at first, and the interior gradually heated up to its current state because of radioactive elements it contained.21 The gradual heating released the various gases during volcanic eruptions. So the composition and evolution of the early atmosphere is poorly understood, as is the mode of formation of the oceans. What is agreed upon is that a solid surface existed before any oceans accumulated upon it. These things eliminate agreement with points (2), (3), (4), (5), and (7) above.
Creation's author is aware that science does not say anything conclusive about the early atmosphere, because on page 41 he says:
Apparently by page 41 he has forgotten the above points, because if no one knows for sure what the atmosphere was like there can be no real agreement on what it was like. It is evident the author claims that science and Genesis agree on the state of the primitive atmosphere when it suits his purpose, but later he claims science really knows nothing about the early atmosphere when it suits a different purpose. This choosing among "facts" to suit preexisting notions is inappropriate in a book published by an organization that claims to be interested in truth.
What about the order of creation of life? The geological record of the rocks is much clearer on this than on the early history of the earth. Due to the scarcity of evidence, much is speculative about early one-celled forms of life, but there is a great deal of evidence regarding life after hard-shelled forms appeared. According to most geological source references, first came one-celled organisms called prokaryotes, which do not contain a nucleus. They appeared at first in the form of anaerobic bacteria, then in the form of photosynthetic bacteria, next aerobic bacteria, and finally blue-green algae. Next came one celled organisms called eukaryotes, which contain a nucleus. Finally came multicellular organisms in great variety.
The multicellular organisms were at first marine invertebrates of various types. Then fish and higher marine plants appeared. Next came land plants, amphibians, and insects. Next reptiles, then birds and mammals, and finally man. Note especially that science says fish came before land plants, and some land animals such as amphibians and scorpions came before any flying creatures, including flying insects. If Genesis were correct, whales in particular would have come before dinosaurs, and so would birds, because the simple pastoral Israelites would have understood "the great sea monsters" to include whales, and the "flying creatures" to include birds. The fossil record shows there were both swimming and flying dinosaurs that often were built along the same lines as their mammalian and avian counterparts. But this was unknown to the Israelites. These things show that (6) above is out of order, and (6), (8), and (9) are mixed up. The only thing that is entirely in agreement with science in the above list is that man came last.
If one has to massage Genesis and mangle the scientific data, such as claiming some plants were created very early and others were created much later, when all of the plants mentioned by name in Genesis such as grass and fruit trees show up much later, one can hardly claim the two accounts agree with each other. Creation's statement that the Genesis stages of creation agree with science is true in only the loosest sense.
Furthermore, if you consider Genesis' saying that the universe had a beginning is significant, then other primitive creation stories must be just as significant, as virtually all of them say there was a beginning. So what is the extent of the agreement between science and Genesis?
After a beginning, life forms appeared, among which man was last.
There is no agreement in the details. Therefore Creation's claim that the Genesis account came from a source with knowledge of the events has not been shown. In fact, where science makes a definite statement, it disagrees with the Genesis account in almost every detail.
It should be clear why the Creation book refers to no geological data to prove its point, because the data disprove it. Instead, it has to resort to quoting a single geologist, who, not surprisingly, was a creationist who believed the earth was created in six literal days. This is typical of the Society's arguments with respect to science and the Bible. When there is no support in scientific publications the Society quotes other religious or creationist writings without telling the reader the nature of the source.
So what is the probability that the Genesis writer got his knowledge of the order of creation from God, based on its "agreement" with what science says?
Note that this conclusion does not depend on whether the "facts" of science are correct. It depends only on the fact that science and the Genesis account do not agree. Whether the "facts" of science are correct is another matter entirely.
The Creation book's quotation of geologist Wallace Pratt, as mentioned above, is an example of how the Society fails to include significant points about a reference, even though the points left out can make a decisive difference in the reader's judgment of the subject. Wallace Pratt was a geologist and an executive for Humble Oil Company and Standard Oil Company (Exxon) at various times in his career. Here is the full context of Creation's quotation of him.22 Let the reader make his own judgment.
Note two important points from this: (1) Pratt was a creationist who believed the earth was created in six literal days, and (2) Creation's reference was to a lecture he gave in 1928. Creation is silent on these points because they deflate its argument, in spite of comments from Pratt. Here again the Society withholds information that could help a reader evaluate its argument.
