As Christians, we sometimes go through periods where we doubt the existence of God, or periods where we wonder whether the Bible is God’s word. This happens particularly to young Christians. Such Christians needs to know how to handle themselves in these periods so that their faith may not be irretrievably destroyed.

Further, there are many people ‘out there’ trying to discredit the Bible, saying that it doesn’t match with known science, or that it has many contradictions, and so on. A person needs to be aware that such people exist and know how to respond to their comments.

Thirdly, when we witness to people who have a scientific or engineering bent of mind, and are open to Christian teaching, showing them how the Bible matches up with science can be a great witnessing tool.

For all these reasons, I thought it would be good to show how current science matches up with the first chapter of Genesis. Let us begin with Gen 1:1.

Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

As we know, Moses is considered the most probable author of the book of Genesis, and the book is estimated to be written around 1500 B.C. At that time, there were no telescopes, and astronomers basically had to use their eyes to view the night sky.

Given that astronomers could only use their eyes, a careful person would observe that each night the position of the stars in the sky change ever so slightly. This change, as we now know (and which those ancient astronomers didn’t know), is due to the earth revolving around the sun and changing its tilt angle with respect to its orbital plane. As a result of these motions, astronomers located at a particular position on the earth would get a particular 360 degree view of the sky over the period of a year. This view would repeat each year. The change in the view from year to year (due to the fact that the solar system and other stars are also moving with respect to each other) would be ever so slight and pretty much undetectable without a telescope, even over a period of many years.

We can therefore say that an ancient astronomer would believe that he is seeing pretty much see the same night sky every year. Therefore, he would conclude that the universe is unchanging, and that this must have been how the universe looked from eternity past. It would be counterintuitive for him to think that the universe began at some finite point in time.

Yet Moses makes a clear statement in Gen 1:1 that the universe (the heavens and the earth) had a beginning. I do not know of anyone saying that the universe had a beginning until recently (a few hundred years ago). Further, it was only in the last few decades that scientists concluded with high certainty that the universe had a beginning. So, how did Moses know so long ago that the universe had a beginning, unless he was inspired by God?

Now the word ‘heavens’ refers to the entire universe – all the matter and energy of the stars, including our sun, the galaxies, etc., and time and space itself. All these were created in the beginning. It was an act of creating something out of nothing. This is exactly what the theory of general relativity tells us – that space, time, matter and energy – all these came into being ‘in the beginning.’ This theory of relativity is one of the most well tested theories of science.

While matter, energy, space and time were created in the beginning the stars and galaxies themselves formed much later. Our sun is about 4.55 billion years old whereas our universe is estimated to be about 15.5 billion years old.

Gen 1:2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.

Scientists estimate that the earth was formed about 4.55 billion years ago (bya). They also tell us that it started out as a disk of gas. That is, it was formless, because gases have no inherent form but take the form of their “container”. Now a person looking at a solid earth 3500 years ago would have to go on a limb to say that the earth once was formless. Yet Moses went on a limb and turned out to be correct!

Further, scientists also tell us that there was no life on earth at the very beginning. That is, it was void (of life). Again, a person looking at an earth with abundant life that existed for as far as he can remember, and as far as everyone he knows can remember, would have to go out on a limb to say that at one time there was no life on earth. Yet Moses went on a limb and turned out to be correct!

Now scientists tell us that this disk of gas cooled as time (several millions of years) passed. As the disk cooled, the center became solid, and an outer covering called the crust formed. Between the crust and the solid core were the liquid outer core and the semi-liquid mantle. Completely surrounding the crust was water.

This is exactly what Moses says – that there was water. How did Moses know this initial condition of the earth?

Note that since the crust had just formed and had not yet split up into moving tectonic plates that result in volcanoes and mountains, the surface of the earth must have been relatively smooth – unlike the huge ups and downs that we currently see. Therefore, it would not require a huge amount of water (compared to today) to cover the entire earth.

