Common Thoughts 3


In the beginning God . . .

What comes after that statement in Genesis 1 is all about our world created like a kind of bubble inside whatever God had going on outside that bubble. I’m going to come back to this, but later after I get my head around our bubble world. It begins as a chaotic blob, so to speak. Like a painter with formless lumps of color he’s going to paint a canvas that is filled with mysteries.

We are obsessed with how God did this. Why wouldn’t we be? Curiosity may have killed the cat but it’s in our DNA to be curious. We make Genesis 1 through 3 a scientific blueprint and we try to make it answer questions we have that it doesn’t really address. In our need for sense to be made out of the ineffable we do two things with the information we are given: we make the seven days of creation literally seven twenty-four hour periods; and we make “God said”—the word is logos—into its narrow definition of speaking—“word”. God now becomes a magician who says abracadabra, and poof, we have instantaneous this and that. This way we don’t have to deal with the ineffable that can become messy trying to describe it. We don’t have to deal with a “big bang” where this blob of formless material explodes and as it travels into the void where it mindlessly forms suns and planets and asteroids. And here’s the problem, “mindlessly forms”. This comes across as the artist taking a brush filled with very wet paint and flipping the brush toward the canvas splattering the paint in so-called mindless ways. We can’t reconcile that with determined planning. And yet, while we can’t understand it, it isn’t mindless. David said this in Psalms 104:24: “How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all”

And here we have in a nutshell our problem, we can’t handle loose definitions of unknown. We must know to feel satisfied. God starts a series of questions to Job, in Job 38: “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?  Tell me, if you understand.” Whether it was God or not-God that created what we know, we weren’t there. Do you really think three little chapters at the beginning of Genesis is going to explain it all? For we Judeo/Christians God wants us to understand that it all didn’t happen by chance, he was the author of it all.

There is an unlimited expanse further than our natural eye can see. Thousands of generations saw something of it when they looked into the night sky and it told them many things. But it was only still points of light. Not until 1608 AD, and Galileo invented a telescope, a way to peer deeper into the sky, that we began to grasp the indescribable goings on. As telescopes got bigger, and the Hubble telescope sent into that space began peering deeper, we are most haunted by the why question. Why this and not something else? Why this? And intriguing that the mind that sees all this and has some understanding is from the mind of humans and not dolphins, or monkeys, or horses, or any other creature. Why humans and not other creatures? For you of non-God you answer just blind chance happening over long periods of time formed this kind of brain that sees and asks questions. But that’s not in any way a satisfying answer.

When God said, as the writer of Genesis tells us, in Genesis 1: 26: “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness,” he didn’t say this to any other creature. For now, and later we will learn of a greater expansion of who we are, we are to rule (be in charge of) “the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (v.26.)

Let’s step back. Of all that we now see in the vast expanse of the sky, our focus is drawn down to one chunk of rock ruled over by our sun, and on this rock only, the creation story broken into six days happens. It’s a poetic six days, but clearly a sequence to how God creates what we know and experience. And it happens over the earth. Every now and then in reading the Bible we are given a glimpse of a world outside ours, let’s call it God’s kingdom, and they’re just snippets that only hint of a greater reality. These snippets say something of God, but not much. But we can take from them that there are other creatures, other than what we find on our earth, including us, who inhabit this reality, a reality that God is going to separate us from knowing and experiencing limiting us to this bubble reality we’re stuck in.

There are those who say that mythology, and anything religious is mythology, is simply our attempt to explain what we find to explain the why of it and to give us a sense of belonging, nothing more. If our Judeo/Christian beliefs are nothing more than academic speculation then indeed, they are no different than any of those wild myths of the ancient world. But if they come about because of experiences of God coming into our world giving us real glimpses of a larger world, and I’ve had a few ineffable experiences to tell me this happens, then we need to pay attention to the Judeo/Christian God.