The Big Picture Bible Course – session 4 “The Fall”
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful
And kindle in them the fire of your love.
Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created
And you will renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray
Lord Jesus Christ, take all my freedom, my memory, my understanding, and my will. All that I have and cherish you have given me. I surrender it all to be guided by your will. Your grace and your love are wealth enough for me. Give me these, Lord Jesus, and I ask for nothing more.
Amen. (Prayer of self-dedication to Jesus Christ ascribed to St Ignatius of Loyola)
Discussion from the previous week “Creation”
Some observations about the Garden of Eden
- A good creation – Genesis 1: 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31
- A benign gentle creation watered by a mist – Genesis 2: 6.
- A vegetarian creation – Genesis 1: 26-31
(contrast with Genesis 9: 1-3)
- Man – male and female, have dominion over every living thing. Genesis 1: 26
- A job to do – to tend and care for the Garden of Eden – Genesis 2: 15. (Sometimes called the “Covenant of Works”.)
- Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. Genesis 3: 8
Note – there are two other instances of people walking with God. Enoch in Genesis 5: 24 and Noah in Genesis 6: 9.
- No thorns in the garden. Genesis 3: 18
- The garden yields its abundance with little effort on the part of Adam and Eve. Genesis 3: 17 (Adam and Eve potter in the garden.)
- They can eat of the Tree of Life but not the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Their proximity to God in the garden means they have Him as that source of reference.
- Even after it has all gone wrong they still have a world to live in and a Saviour is promised to them. Genesis 3: 15
Catechism of the Catholic Church
288 Creation is the first and universal witness to God’s all-powerful love.
289 Among all the Scriptural texts about creation, the first three chapters of Genesis occupy a unique place. From a literary standpoint these texts have had diverse sources. The inspired authors have placed them at the beginning of Scripture to express in their solemn language the truths of creation – its origin and its end in God, its order and goodness, the vocation of man, and finally the drama of sin and the hope of salvation. Read in the light of Christ, within the unity of Sacred Scripture and in the living Tradition of the Church, these texts remain the principal source for catechesis on the mysteries of the “beginning”: creation, fall, and promise of salvation.
375 The Church, interpreting the symbolism of biblical language in an authentic way, in the light of the New Testament and Tradition, teaches that our first parents, Adam and Eve, were constituted in an original “state of holiness and justice.” This grace of original holiness was to “share in…divine life.”
378 The sign of man’s familiarity with God is that God places him in the garden. There he lives “to till it and keep it.” Work is not yet a burden, but rather the collaboration of man and woman with God in perfecting the visible creation.
Last weeks extra task
How long was the tent peg?
Thoughts on Paul’s use of “saints” in Ephesians.
Reading the Overview for “The Fall”
and watching the DVD.
Marking next weeks scriptures.
It is often said that the Bible is not a science text book. But can you find science in it?
Have a look at Genesis 30: 32-43
Jacob is looking after his father in law’s sheep and goats. He notices that the black sheep and the speckled and spotted goats have vigour even if they don’t look very good as specimens. He asks his father in law if he can have those animals as wages. He breeds them and ends up with a thriving, sturdy herd and his father in law’s herd grows feeble.
Jacob has done what scientists do. He has made an observation, made predictions from that and tested that in practice by experiment. An exercise in genetics before the monk Gregor Mendel started experimenting with peas.
When his father in law, Laban, figures this out he is less than pleased – Genesis 31:5. Jacob leaves and returns to the land of his father, Isaac.
The whole story of Jacob is one of trickery and deceit. Jacob acquires his brother’s birth right – Gen 25: 29-34.
He tricks his father into giving him his brothers blessing – Gen 27.
He flees for his life because his brother Esau is very angry with him.
Jacob works for Laban and wants to marry his daughter Rachel – Gen 29.
Laban tricks Jacob into marrying Leah and he has to labour for many more years to marry Rachel.
Lastly we have the trickery of the sheep and goats.
This is not to condone deceit, after all Jacob suffers because of his actions even though God favours him over his brother.
Isaac also comes out as a rather long-suffering faithful individual.
The Great Evolution-Creation Debate
Strangely enough the Church hasn’t come down on one side of the debate or the other, it acknowledges the status of evolution as a theory of value in some areas of study. It asks that if you have a measure of evolution in your understanding of creation you acknowledge the following truths:
- God created everything out of nothing (ex nihilo).
- God created an orderly universe (the universe is not a product of chance).
- God sustains everything in being (everything depends on God for existence).
- The human soul was created immediately by God.
- We are all descended from one family group, Adam and Eve.
I was greatly encouraged by this as it means that the Catholic creation umbrella is quite a broad one and covers those with a literal view of biblical creation, to those who believe in intelligent design over a longer period of time, to those who believe in theistic evolution. Whatever our position we are asked to be gracious to one another and remember our calling; to believe in Jesus, surrender to him and be baptised.
The Church regards evolution as not an obstacle to faith and not incompatible with faith.
Here are a few references and websites which may be useful:
Catholicism and Evolution: A History from Darwin to Pope Francis by Michael Chaberek O.P. – Angelico Press
Humani Generis – Encyclical of Pius XII
Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: on Evolution: Pope John Paul II
http://catholicbridge.com/catholic/catholic_creationism.php (ref 1 in the text)
http://www.daylightorigins.com/ British and Irish, Catholic Creation journal and website