So what of the poem from the beginning of the Bible? What relevance does it have to our understanding now? How does the poetry of three thousand years ago shine light into our post-modern lives? We people of faith tried first to deny the science, then to reconcile it within the framework of scripture. I choose to do neither. I choose instead to stand on both power of the poem, and the awesome scope of the story revealed through science.
God spoke “Sky” between the waters, and separated the air from the waters. It was evening then morning – day two.
God spoke – let the waters gather to one place, and let dry land appear, and it was so.
God spoke – earth – cover with green vegetation and trees, bearing fruit and all good things. It was evening, then morning – day three.
God spoke and made the lights come out in the day and at night, made lights to mark the seasons and the days and the years. And he made lights to take charge of the day, and another the night. It was evening, then morning-
God spoke and the ocean swarmed with fish and all sea life. Then he filled the air with flying creatures and told them to prosper and reproduce. It was evening, then morning – day five.
God spoke and said earth- generate life! Every sort and every kind- cattle and reptiles, and wild animals, insects. And let us make human beings in our image- reflecting our nature, and responsible for the fish of the sea the birds of the air, and the animals of the land. He said “prosper, fill the earth, take charge! I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the earth for food, and to every animal, I give every green plant” It was evening, it was morning- day six.
On the seventh day, God looked at all He had made, and saw that it was good. He rested.
Adapted from ‘The Message’
As I read this poem, it speaks to me of the wonder of God, as He sets forth the explosion of unfolding creativity. As His imagination formed stars and planets rushing outwards in a massive expanding burst of light. As his planet Earth was formed and positioned in the heavens, and formed its atmosphere. Its atmosphere thinned and revealed the sky above, with the sun for warmth by day, and the moon at night. And then bursting into our fossil record comes all the fish and fowl and beasts of every colour and shape, until, right at the end of the creative story, came humans, who were gifted with the skills to reflect and emote and abstract their experience- in the image of God. Made for relationship.
And I start to connect again with the heart of God in the middle of this poem. He saw all, and it was good. His love for what he made was great, and nowhere was it greater than for this last creature, this human, to whom he gave the special dominion over the whole of his creation.
This poem sings with wonder and joy and the very essence of who we are, and why we are, and what we have become. It dances around science like a butterfly out of a net.
There are other poems in the early part of the Bible. They tell the story of the descent of mankind and our loss of the place of innocence. They tell the stories of our passage from hunter gatherers to inquisitors and tamers of the land – a process of unfolding history that divides peoples from the heart of God, and then from one another. But these are different poems, and different stories.
So let us rejoice in the poem of life, and its origins in the mind of God.