Thursday, 6 August 2009

the genesis enigma - and the andrew parker enigma

This story is a shocker, no matter how you look at it.

It has all the ingredients to get people going. One of the UK's top young research scientists, an evolutionary biologist from Oxford University, whose main area of research is in the evolution of sight and the eye. A well-received book on that subject, In the Blink of an Eye. A mild atheist. His name is Andrew Parker.

Then he comes out and blows everyone away by writing a book called "the Genesis Enigma: the Hidden Science of Creation". In the US the title appears to be "The Genesis Enigma: Why the Bible is scientifically accurate".

Of course the atheists are incensed. This interview in The Metro is hardly sympathetic, and the internet discussion boards are full of statements like: "It's sad that some people have this time bomb in their heads that, when presented with enough complexity, explodes and makes them think all sorts of craziness" and "It sounds as though Professor Parker found himself a pair of Bible goggles. Everything looks different when you look at the world through your Bible goggles." Angry disbelievers drew comparisons with Antony Flew, a recent high profile defection from atheism.

But hard-core creationist christians can't rejoice too much, because Parker is still a strong evolutionist, and said in the interview: "Creationism is totally unfounded. It is as dangerous as fundamentalism in other religions." And more moderate christians who believe in theistic evolution look a little askance because he seems to have no understanding of their carefully worked out rules for interpreting Genesis.

so what's the book all about?

I haven't read it, but it appears that Parker has started from orthodox evolutionary science (not something creationists do) and then found some interesting parallels in the Genesis account of creation, which he has interpreted rather liberally. But he concludes that:

"It appears that the author of the creation account had predicted precisely the true history of the earth and life. The Genesis Enigma will explain that no human could have constructed a creation story in this way, particularly in Biblical times."

So Parker, once "leaned toward being an atheist" but "that’s changed during the writing of this book" - "it’s the strongest evidence for the existence of God I’ve come across." But exactly what he believes isn't clear just yet - perhaps not even to him, as he seems to be still working out his conclusions.

Whatever you think of this conclusion, he is clearly a brave man who is driven by what he believes is the evidence. He won't be popular among his scientific colleagues.

The MailOnline has a sympathetic and constructively critical review of the book, which credits Parker's intelligence and credentials in evolutionary biology, but questions his finding such detailed evidence for evolution in Genesis.

I think we can learn a lot when established patterns are challenged. We can watch with interest, and perhaps a little trepidation, how this turns out.


  1. Parker was interviewed on JJJ radio 22/11/2009 show.
    He was asked the following question:
    " but is it not just like one of these things where the first page of genesis is a bit vague so it can be read in different ways so you can kind of backward engineer a number of outcomes into it?"

    And at 59:03 Parker replies "Well there is an aspect of that when you look back at it."
    ie he admits that his whole book is a load of bollocks.

  2. When asked for an example of the "amazing parallels" between the bible and the scientific understanding of things on JJJ ( Parker says (59:35)
    "well the first couple of phrases aren't quite that amazing..."
    And goes on to talk about the verse where sea creatures are brought forth. Well I got my bible out and found out that this verse 20. So it is a full 19 verses that parker glosses over.

    What happens in those verses:

    In the beginning god created the heaven and the earth" - ver 1

    "And the earth was without form and void and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." ver 2

    And god said, let there be light: and there was light. - ver 3

    So according to genesis we had the earth first. And then we had water and then we had light.

    This does not match the scientific knowledge.
    First we had the big bang that created light.
    Then billions of years later we had the earth.
    And then some time after that the oceans formed.

    So strike one.

    But then God makes the earth again.

    ver7: " and god made the firmament...
    ver8: "and god called the firmament Heaven" ... and day 2 ended
    ver 9: And god said the let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place and let the dry land appear
    ver 10: and god called the dry land earth

    ver 11: And god said let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree ...
    So it has genesis creating plant life on dry land first up. -- Wrong. Life evolved in the seas first.

    ver 14: - let there be lights in the sky to divide the day from night and let them be for signs, and for seasons and for days and years. ver 16: god makes the sun. - day 4

    ie genesis does not have sun being made until after plants are brought forth. - But we know plants need the sun.

    It is not until ver 20 do we get to sea creatures being created. So Parker glosses over the first 19 verses which are completely wrong with respect to
    scientific knowledge with the line "well the first couple of phrases aren't quite that amazing"

    in ver 20 God creates sea creatures and birds - to end the fifth day.

    ver 24: god makes the beasts of the earth - day 6.

    This is wrong - birds evolved from the "beasts of the earth". So they can't come before the beasts of the earth arrive.

    Hard to believe you can publish a book based on this sort of drivel

  3. 'Drivel' is the exact word I was looking for.

    Andrew Parker concludes, in a not so subtle way, but in a way that is supposed make us think that he draws no conclusions, that there must be a god because Genesis is so accurate, and only a person inspired by God's knowledge could write with such accuracy in 400 BC or thereabouts.

