In the beginning . . . how did the heavens and the earth come to be? It’s a question we’ve all invariably considered at some point in our lives. Morgan Freeman has been puzzled by creation since he was a kid attending church in his hometown of Greenwood, Mississippi. What else is out there? If God was the architect of everything, who (or what) created him? Or was chance a major aspect of the whole thing?
The fourth episode of The Story of God with Morgan Freeman (National Geographic, Sunday at 9P/8C) brings the subject of creation to the forefront of discussion. And just like the preceding episodes, Freeman’s curiosity leads him to a worldwide search to find an answer (if one exists). He learns some interesting things along the way that are worth tuning in for.
For most people in the Western Hemisphere, creation is synonymous with Adam, Eve, and a garden in Eden. The two lived there peacefully, enjoying the place—all until the day they chose to disobey the one rule God gave them—eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (see Genesis 2:15-17). Then they were thrown out by God and forced to work the land in order to survive. Freeman adds, “It’s hard to believe we all come from one man and one woman . . . but we do.” Freeman has an intriguing discussion with researcher Jodi Magnuss where she mentions a legend about Adam and his dead bones. Supposedly, he was buried right above where Jesus was crucified. When his blood seeped into the ground, it met the bones and Adam was resurrected. She then has a quick Hebrew lesson with Freeman involving the words adam (man), dam (blood), and adamah (land).
The episode continues with Freeman visiting Gobleki Tepe, an ancient city in Turkey, Egypt, Australia, India, and Guatemala to learn stories of how other faiths describe creation as occurring. Some involve twins and corn (Mayans). Some involve star babies and dreaming (Aborigines). Some are close to the Christian view (Islam), And others just focus on cycles of creation without getting into any details (Hindu).
There is a scientific look at the creation story as well—but the question of the Big Bang is proposed to some high ranking individuals in the Vatican. Monsignor Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo (seen in the picture above) tells Freeman the Big Bang is not creation because “we don’t know what was before” it happened. But the story is compatible with the normal biblical account of creation because, according to Georges Lemaître, a member of the Pontifical Academy of Science, God is outside of space and time. Creation is an everlasting act, according to Lemaître, one of the first to propose the Big Bang Theory. I was surprised there wasn’t a quick discussion about whether the account in Genesis 1 took six literal days or simply six equal measures of time, as I’m sure there’s a scholar out there who could provide some perspective on the subject.
It was made abundantly clear throughout the episode that, regardless of belief, there is a standard that someone bigger than us had a hand in the creation of the planet we live on and the universe we look at on a clear evening. Something had to happen – and we’re a direct result of it. It provides us with a sense of encouragement and perhaps purpose. As Gandalf wisely noted in the Lord of the Rings, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.”
May we make the most of it.