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5.0 out of 5 stars Bringing the believer and atheist together
I had read this book a few years back and ordered a hardback recently for my small library. Upon reading it again the lucid and cogent content brought together the "religious" and the scientific evidence of the origin of our universe, galaxy and solar system. This book should be read by both believers in a creator and the atheist.
Published 4 months ago by Ian Sangster

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars One good idea in a frustrating package
Andrew Parker's The Genesis Enigma is an intriguing but deeply frustrating book with one really interesting idea at its heart, a lot of padding and some breathtaking assumptions. The one good idea, as you probably already know is his "light switch theory", according to which, the emergence of eyesight triggered the Cambrian explosion of speciation. Readers of his earlier...
Published on 5 Feb 2012 by Madrileño


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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars One good idea in a frustrating package, 5 Feb 2012
This review is from: The Genesis Enigma (Hardcover)
Andrew Parker's The Genesis Enigma is an intriguing but deeply frustrating book with one really interesting idea at its heart, a lot of padding and some breathtaking assumptions. The one good idea, as you probably already know is his "light switch theory", according to which, the emergence of eyesight triggered the Cambrian explosion of speciation. Readers of his earlier book "In the Blink of an Eye", setting out this hypothesis, drew his attention to the way this seems to accord with the order of creation in Genesis chapter one where although "light" appears in day one, the separation of day from night and light from darkness doesn't happen until day four. Parker relates this to the fact that without eyes there is no awareness of light so in fact what happens on day four is not the creation of any new light but rather the emergence of an awareness that light exists and hence all of the biological advantage that flows from that. Similarly he finds the Genesis story to accord with scientific accounts of the big bang, the importance of water for the initial emergence of life and the subsequent speciation of land animals, domestic animals and only finally human beings. Parker concludes that the Genesis account is essentially in agreement with evolutionary models (though fudging the fact that in Genesis birds are created before land animals which seems a bit of a problem) and, since the writer(s) had no access to modern science and seem unlikely to have hit on the right order quite by chance, then they must have got things right by reason of divine relation. So maybe there is a God after all.

This is definitely an interesting idea and as a believer in the essential authenticity and value of the biblical record, I should be grateful for someone apparently from the opposite team scoring a goal for my side. But Parker's one good idea is so clogged up with muddled argument, irrelevant detail, plain bad writing and an overall childlike faith in what science as "proved" I find it hard to even muster two cheers.

Firstly, the book is hard to read not because of too much scientific detail but because of irrelevant asides, poor ordering of material and infelicity of style. I blame his editors more than Parker for this. More worrying is his blind faith in science - i.e. an attitude of scientism rather than science as such - that underlies the whole thing. Parker does not seem to have considered that a wholly naturalistic account of the universe and the emergence of life is a philosophical point of view, not something that derives from the science itself - nor does he acknowledge that what science as "proved" changes from generation to generation, as Thomas Kuhn has pointed out. So although the idea that Genesis getting things broadly right (as he believes) may point to a God who reveals truths about the natural world and himself, Parker basically goes nowhere with this. It does not seem to challenge any of his otherwise naturalistic assumptions, there is no mention of fine tuning of the universe or intelligent design and no thought whatsoever that God may have gone further and personally revealed himself in an incarnate form. While there is passing reference to C.S.Lewis and the moral code (which Parker finds does seem to suggest something beyond a world of mere science) the idea of personal faith and relationship with this God simply does not seem to be on the radar. In fact at one point he tells us that at this time in his life he feels no need for the "comfort of religion". Well so what. The question is "is it true - could it be true, where does the evidence lead and what are the implications?"

These are the main problems, however I also have some more minor grumbles. Parker has no real engagement with the unlikelihood of the spontaneous organisation of chemicals into amino acids, acids into proteins, proteins into cells and cells into self replication DNA containers and hence skips over the odds against it in a cavalier manner. His appendix account of biblical history in the search for who wrote Genesis is both irrelevant and inaccurate laced with sweeping assumptions and broad brush treatment. And he fails to see the difference between young earth biblical literalism and the wide range of other Christian positions of what, when and how God created, labeling the whole lot creationism and clearly ridiculous. (But hang on a bit - aren't you telling us that maybe God made it all anyway...)

