In recent news, and this is still news apparently, Bill Nye "the science guy" stated that Creationism was unfit to be taught to children. He created the following youtube video, which went viral:
He stated that Creationism was not appropriate to be taught to children, because it will hold us back from science. It is not based on any facts. And you know what? He is right. The evidence for evolution and the age of the universe is just overwhelming. As to how life began...science is still struggling with that one. Swedenborg stated that organic life forms always act upon inorganice forms, and not the other way around. Whereas base matter derives from the Big Bang and the Sun...life itself is spiritual in origin. That is still compatible with evolution.
Unfortunately, Creationism will get taught to children in families with religious backgrounds, because they still read the Bible in a literal manner. They do not understand the symbolism and the allegory that is constantly at play in the literary expressions of scripture. Scientists such as Bill Nye, however, do not have a background in the Bible, so it would have been more appropriate to educate people on the proper spiritual understanding on how the Bible begins, then talk about the science...unfortunately he did not do so, which caused the sensationalist uproar.
The first 11 chapters of Genesis are written in a style quite different from the rest of the Bible - one that is best described as "mythical". By myth many understand today a story that is false, but in the ancient world myths were based on a universal symbolism that described ever-eternal truths. The seven days of creation, the story of Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, the Flood, the Tower of Babel...are all constructed in the form of a historical narrative, but actually describe in parable form how in ancient times an ancient race of people in the Middle East had the minds open to have direct communication with heaven...and how this was eventually lost. That it is not literal, but symbolic, was stated in the late 18th century, in the visions that were received by Emanuel Swedenborg. He wrote:
"...all the events arranged historically from the first chapter of Genesis to Eber in the eleventh chapter, signify quite different things from what appear in the letter, and the historical series is only composed history, after the manner of the most ancient people." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1020)It should be noted that there are four main styles of the Word, and the first 11 chapters of Genesis are different than the rest:
"It has been stated already that there are four different styles in the Word. The first, which was that of the Most Ancient Church, was such as that from the first chapter of Genesis to this chapter. The second is historical, as in the following books of Moses, and in the rest of the historical books. The third is prophetical. The fourth is intermediate between the prophetical style and that of common speech." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1139)The mode of expression in the first 11 chapters of Genesis was derived from a more ancient way of thinking, closer to the literary style of ancient myths:
"Their mode of expression was such that when they mentioned terrestrial and worldly things they thought of the spiritual and celestial things which these represented. They therefore not only expressed themselves by representatives, but also formed these into a certain historical series, as it were, that they might be the more living; and this was to them in the very highest degree delightful." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 66)Much of what Swedenborg wrote back then was later confirmed in the 19th century when archeaologists began uncovering ancient cuneiform tablets written in Sumerian and Akkadian - which in fact contained myths that mirrored the stories found in the first 11 chapters of Genesis. Among these stories are Enuma Elish and The Epic of Gilgamesh. However the original myth has not been preserved in these tablets - they have been modified by religious priests of the ancient world, who sought to use religion to gain control over people. Even they found ancient king lists which declared that there were 10 kings before the coming of the Flood - just as there are 10 patriarchs that lived before the flood of Noah. I read and studied some of these cuneiform tablets when I was in college...but Swedenborg knew that these were inherited and borrowed stories long before archaeologist uncovered this evidence.
So, lets take a look at the seven days of creation. In a symbolic sense, the days are not days, but represent seven stages of spiritual development. "Earth" is the body, "Heaven" is the soul: the seven days of creation describe the creation of a spiritual man. Swedenborg describes these stages in detail. So it has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with science. If one just thinks about what is created from one day to the next, one may conclude how symbolic in nature the seven days are.
Seven is a sacred and holy number. But where did the seven day week come from? Most likely, it came from observing the four quarters of the moon during the month. Each quarter lasts about seven days, but varies from month to month. In the ancient Middle East, there were sometimes celebrations on the seventh and fourteenth day of the month. These astronomical observations denigrated into star worship over time. An ancient priesthood, recognizing the significance of the number 7, established a seven day religious week completely divorced from the original astronomy that originated it. In the book of Jasher, it is recorded that Moses asked Pharoah for a seventh day of rest to give the slaves respite from their work in Egypt. Creation is a human cycle, of work, rest, work, rest. Spiritually, we pass through stages of conflict, and when these conflicts are resolved, we reach a spiritual state of rest and comfort.
As for the patriarchs from Adam to Noah, Swedenborg stated that these were not individual people but represented different stages of history in the spiritual decline of the Most Ancient Church. This is a bit contrary to a literal understanding of the Bible, thus some may oppose such an interpretation. But in support of this view I discovered that the numbers used in the ages of the patriarchs are not arbritrary - they were chosen based on particular astronomical cycles. For an overview of that, see an older blog entry called The Ancient Astronomy of the Bible. I had forgotten to mention that this is exactly what the priests did with the ancient king lists of Egypt.
The Flood concerns the final destruction of the Ancient Church, when direct communication between heaven and man was cut off...afterwards, spiritual development would happen a different way, by learning spiritual truths first. The Tower of Babel is a symbolic representation of how this was then distorted by an ancient priesthood who wished to gain control over others by means of religion.
So lets move on about this debate between Science and Creationism...the only way to move on is to have an understanding of the spiritual layer of meaning hidden behind the literal words of the Bible. God evidently foresaw this development and provided the answer in the writings of Swedenborg, long before science would confront the literalists. Once that is out of the way... I would like to know, what is propelling, what is the driving force, for a single cell organism to evolve into something so complicated as the human being? Is it possible that the code for the potential to develop into a human can be found in single celled organisms? I heard one interesting fact, not sure if this is correct: we share 50% of our genetic code with the genetic code of a banana. Now that's food for thought.