As I begin the summer, with all of its activities, I always refresh my commitment to spend some of it simply enjoying creation. This year I hope to continue my pursuit of elusive butterflies and their caterpillars, which I photograph and post to my Facebook page. Learning which caterpillar becomes which butterfly has helped me to appreciate the complexity of God’s creation. Where before I saw woods and meadow, now I see habitat, biodiversity, and adaptation. This is a spiritual maturation that Genesis 1 and Psalm 8 encourage. What lays ahead of us should be a season of wonder.
Genesis gives a simplified, non-scientific, account of the beginning of life on earth. I think it is silly to pit this ancient text against modern understandings of how the world works. Genesis is a gift given to us to inspire awe about our world. We see God declaring everything good; both the darkness and the light, both the sea and the dry ground, both our home turf and the dome of heaven. We are free to explore all of this and to become wise. Evolution and other scientific discoveries, allow us to understand the ongoing dynamics of biology. Knowing these things helps us in our fight against life-threatening pollution and climate change. Only a fool would think science and religion are enemies.
As God creates, he intentionally uses a process that honors diversity. Visit a woodland habitat and start counting how many different plants there are. The air will be filled with a half dozen different butterflies, and if you are lucky, the stream will host both damselflies and dragonflies. An anthropologist will tell you that for a while, both homo sapiens and neanderthals inhabited the same world. Human diversity goes back to creation. Genesis teaches us a lesson when it tells us that both men and women are fashioned in the image of God.
Don’t miss the punchline of the Genesis story of creation; God works for six days making all that is. Then God rests. When we work 24/7, who do we think we are? Are we greater than God? The problem that this ancient text poses to our modern mind is not its impossibly short time frame for creation, but its criticism of our current way of life. One day a week, no matter who we are, we should sabbath. Sabbath means a day to reconnect with our family and close friends. A day to rest our hearts and soul — to rediscover that we are not human doings, but human beings. A day to walk in the woods and wonder at creation — and to be thankful that you left your cellphone behind on its charging cord.