Once we understand what the Bible is and how we should interpret it, it allows us to avoid simple yet damaging misconceptions that have driven many, even generations, away from faith in God. Over the next couple weeks, we will dive into familiar stories of salvation history that, because of Bible illiteracy and rampant unchecked personal interpretation, have not been properly explained to not only the general public, but faithful Catholics as well. We will start In the beginning… Of all the Bible stories, the creation story may be the simplest story to understand, yet may also be the most misinterpreted. 

The Creation Stories found in Genesis 1 and 2 are completely true. Everything that God is trying to reveal to us about the universe, its origins, and our being is without error. Yet, many find this problematic due to the scientific theory of Evolution. What Catholic School/CCD/Pastors have failed to do on a large scale is reinforce the Truth of the creation stories while explaining proper interpretation.  Because we have to interpret Genesis 1-11 in the genre that it was written, Hebrew Poetry, we are looking to understand the “why” of creation and not the “how.” The first couple chapters of Genesis are meant to show us our purpose and those of the things around us and their place in this universe. The simple answer to our purpose is that God willed the creation of the universe, outside of Himself, out of nothing, out of pure love for us. He gives us an ordered place of beauty in which to reside that reveals to us the intelligent Intellect of His Wisdom. He creates the spiritual and material realms to provide a relationship between Him and His creation. And He crowns humans as His sons and daughters and inheritors of His Divine Life.

The account of creation is found in two stories that span across Genesis 1 and 2. In a fashion typical of Hebrew storytelling, the first story of creation begins with the larger picture, while the second story focuses on the climatic element of creation (the creation of man and woman). The first creation story is famous for its seven day duration, with each day having a different focus on various things created. Yet, if we look closer, we can see a pattern form that clues us in on the Hebrew author(s)’ intent.

In each of the first three days, God is concerned with separating void into form. The times of day and night are created on Day 1. On Day 2, the sky or the heavens are created in the previously voidless form of water that was the earth. Finally on Day 3, God creates land to separate the waters. 

In the next three days, God creates things to rule over or occupy the previous spaces created in the first three days. Day 4 sees the creation of the sun, moon, and stars to rule over time that was created on Day 1. Day 5 has the creation of birds and fish to occupy the sky and waters that were separated on Day 2. Finally, Day 6 sees the creation of animals and man and woman to rule over the land that was created on Day 3. 

And of course on the seventh day God rests, and He extends this rest to all of creation. We must be careful not to take the number seven so literally that it creates confusion with the Theory of Evolution or the existence of dinosaurs. Seven is the Hebrew number of completion or fullness. Thus on the seventh day, creation was complete. The seven day creation is not meant to be taken literally. It is meant to explain the relationship between the voids being created and their inhabitants, and the number seven relays to the reader how good creation is. It also gives humans a rhythm of life in work and worship in the seven day week.

Can God create the universe in seven days? Absolutely. However, as Peter and the Psalms tell us: a day to God is like a thousand years. So to imagine that the creation story limits God to our human understanding of seven days is foolish. In addition, science is meant to explore the laws that God used to order society. Rather than contradicting His Word, the natural sciences constantly reveal to us the marvelous intellect of God, and the Theory of Evolution is no exception. Too many souls have discredited the Bible simply on the premise that a seven day creation story is faulty due to the Theory of Evolution. It is a conclusion that is intellectually lazy and harmful to modern souls who were created to be in relationship with their creator.

Jumping into the second creation story, we learn more about the creation of the human race. We learn our origins of being made from dust signaling our humility in relation to God. Yet, we are elevated from the rest of creation because God breathes His life into us. We learn that man and woman were created equal and made in God’s image and likeness. They especially reflect Trintarian love when they come together in marriage as one, never to be separated. Man and woman were placed in the Garden of Eden, a paradise that provided for all of their needs. In addition, God revealed Himself to them, walked with them, and invited them to enter into His governance of creation by becoming stewards of the inhabitants of the garden. 

Finally, God gave them the greatest gift of all, free will which gave them the ability to love. By giving them the choice to be able to obey or disregard His command of eating from all trees save the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, God gave His beloved son and daughter the ability to choose Him. 

Genesis 1 and 2 is a story of love that was drastically different from the origin myths of surrounding civilizations. Boasting origins from violence, domination, and servitude, most origin myths were created by a people who could only understand their world in terms of sin. However, the True origin that the Holy Spirit provides for us in Genesis is one that recognizes God being abundantly generous to His children and inviting Him into His life of love. What could possibly go wrong?