TED Conversations

Roy Bourque

Aerospace Education Officer for Cadets, Civil Air Patrol


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Biblical Genesis; is it fact or myth?

Jesus always spoke in parables (Matthew 13:10,11,34,35). He also claimed he only does as the father does (John 5:19). None of the stories told by Jesus were literally true. Yet they convey lessons that Jesus felt were important. Could the same be true for Genesis?

According to Genesis, God created the heavens and the earth. Yet there isn’t a single fact on HOW God created anything, nor is there a single fact about who or what God is. What I do find is a warning about the power of deception, and many parallels between Genesis and Eastern philosophy.

Eastern philosophy deals with the power of mind over matter. The quality and result of our actions is totally dependent on the quality of our thoughts. If our thoughts are not in harmony with the power that drives creation, our actions will be confounded. So the key is to understand what drives creation.

The power that drives creation is what the ancients referred to as God. To understand what GOD means, we have to understand WHAT DID create the heavens and the earth.

The church gave us its interpretation of God, but it is all based on a personification. A personification does not define nor describe God. If you can’t see beyond the personification, you aren’t seeing anything but fantasy. That is a serious problem.

Everything that we have created requires that we understand the creative process. The creative process involves the structure of matter, which can be traced all the way back to quantum fields, and the creative forces of nature, which can also be traced all the way back to quantum fields. The power that created the heavens and the earth includes both the structure of matter, and the forces that manipulate that structure. That is where we have to start if we want to understand what God is. Presently, science is closer to the truth than the church. But science doesn’t deal with spirituality. There has to be a balance between the two.


Closing Statement from Roy Bourque

There are three different viewpoints;
1. Genesis is myth, and therefore nonsense.
2. Genesis is fact, and therefore supports the idea of a young earth.
3. Genesis is myth, but contains many deep lessons if you care to search them out. I am of this group.

Joseph Campbell made many connections between myths of various cultures and showed their relevance in understanding the mysteries of life. Although they weren't literally true, they had value as food for thought. Jesus said man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. To me, this is a direct association referring to food for thought. The fundamentalist says "the bible says that God has a mouth". The freethinker says the universe speaks through those who were able to understand.

Ancient cultures had two levels of thought; The exoteric was meant for the general masses (just accepting the literal word). Esoteric was the deep wisdom, reserved for the elite. The Jews have an esoteric teaching called the Kabalah. This goes far beyond the literal word.

Moses was raised in the house of Egypt and married the daughter of a Midian priest (part of Mesopotamia). These facts come from the bible. I was led to look into Egyptian and Mesopotamian myths and found many similarities to the Judeo-Christian tradition, yet these myths predate the bible. Genesis itself was written in the age of myth.

I see myth as a mystery that makes you think. The fundamentalist is persuaded by word alone. But word alone has many conflicts. The order of events in Genesis chapter one is different than Genesis chapter two. Genesis 22:1 says God did tempt Abraham. Yet James 1:13 contradicts this. There are many more. These discrepancies cannot be ignored if one is to take the word of God seriously. Why is there a discrepancy? What is it trying to tell you? You have to think about it, you can't just take it for face value. Myth demands that you use your brain to think and not just memorize.

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    Sep 8 2012: "Presently, science is closer to the truth than the church. But science doesn’t deal with spirituality. There has to be a balance between the two."

    What do you mean by: " truth", "spirituality" and "balance"? The truth valid for our planet? The spirituality of humans - and even here we could probably differentiate?

    Do you really believe that there is always a neat balance?
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      Sep 9 2012: I suggest science has started to explain why humans are subject to so called religious and spiritual beliefs and activities.

      Humans have evolved to be tribal, agency assuming, meaning creating primates subject to different mental states intuitive inaccurate guesswork, delusions, cognitive bias, credulous while young etc.

      Religion and spiritual experience, rituals, beliefs etc is probably just a misfiring or leveraging mind processes that evolved that enhanced our survival.

      Obviously religion and spirituality are not pathways to truth being based on subjective personal experiences, dogma and authority. That is why there is no consensus. They all conflict.

      However, I agree it is important to recognise the role and psychology and importance associated with the search for meaning and religious activities and beliefs.
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      Sep 17 2012: Nature always seeks the easiest point and or path to a state of equilibrium so yes, balance is important.

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