By: Rev. Shannon Uz Rogers, UCEC
A 21st Century Unitarian Christian Message
In the Jewish Pentateuch and the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, the first book is called Genesis and contains the “Creation Story” as it was perceived by the writer’s centuries ago, among other such stories. The stories portrayed in these books are also referred to in the Quran and many other writings over the past centuries. No one knows when the original story was first written down, or where it was first told, but it is believed that it was last translated and/or rewritten into Greek from Hebrew sometime around 250 BC. The original authorship of the book is commonly accepted to have been Moses who is thought to have lived around 1700 BC. This is taken at face value by both Jews and many Christians, and of course the Muslims today, without regard to current analysis and historical findings, but is not something that can be proven, and is even rejected by many Biblical scholars both Jew and Christian. Many if not most Biblical scholars today understand that the stories and accounts found within the book of Genesis as allegory, myth, fantasy, or fable at best. And current scientific and historical information seems to back this up. The creation story is not exclusive to just the Hebrews, in fact, throughout the known ancient world, there were many such stories, some very similar to those found in Genesis. I believe, that from the very beginning of the quest for knowledge by humankind we have sought the answers to the questions of where did we came from and where did everything else come from.
Each generation has made advances in their ability to comprehend the truths that surround us. It is obvious that in the time of the writing of Genesis the knowledge of the physical world, they lived in, was not at all what it is today. Thus they saw and understood things as best they could with the limited knowledge they had. The world we know today simply did not exist to these ancient peoples; their perception was very different than ours. Does this make one right and the other wrong? I don’t view it that way. They did the best that they could within the limitations of the world they lived in and their knowledge of it. But I have to ask the question, are we doing the same, when it comes to our own perception of God and creation and our religious faith? In this area, I think not. For although the truth, based on current levels of knowledge and understanding, is presented to us, we blindly turn from it and continue to cling to the precepts of a world that did not really exist then, and certainly does not exist now, and we have evolved such that we should understand and accept the differences, the question is; “do we?”. Basing our faith on knowledge and understanding from centuries past, especially when God has revealed the truth to us relative to the level of understanding of the time we now live in, is not what God would want us to do. I believe that the intentions of God are clear in the fact that God provided a most wonderful trait throughout all creation and that is, evolution. All of God’s creation, including humankind, evolves. As we gain the abilities we will need, God reveals more and more of God’s truths to us. And, expects us to take those truths and apply them to our lives in such a way that it
will exalt God and bless all humankind. God provides us with wisdom and understanding and expects us to use them.
What I will attempt with this writing is to retell the story of the Genesis Creation as seen through the eyes, and with the knowledge, of a 21st century Unitarian Christian. This is not intended to be a scientifically accurate paper of any such theory of the creation of the universe. I present this here simply as my perceptions, as a 21st century Unitarian Christian, as to what current thought might logically view as how our God and the creation might have transpired. Throughout this document I will mention, as I often do in all areas of my life, the phrase “God’s plan”. By saying this I simply mean that, to my point of view, our God, the Almighty Creator of all existence, is intelligent beyond our comprehension and it was the direct intentions of our God to do certain things and that certain things should come to be within and throughout all God’s creation. In other words; our God has “planned” out the evolution of the universe and all of the creation that exist within it. This does not mean that anything is rigidly predestined to be or not to be, God’s plan should not be misconstrued to be a “book” of absolutes. God takes into consideration the reality of all that is created with all its various attributes and factors. As all “plans” should be there is room within for circumstances and situations to shape the elements of the “plan” based on the realities of the moment as they have developed within themselves. Any good plan must be flexible enough to conform to the current circumstances as they might develop and exist, I view this to be one of those “laws of nature”, a part of God’s plan. In other words God’s plan takes into consideration; the “free will” of humankind, the “laws of nature”, the level of intellect of the society affected, and the reality of the “creation” as it exist at any given point in time.
“In the beginning…the Spirit of God was….And God said.” Most of us would recognize these phrases as being from the first book of the Bible, but today we ask ourselves what really could have happened?
In the beginning there was no material substance whatsoever in the void that is now our universe, space or even that which might be beyond our realm of knowledge today. The only presence that did exist and had existed from eternity was Spirit, a Force, Energy, a Power, not a being or humanlike in anyway, not any form of matter at all, God has no physical form. But God does have Almighty abilities and unlimited wisdom and knowledge that have no bounds. God saw the void and developed a plan to change the void from empty to full. And though the void was filled with the boundless essence of the Spirit itself, there was no matter, no material objects to reflect the existence of the Spirit, to acknowledge the presence of the Almighty God. Thus the plan for creation was developed and executed by the Spirit Creator, by the Origins of the Force of Life, by the Ultimate Reality. And from this time on we shall call this Spirit, God.