An interesting point about Pratt was his religious belief that the earth was created in six literal days. Pratt was legendary for his ability to find oil fields based on the geology of an area. He regularly used the idea that oil bearing strata were laid down over a long period of time, so that the strata had a certain consistency he was able to discern so as to pick out likely oil fields with great success. How was he able to reconcile the two conflicting sets of beliefs?
The above information showing that Genesis and science do not agree on the order of creation of life is not new. An article in the column "This View of Life" in Natural History23 described a series of articles written in 1885-1896 by onetime British premier W. E. Gladstone and paleontologist T. H. Huxley concerning the Genesis creation account. Gladstone had
There is nothing new under the sun. The old argument the Creation book revives is no better than it was one hundred years ago. The same mistakes of fact are made. Therefore, Creation's key argument in Chapter 3, that science and Genesis agree on the order of creation, which it bases on a statement by a geologist with six-literal-day creationist beliefs, is incorrect. When the details are examined, it is evident that Genesis cannot be reconciled with the fossil record, just as Thomas Huxley pointed out one hundred years ago.
Let us briefly touch on the validity of current scientist's interpretation of the fossil record. It is true that much of what is said is poorly understood, poorly known or speculative. However, there are some basic aspects of geology that are so close to simple observation and measurement that scientists can claim to be right:
If the fossil record showed clear discrepancies -- such as the early appearance of fossils of animals or plants that, according to current scientific understanding, appeared late in the fossil record -- excellent arguments could be made that the fossil record is too poorly understood to make firm conclusions, and that there is no basis for questioning the Bible's statements that conflict with the fossil record. But there are no such anomalies. It is apparent therefore, that claims that the Bible is accurate when it touches on scientific matters such as the order of creation, rest almost entirely on rejection of evidence to the contrary, rather than an impartial examination of all evidence. In any case the bottom line is: science and Genesis do not agree on the order of creation.
The June 8, 1991 Awake! article, "Did Each Creative Day Always Finish What It Started?" is a good illustration of the Society's misunderstanding of geological information. The Awake! article, like the Creation book, contains many statements that the Genesis creation account is historical and agrees with science. The following discussion examines the article's viewpoint on this question.
First note that Creation and Awake! do not agree with each other on whether science and Genesis agree on the order of creation events. On page 37 Creation lists ten events of creation and says:
However the Awake! article says on page 12:
The last paragraph on page 14 says:
Following the Society's rule that the latest information it publishes is its official position, Awake!'s statements seem to mean that the basic theme of Creation's third chapter, namely, that science and Genesis agree on the order of creation, is no longer held by the Society. Is the Society admitting that science and Genesis do not actually agree on the order of creation?
Next note that Awake! is pointing out nothing not already known to a student of the fossil record when it argues that the creation of life was a gradual, progressive activity. The fossil record shows clearly that life has changed progressively through the ages, with species often appearing suddenly in rapid series of "explosions," and sometimes disappearing even more suddenly in massive extinctions. The dramatic disappearance of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago and subsequent rapid appearance of a huge variety of mammals is the classic case. It has been estimated that more than 99% of all species that ever lived are extinct. What is new in the Awake! article is the Society's acknowledgment that new life forms have appeared from time to time, and especially that Genesis supports this notion. No other fundamentalist organization seems to take this position.
The Genesis account's statements regarding the order of creation raise the question of whether land animals or flying creatures came first. Awake! points out that Genesis does not speak of just birds when it uses the Hebrew word 'ohph, but that all kinds of flying creatures were created on the fifth day. Similarly it is clear that Genesis speaks of all kinds of land animals, not just mammals, as being created on the sixth day. Awake! makes a serious error by turning this general question into the narrow one of whether mammals came before birds or other flying creatures, and then ignoring the general question. The article is, in fact, an excellent illustration of the use of the "straw man" style of argument. The "straw man" is the question of whether birds or mammals were created first. This is discussed and then substituted for the real issue of whether flying creatures or land animals came first. The straw man is easily knocked down, leaving the real issue untouched and casual readers with the impression the question has been settled.