So, should you buy this book? For completeness maybe, but only if you have spare cash after (at least) Lennox's God's Undertaker (on the science), McGrath's Why God Won't Go Away (on the philosophy and war of world views), Behe's Darwin's Black Box (on the problems of irreducible complexity) and Hannam's God's Philosophers (on the modern myth of the implacable battle between religion and science.) Anyway, from the reviews above you now have the gist of it anyway. And, Andrew, if you ever read this, you've taken an interesting and perhaps personally difficult first step. Don't stop there. Follow where the evidence leads whether or not you need the comfort of religion...
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing book, 26 Aug 2009
By 
G. Maycock - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Genesis Enigma (Hardcover)
The author of the Genesis Enigma accepts an evolutionary view of 'creation' and attempts to show that the sequence of the physical and biological events in creation corresponds to the sequence given in Genesis 1. Taking a very broad view, its easy to see that this ought to be the case, since Genesis 1 starts with the appearance of light (the sun?) in Day 1 and ends with the appearance of mankind in Day 6. The real test of 'accuracy' would be a convincing explanation of why those events in Genesis 1 which seem to be out of sequence are placed where they are - specifically, the creation of the sun, moon and stars on Day 4 (after light and after plant-life) and the creation of birds on Day 5 (before land animals). Dr Parker discusses both of these. Day 4 he argues corresponds the evolution of eyes and the ability to see. It is certainly and interesting idea, but he hardly attempts to justify this as a reasonable interpretation of the Genesis narrative in Genesis 1:14-19. There is a chapter devoted to the evolution of birds (and how painters captured the metallic colours!) but no real attempt to explain why Genesis 1:20 places them with the aquatic creatures rather than the land animals - as their evolution from dinosaurs ought to suggest. The final section on who wrote Genesis was not really relevant to the key issue of sequence, and although it seems clear that Genesis was edited at some stage (conceivably as early as the time of Moses) I do not find the JEPD view of the Pentateuch sensible and much prefer Wiseman's tablet theory.

In other words, Genesis Enigma makes some points of interest, but fails in my view to fulfil the promise of its subtitle "Why the Bible is scientifically accurate". It seems to be written by someone who is keen on natural history, but not really sure about the the Bible or its veracity.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bringing the believer and atheist together, 9 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The Genesis Enigma (Paperback)
I had read this book a few years back and ordered a hardback recently for my small library. Upon reading it again the lucid and cogent content brought together the "religious" and the scientific evidence of the origin of our universe, galaxy and solar system. This book should be read by both believers in a creator and the atheist.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking, 5 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The Genesis Enigma (Hardcover)
I found this book thought provoking. The book contained some informative science throughout the majority of the chapters, and whilst I did not agree with every conclusion supported by the book, the end chapters did present some interesting concepts in regards to God's existence in a scientific world.
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5.0 out of 5 stars History, Science and Art, 15 Jan 2014
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This review is from: The Genesis Enigma (Paperback)
This is a brilliant book containing a mix of science, history, art and archaeology. It is not a "religious" book, but looks for the evidence for the truth of the early biblical stories. The conclusions are startling. This is not a book for ardent Creationists who may be offended, as they are categorised alongside those who still maintain that the sun revolves around the Earth. It is an excellent book for those who may be sceptical about the existence of God, containing a lot of food for thought, and leading to the conclusion, with a lot of detailed evidence, that our universe did not come about by pure chance.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Beware, Trojan Horse on Offer, 5 Feb 2012
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This review is from: The Genesis Enigma (Hardcover)
This book, written by a Research Leader at the Natural History Museum, in London, is basically scientistic propaganda, with a twist. It is also at least twice as long as it needed to be in order to achieve it's alleged purpose.
It is likely to worry scientists, creationists, Christians and evolutionists (and any combination thereof). And so it should.

From the scientific side, after an interesting an quite well-written opening chapter the book slides slowly and inexorably downwards, become by stages rambling, and dissociated until it becomes little more than a shopping list of Latin names with brief descriptions. And even then it lacks a solid basis.

For example, in the section on what the author imagines is creationism (because of course all creationists think exactly alike), we are told that the author was responsible for choosing the themes for the Natural History Museum's evolution gallery. This, he says, was fun. But then he had to "wad[e] through the public's perception of what the gallery should contain", which was "a more serious experience."

Why?

Surely the evolution gallery, like the rest of the museum, is there for the edification of the general public. So why isn't it equally fun to learn their views?
The problem seems to be that the public, despite the many decades that the Museum has been around, despite the best efforts of Richard Dawkins and co., still aren't convinced by the "evidence" that is being presented to them. (Parker says that "under 48 per cent of Britons believe in evolution, 39 per cent believe in creationism or intelligent design by God".

