This is an article in a series written to create an unambiguous, complete understanding of Genesis 1:1-1:19, and continues from Part 4: Reconciling the Analyzed Literal Translation,
This part goes from understanding the account to understanding what it states about the origins of the world.
Standing on the shoulders of many researchers, I have perhaps been able to make the account of Genesis universally comprehensive. If you have persevered with me through this series, you have seen that after a barrage of attacks and reconciliations, what I have ended up with is very nearly identical to the modern, widely accepted account.
The original text has stood up well against the attacks, and the reconciliations have become understandable, elucidating, and specific, rather than poetic, vague, or smoothed over. All through the analysis and etymology, the big picture of what God has created has remained the same as what is believed generally.
It would seem that the only ones who manage to deviate from this common meaning of Genesis to make the word of God serve their own purposes are desperate Creationism and Young-Earth advocates. Even the most vicious Atheists gets the same meaning from this text as do the vast majority of believers.
I think this points to the stability of the ideas in the text. The few uncertain terms we’ve found haven’t shaken the big picture.
Examining the text is one thing, but how does it stand up when we examine the actual knowledge about the world that the account passes to Man? Can we make an attack of sorts and write down the creation account simply and tersely to convey the precise knowledge? (That is to say, the where, when, and why of the creation of these things.) Perhaps when we write down the creation account simply and tersely, we will find some weak points, not in the meaning of the words but in the knowledge the words convey.
I made two attempts and found that weak points do exist, and that I therefore can attack the knowledge. This means that I must prematurely specify some things in the text, something I would have liked to save for the next article. But it must be concluded that if you want to understand unambiguously exactly what is created, you must point out a thing in our world that God created (only worldly things are created up to day 4), and be able to produce a concise and concrete version of its creation in Genesis, or admit Genesis is simply a vague poem that praises rather than explains our origins. That is not very reconciliatory, in fact it removes the foundation of belief from Abrahamic religions. Allowing this to happen is to shrug and not think your religion is important for knowledge.
This, then, is my Terse Comprehensive Creation Account:
In the beginning, God created the sky and the earthOn the first day, when the Earth lay in darkness and was covered with water, the spirit of God moved above it, and God created light.On the second day, he created the sky to split the water-cover into seawater and clouds.On the third day, he gathered the seawater that covered the land into seas, and in the earth that appeared, he created plants that reproduced.On the fourth day, he created the Sun and the Moon and put them in the sky under the clouds, to shine on the earth and to be able to tell signs, festivals, days and years — the Sun to rule the day and the Moon to rule the night and the stars.
This, in turn, forces us to admit that some passages are vague and not to be understood fully by Man. This is the recourse that we are left with, until someone proposes a new original meaning of the verse or the word ‘rule’.
That is true, but at the same time, saying so is nonsense. It is what is meant by ‘water above the sky’, and translators have known it to mean ‘rainwater’ for as long as the text has existed. Below the sky is the sea, and above it, rainwater. Certainly I see this account as the explanation of how water could fall from the sky. If we would look at it from a planet-dweller’s perspective, it’s certainly wondrous that something could fall from the sky, when difference we see is just some gray clouds where there used to be clear sky. They would perhaps wonder, “The gray isn’t falling, and what is falling is vital to our plants and our own survival, so what could cause it; how does it work?”
‘Light’ is not light itself
We can’t know the above from the way it is written, but an omnipotent God can certainly create light itself, as he would create the matter for the water-earth. In this account, he certainly creates light and sees that it is good. This, to me, is not related to any previous creation of conditions for electromagnetic radiation in the visible spectrum being emitted by the processes in the stars. We are already told that he created the Sun; anyone who can create a body that emits light can surely create light itself. The important thing that the account conveys is that God created light in 1:3 to shine on the earth until the Sun was created and put in the sky, or else no vegetation could sprout on the third day.
In summary, then, it can be concluded that while settling on the ‘rule as in relative light intensity’ leaves us wanting for the reasons stated above, the Terse Comprehensive Creation Account, too, stands scrutiny.
What about the even bigger picture?
Arguments over the purpose of the account (such as imagining it was expressed through concept that 6th Century BC Man could understand, and we must only see it as an “approximate” creation account) is wholly unrelated to the understanding of the knowledge it can be said to convey,, for this reason:
Certainly, if you believe in God, you must believe that the Genesis account is knowledge of creation passed to Man from God, and not merely a poem scribes composed to praise God’s glory. If we’re told how God created the world and Man, and the account cites God and describes his acts of creation, what room is there for merely accepting it as a hymn; a Psalm? Poems and songs choose rhyme over reason every time, so no believer would want Genesis to be one such mere composition.
No, if you believe in God, you believe in him as the answer to “Why are we here?” — as an originator of the world, Man, and religious ideology — and Genesis is the answer to that first question. If someone else made the world, he’s the God you would believe in, and any omnipotent later God would be an impostor in your opinion.
Certainly, you wouldn’t consider a religion an alternative to science if it didn’t answer this very human and basic question, “Why are we here?”
Thus far, science gives answers that attempt to answer this question a very long way, but currently falls short of the very final one; how could the Universe come about?
As we have seen, this part of the Genesis account certainly doesn’t answer this, or indeed the Atheist’s favorite cheap shot question: “Well, who created God then?”
Genesis 1:1-1:19 tells us of the creation of light, the sky, plants, the Sun, and the Moon, and their purpose — but not where matter and light itself, or the stars, or the Earth came from. Is it important? I certainly would think it intriguing and awe-inspiring to know the answer, even though it can be argued we might not have a worldly or spiritual use for a ‘final answer’ to get along in this world. Ask yourself: must you know?
In this part, we have summarized the acts of creation in Genesis 1:1-1:19 and seen that the summary holds up under scrutiny and agrees with what is believed to be the origins of the world of Man by the vast majority of believers.
The attempt to put it in terse, clear language did not cause any changes to the Comprehensive Translation.
In the next part, we put the summary in the background, as the big picture, while investigating whether the Comprehensive Translation accurately describes the world we live in. In other words, we are going from understanding what the account states about the origins of the world to determining whether those statements are accurate about the world.