Why is the question of whether mammals or birds came first not important to this discussion? Simply because science has no clear answer to it. There are so many fossils that show a skeletal structure intermediate in form between reptiles and mammals that scientists are hard put to decide what was the first true mammal. The earliest fossil bird yet found, the famous Archaeopteryx, has skeletal features intermediate in form between reptiles and modern birds. Archaeopteryx appears in the fossil record about 140 to 150 million years ago, about the same time the first indisputable true mammals appear. It is not known if Archaeopteryx was truly early in the line of birds, or if it belonged to a peculiar side-family that existed alongside more conventional birds. There is simply too little fossil evidence. Traces of mammal-like creatures show up as far back as 215 million years ago, and one highly disputed fossil whose finder thinks it was a bird appears as much as 225 million years ago. Therefore, the argument about whether birds came before mammals is moot, and a discussion of Genesis focusing on birds and mammals misses the essential point about land animals versus flying creatures. The fossil record is unequivocal that land animals show up long before flying creatures of any sort. Sea creatures show up far earlier than either. But Awake! discusses none of this, nor does Creation. What is more, Creation and Awake! carefully avoid discussing any geological data, but speak only in sweeping generalities.
Not only does Awake! miss the point about land animals and flying creatures versus mammals and birds, it doesn't get its facts straight when referring to what scientists believe about mammals and birds. It says on page 12:
It is certainly true that evidence from the fossil record is not conclusive on the origin of birds. It is also true that some paleontologists believe that mammals appeared after birds, but Colin Patterson is not one of them. The example from page 132 of Patterson's book is actually a chart showing his idea of the genealogical relationships of existing vertebrate groups. The chart is a typical evolutionary tree showing when various groups of vertebrates split from ancestral stock, but it is incomplete in that it does not explicitly show large groups of extinct animals such as the dinosaurs. These extinct groups are represented implicitly in the lines showing ancestral relationships. Unfortunately this chart cannot be reproduced here, but the relevant points are that it shows lines representing the ancestors of the group containing turtles, snakes, lizards, crocodiles and birds, and the ancestors of the group containing the egg-laying, marsupial and placental mammals, splitting apart about 315 million years ago. This is actually the split between two major subgroups of reptiles: the conventional reptiles known as diapsids, which included dinosaurs, lizards and snakes, and the less conventional synapsids (therapsids) or mammal-like reptiles.25 The chart shows the bird and crocodile lines splitting apart at 215 million years ago, but this is actually the split between dinosaurs and crocodile-like animals. Here Patterson implicitly includes birds among the dinosaur lineage. The chart also shows the egg-laying mammals splitting apart from the marsupials/placentals at 190 million years, which was about 25 million years after the first possible traces of mammals appear and shortly before the last of the synapsids appeared. In others words, the chart shows the line that led to mammals splitting at 315 million years from the line that led to reptiles, dinosaurs and birds. Awake! misinterprets the chart by comparing the point at which birds and crocodiles split, 215 million years, with the point at which egg-laying and marsupial/placental mammals split, 190 million years, and claiming that these points are when Patterson says that birds and mammals arose. The chart shows precisely the opposite of what Awake! claims.
With regard to the creation of plants, the Genesis account is straightforward. In the New World Translation, Genesis 1:11, 12 specifically states that grass and fruit trees were made before the end of the third creative day. However, many other translations say "vegetation" rather than "grass," as the original Hebrew word can be rendered either way. So if Genesis really means general vegetation, and not grass, there is no conflict. In any case, it was not until the fifth day that sea creatures began to be created, and animals like dinosaurs were not created until the sixth. However, the fossil record shows unequivocally that sea creatures and plants appeared long before land plants of any sort, at least 200 million years earlier. Fruit trees did not appear until about 110 million years ago in the middle of the age of dinosaurs, and grasses not until 60 million years ago at the beginning of the age of mammals, whereas the earliest land animals, including insects, appear in the fossil record about 450 million years ago. The fossil evidence for this sequence is extremely strong and has been known for at least 150 years. The appearance of flowering plants, including fruit trees, is, in fact, like the Cambrian explosion of life with hard parts, one of the striking "explosions" of new types of life forms that evolutionists have such difficulty explaining. Moreover, Genesis 1:21 clearly says that God proceeded to create every living soul in the sea and every winged flying creature according to its kind before the end of the fifth creative day. The language is unambiguous and leaves no room for Awake!'s speculation that the creation sequences spanned several creative days.
