Origins & Perspectives: Part I

John Zimmer (
Sun, 13 Oct 96 10:13:17 CDT

J. Raymond Zimmer said:

So if you show
> that the two Genesis Creation Stories somehow "image" the evolutionary
> record - and visa versa - then you show that scientific and Judeo-Christian
> origin stories are not mutually exclusive - but paradoxically speaking
> with one another across the void.

Neil Haave said:

>Please enlighten!

Bob Miller states on a related topic:

> ...Houston's theological
>understanding...liberates us from the effort to identify a
>mechanical explanation.
>I have long had the suspicion that God has told us everything about his
>creation that we are able to comprehend. I think he would tell us more but
>we do not have the intellectual capacity to understand.

Although I don't know anything about Houston's theology, I think that
maybe Houston and I agree that a "nonmechanical" relation between
the scientific and Judeo-Christian origin stories is what needs to
be discovered. Given the research in anthropology and other evolutionary
sciences, I think Christians can begin to grasp the possiblility.
The past thirty years has seen a massive increase in our "intellectual
capacity". And now, we may have the capacity to appreciate an
aesthetic approach which begins with the childish question:

If Genesis resembled the evolutionary record, then how would they match?

The first chapter of Genesis is a good starting point. I believe that
it belonged to an oral tradition among priestly circles for centuries
before it was written down. I think that it was written down and placed
at the beginning of the Pentateuch because it strongly resembled a
similar origin story which we know from recovered ancient Babylonian
texts. (A more popular view is that the Creation Story is a demythologized
copy of the Babylonian story.)

Neglecting how the same origin story ended up in both traditions, we
can think about where the Creation Story came from in the first place.
Was it concocted out of thin air? Did it come as a vision to someone?
The latter question appeals to Christians because it calls to mind
many Biblical incidents. At the same time, it suggests that the story has two
dimensions: First, the original vision and telling of the story. Second, the
preservation of the story through many generations under very different
historical circumstances.

How do we suggest that the first chapter of Genesis was a vision?
We need to render a resemblance between the first chapter and the
evolutionary record following a "day" to "epoch" format. On order
to do that,we must find a perpective that permits such a rendering.

I will do that in part II.

J. Raymond Zimmer