Evidence for the Creative Days
“And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day” (Genesis 1:6-8).
by Richard Doctor
The extremely dense and heavy fog-like atmosphere at the start of Day 2 sat directly over the face of the waters. As yet there was no oxygen — the molecule so important to creatures such as us who have “the breath of life.” On the first Creative Day, Genesis 1:2 records, “darkness was upon the face of the deep,” yet at the same time, the “spirit of God was upon the face of the waters.” This is generally understood to mean that the highly mineralized waters already had life.
Day 2 of creation differs from all the other “days.” This “day,” from the perspective of the scientific community, covers the longest geological period of any of the six creative days. This creative work covered a long geological period and was not 24 hours, even though some still maintain a literal interpretation of the Genesis text.
Most remarkably, this day’s activity closes without the account recording, “God saw something was good” as we find on each of the other five days. The reason will be considered later.
The intense interest in all aspects of this “day” by the science community has brought to light compelling proof for the guidance and skill of a master builder (Proverbs 8:22-31). Our loving Heavenly Father was the architect, and his son, the “Logos” (John 1:3), in full harmony with the other angelic host, took great delight in shaping our earth both as man’s home and as a Jehovah’s “footstool” (Isaiah 66:1).
Together we will examine certain detailed scientific highlights; so that the remarkable work of Creative Day 2 can be better under stood. This is intended for those confronting the dismissive attitudes towards the Bible based on science, with a special focus on younger readers. The internet is clogged with junk science regarding creation — so buyer beware! Endorsing such philosophies does damage both to the understanding of scripture and science. The book of sacred scripture and the book of nature have one and the same Author, and they are fully harmonious.
While the complexity of the single living cell seems to call for a direct creative act, writing on the initiation of the creative process in The New Creation, Pastor Russell said, “It is not for us to dispute that even the protoplasm of the Paleozoic slime may not have come into existence through chemical action of the highly mineralized waters of those seas. What we do claim is, that all came about as results of divine intention and arrangement, and, hence were divine creations, whatever were the channels … And we claim that this is shown by the facts of nature no less than by Genesis.”1
Before continuing the narrative on the critical biology developments, let us briefly survey the non-living aspects of Creative Day 2.
No Continents Until Day 3
No continents had yet appeared on Day 2. Carbonaceous materials from the surface were carried vertically downward into the mantle more than 400 miles (640 km) and then brought back to the surface in cratons to yield rare and beautiful diamonds. The mantle was still too hot to support the weight of continents in order to lift them above the ocean surface. As the Bible notes, “dry land,” which we understand to mean continental landmasses, was not to appear until the 3rd Creative Day (Genesis 1:9). During Day 2, plate tectonics would take over, and the convective forces of circulation in the mantle would move from vertical to horizontal as Day 3 began.
As in nearly every aspect of this Creative Day, the scientific community carries on a warm debate, but they do agree that at one time waters covered the earth. “The history of the growth of continental crust is uncertain, and several different models that involve a gradual, decelerating, or stepwise process have been proposed. Even more uncertain is the timing and the secular trend of the emergence of most landmasses above the sea (subaerial landmasses), with estimates ranging from about one billion to three billion years ago.”2
Dividing the Waters from the Waters
The Genesis account speaks to the great changes in the atmosphere that divide “the waters from the waters,” creating an expanse of atmosphere with water covering the surface and clouds above. Some brilliantly executed geology studies have been able to extract this detail about the atmosphere from the record of solid rock!3
In the hostile environment at the start of Day 2, there was no oxygen. We would not be able to breathe. As this day started, the atmospheric pressure may have been 300 times or more as great as it is today. We would be crushed. The ocean had abundant life, but the dense atmosphere permitted only limited light. The sun had been created long before, but its full glory would not shine upon the earth until Day 4. The ocean waters were loaded with metal salts and were highly radioactive. While there is evidence for ice in the polar regions, the ocean temperature was near 160°F (70°C) in most of the ocean.
(1) Pastor C.T. Russell, The New Creation, (1904). pages 35,36. Additional quotes bearing on this subject, “Let us not contend for more than the Scripture record demands. The Bible does not assert that God created separately and individually the myriad kinds of fish and reptiles; but merely that divine influence, or spirit, brooded, and by divine purpose the sea brought forth its creatures of various kinds … The processes are not declared — one species may, under different conditions, have developed into another; or from the same original protoplasm different orders of creatures may have developed under differing conditions. No man knoweth, and it is unwise to be dogmatic.”