    However, this conclusion is predicated on the story of Genesis being accurate, and it's not even close. As the comments above show, Genesis got it remarkably wrong. How Andrew parker can write with a straight face the absolute nonsense that he has written beggars belief. Whoever wrote Genesis had no idea how the universe, earth and the animals wrere created, and if that person was inspired by God, well I'm afraid God had no idea either.

    There is a nasty little trick, and it is no more than that, that Andrew Parker tries, and that is to equate the verse "Let there be divide the day from night" with his findings that sight may have evolved at a point in time 520 million years ago. Andrew Parker claims, perhaps not unreasonably, that sight led to significant expansion in seaborn lifeforms, which equates to the next verse "Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life".

    It's a nasty trick because the full verse says "Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven, to divide the day from give light upon the earth...And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night". Andrew Parker is simply being deceitful in suggesting that Genesis is talking about the evolution of sight, and seeks to deceive by selectively quoting Genesis. The fraud is obvious just be reading Genesis.

    The book is very light-weight, both metaphorically and actually. It numbers 300 pages, is printed on thick paper with large font to make it look like there is more content than there is. Nothing is referenced, and its just a whole lot of unsubstantiate assertions written in quasi-scientif speak in attempt to fool the ignorant into believing that there is some substance to the book.

    Do not be fooled. This is a piece of fiction that seeks to cash in some of the religious hype that such books as The Da Vinci Code can manufacture. As a work of non-fiction it is a non-starter, and as a piece of fiction it is boring - the whole plot is explained in the first few pages and the rest is filler.

  4. Thanks for your respective comments. I guess you didn't like the book then? : )

    I must say I was a bit disappointed in the tone of these comments. Words like "fraud", "nasty", "drivel", "attempt to fool the ignorant" are very strong, and some of them impute motives to Parker that I strongly doubt you can possibly know.

    I have not read the book, and I doubt I will. I wonder if you two have, or not?

    I also think neither of you has taken any account of Parker's reputation as a leading evolutionary scientist, nor the fact that he was "leaning towards atheism" prior to this, nor that he would have known that publishing this book would lead to him running foul of people in the academic establishment who would react as strongly as you two have. Your explanations of his motives lack credibility to me, and you don't seem to have really considered why such a scientist would have done this.

    I have no opinion on either the book or the author, but I posted on the topic because I think it raises interesting issues of why. I feel a more measured response might seek more understanding.

    But thanks for commenting.

  5. Unfortunately previous comments by those who have not read Parker's book contain descriptive words like drivel and bullocks.

    This book was given to me as a Christmas present because I had just written 2 books on this subject--The Genesis I Window and then the The Creation of Man.

    Mr. Parker makes an important point in his Introduction when he writes, "a biblical enigma that is on one hand so cryptic it has remained camouflaged for millennia, and on the other so obvious one cannot miss it".

    The key to understanding Genesis I is to put on your spiritual goggles, since Genesis I is a spiritual creation. We know this because in Genesis II it is written that no living plants or humans to till the soil existed yet.

    The next key is understanding that evening, morning, and Day is the introductory face of God, who when counted on the 6th day, is 666. This is when man is created.

    It cannot be coincidence that mortal man is formed from carbon dust with an atomic number 666 in Genesis II. It can also not be coincidence that the Face of God (EVEning, morning and day) is counted 777 on the 7th day of the creation that matches Nitrogen’s atomic count 777, that just happens to occupy 77.7% of the atmospheric heaven. If that is not enough, the Periodic Table of the Elements matches the numeric matrix of the Creation. So much for science.

    Seek My Face is written in Chron 7:14, Psalm 27:8, and Hosea 5:15. Count the number of the beast as 666 is written in Rev 13:18. These verses, as well as the entire Bible, points to Genesis I as The Genesis I Window--the key to understanding the Creation of God.

    In this way reason and faith become one--as partners. I challenge anyone to dispute this with reason on this blog or at:

  6. "mortal man is formed from carbon dust with an atomic number 666"

    The atomic number of carbon is 6, you you were wrong by a factor of 111. This is equivalent to believing that the average human weights about a pound and a half.

    "that matches Nitrogen’s atomic count 777"

    The atomic number of nitrogen is 7, so you have the same (massive) error factor here.

  7. You are right of course that Revelation has wrongly stated the atomic numbers of carbon and nitrogen. But I think he is using some form of numerics to "add up" the values of words, so I'm not sure either of us understand what he/she is getting at. But it certainly isn't science.

    But I should add that I have since read the book (it was purchased by our local library) and it isn't nearly as silly as the first two comments suggest. 95% of the book is an explanation of the scientific understanding of evolution - written in quite simple language .

    The supposed parallels with Genesis form a small but important part of the book. Basically he is saying that if Genesis is a myth, it is remarkably closer to modern science than any other comparable myth. I think some of his parallels are a little stretched, but many of them are not overstated at all and the book doesn't say nearly as much as the first two commentators assume it does.


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