Emily Parker spoke with author Paul Poulton about his new book 'Genesis For Ordinary People', how to understand the book of Genesis, and how humanity has got to where we are now.

Paul Poulton
Paul Poulton

Emily: Tell us about yourself. What made you write this book?

Paul: I'm a musician and a singer songwriter. I've been doing it since about 1984. Most people know me as a singer songwriter. I've toured around lots of different places, particularly through the UK and in Spain and America.

Things were going well. Then about five years ago I started having some thoughts about Genesis. In fact I was waking up about 4 o'clock in the morning, almost every night, and thinking about Genesis and how it all connects together as a cohesive whole. I thought wow, what a book.

It's the very first book in the Bible and it all makes sense to me. I've been reading it since I was a boy, about six years old and it's always fascinated me.

Then when you see all the way through the Bible and into the New Testament you realise what's going on. For instance, why does Jesus call himself 'the Son of man'? Well, the 'man' means Adam in Hebrew; man is Adam. There's another word in Hebrew for man too, but when the Bible starts talking about the man Adam in Genesis chapter 2, it starts the ball rolling towards Christ's birth. So when Christ calls himself the Son of man that originally started in the book of Genesis. So the book of Genesis is very important; it's a foundation stone on which the rest of the building lies.

Genesis For Ordinary People

Emily: Particularly with the creation story, there are a lot of people today who end up talking about the whole science versus religion debate. What is your position and perspective on that?

Paul: I understand that people want to talk about the creation aspect, but the book of Genesis is a lot bigger than just its first few chapters. I do address the first few chapters in the book that I wrote, 'Genesis For Ordinary People', but it's not really the first two chapters that interest me about the creation. It's what's going on with humanity and how did civilisation evolve.

In the Neolithic revolution that took place and life as we live it today, started about 7,000 years ago in Mesopotamia; we got the first cities. That's how we live today. We left our hunter gatherer lifestyle, which is the one that God wanted us originally to live, and we started making these cities. That's really what I was interested in; how humanity has got to where we are now. Why did we need saving? How did we fall from the state in which God made us?

I do address the creation issue in the book, but to me it's never been a problem. Even when I was a boy, I understood that the Earth is very old. Christians in those days, when I was a young boy, they used to agree that the geological ages of the Earth are quite vast.

When God is telling us about the creation week, He is explaining it to us in language that we can understand and in phases that God did different aspects of the creative act of creating the universe. If you look at the way the solar system is put together, we understand time from the solar system. We have the moon to give us months. If you look in the word 'month' you get the word 'moon'. And the sun gives us days. When the sun goes down, it's the end of the day. The Hebrew people understood that when the sun went down, it was the end of the day and the start of the new one. These days we have midnight so that's not really helpful to us because there's no way of seeing when midnight actually is, if you don't have a timepiece on your wrist, or a phone that will tell you the time. In those days, when the sun went down you got an objective marker: that's the end of the day. And we also had years. The stars give us an accurate year. The sun doesn't quite do it; the moon doesn't quite do it. We can't fit a year into the sun because it's like 365 quarter days. It's a bit weird.

Genesis For Ordinary People

When we get to the creative week, God actually explains to us that He wants us to live seven days at a time, and have a day off as well. There's nothing in the solar system that tells us that. God had to explain that to us. We see seven moving objects in the sky: the sun, the moon, Mars and Mercury and those objects we can see with the naked eye, they're moving. If we add them all up they add up to seven. So you could say ok, that's where the seven days come from. But in the book of Genesis God is saying have seven days and follow my example.

We lost the seven day routine and we didn't get it back until Moses came along and instituted it with the manna that fell from heaven. In Egypt they used to have 10 days and the Hebrews probably didn't even get one day off, because some unscrupulous managers will make their employees work seven days a week, which is not good. God wants us to give our workers a day off and if you're a worker he wants you to enjoy some time off; don't keep working all the time.

So Genesis is explained to us. You've got three independent systems; you've got the sun for the day, the moon for the months and you've got the stars for years. They give us an accurate year, it's called the sidereal year. It's left for God to explain to us through the book of Genesis that He wants us to live seven days at a time. God explained the creation of the universe; the creation of the universe took a long, long time, but God explained it to us using these seven periods of time, which fit into us nicely. We like seven days, it works well for human beings.

Emily: When you were studying and looking into Genesis more deeply, was there anything that you didn't know or even understand before?