Where Did We Come From?

CGI from Creation episode of The Story of God with Morgan Freeman. 

(credit: National Geographic Channels)

Where did we come from? What happened “in the beginning”? Humanity’s first question remains one of its most intensely debated. Were we created in the image of God, or are we the result of a 13.8 million-year-old singularity? Are there similarities among the religious creation stories from around the world? How do they compare with the scientific theory of the creation of the cosmos and the dawn of civilization?

Morgan Freeman tackles these questions and more in the new episode of The Story of God with Morgan Freeman. 

Chris Williams of Chrisicisms shares how growing up, “The only acceptable Big Bang was to believe that ‘God spoke and bang it happened’And then I went to college.”

It wasn’t science, but a freshman philosophy college course that first made me question my foundations.” Referring to creation, “The harder I studied, the more stymied I became.” Eventually Chris realized, “One of the hardest things to admit is ‘I don’t know,’” but continues, “I don’t think God much cares whether we think he created the Earth in six days or if he took billions of years to craft it. I think all he cares about is we acknowledge his role.”

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Farouk Peru of Person Al-Islam discusses how his faith presents the creation story. “As a young adult, I encountered rationalist interpretations of the story of Adam and this enabled me to achieve two things. One, to find a metaphorical understanding of the story which was both cogent and relevant to my life. Two, to find a much deeper connection with Quranic teachings.” He goes further to say, The Quran does not have a mythological reading of Adam at all. He is not the first prophet nor even the first human. Rather, he is us.”

Paul Asay of Watching God asks, “Can the Big Bang and Genesis both be true?” He believes, “There is ultimately no tension between science and faith —not if my God is real and my faith is true.” When “faith and science seem to clash,” he believes, “It’s due to the limitations of our own minds: We misunderstand the nature of God, the nature of the universe or, very likely, both. And even if science can someday definitively answer the what and where and how of creation, only religion dares touch the why.”

Kyle Roberts of Unsystematic Theology states that, “Creation stories give us order, structure, and meaning. They function similarly to beliefs about immortality, or life after death.” He goes on to say, “Creation stories, mythologies about origins, give us a fixed point, a steady place from which to stand, an identity in a world of flux. Even more, they open up for us windows of transcendence through which we can see ourselves in the light of seeing the divine–our origin as dependent on Someone else.”

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Padma Kuppa of Seeking Shanti explains that while “Hindus don’t have a single story of creation,” their “stories of creation don’t conflict with the scientific theory of evolution.Many Hindu schools of thought do not treat scriptural creation myths/hymns literally. Often the creation stories themselves do not go into specific detail, so there is the possibility of incorporating at least some theories in support of evolution.”

Kate O’Hare of Pax Culturati shares how “Genesis is essentially poetry, meant to express the deep truths, not the literal step-by-step facts, of Creation. Not aiming to be a scientific text,” she states “Genesis lays out the beginning of everything, emphasizing that was an act of will, and of love, by God.Genesis is a love song by God to His people, so that they would know why the world came to be, what God thought about it, and what He thinks about all His creatures, including Man.”

Nancy Rockwell of The Bite in the Apple discusses Eden by stating “Eden lives outside history and inside us, an eternal moment that is never and now. Eden is not merely an origin story, it is a path for the human spirit. The tale is centered in the touch of God and the blessing, it is good, that is given to every creature and every day.” While most of Eden’s “details are impossible… With God all things are possible.” Knowing this, “science and religions are in agreement. And the great words of liturgy still have power: ‘As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end’.”

Lori Erickson of Holy Rover says, “How we tell our story of origin shapes us, and shapes how others see us,” stating that her upbringing “still defines a good portion of my identity.” She asserts Western culture loves the Genesis account, because “the universe makes sense. It unfolds in an orderly fashion, one that can be comprehended by humans.” Lori continues, “It is the nature of humans to question, and it is the nature of God to create.”

Justin Whitaker of American Buddhist Perspectives shares the Buddhist take on creation by stating, “The Discourse has all of the ingredients of a creation myth though, and no doubt many Buddhists over history have interpreted it as simply this. It begins with a world-contraction; apparently out of a vast, ethereal state in which beings were mind-made, feeding on joy, self-radiant, etc.” He goes on to explain the story and ends with, “The story continues until beings resemble us, with all of our negative traits, needing the education and eventual awakening offered only by a Buddha.”

Thanks to each of the bloggers for joining in the discussion!