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Genesis 1:1–2:4

Although much too much can be made out of the idea of a “world view,” we do approach and make use of the world according to certain broad expectations and assumptions. These expectations and assumptions have very practical consequences, some of them certainly good and desirable, but others quite—indeed, mortally!—dangerous.

The view of the world that has increasingly laid hold of Western (and then global) culture over the course of the last three or four centuries has put us in the driver’s seat, at the control panel. We imagine the world as ours, to be used and discarded as we see fit. We imagine that the task of life is to exploit the world’s resources as quickly, efficiently, and profitably as possible. The disastrous consequences of our adventures are only now reaching widespread acknowledgment. Yet, even with this realization, our growing anxiety about such phenomena as climate change has to do with the human consequences of our shortsighted haste. That is, we remain at the very center of the way we think of this world, the world that Genesis 1 and 2 tell us was created by God.

That the opening of Genesis would stress the role of God in the emergence of the world has everything to do with the fact that these verses are a prayer of praise to be used in the liturgical prayers of ancient Israel. They are comparable to the creation hymns of the book of Isaiah. For example, Isaiah 44 ends with these words:

Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it;

shout, O depths of the earth;

break forth into singing, O mountains,

O forest, and every tree in it!

For the Lord has redeemed Jacob,

and will be glorified in Israel.

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer,

who formed you in the womb:

I am the Lord, who made all things,

who alone stretched out the heavens,

who by myself spread out the earth;

who frustrates the omens of liars,

and makes fools of diviners;

who turns back the wise,