This was our final lunchtime discussion as the students will be allowed on the field after the Easter break (and there’s no competition between football on the field and being stuck in a classroom with Sir at lunchtime!). So, in response to a reader’s feedback – we discussed the story of the beginning of the world (two stories that are apparently the same – so we shall see).
I asked the students how they thought the world began (from a Muslim’s perspective), and this was their view. God, the angels, and the Jinn (creatures created from a smokeless fire) were all there in the beginning (or as far the story goes back) and they all worshipped God in as many words as they knew. The angels had no choice in the matter- they had to worship God. Then God created Adam – someone who was wiser and better than the angels and who would live in heaven with God. So, God created Adam in heaven and made the angels and the Jinn bow down to him – because Adam was wiser and better than they were. However, one of the Jinn (Lucifer) refused to bow down, arguing that why should he bow down to Adam when he was bowing down to God as well -surely he should only bow down to one God (not two). Thus he disobeyed God and refused to bow before Adam, and started a process of distancing himself from God. Around the same time as this, Adam become lonely and so God created Hawwa (Eve) for Adam as a companion. Adam and Hawwa lived in the Garden of Eden (a place in heaven) with God, even while Lucifer had refused to bow down to them. After this happened, God planted a tree in the Garden of Eden (just a normal tree) but insisted that Adam and Hawwa should not eat it – in this way God gave Adam and Hawwa free will, a gift the angels did not have. Lucifer thus used this option to get Adam and Hawwa to disobey God – and convinced them that if they ate the fruit from the tree that would be closer to God. Thus Adam and Hawwa, believing that the fruit would bring them closer to God and only wanting to please him (although he had told them not to) ate the fruit. God became very disappointed with them and threatened to punish/kill them, however Adam and Hawwa praised God with all the words they knew and begged forgiveness and so God decided that he would not kill them but send them down to live on Earth and Lucifer – renamed Shaytan – was also cast down to Earth as well. And thus Adam and Hawwa are sent to live on Earth as a way to test their obedience and submission to God, with Shaytan their to tempt them as well.
That was the description of the story of the creation of man from the Muslim students.
They then asked what I believed (a oft-called similar story), so I explained…
In the beginning, God and the angels existed in heaven and all the angels worshipped God (as recorded in Isaiah and Revelation). Lucifer was 2nd in charge in heaven and had full power and control over most the angels – he was akin to the vice-president of heaven. However, he got jealous -he craved the position of president from God and started rumours about God with some of the angels. God spoke to Lucifer and explained that he was the 2nd in command in heaven and controlled most of the angels, but he could not be God. Only God could be God. Lucifer was not pleased with this outcome, and began a quest to take power from God. He gained support from about a third of the angels and went to war with God. And there was war in heaven. Violent war. God and two thirds of the angels won against Lucifer and his army and God banished Lucifer and the angels from heaven. They were thrown down to live on Earth. We don’t know for sure when this happened – whether it was before God created Earth or after – but we know it was before Adam and Eve sinned as Lucifer (who was renamed Satan) was the one who tricked Adam and Eve into disobeying God. Nevertheless, this jealousy in Lucifer grew with the support of his army and by the time they lost the war against God, Lucifer hated God and thus hated anything God created. It was this hatred that led him to try to deceive Adam and Eve – God’s priced, loved creation.
At some point in this drama, God created the Earth we now live in – and within that perfect Earth he placed a Garden – the Garden of Eden. God created two human beings to inhabit that Garden and take care (rule and subdue) the Earth because he loved them and wanted someone who was wise enough to rule and subdue the planet. In a similar vein to the Muslim account – Adam was created first (on Day 6 – after the animals) and then later Eve was created to be a companion for Adam. In Hebrew the names are Ish (Adam) and Ishah (Eve), and the word for Eve is the same word that’s used in the Bible to describe the Holy Spirit. (I appreciate there is a lot more in Genesis that I am missing out here – simply because I don’t have enough time to write it all here and this is just a summary of how I explained it to the students – but please read the whole story in Genesis 1-4). So thus Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden – which was placed somewhere on Earth with the task of ruling the animals and cultivating the land – the world was still perfect; death and disease-free. However, Satan (Lucifer) now also resided on the Earth and hated Adam and Eve because he hated God – the God who was so filled with love that he created from his overflow of love. Satan hated God- and thus hated Adam and Eve and wanted a way to get at God – he knew that if he made Adam and Eve disobey God it would break God’s heart and destroy his plan for Adam and Eve. So Satan saw his opportunity in the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – a tree that God had planted in the Garden (along with the tree of eternal life) that God had instructed Adam and Eve not to eat from – as they would learn about evil and thus not be pure enough to live with God. However Satan convinced Adam and Eve that they would not die if they ate the fruit – in fact they would become closer to God – Satan effectively called God a liar and convinced Adam and Eve to listen to him instead – and they did. And they ate the fruit. At this point, sin entered the psyche of Adam and Eve and thus they could no longer be with God.
It was at this point in the story that the bell went for end of lunch break, and so I didn’t get to explain to the students what happened next (they actually seemed upset that they couldn’t hear the end) – but I think I did in another session- about the curse of God and God’s plan for redemption – all there in Genesis 3.