CHAP. I. – 1. In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth.
2. Now the Earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.
4. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.
5. God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning-the first day.
6. And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water."
7. So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so.
8. God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning-the second day.
9. And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so.
10. God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good.
11. Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so.
12. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
13. And there was evening, and there was morning-the third day.
14. And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years,
15. And let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the Earth." And it was so.
16. God made two great lights-the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.
17. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the Earth,
18. To govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good.
19. And there was evening, and there was morning-the fourth day.
20. And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the Earth across the expanse of the sky."
21. So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind.
And God saw that it was good.
22. God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the Earth."
23. And there was evening, and there was morning-the fifth day.
24. And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so.
25. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
26. Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the Earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
27. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
28. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the Earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
29. Then God said, "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.
30. And to all the beasts of the Earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground-everything that has the breath of life in it-I give every green plant for food." And it was so.
31. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning-the sixth day.
CHAP. II. — 1. Thus the heavens and the Earth were completed in all their vast array.
2. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.
3. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
4. This is the account of the heavens and the Earth when they were created. When the LORD God made the Earth and the heavens -
5. And no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the Earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the Earth and there was no man to work the ground,
6. But streams came up from the Earth and watered the whole surface of the ground,
7. The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
2. After the developments explained in the preceding chapters concerning the origin and constitution of the universe, according to knowledge furnished by science concerning the material part, and according to Spiritism for the spiritual, it is useful to place beside it the text of the Mosaic Genesis, in order that a comparison may be established, and one may judge by knowledge. Some supplementary explanation will suffice to make the parts which need special explanation to be understood.
3. Upon some points there is certainly a remarkable agreement between science and Moses; but it would be an error to imagine it sufficient to substitute for six days of twenty-four hours each, six periods of time (duration unknown) in order to find a complete analogy. It would be no less error to conclude that, save the allegorical sense of a few words, Genesis and science do not follow each other step by step, and are only a paraphrase of one another.
4. Let us remark at first, in addition to what has been said already (see chap. VII, n° 14), that the number of the geological periods is not arbitrarily six, since they include more than twenty-five very characteristic formations. This number marks only the great general phases. It has been adopted principally to approach to the letter of the biblical text as nearly as possible, at an epoch when it was believed to be a duty to control science by the Bible. That is why the authors of the great majority of theories of cosmogony, with a view to making their productions more easily accepted, have been forced to place themselves in accord with the sacred text. When science leans upon the experimental method, it feels stronger, and becomes emancipated. Today it is the Bible which is controlled by science.
On the other hand, exact geology, taking its point of departure only from the formation of granite rocks, does not include in the number of its periods the primitive state of the Earth. It does not occupy itself with sun, moon, and stars, nor with that portion of Genesis which belongs to astronomy. In order to deal fairly with Genesis, it agrees to add a primary period embracing this order of phenomena, which might be called the astronomical period.
Besides, the deluge period is not considered by all geologists as a distinct period, but as a transitory fact which has not notably changed the climate state of the globe, neither marked a new phase in the vegetable or animal species, since, with few exceptions, nearly the same species have been found to exist before and after the deluge. One can thus make an abstract without detracting from truth.
5. The following table of comparison, in which is a summary of the phenomena characterizing each one of the six periods, permits of embracing the whole, and enables one to decide between the statements of science and the Biblical Genesis:
|1. Astronomical Period. |
Agglomeration of universal cosmic matter upon a point of space in a nebula which has received birth by the condensation of matter from diverse points, from the sun, stars, moon, Earth, and all planets. Primitive fluid and incandescent state of Earth. Dense atmosphere charged with vapor and volatile matter.
|First Day. |
The heavens and the Earth. Light.
|2. Primary Period. |
Hardening of Earth’s surface by cooling process; formation of granite beds. Atmosphere thick and burning, impenetrable to sun’s rays. Gradual precipitation of water and solid volatile substances in the air. Absence of all organic life.
|Second Day. |
The firmament. Separation of waters under firmament from those above it.
|3. Transition Period. |
The waters cover all the surface of the globe. First deposits of sediment formed by waters. Humid heat. Sun commences to pierce the foggy atmosphere. First organized beings of most rudimentary constitution, — Lichens, mosses, ferns, lycopodes, herbaceous plants. Colossal vegetation. First marine animals, — zoophyte, polyps, crustaceans. - Coal deposits.
|Third Day. |
The waters under the firmament are
gathered together. Dry land appears.
