Monday, March 2, 2009

Start at the Beginning


Yes, it has been almost a month since my last posting. I’ve had so many thoughts going through my mind but I haven’t been able to put them into words. I decided that the only way I could put my thoughts down was to go back to the beginning…

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John1:1)

God gave us language to communicate with each other and it is a pity that we’ve come so far with language, but have forgotten what it is about. In order to go back to the beginning, I needed to include language in my discussion.

The Old Testament was first written in Hebrew and true Hebrew is never taken lightly. According to author Rabbi Michael L. Munk, the letters of the Hebrew alphabet are everything. They keep the universe together. In his book, The Wisdom of the Hebrew Alphabet, Munk says, “ The twenty-two sacred letters are profound, primal spiritual forces. They are, in effect, the raw material of Creation.” (pg. 19)

Why is this important? If we are to have an honest discussion about science and faith, we must be true to the letters and the words that make up our thoughts.

There is currently no greater science discussion than that of the creation of the universe and of our world. Scientists postulate ideas like Big Bang and Evolution, while theologians consider the meaning of the creation story. As my pastor said yesterday, religion addresses why, while science addresses how. That implies that we are talking to each other on separate planes and will never meet.

Nowhere have I seen this more clearly demonstrated than a website that I ran across lately. AnswersInGenesis.org (AiG)is a website dedicated to debunking all science that does not lead to the Creationism theory. At first glance, I was interested to see what it said about the story of creation and the age of the earth. Although I know that radioactive dating has its issues, I don’t think it can be completely eliminated as author Mike Riddle suggests. Any and all theories are based on criteria and assumptions of our current knowledge. Yet, that is where we seem to get stuck in the primordial goo that is our human brain. For more on what this website says, follow the link.

As I was reading this webpage, I thought of another author that I so enjoy, Dr. Gerald Schroeder. His works include The Science of God and The Hidden Face of God. This physicist has many other titles, but the one I’ve continually come back to is the former, The Science of God. I love chapter 4, “The Six Days of Genesis.” It uses physics to show how the Creation Story fits with science’s version of the age of the earth.

I investigated further. I thought that maybe this website didn't know about Dr. Schroeder. Right?

A simple search actually gave me the answer to the contrary. So I read that article as well. Then I read another piece that asked the editors of the AiG website why they were so hostile to the ideas of Dr. Schroeder. Their only defense was to point to the physicist’s “gross misuse of Hebrew.”

So I sat back and asked myself the following question. Which version of the Bible is this Christian website using?

In order to find this answer I had to go back ALL the way to the beginning…

In the beginning of God’s creating (Gen1:1)...

“Wait!”, you say. That’s not what my version says. If not, then you are not using the authentic translation of the original Hebrew. And if you’re not using the original Hebrew, then THAT’S the “gross misuse of Hebrew!”

Why? Because there are entire volumes of philosophy written about the importance of those first words.

I could relay volumes to you, but that’s not what this blog is about. Instead, I’m going to give you a couple tidbits in which you can begin your own research.
BeReSHiYT BaRA ELoHiYM are the three words of Genesis in Hebrew. (I've taken these from my Jewish friend's Hebrew Bible, and it's English translation, Art Scroll TaNaCH - (Torah , Prophets, Writings - Mesorah Publications Ind. 1996)) I’ve capitalized the consonants and left the vowels lowercase. In Hebrew, each letter contains its own meaning, rich in symbolism and philosophy. Original Hebrew did not contain vowels and I wanted to show that to you. This will eliminate any discussion of the different Jewish philosophies as well (for those of you who do know Hebrew), since vowels can change the meaning of words.

BeReSHiYT—In the beginning of

B'RO—God’s creating

The first letter is B or Beit in Hebrew. It’s form is shown in the picture below. You can see open side on the left of the letter. According to Hebrew philosophy, this means to start with the declaration that God is the Creator, and humans cannot fully understand anything or everything before this. It is closed to us as humans.

In the end, what this says to me is that we can fight and argue about Creationism and Evolution, but we will never fully understand the process of Creation. The only thing that we can do is open ourselves to meaningful dialogue between science and faith and be eager to find what Truth remains in both. And most definitely we must start at the beginning.

4 comments:

Old Fashioned Liberal said...

Very good. It's amazing how irrational some people who believe faith and evolution are incompatible can be.

Joanna said...

Very interesting. I've always thought it would be interesting to learn Hebrew (and Greek and Aramaic)to understand the Bible the way it was originally written. The phrase "creating" (instead of created) seems to imply an ongoing process. At least that's how I interpreted it.

Loretta said...

OFL: It is amazing isn't it? Fear brings on irrational thought, but if they remembered who's running the universe they would have no need for fear.

Joanna: YOU ARE RIGHT! Good catch! The word is "creating" for a reason. God continually creates and you interpreted Gen 1:1 exactly the way that the Jewish theologians do. Nice work!

shelly_collings said...

I've always felt on some level that the Creation Story fits with science’s version of the age of the earth but was never able to articulate why I thought that. I'm going to try to read Dr Schroeder's book to see what he has to say about it. Thanks for the lead on that.