Baptism (B) Old Testament Analysis: Creation Story
Pastor Edward F. Markquart
Grace Lutheran Church
Des Moines, Washington 98198
The following Bible study is from a larger course entitled, THE OLD TESTAMENT. This course for the laity will be available for congregations in 2007.
DAY 0: GOD AND THE CHAOS
1 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. NRSV
When Elohim began to create heaven and earth, the earth was untamed and shapeless, and darkness was on the surface of the deep water. 2 And the wind/spirit of Elohim hovered over the surface of the water. (1:1-2) BB = Barry Banstra
Observations and Conclusions
- God created. “God created” is the basic message of the Genesis story of creation. God was present at the dawn of creation when God’s Spirit was blowing over the face of the waters. The Book of Genesis assumes that God was present before the beginning of creation.
-We find two elements at the dawn of creation: God and a watery faceless void.
-God is Spirit/wind/invisible/intangible.
-Elohim is a plural noun. Later we will read that God created human beings in “our” image.
-A formless void. The face of the waters. The deep. There was “something” there at the beginning of the creation. This creation was not “creation ex-nihilo,” out of nothing. There were “masses of murky water” present before the creation of the world.
-“It was without form and void. Toho and Bohu, confusion and emptiness; so these words are rendered, Isa 34:1." Matthew Henry.
-The Gospel of John says that The Logic (the Logos) was present before the creation. We recall John 1:1, “In the beginning was The Logic and The Logic was with God and The Logic was God. The Logic was in the beginning with God. All things were made through The Logic. Nothing was made without The Logic. In him (the Logic) was life and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”
-There was a logic, a design, a pattern, an intelligence present before the beginning moments of creation.
-Hebrews 1:7 “But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.”
-No one was present to witness the dawn of creation.
-Pre-scientific people wrote the Bible. The Bible is a religious book; not a scientific book.
-The Genesis 1 story is not to be used to embrace scientific information about the creation of the universe. The Bible is not a scientific book but a book of faith. For geology, read a geology book. For astrophysics, examine an astrophysics book. For religion and faith, go to a religious book such as the Bible.
-The movement in the Genesis story was from chaos to cosmos.
-Scientific scholars often refer to the “Big Bang” that began the universe some ten to twenty billion years ago. Scientists measure the length of radiation waves and conclude that “distant galaxies are speeding away from us in every direction with speeds in proportion to their distance.” The farther away the galaxy is from Earth, the faster it is expanding into the nothingness of space.
The Big Bang Theory
"The Big Bang Theory is the dominant scientific theory about the origin of the universe. According to the big bang, the universe was created sometime between 10 billion and 20 billion years ago from a cosmic explosion that hurled matter and in all directions.
In 1927, the Belgian priest Georges Lemaître was the first to propose that the universe began with the explosion of a primeval atom. His proposal came after observing the red shift in distant nebulas by astronomers to a model of the universe based on relativity. Years later, Edwin Hubble found experimental evidence to help justify Lemaître's theory. He found that distant galaxies in every direction are going away from us with speeds proportional to their distance.
The big bang was initially suggested because it explains why distant galaxies are traveling away from us at great speeds. The theory also predicts the existence of cosmic background radiation (the glow left over from the explosion itself). The Big Bang Theory received its strongest confirmation when this radiation was discovered in 1964 by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, who later won the Nobel Prize for this discovery.
Although the Big Bang Theory is widely accepted, it probably will never be proved; consequentially, leaving a number of tough, unanswered questions.”
The Big Bang Theory: An Overview
“Big Bang Theory - The Premise
The Big Bang theory is an effort to explain what happened at the very beginning of our universe. Discoveries in astronomy and physics have shown beyond a reasonable doubt that our universe did in fact have a beginning. Prior to that moment there was nothing; during and after that moment there was something: our universe. The big bang theory is an effort to explain what happened during and after that moment.
