Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Genesis - Fact or Myth?

We had dinner tonight with some good friends - and got talking about the nature of Scripture. We had a fascinating discussion - especially about Genesis.

I think, like most people, I believed as a child that Genesis was a literal account of the creation of the world. But as I've got older - and despite some very good attempts by some 'creationist' friends - I have come to the view that Genesis can not be taken literally. Scientific evidence to the contrary is so overwhelming.

But that doesn't mean that it does not contain Truth. I mean 'Truth' in the sense of essential truths about the relationship between God and humankind. One way of looking at the Bible in general, and Genesis in particular, is to say that science tells us how the world was made, but the Bible tells us why.

The creation story of Genesis tells us that humankind are the pinnacle of God's creation on Earth - and (vitally) charged with the task of "working the garden and taking care of it". What a shame that we have not taken heed of this most basic tennant of Scripture!

The creation story also tells us how we have been fashioned (whether directly by God, or by God working through evolution) into two genders - male and female (which Genesis underlines means that we are made in the image of God...meaning that God is as much female as male). These genders have complementary roles - not servant and master.

Most importantly of all, through the myth of the 'Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil' Genesis outlines humankind's most fundamental problem...that even when placed in a paradise, we are a willful people, who will not listen to God's good sense, and prefer to go our own way. Adam and Eve's sin was to be the first humans to think they knew better than God...and the rest of us have continued to do exactly the same!

Genesis then contains much Truth - in the same way that Jesus' parables contained truth...although they were not stories of real people.

I wonder what others think...do take a moment to comment!


  1. Anonymous10:37 pm

    Tom, this is seriously fascinating. I have been reading your blog with great interest but can never think of anything intellectual enough to write in response to your posts! But, I thought I should let you know how interesting I'm finding it, real food for thought. Don't get disheartened if people don't reply; in my case it is simply because I can't think of an eloquent way to respond!! Keep up the blog!!

  2. Dear Emsworth Teen... whoever you are! Thanks very much for the encouragement...it's good to know that people are reading this stuff!

    Best wishes

  3. Anonymous11:59 pm

    Tom - re the Genesis bit:

    1. I am very uncomfortable when the word 'Myth' is used about parts of the biblical narrative.
    (Myth - purely fictitious narrative usually involving supernatural persons . . . Concise Oxford Dictionary)

    2. What is the 'scientific evidence to the contrary' that is so overwhelming?