(2) Bindeman, I.N., “Rapid emergence of subaerial landmasses and onset of a modern hydrologic cycle 2.5 billion years ago,” Nature, 557, May 24, 2018, page 545.
(3) Crockford, Peter W., “Triple oxygen isotope evidence for limited mid-Proterozoic primary productivity,” Nature, 559, July 26, 2018, page 614, “parameters such as troposphere-stratosphere exchange exerted considerably less influence.”
Reconstructing the pressure of the atmosphere has proven controversial for those interpreting the geological record — the estimates vary by more than a factor of 100! However, the surface-based record of Genesis has made such a reconstruction of atmospheric pressure possible.4 (See charts, page 6, top.) These results favor the estimates in the geophysical community for high atmospheric pressure at least 100 times the current pressure.5,6 With further study, it may be expected that the 300 atmospheres of pressure favored by the planetary science community will be recognized as the best estimate.
What Kind of Life?
It is only a few short decades since the exploration of the deep ocean volcanic vents in the 1960s led the science community to understand that the life on the first Creative Day did not require light. Indeed, the scientific community now recognizes that much of the life on earth still lives without light, feeding on chemicals welling up from deep within the earth.
Pastor Russell proposed what at the time seemed like extremely long periods of geological time for the Creative Days. He challenged some of the Bible-believing community on their length being far longer than 24 hours. He appreciated that God was directing the emergence of the various forms of life so that they would come at just the right time, as we see on the Second Day. In the Photodrama of Creation, he made this public statement; “The conflict between evolution and the Bible has been sharp. Nevertheless, unnecessary friction has been generated. Only in respect to man does the Bible declare a special, direct creation of God. The statements of Genesis in respect to the lower creatures rather favor something along the lines of specialized Evolution” (Pastor C.T. Russell, The Photodrama of Creation, IBSA, 1914). This was all consistent with the positions he lays out in The New Creation, already cited, “Let us not contend for more than the Scripture record demands.”
One domain of life consisted of bacteria, but of critical importance was the second domain of life quite distinct from bacteria and slow-growing. To much acclaim in the science community, this life was successfully cultivated in the laboratory and named Asgard-Archea in August 2019.7 Like the bacteria, the Archea domain of life lives in total darkness and uses chemicals instead of oxygen. While bacteria can double their numbers in one hour, doubling Archea requires 20 days.
We can be sure that the skill of the heavenly hosts in genetic engineering exceeds our current groping efforts. The wonderful work did not end with two domains of single cell life. Both the Archea and bacteria now were partnered inside a single cell membrane. Both maintained their own DNA and specialized in what they do best. So two domains of distinctly different single-cell life were created on Day 1, but they were partnered on Day 2. This indeed was a rare event in the view of the scientific community.8
Dr. Lynn Margulis spent her career focusing on this early life, and against much opposition in the mid-1960s, she championed the theory that it was the partnership of these early domains of life that gave rise to the most important cells on planet earth.9 She maintained that the creation of the extremely complex, integrated system of a single living cell supported “the heavy lifting and carrying” of all life on earth — stitching everything together into plants and animals was a much less complex task! So the hardest work — next to giving man consciousness — was creating a single living cell, not once, but twice in creating bacteria and Archea. This was already done by the close of the first Creative Day and it was good! The details of what makes a living cell work are a marvel that makes the organization and infrastructure of a modern city look primitive.
(4) Parkinson, J.B., “Earth’s Atmospheric Pressure” (private communication), 2015.
(5) Porcellia, D., D. Woolumb, and P. Cassen, “Deep Earth rare gases: initial inventories, capture from the solar nebula, and losses during Moon formation,” Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 193(1-2), November 30, 2001, pages 237-251.
(6) Sleep, Norman H., “The Hadean-Archaean Environment,” Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology, 6, June 2, 2010: a002527.
(7) Pennisi, E., Science, 365, August 12, 2019, page 631.
(8) Ward, Peter D., and D. Brownlee, Rare Earth — Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe, Copernicus (2000).