Parker clearly has little idea of the variations of opinions amongst what he calls "creationists", as in this quote from a sidetrack into the subject of a painting in the Vatican, by Raphael, demonstrates:

"The 'Disputation' could represent the creationists, with their supernatural belief that every phrase in the Bible is literally true as it is written!" (page 287)

But not all creationists are literalists, certainly not in regard to the entire Bible (surely there aren't too many people who don't realise that the 'Song of Solomon' is a poem, for example). So yet again we have to doubt the seriousness of the author's commitment to accuracy.
One might think this rather strange that the author has not researched the book as carefully as possible to help to maximise it's persuasiveness. But no, straight after telling us about his role in selecting themes for the evolution gallery the author writes:

"Fact [sic] - humans and chimps share 99 per cent of their genes. This statement should shake the earth beneath those already troubled by the words 'Darwin' and 'evolution'. But this really is fact, no bones about it."

Trouble is, this isn't a fact at all. Nor does Parker explain why anyone should feel the earth shaking beneath their feet, even if it were true.

The real fact is that a decade or so ago it was said that chimp and human DNA had a similarity of 98.5 per cent. Not a massive difference, but more important than it might seem.
Then, in the mid-2000's, a different kind of comparison was carried out, and the similarity dropped to somewhere between 94 per cent and 96.2 per cent, depending on which report you read.

Of course it might seem that this makes our DNA remarkably similar to that of chimpanzees, until you realise that studies of mouse DNA reveals a 97.5 per cent similarity with human DNA, and even the DNA of bananas is 50 per cent similar to that of humans.

So why couldn't Parker get his figures right in 2009, and why didn't he explain what he thought was so earth shaking about them? Could it be that scientists are no longer convinced that just comparing genetic similarity is such a big deal? Or did he simply not have the necessary information?

The second basic flaw in the book is the author's fairly profound lack of knowledge of even the book of Genesis.
That is to say, on at least four occasions (pages 91, 226, 251, 303) he makes some version of this claim:

"... a direct [i.e. literal] translation of the Bible reveals a rapid, seven-day creation." (page 91)

But this simply isn't true.
The Hebrew word "yom", translated in the King James Version of the Bible as "day" is now understood to have - as do many words in many languages - multiple meanings. In the case of "yom" there are a dozen or more related meanings, mostly to do with periods of time but ranging from "a 12 hour day" (that is, whilst the sun is up), through to an unspecified period of time that could last years, centuries, millenia or more.
With a basis like that it is hardly surprising, I suppose, that the book only ever deals with "Young Earth" creationists, as though they were the only kind around.

To write a book like this, which pretends to offer a reasoned commentary on Genesis 1, on the basis of such poor scholarship surely has little or nothing to do with any kind of scientific approach. And again it is hardly surprising to find, near the end of the main text, that the author pleads for everyone to ignore the Bible other than as a collection of possibly interesting metaphors, because it will, he seems to think, only lead us to destruction:

"It would be extremely sad, and also perilous ... if we were to continue to allow irreversible carnage to the natural world. And if we keep going as we are, that is what will happen.
"Don't think that the Bible will solve this. No amount of prayer will correct our current behaviour towards the environment. And don't think scripture tells us that everything will be alright - any biblical passages that seem to suggest this should not be read in this literal way. ... If we are to save our planet's wildlife. and ultimately our planet itself, we must turn to science." (page 277)

Which, much as I respect all the excellent work by scientists, is yet more twaddle based on ignorance of what the Bible actually says. There are NO passages that tell us that it doesn't matter what we do because everything will work out fine. On the contrary, the message of the early chapters of Genesis are based 100% on ecologically responsible behaviour. The statement that mankind has been given "dominion" over the rest of creation is a misleading translation. In fact the phrase is that mankind has been given STEWARDSHIP of our planet and all it contains. That means that, according to Genesis, we are responsible to God for the maintenance of the planet. It is every human being's duty to look after the environment and all of the creatures living in it.
Taking Genesis literally, human beings are not the result of a series of random events. We have free will, but we also have a purpose - to care for our world and everything in it. We also have science, but we violate both our free will, and our scientific skills and discoveries whenever we fail to carry out our duty to the planet and all of it's inhabitants, our fellow humans, the animals (in the broadest sense), and even plants, trees and vegetables, etc.

Although Parker ultimately claims that the ordering of the events in Genesis 1 was arrived at either by a quite remarkable fluke, or "the product of divine inspiration", his overall message is nothing more significant than something like: "My book proves that faith and science don't need to be in conflict".

