The world described in the Book of Genesis was different than ours. In the Beginning, after six days of creative endeavor, God rested and judged His creation as “very good.” Put simply, the Garden of Eden was Paradise … and while the Book doesn’t elaborate in minute detail, we know Eden was radically transformed because of sin into Paradise Lost.Yesterday, I posed the question: Are We Smarter Than Our Biblical Forebears? This question actually has some currency given recent discussions dealing with big bang inflation theory (as illustrated above). Certainly, this theory is a departure from the biblical narrative of Genesis.
The idea that 21st century man has much greater knowledge than our forebears is nothing new. As I intimated yesterday, the arrogance associated with this notion is stunning. Though I didn’t intend to venture into politics, an example of the snobbery came via Dr. Howard Dean on today’s MSNBC Morning Joe where the interaction centered on Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker (as a possible 2016 presidential contender).
Click over to the video if you wish, but in the lengthy segment (almost 9 minutes), two quotes from the irrepressible Dr. Dean underscore his supercilious attitude. Near the 4:45 mark, Dean asserts: “… evolution is a widely accepted scientific construct, and people who don’t believe in evolution either do it for hard right religious reasons or because they don’t know anything.” Around the 6:30 mark, Dean presses his point, saying, “… if you don’t know anything about science, that’s a problem” which Dean believes translates to a problem for Walker “because he doesn’t believe in evolution.” (Emphasis mine.)
I would respectfully urge Dr. Dean to consider (or reconsider?) Genesis 2:19 with its clue to Adam’s intellect. It says: “Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man [Adam] to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.”
Adam’s intelligence – his brilliance, ceding he was made in the image and likeness of God – enabled him to name each animal, each bird, each living creature. We can’t know for sure, but I suspect he didn’t call them doggie or kit-kat; he originated scientific naming! Later in the passage, Adam gave his wife a name: (ishah אִשָּׁה) … because she was taken out of man (me’iysh מֵאִישׁ).
No, Adam didn’t believe in evolution; he knew the Creator. Clearly, if asked the question Are We Smarter Than Our Biblical Forebears? Dr. Dean would answer in the affirmative. … But I digress.
I promised in yesterday’s post to highlight a second book by Dr. Ruth Beechick that I consider another excellent tool for thinking about and discussing ancient (i.e. biblical) history. This book is titled Adam and His Kin, with the subtitle The Lost History of Their Lives and Times. In some sense, this is a story-book, but using that description will likely diminish its interest for some. That would be most unfortunate.
Beechick states the purpose of this work in the preface. “The purpose of this book is to provide a simple narrative of the events” in Genesis. Using “a little imagination,” she presents a narrative in the same vein as Walter Cronkite’s You Are There broadcasts. For instance, she proposes what a conversation between Adam and Eve might have been like as they walked in the Garden. She puts skin on the bones of earth’s earliest inhabitants.
The book suggests ways in which these early humans understood their environment. The author reminds that Adam lived nearly a century (930 years) after he was created. Multiple generations were born during Adam’s lifetime; as the first Man, he provided an eyewitness account of living in Eden, communing with God, and the devastating costs of sin. Adam testified to the truth of his experiences.
Beechick suggests study of the heavens (astronomy) was an early pursuit for Adam’s kin. The stars and planets had names and the people read the Story of God via those heavenly bodies. Indeed, Psalm 19:1 says: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” This isn’t simply affirmation that the stars and sky are beautiful, though they are; it’s a declaration that the Story of God is there in the skies for us to examine and comprehend!
When Beechick begins her narration of Noah’s life, she reminds readers that Noah had experienced the majesty of God’s pre-flood world as well as the diminished world after the deluge. She writes from Noah’s perspective: “They won’t understand, Noah realized regretfully. They will imagine the old world as like their own, but with maybe a bluer sky, whiter clouds and gentler mountains … [they will not understand] what a paradise was lost.”
Indeed, the world was so altered from Noah’s earlier experience … suddenly, there were definite seasons for planting and for reaping, living peacefully side-by-side with the animals was no longer an option because many had become meat-eaters. Twelve 30-day months no longer equaled a year which meant altering the calendar. Unfortunately for mankind, sin was still a constant … as it is today.
At the close of this book, Beechick appends resources for further study. As an educator, Beechick understood how to provoke thought and challenge her readers. She does so in this volume. Buy the book! Read it alongside the biblical account of Genesis.
Without the least sensationalism, Beechick’s book depicts the world’s forgotten years where Paradise once was … and the utter cataclysm of Paradise Lost.