The Earth and sea. Plants.
|4. Secondary Period. |
Surface of Earth little uneven, waters not very deep, and forming marshes on Earth. Temperature less burning, purer atmosphere; considerable calcareous deposits, vegetation less colossal; new species, woody plants; first trees. Fishes, jelly and shell; turtles, great aquatic and amphibious reptiles.
|Fourth Day. |
Sun, moon, stars.
|5. Tertiary Period. |
Great uprising of solid crust, formation of continents; retreat of waters into lower places, formation of seas. Purified atmosphere; present temperature by solar heat. Gigantic terrestrial animals; vegetables and animals as at present; birds.
|Fifth Day. |
Fishes and birds.
|6. Post-Deluge Period |
Alluvial beds. Present vegetables and animals. Man.
|Sixth Day. |
Terrestrial Animals - Man
6. The first fact which is brought to light by the above comparative table is that the work performed during the six comparative “days” does not correspond in an exact way, as many believe, to each of the six geological periods. The most remarkable agreement is in the order of succession of organic beings, which is nearly identical, and in the appearance of man at the last. Now that is an important concordance.
There is also a coincidence, not in the numerical order of periods, but in the passage where it is said that on the third day the waters under the firmament were gathered into one heap, and dry land appeared. It is the acknowledgment of what actually took place in the tertiary period, when, by the uprising of the solid crust, oceans and continents were formed. It was then that terrestrial animal first appeared, both according to Moses and geology.
7. When Moses declares that creation was perfected in six days, did he mean days twenty-four hours long? Or has he used the word in its sense of indeterminate time? The Hebrew word standing for “day” has this double acceptation: the first hypothesis is the more probable. The specification of day and night, which is attached to each of these six periods, gives reason for the supposition that he meant ordinary days. One cannot doubt this, when he says (verse 5), “God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning - the first day.” The latter can evidently apply only to a day of twenty-four hours divided by light and darkness. The sense is still more evident (verses 17 to 19), where, in speaking of sun, moon, and stars, “God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the Earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning - the fourth day.”
Besides, it is certainly stated that creation was effected in a miraculous manner; and, since the ancients believed in miracles, they could readily believe that the Earth was formed in a hundred and forty-four hours, particularly at a time when men were totally ignorant of natural laws. This belief has been shared by all civilized people, until geology has furnished documentary evidence in proof of its impossibility.
8. One of the most contested points in Genesis is that of the creation of the sun after light had appeared. They have sought to explain by means of geologic discoveries, by stating that, at the time of its first formation, the terrestrial atmosphere, being charged with dense and opaque vapors, did not allow of the sun’s being visible, though the sun previously existed. This reason would perhaps be admissible had there been inhabitants to judge of the presence or absence of the sun. Now, according to Moses, at this epoch there were only plants upon the Earth which could not grow and multiply without the action of solar heat.
There is evidently an anachronism in the order that Moses assigns to the creation of the sun; but involuntarily, or otherwise, he has stated facts correctly when declaring that light preceded the sun.
The sun is not the source of universal light, but a concentration of the luminous element at one point, otherwise called fluid, which in certain circumstances acquires luminous properties. This fluid, which is the cause, must necessarily exist prior to the sun, which is its effect. The sun is a cause for the light which it expands, but is an effect of that which it has received.
In an obscure chamber a lighted candle is a little sun. What has one accomplished by lighting the candle? He has developed the illuminating property of the luminous fluid, and has concentrated this fluid upon one point. The candle is the cause of the light expanded in the chamber; but, if the luminous principle had not existed before the candle, the latter could not have been lighted.
It is so with the sun. The error has arisen in the false idea that has long been conceived, that the entire universe began with the Earth, and it has not been understood how the sun could be created after light. It is known now, however, that, before our sun and Earth were created, millions of suns and Earths existed which enjoyed light. The assertion of Moses is, then, exact in principle; it is only false when it declares that the Earth was created before the sun. The Earth being subject to the sun in its movement of translation must have been formed after it. That is something of which Moses was ignorant, since he was ignorant of the law of gravitation.
