In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. And God said, ‘Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. 8 God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. And God said, ‘Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, ‘Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.’ And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day. And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.’ And it was so. God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. And God said, ‘Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.’ So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.’ And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.’ And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.
“How can you possibly believe what the Bible says about the world being created in six days?” an incredulous new friend asked me.
Personally, I don’t believe that God created the world in six days (and then rested on the seventh) a few thousand years ago. I believe there is a difference between taking the Bible literally and taking the Bible faithfully. Taking the Bible faithfully means that I read the Book of Genesis not as a scientific textbook but rather for the stories of faith and wisdom and for the insight into our living God.
A God who is with us in every moment: past, present and yet to come. A God who is still creating and re-creating our world today. And that means a God who is still creating and re-creating our understanding of our world.
Diana Butler Bass writes in her book Grounded: “God is not a far-off Weaver of the Web, like God once depicted as the Watchmaker who assembled creation and left it to run on its own. No, God is part of the web, entangled right here with us.”
So, what does that “entanglement” mean for the way we approach and engage with creation?
When we think and act out of greed and destructiveness. God is with us. When we think and act out of apathy and indifference. God is with us. When we think and act out of compassion and conservation. God is with us.
Yet, it is only with the last statement that I think it can be truly said that “And God saw that it was good.”
Creator God, who created and continues to create all that lives and grows on our world, we pray for our beautiful, diverse planet; a place that is often polluted, abused or taken for granted. You are with us in yearning for a world characterised by compassion and conservation. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Dr Nicola Robinson is an ordinand at Northern College in Manchester.