Can modern science prove that Genesis 1 is actually true?
Yes, but not in the way you’re thinking.
Too often Christian discussions around Genesis and the connection to science focus on debates that are ultimately irrelevant. For example, whether or not the days in Genesis were actual 24 hour days, metaphorical for longer periods of time, or a completely poetic bronze age attempt to explain the origins of the universe, is ultimately irrelevant to how we live in the here and now.
Regardless of what portions of Genesis may be poetic, metaphorical, or rooted in fact, there is still a host of truth to be found in the creation account– truth that can often be missed when we get caught up in debates that ultimately don’t change how we live and experience life.
The good news is that modern science can in fact prove what may be the most important claim in the opening pages of Genesis.
The creation account follows a rhythm and beauty that flows with order and repetition. There are days of creation where each area of the world is created in a specific order, and after each movement of this beautiful dance we see God step back and declare it all to be “good.”
God creates, and then calls it good.
God creates, and then calls it good.
God does this dance for six “days.”
Eventually God rests, and then invites his image bearers to continue the pattern of creating and finding goodness in what has been created.
However, there’s one part of the Genesis narrative that doesn’t follow the flow and pattern. One part that stands out. One part that is a very important truth that can now be scientifically proven as true.
This critical part of the narrative?
It’s when God steps back and looks at Adam and says something he hadn’t said before– something that stood opposed to how he felt about everything else he created, when he admired it in contentment and simply said, “This is good.”
With Adam he saw something different and actually said, “This is not good. It is not good for him to be alone.”
This critical realization that it’s not good for people to be alone– this realization that a life best lived is a life spent in meaningful relationship and connection with others, is actually proven by modern science.
A recent article in the New York Times bears witness to this, as they recount study after study that has linked a long and healthy life to meaningful relationships and positive social interactions. Here are some of the research findings compiled from various studies covered in the article, showing that this key statement in Genesis is scientifically true:
- People who have meaningful relationships with others have higher rates of happiness, less health problems, and live longer.
- People who feel disconnected from relationships have a death rate that is 3 times higher than those who don’t.
- People who smoke, are obese, or who do not exercise, but who do have meaningful relationships, tend to outlive people who take great care of their health but who are socially isolated. Another study showed that social isolation can be just ask damaging to your health as unhealthy habits like smoking.
- Meaningful relationships can dramatically reduce the death rate for people who have had serious medical events or illnesses, like a heart attack.
- Social isolation can contribute to: less blood flow to vital organs, lower immune systems, slower wound healing, inflammation, and a host of other illnesses.
So, does modern science prove Genesis to be true?
It doesn’t the way some might like it to, but it does prove this one, critical truth– a truth of the ultimate relevance, because it directly impacts how we live in the here and now, and how we invite others to live, as well.
The truth we know, both from the Bible and from modern science, is that God was correct in the very beginning– it’s not good to be alone. It’s not good to be socially isolated or detached from meaningful relationships.
It’s actually very, very harmful. It can even make the difference between someone living or dying.
I hope the acceptance of this truth will invite us to rethink how we live in a variety of ways. First, I hope we will remind ourselves that God intends for us to cultivate community, to cultivate relationships, and that this effort is every bit as important to our overall health as any other health related choice one could make.
I also hope this invites us to rethink how we treat others– because when you sever relationships with people over minor theological or secular political differences, when you shun people from church, when you tell LGBTQ people that their only hope of being accepted by God is to romantically isolate themselves and resist being in any meaningful romantic partnership, when you put up barriers in your church to keep people out instead of building a bigger table to invite more of them in, the damage you do to others might very well be unspeakable.
Because the Bible tells us that it’s actually bad for us to be socially isolated or disconnected– and modern science proves that part of Genesis to be true.
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