- Biblical Accounts of Creation and their Meanings
- Traditional African Understanding of Creation
- The Teachings from the Biblical Creation Accounts
- Biblical Teaching: The Fall of Man, Origin of Sin and the Consequences
- Concept of Evil
In this topic, you shall learn about creation and the fall of man. This information is in Genesis.
The book of Genesis begins with two creation stories. The first creation story is in Genesis chapter one. The second creation story is in Genesis chapter two.
The first creation story is in Genesis chapter one. The second creation story is in Genesis chapter two. This story is like a song or poem. It’s written, “Let there be…” and “God saw that it was good … to separate,” and “there was evening and morning on …” Each creation is taken as a day. The creation took place in the following order. It is orderly:
1st day – God created day and night (Light and darkness)
2nd day – The Heavens (sky)
3rd day – The Earth, Water / Sea, Vegetation (Plants, trees, grass)
4th day – Sun, Moon and Stars
5thday – Birds, Sea Creatures
6th day – Animals, Livestock, Man was the last creation (human beings)
7th day – God rested and blessed the 7th day and made it holy.
In this creation story, we see God creating things in an orderly manner, day after day until the 6th day. It was last in the first account.
God created man from dust and breathed into his nostrils before anything else is mentioned. God then put man in the Garden of Eden, which He had made for him so that man could till and keep it. The garden was planted eastward in Eden. Out of the ground, God made every tree to grow. In the middle of the garden, there was the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Man was given the responsibility of tilling and conserving the garden. Man was commanded to eat of every tree in the garden except the tree of
knowledge of good and evil. A river flowed from the garden and then it separated into four tributaries. God saw that man should not be alone hence He made him a helper/mate; a woman from one of the man’s ribs. Man was also given the responsibility of naming all the animals in the garden. There is mention of God resting after work.
Mentions what was created on which day. Each creation takes a day.
-This story is like a song or a poem. It’s written, “Let there be…” and “God saw that it was good … to separate”, and “there was evening and morning…”
-It is orderly.
-Mentions what was created on which day.
-Rivers and garden are not me-ntioned.
-Man and woman were created together.
-No mention of the knowledge.
-Marriage is for procreation.
-Sun, moon, stars, sky are mentioned
-God rested on the seventh day hence the Sabbath day
-doesn’t mention the daily activities of GOD
-The story is in prose. For example “… and God said … and it was evening...”
-Not orderly was last in the first account
-Doesn’t’ mention what was created on which day
-Mentions rivers, and garden for tilling
-Woman was created from ribs of man
-Mention of the knowledge
-Marriage is for companionship
-Sun, moon, stars, sky are not mentioned
-Mention of resting after work but Sabbath day is not mentioned
In both creation accounts:
- Men and women are created by God and are given special references. Man and woman are special to God.
- God rested after creation.
- God provided the source of food.
- God is portrayed as the sole creator of the universe and everything in it.
- Man is given the responsibility of controlling animals, birds and plants that God created
Find out the differences between the two creation stories and write them down. Now compare them with my answer.
The creation stories tell us that God is:
- The sole creator and the only source of life
- Immortal and Eternal
- He is self existent
- God of order
- Source of goodness and true happiness
- Holy, merciful and just
- Provider and sustainer of the universe and all that is in it
- All knowing (Omniscient)
- All powerful (Omnipotent)
- Everywhere (Omnipresent)
- A personal God.
- He has a mind and a will
- Moral God. He is interested in the behaviour of man and woman. He commands her/him to do the right things.
Traditional African view of creation is brought out through traditional stories of creation (Myths). The Agikuyu, Akamba, Gusii and other Kenyan communities have stories explaining their origin. These stories
give each community a sense of belonging, and identity. The stories explain the mysteries of life. These stories have common characteristics or teachings.
Thus all African communities believe that God: -
- Is the chief architect of the world
- Existed from the very beginning of time.
- Created everything out of nothing.
- Provides for the needs of human beings.
- Was disobeyed by human beings who had lived in eternal bliss. This bliss came to an end when human beings disobeyed God.
- The African communities had different names to describe God. God was not known as God but as the Creator of everything that existed on earth and skies. He was Mumbi and “Mungai” to Gikuyu. He was master of the universe. The Kamba called Him …Ngai wa Matu. They believed that God continues to create through human beings.
- The Kamba believed that God created man and woman then tossed them to the earth.
- The Bukusu say that God the creator (Were Khakaba) created the world alone.
- First God created heaven then created two assistants, Mukhaba and Murumwa. Were the God made the sun, moon, stars, a big red cock which crows whenever it thunders, the rains, the rainbow, mountains, rivers, lakes, streams and all the other things on earth.
- Created a woman for the man.
- Created plants, animals, birds and other creatures.
- Creation work took six days. On the seventh day Were rested.
- God is responsible for all creation. He is the sole creator. God’s creation was good. Everything He created God said it was good. It was without flaws and mistakes. God is the provider. God created everything that man needs. He also created food for all animals and other creatures. God is orderly.
- Man has a special place in God’s creation. Man was made as the keeper of God creation. Man is a co-creator and keeper of God’s creation since he was made in the image and likeness of God. Man was comma-nded to work.
- A woman was made from the man’s flesh. She joins man in marriage and they become one flesh. God ordains marriage. Human beings were created to socialize.
- Sin is a result of man and woman disobedience of God.
