Do you believe in science or religion?
Much ink has been spilled, and many controversial lines have been drawn over the first few chapters of Genesis. The result is that we are left with the bifurcated options of claiming faith in the trustworthiness of the Scriptures and denying all forms of science which seemingly contradict that message, or submitting our rational minds to scientific dogma which declares that the creation of the world is in no way dependent on a divine source.
Left with these dichotomous choices many Christians avoid the story of Genesis altogether. As a result theology suffers. No longer are we able to articulate a theology that adheres to monotheistic creation, while at the same time engaging with the scientific world in explicating the origins of our world.
The science vs. religion debate will continue to wage on as long as there are adherents on both sides who are unwilling to consider the other’s propositions because of the inherent assumptions of their own mode of thinking. But as Christians can we offer a third way forward, one that side steps the pitfalls of the previous positions, and at the same time advances our understanding of the nature of God, and His relationship with the world in which we inhabit?
This third way of reading Scripture emphasizes the theological nature of the creation story in Genesis. Instead of reading the narrative with glasses that seek to comprehend the exact nature of how our world came to be, we begin to read the passage theologically, asking the question: what does this teach us about God? Certainly the age old debate on the origins of our world are important, but when we myopically view the Genesis story through only one lens we miss out on some important aspects of the narrative.
A theological reading of the creation story must begin by understanding the very creative act of God to be one of divine forgiveness. If God reflects perfect justice, where wrongs are accounted for, and given their proper punishment, creation itself must be seen as an act of forgiveness.
We do not have to traverse far into the story of creation to find the failings of man. Indeed the story of Adam and Eve is indicative of every human being. We all lose our way, rebel against God, and with great hubris assume that we are better off on our own.
What was described as “good” quickly becomes tainted by the presence of sin. This sin is not a one-time event, but rather soon becomes the modus operandi of human beings in general. We are not just prone to rebel against God, but we often rebel volitionally. That God does not destroy His creation as a result of this willful consistent disobedience must be seen as an act of forgiveness.
And where does this forgiveness find its genesis? We find the impetus for this forgiveness in the nature of the Triune God, a nature overflowing with love. It is out of the exuberant love of God that creation is not only spared, but the very plan of God is to restore, reclaim, and renew all of His good creation.
The creation story in Genesis should immediately inspire praise and adoration to God not only because of the grandiose nature of his creation, but also because of His plan to redeem everything within that creation. The creative act is borne out of the overflowing love of God, and God’s desire to generate a world and people to reflect His image. Our continued existence is a powerful testimony to the forgiving and loving nature of God.
The Scriptural narrative begins with the good act of creation by God, and ends with the consummation of all things when God returns to restore His good creation. If we are able to read Genesis theologically, we soon find the expansive love of God flowing into the created world through the act of creation. God’s love is not exhausted with sin, but rather sin exposes the full extent of that love. That we are not destroyed because of our sin is a testimony to the forgiving nature of God. That God sends his Son to bear upon His shoulders the disastrous affects of sin on both human beings and the creative order is a testimony to the loving nature of God.
God’s forgiveness and love are brilliantly demonstrated to us in the act of creation.