Many people look at the story of Creation and the struggles of Adam and Eve as myths… nice little stories someone made-up to explain how we all got here.
They’re not myths.
The first thing we have to understand is the way stories were conveyed when Genesis was written is not the same as it is today. They didn’t approach them like a news reporter or a history professor. They approached them as truthful events that occurred in history and it is the relaying of that truth that is of primary importance.
For example, lets say you ran into a burning building and you saved three people on the first floor, two on the second and four on the third. Now, the news story would say that you saved nine people in a fire. Yet, if someone were to say that you willing to sacrifice your life to save people from the flames, that is also true. It’s not a news story, but just because it doesn’t state all the facts in order doesn’t make the second version any less true. It’s just told differently.
Even if God were to give us the facts in order, how can he possibly explain the creation of the universe to us, simple little creatures inhabiting a very small portion of it? I mean really! It took us thousands of years to figure out gravity. How could God ever explain Creation when there are aspects of it that are outside of our understanding?
I equate it to trying to teach Shakespeare to an amoeba. An amoeba could not comprehend life beyond that of a single cell, so how could you then explain other multi-celled life forms, and that some are mammals, and that some of the mammals have a mind that can comprehend scenarios and stories outside of their daily lives, and these stories can be relayed in a variety of ways using a thing called art, and one of these art forms is a thing called theater, and in the theater one person wrote plays (oh, we haven’t covered writing) about love (oh, we haven’t covered love) and lust (not that either), and war (nor that), etc.
So, God doesn’t bother telling us things we can’t comprehend. What’s the point? Instead he only tells us what we need to know. It doesn’t mean it’s not the truth, it’s just not all the detail.
So, he summarizes it…
First, there was nothing, and then there was something. And in this something I created the stars and the sun, representing the material universe and time. And in this universe I created this planet. And on this planet I created the water and sky and land and populated each of them with animals and life.
And then he tells us of our creation and the challenges and struggles that we faced…
And the very last thing I did was create mankind so that it may be with me forever. I started with Adam and from him I created his spouse, a woman, named Eve. They lived in a place we’ll call Eden. And they were special, as my new creation. They are made in my image and likeness. They are immortal, like me. They can’t suffer, unless they choose to through sacrifice. All of their decisions are informed from their intellect, not driven by their will, giving them perfect integrity. And they have the life of me, of my trinity, within them.
The garden is beautiful. In it are many wonderful animals and trees. One is the Tree of Life, which grants immortality. They can freely eat of it. However, so that they may choose on their own to love me, I gave them free will. In order for them to be able to choose holiness, I must also give them the opportunity to choose sin.
Therefore, in the garden I place a tree called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It is not that I am keeping that knowledge from them, for they simply have to ask what pleases me and what offends me. No, this Tree makes them believe that they can decide what is Good and what is Evil.
If they eat from this tree, invariably they will make the wrong decision, they will sin. Sin separates them from me and the consequence of sin is the loss of their immortality. Death.
So I warn them not to eat of this Tree, so that they may be with me forever, as I intended. I want them to be fruitful and multiply. I want all of their descendants to be in my presence forever.
I give them responsibilities in Eden to perform so that they may keep it and guard it, for I have allowed Satan to be present so that they can choose to be holy.
Unfortunately, they are not willing to suffer for me and remain obedient. They fall for Satan’s lies and they offend me. They eat from the wrong Tree and they lose so much.
They will now die. Their intellect is darkened. They lose their perfect integrity and now their will drives most of their decisions, causing them to sin more and more. And they can suffer earthly pains.
I love them and I still want them to be with me forever, but they have many things to learn. To protect them, I will keep them away from the Tree of Life, so that they may not regain immortality separated from me by sin. I will place an angel at the entry to the garden so they won’t be tempted to reenter it.
They have to learn obedience and the value of sacrifice. Adam will have to till the soil, but will be rewarded by his labors. Eve will have to feel pain during childbirth, but will be rewarded by the gift of her child.
And, because I love them so much, when they are ready, I will humble myself and become one of them. I will take the sins that they have committed and, instead of succumbing to Satan in the garden as they did, I will overcome him and defeat him. I will free them from death.
And then, once again, my children will be able to spend eternity in my presence… just as I intended from the very beginning.
The story seems very logical when heard in a way that is more comfortable to us today. It makes this “myth” feel more real.
For it is real. As Christians, we believe that Genesis and this story (along with the entirety of the Bible) is divinely inspired, meaning the Holy Spirit guided the hands of the authors to keep it from error. And the Church teaches us that, out of this story we must believe nine things:
- That God created everything at the beginning of time.
- That man is a special creation.
- That the formation of the first woman came from man.
- That the human race is unified, in that we all have common parents (Adam & Eve).
- In their innocence, our first parents were full of original happiness.
- The divine command placed upon man to prove his obedience.
- That man sinned and transgressed that command at the instigation of the Devil by the Serpent.
- The fall of our first parents from the state of innocence.
- The promise of a future redeemer.
- Does if seem like a myth to say God created everything?
- And that, of his creation, we are special and made in his image and likeness?
- Is it mythic to say that God started mankind by creating one person and his spouse?
- Does it seem like a fable to say that mankind would be drastically different had it never sinned and offended God?
- Is it too much to fathom that God, as our father, would ask his children to be obedient and that not doing so would have consequences?
- Does it seem radical to think that God has always allowed temptation so that we can use our free will to choose holiness?
- And that choosing sin would cause a loss of innocence?
- Is it so hard to believe that every time we offend God, we move farther away from him?
- And is it impossible to believe that the same God who created us and tried to protect us, would rescue us by becoming one of us and taking those things that offend him away?