A New View of Genesis

Bringing a spiritual perspective to world events and daily life

In the United States in recent weeks, the media have been discussing the book of Genesis in the Bible. One television series includes conversations about Genesis with a wide range of people -- artists, scholars, writers, and others. These individuals discuss and interpret different parts of the book. One artist, for example, has found that the concept of creation has parallels with the way he creates a work of art.

By virtue of its name and content, we can accurately say that Genesis is a book about beginnings. A friend of mine used to say that anyone starting some project would benefit from reviewing Genesis before proceeding. And to get the greatest possible benefit from such a review, I've found that Mary Baker Eddy's book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures has been invaluable. In separate chapters titled "Genesis" and "Creation," as well as in other chapters, Science and Health offers insight into the significance of the Bible's first book.

Among other things, the book addresses the fact that Genesis presents two accounts of creation. The first is one in which we are made in God's likeness, and it ends with God's declaring what He made to be "very good" (1:31). The second account is perhaps more widely known. It includes the story of Adam and Eve and their banishment from the garden of Eden. Here we find a creation that is flawed by disobedience and sin. Many people view these two accounts as involving one creation that was at first perfect but that began to decline almost as soon as God made it.

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Science and Health, however, makes it much easier to understand that these are two separate accounts. Man couldn't start out perfect and then become a sinner. You and I actually have only a perfect nature, one that through prayer and spiritual understanding can be recognized and proved as real in our lives.

How could this be? Quite simply because sin and death never had a place in God's scheme of things. His plan has always been for there to be a perfect creation. Christian Science, Mrs. Eddy's discovery of the truth of God's creation, shows that each of us actually has that perfection now. Science and Health explains: "In the Science of Genesis we read that He saw everything which He had made, 'and, behold, it was very good.' . . . Sin, sickness, and death must be deemed as devoid of reality as they are of good, God" (p. 525).

This certainty that God is good and that He loves us all was taught by Christ Jesus. His Sermon on the Mount points out that if a child asks for bread, a parent doesn't give a stone. Or if someone asks for a fish, he isn't given a serpent. Jesus explained that if human parents with all their faults are able to give good things to their children, God certainly can do even better. He said, "How much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" (Matthew 7:11)

Trusting that God loves you and that His creation is perfect enables you to overcome both sin and disease. This isn't always easy. It often requires difficult choices. But that's where the book of Genesis can be a great help. It spends a large part of its time dealing with choices, specifically the decision of whether to obey and trust God.

The disobedience of Adam and Eve, the jealousy of their child Cain (which led him to murder his brother Abel), the arrogance of the builders of the tower of Babel, the sinfulness of Sodom -- to mention only a few examples -- show the consequences of bad choices. But the stories of Abraham, Noah, Jacob, and Joseph dramatically show the benefits coming to those who ultimately choose to trust God. Even if these people didn't always start out doing right, good came to them in the end, when they obeyed God's laws.

Reading these Biblical accounts, with Science and Health as a guide, will give you the discernment to choose good and reject evil. In this way, the book will lead you toward greater harmony and joy. I know this because, together with the Bible, it has guided me through good days and bad, helped me morally, and healed me physically. I have come to know God.

Healing through prayer is explored in more detail in a weekly magazine, the Christian Science Sentinel.

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