Online DVD Rentals
Online DVD Rentals

August 23, 2009

Getting Hung Up On Genesis

No. Not that Genesis. Sure, Phil Collins and the boys rocked the house "waiting for this moment for all my life" before Emminem held a mic. But I'm talking about In The Beginning. Origins. Birth. That Genesis. The book that covers "of old" - pretty much everything that ever happened before Moses.

As a Christian, most of the time you already believe in a great God behind the physical universe, even after watching Judge Judy. It doesn't take a thorough understanding of the Old Testament or quantum physics or David Copperfield for you to buy the idea that everything must come from something. Faith in God as the author of life seems far more reasonable to you than chance soup or ancient alien invasion. Good. Remember we're on the same team.

You can try to learn exactly how God created the world and people, but don't hold your views too tightly. Funnel some of your passion for debating Australopithecus into loving your neighbor as yourself. More often than not, pushing too hard with Genesis unnecessarily causes someone at a different (mental) place to doubt or feel like a duface, unknowing that your view isn't as coherent as you think. And those larger than you may be tempted to give you a first hand demonstration of natural selection. You can have certainty when the heavens pass away with great noise, because that's about the day when they figure out a unified theory of everything.

If you haven't been hung up on Genesis, good for you. But then folks like me probably think that your faith is shallow, an assumption that in itself is far more of a problem than trying to explain where Cain found his wife. If you really don't know what the big deal is, you still should pick a view and go with it, if nothing else to humor those who insist that Jesus reserves no grace for the uninformed. You pretty much have three options (with slight variations) to choose from.

Young Earth Creationists

Is not the name of the next band to headline the Purple Door Festival. As a YEC, you will believe that the universe was created about 6- to 10,000 years ago, 5 days before people arrived, according to (complete?) genealogical records leading back to Adam. You get the satisfaction of defending the literal word of God from the very first verse, because you believe the Bible with pure intentions and you're certain that Genesis was meant to be read scientifically.

You don't have issues with believing in kindly smiling parasites and vegetarian crocodiles that shed no blood before the fall of man brought sin to the world. When you read that Adam heard Gods footsteps in the Garden of Eden, you don't wonder about the size of Gods feet.

There are much worse things than being laughed at.

Progressive Creationists

You also believe the Bible. But even though the creation week in Genesis is recorded in days, you imagine that God really meant hundreds of thousands of years. You feel sorry for the angry marsupial couples that traveled all that way to be "saved" from a flood that really only covered Mesopotamia. You believe in some form of evolution (gasp), but close your eyes and hold your ears when you get to the part about soul-less pre-Adamites.

Under these circumstances, you are supposedly just one archaeological discovery or Dan Brown novel away from atheism. You're trying to fit the Bible into secular imagination when you should instead be putting on Bible glasses before looking into the lens (not that you often seriously use a microscope or telescope yourself). You're attempting to wed theism to naturalism, arbitrarily choosing what parts of the Bible are literal/historical versus metaphorical.

Label yourself a progressive compromiser.


If agnosticism means remaining unsure if there is a God, then Genesosticism could mean remaining unsure of exactly how it went down in the beginning. You're not, in fact, dissing God. Just being careful.

Because as soon as you say that you don't buy into the grand story of unguided evolution, some label you a brainwashed fool. They fail to just go ahead and admit that it takes faith to believe that scaffolding or "facilitated variation" of genes can explain everything between Phil Collins and the complex machinery/circuitry with which you hear him. Your critics will not be able to give a decent explanation of why we have music, much less why even they have been stuck on Su-su-sudio.

On the other hand, if you don't imagine the Hebrew poems in the beginning chapters of Genesis were ever meant to be taken literally, they call you a brainwashed fool. You are sliding even further down the slippery slope of the progressive creationists, right into eternal fire.

But as a Genesostic, you're free to (quietly) think that the slippery slope stops somewhere right before Abraham. The patriarchs were historical and Adam may not have been. You hold to the unique beauty and truths found in Genesis that seem to be more concerned with the "why" than the "how" of creation. You doubt that radiocarbon dating nullifies or affirms the purpose and message of Jesus.

A Genesostic looks down at their dancing hands and envisions ginormabytes of written information inside every cell. They come complete with little machines that read and process and carry out the translation of 2-dimensional language into the infinitely interrelated and complex three dimensional structures breaking it down (in worship) on the back of the pew in front of you. Where did the control networks and tiny "cellular machinery" come from? It all appears designed. It functions like it was designed. And that's enough for you.

Deep time hits your eye riding on the light of an ancient star. The order and fine-tuning of our speck of the universe just about knocks you down (as it recently did my 8-year old cousin Elijah). You think it's ironic that physicists use light to mathematically give a pretty solid proof of old age. You feel humbled and small, and can hardly comprehend the size of the earth much less the universe much less statistical squabbling over concepts like specified complexity.

And if evolution is driving any of it, you can posit God on the front end of that bad boy. Who's really to say exactly what was and is directly miraculous versus the natural fallout of the Prime Mover? You can accept both the scientists description of the physical world and the prescription of timeless moral law as revealed to the ancient Hebrews. You are confident that the Creator of all things knows the hearts of people, and doubt that he labels silly little Christians according to our views on Genesis.

And that's enough for you.

There's an alternative answer for the Christian who disagrees with your opinion on how to read Genesis. Just tell them that this is the world we live in, and these are the hands we're given.

1 comment:

Matt said...

You did it! You successfully wove the Phil Collins' Genesis through a really nice essay presenting a range of Christian theological and biblical options for understanding the origins of the universe.
Brilliant writing. Seriously.