Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; “and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the fourth day. Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” So the evening and the morning were the fifth day. (Genesis 1:14-23)
The Genesis creation narrative is very clear that there is only one God who created everything. There are two different creation stories in Genesis 1-2 which seem to reflect slightly different theologies and concerns. Both, however, are in the Bible and are meant to be read together – neither presents creation as a battle between good and evil. God alone creates everything else that exists – including angels, spiritual beings, Satan, demons, gods. All these spiritual beings are simply creatures like us humans. None are all powerful, none eternal, none immortal. Also, all the objects in the heavens (stars, planets, the sun, moon, comets, etc) are created by God and themselves are not gods, nor can they portend to tell us about our future as they are inanimate creatures lacking intelligence. Nor are any animals gods, no matter how huge or awesome they may be for they too are merely creatures, not even as spiritually elevated as humans.
All creation, visible and invisible, serves God. Unfortunately, some Christians are so concerned about evil in the universe that they treat evil/Satan as an equal and opposite power of God. This dualism is pointedly rejected by Genesis and also by Church Tradition. However, it is also wrongly embraced by some in the Church. Currently, the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill seems to embrace this dualism, seeing Satan as gaining power everywhere and Russian Orthodoxy alone as fighting against Satan. It is a theological error sometimes made by monotheists who cannot come up with an explanation as to why they are not succeeding and/or why their ‘enemies’ are. And the danger here is obvious, for Kirill justifies the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine in these terms and is giving Russian Nationalism a rationale for using its nuclear arsenal to defeat Satan. It is godlessness, not theology. And to imagine the military or nuclear weapons can defeat Satan is idiocy which many different rulers have expressed through history.
The Genesis creation narrative, read at the beginning of Great Lent, is very clear that there is only one Lord God and Creator, who has no equals. Orthodoxy theology is clear that Christ defeated sin, Satan and death. Weapons of mass destruction are of no use in attempting to defeat Satan. It is a spiritual warfare in which Christian are to engage (see St Paul’s argument in Ephesians 6:10-18) not a military one.
Genesis and Orthodox Tradition are clear that humans are God’s center point or high point in creation: not angels and certainly not rebellious angels. Note in Genesis 1-2, no angels are even mentioned at the creation of the world. Humans are God’s main love and concern. There are no angels mentioned in Paradise until after the Fall! Paradise was not created for angels but for humans. (And hell was created for Satan, not humans – Matthew 25:41; no where in Genesis does it ever say God sent Adam and Eve to hell). The Genesis creation accounts aim to help humans realize their relationship to God and to all of the cosmos – to bring us back into a relationship with our Creator rather than in one with Satan who is powerless (doesn’t even have power over swine is what we pray at the exorcism in baptism).
Even the very images in which original sin is described are not chosen at random, but are related even to the substance of sin, as the idolatrous perversion of a creation destined to lead one to God. A comparison with the preceding chapters is remarkable in this regard. The first chapter of Genesis was an argument against the worship of heavenly bodies, animals, and trees. They were demythologized and reduced to the state of creatures, still retaining their hierophantic value. This polemic continues here in amplified form. The sacred author denounces the sin of man who, from the start, instead of recognizing the true God across the realities of the cosmos, made the latter the object of his worship and perverted their value; and more still, who made the supreme accomplishment of God, man himself, an object of adoration. There is original sin, that of a creation which closes in on and revolves around itself instead of opening itself to grace. (Jean Danielou, IN THE BEGINNING . . . GENESIS I-III, pp 56-57)
Reading the Genesis creation accounts at the beginning of Great Lent is supposed to remind us that we humans have a purpose in this world and we also have a destination to which we are to sojourn.
Archbishop Lazar Puhalo wrote that the book of Genesis…
… commences with, ‘In the beginning God created…” and ends with the words, ‘… in a coffin in Egypt.‘ These first and last words of the first book of Moses, Genesis, are in themselves a summary of man’s spiritual history, for God is ever saving and man is ever falling; God is ever delivering and man is ever becoming enslaved; God is ever giving life and man is ever choosing death. (THE CREATION AND FALL, p 3)
The creation account is about God the Creator and His love for His human creatures who often choose evil over good. The world we live in is not one created by Satan, but is God’s good creation occupied by humans capable of both good and evil. Thus, our history is not all good. God for His part has ever tried to encourage us with His love to seek Him and His Kingdom despite our proclivity to self-centeredness and sin. The Genesis accounts of creation are read to help us refocus our existence on our Creator, not on Satan who has been defeated by Christ.