Genesis 1: Contra Darwin

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It is generally the scholarly consensus that the Creation story found in Genesis One was written to counter ANE (it is not what is familiar that we should focus on, but the differences which we should examine) creation stories, especially the Babylonian. In speaking with my Old Testament professor, she noted that she envisioned that Creation story as being written as a religious-political polemic to edify the Israelites as they stood in the great city as a conquered and captive people. They had just lost their freedom and were now being faced with parades honoring the god Marduk, perhaps even with not so subtle slams of YHWH. This story, however, reminded them, and spoke rather loudly to the Babylonians, that it was not the ANE pantheon of gods and goddesses which created the world, but it was the Most High God of the Israelites, Who with care and purpose, and divine order, brought the world into an ordered existence.

So, what if we did the same thing today – what if God inspired us today to tell of His power and authority against atheistic evolution? I use this term to note only an evolution which dispenses with God completely and not evolution as a whole which includes theism, etc… Or, perhaps, what if we told the tell that Science tells, but using mythological language? What would it look like?

This is an exercise, that’s all, as form of worship in the academic.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. God, and when in the beginning God created, the universe spread forth and behold, the heavens and the earth.
2 The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. The earth was violent and lifeless even to the waters of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved on the waters to bring forth the seeds of life.
3 Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Then God said, “Let there be Logos,” and there was order.
4 And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. And God saw that the order was good and separated it from the chaos
5 God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.” And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day. God called the order ‘Day’ and darkness ‘night’. The darkness gave way to the Light, marking the first epoch.
6 Then God said, “Let there be a space between the waters, to separate the waters of the heavens from the waters of the earth.” Then God said, “Make good the air to breath and remove the pollution from it. Let there be good space between the land and the heavens.”
7 And that is what happened. God made this space to separate the waters of the earth from the waters of the heavens. And it happened. The air was made good, and the pollution was removed from it, making it suitable for the seeds of Life.
8 God called the space “sky.” And evening passed and morning came, marking the second day. God called this atmosphere. The pollution gave way to Clean, ending this second epoch.
9 Then God said, “Let the waters beneath the sky flow together into one place, so dry ground may appear.” And that is what happened. Then God said, “Let continents form from the deep so that life may cover it.” And, that is what happened.
10 God called the dry ground “land” and the waters “seas.” And God saw that it was good. And God called the dry ground “land” and the vastness of the waters “ocean” and God saw that it was good for Life.
11 Then God said, “Let the land sprout with vegetation– every sort of seed-bearing plant, and trees that grow seed-bearing fruit. These seeds will then produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.” And that is what happened. Then God said, “Let the land start to bring forth food and work towards seed-bearing plants and trees which would bring forth fruit so that the seeds would produce the kinds of plants and trees from which they came.” And it began to happen.
12 The land produced vegetation– all sorts of seed-bearing plants, and trees with seed-bearing fruit. Their seeds produced plants and trees of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. The land produced these food plants – all sorts of seeded plants and trees which grew to produce better and more edible fruits and vegetables until life could be sustained. And God saw that the plan was good for Life.
13 And evening passed and morning came, marking the third day. And the darkness gave way to Life, bringing to close the third epoch.
14 Then God said, “Let great lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them mark off the seasons, days, and years. Then God said, “Let the great lights which appear in the sky be ordered and be given for day and night separately. Let them be used as an ordering for seasons, days and years.
15 Let these lights in the sky shine down on the earth.” And that is what happened. Let these lights shine down on the earth.” And, it happened.
16 God made two great lights, the sun and the moon– the larger one to govern the day, and the smaller one to govern the night. He also made the stars. God had made the two great lights, the sun and the moon, the sun to give light during the day and the moon to give light at night. He had made the stars too.
17 God set these lights in the sky to light the earth, God had set these lights in the sky to light the earth,
18 to govern the day and night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. to be the light in the day and the night, to give the Light apart from the darkness. And God saw that it was good for Life.
19 And evening passed and morning came, marking the fourth day. And the chaos gave way to Order, closing the fourth epoch.
20 Then God said, “Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind.” Then God said, “The waters will be filled with fish and other life. The Skies will be filled with flying things of every kind.
21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that scurries and swarms in the water, and every sort of bird– each producing offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. So God began to build these great sea creatures and all other things that now fill the waters. He began the process of calling forth the birds which now fill the skies. And God saw that His plan was good.
22 Then God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply. Let the fish fill the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.” As the plan came to an end, God blessed them, saying, “Multiply! The seas are to be filled with the fish and the birds the sky once they leave the land.”
23 And evening passed and morning came, marking the fifth day. The dearth of life gave way to the abundance of Life, ending the fifth epoch.
24 Then God said, “Let the earth produce every sort of animal, each producing offspring of the same kind– livestock, small animals that scurry along the ground, and wild animals.” And that is what happened. Then God said, “Upon the land these will produce every sort of animal, building to livestock, small animals, and wild animals. That is what happened.
25 God made all sorts of wild animals, livestock, and small animals, each able to produce offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. God began to make all sorts of wild animals, livestock and small animals, each producing its own offspring. And God saw that His plan was good for Life.
26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like ourselves. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” Then God said, “Let us make Life in our image, to be like us. Life will rule over the fish in the waters, will have livestock and rule the wild and small animals on the land.”
27 So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. So God created human Life in His image. In the image of God, human life is created. He then separated Life into male and female.
28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” Then God said to humanity when they came to be Life, “Multiply! Fill the earth and rule it. To you is given the oceans and the sky and the ground and everything in it to be rule over.”
29 Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. Then God said, “Look! I have given you fruits and vegetables to cultivate. This will be food for you then.
30 And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground– everything that has life.” And that is what happened. The animals will eat the green plant and so will the birds and be for everything that is living!” And that is what began to happen.
31 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day. Then God looked over all that he had set in motion, ordered, and built and saw that it would be good for Life. And chaos gave way to Order, darkness to light, death to Life, and so ended the sixth epoch.
Genesis 2:1 So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. So the ordering and planning of the heavens and the earth and everything that would be in them was completed.

