Creation Story: A contemporary interpretation
Creation Story: A contemporary interpretation

Cat's Eye Nebula, NGC 6543

Editor’s note: As we approach Holy Week, we wanted to pass on some imaginative work by VTS junior Robin Denney. If you’re looking for an imaginative paraphrase of the first creation story for use at your Easter Vigil service, look no further. (All Bible quotations are in italics.)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.

Then [out of the formless void] God said, “let there be light.” And spreading outward in every direction, the universe came into being, light and matter racing outward. And today, at the outer expanding edge of the Universe, God’s voice echoes on, as it has done for the last 14 billion years, ever onward, “Let there be light.” And there was light, and God saw that it was good.

Four and a half billion years ago the earth was born in light, in fire. Formed from the collisions of countless asteroids. And on the surface of the Earth there was nothing but burning molten rock, the same temperature as the sun.

As the earth cooled, and a crust of rock formed on the surface, ice rich asteroids and comets struck the face of the earth, and water vapor rose from it’s core, and thick clouds obscured the rock planet, and it rained, and it rained, and it rained for millions upon millions of years. And when the clouds began to clear 4 billion years ago, the planet was covered in a massive green ocean, and the skies were made of carbon dioxide, and they were red. 

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.

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As volcanoes erupted under the green ocean, the magma quickly cooled, and granite was born. It floated on the heavy volcanic rock, and the land rose out of the ocean, and continents formed. 

Then God said, ‘Let the earth put forth vegetation’ And in the shallow seas on the edge of the continents, life came to be, and it took its energy from the sun, and used the CO2 of the sky, and it gave off oxygen. And for 2 billion years, simple photosynthesizing bacteria bubbled oxygen through the oceans, turning them blue, and filled the sky with oxygen, turning it blue, and the atmosphere was formed. 

Then 700 million years ago, the young continents drifted together, and blocked the movement of the oceans over the poles, and the poles froze for the first time, and the ice spread out over the face of the planet. For 50 million years, an ice sheet a mile thick covered the whole face of the planet, and almost all life went extinct.

Then as volcanoes split apart the super-continent, the ice melted, and the continents drifted so that there were shallow seas between them. 

And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures”… And God saw that it was good… God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas.”

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And out of the destruction of extinction life bloomed in the waters as never before, sea creatures that fed on other creatures, and there were, at that time 500 million years ago, more different kinds of living things than have ever existed on the planet since.

And the atmosphere was finally dense enough to protect life from the destructive rays of the sun, and 300 million years ago life came up out of the water, first plants, and then creatures. 

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind… creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. And God saw that it was good.

The first age of land life was the age of the insects. Massive insects swarmed the tropical jungles of earth. Then the amphibians came into being, and massive amphibians dwelt in the jungles. And then life was tested with another mass extinction.

Two hundred and fifty million years ago, an age of volcanoes began. And volcanoes erupted constantly for a million years, spewing poisonous gas that blocked the sun, and forming a new super-continent of lava.

The barren super-continent broke apart, and the pieces are the continents we know today. And while they were still close together, separated by shallow seas, life flourished again upon the earth. 

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.

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From the wreckage of extinction, rose the largest and most notorious creatures ever to walk or swim on the planet, the Dinosaurs, who in turn gave rise to birds.

Then 65 million years ago, a massive asteroid six miles across struck the Caribbean, dust and debris from the impact rained down over the whole earth. At the same time, massive volcanic eruptions began, and filled the skies with thick poisonous gasses. The clouds of debris and gas blocked out the sun, and the jungles died, and with them, the dinosaurs, all of the dinosaurs.

And as the poisonous clouds cleared, life returned again to the earth, and the age of mammals began.

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness”… So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Two million years ago, the ancestors of humans came into being, in East Africa. At that time the bridge of land that connects North and South America rose out of the ocean, and Panama blocked the flow of tropical water over the poles, and the poles froze, and the ice ages, in which we are still living, began. Ice extended through the temperate zone, and many living things died. Humans adapted to the ice, and used it to spread out over the face of the earth. And the ice came and went in cycles of thousands of years. 

God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”

Ten thousand years ago, humans began to cultivate plants and raise animals, and with agriculture was born civilization.

God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.”… And it was so.

The work of creation has not stopped, everywhere in the universe, from its outer edge to it’s core, the redemptive work of creation continues, bringing life and beauty from destruction and nothingness. The cycle of death and life, destruction and creation continues.

God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.

**

Robin Denney (@redenney) is an M.Div. junior at Virginia Theological Seminary. She wrote here previously on Faith Formation Failure

The artwork is from Desktopography an amazing website of curated nature images by various artists. 

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