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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Bible Tells Me So

   This week's daily Mass readings present us with the two creation accounts from the Book of Genesis.  Yes, there are 2 separate versions, one in Chapter one, the other in chapters two and 3.  Many do not know that the first five books of the Bible are a weaving together of four different traditions by four different authors.  What are we to make of these creation stories in this era when it is pretty clear that the universe is billions of years old and that some sort of evolutionary process brought it about and is still bringing it about. 

   I remember well a seminary Scripture professor who came into class with a large Bible. He dropped it on the desk with a thud and then said, "Gentlemen, every last word of this book is true, but not all of it happened." Any Catholic commentary on Scripture will tell you that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are not to be taken as literal history and certainly not as science.  It is unfortunate that many Catholics do not know this and that is why I am writing this blog entry.  We Catholics have no problem with evolution as long as we believe that there is a God who brought it all about and who still sustains us and continues to create.

   As I entered into this week I decided that I would strive to look past the literary critique of Genesis and ask myself, "What is God telling me (us) in these writings"?  I have come up with several answers to this question and they are the following, not necessarily in the order of importance:

   1.  However it all came about, it comes from God.
   2.  Everything God created is good and men and women are very good.
   3.  Unlike other creation stories from nations other than Israel at the time evil does not come from God. It is the product of free human choices.   Every human is Adam and Eve and we all ate the fruit. (A little Bible trivia-it says fruit, not apple).
    4. Humans have the obligation to use the goods of this earth responsibly.
    5. Woman is an equal partner to man.
    6. All is a gift from God.  There is no real human ownership of anything, though what we call private property is not a bad way of taking a loan from God as long as no one takes too much of it.

    So while creation didn't happen that way, the story reveals profound truth about God and our relationship to God.  These 6 points are not the only things Genesis tells us. Perhaps you can find others.

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