I’ve always loved the creation story. Most cultures of the world begin with a creation story. Any good biblical exegesis should first ask the question as to why an origin story is needed. What do people need to know about how the world came into existence, and what did the author(s) of Genesis really intend for us to learn from this specific story?
In the first 11 chapters of Genesis, we see God creating the world and everything in it which is described over and over as good, as well as sin running rampant in the world, and the need to start afresh. These chapters are significant, and they show a world never seen before and interject humanity, which God deems as very good. The distinction we see of God creating all things into existence is made that much more radical when we see that God, unlike Marduk from the Enuma Elish, created things he enjoyed! The God of Genesis didn’t create to offload the heavy burden of work onto humanity. Rather he worked to create a world for humanity to dwell in. Furthermore, we see that when God creates, it is God’s work to make things ordered and beautiful. God brings life where there is no life, and nature into being. God made himself known to Adam and Eve and God was knowable in ways he has not since.
Because of my interest in creation accounts, I was intrigued by Jordan B. Peterson’s chapter on Mythological Representation from his book, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief. When you look at the creation account in Genesis against other creation accounts, like the Enuma Elish, there are a lot of initial correlations. First, the role of both accounts is to explain order our of chaos which creates and separates the earth from the cosmos and also helps to give hierarchical order to all things. In this chapter, Peterson in clearly circling around the concepts of creationism and the Genesis account, and tying it to mythology in order to give credence to creation stories as the foundation for society at large. In fact, Peterson has gone so far to give an 11-part video series on Genesis, which I would have loved to watch if I had an additional 30 hours to spare (each video is about 2 hours and 30 minutes). Peterson argues that there is much more that humanity agrees on, rather than disagrees on and this is found most poignantly in mythology and the creation accounts of the world. He says, “As mutable, limited social beings, we are all engaged in a massive, cooperation and competitive endeavor.” This endeavor is to understand who we are and how we came to be.
As Peterson writes about the Sumarian creation account, he says, “The mythic tale of the Enuma Elish, describes the nature of the eternal relationship between the (unknowable) source of all things, the “gods” who rule human life, and the subject or process who constructs determinate experience, through voluntary encounter with the unknown.” We know these explanatory processes to be found in the personhood of Jesus. But I wonder if Peterson isn’t willing to take the step of moving beyond a creation account into the lived experience of Jesus a step further. Is Jesus the bridge-builder between the unknowable source of all things? If what Peterson states is true, that we have more that links us than divides us, and the role of creation accounts are to bring order out of chaos in order to understand who we are, it is action that demonstrates a lived theology of faith, rather than just belief. Peterson even argues that it is not just belief that is enough, but it is an action that moves us to understanding. But where does that leave faith? Where does that leave us as finite beings in relationship to an infinite God? Can we know that what God created to be very good from the beginning was then completed in the personhood and divinity of the word becoming flesh? Is it enough to have faith that Jesus was indeed the one who volunteered to give us an encounter with the unknown?
I’m nowhere near having the answers to these existential questions, but I’m not convinced Peterson does either. Maybe in that way, we too are more similar than we are different.
 Donald E. Gown, Genesis 1-11: From Eden to Babel (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Erdmans Publishing Company, 1988), 10.
 John Mark Comer, Garden City: Work, Rest, and the Art of Being Human (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015), 37.
 Jordan B. Peterson, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief (New York, NY: Routledge, 1999), 90.
 Ibid., 95.
 Ibid., 94.
 Ibid., 123.
 Ibid., 153.