Verses 9-13: Then God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear"; and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth"; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning a third day.
The initial burst of the Big Bang creation produced the lightest of elements, hydrogen and helium. Hydrogen is excellent or making stars but not nearly versatile enough to make humans. For that we need the heavier elements, such as carbon, oxygen, potassium. In fact life requires just about all of the 92 naturally occurring elements. These were made within the cores of the stars as the immense pressures forced the hydrogen nuclei to fuse, and in doing so, via a few subtle transitions, formed the hydrogen, the lightest of elements, into helium, the next lightest of elements. The light of a star is one form of the huge amounts of energy released in these nuclear reactions.
In fact, as we discussed during the Day One essay, a star is a form of a controlled nuclear explosion, a colossal on-going hydrogen bomb. If the star is massive enough, that would be a few times heavier than our star, the sun, then when the star has fused all of its hydrogen into helium, the star collapses, implodes and then in re-bound explodes in a mammoth supernovae.
The forces inherent in the supernovae cause further fusion, producing the heaviest of the elements, among them iron, lead, gold, uranium. A nuclear reaction in a star is almost an alchemist’s dream come true. Almost, in that within the genesis of the elements it is gold that turns into lead. Not quite the alchemist’s dream. Explosive supernovae have literally seeded space with the elements needed for life. Our solar system is made from the debris of such events, and then mixed with masses of the primordial hydrogen left over from the big bang.
In time, in our corner of the universe, the rocks, dust and gases of one such explosion were drawn together by their mutual gravity to form the sun and planets of the solar system. The rubbing friction as they crashed into each other (To envision the forces, just think of a meteor crashing into the earth) and also their natural radioactivity made the new earth so hot that it melted like molten lava.
As the earth cooled, much of the iron gravitated toward the center of the planet, while a rocky crust formed on the earth’s surface. Water began to condense (become liquid) onto the surface of the earth. Some of the water formed great oceans, and some of the water stayed in the air (the atmosphere) as clouds and fog. In fact, the atmosphere was so foggy that although sunlight could reach the earth, the sun and stars would not have been visible.
Very soon after water appeared on the earth, tiny, one-celled creatures called bacteria and algae were formed in wisdom for a very special job. This sudden appearance of life, so soon after the earth formed, has surprised scientists and forced a radical change in the theories of how life originated. These microbes originally fed on pre-biotic slimes and chemicals.
Again, with a rapidity that has surprised the scientific community, microbes appeared that actually produced more food than they consumed, and as a by-product released oxygen into the atmosphere. It is as if a wisdom was at work preparing the atmosphere to become rich in oxygen, just right for the breathing by larger forms of life that were to come. But never think that because these first microbes were small that they were simple. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Each one is like a universe in miniature. These tiny first forms of life did almost everything that we do, but of course on a micro-scale. Like us, they had to eat and to grow. The cells of our bodies divide to make new ones. So did the first form of life also know how to grow and divide; how to take in nutrients and to get rid of the waste products; how to make new parts for the workings of the cell as the old parts wore out. And all this wisdom some people think was built solely by random chance reactions from the rocks and water and a few simple chemicals that were on the surface of the newly formed earth. But no scientist knows how life first started. There are many theories but no one in any laboratory has come even close to showing how this could have happened by random reactions. In fact the famous Nobel Prize-winning biologist, Professor deDuve wrote in a book called Tour of a Living Cell, “If you equate the probability of the birth of a bacteria cell to chance assembly of its atoms, eternity will not suffice to produce one.” And yet according to the fossil record, life started on the earth very, very rapidly.
Just as the wonder of there having been a big bang creation of the universe from absolutely nothing exceeds the understanding and even the imagination of the human mind, so does the fact that lifeless matter, rocks and water, became alive, and knew how to stay alive from the very first. Never ever let yourself forget the wonder of our world. Never take our magnificent universe for granted. Every sight of a tree or a leaf or a tiny insect is a reminder of the marvel and the miracle of our existence.
With the wisdom of Creation, from the rocks and water and a few simple chemicals that had formed naturally on the earth’s surface, such as methane, ammonia, and amino acids, the wonder of life was brought forth. Truly another stage of disorder and chaos had progressed to higher order. Once again, evening had given way to morning. These microorganisms produced oxygen and transformed the atmosphere over the eons of time to come. (We’ll talk about these long ages when we finally get to day six).
Part of the miracle of life from non-living matter is that it arose on earth almost immediately after the earth had cooled. Until the middle 1970’s the accepted wisdom of random evolution was that billions of years passed during which random chemical reactions in muddied puddles of water or on moist surfaces allowed for first form of life to appear. Then came the amazing discoveries of Harvard University Professor Elso Barghoorn that the first form of life, microbes, appeared not after billions of years but immediately after the earth cooled. The old theory of the gradual evolution of life from non-living matter literally evaporated. Evolutionists now struggle to discover how life could have emerged from non-living matter so rapidly. It is hard to avoid reaching for a super-natural intelligence, God, as the driving force behind these first forms of life, especially when we realize that the first form of life had to already possess the ability to reproduce. If it did not, then when its molecular machinery wore out, it would die and life would have to start again totally de novo. But think about it. Reproduction has the purpose driven goal of self- preservation. The first form of life, be it a molecule or a microbe had purpose already built it.
Those accepting evolution through natural selection, and those believing in Divine guidance, see plant life as among the first form of life on earth. The forms of this plant life are, however, not what we see with the naked eye. The fossil record describes a microscopic form of flora, bacteria and algae appearing soon after the earth itself was created. Prior to the 1970’s, these fossils were virtually unknown. However, with powerful microscopes and scientific investigation, they were discovered.
Because the Bible speaks in language people can understand, the “silver bowl,” direct text, consistently deals with aspects of life as they are directly sensible to humans. At the time the Bible was written, and for most of time thereafter, people would not have understood the concept of living creatures that cannot be seen. However, ancient Bible commentators saw a “golden apple,” recognizing there was literally more than meets the eye in these verses. The ancient commentator Nahmanides, commenting on the origins of plant life, stated over 700 years ago, “God decreed that there be among the potentials of the earth a force which causes vegetative growth and bears seed.” The potential for the greening of the earth appears to have already existed within the earth. All that was needed was the Creator’s suggestion, “And God said,” to activate this potential, and the earth “brought forth” the first, simple photosynthetic cells, or what the Bible suggests were the precursors to plants, that would later become visible and more complex during the following days of the six days of Genesis.