After creating man and then woman, God asked man to:
- Reproduce and multiply.
- Rule over the rest of His creations.
- Be in charge of the fish, birds, and all the animals.
- Cultivate the garden and guard it.
- Eat from the fruits of the garden except from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
- Name the animals.
- Subdue the earth
- Transform the creation that God has provided human beings with
- Use creation – forests, rivers, mountains with responsibility and respect.
- Be a steward of God’s creation
- Engineer God’s creation by creating things from the creation
- Dominate the earth
Man and woman fell from the Garden of Eden. This experience is expla-ined in genesis chapter 3 verse 4; chapter 6 verse 9 and chapter 11. In these verses, the Bible is teaching about sin, which made Adam and
Sin is defined as iniquity, and guilt. It is to miss a mark, to transgress. Sin is a rebellion or an offence against God. Sin originated with the disobedience of Adam and Eve. They had been commanded not to eat of the fruits of the tree of knowledge of good and evil – the tree in the middle of the Garden of Eden. But Adam and Eve ate the fruit after being deceived by the serpent.
Man had the power to resist temptation but instead he yielded. Genesis Chapter 3 verse 6 states that man wanted to be wise and thought how wonderful it would be to become wise…” hence sin arises from the lack of knowledge of God, from the denial of trust of God.
After sinning, we the human race and sinners:
- Replaced friendship with God with fear of God.
- Lost innocence. What had been innocent and good became shameful. Adam and Eve became ashamed of their nakedness, something they had never felt before they sinned against God.
- Lost good relationship with God. The good relationship between God and man was betrayed. Human beings – were alienated from God. “The Lord God sent him out of the Garden of Eden…”
- Damaged the perfect relationship between man and woman. The Lord said to the woman “You will have desire for your husband, yet you will be subject to him”.
- Pain became part of human experience. “I will greatly multiply your pain in child bearing”.
- Man began toiling and struggling to meet his needs… “You will have to work hard and sweat to make the soil produce anything”
- The home of man, and the earth itself was placed under a curse. “Cursed is the ground because of you.”
- Enmity between man and wild animals emerged.
- Man began to die. Death sentence is passed upon all men. “You will return to the ground… you are dust”
- Man began to hate. Man developed murderous feelings in his heart, for example Cain killed Abel, his younger brother.
- Man changed and became prone to sin.
- Life span of man was reduced (see Gen. 6:3) “I will not allow people to live forever, they will live no longer than 120 years”
- Man’s language was confused by God after the flood (read Gen.11: 7)
- Sin led to embarrassment, mistrust, suffering, pain, pride, arrogance and death.
Disobedience of God by Adam and Eve brought serious sin consequences to human beings. Sin brings sadness and suffering to man even today.
In this lesson, we shall discuss the concept of evil as told by the traditional African religion and the biblical writings. We shall study similarities and differences of evil from the two religions.
In the traditional African society, evil was an offence against God, spirits and ancestors. It was also viewed as an offence against another person or community. Evil was also a misfortune that can befall an individual or a community.
Many of the traditional African societies do not associate God with evil. God is not the creator of evil. Some communities believe that evil is an external power that exists on its own. Thus in the traditional African society, evil was understood or explained as something mysterious that was caused by several people and things. These were:
- Evil spirits
- Ancestral spirits – due to disobedience to them
- Some animals like the chameleon are sources of evil. The Akamba believed that chameleons brought evil. Other communities believed that if an owl cries near one’s homestead, it is a sign of evil.
- People with mystical powers for example magic, sorcery, and witchcraft are evils
- If a member of a community breaks a taboo by disobedience, this action may bring evil spirits.
- The spirits of the dead; cause evil; if they are not remembered or respected. Evil spirits cause harm and violence.
These were many and ranged from
- Burning in a house
- Physically and mentally handicapped children
- Rebellious children
After the fall of man, God took steps to heal the damaged situation and relationship between Him and Adam and Eve.
- Provided clothing of skin to Adam and Eve.
- Looked for Adam and Eve since they were hiding from His presence.
- Provided Adam and Eve with the knowledge to find different foods.
- Declared enmity between man and the snake.
- Hinted at the ultimate victory of man when He said that the seed of the woman would crush the snake or serpent’s head. The serpent would attack the heel of man and woman.
All through the Old Testament, and the New Testament, we see God’s plan of salvation being manifested. For instance, GOD chose and separated Abraham from other communities. The children of
Israel led by Moses (were delivered) from Egypt,. God sent prophets to teach and warn the Israelites of the dangers of sin. Finally God sent his only son Jesus Christ to die on the cross to save human kind.
Both the Biblical and traditional African view or agree that
- God is supreme. God is neither the creator nor author of evil
- Sin comes from the disobedience of God by human beings
- Evil and misfortune are God’s curse to man (Biblical) while the traditional African society sees evil as curses by ancestors, and elders. Both curses lead to misfortunes.
- The result of sin and evil is human sufferings
- Sin and evil lead to man being separated from God
- God is the guardian of law and order
- Human beings have the ability to overcome evil
- Biblical account emphasizes personal nature of sin while in the African concept; sin is more social and communal
- Biblical account attributes evil to disobedience while African concept attributes evil not only to disobediences but other external forces.
- Biblical accounts offer a message of hope to overcome evil while African concept doesn’t offer a solution to sin and evil.
- Traditional African concept all forms of suffering as a result of sin while in the Bible suffering is not always a result of sin.