Thursday, April 07, 2005

Bible Lesson for the Day

I found this tucked in the great article "Things Creationists Hate". I think this would make great fodder for a modern high weirdness campaign. And it's an interesting theological issue to boot.

The Genesis 1 & 2 Resolution

Paul Murray has recognized a solution to some of the Genesis 1 & 2 conflicts--but not one that creationists are likely to welcome:

[In Paul's words] Genesis 1 and 2 do not conflict, provided that you remember that Moses and the partiarchs were polytheistic heathens, just like their heathen neighbors. They believed that the world was inhabited and animated by "spirits," much like most native religions do. They claimed that their particular god was better than all the other gods (much as people today will cheer for their home-town football team), but that does not mean that they were monotheists. The wording of the First Commandment in Ex 20 makes that plain ["thou shalt have no other," not "there is no other"]. Jehovah was to be number one god, but that's all.

As to "the order of creation," many people have noted that the word translated "God" changes from "Elohim" [a PLURAL] to "Jehovah" in Gen 2:4. Some take this as evidence of Gen 2 being a second account. I say: the two tell a single story.

Genesis 1 describes how the spirits created the world and mankind; the spirits (or "Elohim"--plural) made their own people after their own image--that's why races of people look different. The spirit who created the Hebrews made people that looked like himself, the spirit who created the Egyptians made people that looked like himself, etc.

Genesis 2 zooms in to one among the Elohim, named "Jehovah," and his little eugenics experiment in the Garden of Eden.

See? Doesn't it all make perfect sense? The name of God changing from the plural "Elohim" to "Jehovah" in Gen 2:4 is not an artifact, it's actually a meaningful and important distinction. Gen 1 is talking about the gods in general, Gen 2 about one particular one. [In other words, the Bible is right, even where creationists DON'T want it to be. -RJR]

So enough of this "Gen 1 & 2 contradict one another" business! It's total nonsense - there's a perfectly reasonable explanation