The same thought is met with in the Genesis of the ancient Persians. In the first chapter of the Vendedas, Ormuzd, recounting the origin of the world, says, “I created light, which gave light to the sun, the moon, and the stars” (“Dictionary of Universal Mythology”). The form is here clearer and more scientific than that in the Pentateuch, and need no commentary.
9. Moses partook evidently of the most primitive beliefs concerning cosmogony. Like many of his time, he believed in the solidity of the celestial vault, and of superior reservoirs for water. This thought has been expressed without allegory or ambiguity in this passage (verses 6 and 7): And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water. So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it.” And it was so. (See chap. V, “Systems of Ancient and Modern Worlds,” n° 3 to 5).
An ancient belief made the water an element, the generative primitive element. Moses does not speak of the creation of waters, which seems to have existed previously to the first creation, according to his theory. “The darkness covered the deep;” i.e.; the depths of space that the imagination vaguely depicted as dark watery wastes, before the creation of light. That is why the Spirit of God, according to Moses, moved upon the waters. The Earth’s being formed in the midst of water necessitated its isolation. It was supposed that God made the firmament a solid vault, separating the waters above from those under the Earth.
In order to comprehend certain parts of Genesis, it is necessary to place ourselves at that point of view from which we can watch the reflection of the ideas entertained on cosmogony at that time.
10. Since the advancement of the physical sciences and astronomy, such a doctrine cannot be supported. * Moses, however, attributes these words to God himself; but in doing so he is guilty of either one of two serious mistakes. Either he was deceived by God in the record he gave of his work, or this recital is not a divine revelation. The first supposition is inadmissible. We must therefore conclude that Moses simply gave utterance to his own ideas. (See chap. I, n° 3)
* Much which is palpably erroneous must be the result of such a belief; but still, in our days, children’s doubts are lulled to rest as they are told by their instructors that it is all a sacred verity. It is only with fear and trembling that their teacher will venture to give to these writings a timid interpretation. How can we wonder that incredulity has at last taken them by storm?
11. Moses is more nearly right when he says that God formed man out of the dust of the Earth. * Science proves to us, in fact (see chap. X) that the human body is composed of the elements gathered up in inorganic forms of matter, otherwise called the dust or mud of the Earth..
The formation of a woman from one of Adam’s ribs is an allegory, apparently puerile if we consider only its letter, but profound in its significance. It undertakes to demonstrate that woman is of the same nature as man, consequently his equal before God, and not a creature designed to be his slave and treated with disrespect. Being taken out of his side, the image of equality is very much more startling than though she had been formed separately from the same dust. This is to say to man that she is his peer and not his servant, and that he must love and revere her as part of himself.
* The Hebrew word haadam, “man”, which gives us Adam, and the Hebrew word haadama, “earth”, are from the same root.
12. For uncultured minds, without any apprehension of universal laws, incapable of embracing the whole and of conceiving of the infinite, this miraculous and instantaneous creation was essentially calculated to take hold of the imagination. The picture of the universe created out of nothingness, in a few days, by a single act of creative will, was to them the most magnificent portrayal of the power of God. What painting, in fact, could be more sublime and more poetic than these words, illustrative of the divine power, God said: “Let there be light, and there was light!” Had they been told that God accomplished the creation of the universe by the gradual and slow working of universal laws, he would have appeared to them far less glorious and powerful. It was necessary to them that these things should appear marvelous, instead of being brought about in ordinary ways: otherwise they would have said that God was no more skillful than men. A scientific and rational theory would have been received by them with coldness and indifference.
Let us not reject the biblical Genesis; on the contrary, let us study it as an instructive history of infancy of people. It is an epic rich in allegories, in which we may find hidden wisdom; it must be commented upon with the aid of such light as reason and science can supply. Let us prize all its poetic beauties and the spiritual instructions veiled under its allegoric forms. It must be shown boldly wherein its errors lie in the interest of religion itself. We can respect it far more when its errors are no longer imposed upon our belief as truths; and God will but appear grander and more powerful when his name shall be no longer attached to misleading documents.