Monday, August 20, 2007

The God and Science Discussions pt 2

Please let us remember the rules...

The second part to answering the question

At your convenience, could you explain how a woman who believes in God and his Word does not believe that He created mankind?

gets a little stickier. It also has me venturing into the before mentioned realm of theology. And as I stated before, I am most assuredly not a theologian. But, here is my stab at my personal view of biblical interpretation.

*deep breath*

I believe that every word of the bible is true. That does not mean, however, that I believe every word of the bible to be fact. I believe the bible is the living word of God. But, I also believe that the perfect word had to go through the filter of a flawed human being. I am Catholic and if their is one thing that the Vatican takes seriously it is exegesis. I learned my faith and my view of biblical interpretation from my Catholic upbringing. So, for full disclosure here is what a once Cardinal Ratzinger (aka Pope Benedict XVI) said about exegesis.
The eternal Word became incarnate at a precise period of history, within a clearly defined cultural and social environment. Anyone who desires to understand the word of God should humbly seek it out there where it has made itself visible and accept to this end the necessary help of human knowledge. Addressing men and women, from the beginnings of the Old Testament onward, God made use of all the possibilities of human language, while at the same time accepting that his word be subject to the constraints caused by the limitations of this language. Proper respect for inspired Scripture requires undertaking all the labors necessary to gain a thorough grasp of its meaning.
and then
Consequently Catholic exegesis freely makes use of the scientific methods and approaches which allow a better grasp of the meaning of texts in their linguistic, literary, socio-cultural, religious and historical contexts, while explaining them as well through studying their sources and attending to the personality of each author.

So, this is where I'm coming from. In reading the bible literally, I believe there is a danger of keeping the word in the past. of it becoming too much of a historical document. Are there important historical events recorded in the bible? oh yeah. And do all people who read the bible literally read it as a strictly historical document? of course not. But, I have seen this danger.

The beauty for me of the bible is the universality of the people in it. I have screamed (or whined depending on the circumstance) at the front of the cave "I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. I have moved here to the middle of nowhere to minister to this congregation, I have no access to infertility support, the church has rejected your call to service, my husband is doing mission work in Guatemala for 3 weeks and I am here scrubbing the blood of my lost baby out of the grout of my bathroom tile!"

When reading the story of Adam and Eve, it becomes a factual biography as it were, of two people who lived a long time ago instead of a story of me. The story of me and my life. God has created for me a perfect paradise and if I stay in him and live as he has guided me, following his will, then I can stay here and live my life joyfully. But, no. I'm scrambling up that tree over and over because I want to know what God knows. I want to make sure that I agree with what he has planned. I want it to be about my will. So, I eat the fruit. And I look at what God has seen as perfectly wonderful and I disagree. God never told Adam and Eve to clothe themselves. He didn't see it as a problem that they were naked. They decided that. They decided that what God created wasn't right. I try to change and control things and soon I'm in exile wondering how God could have done this to me. But the reality is that I, like Adam and Eve, created this all by myself. I'm the one who wasn't satisfied in the Garden of Eden. I am Sarah. I am Peter. I am Mary Magdalen. I am David. Their stories are my stories. And God reaches out to me over and over again, the way he did to them.

But, for me it is important to read the bible keeping in mind the historical context, the literary devices, the audience the books were written for. I don't have to be purified after my period, I don't think pork is unclean, I don't send my mildewy clothes to the priest for 7 days to see if they need to be burned. There is plenty of stuff that doesn't apply to our society today. I do not believe that Noah lived to be 950 years in terms of our 365 day years. And I do not believe that God ever ordained the killing of innocents in his name. So, where does that leave me? Does that make the bible irrelevant for me? Absolutely not. God is in the bible as he has been throughout history and is with us today. The story of God's love for his creation and his constant reaching out to it over and over is central to my understanding of God, myself and my faith.


Anonymous said...

So do you believe He created the world or do you believe it evolved over millions of years?
How does Genesis read to you?
PS, curious here, not disrespectful.

Cakes said...

patience. patience. I'm finishing up that post right now. I'll post it tonight. I wanted that post to be separate because I have some questions of my own to ask you guys!