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Judaeo-Christian Ideas of God the Creator

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1 Judaeo-Christian Ideas of God the Creator

2 The Christian View of Creation
Christians believe that the world was created by God. Traditionally, their ideas about creation created were based on the account found in the Bible, in the book of Genesis. It says that God created the world and all life in six days and rested on the seventh day. (This is why Christians have traditionally rested on a Sunday).

3 What is Genesis? Genesis means ‘origins’. It is the first book of both the Jewish Torah and that part of the Bible Christians call the ‘Old Testament’. The historical background to the text is unclear. The religious understanding is that it was written by Moses about 3,500 years ago. However, modern scholarship suggests it was written much later and may be an amalgam of multiple sources.

4 What does Genesis say? There are TWO creation stories in Genesis.
The first describes how the world was created in 6 days by God. The second is the story of ‘Adam and Eve’ and tells of the first humans and their relationship with God. Q. Which of these do you think is more important?

5 Genesis I

6 Day 1 God created the heavens and the earth. He created light.

7 Day 2 God separated the sea and the sky

8 Day 3 God created land as well as all kinds of plants and trees.

9 Day 4 God created the sun, moon and stars to give light to the earth.

10 Day 5 God filled the waters with living creatures and created all birds.

11 Day 6 God created all land animals and creates human beings in the image of God. God tells humans that they rule over all living creatures but that they also have a responsibility to the earth. They are told to go on and reproduce.

12 Day 7 God looks at his creation, is happy with it and rests.

13 Genesis II

14 The Garden of Eden God creates the first man out of soil.
God creates the Garden of Eden for him. God tells Adam that he can eat fruit from any tree in the garden except the tree of knowledge. God creates animals and birds as companions for Adam. But God sees that none are suitable so, while Adam sleeps, God forms a woman from one of his ribs.

15 Genesis III

16 The Fall I The first man and woman live together in innocence.
A snake tells the woman she will become wise like God if she eats from the tree of knowledge. She eats and gives some to her husband. They gain understanding. But, realizing their nakedness they clothe themselves with fig leaves.

17 The Fall II When God confronts them in the garden, He realizes they must have eaten from the tree of knowledge. He punishes the woman by making childbirth painful. He punishes Adam by forcing him to work for a living and bringing death into the world. God banishes Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.

18 Interpreting Genesis Genesis is a very important and hugely influential text. It establishes the primary concern of the Torah and the Bible – How should we live to be in harmony with God? It explores what it means to be ‘human’ and the problem of suffering and evil It is the basis for Judaeo-Christian attitudes to e.g. gender, nature, etc.

19 What does Genesis tell us about God?
There is only one God. He is the Creator – Everything depends on God for its existence. Omnipotent – He is all powerful Omniscient – He knows everything and watches over us. He has a plan which puts us at the centre of creation – the universe created for us!

20 What does Genesis tell us about God?
God loves us above all else and has a special role or purpose for us. God communicates with us and wants us to have a relationship with Him. But God is complicated. Going against God brings unhappiness and suffering. He is like a strict but loving parent. He is to be feared.

21 What does Genesis say about Human Beings?
We are special. But we depend upon God for everything God loves us. But we do not always do what is best for us. We desire knowledge and understanding. But we bring suffering upon ourselves because of our ignorance. We need to be guided away from ‘sin’.

22 But is it true? Despite the religious and literary power of Genesis, it is a creation story: i.e. it purports to explain the origins of the universe and of human life? If it is the basis for subsequent religious thought and authority, how should we understand the claims made for its ‘truth’?

23 What are the Choices? 1. A literal understanding: ignore the evidence of science and continue to believe in the literal truth of the Bible; that Genesis describes what happened.

24 What are the Choices? 2. Stop believing in God altogether because the Bible has been superceded by evidence-based knowledge; there is no evidence for the existence of God.

25 What are the Choices? 3. Believe in both God and a scientific explanation for the universe. By understanding Genesis as symbolic Christians can accept the Big Bang as God’s method and Genesis as a meaningful but metaphorical story.

26 1. Genesis as Literal Truth
For centuries Genesis was accepted as the only account of creation. The Bible reveals the word of God to humans – the basis of Christian belief and practice. God’s word is infallible. God’s word is plain and simple – Why would He lie? Therefore it must be true!

27 1. Genesis as Literal Truth
The Bible is timeless; its truths apply to all ages. Science contradicts the Biblical understanding of creation. If you question one part of the Bible you have to question it all. The evidence for the Big Bang and the Theory of Evolution inconclusive - not ‘proven’. (e.g. Dinosaurs a hoax!)

28 2. Genesis as Fairy Tale Science has given us an evidence-based explanation of how everything started and how we got here – the Big Bang and the Theory of Evolution. Genesis is a simplistic account of a long complex process – too simple to be true and no evidence to support it. Discrediting Genesis undermines the authority of the Bible and organized Christianity – dangerous nonsense?

29 3. Genesis as Metaphor/Symbol
Many Christians recognize that the Bible needs to be seen in its cultural context – i.e. as a product of a particular time and place. The Bible is concerned with the meaning of human life and is record of spiritual experience and development rather than a history. Never intended to be a science book

30 3. Genesis as Metaphor/Symbol
Many Christians accept the scientific explanation of HOW the universe developed and human life evolved. A literal interpretation discredits and undermines scriptural authority of the Bible. Genesis understood as a creative, human, response to the facts of life which still has important and valuable things to say about the meaning and purpose of human life.

31 Genesis as ‘Myth’ The Genesis ‘myth’ is the basis of Christian views on the significance of human life. i.e. that we are at the centre of creation – the universe created for us! God loves us above all else and has a special role or purpose for us. God reveals himself to us and wants us to have a relationship with Him. God watches (over) us.

32 Genesis - Tasks Answer in full sentences:
How does Genesis show the power of God? 2 How does God show he is watching us? 2 What makes God unhappy? 2 How does he react? 2 What is your own view of the way God is portrayed in Genesis? 4 What do you think of the way humans are portrayed? 4

33 Genesis – Tasks II Describe two ways in which Christians might understand the creation stories in Genesis. 6 Why do some Christians insist on a literal understanding of the Genesis story? 4 What objections do some Christians raise against a literal understanding of the Genesis creation stories? 4 ‘Genesis is a remarkable creative response to the mystery of creation but has nothing to tell us now’. To what extent do you agree? 8

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