Tuesday, April 28, 2009

How to Read Genesis 1

In brief, it most assuredly is NOT 'creation science'. Here's the end of a medium-length essay written by a guy with a Ph.D in Theo and another Ph.D. in astrophysics.

...Père Congar called attention to a crucial point: Today the principal Christian heresy is the practical denial of that eternal life for which the secularized world in its resolve not to look beyond nature has no use at all. Congar also noted that one cannot defend eternal life, centered on the immortality of the soul, without defending the proposition that all is created. That proposition too goes against the grain in this age of nature-worship. No theological defense of the strict createdness of all can, however, be made without a defense of Genesis 1. It should not be defended under any circumstances as a cosmogenesis, with any reference, indirect as it may be, to science. Its genuinely biblical meaning can, however, be fully defended by that reason whereby, as Genesis I tells us, man is created in the image of Almighty God. --S. Jaki

Yes, it is the story of Creation, but it's not meant to be history. It is theology.

1 comment:

Jerome said...

As I understand the linked article, it seeks to interpret Genesis 1 as a text that describes God as creator, but that the line-by-line reading of the text must be discounted.

This is a dangerous game, because if you have liberty to discount this or that biblical text based on your observations of the world, why can't you discount other texts.

For example, the men who said "I've never seen evidence of Babylon, so we can discount the Bible there" were eventually shown their error by later archeology. There are people who say King David never existed, because they don't see any evidence, like his fossilized teddy bear, about him.

Then there is the matter of the Exodus. Because the scientists can't fit it into their timelines, they say it is mythical. Perhaps the timelines are mythical, as some professors have described easy re-interpretations of them that puts the Hebrew Exodus right where it needs to be historically.

The account of creation in Genesis 1 can't really be reconciled with modern physics anyways. First, the sequencing is wrong. Things are growing and such prior to the introduction of the sun in the sky. And second, it doesn't say that the universe was created but rather that the world was without form, with chaos about. This implies an unstated prior history about it, of which the Bible is largely silent (perhaps involving Lucifer's rebellion?).

But speculating on such scanty evidence yields going in circles, to the detriment of your understanding of God. We've been told that the Bible is trustworthy, inspired by the Holy Spirit. If it is the mere invention of men, then we can choose any parts of it we want, and toss anything we want. And we become, as Paul says, most pitied -- persecuted here, without eternal hope.

Rather, I choose to see Genesis 1 as it is, and await further revelation on it, and science, to reconcile the two.

To that end, people who try to fit Genesis 1 into current conceptions of the universe are poorer for it. They seek to step away from the Book of Life, and yet not gain the approval of those from whom they seek it.

Your end statement is true. Genesis is the story of Creation, and it is theology. But it is also an understanding of history, as delivered from Moses forefathers. There is more here than meets the page, and I'm not willing to abandon the telling for the world's mess of pottage.

Dad29, Thanks for your insightful blog.