According to the standard theory, our universe sprang into existence as "singularity" around 13.7 billion years ago. What is a "singularity" and where does it come from? Well, to be honest, we don't know for sure. Singularities are zones which defy our current understanding of physics. They are thought to exist at the core of "black holes." Black holes are areas of intense gravitational pressure. The pressure is thought to be so intense that finite matter is actually squished into infinite density (a mathematical concept which truly boggles the mind). These zones of infinite density are called "singularities." Our universe is thought to have begun as an infinitesimally small, infinitely hot, infinitely dense, something - a singularity. Where did it come from? We don't know. Why did it appear? We don't know.
After its initial appearance, it apparently inflated (the "Big Bang"), expanded and cooled, going from very, very small and very, very hot, to the size and temperature of our current universe. It continues to expand and cool to this day and we are inside of it: incredible creatures living on a unique planet, circling a beautiful star clustered together with several hundred billion other stars in a galaxy soaring through the cosmos, all of which is inside of an expanding universe that began as an infinitesimal singularity which appeared out of nowhere for reasons unknown. This is the Big Bang theory.
Big Bang Theory - Common Misconceptions
There are many misconceptions surrounding the Big Bang theory. For example, we tend to imagine a giant explosion. Experts however say that there was no explosion; there was (and continues to be) an expansion. Rather than imagining a balloon popping and releasing its contents, imagine a balloon expanding: an infinitesimally small balloon expanding to the size of our current universe.
Another misconception is that we tend to image the singularity as a little fireball appearing somewhere in space. According to the experts however, space didn't exist prior to the Big Bang. The singularity didn't appear in space; rather, space began inside of the singularity. Prior to the singularity, nothing existed, not space, time, matter, or energy - nothing. So where and in what did the singularity appear if not in space? We don't know. We don't know where it came from, why it's here, or even where it is. All we really know is that we are inside of it and at one time it didn't exist and neither did we.”
In Christian thought, it was the mysterious, invisible Mind of God who existed before the creation. The "singularity" was in the Mind of God who created the heavens and the earth and the universes.
DAY 1: THE CREATION OF LIGHT
3 Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. NRSV
Day 1: Light (1:3-5)3Elohim said, "Let there be light!" And there was light. 4 Elohim saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 Elohim called the light day and the darkness he called night. Evening and morning of day one came about. (1:3-5) Barry Banstra
Observations and Conclusions
-God designed the creation. There appears to be a logic to a design of the details of the eyeball, for example, and a logic to the grand design of the universe itself. God is The Logic, the Designer, the Architect, the Inventor of the created order. A design presupposes a designer, and God is the great designer and architect of the ever-expanding universe. During the six symbolic “days” of creation, God had an unfolding design, a plan, a blueprint, a vision for the Earth and the Universe.
-“Sun and Light. The creating activity of this day is curious, at least from a modern perspective. First God created light. Only later did he create the sun. We would think that the order should be reversed or that the two events should be simultaneous. Light comes from a sun. It does not exist by itself, so how can there be a first day and night without the sun? This is evidence that the creation story was not designed to be a science textbook. The writer had other intentions. He created a somewhat artificial sequence that highlights the order of God at the expense of technical precision.”
-“Light” is a dominant concept in the whole Bible, especially in Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah, and the Gospel of John in the New Testament.
-Light is a source of life and growth. You can’t have life without light.
-Human beings love light. Philosophers say that human beings have a “divine spark” within us and therefore we human beings are intuitively attracted to light. People watch fireworks on July 4th, see a firey explosion in the sky and go “ooohhh” and “aaahhhh” in appreciation of the light show. Such reactions are universal. Such reactions happen all over the world.
-This is the only time that light is mentioned in the Law, the first five books of Moses.
-Notice the symmetry of the wording in the Biblical text: “And God said,” “Let there be,” and “it was good.” God commanded and God’s verbal commandment was accomplished.
-Circle the word, “good.” The word, “good,” is consistently repeated throughout the whole creation story. The creation is essentially good, inherently good and intrinsically good.
-Scientific textbooks cannot state primary values such as "God created the universe" or "the creation is inherently good." Such statements are the result of inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth.
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