On the fourth day, Genesis famously becomes confusing. On the first day, remember, God has already created light, and made Day and Night. But it isn’t until day four that he makes the lights in heaven, the greater light to rule the day and the lesser the night.
Hang on – so he made ‘Day’ three days before he made the Sun? Houston, I think we have a problem.
Yet the writers of Genesis were just as well aware as us, surely, that the sunrise causes the day. You don’t need a degree in astronomy to work that one out. What on earth did they mean?
Here, The Genesis Enigma comes up with a stunningly ingenious answer. For Parker argues that day four refers to the evolution of vision.
Until the first creatures on earth evolved eyes, in a sense, the sun and moon didn’t exist. There was no creature on earth to see them, nor the light they cast.
When Genesis says: ‘Let there be lights… To divide the day from the night,’ it is talking about eyes.
‘The very first eye on earth effectively turned on the lights for animal behaviour,’ writes Professor Parker, ‘and consequently for further rapid evolution.’
Almost overnight, life suddenly grew vastly more complex. Predators were able to hunt far more efficiently, and so prey had to evolve fast too – or get eaten.
The moment that there were ‘lights’, or eyes, then life exploded into all its infinite variety.
And yet again, that’s what Genesis says happened, and in the correct environment too. In the sea.
For on the very next day of Creation, the fifth day: ‘God said, “Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life.”‘
That is exactly what happened. Life that had hitherto been lived in the dark, by simple, slow-moving, worm-like creatures, erupted into dazzling diversity. We know all about it from the world famous Burgess Shale fossils.
They were discovered in the summer of 1909 by one Charles Doolittle Walcott, on holiday with his family in the Canadian Rockies. Walcott began to chip away at the shale with his geological hammer, and quite by chance stumbled upon one of the greatest finds in all science.
For the shale records what happened on our planet around 508 million years ago, long before the first dinosaurs: the ‘Cambrian expolosion,’ which most scientists now think was indeed the direct result of the evolution of vision.
The life-forms discovered look like nothing else: fabulous, phantasmagoric, alien beings. One had five eyes, and a long wavy snout with jaws on the end. Another looked like an octopus with its head stuck in a beaker, and another can only be described as ‘a swimming pea with a pair of beady eyes, bull’s horns, a pair of “hands” and a fish’s tail.’
Others resemble balls of spines, vase-shaped pin-cushions, or badminton shuttlecocks with chameleon-like tongues. Anyone who doubts the power of evolution by natural selection only has to look at the Burgess Shale fossils.
How does Genesis describe the teeming aquatic life of the Cambrian explosion? ‘And God said, “Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life.” ‘ Immediately following the creation of vision.
Nice try, but this ignores a number of things, including the pre-Genesis writings which evolved into the Genesis story.