Genesis 1 -- God wanted us to be Vegetarians, and we wanted Her to be our soul mate
Just about everybody knows the Book of Genesis contains the Bible's creation story. The commentary to the New American Bible (2011) advises us not to take this creation story literally, because it does not match the historical & scientific evidence. But neither is the story presented as a self-conscious myth. Whatever the reality, it makes sense to begin the Bible with a creation story. How else to begin a book like this? With afternoon tea? This is meant to be the greatest book of all time, so its first chapter begins with the origins of time, the first six days of the universe.
The way the story is told is meant to set up a few important themes. First, that God existed in the beginning, before everything else, as a timeless entity. Second, that God created everything else, as an omnipotent entity. Third, that God created humans last, in her own image, and that God granted humans authority over all other life on earth.
The order in which God creates the universe sets up a hierarchy, with God at the top, and humans immediately underneath. Humans are directed to take dominion over all the other creatures, not merely to coexist as one interdependent and respectful species of many. Humans are directed to multiply their numbers until they do exercise dominion. And we have. We already had when this book was written.
Yet, as is pointed out in the footnotes, here in Genesis 1 God told humans that she had given us every kind of plant for our food. Only the plants as food. Not the animals. Although God gave us dominion, she did not give us license to kill animals for food. Not yet, anyway. In the beginning, we were vegetarians.
Why did God make us to look like she does? This is weird to a modern reader, because we know the form and function of humans evolved in response to the requirements of survival on earth. If God existed before everything else, there is no reason she would have the anatomical features of humans. But the Creation story arose before the theory of evolution. Instead of viewing the panorama of life as an evolutionary tree, the ancients viewed the panorama of life as a pyramid of form rising from the lowly plants, through wild animals, then tame animals, then humans, then God.
For whatever reason, we humans did not want to view ourselves as the very top of the pyramid (or food chain), even though all the evidence indicates we are. Instead, we envisioned God one step above ourselves. Perhaps because we know humans did not create the universe, and because we can not directly perceive a creature more powerful than ourselves, so we imagined a creature more powerful than ourselves, but not unlike ourselves. I guess if an imaginary creature could look like anything, we may as well presume it looks like we do.
But why only one God? Why was monotheism invented, and why did it come to dominate world religions? Perhaps because it is more simple than hypothesizing multiple gods? Occam's razor -- that the simplest explanation will be the most plausible until evidence is presented to prove it false.
Of course, the simplest explanation is that the universe is cyclical, was never created, does not change in any fundamental way, and does not need a Creator. So there must be a less reasonable, more emotional reason for our invention of God: That many of us can not bear to feel alone inside our own thoughts.
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