Monday, January 21, 2013

Beginnings

I would like to talk a little bit about the book of Genesis and what it represents, but before we do that I would like to share an excerpt from Easton's Bible Dictionary to help us understand where the word genesis came from and what it means.

"The first book of the Pentateuch (q.v.) is called by the Jews Bereshith, i.e., "in the beginning", because this is the first word of the book. It is generally known among Christians by the name of Genesis, i.e., "creation" or "generation," being the name given to it in the LXX. as designating its character, because it gives an account of the origin of all things."

There are several things I would like to explain before I begin to help clarify some of the information given in the definition of genesis. Pentateuch is a reference to the Torah or what is often referred to as the five books of Moses which are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The roman numeral LXX or 70 is a reference to the Septuagint which is a Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures. Now that we've got that out of the way, let's get this show on the road.

The very last section of the last sentence in our definition gives us a clue as to what the book of Genesis is generally about. It is "an account of the origin of all things." In Genesis we read about the origin of the earth (not the universe). We are also told about the origins of all forms of life such as land, air, and sea creatures. Nothing is said about microscopic life such as germs and microbes that also share this planet with us and even inhabit our very bodies!

There are several clues in chapter one of the Genesis narrative of it's mythological character. The first one is that it makes creation in its entirety seem as if it was all made for the benefit of planet Earth. This is most evident in Genesis 1:16,17 which gives the reason for the creation of the sun and the moon and the stars as being created for the sole purpose of giving light to the earth. There is also an interesting verse 14, that states that the lights were also created to separate day from night, and to mark the seasons, days, and years. Genesis is believed to have been written around 1400 BC but humans have been observing the stars for thousands of years before that.

We learn of the first time humans began to copulate obeying Gods command to be "fruitful and multiply." Genesis goes on to tell us about the first homicide when Cain murdered his brother Abel, or the first time man disobeyed God (the fall). Genesis is a book of beginnings and its stories serve as narratives that try to describe how many things came to be.

A reading of Genesis from chapter 1 through 3 will make it more than clear to anyone whose mind is not cluttered by faith that the entire narrative of the beginnings of life and the earth are entirely based on myths. This is expected from a society who is not known for their scientific knowledge but more for their folktales and superstitions.

In conclusion, if the bible is a book of beginnings it may better be described as a book of the beginnings of superstitious beliefs as narrated by a superstitious author from a bronze aged society. There is nothing scientifically accurate about Genesis creation story that even comes close to what we have learned about origins through the theory of evolution, genetics, and other sciences. It's time to leave the superstitions of the past in the past and embrace life in the modern world.

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