My oldest daughter just brought home her project about the Six Days of Creation (remember, no creating on Shabbat). She had a little picture of a calendar week and a bunch of toys to stack on top. To the best of the morah’s (teacher’s) ability, she tried to inject some of a the more sophisticated ideas into the pictures and toys. End of the day, they are still pictures and toys and rather simplistic.
The problem is that many Jews, even those raised with yeshiva education, have the same impression of the Creation narrative that my daughter now has. This is because the dioramas are essentially where most Jews leave their education about the Creation narrative. Orthodox Jews leave their study of Creation early to study more meaty topics like tort law (obviously something every sixth-grader should know) and non-orthodox Jews generally leave their Jewish studies entirely. The only time studying Creation is taken seriously is at the other end of the spectrum when the choice few go on to study Kabbalah (for real not a la Madonna), and for those who never get there or never see that as the end game of their studies, they lose out entirely.
Rashi, the author of the most popular commentary on the Torah, says that the words of Bereshit are just waiting to be examined thoroughly. The Rambam (Maimonides) compares the 31 lines of the Creation narrative to a basket of silver filled with apples of gold. The greatest of our scholars have always taken the study of Creation as one of the most important and serious topics. Shouldn’t we?
Let’s leave aside hardcore Kabbalistic/mystical teachings. What about just studying the commentaries found in the Mikraot Gedolot (the classic printing of the Tanakh with the most common commentaries printed surrounding the Biblical text)? What about using science to understand it? Someone quoted to me in the name of Rav Yaakov Pam, former yeshiva head of Yeshiva Torah v’Daat, that a knowledge of Physics is essential to understanding the Torah.
Any which way, it is far from childish to take the time to know it better. Or to believe it.