Scientists tell us that above the water was a thick, opaque atmosphere containing hydrogen, helium, ammonia and methane among other things. There was also a lot of dust and debris surrounding the earth and crashing into the earth. This opaque atmosphere and surrounding debris would prevent any light from the sun or other heavenly objects from reaching the surface of the earth.

Therefore, if a person (such as the Spirit of God) was moving over the surface of the waters He would see darkness covering the surface of the waters, just as Gen 2:2 says. How could Moses have known that the initial condition of the earth was dark when as long as anyone could remember the sun shone through every day? Once again, Moses went on a limb and turned out to be correct!

To recap, so far we have seen that Moses figured correctly that the universe had a beginning, that the earth was initially formless, that the earth was initially void, that the surface of the earth was covered with water, and that the surface of the earth was initially dark.

Five good guesses, or inspiration from God?

Further, keep in mind that no one asked him to choose one of two options (beginning or not, formless or not, void or not, etc.). He not only gave the correct answers, but also chose the correct questions to ask – questions relevant to the initial conditions of the earth.

Gen 1:3-5       Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

We saw that the opaque atmosphere and dust and debris orbiting the earth prevented the sun’s light from reaching the earth. We also saw that this atmosphere was not conducive to life on earth. Ammonia and methane are poisonous to man. How come we no longer have that atmosphere?

Scientists tell us that around 4.5 bya an object (about one tenth the size of the earth) struck the earth or passed very close to it. The size of the object and the location of ‘impact’ were just right enough to cause all the opaque gases to escape from the earth’s atmosphere leaving nitrogen and water vapor and other trace gases. Also, a small part of the earth coalesced with that object and this new object ended up as the earth’s moon.

Evidence for this is that a major portion of the moon is not made of earth-like material. Also, measurements show that the moon is slowly spiraling away from the earth. Data (such as dating moon rocks and the spiraling path of the moon) shows that this impact or near impact must have occurred around 4.5 bya. This coincides with the time when the earth’s atmosphere was formed.

Now what has all this got to do with Gen 1:3-5? Well, with the opaque gases taken out of the way, the light of the sun reached the earth’s surface for the first time! That is what Moses meant when he said that God said, “Let there be light” and there was light.

It would now be possible, for the first time to distinguish between day and night from the earth. That is what Moses meant when he said that God separated the light from the darkness. Incredibly, Moses figured that out!

Now even with this light the atmosphere was not transparent but rather, it was translucent. This is because there was a lot of fog and very thick cloud cover. So even though one could see brightness one could not yet see the sun – just like on a very cloudy day today. The cloud cover was thick because the earth’s rotation speed was still very high at that time, and that caused high winds. The high winds caused high waves, which in turn caused a lot of salt aerosol. Salt aerosol has been known to result in cloud nuclei.

With sunlight reaching the earth photosynthesis became possible, preparing the earth for life that was to come in several hundred million years.

Gen 1:6-8       Then God said, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters." God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

Now that the light of the sun reached the earth the water in the oceans began to evaporate and form into water clouds in the troposphere above the earth. In other words, there was water above and water below and these were separated by an expanse that we call the troposphere (the lowest part of the atmosphere).

The water vapor in the atmosphere also firmed up the greenhouse effect wherein heat from the sun is trapped in the earth’s atmosphere providing just the right amount of heat needed for life. The balance is delicate – too much greenhouse effect and the earth heats up in a vicious cycle; too little, and the earth freezes in a vicious cycle.

This is exactly what Moses says in Gen 1:6-8. Once again, Moses figured this out correctly.

Gen 1:9-10      Then God said, "Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear"; and it was so. God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good.

Scientists tell us that after the atmosphere formed the next thing that happened was that the crust began to break up into tectonic plates. This breakage occurred because of convection in the mantle. That is, as the molten rock between the crust and the core cooled and settled nearer to the core it heated up again and rose, resulting in convection currents in the mantle, somewhat similar to how boiling water results in convection currents in the vessel. These currents pulled the crust in different directions causing the crust to tear and form plates, just like pieces of a puzzle. These tectonic plates began to move towards or away from each other. When a gap between them appeared molten rock from beneath gushed out forming undersea volcanoes (just like how it happens today). When the plates pushed against each other, mountains formed. Over several hundred million years these volcanoes and mountains grew and began to appear as dry land.

