An introduction to natural history with a hint of Genesis thrown in.
Oxford evolutionary biologist Parker does not profess to be a particularly religious man, but he is intrigued by a simple question. How did the writer of the first chapter of Genesis—the biblical creation story—basically get it scientifically correct? Never mind the seven-day part, which the author easily dismisses. Parker is astounded that the order of creation described in Genesis follows the order of geologic and life evolution as science understands it. “Either the writer of the creation account of Genesis 1 was directed by divine intervention,” he writes, “or he made a lucky guess.” This mystery is the Genesis enigma. Parker believes a lucky guess to be all but out of the question, and he views the accuracy of the creation account to be a proof of the existence of God, or at least a higher being of some kind. The author takes the reader step by step through the creation story, explaining how each segment aligns with an era in the evolution of the earth and the life inhabiting it. The creation of the sun is followed by the creation of the earth, with its oceans and land masses, followed by the earliest life forms, etc. Eventually Genesis tells us that lights divide day and night, a step which Parker ties to the development of eyesight in life forms and the evolutionary revolution that ensued. Aquatic life came before land life, though the writer of Genesis had no scientific way of knowing this; birds have their own special mention in the story, and they are indeed evolutionarily distinct. Parker raises plenty of interesting questions, but he focuses almost exclusively on natural history, barely scratching the surface of the background of the text he is highlighting. Only in an appendix does he begin to delve into the rich textual and historical research about the creation story in Genesis.
Intriguing concept, incomplete execution.