Sunday, August 2, 2009

Review of meeting about Genesis 2, part 3 (of 3)

In my first two posts about our meeting from July 13 (where we discussed Genesis 2), I addressed two common charges that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 are conflicting, contradictory creation accounts. Here in this post, I will wrap up some miscellaneous discussions that we had during the meeting.

The first "miscellaneous" thing I noted was the length of Creation Day 6. In Genesis 1 (which, of course, does not conflict with Genesis 2), we are told that God created both Adam and Eve on Creation Day 6. However, in Genesis 2, which offers an expanded view of the relationship we have with God, and the relationship we have with the physical creation, we find that Adam had many tasks to perform before the creation of Eve.

In particular, we are told that God brought the animals to Adam so that he could name them. In Hebrew culture, this implies much more than simply assigning a name to the creatures he sees (see previous post). Adam would have to become acquainted with each animal, determine its characteristics, and name it accordingly. Note that this is after we have Adam placed in the garden in order to tend and maintain it.

Also note that at the end of all of this, Adam was lonely. The text directly says that Adam was alone, not lonely, but we can infer from the text that Adam was also lonely. After God creates Eve, and Adam sees her for the first time, he says, "This is now bone of my bones /and flesh of my flesh (v. 23, NIV)." The Hebrew translated here as "This is now" could more rightly be translated "At long last." This implies that the sixth creation day would be quite a bit longer than 24 hours. How much longer is not implied by the text.

Next, we discussed what kind of "creation" we are talking about, when God created Adam and Eve. The point here is, if we are interesting in discussing our faith with scientifically-minded non-believers, we may need to address this question. To be honest, I wasn't prepared to talk about it, but it is a quite difficult question to address. This question contains implications for biblical interpretation, what exactly is the "imago dei" (image of God), and who we (as humans made in the image of God) are.

However, one thing we can certainly discuss is the current state of the scientific theories of human origins. In our post-genomic age, we have discovered that humanity originated from a very small population, roughly 50-100 thousand years ago, in a region in northeast Africa. In fact, the scientific data so closely resembles the biblical account, it is often referred to as the "Garden of Eden" hypothesis.

But this is a whole 'nother can of worms. In what ways did God intervene in the history of the universe, if at all? Can we tell? Why should we care? Is life designed? Did it evolve from random processes? We'll touch on these topics in the near future, but for now, let's keep in mind that answering any of these questions has far reaching implications. It's not easy to address any of them by themselves.