In other words, the waters gathered in one place and dry land appeared above the water – which is exactly what Moses wrote in Gen 1:9-10! Once again, how on earth did Moses know?

We know from science that this dry land was all in one place (a huge continent called Pangaea) and then slowly the continents move apart to form the distribution of continents that we see today.

Gen 1:11-13     Then God said, "Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, {and} fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them"; and it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning, a third day.

Scientists are not yet strongly convinced that plants appeared on land next. This is because they haven’t been able to find any fossils of plants that date so early. Therefore they say that land plants appeared after fish. Therefore I would say that Gen 1:11-13 has yet to be verified by science. If early fossils of plants on dry land are found then the Bible will be verified. Otherwise, this question may forever remain open. Note that in this case science does not contradict the Bible; it merely does not yet confirm the Bible.

Gen 1:14-19     Then God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth"; and it was so. God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; {He made} the stars also. God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.

Due to the near collision that occurred around 4.55 bya, the rotation of the earth began to slow down. After many millions of years after the collision the rotation was sufficiently slow that the winds became calmer, and salt aerosol decreased considerably. As a result, the cloud cover gradually diminished.

Further, changes in air content, temperature, pressure and humidity made the air more transparent. For example, plants consumed a part of the carbon dioxide in the air, reducing the humidity. Plants also added oxygen to the atmosphere. Over thousands to millions of years this resulted in the ozone layer that blocks ultraviolet light from space. The ozone layer is important for advanced life forms (including humans) to survive.

Volcano activity subsided greatly. All the volcano debris that contributed to a translucent sky settled.

A person standing on the earth could now see the sky. For the first time since the creation of the earth they could now see the sun during the day and the moon and the stars during the night. This is what Moses describes in Gen 1:14-19. Note his use of the word ‘made’ instead of the word ‘create’ to describe what happened on the fourth day.

With the sky now clearly visible the stage was set for introducing birds and other life forms that depend on the sky for navigation and other aspects of their life cycle. These are the signs and seasons that Moses talks about.

Gen 1:20-23     Then God said, "Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens." God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth." There was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.

The earth is now ready to sustain more advanced life forms. Scientists tell us that at this point fish, insects, birds and (sea) mammals (whales, dolphins, etc.) appeared. Genesis does not mention insects, but talks about the fish and the birds and the sea mammals. Once again, Moses was right about when these life forms appeared on earth.

It is interesting that Moses uses the word ‘created’ instead of the word ‘made’ here. What else was created? Dr. Hugh Ross, in his book “The Genesis Question”, from which I have borrowed considerable material mentioned here, suggests that the soul was created. That is, these animals had a soul that enabled them to form relationships with man. For example, you cannot form a relationship with a cockroach, but you can with a parrot or a dolphin or a dog.

Gen 1:24-25     Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind"; and it was so. God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.

Scientists tell us that after the fish, sea mammals and the birds, land animals appeared, agreeing with Moses’ account. Genesis distinguishes between cattle (representing animals that can be tamed, such as goats and cows) and wild animals (such as lions and tigers) and creeping animals (rodents, hares, etc.).

Gen 1:26-28     Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, " Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

Scientists tell us that man appeared only after all the animals appeared. This agrees with Moses’ account.

Once again, Moses uses the word ‘created’ instead of ‘made’ indicating that more was added. He could be referring to the fact that man was created in the image of God, and had capacity to form a spiritual relationship with God – something that animals cannot do.

Gen 1:29-30     Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, {I have given} every green plant for food"; and it was so.

Gen 1:29-30     God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

We see then that Moses gave a very accurate account of creation in the first chapter of the book of Genesis. The conclusion is that there was no way for him to have that knowledge at the time of writing unless he was inspired by God. So we see that in the very first chapter of the first book of the Bible God establishes the authenticity of His authorship of the Bible.