1When God began to create the heavens and the earth-- 2 the earth was without shape or form, it was dark over the deep sea, and God’s wind swept over the waters-- 3 God said, “Let there be light.” And so light appeared. 4 God saw how good the light was. God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God named the light Day and the darkness Night.
There was evening and there was morning: the first day.
Gen 1:1-5 CEB
-Rev Melissa Fain-
It was one of my favorite class Star Trek episodes. The Enterprise goes to check up on a culture the Federation hasn't checked up on in a hundred years. When they get there they are surprised to see it has reverted to a 1920's Gangster planet, with crime lords and everything. Come to find out, a book left by the first mission, "Chigaco Mobs of the 20's," was influencing their choices
It was very on the nose. I understand that those kinds of cultural changes don't happen in a mere hundred years. There would also be more retained from their culture, as they attempted to copy someone else's culture. In reality, this was more about putting the crew in a situation the audience could understand, and the crew could not. That aside, it's a nice example of why we don't take Genesis word for word.
I remember, when I was working on the introduction to the bible, bible study, I had an "ah ha" moment. We were looking at the creation narrative all wrong. There were those who wanted to take it word for word. If the bible is the literal Word of God, then Genesis is the literal story of creation. This leads to songs about dinosaurs being around during the time of Noah, explorations for a literal Eden, and overlooking contradictions that happens as soon as the first chapter of Genesis.
Why would God talk to them in a language they couldn't yet speak? The chosen people of God didn't exist until Abraham. This means the people were sharing other creation narratives up to this point. Then, it would remain oral tradition until they were in exile. There, (based on linguistics) the priests would expand the story. If you are reading the creation narrative looking for something scientific, you will be left wanting. That's not why it exists.
It exists in the same way a parent would talk to a young child. What's the message in Genesis one? Order and creation is good. In some ways it's like saying, you exist because I love you. Sometimes it's as simple as that.