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Life is filled with questions. Some are easy to answer such as “why do we have eyeballs?” or “why do we breathe?” They’re easier to answer because we can observe life and make a relatively simple conclusions. But as we grow older, we begin to ask harder questions, such as: “Why am I here?” “what’s the meaning of the universe?” “What’s my role in the larger scheme of things?” These aren’t so easy to answer, and often haunt us. They keep us up at night, causing dread or anxiety which at times can be crushingly paralyzing.
The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (who shapes more of the way we think than we may realize) said that the only logical answer is nihilism – that there is no answer. Everything is random and has no meaning. But instead of all of us sinking into depression darkness, we somehow tend to universally find meaning. Across cultures, religions, and languages we as humans articulate what Nietzsche called “True World Theories”: stories with which we make sense of the mystery of life in the universe.
The most common “story” is that the world in which we live is a mere shadow of the true, eternal world in which we will one day live. If you know Philosophy, this is Plato’s articulation of the pure world of the forms. In Buddhism, it’s escaping the suffering of this world for the pure samsara life of the other more spiritual one. In Christianity, some tend to say that life on earth is merely a test or trial to see if we worthy to gain ac-cess to the heavenly, spiritual world in which God resides. Post-Modern thought, rooted in the world of French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard, says that all such stories are to be doubted or disbelieved.
Yet the flip of that statement, is that no explanation of life , no any one metannarrative, or big story, is any less coherent or worthy of examination than another. They are inescapable. They are how we understand the world. They shape both who and how we are, whether we admit it or not. Throughout the Fall, we’re looking at the stories that make up the larger story of the Hebrew Bible. Today we look at the story of creation in Genesis.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION & EXAMEN:
• What engaged you, enraged you, or surprised you in the text?
• ow does it paint a picture of the world that is similar, & different
• from how we understand the world today? Does it matter?
• The story of creation is problematic for us – both inside and
outside the Church. Is it historical fact, scientific observation
or a parable-like story? What does it tell us about who we are,
the meaning of life, & our role in the grander scheme of things?
• What does the creation story tell us about who we are, and what
life is about? What does it assert and affirm about God?
Did you hear anything new or different as you read this story today?
Download a text study sheet PDF with questions for meditative reflection and examen HERE.