Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Top Ten Creatures I Can't Buy A Good God Created, Part Three

Last post we discovered that we contributed to the downfall of Nature when we sinned in the Garden. We also realized that, because fangs and poison and death and other bad stuff seem to have been around before us, they must be due to some other evil influence on the world.

There can only be one answer to who that could be, seeing as, before us, there's only one other source of evil: the Devil and his fallen angels. But why should the Devil have anything to do with God's Creation?

In The Silmarillion, Tolkien recounts his creation myth, called the "Ainulindalë," meaning, "Music of the Ainur." The Ainur ("Holy Ones") are Middle Earth's angels, beings of pure spirit, issuing out of the mind of God before time itself. Together, they perceive God's plan for Creation, and begin to sing their respective parts in harmony with one another, which causes the universe, in all its splendor, to jump into being.

Granted this is a work of fiction, but what Tolkien has done is to synthesize two seemingly contradictory myths of creation, the classical and the Judeo-Christian. God is still the Creator of the universe, and exterior to it, as in Genesis, but his creative act is performed through others, each of which has a domain which they create in accordance with the will of God, and later rule on his behalf. In the end, then, there are Ainur of the sky, and sea, and craftsmanship, and so on, just as in the pagan pantheons.

All of this is to say that God's act of Creation needn't be direct in order for it to be his. It is entirely consonant with Christian theology and what we know from the Book of Genesis for God to have created via the angels, whom he has given charge over the disparate categories of Being.

C.S. Lewis picks up on this idea in his Space Trilogy, when he has different angels (he calls them "eldila") as the caretakers of the various planets in the Solar System. The hero discovers that the rest of the universe refers to Earth as "the silent planet" because Lucifer its caretaker, and when he rebelled against God, he cut us all off with him.

In Tolkien, this notion of the fallen angel occurs when Melkor decides to rebel against the will of God for Creation and begins singing his own, discordant tune, and thus bringing a level of disorder and chaos to the things being made. I think something similar happened at the beginning of time, the Devil doing his best to mess things up even as God and the angels were creating the universe. "Really?" Really:

Last time we saw pictures of messed-up mammals. Today we're obviously looking at birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Technically speaking, I would put birds in between mammals and reptiles, but since they're basically just slightly less terrifying, slightly more highly-evolved reptiles anyway, I decided to include them here.

More than just this list of horrible animals, we see in Genesis that things had already gone wrong long before Mankind showed up. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." This verse is likely more of a title than a verse. Oftentimes Jewish literature begins with a short summary of the story it will tell in detail. The story really begins with Genesis 1:2: "The earth was without form and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep."

"Formlessness," "void," "darkness," does that sound like the work of God to you? It seems to me that Satan was there from the beginning, trying to corrupt everything as best he could. The story of history, then, turns out to have been a rescue mission from the beginning, God fighting a war with the Devil for Creation, in order that he might fashion a world fit for his Son to inhabit, and thus undergo the ultimate act of redemption on behalf of the fallen universe.

UPDATE: Part Four to be found here.

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