The creation myth is the first “story” in the Bible.
I use myth purposefully: that story has so much truth that is way beyond whether or not it actually happened. No one ever asks if Little Red Riding Hood really did meet a talking wolf because no one needs to. We all know that’s not the point of the truth.
The Bible’s “creation” myth is a poetic birthing story meant to inform us of greater truths of the deepest parts of humanity, and our own birthing. It’s not meant to throw out superficial scientific facts... and arguing for that appears as empty as arguing that the boy really did cry wolf because we have scientific evidence.
That birthing poem/myth is one of my favorites because it is so layered. Like any good story, there are so many ways to come at it: Rest. Work. Creativity. Shame. Fear.
The story, the myth, the tale, the poem, begins with all kinds of good. In fact, everything is good or very good as the story tells us. “Good” is sprinkled everywhere. Good is also a word that could mean a lot of things but it generally doesn’t mean perfect. Some people would even say that their pain has been good. (But more on that later.)
I think every human story begins with good. I have lots of theologians and scholars to back me up on this too. It’s known as Original Blessing. The stories start off good. But, because it’s always easier to sell a solution for something messed up than to sell that you’re good enough without me or my answers, the concept of Original Sin won the popularity battle.
But even though the story is “all good” I can’t deny that there is something not good in that story of humanity, and in our stories. (Depending on our definition of “good”, “not good” could mean all kinds of things too.)
Still, things go from good to not good. There is a trajectory that I don’t think most humans want. No matter definitions, when things go from good to not good in a story, I pay attention. Things go from good to not good in just about every story, and we call these things, conflict, tension, antagonists, and struggle. As much as we hate things going from good to not good, it’s what makes a story relevant and powerful, because it happens all the time.
And we also learn the most in that part of the story. That’s where the meat is.
What brings about the “not good” in the birthing story of the Bible is a thought of the main characters: a perspective. A way of viewing themselves and the world. They didn’t think they were enough. They believed that there was more to be done to become “enough”.
Of course, there is a “voice” telling them they are not enough. There always is and you can call the voice anything you like: the accuser, the ego, the “devil”, a snake, or just “evil”... it’s the voice that tells us that we aren’t enough. The voice keeps yelling that there is something missing and something better to get to in terms of our standings with the gods.
If either of those are true then we are not enough just where we are.
Once we believe that lie, we generally make another error, at least according to the story. We think that a great way to get to “enough” is to have knowledge... of good and evil. To get more of something than we have, to become like something else.
I don’t think the story is saying we shouldn’t learn. Although I do think there is a tremendous danger in learning so much that you become trapped in certainty. Still, not the point.
If you ask me, one of the primary reasons we want knowledge of good and evil, especially when we need to make ourselves feel more worthy, is to use that new-found knowledge on someone else. We usually want to put head knowledge about good and evil in our brains so that we can use that information as a bullet to take down people around us. If they go down, we are up and when we are more up, we make ourselves feel worthy again... at least compared to them... to make up for that first mistake in thinking. Even if they aren’t down, at least we have learned something to get us up.
This leads to a never ending cycle of work, pain, thorns, desire, jealousy and, of course, using our new-found knowledge to point out how bad others are, or at least how good we are.
It’s his fault. He’s bad. It’s her fault. She’s bad. It’s that snake’s fault. That snake is bad.
And since he’s bad, that means I’m better than him, right?
Am I more than enough now? Or at least back to enough?
It’s a dangerous path the story talks about. It can be a kind of hell when all humans do is look for brain knowledge to take down others to make themselves feel better. Or even when they look for certainty to make themselves feel better about uncertainty.
Unfortunately, religion did more to exacerbate the problem than to diminish it and by the time Jesus got here he was telling some religious leaders (Pharisees) that they were traveling over land and sea to create Sons of Hell. (Or participants in a world where all you do is look for knowledge to take down others to make yourself feel better to be enough... a.k.a. judgmental)
But, of course, we still love stories because after they go from good to not good, we know there is better good coming if we can just get through that fall or pit or desert, learning what we are supposed to.
I think Jesus came to stop all this madness and remind us that we’re okay, we’re enough, we’re powerful, we’re beautiful, we are love, and there is nothing we can do to be any more of those things. When we die to more, we find life. and if we don’t think we are enough already, well... we’ve lived this story before, right?
I think the point is to change the story when we live it. To not believe the lie.