According to the recent survey of what the United Church people believe, 75% of those who belong to the United Church including the ministers believe like I do. Thank God! So I want to articulate what I believe about the creation story without fear of being accused as a non-believer.
The Bible contains the word of God, but is not the word of God. The word of God is Jesus Christ according to the John’s Gospel. In other words, what the Bible stories mean is what God wants us to know about him. I don’t believe that everything I find in the Bible is historical and/or scientific facts; though some of them may be.
1. When you read the chapters 1 to 3 of the book of Genesis, think of the meaning of those stories, without necessarily accepting all the facts as history. Many of them are made-up stories in which the writers tried to express their beliefs, like poetry or fictions, about the relationship between God and the world we live in. For example, numbers have meanings. Seven does not necessarily mean 7, but it means sacred. It is just like people used to believe the number thirteen was unlucky.
2. The first three chapters of Genesis is the result of putting together two sets of writing done by two persons or two different traditions. They have totally different views of God. Chapter one is mainly made up of the writing done by what the scholars call him as “E” taken from the Hebrew word for God “Elohim.” This God does not have a human-like body. He uses only his word to create or change things. “Let there be light!” In most of the English translations, the God of “E”is translated simply as “God.” This word is a title, or the generic word for the divine being, not any particular divinity. It could be a Hebrew God, an Egyptian god, or Hindu for that matter.
3. In chapter two and three, God is referred as “Lord God” in English. It is a distinctively Hebrew, or Jewish, God. The Jews, after the Ten Commandment, prohibited to pronounce the name of their God according to the third commandment “You shall not call his name in vain.” The Hebrew language does not print vowels. The name of God was simply written as “YHWH”. Because they had not pronounced the word so long they forgot the vowels. So in stead of reading his name as written, they simply said, “Lord”. And this God described by this writer, now is known as “J” (In Hebrew J and Y are the same.) God by J is very human-like. He molds by hand the first human out of clay, and takes a walk in a shade in a hot summer.
Some parts of them were primitive and even immature. Some mistaken ideas about God too. The Bible is written by humans, and their understanding of God grew and matured as the time went by. The God in the Bible began as a tribal, selfish, jealous and vengeful god into the universal, just, forgiving, loving, and self-giving God as the history of the Jews and the early Christians progressed. The Bible shows that progress.