Category Archives: Eden

What’s the Deal with Genesis 1-3? | Myth or Fiction?

Is Genesis, chapters 1-3 really true? Did God really create everything? Or, is it mythology, with talking snakes and a tree of knowledge and a God who walks? To use a concept by C.S. Lewis, I would say it is “true myth.”

When we talk about myth in the Genesis Creation story context, we are not talking about “fiction.” Rather the literary genre of myth is simply a symbol filled story about a reality that is beyond our comprehension. What we must keep in mind, is that no one actually saw the Creation of the Universe. But, through ancient writers, who possessed a rich and accurate oral tradition, we have a Creation Story that sets against a constrasting backdrop of lesser creation story accounts (such as the Enuma Elish Babylonian creation story where the gods are fighting, one is slain, and man is created out of the discarded god-material).

So, in Genesis 1 through 3, we have an author who is not writing primarily as a historian, who is preoccupied with a strict chronological time-line. The author is not writing as a scientist, who is preoccupied with how everything came into existence from a physics standpoint alone. What we have is an author, who is endeavoring to answer the question of Who it is that stands behind the work of unwitnessed creation.

The author organizes the Creation Story along the metaphoric lines of a work week. We work six days and rest; God worked six days and rested. This suggests that the writer himself is nested within an organized social structure when this Creation Story was written. It comes well after the fact of Creation, but through an oral tradition, the Creation story was preserved by a community of people who would not allow inaccuracies into the story.

Genesis 1-3 is a Creation Story that explains what happened from a distinctively monotheistic, Hebrew frame of reference. But allow for the freedom of the writer to borrow from the literary genre of myth to tell the story; allow the author to use symbols that point to a reality beyond our human comprehension.

Let’s grant that there really was an Adam and Eve; that there really was a talking snake; that there really was a tree of life and of the knowledge of good and evil. But, let’s not stop there. Let’s make the application in light of true myth. That Adam and Eve stand for all of us; that the talking snake represents something very evil in our world; that the tree of knowledge of good and evil represents a choice that we always have to make. You see, we have all been created by God and are in His image. We all face a force and personality of evil in our world. We all have a free-will choice to make regarding God and our relationship with Him. In Adam and Eve, we all sinned even. That put in the very same place, you and I would have done exactly the same thing.

Don’t bog down on literal days versus periods of unspecified time. Don’t bog down on whether or not the talking snake is real. Don’t bog down on why God even placed a tree in the Garden to be tempted with. Rather, look to the realities that these Creation Story details point to. Our universe came from God, who made man in His image with free will. Man chose to disobey at the prompting of an evil presence and the entire creation fell under a curse. But even in this, there is hope planted for a New Adam who would restore a sabotaged creation (Genesis 3:15), One who would come that would thwart any serpentine attempts to de-create our lives (Paul calls Jesus Christ the Second Adam in Romans).

Genesis 1-3 is true myth, but not fiction. It points to realities beyond our human comprehension, like all mythological stories do. Only this mythological story is true.

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Filed under Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Creation, Eden, Free Will, Genesis 1-3, Larger Story, Myth, The Fall

Restoration – Paradise Regained!

Albert Wolters

Albert Wolters

When Jesus came, He inaugurated the greatest restoration project imaginable. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we read: “So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away – look, what is new has come!” Christ represents a radical shift. In Christ a new age has been inaugurated, a kingdom that gets bigger and better all the time. In new creation, it is not that everything around us has changed. It doesn’t mean “happily ever-after or trouble-free existence”, but rather that we have a new perspective. The old way of looking at things is gone. It is not that there are no more disappointments but that we look at them differently. It is not that there are no more temptations but that we respond to them differently. Salvation is renewal on the inside; it’s not just avoiding evil, but it’s desiring what is right. It’s not just a return to original beauty; it is also forward to something greater than ever before! One of the remarkable things about being a human being is that we can be restored – and that somehow life becomes even more magnificent because what was previously ruined has been reclaimed, recreated, and set free through forgiveness offered by Christ. Jesus plunged himself into the guts of our ruin: raging anger, contempt, hatred, obsessive lust, bitter divorce, verbal manipulation, revenge, slapping, suing, coercing, and begging. In a phrase, He plunged into “our broken relationships!” He plunged into all of this so that he could make us new. Every miracle that Jesus performed pointed toward restoration for the broken. The blind see. The deaf hear. The lame walk. The dead are raised. He restored broken humanity. This is what God is offering to mankind in Jesus; it is renewal and restoration. This also tells me that we are worth redeeming to God.Sin has not made us worthless, but only lost and ruined. Yet, God has refused to scrap us. In Jesus, He hangs on to his original fallen creation and begins to work to salvage it. “God doesn’t make junk and He will not junk what He has made (Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview Albert Wolters).” He never walked off and left us. He cares about more than just redeeming your soul for eternity. He wants to restore you, beginning now. It has always been God’s plan, not just to forgive you, but to restore you – to make you like Jesus. Paradise has been regained!

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In Search of Eden

Dallas Willard

Dallas Willard

I believe there was a time in an Eden garden when we were all that we were intended to be. Our life was pristine. It was once good for all of us. Perfect intimacy with God and one another. Total vulnerability. Nothing to hide or fear. No need for escape was present. No addictions to contend with. No large ego to navigate around. No secret lusts to sever us from our lover. No need to lie or hide. No jealousy when good things happened to others. No abuse or harm inflicted. No bad attitudes and no broken promises. There was an exciting energy that we brought to each day. Every task was done with grace and beauty. There were no hindrances to our work or creativity and Creation was perfect. Our minds were focused, able to comprehend and process new information with perfect recall. A solid purpose filled our days and there was never a lonely moment Sunsets. Sunrises. Lush gardens. Exotic animals. Romance. Beauty. Adventure. Eden, Adam and Eve had it all. Sin didn’t belong here. But thousands of years of human history are proof enough that paradise has been lost. We have taken our lives into our own hands; we have been crushed and we have crushed one another. We’ve flunked-out, dropped-out, and burned-out. We’re broke and we’ve broken. We’ve drugged ourselves into oblivion. We’ve shattered our families. We’ve contracted diseases and illness because of our illicit affairs. We’ve submersed ourselves into immorality. We are the broken ones who live in a broken world. In the words of Dallas Willard (Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ): “The HIV positives and the herpes-ridden. The overemployed, the underemployed, the unemployed. The unemployable. The swindled, the shoved-aside, the replaced. The lonely, the incompetent. The emotionally starved and the emotionally dead.” We are the broken ones. We cannot deny it. The brutal and the bigoted. Drug lords and pornographers. War criminals and sadist. Terrorists. The perverted and the filthy and the filthy rich. We are a wreck. We are so messed up! Even those in the church are broken: easily offended, given to jealousy, loose lips that assassinate reputations, pride of position. We try to lose ourselves in our work. We get addicted. We have affairs. We develop colorful fantasies fed by dime-store romances or pornography. We learn to enjoy the juicy intrigues and secrets of gossip. We don’t parent right. We distance ourselves from others to hide beyond the agnosticism we feel in our own heart. We are all in danger of missing the life God intended for us. We are searching for Eden.

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Filed under Eden, Larger Story, Restoration, Spiritual Life