...because of a debate between Bill Nye the Science Guy and some Aussie that has more money than common sense. As someone who grew up in a religious environment, but loves science, I had a hard time reconciling the two worlds. My brother is even more religious than I am and still is very scientifically minded. Yet, he never seemed to have that problem. He's also way smarter than me.
Currently, he's studying music and minoring in world religions at the University of Utah (yes, he's Mormon. Yes, he grew up Mormon. Yes, I grew up Mormon, too). He's also thinking about turning his minor into a second major and switching from the Utah National Guard, to the Air Force to be a Chaplain. He's taking this religion thing very seriously. One of the things he had to take to get his minor in world religions was a couple of classes in ancient Hebrew.
This is the whole point of this rambling wall of text.
Because he lives halfway across the country, we very rarely get a chance to talk, but when we do, we talk about everything. Often times, our conversations turn to science and religion and that means we end up talking about evolution and cosmology and the first two chapters of Genesis. One time, shortly after he finished studying ancient Hebrew, he relayed to me that what modern Christians think Genesis chapters 1 and 2 meant, and what was meant in the original Hebrew, are miles apart. As an example, the word "yom" which means day in modern Hebrew, could mean "day" in ancient Hebrew, or it could mean a period of time with an unspecified length, like how modern science uses the terms "age," "era," or "epoch." They had fewer words to work with back then, so a lot of words got re-used for different purposes.
He also said that a lot of modern Christians get hung up on a couple of vaguely worded and horribly mistranslated chapters that have very little to do with their daily relationship with God and forget entire chucks of the Bible which really have way more relevance to our modern lives. Look at the number of pages in the Bible. Depending on the translation and printing, it pushes close to 1,600 pages. Genesis, chapters 1 through 11 (from creation through Adam and Eve, Noah and the Ark, and the Tower of Babel) occupy the first 16. That's a little over 1%. And that is how much concern modern Christianity needs to give to the creation of the Universe. After all, science is the study of how humans came into being, religion and philosophy is the study of why. If God really thought that understanding the creation of the Universe was important to understanding ourselves and our relationship with each other and God, he would have devoted much more time to it and would have been way more specific about it. If you've ever read the Bible and its endless string of begats, you know how specific the Bible can get.
Anyway, this debate today got me Googling the meaning of ancient Hebrew words, which led me to the page of Dr. George Benthien, a computer scientist and mathematician who's hobby seems to be ancient Hebrew and the book of Genesis. On his web page is a very thorough and annotated study of Genesis 1 from the point of view of the original Hebrew. Needless to say, it backs up a lot of what my brother said.