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Genesis 2

What is it that drives us to seek answers to ultimate questions?  If ever we were to discover the answer to a question such as, What is the origin of life?  –  what difference would it make to our lives?  In our everyday lives of work and love, fishing and gardening, what would we be doing that is different from what we’re doing now?  I wonder why we have such big thoughts at all.

The origin of the universe is interesting.  The popular notion now is that it all began with a Big Bang.  But nobody has ever seen what it was that went bang and nobody knows why it went bang ; or how.  It is like a penny banger without a blue touch-paper.  In fact it is even more interesting than that.  For that original entity apparently contained all that was needed to create the entire universe, and yet it could have had no mass ; for mass requires at least two entities.  It contained nothing, and yet it contained everything.  It had no dimensions in either space or time. It was invisible in both the literal and figurative senses.

Even more fascinating is that there was no other being to observe it, either on the inside or the outside.  It was all alone.

Even now, there is no shred of scientific evidence that this singular object existed except in the mind of Man. Why ought we believe it ever existed?  Does it matter?

JM

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I have known lots of people who have got themselves into a tangle over the Book of Genesis.  It seems to me that the tangle is spun by two principal misunderstandings : that the book is to be read literally : and that it deals with the creation of the bodies of two main actors, Adam and Eve.

First, why read the story ‘literally’?  Why try to convince ourselves of the literal existence of the Ribs, Trees, Apples, Serpents and so forth?  I am not saying that the ‘literal’ account cannot possibly be true, if only because no person living today was there to contradict it ; and there are more things in Heaven and Earth than we can even dream of.  But it seems to me that we can easily overlook the rather obvious point that almost every word we use began its life as a metaphor, and that has been true for a very long time indeed.  It follows that the language of Moses was highly metaphorical ; and it might well be the case that he never appreciated that.  So, when I see the word serpent in this context, I do not think automatically of snakes and dragons ; instead I think of evil.  Just as, when I see the word ‘true’ today, I do not automatically think of a straight rod like a ruler ; instead I think of honesty and reality.  When I speak of a sunbeam, I do not mean a plank of timber propped up against the sun, but a pattern of light in the sky.

The point about metaphors is that their use becomes a habit, and then we forget their metaphorical origins ; they become ‘literal’.  And this can give rise to misunderstandings.

And then we have the question of “What was created at the time Adam and Eve first appeared?”  Was it two bodies, one male and the other female?  Maybe, but the story suggests otherwise.  Did not the children of Adam and Eve marry people outside the family?  The writer cannot have made such a gross error in his plot.  It seems to me that he was referring to Adam and Eve, not as new physical creations but as New People.  They were the first two proper, conscious and self-conscious human beings.   All the other people were still in an essentially unconscious or perhaps semi-conscious, animal-like condition.

When I first began to think of the puzzles of Genesis as being really puzzles of language, the book made much more sense to me.  And its truth became clearer.

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