Awake! points to Genesis 2:19 as evidence that there may have been a progressive creation of flying creatures, as well as other animals, but does not discuss the fact that Genesis 1:21 explicitly states that every (Heb. kol every, every one, the whole, all, of all kinds, every sort) flying creature was created before the start of the sixth day. Many biblical scholars use this difference to show that Genesis is a compilation of two contradictory creation accounts. This argument is well known to the Society, but is not mentioned. Instead, Awake! uses a textual argument on verse 19 that attempts to show that creation was progressive. Keeping in mind Awake!'s claim that "Genesis chapter 1 indicates that creation involved ongoing activity by God," let us examine parts of Genesis, taking into account relevant aspects of the Hebrew language.
Typical of most translations, The New English Bible renders Genesis 2:19 as:
The New World Translation reads:
The word translated above as "formed" or "was forming" is from the Hebrew wayuitser (root: yatsar; to form, fashion), which is composed of the conjunction waw (and, but, then, now, for, so, etc.) and the imperfect verb form of yatsar (Kal future [=imperfect] 3rd person singular masculine, defective & with conversive waw; p. 339, The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon by Benjamin Davidson, Samuel Bagster & Sons, 1967 reprint), which denotes incomplete action, past, present or future. The 3rd person imperfect form can be translated as "he forms, he will form, may form, was forming, might form, has been forming, had been forming, would have been forming," etc. The above lexicon mentions that the "conversive waw," "prefixed to the forms of the Future, gives to them the sense of the Imperfect; hence called by grammarians Conversive Vav, e.g., yiqtol he will slay, wa-yuiqtol he slew." Apparently, terminology is not entirely standard among grammarians, but what this means is that prefixing waw to a future (=imperfect) form can turn it into what looks like a past tense in English. So there is grammatical precedent for rendering Gen. 2:19 as "And God formed...," although the sense might be rendered in a number of other ways. So the Society's rendering "God was forming" probably more accurately depicts the thought of the verse, and translating it as "God formed" is grammatically acceptable but less accurate.
Awake! argues on page 13, paragraph 2, that "the imperfect state of the Hebrew verbs used in Genesis chapter 1 indicates that creation involved ongoing activity by God." It cited two Bible translations in support, which give the idea that "progressive creative activity is indicated by the use of the word 'gradually'," which was used in the translation by J. W. Watts. Watt's translation rendered Genesis 2:19 as:
(italics added in above scriptural citations).
This argument may be true, but the August 15, 1968 Watchtower, pp. 499-500, gives the real reason the Society makes a point of what the proper rendering for Genesis 2:19 should be. After admitting that Genesis contains two separate historical documents, The Watchtower said:
The point is that the Society endeavors to translate in such a manner that the first two chapters of Genesis do not contradict each other. The textual evidence from the Hebrew is really not the point. Written Hebrew is an extremely vague language in a certain sense, because of the lack of verb forms indicating precise location in time. The original Hebrew was written in a terse manner, with no vowels. In the course of time, as Hebrew became a nearly dead language, the original pronunciations were lost, and about the sixth century the Masoretes added vowel points to help. It is certain, however, that not all of these were added correctly, and so it is not certain how some words are to be translated. Let's examine a few examples from Genesis to illustrate.
First, as shown above and contrary to what the Society claims, its rendering of Hebrew verbs in Genesis in the imperfect tense is not required by the structure of the language. There is no specific tense corresponding to past, present or future. Hebrew has a verb structure uniquely its own, and instead of the tenses of English, it has two major forms that can be rendered in various ways depending on the translator's understanding of the context. Either of these forms can refer to past, present or future. The NIV Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament avoided addressing these textual versus contextual issues, and in the introduction explained how it handled the renderings:
The perfect tense expresses completed action, while the imperfect tense expresses incomplete or continuing action. Since either tense can refer to past, present or future, the appropriate English rendering must be derived from the context. The Society's reference Bible says:27
While this explanation is incomplete itself, note that it says the action could be indicated by the perfect or imperfect forms, not that there is anything inherent in the forms which requires indicating the quality of the action. Also, the one doing the "viewing" must be the translator. This is clearly seen by using an interlinear translation along with an analytical lexicon that lists all the verb forms used in the Hebrew scriptures.
Genesis 1 provides an excellent illustration of the way all this works. There are many sequences of the form "and [imperfect action verb]" followed by "[perfect action verb]". Here are rendered verses 3 through 5, with imperfect verbs in italics and perfect verbs in bold.
