For your sake

When I was a child, I was taught that Adam & Eve were punished for eating fruit from the forbidden tree. The list at the beginning of the answer in What was Adam and Eve’s punishment? gives roughly the same list. However, what God said to Adam was

cursed is the ground for thy sake

For your sake – I am making the ground less fertile, polluted, etc. for your benefit. Why would those things benefit man? Because it meant that man had to work. Having to work provides an incentive to be conscientious & thoughtful and to plan. That the purpose of work was to benefit man is confirmed in Ecclesiastes:

There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labor. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God. (Eccl 2:24)

and

I have seen the travail which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it. (Eccl 3:10)

The second thing that God said to Adam was

unto dust shalt thou return

Was (eventual death) a punishment? One of the main lessons that Jesus taught was that death was the gateway to eternal life. In addition, having a finite life means you have limited time. You cannot do everything you want. The limitation of time and choices is an incentive to plan and to seek wisdom so that you can make the best use of the time you have available.

What God said to Eve was

I will greatly multiply thy sorrow

On the surface it might seem that it would be difficult to classify pain as a benefit to man. The thing is that Eve was to a substantial degree responsible for the Adam’s suffering from what is outlined above. Pain is not only a biological defence mechanism. It also gives us an awareness of the suffering of others. If we did not feel pain then we would not be able to understand the pain of others.

Contrary to what I was taught when I was a child, God’s response to the first sins was not punishment. Instead it was laying ground work for mankind to accept/pursue salvation.

Origin of the universe

The universe is currently expanding.

According to science

When the expansion is reversed mathematically it leads to an infinite density and temperature at a finite time in the past. It’s better known as the Big Bang theory which describes the beginning of the universe as originating at a single point called a singularity.

At some point between time 0 seconds and 1/100,000,000,000 of a second a reaction called Baryogenesis altered the balance between matter and anti-matter resulting in the predominance of matter. By about 1 second into the expansion the predominant form of matter was photons (better known as light).

As the universe continued to expand the dominance of photons declined. After about 379,000 years atoms began to form. Over a much longer period of time, gravity attracted atoms to atoms and formed astronomical structures we see today (solar systems, planets, nebula, etc.).

According to Genesis

  • In the beginning the earth contained no matter
  • God said, “Let there be light.” and there was light
  • God divided the light from the darkness
  • God said, “Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place”

Comparing accounts

The account of the origins of the earth in Genesis is only farfetched in our day if you insist that it occurred in 6 calendar days.

Suppose you could get into a time machine and travel back 4000 years to visit a nomad herdsman. The purpose of the time travel is to describe the origins of the earth in a way that the description would survive through retelling to modern times. Would you talk about/describe

  • 14 billion years?
  • origins in terms of the singularity?
  • relativistic expansion, temperatures, etc. ?
  • atoms, photons, matter & anti-matter?
  • solar systems, speed of light, astronomical distances?

Coincidental Accuracy?

The relative accuracy of the Genesis account ought to give pause to anyone with a basic education in science. What is the probability that someone 4000 years ago (or even 400 years ago) would have come up with an account that describes the gist of the Big Bang without relying any scientific knowledge?

While the Genesis account might lead us to imagine the earth, our solar system & the stars being materialized in place in sequence, the account is not so specific as that. All matter and energy originating from a single point is consistent with said matter and energy coming into existence at the command of an omnipotent being. The fact that it took about 14 billion years to arrive at its current state is not particularly important.