As we close the first decade of the new millenium, it's a good time to write. First I want to let you know that I am still here and doing well, though there have been many personal and job related issues demanding the attention I would rather direct in other ways. I can't guarantee my ongoing availability but will write when I can and feel a calling.
Two things happened recently that prompts the topic at hand. First, a few months ago I took a short road trip vacation to ease my mind. Driving for me is a meditative time - when done correctly. That means finding winding backroads with little traffic that provide a constantly changing picture of creation both natural and human. I appreciate the architecture of both the natural world and humanity's version of creation via homes and towns and churches and roads and barns.
On my final day of exploring the Ohio River Valley through Ohio, W. Virginia, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky, and after a hearty meal and a side of humanity at a local Waffle House, I noticed an interesting red box on the map along my route - the Creation Museum.
Well, I have to check this out, I decided and made the short drive to the place. Half expecting to see something resembling a large metal barn or factory, I was quite surprised to find a modern archtecturally pleasing complex complete with an intricate garden and a guard directing traffic as he smiled and bid me welcome in a strangely Stepford manner.
I was interested to see how certain people justified their belief in a 6,000 year old planet where dinosaurs and people walked hand in hoof and where all the geological wonders of the planet and astronomical marvels were created by a vary hands on God. And I firmly believe in the signs posted to honor their beliefs. I just don't share them.
Well when I got inside, there was much promise of a creationism marvel, but when I saw the $25 ticket price I balked. I only could spare a few minutes for a quick run through and the price seemed excessive for that purpose. I regretted not seeing the evidence they had chosen to convince me that the Bible contained God's own literal account of creation and that science was a mere deception.
More recently, as I was looking for content for my new Kindle, I happened on a free book written about 130 years ago titled "Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions." Considering that much evidence for such a book has been around much longer than 130 years, I began reading it.
I currently finished reading the first chapter concerning the creation stories (you did know there are 2 quite different ones in Genesis?) and it got me re-thinking about the museum again.
First off, I believe that a God that would create a universe billions of years old is far more believable and worthy of worship than one who took 6 days. Second of all, if the creationists are correct, that makes God rather deceptive in that we have been given the intelligence to discover the intricate wonders of creation only to find that our faculties are lying to us. I kone God has a great sense of humor, but not a cruel and sadistic one.
Take just the light of a distant start. We can see in the night sky the light of stars much farther than 6,000 light years away. Now which is easier to believe? That God created that star millions of years ago so that its light is just now reaching us? Or that God created that star only 6,000 years ago and also created the electron stream of light particles between us so that my eyes now would see the light that shouldn't be reaching me for a few more million years yet?
I also remember when my son and I stood at the rim of Crater Lake in souther Oregon. The sign before us told of a mountain thousands of feet higher than the 8,000 feet that is left. And that the top 6,000 feet were blown off in an explosion around 7,700 years ago that far surpased Mt St Helens in power and was likely witnessed by the Klamath tribe.
The interesting thing in the book is that dozens of religion's (eastern, western and new world) creation story is almost identical to the Biblical one. And most of these religions predate the Hebrews significantly. Now I also believe that ancient myths usually have some root in fact. For example flood stories probably coincide with the end of the last ice age and the dramatic rise in sea level.
These creation stories shared remarkable details such as creating man from dust, that woman was the cause of the fall, of a tree of knowledge and immortality, of a paradise and a serpent and even a dragon / cherubim guarding the entrance, and many, many more including a woman named Ivi. BTW, if you think a Cherubim is an angellic being, you might want to read a bit more about them. They are not something you want to meet on a dark night and equating them to a dragon is a reasonable thing to do.
So what event are all these similar creation stories talking about? To me that is the marvelous thing; to try to imagine what a world of cultures and peoples could be really describing. Was there really a paradise where people got along? Where food was provided by God and required no agriculture or hunting or gathering? Was there a time we really could talk to the animals? And was there a real tree with fantastic fruit?
So what do I believe? That the reality of creation is much more complex than we can currently understand. That while Adam and Eve may mythically represent first people, humanity did not descend from only two individuals. And indeed the universe is far older than creationists believe and that I cannot suspend rationality to join creationists in something that, to me, makes almost no difference in my faith. I also cannot believe nor respect a god who consciously and thoroughly deceives his people.
The book also points out that there is a theological quandry tied to the creation story - if man did not actually fall from God's grace in paradise, then why would he need a redeemer in Jesus? The real question is, does it matter? How important is it that Jesus brings Christians the return to God's grace denied us by the actions of Adam and Eve? Christ did so many wonderful, and mundane, things does this one responsibility negate the others?
It also seems like there is a lot of jumping through spiritual hoops (not to mention the millions of dolars to build a state of the art museum) to support the basic assumption that the Bible in inerrant. Of course some need the Bible to be inerrant, to be the 'facts' supporting their beliefs and supporting their actions. It seems an act of desperation akin to an osterich burying its head in the sand. Gone (in the West anyway) are the 'good old days' when heresy could be punished by death.
So whether you believe the universe is 6,000 years old or 6 times 2 or 3 billion years old...
Happy New Year!