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This portion discusses the six days of creation, the Garden of Eden, mankind’s first mistake, consequences and expulsion, Cain & Abel, the ten generations to Noah, prelude to the Flood & the decree to destroy humanity.
I am always struck, when we read the beginning of Genesis, with the significance of the concept of creation. Simply stated, the fact that the world was ‘created’ means that it has meaning.
For all that existentialist philosophers might try their very best to find meaning in randomness, it just doesn’t exist. A human being is fundamentally no different to a carrot if the Universe is not a creation.
Now let me be clear – the fact that someone doesn’t want life to be meaningless is, in my mind, a very bad reason to believe in God. Either God is exists or He does not. He will not exist for me when I finish my time in this world, but not exist for Richard Dawkins when he finishes his. Either he’s there for both of us or he’s there for neither of us. Believing in God because it makes life more bearable is simply atheism covered up with a band aid of religion. I am of the belief that it’s always better to face reality – no matter how unpalatable – than to live by a more convenient illusion. Pretending that God does not exist will only postpone the consequences of him doing so. And pretending that he does will be of no value once you are gone.
But assuming for a moment that this Universe is genuinely an act of creation, it has very significant ramifications. It means that there is a purpose to my existence; it means that my accomplishment, or lack thereof matters; it means that the world can change and become a better place; and it means that in spite of my mass comprising less than one billion, billionth of a billion billionth of a billion billionth of this vast Universe, I nevertheless do matter.
It’s a really beautiful way to start the Bible – such a message of hope. The Universe has purpose; and we human beings are created in God’s image so that we can be partners with him in building his world. You just don’t get a better start to a book than that. Like I say, a good start doesn’t make it true. But if it is, the message is incredibly encouraging and uplifting.
Rabbi Shaul Rosenblatt