The Concept of God as Creator
Plato's influence on Judeo-Christin thought
- First appearance are not as important as the real person
- Sense pleasures are not the objective of one's existence
- There is an eternal realm where we live after death
- Dualism (soul is released from body at death)
- Concept of Good has helped Christians to perceive God as perfect and source of all goodness
Aristotle's influence on Judeo-Christian thought
- God is unchanging, eternal, beyond time and space (transcendental)
- There is a purpose to the universe
- God is the causer of the creation of the universe (PM)
- "is indivisible; is without parts; and has absolutely no kind of magnitude" [Physics 8]
How do they differ from Biblical view of God as creator?
- Form of Good & PM do not interact with the world. They both have characteristics but not a personality as such. They do not have a relationship with others. Incapable of emotion.
- In Bible, his existence is not even questioned but accepted as self-evident.
- Writers tend to use imagery & myth rather than logic. "truths are expressed through stories and symbols, not argument" Ahluwalia.
- God= creator and source of all goodness; does things on purpose; interacts
- Creativity of God contrasts with PM as an explanation of movement/change. In the Bible the will to move and create comes from God rather that the PM attracting everything towards itself.
3 Main sources detected who made the TORAH (Hebrew word meaning 'teaching' or law)
JAHWEH source, ELOHIM source, PRIESTLY source.
The Bible contains:
Law, History, Poetry/Song, Prophecy, Letters, Symbolic stories (J's Parables)
How are we to understand Genesis 1-3? -----> Myth?- They have things in common with other creation myths from the Ancient near East Scientific account? - This would then appear to contradict modern science's view of the Universe's origins
Why are there two different stories? What does this tell us about the writers? -----> a) they were happy to allow two different accounts to sit side by side OR b) some suggests we ought to give them a metaphorical/allegorical understanding OR c) we should literally approach the Bible.
How might we interpret the accounts metaphorically? -----> Genesis 1: emphasises goodness of God and creation, God creates everything and is beyond the Universe, mankind is made in God's image
The Bible cont....
Mankind's purpose in Genesis 1 (ELOHIM)?
- to give DOMINION over the rest of creation- notion of stewardship.
- we are to " Be fruitful and multiply"
Features of Mankind in Genesis 2?
- Man made before woman/plants/animals
- Woman made from man- as a helper in response to his loneliness
- Purpose of people: marry, look after God's garden.
Genesis 2 (YAHWEH) explains:
- Where evil came from: the serpent
- Why there is suffering in the world: "fall of man"
- Why people have knowledge of Good and Evil: tree of knowledge
Genesis 1 &2
- YAHWEH shapes man from earth and breathes life into him
- Two elements make human- physical and breath (soul) which animates it
- ELOHIM creates man as climax of creation in his divine image
- Man in no longer key figure in the garden, where God walks in the evening cool of the garden.
- Sophisticated hierarchy of beings where man falls into his proper place in the created order
Image of God-> "A spiritual mode of being" [John MacQuarrie] New Testament writers used the idea of the Divine Word (logos), the creative and sustaining power behind all things, which we have some small share in and which explains how we are like God. This is more than just having rationality -means our existence is independent in relation to God & the rest of creation. Schleiermacher: we have a taste for the infinite- a feeling of "absolute dependance" within us. St Augustine: our hearts our restless until we find God.
What is God like?
- An object of worship (Anselm: "than which nothing greater can be conceived")
- Self-existent (not a contingent but necessary being)
- Personal: (possess knowledge, is aware, performs actions, communicates with people) also created things out of ex nihilo (did not create out of pre-existing materials)
- Sustainer: (created things are dependant on God for their existence) unlike Brahman in Hinduism who is an impersonal power of being that exists in all things=pantheism)
- Eternal: (he exists and will always continue to exist, he is everlasting, he is outside of time and space
- BOTH SHOW HIM AS A CRAFTSMAN (expert builder in book of Job)
KEY WORDS: anthropomorphic, infinite, imago dei, ex nihilo, sustainer, transcendent, immanent
CREDO--> "creator of heaven and earth"
R. BULTMANN - "the doctrine of creation is not a speculative cosmology, but a confession of faith in God as Lord"
Professor Ellen van Wolde claims that the first sentence of Genesis : "in the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth" is not a true translation from Hebrew. She claims that the writers never intended to suggest that God created the world but instead "spatially seperate[d]" what was already there.
George Pitcher claims "Calling it a myth doesn't mean it's untrue". It carries a strong metaphorical truth but perhaps not literal.
Why is the creation story a myth?
The writers of the Bible would not know about the origins of the universe. Scientific evidence shows there must have been something to start the Big Bang. What happened just before the Big Bang? You cannot create something out of nothing. The word "day" in Hebrew could also be translated into "era" instead.
"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands" Acts 17:24
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" Genesis 1:1
Genesis 8:22 (EXPLAINS GOD THE SUSTAINER... CARRYING ON HIS WORK THROUGH ALL SEASONS AND WEATHER)
Genesis 1 (written 400 earlier than 2 although appearing first in Bible)
The Goodness of God
- God saw all was good- Creation account- Gen 1
- It was NOT good for Adam to be alone- Gen 2 (idea of God perfecting us)
- Psalm 16v2 "Thou art my Lord; I have no good besides thee"
- If God didn't judge us in the Garden of Eden it would show that he didn't care
- The prophets show that if you don't obey the goodness of God you will not lead a moral life.
- Psalm 19:7 "The law of the Lord is perfect"
- The DECALOGUE-> proof that God doesn't want his people to commit evil crimes.
- The Incarnation of Jesus shows God is willing to give up his only son for the goodness of other people. a REVELATION from God and also a THEOPHANY. part of God's covenant.
- God is seen to have a particular concern for the poor and weak. His goodness involves the desire that people should treat each other fairly.
- In the Bible, God is portrayed as perfectly good and his commands are the moral law.
- The idea of a 'Good God' incorporates the idea of the Divine Command Theory.