Science in Christian Perspective

Letter to the Editor


The Gift of Life

From: JASA 28 (September 1976): 143-144.

The Genesis story of the creation of man is a revelation of great truth to be understood on a spiritual plane. Those students of the Bible who embrace this narrative as a scientific account, as well as their counterparts who dismiss it because it is incredible to them in physical terms, are likely to miss the wondrous message of the gift of life which it proclaims.

In the first chapter of Genesis, it is written that God created the heavens and the earth in six days and that he rested on the seventh. Since " yom, " the Semitic word for day, is also correctly translated as an indefinite period or "era" literalists should not feel obliged to believe that God performed this creation in several twenty-four hour periods. Besides, such an interpretation is demeaning of God, for God is spirit and cannot be confined in time or space. ". . one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (11 Peter 3:8).

It should not be inferred from the second chapter of Genesis that God created Adam and Eve in physically miraculous terms. Rather, Adam and Eve are represented as the first couple created as man. Adam is distinct from the human beings mentioned in the first chapter in that he was given the breath of life which made him a living soul (Genesis 2:7). As for Eve, the account of her creation is a text of great poetic expression. In no way is it the story of the physical birth of an infant. Eve would be called "Woman," because she was taken out of "Man" (Genesis 2:23). The name "Adam" means "man." God created man in his image. "In the likeness of God made he him" (Genesis 5:1). Since God is a spirit, his image is not a physical phenomenon but a spiritual quality. Apparent throughout the scriptures are the two kinds of birth: physical and spiritual. Without a spiritual birth, man lives only in a bodily sense, as a selfish being born of the dust of the earth. He is dead in the sight of God until he, like Adam, is quickened by God. When he responds to God, believing in him, he receives a new inheritance, a sonship. ". . . he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death into life . . . The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live" (John 5:24, 25).

Adam and Eve were created into the family of God to commune with God. Although they sinned, they were still God's children. "And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain and said I have gotten a man from the Lord" (Genesis 4: 1). After the fall, Adam and Eve and their progeny remained conscious of God. Cain and Abel brought offerings to God, though their communication was not always pleasing to God; and although the idyllic relationship was severed in the Garden of Eden, God did not disinherit Adam and Eve. The human family is not unlike God's family. Godly parents wish and do the best for their children, continuing to do so even when their children do not turn out as they would wish. When children commit serious and heinous crimes, they remain their parents' offspring. They still bear their father's name, and their parents love them and do their best to see them restored.

When Cain was punished, he said that henceforth he would become "a fugitive and a vagabond. . in the earth . . (that) everyone that findeth me shall slay me" (Genesis 4:12, 14). It would be absurd to assume that the word "everyone" used here is intended to mean Cain's brothers or nephews. "For God," said she, "hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew" (Genesis 4:25). Eve would not have made such a statement had she had other children born to her before Cain killed Abel. "Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden" (Genesis 4:16). There, Cain was married, and his wife, who undoubtedly was a human being living in the land of Nod, bore him a son, who was named Enoch. Rather than building a home for this small family, it is written that Cain built for his son a city which he named after his son (Genesis 4:17). Since a city is built for a large group of people, it follows that Cain became the ruler and leader of the people of the land of Nod. From these verses it is clear that before Adam there were men who could and would kill Cain. These were men who, in scriptural terminology, are known as being dead.

That Adam and Eve and their descendants did not totally disavow God is attested in the following passages: "And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. . . And Enoch walked with God: and he was not: for God took him" (Genesis 5:22,24). Lamech, the son of Methuselah and the father of Noah, knew God. "And (Lamech) called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands" (Genesis 5:29). Noah, the great grandson of Adam, knew God. "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord" (Genesis 6:8). The descendants of Adam and Eve were the sons of God who married the daughters of men (Gen. 6.2). Thus the gift of God conferred upon our forefathers was not lost. Even when all who did not repent of their

The scriptures speak specifically of two Adams: First Adam, the Adam of the creation narrative, and Last Adam, Jesus, the Christ, God incarnate. Both Adam and Jesus communed with God, and both were tempted by the devil. Adam fell and there is no written indication that he repented of his sin, whereas Jesus overcame the tempter, "glorified God on the earth and finished the work for which He was sent" (John 17:4). The creation of Adam and Eve and incarnation of Jesus are distinctive from the creation of man, for these three were conceived of the Holy Spirit, albeit differently. Herein lies the message of the old and the new creation.

Dicran A. Berberian, M.D.
389 Loudonville Road
Loudonville, N.Y. 12211