Comments

  1. highlander says

    I think it will be upsetting to those who take the Bible literally. I’m not one of them. For me, the creation story is a beautiful metaphor, and, if you allow some elasticity in the time scale, not all that far off from what modern science has to tell us about the origin of the universe.

    I’m far more interested in the forest. It does not bother me if someone comes along and claims that one of the trees we thought was a birch is actually a maple.

  2. suek says

    From the link:

    “The new interpretation is a complete shake up of the story of the Creation as we know it.”

    To what end?

    We’re here – what difference does it make how we got here, or how we came to be? God inspired the Old Testament – he didn’t sit them down and instruct them in the science of space and the science of genetics…

    The bible isn’t a science text, and it isn’t a history text – it’s a guide on how to live our lives and how to live in society with others.

  3. Charles Martel says

    Whoowee! Thank God we got that smart perfesser to correct what all them Jew-boy rabbis and sister-datin’ Christers have been pushing on us for 3,000 years!

    Now we really know what “bara” means!

    Of course I’m just wondering what all of those monsters and sea critters thought about God separating things. How come we’re not worshipping them, too, since they’re God’s contemporaries?

  4. says

    The problem here (and with other extrapolations of single verses) is that it ignores the context of the rest of the narrative as well as the entirety of the Bible itself, including the characterization of God (esp. his omnipotence).

    Here is the verse that immediately follows the first one:

    Genesis 1:2
    The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

    And it continues in the very same chapter…

    Genesis 1:9-10
    And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.

    Here are more passages that make it clear:

    Psalm 90:1-2
    Lord, you have been our dwelling place
    in all generations.
    Before the mountains were brought forth,
    or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

    Isaiah 45:18
    For thus says the Lord,
    who created the heavens
    (he is God!),
    who formed the earth and made it
    (he established it;
    he did not create it empty,
    he formed it to be inhabited!):
    “I am the Lord, and there is no other.”

    Jeremiah 33:1-2
    The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still shut up in the court of the guard: “Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it—the Lord is his name.

    Zechariah 12:1
    The burden of the word of the Lord concerning Israel: Thus declares the Lord, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth and formed the spirit of man within him.

    There are many more that I don’t have time to find and post, but you can read a very accurate translation of the Bible online here:

    http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/

  5. says

    Metaphor. Hmm.

    The Bible isn’t a science text or a history text. Hmm. Hmm.

    What a load of rubbish. Here’s what we know about TaNaKh and the New Testament; both Israelites and Christians have held since the beginning of time that the Bible is G-d-breathed; i.e. G-d is the author of the Bible. And the Holy One, Blessed is He, does not lie. Never had, never will.

    So, while the Bible does not say much about science or whatever else, whatever it *does* say in a plain context is authoritative. And the whole of Genesis 1 specifies what YHWH created; sun, moon, stars, Earth, other planets, life. Light. And Man.

    That’s all I need to know or say on the matter. *How* He did it… either scientists will figure it out, or we will be instructed by Him, or it will forever remain a mystery.

  6. Danny Lemieux says

    What I always considered to be particularly interesting about Genesis is how closely the seven days of creation, as written down by a society of primitive shepherds, adhere so closely to the Big Bang Theory, starting with “let there by light” (recall e = mc2). Pure coincidence, I’m sure!

  7. MacG says

    Just a few verses from the New American Standard Bible (www.biblegateway.com ):

    “1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

    2The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.

    3Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

    4God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.

    5God called the light day, and the darkness He called night And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

    6Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.”

    7God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so.

    8God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.”

    It seems that there was a lot of separating going on after the inital creation so I doubt that the translators have gotten it wrong. Without God (who is spirit) creating the material we are no better off than the scientists as to where did the that incredibly dense mass come from and further what made it explode? Physics tells us that you don’t get something from nothing and that a body at rest tends to stay at rest.

