Daniel Friedmann's book, The Genesis One Code is a creative examination of the days of Genesis one from a Jewish perspective. Does this interpretation solve all the science/theology problems associated with attempting to reconcile Genesis one with the scientific record?
The Genesis One Code is an interesting interpretation of Genesis one, based upon some creative use of extrabiblical sources. In order to reconcile the billions of years that the universe has existed with the six days of Genesis one, author Daniel Friedmann converts "human time" into "divine time" and "creation time." According to Friedmann, a divine day is 1,000 years (Psalm 90:4), making a "divine year" equal to 365,250 years in "human time." Of course, Psalm 90:4 also indicates that 1,000 years are like a watch in the night, being equivalent to only 4 hours. So, one could multiply that number by 6 (or just about any other number). Friedmann goes on to say that a "creation day" is 7,000 "divine years." How this number was arrived at is not explained in the text, but in a very long appendix. Having read the appendix carefully, I could still not figure out exactly how that number was arrived at, other than having to do with 7 cycles of 7 and the universe existing for 49,000 years (not sure where that number came from and how it relates to the universe's real age of 13.8 billion years). So, according to Friedmann, a "creation day" is equivalent to 2.56 billion years (365,250 years/divine year X 7,000 divine years/creation day). When one multiplies 2.56 billion by 6 creation days, one ends up with over 15 billion years, which is somewhat over the value determined by science. However, Friedmann has an answer for that—like human beings, God only works during the daytime. Since the creation days begin at sunset, God takes off the first 12 hours of creation day 1. In addition, the creation ends on the 21st hour of the sixth day, since Kabbalistic sources put Adam and Eve's sin at that time. So, in reality, the God's creative days are only 5.375 days long. When multiplied by 2.56 billion years, we end up with 13.74 billion years for the age of the universe (in human time). At the time of the writing of The Genesis One Code, this was nearly the exact value given by the results of the WMAP satellite (13.73 billion years). However, since that time, the Planck satellite has come in with a new value that is much more accurate, but slightly older at 13.82 billion years. Maybe Friedmann can find a few more minutes to add to the sixth creation day.
In establishing each creation day as a fixed period of time Friedmann puts himself into a bind in trying to match the Genesis account with the scientific record of the universe's history. Instead of interpreting Genesis 1:2-26 as all occurring on primordial earth, Friedmann is forced to interpret days 1-3 as all occurring before the creation of the solar system. Although potentially plausible for the first two days, the third day is definitely a problem. Friedmann interprets the appearance of dry land on the third day as the creation of nitrogen and the assembly of the Milky Way's galactic disk. The verses from the third day that refer to the creation of green plants and trees (Genesis 1:11-12) are conveniently ignored. However, they are sneaked into the sixth day as having been created on the third day, but not having sprouted until the sixth day. The problem with this scenario is that, by Friedmann's timescale, the earth was not created until the very end of the fourth day. Could plants be created on an earth that did not exist and then not sprout until billions of years later?
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A better alternative
I have been interested in different interpretations of Genesis as they related to the historical record of the universe, which is why I accepted Mr. Friedmann's invitation to review his book. However, with all the problems I found in the Kabbalistic interpretation, I am going to stick to my favorite alternative, which is the day-age model. Briefly, the day-age interpretation says that the days of Genesis are long, but unspecified periods of time, given from the perspective of the God's Spirit hovering over the surface of earth's primordial ocean (Genesis 1:2). The day-age interpretation offers a much more literal interpretation of the Genesis one account without sacrificing reconciliation with the scientific record.
The Genesis One Code is an interesting, well-written examination of the Genesis one days from a Jewish Kabbalistic perspective. Author Daniel Friedmann has a good handle on the science behind modern cosmology and apparently, extensive knowledge of the Kabbalistic literature. However, the basic premise of of converting creation days into some fixed period of time corresponding to the historical timeframe of the universe results in irreconcilable conflicts between the Genesis one account and the record of science. In reconciling these conflicts, Friedmann nearly always turns to a highly figurative interpretation of Genesis one. Since I have no background in the Kabbalistic literature, I can't comment on that, but would be interested in others' perspective on how The Genesis One Code handles what must be at least somewhat diverse Kabbalistic interpretations of Genesis one.
- Does Genesis One Conflict with Science? Day-Age Interpretation
- Genesis 1: The Literal Interpretation of the Creation Account
Last Modified June 12, 2013