The Problem With Teaching Creationism In The Science Classroom

1363 words - 5 pages

The creation stories in Genesis, though they tackle similar themes, have different points of view and focuses as to the fundamentals of the creation process. The first story centers on the process by which God creates the universe as a whole. In essence, He imposes order upon chaos: “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep” (Genesis 1:2, King James Version). From this raw state, He delineates different aspects of the cosmos from the night and day all the way down to man and woman. The second, on the other hand, fixates on the particulars of creating a world for humans to inhabit. Unlike the first story, man is created early in God's process after which vegetation and animals are formed, the former of which for man to take care of and the latter as an aid to man. Later, the narrative turns to philosophical matters, such as introducing the concept of good and evil, in addition to explaining such things as work and pain during childbirth. Such ideas are not present in the first story, which, as mentioned, takes less of an interest in the specific impact of mankind's presence in the world and more of one at the cosmic level.
These stories find their roots in the cultures that surrounded the Hebrews at the time of their writing. They share motifs with other creation stories of the Near East. The flood account in The Epic of Gilgamesh, when compared with the flood narrative in Genesis, is often cited as an example of such a similarity between Genesis and other Near Eastern texts. However, the creation stories of the first two chapters of Genesis find links with other Near Eastern creation myths. The Enuma elish is a Near Eastern creation myth that contains a god who creates the universe by separating aspects of it into the correct spheres, as Marduk does in the formation of the sky and sea from Tiamat's body (Dalley, as cited in Webster), as God does in Genesis. According to Hasel (1972), “the idea of a separation of heaven and earth is present in all ancient Near Eastern mythologies.” The stories in Genesis are differentiated enough to constitute a whole new creation myth, of course, beginning with the fact that Genesis was conceived for a monotheistic audience and following from there. However, it is clear that those responsible for Genesis were, in part, influenced by cultural contact with the societies around them.
It is traditionally believed that Moses wrote the Pentateuch, which include the first chapters of Genesis. For a number of reasons, however, scholars believe that “several people wrote the creation accounts, and then these accounts were anthologized together much later in the book we currently call Genesis” (Wheeler). These reasons include differences in tone and well as the genre of each piece. The first story is “grandiose” and a “poetic text”; the second is “simple” prose (Wheeler). Based solely on this evidence, one could still argue that one author wrote both...

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