(9) Margulis, Lynn, Symbiotic Planet, Basic Books, (1998), page 29.
A partnership developed between these two domains. Archea DNA formed the cell nucleus and created a protective cell wall. The engulfed bacteria enclosed within the cell became the mitochondria. The mitochondria were thus bathed in cell nutrients, which supplied their every need. In return, the mitochondria supplied the cell with energy — lots of energy. Today we call this new branch of life eukaryotes. Every plant and animal is formed of eukaryote cells.
The creative work of Day 2 did not end here. With the birth of eukaryotes, the next creations were single-cell plants, we call algae. Algae are eukaryotes that through photosynthesis convert sunlight into sugar and release oxygen. How critical this was to life on earth now needs consideration.
The Warming Sun — a Crisis for Life
When the collapsing hydrogen gas first formed our sun and began its life as a star, the sun’s power output was at 70% of its current output. However, a crisis was in the making during Day 2. The output of light and heat from the maturing sun was climbing rapidly. The sun does not “burn” as we would understand a fire — rather, a nuclear fusion reaction causes stars to shine, as what we witness in the awesome power of a hydrogen bomb. A byproduct of the hydrogen fusion reaction is the light-weight element helium. As helium accumulated in the sun, it initiated a new sequence of fusion reactions that brought the output of the sun up to near our current level. Today this solar output is still increasing, but very, very slowly.
One of the greatest crises for life on earth — on Day 2 — was its narrow escape from a runaway greenhouse that would have boiled off the oceans. By God’s design, algae were created just when needed to prevent this catastrophe. Algae take carbon dioxide out the atmosphere. Thus the creation of algae reduced the greenhouse. When the magnitude of this crisis was first appreciated, a popular report quotes Dr. Michael Hart of NASA as saying the appearance of algae at just the right time was “a lucky fluke.”10
When we look at complex life in the oceans and on the land, we find that plant life provides not only for itself, but additionally, it supports all animal life. The biological community puzzles over the question, “Why would the complex and energy-consuming work of converting carbon dioxide and water into sugar, with the release of free oxygen, so far exceed the amount that needs to be consumed just by the algae to keep them alive?” The short an swer is that by design, plants were preparing the atmosphere for oxygen-breathing animals and supplying them with food. It appears as though life works in cooperation with other life to modify the environment; so that it maintains conditions favorable to continuing life. This is called the Gaia hypothesis, 11 and this appears to be a creative design parameter. (See graphic, page 8, top.)
(10) Hindley, K., “Earth’s Atmosphere — A Lucky Fluke,” New Scientist, June 8, 1978, page 671.
Throughout the 2nd Day, there was a struggle between the oxygen dependent eukaryotes and the rest of the life which found oxygen toxic.12 Both wanted to dominate the oceans. At times oxygen-loving life dominated earth, but then oxygen-hating life would gain ascendancy. The world’s iron deposits, laid down during Day 2, provide a fascinating record of this struggle. One thin layer of black iron ore will show the atmosphere was oxygen-poor and then, above it, the next thin layer of red iron ore will show an atmosphere that was oxygen-rich. Then followed another thin layer of an oxygen-poor deposit. This “seesaw” process would be repeated dozens of times before the oxygen-rich atmosphere dominated, and the separation of the waters below from the waters above became a permanent feature of the sky. Life also converted the heavy carbon dioxide dominating the atmosphere into minerals, which were deposited on the sea floor. Thus, atmospheric pressure dropped.
Was Day 2 Good?
Looking at the great changes in the atmosphere that Genesis marks out for Day 2, we can only be thankful for the careful design and execution of the creative process. It was not a “lucky fluke” that the algae came along just when they were needed to modify the atmosphere. We can only speculate as to why the “goodness” of the accomplishment was not celebrated. Just having life survive this harrowing day may have been enough.13
(11) Lovelock, James, Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, Oxford University Press, 1979.
(12) Lyons, Timothy W., C.T. Reinhard, N.J. Planavsky, “The rise of oxygen in Earth’s early ocean and atmosphere,” Nature, February 20, 2014.
(13) Editor’s note: Possibly because the rain and tidal-wave waters were later to be used to destroy most life, Day 2 was not called “good” (Genesis 6:7, 7:11).