That's not much of a conclusion after more than 300 pages of what I perceived as being rather blatant, self-promotion and propaganda, based - it would seem - on a rather poor understanding of some of the most basic elements covered in the book.

BTW, one of the features of the creation story that critics tend to find particularly ludicrous is "the serpent". It is interesting then, that the author of Genesis made a very precise, seemingly scientifically verifiable claim in the course of the account - that the serpent in the Garden of Eden apparently had legs, because it was cursed to thereafter crawl on it's belly.
How, one wonders, could someone writing only 2,500 years ago (approximately) have known that the ancestors of modern snakes - mesosaurs, a kind of lizard - did indeed move about on four legs? Another "fluke" - or what?
JAT
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting metaphorical reading of first chapter of Genesis, 3 Jan 2013
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interesting metaphorical reading of first chapter of Genesis
interesting metaphorical reading of first chapter of Genesis
interesting metaphorical reading of first chapter of Genesis
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 16 July 2012
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I read this book with great interest. I am not a scientist, and I struggled a little with some of the scientific stuff in this book, but I managed to understand what Andrew Parker was saying. To be fair, as a scientist he struggled with the biblical content but was honest and open about his doubts. This book was worth reading just for the conclusions about Genesis which he came to.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gets the point but misses it at the same time, 30 Oct 2010
By 
J Grainger - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Genesis Enigma (Paperback)
I thought the author did a credible job in explaining how the Genesis account mirrors reasonably well the scientific account of creation. Unfortunately, he goes into considerable detail in areas which really add nothing to his argument. Just to give one example: Do we really need to know in detail how John Gould produced produced iridescent paint for his paintings of hummingbirds?

His arguments about the origins of life seem less than scientific. He frequently resorts to inconclusive descriptions when describing how primitive life [might have] arose. For example, p98, "...it is theoretically possible ..that a proto-cell could spontaneously generate"; p117, "'....assuming that genes mutate at a constant rate....." - and others. These are not scientific statements but, rather, conjecture and supposition. Best [or worst!] of all is, p109 "But., given enough time and space, even the most improbable things can happen." No they can't. The hypothesis that 'an infinite number of monkeys, typing for an infinite amount of time would produce the complete works of Shakespeare' has long been debunked.

His final chapter, 'Who Wrote Genesis' is a lengthy exposition on the JEDP theory of the authorship of the Pentateuch. He presents this a fact but it is, in fact, a theory which is currently hotly disputed.

Had he stuck to the 'programme' I think he would have fared much better. He has a powerful argument that people with, literally, no scientific knowledge could not have put together a description of the universe's creation that is [more rather than less] the order science now tells us it occurred.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars We know too much to believe and too little to not...., 29 Oct 2010
This review is from: The Genesis Enigma (Paperback)
I enjoyed the book with a few reservations.
The author does ramble on a bit making some of the chapters hard going and I found myself skipping a few paragraphs here and there throughout the book. That said I do that with quite a few books! But generally it was an interesting read.
Now to the content.......... Evolution has lots of gaps and problems with it but obviously a lot less than with The Bible but seriously I am not so smug and self rightious to say that we know everything just because at this present time we have computers, radio, rockets and other amazing scientific marvels!
The universe is more complex and strange than our tiny brains could ever hope to understand and it makes me laugh that when we don't understand something we create something to explain it:ie Dark matter or yes the whole universe started as a singularity! A What!
So you are telling me that all the Mighty Universe was in a pin prick!? Get real! Thats just as crazy as let there be light! Or is it.............
All these other dimensions and multi-world ideas that scientists are debating sound crazy but just might be hiding Heaven and Hell??. Do I believe that? .........Would I believe that one day you will be able talk to some one 12000 miles away with a little plastic box with no wires when the Romans were invading Briton?..........
The impossible sometimes becomes the possible after enough time!
I guess you can tell that I am sitting on the fence as an agnostic!! I just don't know and neither does anyone else. Its just too big a problem. In another 50 years there will be another breakthrough and things will change again. At the moment I enjoy speculating, and this book does just that. I admit that science seems to be winning at the moment but I also have days when God is winning too!
I respect the author in that he is also quite ambiguous about belief and what to believe in the end.
A refreshing change from Blind Faith and Dawkins!!
Keep your feet on the ground and your head in the clouds and you might just learn something!
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The Genesis Enigma
The Genesis Enigma by Dr Andrew Parker (Paperback - 15 April 2010)
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