Okay…

So not the most original… but if Genesis was written today, to counter non-theistic evolution, to set forth the message that the Most High God was the Creator, and that He is still in His Temple, in control – how do you think it would be written?

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Post By Joel Watts (9,928 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, working on the use of Deuteronomy in the Fourth Gospel. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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10 thoughts on Genesis 1: Contra Darwin

  1. Which came first, death or man?

    The evolutionary model has death first, than man. (Pre-human species evolve by dying.)

    Genesis has man first, than death. (Creation, including man, is made first. Death enters creation by the disobedience of Adam and Eve.)

    So, in verse 31 of the modern translation above is the phrase “chaos gave way to Order, darkness to light, death to Life”. Does not “death to life” imply that God created death in the first place?

    • death vs ‘L’ife.

      What constitutes real death? But, beyond that, is Genesis telling us about science or, again, serving another purpose? If that is the case, then the message of Genesis is more important than a chronological road map.

      • I believe Genesis is not about science or history but serves to reveal through story the reality of the relationships between man and creation and God.

        Genesis describes a situation where death is not part of creation. Is this absence of death to mean no physical death or no spiritual death or both? Answers will vary.

        But it seems to me that the answer to this question is connected to what will be resurrected in the end, body or soul or both? Also connected is the new or restored Eden described at the end of Scripture. In other words, if death, both physical and spiritual, is not present in the restored Eden, was it present in the first?

        If one believes that death, both physical and spiritual was not present in the original Eden, then “death to life” is the reverse of what God created. And this conflicts with evolution, at least on a metaphysical level, for evolution requires death to be part of the original mechanism of creation.

        • Mark, while I can understand you point – how did they know to fear death if death wasn’t present? Further, what is death? Is it the tree dying? Or the fruit being consumed?

          If death is related only to the human, then evolution is compatible.

          • What did the Church Fathers write about in reference to animal death before the fall?

          • I’m unsure, Mark, but while I respect them, and enjoy them, I must rely on the text. But, if you want, please share. I would love to know.

      • I talked with a friend steeped in theology and philosophy and he helped unpack your question about what is death.

        Thank you for the post and the discussion.

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