Τετάρτη, 15 Απριλίου 2009

A Human Understanding of Creation

It is interesting to read the book of Genesis side by side with what science proposes. According to science the present universe began in a "big bang" of light out of darkness. Genesis begins creation with the words: "Let there be light". In Genesis we read that "the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life". Science and the theory of evolution proposes that life began in the oceans and from there crawled on to dry land. Science and Genesis seem to describe a similar, if not identical process right down to the minutest chronological detail, with the only exception being that Evolution talks in terms of millions and billions of years while Genesis breaks those fourteen billion years to what it calls six days. Also the exception that, in Genesis, each step is taken as separate to the other (God creates light, separates the waters from the land, creates animals, then creates man), while in science each step is a continuation or consequence of the other. Also, Genesis teaches that Creation was the considered work of an omnipotent entity we know as God, while science suggests the process happened all by itself in a series of interconnected and interdependent steps.

It seems that the History of what has occurred for us to be here today is broken down to two books: The book of things we know, or think we know, which we file under science, and the book of things we do not yet understand, which we metaphor into the teachings of Religion.


 During the Renaissance great works were commissioned of Michelangelo,Raphael and others which were to speak of the Glory of God.


 Would it be irreverent to suggest that these works by Michelangelo and Raphael are in fact a glimpse in to the Glory of the human spirit, and that it is in fact the images returned to us from Apollo 8, Apollo 11, and the Hubble Space Telescope that speak of the Glory of God.


 Did Jim Lovell, reciting Genesis from the command module of Apollo 8 imply an edge of religion over science? A simpler explanation may serve debate best. After all, as Jesus of Nazareth once said, "give that which belongs to Caesar, to Caesar, and that which belongs to God, to God".

 How does each of us define the meaning of the word "God"? Most would agree that the word "God" describes an infinite power not limited by time or measurable size, a power that is omnipotent and beyond human comprehension. Most would also agree that the universe is infinite and that nothing exists outside the universe. The universe by definition is everything that is.

 An Infinite God contained within an infinite universe would be limited, if only in semantics, by the limits of the universe. This cannot be. God cannot exist within the universe. If God cannot exist within the universe and if there can be nothing beyond the universe one could propose that God Is the universe?


 It would surely appear to be a simplistic idea which would be rejected by scientists and religious folk alike.

 What existed in the beginning is very simply and eloquently described by John the Evangelist in John, 1:1. "In the beginning was the Word".

 The Evangelist actually wrote the gospel in the Greek language, where the word "Logos" was later translated in the English version as "Word". In Greek, the word "Logos" can be used to express several meanings: "spoken word", "reason" (as in "reason to be"), and, the English word "logic" comes from the Greek "logos".

 Next John writes, in Greek, "and the Logos was [close] to God, and Logos was God. He (referring to Logos in the masculine, not nutral) was in the beginning [close] to God. Everything was done through him [through Logos] (here John uses the word "him" to refer to Logos, as the syntax in Greek implies) and nothing that was done without him [Logos] was done.

 Clearly John is instructing the reader to an intimate if not indistinguishable connection between God and Logos. Yet he is taking the pains to say there is Logos, and there is God. Then, John, makes the point that they are indistinguishable from each other if not consequent to each other. Although Logos and God are, according to John, One, he begins his Gospel by introducing the concept of Logos and the person of God, and chooses to mention Logos before he refers to God: "In the beginning was the Word".

 Interestingly, dogmatic interpretation of John's writings instruct us that "Logos" (the Word) refers to the Christ, the Son of God. This interpretation uses the translation of the Greek "Logos" to mean "spoken Word" (as spoken by Jesus of Nazareth) but this translation ignores the other meanings of "Logos" in Greek and ignores the consequent implications as to John's intended instruction. Another interesting point we may contemplate is that although that Gospel was written in Greek, Greek was not the writer's first language. The writer searched a language foreign to his own for a word to contain the meaning he was trying to put across. In such research and translation the writer would have been aware of all the possible interpretations of the word "Logos" in Greek. Therefore it seems limiting to assume only one of the possible interpretations when reading the English translation of a Latin translation of a Greek interpretation of the writer's intent.

