In the Beginning

The Old Testament logically starts with a description of God’s creation of the earth and of the universe. The author, Moses, teaches his people in a manner understandable to them how things came into being. There is poetic and profound structure in this simple story, a story that has withstood the test of time. For example, until the recent discovery of the “big bang,” skeptics decried this first book of the Bible, some declaring that the universe took trillions of years to be created, and others claiming that it has always existed. We now know that there was a beginning. Also, we have come to recognize that the basic law of physics (matter cannot be created) was violated—i.e. a miracle occurred. Scientific analysis, however, is not the purpose of the Revelation found in the Old Testament, including Genesis. Moses was an imperfect human being, and as expressed in “Dei Verbum,” the books of the Old Testament “contain some things which are incomplete,” although they “show us true divine pedagogy” (Dei Verbum ch. IV, 15).

Scientists prefer to call the creation as the “moment of singularity.” Science establishes the truth of the creation, but Genesis goes further by describing the Creator and lays the foundation for understanding the purpose of His creation. For example, He created man in His image, He gave man dominion over the earth, and He calls upon man to be fruitful and multiply. The first pages of Genesis represent God’s revelation, through Moses, to man regarding how the heavens and the earth were created, and teach God’s purpose and will for man.

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