“In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.” Genesis 1:1
The Bible tells us that this was the beginning of everything we know today. We are told that, for whatever reason, God decided to begin the creation process. As we read through, we learn that this enormously complicated process was completed in one week. Well, not even an entire week, because the seventh day was a day of rest.
Day One: Light was separated from darkness
Day Two: Creation of the sky
Day Three: Creation of the seas and vegetation
Day Four: Creation of the sun, moon, and stars
Day Five: Creation of sea creatures and winged birds
Day Six: Creation of livestock, wild animals, and…man.
Day Seven: Day of rest.
The second chapter of Genesis goes on to tell of man’s (Adam’s) formation. We learn that Adam was created of the dust, yet didn’t live until the “breath of life” was breathed into him. Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden, an earthly place where God would dwell with him. Here, we have God’s first commandment. Adam is told he should not eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. He was free to eat all he wished from the Tree of Life, but that other one was absolutely off-limits. This didn’t seem too much of a challenge for Adam. He was plenty busy; as he was given the task of naming every plant, tree, and animal. God realized this was not enough, and that Adam required a mate. Placing Adam in a deep sleep, God removed one of his ribs, and created woman.
In Chapter three of Genesis, we learn of the terrible fall of man. The crafty serpent convinced the woman that she would not die if she ate from the forbidden tree. She and Adam, who was with her, ate. With the eating, came knowledge. Specifically, that they were naked. They covered themselves. And when they heard God, the two hid. God, knowing something was amiss, questioned the pair. The story was told; with Adam blaming the woman, the woman blaming the serpent. God cursed the serpent to a life on his belly, fearing man. The woman, who officially becomes Eve, is cursed with painful child-bearing and submission to Adam. Adam is cursed with a survival based upon hard labor. The shamed couple was given clothing and sent away.
HOW do we know?
There have always been creation myths about a place from whence God created everything. Egyptians believed in a primordial mound, or island of creation, rising from the ocean. This is where a specific God (Ptah/Thoth) created everything, depending upon what the Egyptian deemed the accurate site of the mound to be. Greeks held that Gaia and Uranus were primordial deities, from whence all things originated. In these myths, humans are not central to the stories. In fact, they serve no true importance other than doing the bidding of the Gods.
The biblical recollection of our world’s beginning is widely attributed to Moses; though, technically, it is an anonymous work. I am not sure he actually authored this book. Remember, all the events happened prior to his birth. Also, keep in mind that Moses spent his childhood and a large chunk of his young adulthood believing he was royalty…who did not even believe in the God of the Hebrews. I don’t want to get ahead of myself here, but things were a little too chaotic after he discovered his true origins. It is highly doubtful the book would have been written then. So, when would he have written it? I believe, if he did pen the book, it would have had to occur during the exodus. Even then, I am not convinced he had time enough to write this down, while simultaneously leading his people to freedom. Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that Moses did pen the book. Once he found out he was a Hebrew, I am sure he emersed himself in his people’s history. This version of events stems from that; a series of stories orally passed down through the generations.
SO…what do I believe?
The first three chapters are relatively short, given that they describe the beginning of ….Everything! What made God decide to create and dwell among humans? The seven-day concept is unclear. How long was a creative day? Did God, a figure not bound by time, follow our 24-hour framework? Where was Adam created? We are told that he was made and “placed” in the Garden. Speaking of gardens, where is that? And, that serpent…what was that about? Was that Satan? And, if it was, how did he worm his way into a perfect place created by God?
These are questions I have no answer for, even after reading the book a few times. I don’t believe there are any answers, only speculation. In truth, no one alive can know what happened at the beginning. That is no clever dig at the religious or the scientific explanation. That is the truth. I believe in both. A creator and evolution are not at total odds, as many are led to believe. The problem we have is that the biblical version seems set in stone, where as science is always revising, changing, morphing. I can not speak, with any authority, on how it all began. No one can.
So…if I don’t believe in every word of the creation story, how can I believe in God? It is my belief that the words in Genesis are meant to offer some explanation to those of us who believe in God. I don’t believe in God because there is a story attached. I believe in God, because of things that have happened in my life. Things I have felt and experienced. Faith CAN NOT be described in scientific terms. The two things reside in totally different realms. One doesn’t corroborate the other. Neither can discredit the other.
I will probably always question both. Unlike many of my fellow Christians, I don’t believe doubt is taboo. Thomas was a doubter, and he was a disciple. Doubt leads to discoveries. One either discovers faith is not for him, or he discovers that there is more to the story than what’s on the surface.
I am sooo not a surface dweller. So feel free to go to the shed, pull out your shovel, and tell me what you think. Join me next time, as I keep digging.