May 16, 2011

Quote of the Day: Polkinghorne on the Creation Story

The Bible is often rightly said not to be a book but a library. It contains a great variety of different kinds of writing: poetry and prose, history and story, letters, laws, and so on. Very great mistakes can be made, and much disrespect shown to Scripture, if a reader carelessly confuses one genre with another. Those who attempt to read Genesis 1 and 2 as if these chapters were divinely dictated scientific texts, kindly provided by God to save us the trouble of attempting to read the book of nature for ourselves, are committing just such an act of literary violence. They also put themselves at peril of missing the true theological point of the text, with its eightfold reiteration of the message that nothing exists except through the creative will and effectual utterance of God ('And God said "Let there be..."'). Those who disdain scholarly engagement with the same text will also miss the fact that, though the accounts are clearly influenced to a degree by neighbouring Near Eastern cosmogonies, they differ in a most marked and important way from those other creation stories. It is deeply impressive that tales of conflict among the gods, with Marduk fighting Tiamath and slicing her dead body in half from which to form the earth and sky, are replaced by a sober account in which the one true God alone is the Creator, bringing creation into being by the power of the divine word. Equally significant is the insight that human beings are not destined to be slaves of the gods (as in the Babylonian epic, Enuma Elish), but are created in the image of God and given a blessing so that they may fulfil the command, 'Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it' (Genesis 1:28).

- John Polkinghorne, Science and the Trinity, 44-45

Posted by Kenny at May 16, 2011 8:33 PM
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