Putting Genesis into reverse

By Colin M. Morris
12 Mar 2007

With two months of the year gone we are just within reach of New Year resolutions and beginnings, but if we don't heed the environmental warnings being widely sounded at the moment, we could find ourselves at a staging post towards the end.

In fact, if one were to write a bible for the twenty first century, it would start not like the old one with Genesis, the story of how God created the world, but with a kind of Genesis in reverse; how we dismantled it. And it might run like this.

In the end, human kind systematically demolished the home God had given them even though they had nowhere else to go. They plundered the earth and slaughtered their brothers and sisters of the animal kingdom. And this was the seventh day from the end.

They polluted the clear air with the fumes of their machines, poisoned the sea with their garbage and turned rivers into foaming torrents of chemical waste, and began ever so slowly to choke themselves to death. And this was the sixth day from the end.

They stifled all truth that wasn't their truth and scoffed at the warnings of the prophets and were deaf to the ominous sounds of the earth in torment. Arrogance and self-righteousness drowned out wisdom and humility. And this was the fifth day from the end.

And they said the strong are entitled to most of what's going and the weak can have the rest. But the more they had to lose, the more they feared those who had nothing to lose, so they built ever bigger walls and larger armies to protect their self-interest. And this was the fourth day from the end.

They slept uneasily and awoke afraid and set to work to create the ultimate weapon. Then they said, 'Now we feel safe!' But their enemies didn't feel safe, so they too created an ultimate weapon, and the whole world lived under the shadow of extinction and called it peace. And this was the third day from the end.

Then having proved by their cleverness that they could make anything, they said, now let us make God in our own image, let us gaze into a mirror and worship the one we see there. And this was the second day from the end.

And they were mesmerised by the gleaming products of their ingenuity, and they cried 'Bigger! Faster! Stronger! Richer! Louder! More!' And they became frantic with a desire nothing could satisfy. And this was the day before the end.

Then there was chaos and uproar, and when the din subsided, human life had vanished. And the ravished earth rested on the seventh day. Then God broke the silence. 'Back to the drawing board,' God said sadly.

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© Colin M. Morris is a former President of the Methodist Conference and has held senior positions in the BBC. He was Director of the Centre for Religious Communication in Oxford from 1991-96, and is author of numerous books, including, most recently Things Shaken - Things Unshaken (reflections on faith and terror) and Bible Reflections Round the Christian Year. Dr Morris is a frequent contributor to BBC Radio 4's Thought for the Day, in which form this article was originally broadcast. Reproduced with grateful acknowledgement to the author and the BBC.

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