Monday, February 21, 2011

Creation Science Destroys the Beauty of Genesis

I was in Sunday School last week when our teacher, the brilliant author R. P. Nettelhorst (you really should check out his writing, even though this is a shameless plug by a friend) pointed out that the Genesis creation account parallels the Mesopotamian creation account, Enuma Elish. This lead me to think that so-called "Creation Science" really destroys the literary genius of the Genesis account. Let me explain.

I've already written about the true meaning of the Genesis creation account. It wasn't written to combat modern 21st century science. It was written to combat polytheism. There are not innumerable gods as in Egypt. There is one God who did all. So already I think "Creation Science" misses the whole point of the Genesis account. (And so I keep using the quotes, because it's not the correct view of creation and it certainly isn't science.)

However, I was missing something that's very cool. I used to cringe when people compared Genesis to Enuma Elish. After all, I believe the Bible is the word of God. How humiliating to see it as just a rip-off of a stupid polytheistic legend. What my friend, R. P., pointed out is that it's not a rip-off, it's a specific counter to the Enuma Elish.

So I looked up Enuma Elish and found this page. The Enuma Elish has six stages of creation. Genesis gives six days of creation. In each stage of the Enuma Elish a new god is created. On each day of Genesis, God creates something new. Here is how they align.
Enuma Stage/Genesis DayEnuma god (function)GenesisNotes
1Tiamat (primeval chaos & bearer of sky and earth) and Apsu (water)In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep (or watery chaos), while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. (1:1-2)
In the Biblical Hebrew "chaos" is "Tehowim", similar to Tiamat.
2Lahamu (muddy silt)And God said, "Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters." (1:6-7)God slicing waters with the dome parallels Marduk slicing open Tiamat to make land and sky
3Kishar (the Earth)And God said, "Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. (1:9-10)
4Anu (sky)God made the two great lights--the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night-- and the stars. (1:16)
5Ea (speaks and makes all things of the Earth)So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. (1:21)Ea speaks the things of the Earth into existence. God speaks everything into existence.
6Marduk (king of gods and creator of man)Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, (1:26) And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. (2:2)Marduk makes people his slaves so he can rest. God finishes creation with people in his image, rests on seventh day and gives it as a holy day of rest for people.

Again we see the same message. There are not many gods. There is one God. God is telling his people that the story they have heard is all wrong. Genesis isn't a rip-off of Enuma Elish, it's a brilliant literary reversal of the common mythology of the time. "Creation Science", in its haste to refute what it sees as modern scientific evil, perverts the beauty and brilliance of the Genesis account by twisting it into a modern scientific treatise. Very sad indeed.

One more thing. Notice that Enuma Elish teaches that people are slaves of Marduk. Genesis teaches that people are the image of God and get to rest just like he does. What a complete difference. God walks and talks with people in Genesis. He treats us are equals in many ways. He loves us. Genesis is the complete opposite of Enuma Elish, just as the Bible is the complete opposite of so many beliefs that make the world a place of inhuman gods that want to harm us.

There is only one God. His love for us is inconceivable. Why pervert Genesis with any other meaning than that?