but not your facts. The words in Genesis are what they are and you aren’t allowed to claim they are something different. At the risk of going overboard on this, I want to explore the Genesis stories in more detail.
The first story in Genesis goes from Gen 1:1 to Gen. 2:3. Listen to what God is like in this story:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.
Gen. 1:1-3. How do you imagine God, from this story? Omniscient and omnipotent. Supernatural. And what is it like for light and dark to mingle together? It is beyond human perception. Each day God calls another component of our world into being. Then on day six:
God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Gen. 1:26-27. Notice that man and woman are created together and in the image of God. Notice that they rule over everything that has come before them. The story ends with this,
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
Gen. 2:1-3. All done. Work is finished. The day is holy. Makes your shoulders sag in a relaxing exhale.
Okay, now let’s look at the next story up to the creation of woman. That section runs from Gen. 2:4-25, although the motif continues on for several chapters through the story of Cain and Abel. It begins:
This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens-and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground,
Gen. 2:4-5. Is this an account of one day? No. It is an account of how the earth was created. Notice it doesn’t begin with crazy supernatural imagery. It starts with dry ground that is not yet alive. It is different in the event of what is first–the other story starts with water that is separated to form ground–but most importantly it starts with familiar images. Now, look at the order of creation:
but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground-the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Gen. 2:6-7. Water from the earth, then man, then the animals. But look deeper. What did God do to make Adam (which is Hebrew for earth)? He breathed into his nostrils. Compare that to the supernatural calling humans into being. What about woman? Well, its much later–after Adam doesn’t find a suitable helpmate in the animals:
So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”
Gen. 2:21-23. Again, totally different. Look how intimate God is with Adam. He puts Adam to sleep and pulls out a part of his body. Is woman in the image of God? Is Adam? No. Adam is from the soil and woman is flesh of his flesh.
I find these stories exhilarating. They are rich and full of God’s power. They are gateways into the way the Spirit moved in the ancient people from who Jesus came and thus from whom I come. But, these stories are not histories or science. It is a sin–a missing of the mark–to read them as such. It tramples their beauty and power.