Genesis Wasn’t Written This Way

After some weeks on the mountain, the Lord looked over Moses’ shoulder.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

This is a work of fiction. Normally I’d say that all the characters and events are products of my imagination, lest anyone imagine they find themselves in the story and not like what they see. But in this case I write in the serene confidence that nothing like this happened anywhere, ever, to anyone. Copyright © 2014
Henry E. Neufeld

“What are you doing, Moses?”

“Well, Lord, I’m trying to write up that stuff about how You created everything.”

“I think there could be a few problems with what you’ve written there.”

“Problems? It’s just the introduction! And You did, didn’t You?”

“Well, apart from the fact that readers many centuries from now are going to debate whether you mean ‘in the beginning God created’ or ‘when God began to create’—this whole writing without vowels thing does leave room for ambiguity—it’s not really balanced.”


“Yes, the ‘heavens’ and the ‘earth’ are just not quite of similar size, weight, and importance.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I know you don’t, Moses. Let me explain.” There was a pause. It was not that the Almighty didn’t know what he wanted to say, but even His great servant Moses might have trouble understanding. “Your ‘earth’ is just one tiny world among many. Let’s call it a planet. Your ‘sun’ doesn’t ‘rise’ in the east and set in the west. Rather, your ‘earth’ rotates on its axis. In turn, it orbits—that means ‘goes around in a huge circle—the sun. All those stars in the ‘heavens’ are just like your sun. Many of them have planets themselves. Some of the planets right here in your solar system—that’s all the planets that go around your sun—are bigger than your earth. There are lots and lots of these stars and planets. Your earth is really a very small thing.”

“Lots? You mean hundreds?”

“More than that, Moses.”



“Tens of thousands?”

“Lost more. I don’t think you know any numbers that are big enough.”


“You can see that it’s a little silly to refer to ‘everything’ as ‘the heavens’ and ‘the earth’, can’t you?”

There was a pause again. “So what do You want me to do Lord?”

“I want you to explain it to them. You’ll tell them about all these wonderful things, and then you’ll tell them that I created all that!”

Moses muttered something.

“What was that, Moses? I didn’t hear you!”

“Pardon the disrespect, Lord, but I was saying that we’d be lucky if they listened for that long.”

“But you’ll make them understand! You’ll explain it and they’ll listen!”

“But I don’t understand it myself. It’s obvious to me that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west and passes under the earth to return to its circuit. Everybody knows that!”

“So what do you suggest?”

Later the Lord looked over Moses’s shoulder.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was formless and empty, and God’s wind was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light!’ …”

“That’s not how I did it,” the Lord muttered. “But I guess Moses knows his business!”

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