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 21 2012: If space and time are related, is it possible to assume that before the big bang (before space/matter) there was no time? Its hard to think about there being no time but without space i would assume its possible right?
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      Sep 22 2012: You are making an assumption that there was no space/matter before the big-bang.

      A black hole essentially occupies almost no space, but has extreme matter. What would time mean in a black hole? It is outside the dimension in which we live, and therefore, not within our ability to quantify it.

      Before the big-bang, we can know nothing about what happened. It may have been the end of a previous universe, but that is only speculation. If we accept that God always was, then time is infinite. But that is outside of our ability to comprehend. It may be that the universe goes through endless cycles. That is a common teaching in Hindu beliefs.

      How does this relate to my topic?
      • Sep 22 2012: Sorry to stray from your topic. What im trying to get at is that since they had no science back then or any way of understanding the working of the cosmos it was written in a very simple form. God made light oceans animals and so on... It would of been impossible for those people to write about a topic they had no way of comprehending. I think it comes down to people having a very very basic way of how the earth was created and the rest is faith. Now that we have a better understanding of the universe and exciting theories, people like you and I are left wondering how this all came about and if those stories have any substance.
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          Sep 23 2012: Eric,
          You are right that ancient cultures had no understanding of the workings of the cosmos as far as science is concerned. The creation story in Genesis tells us nothing of how any of it happened, nor does it tell us anything about who or what God is.

          The part that catches my interest is what the fall in the Garden of Eden actually represents. We know that people can alter their lives forever with just one impulsive or careless act. Lives have been destroyed because someone did something without giving it a second thought. As soon as they do, they try to cover it up, or blame it on someone else just as it was with Adam. But once the evidence is exposed, the consequences are sure to follow.

          Now we are living in a time when a careless or impulsive act could mean the demise of whole cities. Whether the story is actually true or not, the lesson it is trying to teach has grave consequences if we fail to learn it.

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