Problems in interpreting Scripture from its very beginning
As previously stated, if two people arguing with each other are both wrong, at the end of the day they will still both be wrong. No progress towards truth will have been made because instead of seeking truth, they both remain pridefully entrenched in their dogmatic beliefs. This, in a nutshell, is the problem we have between science and religion. If we are to believe Scripture, both were created by God, thus they should both agree, but only so long as both groups are flawless in their assessments or interpretations of the facts.
As it relates to religion founded on Jewish and Christian Scripture, there are problems of translations and interpretations from the very beginning of the sacred documents.
It is puzzling to think that much of Judaism and Christianity have believed for centuries that God created the entire universe some 6,000 years ago. There is no way to reach such a conclusion from a straightforward reading of the book of Genesis. The only conclusion that can be reached from the first verses of that book is that the planet was already there when God began to restructure it so that it could sustain plant, animal and human life. A self-sustained garden was especially prepared for them to be their home for eternity. unfortunately they failed, but where did the idea that God created the universe at that time come from? Humans are the only culprits because they have attributed faulty readings and interpretations to the text. Indeed, the NIV clearly states that before God created anything “the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep…” (Genesis 1:2).
Nothing here says or implies that planet earth or the universe was created at that time. To make matters worse, as stated in the NIV note associated with this text, it should probably say that “the earth became formless and empty.” This implies that the earth had not always been formless and empty. Thus, as we read from the first verse from the Interlinear Translation (see, scripture4all.org) of Genesis, we have the following: “in beginning he-created Elohim the heavens and the earth.” Since there were no punctuation in the ancient Hebrew texts, we could read this verse to say: “In the beginning He (God- who is Yahweh) created Elohim (all angels created in His image), the heavens, as well as the earth.”
Studies by Hebrew scholars suggest that even the word translated “created” could well be an exaggeration of the intended message. Indeed, the Hebrew word “bara” is elsewhere translated “improved,” “enhanced,” “endowed,” or even, “to fatten,” as in Genesis 41: 4 and 1 Sam 2:29.
Humans have always had a propensity to reinterpret what God has communicated to them. If I had to reinterpret the first two verses of Genesis at the light of the latest linguistic advancements, I would have to restate them as follows: “In the beginning He improved (or rehabilitated) the status of the heavens and the earth. The earth became a state of uncontrollable active chaos, lifeless, and total darkness blanketed the mired waters of the deep.”
This interpretation changes everything for Christianity. It suggests that Elohim is not “the only true God” (John 17:3), this plural implies that they are intelligent beings that God created in His own image, as He later did humans. It also suggests that the earth was alive and beautiful before something caused it to loose its capacity to sustain life. Something drastic occurred in the universe, it impacted matter negatively throughout. In fact, matter as we know it self-destructs over time and changes of temperature. Scientists call that entropy. Since the universe was once perfect, this occurrence had a particularly negative impact on planet earth. The Apostle Paul brought this point into perspective when he wrote: “We know that the whole creation (the whole universe) has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:22, parentheses supplied).
The darkness that covered the earth was so dense that Yahweh had to bring a special light to the site so that the angels (Elohim) could see the extent of destruction and chaos their sins had produced. The product of sin is always caused by pride that leads to a deficiency of moral love. The resulting destruction had to be made visible to angels that they might recognize the destructive power of pride that produces sin. By reorganizing the world and bringing new life to it in seven daily steps, God proceeded to show them the required changes that must take place in one’s life to convert the chaos of pride that reigns in sinners’ hearts into the beauty and peace that love produces to maintain eternal life in a Garden of Eden.
The Creation of humans was to serve the inhabitants of the entire universe as a model of the way God operates to eradicate chaos. The demonstration is not yet complete because humans have failed; but Scripture predicts that at least some of them will someday demonstrate the beauty of their moral love while showing the world that such love is more desirable that life itself. Indeed, without unconditional devotion to love, life cannot survive eternity. We are not talking here about gushy passionate love that may or may not be related to moral love; nor are we talking about natural affectionate attractions between people. We are talking about the principle of unconditional moral love and respect that all humans are called upon by God to develop for one another. This devotion becomes a passion for love recognized as the only way to sustain eternal life. That was also the passionate demonstration Jesus made before the universe all the way to the Cross where His moral love towards His enemies was manifested to be far more important to Him than His own life. Such love should also become ours. Religions that fail to teach this fundamental principle of life cannot be from “the only true God” of the universe.