And God looked upon the emptiness of the void of the universe and determined that physical matter should be created, and God being all knowing, devised a plan such that the matter would
begin even though that beginnings was small and beyond sight, the first form of matter was created, and it is possible that God did this many times. A subatomic particle that would, at once begin to multiply and group together, and the first quark and other such smallest of all particles were created. And these particles then grouped, as God had planned, and became the nuclei of an atom, and the atoms too, following God’s plan, multiplied over and over until hydrogen and nitrogen and other elements, that were to become the building blocks of all matter, were in abundance and multiplying at enormous speeds, just as God had planned. This process continued for a very long period of time though time did not exist. Then God looked upon the Creation and saw that it had become a light within the void, and was growing bigger and brighter, all according to God’s plan. This light was a single “star”, shinning within a boundless void, and it did so for a very long time, as we would measure time today, but God’s plan had only begun. God’s plan was to make this “star” the mother of all stars and galaxies all that would fill the void of space that did surround it. The “star” reached its ultimate maturity, and when God was ready, the “star” did explode with such force and magnitude that it is not fully comprehended even to this day. This is what is referred to today as the” big bang”. This is not only the beginning of the universe but also the beginning of time itself, for time requires a unit to measure it by and this did not exist until this moment, just as God had planned. Thus God created not only matter and the universe, but also time that we might measure the years, months, days, hours, minutes and less. Per God’s plan, at this point, there was nothing but huge amounts of different kinds of matter, flying at incomprehensible speeds, and star dust, gases and elements to small to be seen. The creation had begun, and all began to evolve into such elements and matter as God’s plan had conceived, and began to produce every building block needed to produce all that would be needed to perpetuate the plans of our Almighty God, not only for that moment but for all eternity. Thus the perpetual reality of all creation had begun, just as God had planned. The “star” as mentioned herein may or may not have been a star as we see it today but is used here to mean that entity that God created from which all physical existence is derived.
The next stage, in the plan that God would execute, involved the regrouping of various forms of the “matter” that was flying through the space, and thus the “matter” began to continue to multiply and began to group together and new stars were formed, smaller than the “One Star” but just as bright, and God saw that the light was now beginning to shine not just in one place but throughout the expanding area filled by the new stars, throughout the new universe. And God’s creation had begun; this included the processes of birth and rebirth, life and death and perpetual creation. To reject the truth of our God having existence and being the architect, engineer and constructor of all creation is simply burying our heads in the sand to keep from facing the reality that is placed before us whenever we look at the smallest of the sub-atomic world to the largest endless expanse of the universe as we can now see it. The order and structure of this as a whole should serve to cause us to reject any other possibility. Even the latest in modern science theory is leaning toward this same conclusion though stated in a different way. Something of boundless intelligence was and still is, in charge of these processes. Nothing with this level of perfection
could possibly exist by accident, there is a “Force” throughout all creation that first created it and sustains it to this day. Is this a carpenter with a hammer or a mason with a trowel or even a rather large man with a flowing beard sitting on a golden throne somewhere, no it is not. For the essence of God is not something that we can fully comprehend, even though we are much more knowledgeable than our ancestors we are still not ready for the whole truth, the Ultimate Reality. To each generation our God allows us to evolve to a level, slightly above the previous, so that our abilities to understand, comprehend and accept, if we will, the realities of God within our existence and God’s place in our lives and eternity as they fit within our current state of being. And it seems obvious to me, based on the application of logical thinking and the evidence handed down from past generations, that we as God’s creations, God’s children, that we should welcome such abilities that are afforded to us and apply such learning to our lives in such a way as to serve the will of our God and the necessities of all creation.
It should be understood here that within God’s plan for all creation there are various “laws” and I am referring to laws that govern the natural aspects of all creation, including humankind. The universe, our solar system, our planet down to the minutest of sub-atomic particulate, and all that is in between, must follow these laws, the natural order of all existence. The very reality of nature around us, with all its dangers, is part of God’s plan. Our in-born ability of “freewill” is part of God’s plan and God has reasons for it all. How do we deal with the dangers and the decisions we choose to make? God’s plan requires that we address these issues on our own. This is how we grow, learn, mature and evolve. I do not view these “Natural Laws” that govern our universe as being incompatible with the reality of God but more so as just another aspect of God’s Plan for all creation.
As God’s plan played out further, the dust, gas and such began to bind together until there were countless numbers of rock formations, and then these began to attract each other and form stars, planets and moons, and the gases too bound together and became planets and stars as well. With the foundation of the gravity of their stars, countless numbers of solar systems were formed and began to evolve to the next step in God’s plan. This took a very long time, as we would count it, but not so with God. God’s plan was right on schedule just as it is today. The number of solar systems is not known but we now know that there are many, however for us there is only one, and that one contains our planet, Earth.
