When most of us think of the creation of humanity in the Bible we think of Genesis. In Chapter One God simply has the idea to create men and women and— whoosh! — there they are. In Chapter Two God creates the male human first by fashioning a clay manikin and then breathing consciousness into it. Both versions of human origins have something to teach us.
We are an idea in the mind of God. We are, as the Hindus say, the dream of God. Or better, we are God dreaming. The creation you and I experience is a cosmic game of hide of seek with God hiding from himself and then finding himself which ends the game for a few millennia until God starts playing all over again. We know this intuitively which is why one of the earliest games babies learn to play is peek-a-boo: now you’re here, now you’re not.
The second creation story reminds us that we are not (as the first story might suggest) alien to the earth, but fully of it. This is just the opposite of the Christian call to be in the world but not of the world. Genesis 2 says we are of the world, literally. We are the clay of the earth made self-conscious. To me this means that we are the way life comes to know itself divine. We are the way nature cares for the poor, the homeless, and the hungry. Unfortunately we are also the way nature produces poverty, homelessness, and starvation. There is nothing we can do about that. We are both the problem and the solution.
But there is a third creation myth in the Bible. In Psalm 139:13 we learn that God knits us together in our mothers’ wombs. I love this image for several reasons. First, the Knitting God just cannot be the angry, imperial, and dysfunctional Lord God running around creating life, drowning life, and proclaiming fatwas and jihads against anyone who crosses the Chosen people. With the exception of Madame Lafarge, knitting is done with love, not malice.
Second, the Knitting God is God as Mother and Grandmother, a welcome alternative to God the Father. In my family women knit, men fart. This image of the Great Mother God knitting me into existence is so loving. I have God’s full attention, and better, I am the result of God’s full attention.
Third, knitting is an image quite different from breathing life into a blow-up doll. When you knit you take different threads and weave them together. The more complex the pattern, the more glorious the piece. Given the excitement around string theory in physics, I can imagine God knitting the strings of existence together in an infinite array of more and less complex patterns eventually knitting a sweater and pants set that thinks and can knit its own socks!
So the next time you hear someone say we ought to teach Biblical creationism in the schools, you should agree with them. Just do it in during home economics.