[Caution: this article contains hard-core theology.]
Creationists insist on a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis.
They certainly need to perform adroit mental gymnastics to do so– that text includes two mutually contradictory creation narratives.
But they aren’t on the same page with St. Augustine– they assert that if it’s in the Bible, the Word of God, it must be so. Period.
OK then. If the Bible was written by God, according to Christianity, this God is the second Person of the Trinity. That’s right– Jesus, once again.
To review for a moment, the Godhead is divided, like Gaul, into three parts– the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
We can put aside the Holy Ghost during this argument and drop it in a drawer. This Holy Spirit, also called the Paraclete, is often represented as an inverted bird diving downward from Heaven to instill sanctity.
I’ve found that the most fervent Fundamentalists really aren’t fans of the Holy Ghost and would rather not devote much thought to the concept.
That leaves the Father and the Son.
Now, it’s a peculiar thing that the unity of Christian belief, at least since the First Nicean Council back in 325 A.D., views the Son as always having been co-existent with the Father, the God of the Old Testament.
To believe otherwise, to conceive that there was a “Time when the Son was Not” is to profess a doctrine now considered heresy, called Arianism, named after Arius of Alexandria (230-336 A.D.).
Of course, if you are an Arian you don’t think of yourself as being other than Christian. John Milton was an Arian, and he wrote Paradise Lost, after all.
But what this all boils down to is that God the Father is not the creative spirit. The Son created the Heavens and the Earth.
John 1:3: “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.”
So the God who created the Universe, and, according to devout Christians, the Bible, is the same who became Man and was called “Jesus.”
Well, they think Jesus wrote, or directly inspired, the Bible.
So this: the same Jesus was famous in his lifetime, notorious even, for telling stories to make a point.
These stories are called Parables. A parable is considered to be an earthly story with a spiritual truth.
The story of the Good Samaritan, or the Wise and Foolish Virgins, or the Prodigal Son– these are offered by Jesus as tales, not as narratives that really happened.
In Chapter 13 of Matthew, verses 10 and 11: “And the disciples came, and said unto Him, Why speakest Thou unto them [the crowd] in parables?”
“He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not given.”
You guys, in other words, you disciples, you know what it’s about, because I, Jesus, have been teaching you. But they, the multitudes, don’t have that advantage.
And then he launches into the Parable of the Sower.
The point is, and not just Jesus but all educators can understand this, that the substance of a fictional story can contain truth– and is in fact the best way to reach an audience.
Such a story as the mythopoetic account of Creation, for example, told to people of a pre-scientific age.
The famous Christian apologist C.S. Lewis– now there was a real conservative worthy of the name –wrote that he held this view, and that History did not really seem to enter into the Bible until somewhere around the chronicles of the Court of King David, say.
(In all fairness, Lewis and his friend J.R.R. Tolkien did not believe there was an unbreachable barrier between Mythology and History, although they were well aware of the distinction.)
So it goes like this: If a Christian, you must accept Jesus as God. Check.
Jesus created the Heaven and the Earth. Check.
The same Jesus, when born as a man, told stories as a teaching aid. Check.
That’s the same Jesus who inspired the Bible, the Word of God. Check.
You may then accept that Word of God does contain stories, including the two separate accounts of Creation in the Book of Genesis, without being untrue to your faith, then. In fact, it’s easier that way.
Actually, Creationism itself might well be insulting to God, since those ideologues who spout it are shouting their denial of the size, age and majesty of the Universe, and so belittling God’s achievement.
As I said, you can’t win over a determined Creationist.
But by arguing on their own ground, you can make their heads hurt.
And then they will stop shouting, go away and leave you alone– which is the best result you can hope for.
[Human hand touching an android illustration via Shutterstock.com]