Genesis chapter 1 begins: “In the beginning God…” and then lists God’s accomplishments one by one from the creation of light to the creation of man. In Genesis 2, the second story of creation, we read about the creation of women and the Garden of Eden. Genesis 1 was written by the Priestly author, while Genesis 2 was written by the YHWH author.
The dispassionate manner in which the priestly author of Genesis 1 tells the creation story, including the absence of flashy adjectives, and the simplicity in which each aspect of creation is divided into a “day,” and culminates in a single week, all interconnect to make this profound suggestion: “In the beginning… God!”
As a metaphor, this story is a powerful narrative regarding the intelligence that would eventually lay the foundation for human existence. It speaks of a Universe that is not only connected, but interconnected, a Universe that has a purpose and that functions deliberately. As a metaphor, this story suggests that all the perceived “chaos” around us rolls up into something divine and that we are not only part of it, but the culmination of it. As a metaphor this story says to the believer and skeptic alike that the Universe knows itself and knows what it’s doing and that we are here on purpose.
It’s as if the Universe were trying to communicate an infinite truth in such a way that a finite mind could understand through that simple phrase: “In the beginning, God!”
Creationists have stolen the magic from this verse. There’s something profoundly threatening to them about evolution and creationists will go to great lengths to vilify not just evolution but all those who believe in it. A simple look at Conservapedia and creationists articles on this Web site will show the bizarre lengths that creationists will go to defy scientific reality. Instead, they want the Bible to read, “Once upon a time, God!”
At issue: “In the beginning, God!” versus, “Once upon a time, God!”
What’s the difference?
Once upon a time is a fanciful tale, one of magic and happy endings. It’s a tale of good versus evil, where, in the end, a handsome prince rides in and saves the day. Fairy tales can be heartwarming and moving. They stir deep emotions within us. They set us fantasizing about our own heroic journeys and fair maidens and prince charmings. We love them, and that’s why they have lasted solidly through generations. Blockbuster movies are rife with various adaptations of the once upon a time theme.
However, fairy tales are not true. They cannot be true. We also know that. There are beautiful people in the world, but there are no Prince Charmings. Witches and ogres exist as aspects of human personality, not as real-life entities. Animals don’t talk nor do they reason. The stories are fanciful with very little regard for physics, science, or reality.
“In the beginning, God,” is a powerful idea. The Universe and God were both present at the very beginning—at the moment of inception. There is intelligence behind this beginning which is still playing out today. “In the beginning, God” says that science and spirituality are merged together and there is no division. We don’t have to manipulate the world around us so that it fits our “Once upon a time,” dogma, but we can enjoy the Universe as it is.
“In the beginning, God” says there is no separation and that all this intelligence is living through us. In the beginning, God is about our personal beginning as well. “In the beginning, God” also says that we are empowered, from our beginning, with God.