© 2017 by Rabbi Zvi Aviner
IDOLATRY-4: Is Genesis a Myth?
Know your CREATOR, know yourself and know the difference
What do the scholars say? To our luck, Ms. Karen Armstrong tells us about ancient myths in her book.
ELoKIM is truthful
We are walking in the path that Moses set up in the Ten Commandments, for understanding IDOLATRY. Moses, in the Ten Commandments, assumes that the reader is already familiar with his first Book, Genesis, where ELoKiM and other attributes are first introduced.
We studied ELKM from Genesis Chapter One. But let’s ask: Since ELKM stands for Absolute Truth, and His Signature I for Truth, is the story of Genesis a truthful one?
The stakes are high.
Now if the story of Genesis Chapter One is untrue, as myth, than the rest of the Torah is also a myth!
On the other hand, if f we find the story of Genesis a truthful one, then wow! Who told this story to Moses? How could he know the true story of CREATION, 3500 years ago? Moreover, if Chapter One is miraculously true, so is the rest of the Bible!
Most modern scientists, archeologists, astronomy experts and anthropologists, hold that Moses’ account of CREATION is a mere BRONZE-AGE MYTH.
Karen Armstrong, for instance, the author of ‘History of G-d’, places Moses’ Genesis among other ancient myths, told by the Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Greeks and Canaanites, as well as other cultures around the world. Moses story is not essentially different from those myths. And they all share one thing: they DO NOT CONCUR WITH SCIENCE, NO WAY!
Fundamentalists take this literally
Biblical Fundamentalists, in contrast, look at the story as literally true. The Universe exists only about 5000 human years, they say, and it was created in one regular week. These fundamentalists discard all the scientific evidences to the contra as unreliable. They argue, for instance, that the “radioactive Carbon measurements” are false since they assume that the rate of the radioactivity decay of an isotope is no different today than in the past. In fact, they say, the rate today is not the same as in the past. One cannot drive any conclusion from radioactive measurements.
Most believers say:
Most people, however, tend to believe in science, as well as n the Bible. Yet they can’ ignore the apparent clash and contradictions.
My high school teacher advised to “leave the question to great rabbis,” as if those great rabbis would know the answer.
Other teachers said that the Torah is not a book of history, but rather a book of moral messages. No conclusions should be derived about its historical integrity.
When the question is ignored
Unfortunately, evading the contradiction between Genesis and Science, has only brought many to reject the VALIDITY OF THE ENTIRE TORAH.
If the introduction to the Torah is doubtful, then the rest of it is false too. Once you’ve tasted the first spoon, you’d know the taste of the rest of the soup.
Moreover, if Moses was a truthful prophet, why did he begin his five books with such a controversial chapter? He, a true prophet should have known better!
But on the other hand, if we find the story of Genesis truthful, then we’d comprehend why he chose to place it at the front. As a true prophet he knew that one day a generation would rise and doubt his revelation. He therefore placed the story of Genesis at the beginning, hoping that once we’ve found it truthful, matching our science, we would take the rest of his words more seriously.
The stakes are therefore high!
So, is Moses story of CREATION compatible with our Science?
The Egyptian myth of CREATION is important, since Moses grew up in Pharaoh’s home. He knew it by heart. According to Karen Armstrong, the Egyptians believed that the world was created when a male god named Rah (like in Ra-amssess) impregnated a female goddess named Nun (‘water’ or ‘darkness.’) Fearing that her son who’d rebel against his father, Rah slashed Nuns’ belly and killed the god embryo. Rah also cut off the embryo’s testicles and dumped them into the Mediterranean Sea, near the city of Acco.
The lamenting mother Nun then went down into the Sea, retrieved her sons’ testicles and resurrected him from these testicles. This way the world was created or flourished.
We can imagine how emotional the story was in the Egyptian’s eyes. Their priests paraded in the streets for it and celebrated the resurrection with passion. Their philosophers and poets wrote hymns for it and discussed its ‘deep’ meaning of life and death, killing and resurrection
We may even sympathize with the Egyptians, but one thing we can’t say: that their story matches our scientific knowledge of CREATION. No way. Their story is mythical, whereas our scientific narrative is factual.
