An Imperfect Creation
By: Robert D Brinsmead
The core teaching of Jesus discards the redemptive or salvation model. The redemptive model is based on the story of Paradise Lost and the Fall of Man which is neither true to scientific facts or historical realities. The theology of Paul as revealed in Romans 5 is based on the account of the two Adams. If there was no first Adam who fell from the perfection of Paradise, then there is no second Adam either. That is the old redemptive model. It’s focus is always on sin and guilt and God’s anger at man’s imperfection.
Campbell and Loy’s ‘Humankind Emerging’ is a marvellous scientific and anthropological work. Using the science of DNA and the Human Genome, science is able to trace our “Eve” or the original mother of Homo sapiens back to about 170,000 years. We are all Africans. If we arrived on this earth with an animal nature which includes the biological inheritance of all living things, it is clear that humankind began not in any sort of Paradise, but almost the opposite. It was a very imperfect and brutal beginning, far more unpromising and inauspicious than the little band of Hebrew slaves that emerged or escaped from Egypt. What is theologically important is our human development, our realizing that full potential of being human. We should conclude from this is that if we are to bring God into it, it is not even sensible to propose that God must be put off or angry at our imperfections – as the above book points out, even the human body, as marvellous as it is, has some very evident physical weaknesses (such as the feet which are so prone to failure). Being human means being beset by many disabilities that challenge us. If God is responsible for our arrival, then God is responsible for our imperfect state. Why would God be angry that imperfectly-made humans fall short of perfection? It has to nonsense, therefore, that God wants us to be pre-occupied with the guilt of falling short. As an OT prophet says, “God does not deal with us after our sins nor reward us according to our iniquities. He knows our frame and knows how we are made.” Surely what is required of us is that we get on with human development and quit this religious pre-occupation with guilt
If God be the author of creation, then an imperfect creation extends to a lot of things beside humanity. It was the church who taught us to think that this earth was the only place in God’s universe that has been marred by human sin. When astronomers began to observe there were sun-spots, they were severely rebuked by the Church and the Pope. They opposed the new science on the grounds that it was impossible for God’s creation to be marred by any imperfection, save this earth that was blighted by human sin. Of course we know today that the Church’s teaching was nonsense. There are pock marks on the face of the moon, on Mars and the other planets. They have been hit by great meteors and have suffered numerous cosmic accidents. There have been collisions and conflagrations aplenty out there in space – great supernovas, collisions, explosions that would make our volcanoes and earthquakes and shifting of tectonic plates very insignificant in comparison. As Joseph Campbell says in ‘Myths to Live By’, there is nothing up there that is not also down here, and vice versa. Millions of years before humans walked the earth, there were mass extinctions, super upheavals on this earth, including meteor strikes, that wiped out the dinosaurs and most animals larger than a mouse. Yet the old theological paradigm of Paul and Augustine tell us that all calamities, death and destruction arose because of human sin.
We are confronted too with the very imperfect process of evolution. Much more than 90% of the species that have lived on this earth have become extinct, and most of these before man arrived. When we survey all the failed species that arrived in the process of evolution, it is clear that despite its marvellous achievements, the evolutionary process has been anything but neat and tidy. It created a lot of duds along the way. Mother Nature, despite her splendour, is still capable of stuffing up like “a wicked old witch.”
It ought to be clear that the old images of God and his perfect created order are not tenable . It is a religious myth that is not true to reality. If God is the author of all that exists, then God is clearly the author of an imperfect or unfinished universal order. Death is not the result of human sin, but it is clearly written into the DNA of the entire biological order. If God is the author of creation, then God is the author of much that remains unfinished and imperfect.