Genesis 1 & 2

Ah, creationism. I’d like this part of the bible more if I didn’t know that millions of people take this story literally. It’s a great tale. In fact, another interesting study (which I am sure someone has already done) would be to compare creation myths of various religions/fantasy literature.

There are two points I’d like to discuss about Genesis 1 and 2 – that man and woman were created equal, and that god created all animals to be vegans.

I’ve always thought that the creation story in Genesis supported a male dominated society, and I think this might be a common misconception. In the first creation story (that’s right, there are two creations, one right after the other!) god creates males and females at the same time:

“Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the Earth.’ So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27, NRSV)

In this story, god creates man and woman at the same time and gives them dominion over the other animals. There is absolutely no indication a superior sex. In the King James bible god says, “Let us make man in our image,” but this certainly refers to human beings in general and not males specifically because this is following by, “…and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea…” (1:26-27, KJV)

The creation story in Genesis 2 describes things differently. After god created man (meaning a male this time) “from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (2:7, NRSV) he created the garden of Eden in which man should live. God decides that the man should not be alone and attempts to find him “a helper as his partner,” (2:18) so god creates all the animals and brings them to the man to be named, but none of them are suitable partners.

Here’s the story most people know: God puts the man in to a deep sleep, removes one of his ribs, and from that rib god creates a woman. At first glance this might seem to indicate that man is superior to woman because he was created first and she is made from just a small part of him. Keep reading.

“Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.’ Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (2:23-24)

Finally the man has found a suitable partner. No other creature could be found to fill this position, until god created a creature made of the same stuff as man. Woman is the creature that completes man, the yin to his yang, the salty to his sweet, the Samwise Gamgee to his Frodo Baggins. Man “clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.” That sounds like equality to me.

Okay, back to Genesis 1. On the third day god creates dry land on the earth and brings forth vegetation. On the fifth and sixth days god created all the animals including humans. God said to man, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; and you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” (1:29-30)

I know that very shortly god is going to give men all sorts of laws about food and that these will include what animals you can and cannot eat, but this first passage about what man, and all the animals, will have for food is a blatant endorsement of veganism. God does not mention the eating of other animals, as though this thought has not even crossed his mind. Perhaps when the man and woman eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they learn about eating animals, but I don’t remember that being explicitly stated. We may find out shortly.

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