    I also wanted to comment on literal interpretation. Most of what is called literal interpretation is really a letterist interpretation. Literal inperpretation allows for genre where letterist interpretations do not. So for instance where one reads the 1st Chapter in Genesis in a letterist fashion they run into a set of contradictions in the 2nd Chapter whereas the literalist allows for the poetical nature of the 2nd account.

    Biblical Hermaneutics is the art and science of interpretaion takes these things into account. To whom was it written, what were the cultural idioms of the day, what was the original intent and questions like these help us understand what it was that God was trying to communicate. We are talking about a collection of books written over a period of a couple of millenia by forty or so authors (God inspired I believe) on at least two continents to an older middle-eastern mindset. We modern westerners need to be careful in determining what it means for us today. True it is not a science book. It was not intended to be a history book although it contains some rather accurate history. What the common thread through out both Tesatments is there there is a Creator who seeks interaction with the created. Though we wander God seeks to bring us back into relationship Isaiah 1:17Learn to do good;
    Seek justice,
    Reprove the ruthless,
    Defend the orphan,
    Plead for the widow.
    18″Come now, and let us reason together,”
    Says the LORD,
    “Though your sins are as scarlet,
    They will be as white as snow;
    Though they are red like crimson,
    They will be like wool.
    19″If you consent and obey,
    You will eat the best of the land…”

    It is interesting the exhortation to do “Learn to do good”, it seems either we do not do this naturally or have the capacity to unlearn it.

    Blessings,

    MacG

  8. MacG says

    “on 12 Oct 2009 at 8:42 pm 8Ymarsakar
    So God came in on an alien spaceship, terraformed the Earth and separated the what from the what not, and ….”

    According to Richard Dawkins if life did not spontaneously generate then lfe here was seeded by an alien race. He said so in “Expelled: No Inteligence Allowed”.

    That’s a hard nut for the “godless” scientist. Life spontaenously generates but if it is proved too difficult in this prime life supporting planet then it happened some where else and long enough ago for them to have evolved enough to figure out how to travel here and let their “seed” evolve for billons more years…is there even enough time for this to have happened?

    Part of me says that we are all looking at a broken egg on the pavement and are arguing over whether Humpty Dumpty fell or was pushed.

  9. SADIE says

    For your viewing pleasure:

    Original Word: בָּרָא
    Transliteration: bara’
    Phonetic Spelling: (baw-raw’)
    Short Definition: choose
    choose, create creator, cut down, dispatch, do, make fat (as in fattening cattle)

    A primitive root; (absolutely) to create; (qualified) to cut down (a wood), select, feed (as formative processes) — choose, create (creator), cut down, dispatch, do, make (fat).

  10. says

    All I know is that I used to be an atheist until I learned about the Big Bang. Something came before the Big Bang, and that thought led me to a non-spiritual theism unchanged to any specific religion.

  11. Charles Martel says

    Technically, there is no “before” the Big Bang. The universe contains all time and space. Neither existed until the universe. When it is said that God stands outside of time, the assertion is literal (although what space He stands in is problematical).

  12. says

    Now we know. And soon we’ll see Bara-ck revealed as the New Prophet!

    Wheee!

    Gosh, this is fun! Reinterpret to your heart’s desire. We are, after all, so much smarter than those old Hebrews.

    ;)

  13. colorless.blue.ideas says

    The report strikes me as about someone who had to come up with something “new” — no matter how far-fetched — for a doctoral thesis, and then who uses wordplay to defend it.

    I supposed it works for that purpose, but, good grief, don’t pretend that it’s actually an advancement of knowledge!

  14. binadaat says

    Some of those “create”s in Genesis/Beraishit are other words in Hebrew.
    I learned the word “to create” has 3 different words and is explained this way by a rabbi at Aish HaTorah:

    Boray בורא = to bring into existence

    Yotzer יוצר = to further shape or define

    Osay עושה = to perfect or finish

    Charles,
    I understand that all the components of the universe we experience are contained in G-d, or Infinity and that the universe is a place where Infinity separated itself to allow the components to have individuality or finiteness (time, space, matter, energy). The place in which we exist is actually an impossibility, logically.
    Since G-d is Infinity, there isn’t any problem about “where”. Infinity is everywhere, all the time, without time. It’s hard for us to conceive since our existence is finite.

    that’s what He says to Moses in the burning bush: I am that I am.

