I. Introduction to this chapter
From my point of view, it is impossible that the first 11 chapters from the book of Genesis represent an accurate description of what had happened at the beginning of the existence of our universe and of humankind. There are much too many contradictions in the first 11 chapters of the book of Genesis and the stories found there are obviously mythological in their character and not scientific or historic. For me, that doesn’t mean the loss of my faith in God because it isn’t based on the factuality of all stories from the Bible, but it stands on a personal experience with Him. At the same time, the conclusion that the book of Genesis cannot offer a solid base for the understanding of our world carries important consequences.
If one doesn’t believe that the biblical record of the book of Genesis is scientifically accurate what remains from the Christian teachings about salvation? What happens with an authentic Christian faith if one accepts that the universe had come in place through the Big Bang and human beings evolved from other forms of life? If Adam and Eve aren’t historical personages and they didn’t disobey God everything changes in the Christian doctrines.
If Adam and Eve are not real personages but only legendary ones, how did humankind come into existence? The answer would be that humankind has a common origin with all forms of life and up to a point all developed in the same direction through the evolution of species. Human beings took another path under the influence of the internal and possibly external factors and we became what we are today.
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It isn’t impossible that the original evolution of humankind would have been determined by contact with an extra-terrestrial civilization. It is wrong to affirm that human beings have evolved from “monkeys” because they started to evolve from much more primitive forms of life together with the entirety of biological nature. Between human beings and the most evolved primates there are many common points and the genetic resemblances are astonishing, but our unique ancestor is to be found farther in the past. We have evolved together with all nature from the first living organisms on Earth which appeared billions of years ago.
After hundreds of thousands of years of evolution of the first humanoids, God had chosen to reveal Himself to humankind. Who were the human beings to whom God had revealed Himself for the first time? It couldn’t have been Adam and Eve because they didn’t exist in real life, and also it couldn’t have been Noah, another legendary personage. We have to take it that Abraham would have been the first human being to whom God would have revealed His existence directly, if we take the life of Abraham being less mythological and more real than that of his predecessors from the book of Genesis.
After concluding that the narratives of creation from the book of Genesis are too absurd and contradictory to be the representation of real facts, one has two possibilities. One is to consider the first 11 chapters of the book of Genesis a series of mythological stories which weren’t inspired by God and which don’t have any relation to reality and any spiritual meanings. The other one is to see the accounts of the creation not being faithful to reality but being full of spiritual meanings and being inspired by God as parables, not as historical facts. In the first case the book of Genesis has to be judged in connection with the universal mythological context at the time in which its narratives have been written, and in the second case one has to figure out how and when God had inspired these parables to humankind and what are their spiritual meanings. The problem of the multiple authorship of the texts still remains and has to be solved together with this analysis.
If someone concludes that the book of Genesis is a series of parables and not the exact description of historical events, that conclusion will shake considerably the foundation of the Christian
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The Bible says that the Earth was created by God. In its own words, it actually affirms that:
“In the beginning when God created* the heavens and the earth, 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God* swept over the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1; 1-2 NRSV)
The earth was created together with heavens in the beginning. The Bible doesn’t say explicitly what “heavens” mean and what exactly had been created in “heavens”.
Whilst for Earth, very few details are given, for heavens, there isn’t any description. Complete secrecy or lack of imagination?
According to the Bible, God didn’t see fit to disclose anything about His world, and its population, in the book of Genesis. That brought humanity to countless speculations about angels, Satan’s revolt, and so on. A whole religion is created on the approximations about what “heavens” really means, because the book of Genesis doesn’t give us any clue about the issue. The religious imagination is based on the extreme scarcity of the texts of the book of Genesis.
The lack of information about “heavens” can bring one to the conclusion that by “heavens” the writer of Genesis chapter 1 meant something much simpler than is commonly believed, no angels or the Kingdom of God, but only the cosmic space. If “heavens” meant something more complicated such as the Kingdom of God, some more information about it would be expected to be found in the stories of creation. But even if that were true and “heavens” was understood to mean the cosmic space and nothing else, the creation of a space for cosmic bodies without the existence of the dome of the sky is absurd, it is a blatant contradiction which by itself disqualifies any truthfulness in the stories of creation.
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When the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, “heavens” would have existed, according to the book of Genesis, in the lack of the dome of the sky which separated the waters from above from the waters from the earth.
At the beginning everything had been under waters, including the atmosphere of the earth, and there hadn’t been any sky, therefore no “heavens”. There couldn’t have been any “heavens” at the outset of creation because God had created the dome of the sky only on the second day of creation, according to the book of Genesis, and without sky no “heavens” would have been possible regardless of what we mean by “heavens”. The Bible literally says that at the beginning it was “heavens” without the dome of the sky and all that existed had been covered by the waters of a primeval sea.
The whole complexity of cosmology, geology, biology, anthropology etc. is concentrated on two pages of the Bible. In this case lack of information is equals to no real information. What could be the cause of this poorness of information? Lack of information contained by the book of Genesis could have one main cause.
The authors of the texts didn’t have any information about the origins of the earth and universe.
Keeping to a very general level, an author or an editor could have diminished the danger of giving some imaginary details which could contradict each other and make the stories inconsistent. Nevertheless, the authors or the editors of the first 11 chapters of the book of Genesis have fallen into this trap in spite of the very few details which are given. As a matter of fact, little details which can be found in the first 11 chapters of the book of Genesis don’t harmonise well with one another and are of a peripheral importance.
In the book of Genesis the creation of the universe is only the stage for the main drama, the relation between God and His children. When the drama ends the earth will also disappear and a new earth will replace it. (Revelation 21; 1) Neither the creation of “heavens” and the earth nor the apparition of humankind has anything to do with real facts, but it has a logic in which true cosmology doesn’t find any place.
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