The Greek too held mythical stories about CREATION. According to Ms. Karen Armstrong, the Greeks believed that a male god named Uranus mated with the goddess of Earth, Gaia, impregnating her with the famous Titans.
Fearing that the Titans would take over his place, Uranus pushed back the Titans into their mother Gaia’s womb, causing her much agony. Whenever the earth is shaking under your feet, it is Gaia twisting in labor pains.
Then the youngest Titans, the brazen Cronus, had the courage to stand up against his father-god. Armed with a sickle, he waited in his mother womb. Next time Uranus penetrated Gaia in sexual act Cronus cut off his father’s sex organ, and threw it to the Sea. The Titans escaped happily from Gaia’s womb and founded (fertilized) Earth. This is the story of CREATION as told by the Greek in Moses’ time.
Again, we may sympathize with the Titans and even play football in their name. Yet we can’t match the story with our Science. No way!
Other ancient myths
The same analysis can be done with any of the ancient myths about CREATION of Moses’ time. The Japanese, Chinese, Indians and Africans told similar myths about CREATION, full of jealousy, rivalry among the gods, and ugly sexual perversions. Some stories are so perverted that I would not quote them here in our classes.
Now what about Moses’ Genesis? Can it be counted among the Bronze Age myth?
Moses story is clean
Looking at Moses story from above, without plunging in its details, we readily see how CLEAN it is. It lacks any family violence, Jealousy, sexual perversion or a power struggle. Moses’ story is dry and factual. You can’t parade in the streets with it, and you can’t hug your neighbor spreading he good news. You can’t even chant hymns for its glory. It is an emotionless, factual story, dry as it can be.
Moses sees an order in CREATION
Moreover, unlike the ancient myths of his time, Moses recognizes an ORDER in CREATION. The world, he says, was created in Six Days, in stages. Some elements and creatures were made first, others followed in a particular, calculated fashion!
This alone set Moses’ Genesis apart. No one else in his time had any clue about an ORDER in CREATION. Thus, Pharaoh regarded the animals roaming around as a target for his pleasure and game. This holds true with all other ancient myths of CREATION.
So how can any serious scholar see Moses’ Genesis as another ancient myth?
Next let’s compare Moses’ Genesis to our Scientific Knowledge of CREATION.
What do the scholars say?
To our luck, Ms. Karen Armstrong tells us about ancient myths in her book.
(1) The Egyptians believed that (a) the world was resurrected from the testicles of god’s son who was resurrected after being killed by his father (b) the world was created by one god (c) god could not have a wife and a son (d) in pure oneness
(2) The Titans were (a) Egyptian deities (b) Fatherly gods (c) embryos in Gaiah’s womb (d) Attributes of the One CREATOR
(3) Moses story is (a) studded by jealousy (b) full of ugly sexual perversions (c) typical bronze age myth (d) a dry account of events
(4) Moses grew up in (a) Babylon (b) Greek (c) Japan (d) Pharaoh’s house
(5) The Fundamentalists hold that (a) only science counts (b) the world was created about 10,000 human years ago (c) the radioactive carbon measurement of fossils is invalid d) the world appeared by accident
(6) Most scholars today believe that Genesis is (a) a myth (b) a true story (c) a scientifically sound story (d) all the above
(7) Moses saw Nature as (a) wildly chaotic (b) something to take advantage of, like hunting (c) an orderly place, where some creatures were born fist, some later (d) existing with no beginning and no end
(8) The ancient myths were (a) factual and dry (b) passionate accounts (c) compatible with our science (d) reflections of the believer’s own lives
(9) Moses concurs with (a) the Egyptian myth (b) the Babylonian myth (c) the Chinese myth (d) with no one’s myth
(10) Moses learned the story of Genesis (a) from Pharaoh’s wise men (b) from the Greek’s philosophers (c) From a great Pharaoh called Ra-amses (d) From scrolls related to Adam, or from Sini’s revelation
Read also: “Genesis Vs. Science, Can They Match?” By Zvi Aviner, at www.smashwords.com