The Problem With Genesis

"Sophia" by Mary Plaster,
Sophia, Divine Wisdom by Mary Plaster,

Christianity has a problem when it comes to creation spirituality, and that problem begins with Genesis. As a disclaimer, I understand the story of Genesis 1 to be, well, a story. It contains Truth, but it’s not historically true. Rabbis for centuries have understood it to be a fable/legend about our relationship with the Divine and I understand it the same way.

Here’s the rub. Most of the story is beautiful and dynamic. The RUAH or spirit of God (which is feminine by the way) breathes/blows/flutters its wings, creating a disturbance in the darkness, and light is born. Everything else such as the sun, moon, animals, fish and humans follow. It’s actually quite moving and poetic.

The problem arises when we get to verse 28 (26 isn’t any better): “God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and SUBDUE it; and have DOMINION over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” Oy, veh!

Rabbis and Christians alike have always tried to spin this verse in positive ways. The brilliant Rabbi Richard Freidman in his commentary on the Torah, says “Incredibly some have interpreted this command to mean that humans have permission to abuse the earth and animal and plant life—as if a command from God to rule did not imply to be a good ruler!” Personally, I would like to think he is right, but it might be stretching things a bit.

Brown Drivers Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, which is the gold standard for unpacking Hebrew words says that SUBDUE (Heb. KABASH) means “dominate, tread down, or bring into bondage.” Likewise DOMINION (Heb. RADAH) means to “rule, dominate, tread, or trample.” What’s a tree-loving Christian to do?

Thankfully, my Wiccan sisters have shared with me some of their spiritual practice which is deeply tied to nature. While I’m hardly an expert on the subject, this path includes a profound appreciation for all living things and their relationship with one another. Furthermore, the Wheel of the Year takes its clues from the changing seasons and many Wiccans have an amazing knowledge of herbs, gems and other organic life.

Christians have got to get over their fear and suspicion of our Pagan sisters and brothers because they have great wisdom to share with us regarding our relationship to creation, if we open our minds to it. This doesn’t mean we need to follow the Wiccan path; but it does mean we need to find a way to integrate creation spirituality into our Christian practice. Thankfully, there are already people around us who do this so effortlessly and beautifully. It’s time for us to have “ears to hear” and “eyes to see” as we overcome the exploitive language of Genesis 1.

Copyright ©2022 by David Taliesin,

About David Taliesin

My name is David Taliesin. I'm an writer, teacher and retreat leader who explores the connections between Christian and Pagan Spirituality. E-mail me with any personal comments you'd like to share and I will do my best to answer them. You can also contact me through my Facebook page
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3 Responses to The Problem With Genesis

  1. Andy says:

    When I have read about what is termed (by us, not the people at the time) Celtic Christianity, I love the reference to the natural world how the whole of creation is seen as shot through with spirit. I really do think that this could be common ground between the Christian and pagan perspectives.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am also quite fond of the work of Matthew Fox who writes about creation spirituality. Check him out if you haven’t already.


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