  15. SADIE says

    Yotzer יוצר = to further shape or define (add: artist as well)

    Osay עושה = to perfect or finish (add: to make, to do)

    It’s like Clinton describing the word ‘is’ – context, context, context.
    When studying Torah, it’s location, location, location – Biblical real estate ;)

  16. Charles Martel says

    binadaat, no argument. I came off sounding like I was asserting that the Creator would have had some technical problems in creating ex nihilo, which was not my intention. That God brought about time and space I know whereof, but not how.

    I’m amused by atheists who don’t seem to understand that the universe is both time and space, therefore neither existed “before” the universe. Yet some claim there was this “vacuum,” which apparently existed despite having no space to be a vacuum in, from which the universe spontaneously flashed into being. Thus, no need for God.

    Or logic.

    Regarding “I Am That I Am”—the perfect name, not bestowed, like Charles or Baal or Barack, but apparent and necessary. The ground of existence, the eternal, the timeless. Not “I Was” or “I Will Be.” Even when I was a kid and first learned about Moses’s query and God’s answer, I knew that I hearing one of the great profundities of my life.

  17. says

    LOL!

    Book, this is one reason why I love your blog, not only do you post and write about interesting topics; but, your commenters are so witty:

    #3, 7, and 15 – I am laughing so hard, I love it!

    And, of course, #16, I agree with you – it does sound like a “I-cannot-think-of-anything-else” for a thesis.

  18. SADIE says

    Thanks suek, I just took two TABLETS with a glass of water.

    I saw some writing on the pills, I think it said, “Charles, Thou Shall Not Laugh your Donkey off!”

    Oops, I may be bara-pharsing the message. LOL

  19. colorless.blue.ideas says

    Since I wrote #16 above, I have found out that Ellen van Wold has less come up with “something new” than she has speculated on some long-standing attempts to re-interpret that first verse. I’ve done a little studying of the Hebrew as a result, and my *best* take on the matter is,

    (1) the straightforward translation (“In [or "at"]the beginning God created the heavens and [also] the earth. And the earth was formless and nothing.”) is the most accurate.

    (2) attempts to add a “when”, making the first clause subordinate (“In the beginning, when God created the heavens and [also] the earth, the earth was formless and void.”) mainly derive from (a) to find similarities between Gen.1 and other middle-eastern origin myths, or (b) to downplay the power of God as indicated in Gen.1.

    I do *NOT* think that all who adopt the “when” translation themselves reject the concept of ex nihilo creation. Some (many?) of them proclaim that doctrine, while stating their belief that Gen. 1 can not be used to support that doctrine. Evenso, I think they get caught up in a local Zeitgeist, rather than analyzing the text as given.

  20. Mike Devx says

    I’m most intrigued by two of the last three paragraphs. To wit:

    She said: “Maybe I am even hurting myself. I consider myself to be religious and the Creator used to be very special, as a notion of trust. I want to keep that trust.”

    A spokesman for the Radboud University said: “The new interpretation is a complete shake up of the story of the Creation as we know it.”

    Prof Van Wolde added: “The traditional view of God the Creator is untenable now.”

    This is nothing but liberal flooey. She may be “religious”, and she may say the Creator is “special”… but anyone can say those things.

    Notice she did not say the Creator isspecial.
    She said the Creator used to be special.
    Then she says that the traditional view of God is untenable now.

    So here is all you have here: A liberal is making an assault on traditional values.

    What’s so special about this? Nothing. She’s hanging her hat on the flimsiest of textual analyses to attempt to bolster her specious assault on traditional values.

    So what? Who cares? It’s nothingness.

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