Note the flow in the narrative, which carries the reader quickly along. Also note that the verb "there is" is the same in all four places in the Hebrew. Finally, note the use of "God is calling" and "he called" in verse 5. The New World Translation renders these as "God began calling" and "he called," respectively. The original Hebrew in Genesis 1 mixes the tenses freely, and the NWT translates the whole verse as "And God began calling the light Day, but the darkness he called Night." If the original Hebrew was rendered "And God began calling the light Day, but the darkness he began calling Night," it would still make perfect sense and its meaning would not be changed. Conversely, The New International Version renders it "God called the light 'day' and the darkness he called 'night'," which still makes perfect sense and retains the same meaning. Apparently the writer of Genesis did not consider the exact word use important.
The same mixing of tenses in one verse can be seen with respect to the words "began calling" and "called" in Gen. 1:10. Further, Gen. 1:10, 1:12, 1:18, etc., use the imperfect tense for the word "saw," which the NWT renders in the past tense: "God saw that it was good." Would it make sense to say "God gradually saw that it was good"? Hardly, but it makes good sense in terms of the continuing narrative style of Genesis 1, i.e., "and God is seeing that [it is] good."
Is the New World Translation inconsistent when it sometimes renders the Hebrew imperfect tense as the English past tense, and sometimes uses a continuing sense? Not really. It merely illustrates that the rendering depends entirely on the translator's understanding of the context. Awake!'s argument about gradual creative activity is certainly allowed by the Hebrew text, but is not required and certainly is not a proof of anything at all. It is the same with respect to Gen. 2:19. This shows that Awake!'s statement on page 13, paragraph 2, is misleading.
Barnes Notes on the Old Testament attempted to explain the difficulty with Gen. 2:19. First it presented its own translation of the verse: "And Yahweh God molded out of the ground all the wild beasts of the field..." Then it commented:28
Aside from the obvious fact that Barnes Notes' explanation relies on its prior assumption that the Bible is inspired to explain why there is no difficulty with Gen. 2:19, we have here an example where a translator decided that, based his understanding of the context, a Hebrew verb in the imperfect state should be rendered in the pluperfect tense: "had molded," rather than "molded" or "was molding." This further illustrates that Hebrew to English translation is inexact and depends upon the translator's understanding of the context.
The above information sheds light on why virtually all modern translations render passages such as Gen. 2:19 with the verb "formed," rather than "was forming." It is simply a matter of judgment and understanding of context among Hebrew scholars. The author of Genesis may well have had in mind a progressive creation, but there is no support in the original Hebrew language for conclusive statements either way. Therefore, the conclusions Awake! makes are conjectural, since they are neither supported nor refuted by the Hebrew text. Here again, the Society makes dogmatic statements to support its contentions, leaving out much information that might support a different view.
Based on the above discussion, it is easy to see that Awake!'s statements on page 12, to the effect that flying creatures began to be created before mammals appeared, misdirect the reader and do not address the real issues. The many arguments that Genesis is speaking of a gradual creation do not address the fact that specific life forms, such as fruit trees, are specifically stated by Genesis to have been created before the end of a particular creative day, and that every kind in a category was created before the end of the day. The only way to reconcile this is to claim that when Genesis says "every" it does not mean what it says.
Creation makes a point concerning the heavenly luminaries. On the fourth creative day Genesis says these luminaries, i.e., the sun, moon and stars, came to be in the heavens. Creation says on page 31:
Later on the Bible describes the Flood of Noah's day, and implies that one source of the water was the "swaddling bands" mentioned here. This layer of water must have been thousands of feet thick to flood all the "high mountains" of the world, and it would have been an impediment to light reaching the surface of the earth. Is it reasonable believe that the stars would have been visible through a layer of water thousands of feet thick, or through the equivalent amount of water vapor? This is entirely apart from the difficulties related to the existence of such a layer28a in the first place.
Various dating methods show that life has existed on the earth for hundreds of millions of years. The Society has always objected to these findings, insisting that the Genesis account requires six creative days of 7,000 years each. Interestingly, to support the notion of fixity of species Creation is forced to admit that life has existed for much longer than the Society has so far been willing to admit. Under the subheading "Continued Sudden Appearances, Little Change" on pages 63-64, several interesting quotations appear:
Unfortunately, in using the above quotations, the author seems to have forgotten that he said on page 27 that these things are included in the Genesis creation account, and took place over "long periods of time -- millenniums." Using the word "millenniums" in this context is like saying that human life spans are many minutes long -- true, but completely misleading.
