By Not Known
Today we begin a series of sermons and Bible studies from the early chapters of
Genesis. These haven a battleground ever since the 1859 publication of Charles
Darwin’s book, The Origin of the Species.
Perhaps these chapters confuse some of us. Perhaps some still think that the whole
Bible is debunked because what we appear to read in Gensis 1 -3 seems to be in
contradiction with what is the current orthodoxy in the relevant physical sciences.
Perhaps we have been asking the wrong questions of Genesis. And if we ask the
wrong questions we will get the wrong answers.
We need to pay attention to the purpose of Genesis. It was probably written to give
the Hebrew people a sense of who they were, what their significance was and what
their responsibilities were in the light of their special covenantal relationship with
God and their place amongst the nations. It does this by telling of human origins
hence the name Genesis, from the Greek word for beginnings. As such, Genesis is a
most appropriate headpiece for the five books of the Hebrew law. And, through the
Hebrew people, this book addresses the same issues to the whole of humanity.
If Genesis was written to give a sense of the identity, significance and responsibility
of humans, then we ought to ask questions about these matters when we read it.
The answers in Genesis are all to do with God. Because God made us, our identity is
tied to him and not to ourselves. Because God made us in his image, we have
immense significance: we are little lower than the angels as Psalm 8 puts it.
Because God made us, we are responsible to live in his world his way, rather than
living our own way.
These are profound answers. They are also in sharp contrast to those who proclaim
a mechanistic or chaotic account of human origins. These accounts leave us with
self-understandings that produce a dismal view of human identity and its
In short, Genesis is interested to tell us about the Who and the So What of human
origins. Let’s read it looking for these things. If we do, we will find that our
deepest human questions have their answers in Genesis.