At the first God made the heaven and the earth.Gen 1:1
The Big Fight
For the last several hundred years, the creation story in the bible has been a piece of resistance and a reason to fight.
Christians thought they had to defend the story against science. Why so? Some Christians were under the impression that science only had one raison d’être, one reason to exist: to deny and disprove the existence of God.
There might be some hard-core atheists that do so in the name of science. But science has another reason to exist: to find out the how. How do things work.
With mostly ridgid methods, scientists usually live to disprove other scientists, if at all. Mostly, they just want to know how.
Christians made a major mistake. Faith is not in the business of how, but of why. Faith answers the big questions of why we are here, something science cannot do. For science, there is no reason, and the reason is not important.
It is the rule based believe system we created out of faith – usually called religion – that actually has to defend itself.
It made the bible an inerrant law-book that has an answer to each and every problem we face. And if the bible is inerrant and consistent in itself, if one part is disproven, the whole bible falls apart.
Thus, we need to defend it.
The only problem: the bible is inspired, but not inerrant. It is the word of God, but not consistent in itself. It is a cultural library that depicts how one topic has been handled by many authors in different cultures over a timespan of about 1600 years.
Man changed, culture changed, man’s understanding and revelation of God changed – and still does.
The Creation Story
The account of creation has been given to people that lived as nomads in pre-rational and pre-historic times and recorded by Moses about 1500 before Christ. (Or, more likely, scribes in or after the exile in Babylon.)
No chance for Moses or his sources to understand a scientific account of the history of mankind.
Even if the beginning chapters of Genesis really talk about the creation of this universe, there was no chance to talk about it the way it happened. Suppose science is right and it was a big bang, hardly anybody today understands what happened in this scenario.
No matter what detail level God would have used, we would have constructed a case for it to be wrong.
On the other hand, God has no problem with speaking towards the understanding of the people of the time. The bible talks of the earth being on pillars with a firmament above with water outside this firmament. Galileo shattered this model, and the church thought that this would hamper the trustworthiness of the bible. It did not, and almost everybody can live now with a solar-centric solar system.
I believe that the creation story is poetic in nature and portrays certain principles rather than a historic process of seven days. God made something out of nothing. In chaos he creates order. He provided everything that we need. He made us in his image. And we started to grow by becoming conscious.
The story resembles stories told of temples being built. The sixth day, the last day or stage of the building process, the image of the god of the temple was erected in the temple. Just like in the creation story.
But there is also a personal side to the story: does it not repeat itself in the life of every man and woman? Are we not created by God and provided food, shelter, security, company, value, assignments, and a relationship with God? Do we not forfeit it on a very personal level?
Maybe, this is the most important message.
A Personal Story
God is taking everybody on a journey from darkness to light, from chaos to order. But there are two souls in me, one that draws me to the good, and one that draws me to the bad. The spirit and the flesh.
Creation as a personal journey makes sense. And so does Revelation: it can be viewed as a personal journey of being saved every day. The “judgments” seem to be dealing with the flesh.
Why are we as Christians so external? Why are we so reactive? Why do we defend a God that does not need it? Why are we so weak in our faith that if our own understanding of a part of the bible does not hold up to scientific scrutiny, we think that we have to throw away the whole. God does not change the bible, but he sure does change our understanding of it.
In Proverbs 24:3-4, we learn that we begin with wisdom, grow into understanding, and end with knowledge. Wisdom is to make the right decision when one is necessary. Understanding is intelligence in Hebrew: growing from just believing to understand because we have the mind of Christ. And knowledge? To know God intimately.
This is the reason why we live. This is the question the bible wants to answer. Who cares about how the world was made or how it is going to end if we can know God?