Blogging Towards Sunday, July 14, 2013
Genesis 1:1-11; 1:24-2:3; 2:4-8; 2:8-25
This week we continue our series based upon your questions and suggestions.
We’re wrestling with a question, asked by Gary Yee:
“Besides from the womb and the belief of Adam and Eve, where do people come from?”
Underneath this intriguing question is the larger one of the relationship between faith and science and how we practice both in the 21st century scientific worldview that dominates our culture.
We’re studying the question from the viewpoint of Genesis 1 and 2, which contain not one, but two creation stories. Did you know that there are two? How can all of us have come from 2 people? What about scientific discoveries and theories like the Big Bang, Multiple Universes, Evolution and even the possibility that we come from other planets, brought here by aliens?
On the first level we have to engage the deeper question, which is the elephant in the room. Can we trust science to tell the truth through observation and theories? Can we trust the faith stories that have been handed down to us for thousands of years? Can we adhere to both viewpoints and still be faithful and coherent?
THEOLOGICAL CONSIDERATIONS: the how and why of life:
What’s the story of creation even about in Genesis? Is it more like a newspaper factual reporting of what happened, or is it more like a poem or essay that wrestles with what life is about and for? Our reformed theological perspective, and what I believe, assert that the Bible is more about the why of life, then the how of natural observation. In his theology book, Daniel Migliore talks about the meaning of the doctrine or belief in creation. In his words the belief that God created us points to the life affirmations that:
- Human beings, created in God’s image are beings freely addressed by God and free to respond to God.
- Beings created in the image of God means that humans find their true identity in coexistence with each other and with all of creation. We live in dialogue.
- Being created in the image of God is not a sate or condition, but a movement with a goal: human beings are restless for a fulfillment of life not yet realized.
LOOKING AT GENESIS 1 & 2: multiple creation stories
- The first chapters of Genesis are some of the best known of the Bible. Scholars tell us of many parallels with other stories from the ancient Near East. Our task though is not to prove or disprove, but to listen and hear what the text may be saying to us in the form in which we’ve received it. The collection of testimonies that we call the Bible actually contain three distinct retellings of how the world was created: Genesis 1-2:4 and Genesis 2:4-25 and John 1:1-18. If you read the three of them how are they similar? How are they different?
- Genesis 1:1-2:4 | Scholars assert that this first creation story is actually written later than the second one, showing great influence from ancient Babylonians texts. It’s possible that it was composed in its current form during the time of the Exile. How does God create the man and woman? v. 27 “in our image, after our likeness” the resemblance of man and woman to God bespeaks the infinite worth of a human being, who bears the stamp of God’s royalty, power and responsibility for the world. Humanity is not divine, but his/her existence bears witness to the activity of God in the world. V. 28 “rule over | dominion | be faithful stewards” how do you understand the role of humanity in the created order, or our job? Are we apart or part of creation?
- Genesis 2:5-25 | This story is considered the eldest of the two. Does it contain a critique of royal power? Is it possibly told for many purposes, including a way to put rebellious and overly-proud leaders in their place? How is man created differently in Genesis 2:7 then from Genesis 1:27? Why is one story asserting that the man and woman were created together in God’s image, while the other tells of Adam’s creation, before Eve’s. What does it mean in v. 7 that God blew the breath of life, of divine breath/spirit into the nostrils of the man?
- We’re not independent, but rather interdependent. The creation stories both affirm that God is sovereign, that we’re dependent upon God for life and meaning. We are a vital part of creation, key to its existence. But are we irreplaceable?
Questions for wondering and exploring:
- What word, image or phrase strikes you in the passage? Why?
- Where do you think you come from? What do you think that life is about? How do you find meaning in the joys, sorrows and mundane repetition of daily life?
- How do you understand scripture when it seems to not coincide with scientific discovery? Do you reject one, or can you believe both? How do you navigate the challenges of spiritual faith in the midst of our culture based upon materialist science?