Seven Glorious Days: A Scientist Retells the Genesis Creation Story by Karl W. Giberson
This new book by Karl Giberson, professor of religion and science at Stonehill University is another look at the creation story from scientific lens. Giberson writes, “…I am bringing modern science to bear on the story of creation. I have also reshaped the scientific story of our origins as if it was the story of how God created the world, and not merely an account of natural history” (4). He goes onto indicate that in the book he divides up the “Days of Creation” into cosmic and geological epochs. The end result is a story about scientific inquiry into the beginning of the creation and forming of it inspired by the biblical creation account. I would add at the onset that the book is loosely inspired by the biblical account and heavily attuned to contemporary scientific ideas.
Quite remarkable in this book is Giberson’s telling of the mysterious new star that Tyco Brahe found in 1572. The combination of fascination with stars, astrology, and discoveries was commonplace in Europe at the time. Yet, “A new star was a theological puzzle. If God created the heavens “in the beginning,” what was this new star? Perhaps it was some kind of message. Speculation began to mount about its astrological significance and the message it contained” (65). The star had existed all along but was in fact seen by Brahe because it was at this point an exploding star. Giberson helpfully goes onto explain that stars ‘are nuclear explosions that last for billions of years’ (68). The overwhelming gravity pulling inward causes the star to burst like a balloon and bounce around like a the multiple waves of light at a fireworks show. Brahe’s discovery was the beginning of a growing knowledge of stars, their origin, and how they react to their own gravitational pull.
I appreciate Giberson’s willingness to examine how simple-life forms function without jumping to rash conclusions. He writes, “The myster of the origin of life is the mystery of how to cross the barrier from nonlife to life. We can readily explain how the early earth came to be rich in the necessary building blocks of life….But we cannot see exactly how these blocks managed to arrange themselves into the living, metabolizing, reproducing cell” (100). This kind of honesty is where the divine intention is seen in the work of his creation, and yet, we are not even told in Genesis 1-2 how exactly things were formed, other than by the spoken word of God. I think Giberson’s honesty is welcomed because he seeks to gather the necessary geological and scientific reasons for the origin of the universe without stepping into mere conjecture when knowledge is not available.
This book is more a scientific understanding of life’s origins, including the Earth, than anything related to the Genesis creation story. Finding purpose, a higher purpose, in the developing creation is part of Giberson’s purpose, yet I don’t find much of this in his writing. If you are interested in scientific explanations for the life’s origins and discoveries that have been made along the way, this book is for you.
Thanks to Paraclete Press for the review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.