Interestingly, the Insight book,29 Vol. 1, under the subject "Creation," is not willing to assign a definite length to the creative days, but the January 1, 1987 Watchtower states that
All of the above, plus the things I've said elsewhere in these essays about geologic dating methods, make it evident that the Society ought to rethink its position that the creative days were 7,000 years long. The seventh creative day may well be about 7,000 years long, but the others must surely be much longer.
Because Insight was published in 1988, after the above mentioned Watchtower article, it must be asked if the Society has already changed its official position on this matter, but decided not to made it generally known.
How does Genesis fit in with the creation myths of ancient peoples other than the Jews? The Creation book says the Genesis account is not drawn from the creation myths of ancient peoples. On page 35 a side box describes the
The side box uses information from the Aid30 book. The Aid book further points out some of the differences between the Babylonian and Genesis accounts, and says:
The Aid book uses quotations from several sources who are obviously fundamentalists of the six-literal-day creationist school, who point out the obvious differences between the two accounts. It should be noted that six-literal-day creationists are notoriously loose with the truth when it comes to proving the Bible inspired. Aid further states:
Upon further research it became clear that Aid's statements about the most ancient creation accounts are not proven facts, but are the Society's assumptions made only because there is no other evidence for its position.
The reader should check Aid's entire discussion of the subject of creation myths and Genesis, as well as a condensed version of this description in the Insight31 book, under the subject "Creation." The evident similarities between the Babylonian and Genesis creation accounts are not discussed; in fact, as shown above, Aid specifically discounts the necessity to do so and instead relies on the testimony of six-literal-day creationists that the accounts are not similar. In considering the merit of any argument that quotes from other source references it pays to go to those sources and see for yourself what they say. From the following, which contains a list of the similarities between the two accounts, it should be evident to the reader why Aid does not want to burden its readers with such unnecessary detail.
Concerning the origin of the Genesis account the book Genesis from The Anchor Bible series says:32
The designations P and J refer to the so-called Priestly and Jahwist sources of Genesis, according to the so-called Documentary Theory of the origins of Genesis. Versions of this theory are widely held among non-fundamentalist biblical scholars. The Anchor Bible Genesis continues:
It is ironic that the same probability argument the Creation book uses on pages 36-37 can be used with the above table to offer "striking proof" that the Genesis and Babylonian creation accounts must have a common origin. Because essentially the same eight events are listed in the same order in the above table, we may conclude that the chance these accounts are unrelated is one in 40,320.
The Anchor Bible Genesis continues:
A book on the archaeology of the Bible presented material much the same as above, and commented:33
The above discussions are the most reasonable I've read concerning the Babylonian and Genesis creation accounts' differences and similarities. It says nothing about whether the Bible is inspired. It merely shows what some of the differences and similarities are, and draws some conclusions. There is a big difference between this treatment, and that by the Society. The Society first assumes that Genesis is the true account, and then suppresses all evidence that might bear against that assumption. It should be emphasized that the question of the Bible's inspiration has absolutely nothing to do with any of the above. Moses or whoever wrote Genesis could have gotten his basic material from the same ancient sources as did the Babylonians, and then God put his stamp of approval on it.
All this is clear evidence that the Society is interested, not in presenting all the facts to its readers, but in promoting its own agenda.
In case the reader doubts that the above table comparing the Babylonian and Genesis creation accounts is a good summary of what the Babylonian account actually says, note the following comparison of the opening verses of Genesis with the Mesopotamian account:34
Clearly the Creation book's author has researched the question of the similarity of the Genesis and Babylonian accounts merely by looking into other Watchtower publications, and has again argued as a literary critic.
