Friday, April 27, 2018

Missing Myth

Some people believe in the literal history of Genesis.

I think that's fine and not wholly unreasonable. They believe that God tells us the truth and that the Bible is His Word and therefore the events of Genesis are history.

This does mean that those who hold this viewpoint must reject the findings of our science and its conclusions. If this stance deepens their relationship with God and helps them love Him in spirit and in truth and in obedience to His command to love  then this can't be a bad thing. The point of fact is that no human can have complete knowledge of our origins. All we have to go on is evidence and reason from that evidence.

However, I must say that I believe the events of Genesis to be a Myth.

I might perceive a gasp of horror from some of my readers, especially those from a more Evangelical persuasion. I beg you to bear with me so that I might be allowed to explain myself.

 The modern way of thinking is that a myth is necessarily untrue, or just a story - something that doesn't need to be believed. This is because we tend now to use the word wrongly. We talk about the myth that dock leaves cure the wounds caused by stinging nettles, or the myth that women have smaller brains than men. These are untrue statements but they are definitely not myths.

Modern thinkers like to reject myth as not being an authority on what is true and therefore believe that we may have free reign to interpret it how we want. 

This is false.

"Myth" should not be a dirty word for a Christian who believes in the inerrancy of Holy Scripture. Our Lord's parables are stories and get to the point about what myths are for the Christian. 

We tend to have a narrow view of what counts as knowledge, these days. We view scientific truth as the only truth and thus discount the existence of God because He is unobservable. If there is truth of God's existence (and there is scientific evidence) then it must be by revelation from Him and therefore beyond the limited way we think.
Myth frees us from our obsession with understanding things without God's help. 

This is why I personally think that a purely literal interpretation of Genesis is far too narrow to be the truth. There is a lot that is revealed to us in Genesis without needing to ask when it happened or who wrote the text and with what intention. If we trust God then the Holy Scriptures that He has called His Church to compile for all Christians must be theologically true regardless of the modern tendency to subject the texts to various criticisms in order to find the truth.

Indeed, I am becoming more convinced that the modern way of Biblical Criticism tries to set modern thinking up above all thought that predates it. Modernity looks down its nose at the interpretations of fishermen, tent makers, carpenters, and first-century women with the same disdain as the Pharisees. Everything must be criticised according to the correct up-to-date critical theory before it can be judged to be true.

If the myth of Genesis tells me that God created men and women then I believe that, and from that I can believe that men and women are not interchangeable else the text would not make mention of the differentiation. From Genesis, I know that God created all that is. It doesn't say how, but I know that there are six different aspects of that creation. However, I cannot understand how a "day" can happen without the Sun nor a planet on which there is to be a day. I know from science that a day on Venus is longer than its year. How am I to understand this "day" if there is no reference to astronomy yet created. I can only understand it as an aspect of God Himself, of His engagement with Time from Eternity which boggles my tiny understanding.

There is always an accusation that the liberals make of Traditional Christians cherry-picking our myths or the interpretation of our common myths that the Bible contains and it is their attitude that denigrates the mythic nature of our Faith. We do not have to be ashamed of what we have received from the hands and mouths of our forebears. We should be proud of it. The liberal accusation not only stops there but also denigrates the Sacred Tradition of the Church Fathers as being morally inferior to the present age. They are judged as sexist but permitted to be because they were products of their time. Our time is clearly superior.

The question is in what system of values they make this judgement of superiority. Why is Now with its demythologising influence better than "Then" with the Myths and stories which God has given His Church for all time in order for it to explore the transcendent nature of Reality inaccessible to Science and Rationalism? Who gets to make that decision?

My Evangelical friends may still criticise me for believing in God and the Big Bang and Darwinism. However, I hope that they appreciate that I, too, hold to the inerrancy if Holy Scripture as a means of knowing God and His relationship with Humanity, of knowing His pleasure and thus the necessity for us to live lives which resonate with this pleasure, of knowing our own sin and our salvation in Christ, and of knowing that there is hope for the future through Christ alone.

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