Steeped in our traditional belief system, we forget that the ancient writers of scripture interpreted their experience of God and creation from a patriarchal world view that still believed the earth was flat. The narratives they wrote were based on an understanding of the world they knew. Now we are living with a new understanding of our origins and evolution. The old story no longer holds true and we need to replace it with a meaningful new story true to our expanded knowledge of the universe. We need a story we can live by that incorporates our new understandings. We need to embrace a story that will free us from destructive beliefs and enable us to live wisely as members of the sacred community of life on this planet. This will nurture us spiritually and help us to develop healing new societal structures and systems.
Spirit of Truth, teach us your truth.
Consider the old story of creation. What systems does it underlie that have become destructive in the present time? What is meant by the new story? On what is it based? How can it become a healing and energizing concept for our time?
When we read about creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so. He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfillment.
It’s all a question of story. We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are in between stories. The old story, the account of how we fit into it, is no longer effective. Yet we have not learned the new story.
The story that defines our world today is a tale of consumerism and greed, sustained by the empty but enticing promise of an endless stream of “stuff” as the source of our happiness and well-being… this contemporary story is built upon an earlier one that took hold many centuries ago with the spread of monotheism: the story of a God who has withdrawn to heaven, to reign, apart and above, over an Earth now denied its sacred nature. This is the myth of separation—that we are separate from the Earth rather than part of its living wholeness—that fed into the story of science, in which the natural world was unfeeling matter to be controlled, a resource to be exploited. We are the inheritors of a patriarchal world in which spirit no longer lives in matter, and both the Earth and the feminine have suffered endless abuse.
For the first time in human history, we can agree on the basic story of the galaxies, the stars, the planets, minerals, life forms, and human cultures. This story does not diminish the spiritual traditions of the classical or tribal periods of human history. Rather, the story provides the proper setting for the teachings of all traditions, showing the true magnitude of their central truths.
How can one preach goodness and love to men without at the same time offering them an interpretation of the world that justifies this goodness and this love?
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
The universe is the primary revelation of the divine, the primary scripture, the primary locus of divine-human communication.
It is clear that the overall intention of the authors of Genesis is to evoke religious faith, an adherence to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and not to teach science. There is simply no scientific teaching in Genesis.
We have become as gods with new powers to create and destroy life. But we have not yet developed with these new powers the spiritual, moral, and mental tools to even think about what we are doing, much less the wisdom and commitment to use our new powers in ways that preserve human life and the integrity of creation.