When the Earth was first formed God did not make it as we see it today, it too had to evolve. So from dust to rocks to boulders, and then all began to form together and to be filled with heat to cause all to fuse together over a very long time. Thus the surface of our Earth was a sea of molten rock, and as per God’s plan, it then began to cool and this too took a very long time. Within God’s plan there also formed our moon though we are not sure as to exactly how this was done, we should not view the how as of most importance more so the “why” is now more obvious than ever before for without our moon life as we know it on our planet would not be
possible. After God’s plan, the surface of Earth was cooled and the atoms and molecules and elements of various forms of matter began to form and there was dry ground and the seas, though none of these as we see it today for that was not God’s plan. From this newly formed Earth God’s plan called forth the evolution of life, not anything such as we would know it today, but life in its most basic forms, for God’s plan was for it to evolve and advance as it could within its environment and as directed by the “Laws” that govern all creation. God’s plan of evolution is for a purpose, for God knows that all creation would need a good “foundation” to build the next generation upon, so each generation would evolve a little better than the previous one. This would build strength and wellbeing for future generations and future creations. The wisdom of God has no bounds unlike our own. After a very long time, the life forms began to take on various features that would allow them to adapt to the world around them, and these were both plant and animal. Some became so adapted that they were no longer bound to the seas but were more suited for the dry land, thus, just as God had planned; the surface of earth began to evolve. God is the Life Force of all that lives, whether it is on earth or elsewhere, whether it is plant or animal or whatever. And if it has life that life comes from God, is sustained by God and one day will return to God, the “Seat” and “Foundation” of all life. This is what is meant by “made in God’s image”, not the physical image of God, for God has no physical image, but the “spiritual” image, the life that is in all living things, including humans, is the image of God, that “Force” that brings life to all that lives.
Over a very long time, plants and animals of all types began to inhabit the dry ground and the seas and even the air around the surface of planet earth, all according to God’s plan. The forces of nature were established and the process of evolution was advanced. Within this creation there was a creature, an animal, not like the others. This animal was destined to play a very important role in God’s plan; this animal would evolve into what is today the human being. Many thousands of years would be required for this animal, and the earth, to evolve into the living beings and the planet we are today, and many changes and adaptations would have to be made, all according to God’s plan, and God’s laws of nature, and God’s laws of evolution. Thus, humankind took its place where God planned for it to be. Thus with their level of consciousness and intelligence humans became God’s “children, servants and witnesses” here on this earth. God did not place us here that we should become proud and boastful and arrogant, but that we should know our God and love our God and follow God’s plan for our individual lives and for all others and all of God’s creation, that we should live our lives in loving humility before our Creator, our God. That we should all be examples for each other so that we do not forget our God or our responsibilities to love each other and all God’s creation.
From the very earliest of human existence we have had an inherent sense of the presence of our God. But God could not be seen, so God was feared just as we ourselves fear the unknown and that which we can sense but not see. No doubt the earliest humans saw God as an invisible force that surrounded them and was manifest in the natural world that they lived within; they saw God
as a part of their surroundings and began to perform various kinds of rituals that were meant to please this God. This too was a part of God’s plan for the evolution of humankind, that as they became more capable to understand the truths, these truths would be revealed to them, just as it is today. And these truths were to the true nature of our God and our place within God’s plan. It does not matter what your faith might be or even if you have one, God is still very real and is revealed within your life whether you choose it or not. For every moment of your life is provided by the “Life Force” within you that is that part of us all that is “the image of God”. There are some that accept this today and like to use this to proclaim that because of this truth, then we are all gods too, but this simply is ridiculous and shows a lack of understanding of the reality of God. By virtue of the life within us, the connection of our God and ourselves is without question, but we are not gods we are but statements of God’s reality.
It was God’s plan that human beings should evolve to the point that they are today. That we might take our place in creation as God’s servants and messengers. The first “humans” were not like we are today; this took a very long time just for us to learn the things that we were to learn in order to fulfill God’s purpose for us, and in due time the human began to think and reason and communicate in details that was unique to only them. They began to live in groups, first as extended families and later as clans and tribes and other groups. The human began to communicate with other humans and trade and commerce developed, though on a very local, small scale. And along this way the human began to learn other traits, some good, but some not good at all. Death and harm was all around them for the world they lived in was very dangerous, filled with various predators and unknown things that could, and did harm those that came in contact with them, not unlike today. Along this way also the human realized that they too could cause harm and even death, not only to the creation around them but also to each other. Danger, pain and suffering were part of the life that God had created for humankind to cause them to realize the realities of life and to draw them closer to their “Creator and Source of Refuge”. Thus wars and physical violence became part of the life style of humankind, and this was not part of God’s plan, but by the free will of themselves humankind embraced this aggressive way of life. God surely intended humankind to have the abilities that we have, but the hurting or killing of each other should only be in defense, not in offensive aggression, the choice is up to us. The choice one makes regarding this matter is directly relative to where God is within their lives, aggression, bigotry and hatred does not reflect the true reality of God but the selfishness and greed of the rejection of God’s love that we should outwardly display within our lives.
