May 8, 2012
Full Disclosure: I never believed the Creation Myth was real.
I was raised Protestant. Mostly Mainstream Protestant, which I know doesn’t count to the fundamentalist right, but still. In Sunday School, of course, we learned the Old Testament’s Greatest Hits. I had a Sunday School teacher, Dayton Lewis, who called himself a fundamentalist, but even he glossed over the question of whether we were all descended from Adam and Eve. I was always suspicious of that, and the Noah’s Ark story, because it seemed weird to me, even as a child, that Adam and Eve’s children — brothers and sisters — married each other and had babies. Animals, too, would have had to do that after getting off the Ark. It struck me as wrong, because I was raised on a farm, and we had sheep. My father made sure to rotate out the ram to prevent it from mating with its sisters. He explained this was because inbreeding hurt the flock, causing malformed sheep.
So if Adam and Eve were the first humans — and the only ones at the time — and their kids married each other and had babies, I raised my hand one Sunday to ask Mr. Lewis, “Does that mean their kids were all deformed?” I didn’t stop there, because I had a habit of thinking aloud, and taking things to their logical extreme. “And then the next generation would have had to marry their siblings or their first cousins…” so it’d still be too close for genetic comfort. “Does that mean, Mr. Lewis, that Christians are inbred?” I had worked my self up into a frenzy of genetic concern.
Mr. Lewis, not accustomed to being challenged by second graders, especially girls with animal husbandry experience, reassured me. “Times were different then,” he said. But that didn’t do anything to reassure me.
A few years later, we would again discuss the creation story, but this time, older and more attuned to the social justice movements of the late sixties and seventies, I had a new insight as I contemplated Adam and Eve. Again, I raised my hand, an action that Mr. Lewis, a kind man who really believed in his mission of Christian education, had come to dread. “So that means, then, that if all people are descended from Adam and Eve, we truly are equal, right? Like in the song, red and yellow, black and white — we really are all brothers and sisters under the skin!”