Of Creation Myths, Rivotril™ & Dogs

"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day."

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Whenever I see Zombkins (i.e. zombie followers of the Dawkins cult) many things come to mind, for example: acne, virginity, and too many hours at the Wikipedia page of Friedrich Nietzsche. Above all, though, I think about how wonderful technology is. It gives teenagers the opportunity to tap into the world wide web, memorize some easy religion bashing quotes, and feel smart. If something can compensate for the absence of a shag is the feeling of superiority.

The problem is that there are as many ways of interpreting religious texts as there are human beings. And, also, FYI, you may be misreading Nietzsche. Yeah, the syphilitic may have been a quack but he was also a genius and he certainly did not write God's obituary with a sense of glee in his heart. You can actually tell, from reading the whole paragraph in question, that there was gloom and doom splattered all over the statement that God had died. As Christianity came crumbling down to give birth (and way) to the Enlightenment (a.k.a. its own undertaker), Nietzsche knew that humanity was about to start a stroll through the valley of darkness. There is only so much distraction a human can get from a new smartphone, a moon landing, or a massive multiplayer online role-playing game. Once the awe sets in and the credit card weeps from just-one-more-squeeze in order to buy the latest gadget, the void is still there. Yes, the hairless chimp can be induced into a functional coma with the help of high doses of Rivotril™, but he is a creature eternally searching for substance.

As the Western world entered its first (and perhaps last) great crisis of conscience, the stage was set for disaster. Once absolutes perished, humanity poured its thirst for meaning either into materialism or nihilism. Some tried to seize the means of production, others worshipped the State and heated up the ovens, and nowadays most have received by post their membership card from the church of science. The problem is that, no matter how hard you try, science responds one question and one question only: how things are? It lives and dies in the domain of the objective world. A method to empirically test and hypothesize about the tangible world is fabulous and it has given humankind great things, like Pokémon VR, atomic dildos and MRI machines. However, no matter how hard you try, science will never, ever answer the other great question: how should one act? I am baffled, in the most canine way possible, by how hard people try to answer one question with the tools of the other, only to smash their ugly faces with an impenetrable wall. And with their smashed noses, bruised and dripping blood from their broken lips, one can observe the waterfall of individuals coming back from battle with their egos shattered and their minds confused, wondering why their Bible is not able to give them scientific answers or why their physics book won't tell them where is the line separating good from evil.

This is the point where I can't help but to mentally revisit medieval hermeneutics, again and again. The accessus, to be more precise. As I reread the creation myth set forth in Genesis, I keep asking myself: quis, quid, cur, quomodo, quando, ubi, quibus. Let's go through them one at a time:

  • First, I cannot tell who the author is. Honestly, unless you take a huge leap of faith, technically speaking, authorship of Genesis is impossible to pin down. Was it God? Was it human but directly inspired by God? Was it human but a homage to God? Was it an interpretation of visions? Or perhaps it was a joke? Trolling has been around for some time, uh. In any case, what is plausible is that Genesis comes from way before the time it was written down, because most ancient texts are a result of oral tradition finally penned down.

  • Second, the subject is no probs, i.e. the matter is to explain the origin of the world. More than a treatise on God's nature or characteristics, or how soft his white beard is, the subject is a sequential order of Lego™ building in which one element is created, then another put on top of it, and slowly an edifice called existence comes to be.

  • Third, the why is less problematic than you think, as if we accept that humans are creatures in constant search for answers, substance and meaning, one of the evident points of this text is that its raison d'etre is to leave written testimony of an answer to the most human questions: where are we? Where did this whole place come from? How it came to be? What am I doing here? etc.

  • Fourth, the how is a bit more complex, because obviously Genesis is an allegory written in an old, quasi poetic style, not a scientific journal for an issue of The Scientific America. Henceforth, this is the part where people should be experimenting with different assumptions instead of watching youtube videos of Sam Harris or Christopher Hitchens (may his soul rest in agitation).

  • Fifth, the when is also complex and it links to the first question, the who, because the Biblical narratives did not occur by spontaneous combustion but are instead traces of very, very ancient oral stories passed from one generation to the other, for thousands of years. This is an undebatable matter, as all ancient texts came to be just because writing was invented, but their subject matters were around for a while. With the exception of Ron L. Hubbard, none of the ancient texts were pulled out of someone's ass just like that.

  • Sixth, well, we simply can't know the location, as the text was written God knows where (pardon the pun). Yes, indeed, the immediate oral stories were floating around in the Middle East for a while, but the precise time, place and form of grabbing a stylus pen and scribbling on the tablet is unknown.

  • And, finally, seventh, the means by which the text was published, I believe it connects to the first and fourth questions.

So, continuing with the interpretive exercise, I am a bit surprised that evolutionists keep clashing heads with creationists over this. Their territories are completely separate, and each worldview encompasses different questions, both important though both, also, equipped with their own toolset for the purpose of attempting to extract meaning of their subject matters. Think for a while about the aforementioned hermeneutical questions, please. If thousands of years old oral tradition was written down in the Bible, and it was formulated and then written by people who did not have PhDs neither in literature nor in physics or biology, the text is obviously waxing lyrical over a crucial schism in the history of mankind. Here it goes. Ready or not: When do you think that humans became self-conscious?

Yes, science tells us that first there were ape-like brutes roaming the earth aimlessly, then the trees were exchanged for caves, then the clasping of rocks created fire so then hunting and barbecuing of mammoths started, kind of around the same time that walking erect became fashionable, and so on and so forth. But, again, when do you think humans stopped for a moment, were able to build and spread a highly complex and coherent language, and started talking to themselves and to others, realizing and reflecting on their existence by portraying verbal and graphic images of themselves and the world around them? This is the moment. This. Is. The. Moment. This is the crucial awakening that separated the featherless biped from the rest of the mammals.

What if Genesis is talking about that moment?

Notice, first, how God creates by means of the word. It is when things are named, through the lips or inside the mind, that the phenomenological experience blossoms and the object is apprehended, giving birth to Being, first Zuhandensein and then Vorhandensein. Moreover, it is when two or more humans talk that an intersubjective world is born. See? Here it is again, the split between the tangible (scientific) and the intangible (moral) world emerges. Today, all around us, we are surrounded by millions of actual things which exist only because two or more erect chimps spoke about them, believed in them, and reflected on them their conceptions of good and evil, for example: the state, corporations, law, patriotism, loyalty, etc. None of those things are hydrogen particles, tectonic plates or gravitation. They are images which are shared by millions and which, by virtue of that intersubjective phenomenon, come to life. Humans may have been around, in one form or another, for hundreds of millions of years. However, humans have been properly self-conscious for only 5 or 6 thousand years. What if the creation tale of Genesis is not the tale of the origin of the world but the tale of the origin of the conscious world as we know it? What if humanity can only be called as such when it turned self-conscious?

To be continued...