When I was 18, I first I heard the creation scriptures referred to as a myth.
I was furious! At that time, I understood the Bible to be absolute fact, and I couldn’t believe that my high school English teacher (the wife of a pastor) would make such a claim. However, 16 years later, I am beginning to understand that facts don’t have a monopoly on truth. Life experience and practical theology has taught me that truth ebbs into our world through intuition, experience, and stories. Flip Schutte, a New Testament scholar, reflects on an Marcus Borg’s understanding of Biblical truth:
Contemporary readers of the Bible have a serious need to move from precritical naiveté (we simply hear the Bible’s stories as true stories) through critical thinking (concerned with factuality) to postcritical naiveté (the ability to once again hear the biblical stories as true stories, even knowing that they may not be factually true and that their truth does not depend on their factuality).
The stories in the Bible, whether or not they are factually true, reveal to us powerful truths about who we are and why we exist.
Today’s reading from Genesis offers us three powerful pieces of understanding:
- One, we are good, we were created by God and we are of God’s very essence. The poet Rumi says it beautifully: “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.” All of creation, including us, manifests the beauty and glory of God.
- Two, God has invited us to be partners with God in the work of creating goodness. We were created to tend to creation, to steward the earth, and to honor one another as equals.
- Three, no matter how hard we try we cannot fully manifest God’s goodness on earth. This creates in us an eternal tension: we deeply desire good but we carry in us the propensity to stray off course. We spend our lives reconciling these two parts of our humanity.
Prayer: May we claim your goodness in ourselves and those around us.
Reflection: What about me and my life is good and worth celebrating? Where am I yearning to see goodness in our world?
Painting: “Eve Opposite the Garden of Eden” by John Powell