Where do we come from? How did this all come to be? As far back as the earliest pictograms in caves we have found, it seems human beings have been looking up at the stars and asking the questions: Why? Who? How? Ancient civilizations around the world have creation stories that tell how life came to be, and as we look at the Genesis 1-2:4a story this week, we consider what this has to tell us about who we are, and the force that made us. Compare this to the 21st century understanding of Creation, the Big Bang theory, which some scholars suggest is the creation story of today. There are parts of Christianity that would say these two stories can’t co-exist. Our history shows Christians have often rejected the findings of human inquiry, a famous example being the Inquisition trial of Galileo in the early 17th century, after he published in 1630 that the earth was not, in fact, the center of the universe, but as the earlier Copernicus had seen, it revolved around the sun. His book was forbidden, and it was not until 1820 that the church permitted a book to be published that explained heliocentrism as fact.
Yet the scriptures tell us God made us as we are, with our hearts and our heads, to feel and to think, to love and to explore. Does it not make sense that our Creation stories would evolve as we do? And why do we assume that a day to God is the same as it is to us? And when God said, “Let there be light!” could it not have been the moment of the Big Bang? I have not yet studied a new finding of science that has taken away my faith. As we look more microscopically and can see life down to smaller and smaller particles, I am more amazed than ever at the wonder of life. When you look at Chaos Theory, elements in nature that appear random sometimes spontaneously shift into identifiable pattern, or start out with indicators that should lead to one outcome but don’t. Each time they occur, a different outcome is achieved. Quantum Physics suggests that when we turn our attention to light at the subatomic level, it’s action will change simply by being observed. Such marvelous discoveries still are miraculous.
Can we believe that our Creation stories tell the truth about life and how it came to be, and also are limited by our ability to understand and express our understanding? We have the ability to look at our stories side by side, the faith-based and the inquiry-based, and let God speak to us in the dialectic that results. When Genesis 1 tells us that God created human kind out of the dust, it does not tell us how long that took. And for me, whether that was what would be instant in my time, or whether it happened over millions of years in my time, it still fills me with wonder.
But in the end, is the most important question how? This week, I invite you to consider instead that the stories have another message for us – who? What do the Creation stories have to tell us about the God who made us? If Creation didn’t happen all at once, but instead continues to evolve down through time ever changing and adapting, what kind of God set that in motion? If there is such amazing action happening at such microscopic levels of life, is that force not always at work? Always moving? Always immanently close? What do you think? What comes out of your meditations and ruminations on our stories?