 Religion today instructs us that the creation Genesis refers to is the Earth, and that humankind is descended of Adam and Eve. Two thousand years ago, "creation" was the Mediterranean basin and Mesopotamia. Today we understand "creation" to be the planet Earth. Why must creation be limited to the Earth alone any more than it was limited to the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia two thousand years ago? Can the garden of Eden not be much vaster than originally or presently contemplated? Can the Earth not be a part of all creation as opposed to the creation? God, Logos, the Universe, whoever or whatever we accept as Supreme Being, has created an infinite wonder that is a Cosmos we are only just beginning to contemplate.

 The known part of the infinite universe contains billions of galaxies, each containing trillions of stars, most of them nurturing several planets of which the Earth is one. If we were to suggest that we live on the only one planet which supports life, or that we are the most intelligent of the life that may exist, or that we are the only life chosen by God to be the masters of Eden it would seem that the rest of the universe beyond this so-privileged Earth would be an awful waste of space.

 Why would it be against religion to suggest that the animals and life which were created are not limited to Mesopotamia, or the Mediterranean, or the Earth, but are to be found everywhere on trillions of planets in this vast, infinite universe from which we sprang... Maybe the descendants of the first beings who tasted the "fruit of knowledge" from the "tree of life" are not only us, humans, but include many, many more... millions more. Such contemplation would add to the glory of the God of Michelangelo, Raphael and John, the God of Jim Lovell, Frank Borman and our own. It would of course reduce greatly the prominence of humans, but we would then find ourselves at a place far more glorious and magnificent than we ever imagined, our potential far more fitting to our creator.

 Why would it be blasphemy to suggest that the God Who created us in His likeness is the universe of which we are part, of which we come, and which we have begun to understand? the God who in Genesis 3:22 is quoted to have said: Behold, the man is become as one of Us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever.


 Ever since human beings stared at the night sky in fear, and wondered what those distant points of light might be, our species has been on a journey of discovery. Our most fundamental questions have been "who are we?", "where are we?" and "why are we?".

 More often than not these questions have been overshadowed by the need to survive, to find food and shelter, to cure illness. Almost always, the need for comfort and the fear of all that is unknown, were soothed by answers that suggested a father, a brother, a friend, who would shelter us and help us in our times of need. We have given many faces to that father but we have never dared to believe that His face may be our own. The concept that our creator is the universe itself, and that all religions are but bridges, to bridge the gap between ourselves and perfect knowledge spanning the abyss of what it is we do not yet comprehend, is a concept that causes enough fear and misunderstandings as to be considered an attack on what most of the people in this world hold dear.

 The circumference of the round earth was accurately measured over one hundred years before Jesus. Atomic theory was proposed 400 years before Jesus. Today we have the tools to look at the earth from space and measure its circumference. Today we can wield the awesome power of the atom. But we are no further now, in taking the steps necessary to reconcile philosophy, religion and the reality of the universe of which we are part, then we were then.

 Science and learning were subdued for one thousand years during what we refer to as "The Dark Ages". Today, science and knowledge could have been one thousand years ahead of where we are, had it not been for that period in human affairs. It does seem, at times, that the darkness of that age is still with us, within us, in our hearts and souls for the need for comfort and shelter. Yet, we have always been travelers, adventure seekers, asking questions and inventing answers. Perhaps the light of knowledge and the darkness that comes from the need of comfort do co exist. Perhaps we see full well the staircase that we may ascend but the comfort of the step on which we stand dilutes our resolve to climb further. Once in a while one of us looks up and boldly tries to take that next step. It is a slow process marred by wars, persecution and hatred, distorted by our nightmares, illuminated by our collaborations, fueled by our dreams.

 But despite all the fear and denial that such a proposition would cause, wouldn’t it be perfect beauty if we were to believe that the Garden of Eden is the Universe itself and the fruit of knowledge our sustenance in our journey to know God, and meet other travelers like us along the journey.

 Is it not, after all, the journey that matters? Is it not true, sometimes, that the journey often turns out to be the destination?

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