However within this world of violence and wrong doings, certain individuals were born that would proclaim God’s message of peace and love to all that would listen, and some believed and followed that way of life. Gods plan is that humankind will choose to know and accept the reality of God; they will choose to live in peace with all to please our God because that is how we show our love for God. Human killing human was not God’s plan, in fact the taking of any life, except to preserve other lives, and is not what God would have anyone do.
At various times during the existence of the human, the earth has experienced different types of world altering events. Some of these were earth quakes, weather related events and volcanic activities and others. The human race managed to survive as a whole, though many did perish, and still do today. Within the various scriptures and ancient writings stories are told of a flood happening in various places, some even say that it was worldwide. Today we know that based on the evidence there was a flood event in almost every part of the world at some point in time, but not necessarily all at the same time and all the earth was never under water at one time. This event was not caused by our God to punish humankind for any “sins” they may have embraced, though this could have been perceived by the people of our past because of their level of mental development and a way of trying to explain “why” to each other. If properly examined the “why?” we so often express is most likely directly related to ourselves more so than to our God. We have the abilities to solve most of our “whys?” rather that ask God to, if we would only recognize it and do so. We humans always ask “why” whenever anything happens to us especially when we simply can’t explain the reality of the event. In the world we live in today the “why?” is there poverty, war, cancer, hunger, homelessness and most kinds of sufferings we can directly relate to our own lack of Godliness. We have allowed our selfishness, greed and general unconcern for others to lead us into a state of “sin” that could rival any other time in the history of humankind. This is especially sad because in this day there is no reason for any of these to exist except that those that could eliminate it choose not to do so.
Some scholars today believe that many of our rituals, superstitions and religions teachings stem from the ignorance of our ancestors. One of these issues from our past, for instance, is “blood sacrifice” be it animal or even human. Many believe that this was not God’s will, or plan, at all, but was merely an outcome of the lack of understanding or intelligence of those first humans that decided to do these things. Perhaps they noticed that if something happened to an animal or human that caused them to bleed and the bleeding was not stopped then they died. Thus the misconception that life comes from blood, and the superstition that if we wanted to “fix” a situation that we did not want, then “blood, a life” would make God happy to “fix” our problem. As we understand God today, we know that this simply is not logical, why would God want you to kill anything that God gave life to, and how could that possibly make God happy or “fix” your problem. This is just one example of why God’s plan calls for humankind to evolve and grow in true wisdom, understanding and knowledge. That we do not dwell in the ignorance and superstitions of our ancestors but that we should grow closer and more truthfully in God’s will, not our own. But in our lives today we should ask ourselves; are we evolving as God’s plan would have us to, are we seeking, recognizing and accepting God’s presence in our lives today, or are we living in our past, in the ignorance of our ancestors.
In the beginning God was, and the truth in our lives today, God still is, and God always will be even after we are all gone just as God was before all was created. The first and most important
thing God wants all creation to know and accept is simply; “God is”, “I Am”. Once we know and accept this truth then we can begin to live our lives as God intended for us to do. Once we place God where God should be in our lives then we can demonstrate the reality of the God’s love within ourselves by outwardly reflecting that love from ourselves to all others and all of creation. We, in this age, have evolved to a point that there is no reason why this should not be our norm, but sadly it is still the exception and will be as long as our faith is founded on the myths, rituals and ignorance of the past. We exist in this day not in the days gone by. We should learn from our past not live in it, this is especially true of our spiritual existence. Ancient scriptures and writings are not for our application today but for our points of reference as to what did or did not work for others in the past that we might learn and evolve for our lives today. It is intended that each generation should grow closer and more aware of the reality of God that our very existence will reflect the reality in all we say and do.
When there was nothing the Reality that is God did exist, a Spirit, Force, Energy or something yet to be revealed but Realty without a doubt. Even modern science must agree that all physical existence began from a non-physical entity that caused all else to exist, they too should agree that from that first point onward a very ordered plan of evolution began and still progresses to this day. God’s plan was in the beginning and is today that all existence should be to reflect the Ultimate Reality that God is, nothing more and nothing less. Let us accept this fact and embrace God’s presence in our existence and live accordingly in God’s peace and love as reflected from the beginning, to now, and for all eternity.