Sermon Summary (3/19/17) Wrestling With the Bible Series: “Were There Dinosaurs on the Ark?” Genesis 2:4-6; 1:1-8)
My family has a long line of scientists and engineers. My Uncle Carroll left South Dakota in the 1920s to pursue Aeronautical Engineering at NYU. He became at best a Unitarian because the interpretation of the Genesis story around him was incompatible with his understanding.
Then, 60 years later, our son, who had watched a lot of late night tele-evangelists who adhered to a Young Earth Creation theory, had his faith shattered for a while after taking a college Bible course.
How is it that this same Scripture can be inhospitable to both ends of the spectrum of understanding? I know loving, caring people at both ends whose faith I would never want harm their faith. Why do we set up a false dichotomy that forces us to choose or accuses the others of being false in their faith if they disagree?
Christianity and science have collided before. Remember Galileo? Our differences center around the first two chapters of the Bible. How is it that we are to read them? Are they to answer “what” like a science book or a history book or a sociology book? Or are they to tell us “Who”? I think we confuse “what” with “who.” The story is intended to tell us “Who’ created us; “who” we are; and about our relationship with the “Who” We confuse the “what” and the “who.”
“And the Lord God created man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being.” Wonderful narrative that everyone knows even if they have never been to church. “In the beginning, God…” Soaring poetry.
What if I told you there were two creation stories, the narrative, from an older tradition, and the poetry from a younger tradition? Would it bother you? It didn’t bother the compiler who saw truth in both scrolls and placed them side by side. What he saw was a “truth” story about “Who,” not a “what” story about science or history.
Imagine men around a campfire telling stories over thousands of generations and the Spirit is there whispering among them. The begin whispers stories of the One God and the storyteller is there to remember and tell the story to the next generations and the next. Someone asks how we got here, and woman asks how she became, and they ask why is it that we disobey God? And the story forms as the Spirit whispers. The story is shaped over the generations and one night the wise-ones there say “Remember the story just like that,” and it is passed on to us. It is a “truth” story about God, about us and our relationship to God. It is a story we can all agree to. So may it be with all of us. Amen.