Wednesday, August 24, 2005

ITB: Creation and Civilizations

One of Pope Benedict's arguments in In the Beginning for why we should study and reflect upon Genesis is the place of honor given to creation stories in basically every civilization throughout history. Think about it: If you've studied Babylonia, Egypt, Rome, Greece, East Asia, native populations, etc., what is one of the first things you learned? Their creation stories. Creation stories define the essence of a civilization - what those people believe about who created them, how they were created, why they were created and what that tells them about themselves.

It is no different for us Christians. To discover more about ourselves and our God, we need to go back to the beginning. We need to study Genesis' account of creation and the fall, and that need is not obscured by what science has to teach us about the origins of life on earth.

In addition, the pope points out that different civilizations' creation stories all point to the inherent human yearning and capacity for the divine:
Israel always believed in the Creator God, and this faith it shared with
all the great civilizations of the ancient world. For, even in the moments when
monotheism was eclipsed, all the great civilizations always knew of the Creator
of heaven and earth. There is a surprising commonality here even between
civilizations that could never have been in contact with one another. In this
commonality we can get a good grasp of the profound and never altogether lost
contact that human beings had with God's truth.