19 The Society has been making this claim for many years. The Dec. 1881 Zion's Watch Tower, page 1 (p. 299 Reprints) said: "Many suppose, that the history of creation as given in the first chapter of Genesis, is utterly at variance with the teachings of Geology. This is not the case. Some of the most eminent Geologists believe 'that the word of God, properly interpreted, is in harmony with the teachings of their science.'" The other material in this article shows how little the Society's views on creation have changed in over 100 years. The Dec. 1, 1912 Watch Tower, page 372 (p. 5140 Reprints) said: "We hold that the Genesis account is in full accord with all the facts known to science." It referred approvingly to "the Vailian Theory," which was originated by Isaac N. Vail in 1874 to account for the Flood. An interesting account of the theory ("supported by the Scriptures," of course) is given in the 1927 book Creation, pages 25-30, and in the 1943 book The Truth Shall Make You Free, pages 57-62. These books show that the theory is pure fantasy and has about as much merit as Immanuel Velikovsky's works. Anyone entertaining it as truth has no understanding of science or physics whatsoever. The Society promulgated the theory until the mid-1950s.
20 It is interesting to note that Creation says all this in the context of disproving evolution. The foregoing argument is able to prove scientists wrong about evolution only by assuming they are right about the sequence of life! The argument also does not inform the reader that most geologists do not agree with the Genesis sequence. It also assumes that none of the points could have been put into the correct sequence by informed guessing. If you had no knowledge of the Bible or science, and only knew what you had observed by living on the earth for 50 years, would you put item (1) "a beginning" someplace in the middle, or at the end? Would you put item (6) "land plants" ahead of item (5) "large areas of dry land"?
20a A number of physicists have questioned the Big Bang theory, because of its inability to explain certain types of observations. The theory has also been said to suffer from too many ad-hoc patches. However, other evidence strongly supports it, and the majority of scientists accept it.
21 Stephen G. Brush, "Finding the Age of the Earth by Physics or by Faith?," Journal of Geological Education, vol. 30, p. 40, 1982.
22 W. L. Copithorne, "The Worlds of Wallace Pratt," The Lamp, vol. 53, pp. 11-14, Standard Oil, Fall, 1971.
23 Stephen Jay Gould, "Genesis and Geology: Are you interested in the rock of ages, or the age of rocks?," Natural History, vol. 97, pp. 12-20, September, 1988.
24 Laurie R. Godfrey, Scientists Confront Creationism, pp. 161-162, W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 1983.
25 D. R. Selkirk and F. J. Burrows, editors, Confronting Creationism: Defending Darwin, p. 82, New South Wales University Press, Kensington NSW Australia, 1988.
26 John R. Kohlenberger III, ed., The NIV Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament, p. xxv, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1987.
27 New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures -- With References, p. 1572, 1984.
28 H. C. Leupold, Barnes Notes on the Old Testament: Exposition of Genesis, pp. 130-131, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1960.
28a See the sub-section "Where Did the Water Come From?" in my essay on "The Flood" for a discussion of the physical difficulties. See the sub-section "The Circle of the Earth" in my essay on "The Society's View of Scientific Matters," for a discussion of Genesis' mention of the "firmament" or "expanse."
29 Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 1, p. 545, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., Brooklyn, NY, 1988.
30 Aid to Bible Understanding, pp. 392-393, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., Brooklyn, NY, 1971.
30a The Society vehemently denies the existence of several documentary threads running through Genesis, which is the contention of the Documentary Theory of the so-called higher critics of Genesis. How is this idea in conflict with the Society's contention that Moses compiled Genesis from several sources? For a good summary of these ideas, see Isaac Asimov's In The Beginning, Crown Publishers, Inc., New York, 1981. The appendix contains the so-called P-document, extracted from Genesis and presented alone. This extracted story is far more coherent than Genesis itself. See also The Book of J, Harold Bloom and David Rosenberg, Grove Weidenfeld, New York, 1990; Genesis, in The Anchor Bible series, E. A. Speiser, Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York, 1981; The Noah's Ark Nonsense, Howard M. Teeple, Religion and Ethics Institute, Inc., Evanston, Illinois, 1978, pp. 41-52.
31 Insight on the Scriptures, Vol. 1, pp. 545-546, Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., Brooklyn, NY, 1988.
32 E. A. Speiser, The Anchor Bible Genesis, pp. 9-10, Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York, 1981. Fourth Printing.
33 Jack Finegan, Light from the Ancient Past, p. 65, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1946, 1959.
34 Bruce Vawter, On Genesis: A New Reading, pp. 37-38, Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, New York, 1977.
34a A personification of the primordial sea of sweet water.
34b Personification of the primordial salt-water ocean.