By Henri Persoz
Translation Louise Thunin
The idea of a creator God is not essential in the Bible. It scarcely appears in the New Testament, and not at all in the gospels. In the history of the people of Israel, God (YHVH) was originally a local divinity who was not responsible for the creation of the world. Then he became the God of Israel, while other peoples worshipped other gods.
It was only during the exile in Babylon that the divine was thought of as universal. At that time, monotheism appeared. For, during their exile, Israel was led to open up to other nations and to believe that their God should also reign over other peoples. After the exile, God could become the creator, because he reigned over the whole world.
Biblical creation narratives date from that period. Obviously their authors knew nothing about the process of the forming of the universe, since, even today, after so many years of research, we still know next to nothing about the subject (so said Etienne Klein, astrophysicist, in the centennial lectures in our magazine). Those narratives are symbolic. They must be read as myths, and, as Paul Ricœur wrote, a myth says something other than what it says.
To know God, to understand what he is, what he did and how he did it is something else again. The only idea we have of God is the one developed in Judeo-Christian culture based on the Bible and other fundamental writings. Many authors have said : We know that he is, but we don’t know how he is. God is unknowable.
Between a God that we don’t know and a creation of the universe that escapes us, it is difficult to speak of a creator God.
Or else, on the contrary, since we know neither the one nor the other, we can say that God is what makes the world exist and all creatures along with it.
We can say that God is why of our being, whereas we have no reason to be. The only uncaused cause, as Aristotle would say. That is probably what the myth of Genesis was seeking to express.
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