Creation: The Symbolism in Genesis

In Genesis, the serpent and the trees that grow in the Garden of Eden can be understood as being plot devices that move the story of Mankind’s creation as a perfect creature, who falls and is saved and redeemed by its Creator. The Serpent is symbolic of the cunning wickedness of evil.  We are tempted to usurp God’s authority by appropriating what belongs to Him, to become gods by our own power, eating from the tree that holds the knowledge of good and evil.

Science, which expands our knowledge of the world around us, presents us with a vision that can also be considered a literary device. The images that we manipulate are symbols that people may take for reality. They are the means by which we connect with what is physically around us, entities as molecules, quarks, space-time.

In Genesis, human attributes are represented by the concept of trees; the ideas, the symbols and theories of science are all fruits of a tree in the Garden that would represent the reality of our participation in the world. The trees also include art, music, philosophy, sports and festivals, and their fruit are God’s gifts of which we partake and which now cause us suffering in their absence. They manifest themselves in time and space, spiritual in nature and taking physical shape within the relationship that is our being in the world. They too are grown from the dust of the earth, in the very structure of our brains, which when they are intact, may allow for their expression as mental phenomena. As we contemplate such things, we are eating of one such fruit whose origin is the spirit, actualized here and now in the world. What better way to visualize that truth of our existence.

With his first choice and subsequent acts, the serpent, evermore rejecting the eternal Divine Source of existence, has relinquished his arms, his capacity to love, to give and create. He silently slithers in the dust, that to which we will all return and which he is said to eat for his sustenance, the purveyor of transient and illusory goods. As God’s messenger destined to bring us news of the Light, Lucifer cannot but fulfill that destiny in spite of himself; turning from God, he does so by seducing us from that heavenly light, only to reveal the true depth of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ.

Thoughts on the Six Days of Creation

These exists a depth of meaning contained in the creation story in the Book of Genesis. With respect to what it says about how everything within time and space has come to be, we can ascertain certain key facts:

  • Creation, while maintained in existance by God, does so in itself, as other to which God relates and loves. It is configured in accordance with a set of universal rules, which can be revealed by reason. It has a beginning, brought forth by an act of God from nothing. It is not God, nor a configuration of something eternal, say emanating from God as would a dream. 
  • It was created in a sequential order, from the general to the specific, the simple to the complex, utilizing what had previously created to bring into existence something new. 
  • The stars, plants, fish, birds, animals and animals are different kinds of being. They exist as themselves and when we get to living things, they multiply themselves and exhibit increasingly complex behaviour. 
  • We are each of us an individual expression of one humanity, beginning with Adam, who individually and as an expression of what is fundamental to human nature, committed the original sin, which brought suffering into the world. 

Yesteryear’s Science

The first chapter of Genesis reads like a chronological record of what occurs as volcanic islands emerge from the sea, first filling with vegetation, then surrounded by sea creatures and occupied by birds, and only later by animals. Written in terms of today’s rather than yesteryear’s science, we might speak about how God created a singularity, followed by its transformation into an amorphous universal plasma, from which He made atoms and so forth. People then observed the the way things evolve on islands that pop up in the Mediterranean and elsewhere under the canopy of an awesome blue dome above, separated from the blue sea around us. If one can envision Hubble images in the night sky, it is not that difficult to see what we saw in earlier times. It just takes some letting go of the belief that our images are the world rather than the means by which our mind allows us to connect to it. 

Sistine Chapel Ceiling

Genesis 1:

> 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good,and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

> 6 And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the vault “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.

> 9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.> 11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.

> 14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

> 20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.

> 24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

> 26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

> 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

> 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

> 29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

> 31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.