One complaint about a figurative interpretation of the first half of Genesis is that it calls into question one’s interpretation of the rest of the Bible. If one doesn’t believe the straight-forward narrative statements in Genesis 1-11 are literal, then why should one believe any of the straight-forward narratives in the Bible? For example, if we take the first half of Genesis figuratively, is there any reason to take the second half as literal history?
This question is often used by young earth creationists to challenge old-earth views. They apply the reasoning blindly through remaining books, making it seem that rejecting a young earth perspective leads to rejecting the truth of Scripture itself.
Most counter arguments for this have to do with the nature of the narratives themselves, but I think there’s another interesting detail that’s worth considering. By reflecting on some of the physical artifacts that span multiple books of the Bible, we discover a reason to think of the second half of Genesis as literal even if we conclude that the first half is figurative. This becomes another way to halt the slippery slope reasoning described above. Continue reading
In the discussion of how best to interpret Genesis 1, the debate is often characterized as a choice of literary type, based on perceived content. A recent article by Joel Anderson proposed a slightly different perspective by focusing on the historical context and what it would have meant to the people of the time. As one component of this, he made the important point that truth or falsehood of a narrative does not depend on only natural perspectives, but also depends on the spiritual. I think this is key, and points to an important aspect of Scripture interpretation. Continue reading
This blog explores Biblical perspectives of creation that start with spiritual observations instead of literary or scientific viewpoints. The resulting approaches are a little different from many creation discussions, yet the goal is to always bring the reasoning back to detailed exploration of Scripture. I hope this balance avoids both overspiritualizing, and reading the Word with a purely natural mindset. Think of it as reading the Bible with the mind of Christ. Continue reading
One of the common arguments made for a young creation has to do with the age of comets. While the arguments seem reasonable at first, it’s pretty easy to see how they miss some key information. The interesting thing about this is that it not only becomes a good example of the oversimplified arguments that are commonly used, but also the importance of testing. Continue reading
The debates over creation and the correct interpretation of Genesis inevitably focus on intellectual arguments. Unfortunately, amidst arguments over the meaning of yom, the reliability of radiometric dating, and so on, it’s easy to lose track of the spiritual. But in fact, our faith is a spiritual matter; God is spirit, and we are created in His image. We must consider the spiritual when seeking truth, or else we degrade the faith into mere religion, or worse, some sort of religious philosophy.
This is perhaps the real challenge that science has brought to the faith — the belief that discerning truth just involves using the natural mind. Because of the success of science in many arenas, it’s easy for us to forget the fact that Scripture teaches against this viewpoint.
If we think about this as we approach the study of origins, it is quickly obvious that the debate is completely unbalanced. This seems to be largely the result of the fact that Young Earth Creationism (YEC) promotes a largely natural understanding of the opening narratives. This essay explores some of the problems with that approach. Continue reading
There are many aspects of the science faith debate, but some of the most central questions have to do with creation. The most fundamental one is whether we should interpret the beginning of Genesis as literal history, or some sort of figurative narrative. In the first case, there is a conflict between a literal interpretation and conventional science, while there is no conflict in the second case.
This essay outlines one viewpoint, based on both spiritual and Biblical perspectives, for why a figurative interpretation is best. The idea is to avoid overspiritualizing the text by including spiritual elements only when there is some clear reason for doing so, but to also avoid a purely natural perspective while missing valid spiritual elements. This latter error is the one that Jesus warned the disciples against. Continue reading
One of the clearest pictures of an old earth comes from carefully looking at the bottoms of lakes. The evidence there gives a very convincing argument that the earth is at least tens of thousands of years old, hundreds of thousands of years old, or even millions of years old. Continue reading