Is Genesis all literal, all allegory, or somewhere between?

Discussion in 'Sacred Scripture' started by ZachT, Jun 27, 2021.

  1. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    If it is "ignorant fundamentalism" to believe the Bible, I gladly stand guilty as charged. Man's understanding of science often changes over time, but the word of God stands forever.

    If only everyone would be a Bible fundamentalist, instead of departing from the fundamentals of the faith.
     
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  2. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    For two millennia the church has understood and believed that God made all living creatures. The Bible says so, and the church has always understood it to mean that God spoke them into existence (not that God waited for the "natural" course of "evolution" to take place).

    Man has observed for centuries that the number of extant species grows ever less, that various forms of plants and animals die out over time. The fossils which show plants and animals unknown to us today fully supports this. Yet some "scientists" came along and said that, long ago, the trend was reversed: new plants and new animals developed all by themselves through "natural selection." (Where has this process been in the last 2,000 years?) And silly people run after these "scientists" in abandonment of what has always been known: that species die out over time as the earth as all things on the earth decay, and that God created the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind, and that nothing was made without God the Son making it.

    If this 'new religion' can believe that new life forms came forth by "natural" means (even though we know it to be unnatural!), then the 'new religion' can also believe that man evolved from dumb animals. Is Jesus the great-great-great grandson of an orangutan? Such is this new "faith."
     
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  3. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    My first problem with this post, is that it is a straw-man argument to suggest that the alternatives are biblical literalism and outright apostacy. There are many Christians who believe the Bible without being a biblical literalist.

    Must western Christians do not believe that the earth is a lump of dirt upheld from the depths that surround it by seven pillars, with the sky set out as a dome over it, and orbited by the Sun on a daily basis.

    [​IMG]

    If you believe that the Earth is round and moves around the Sun, then in part you have made some concessions.

    As with most people since Galileo I accept Heliocentricity as a reasonable conclusion. It may well be that the People of the Early Church did not, nd indeed it is probable that they did not. We still talk about sunrise, as the ancient custom, however most of us believe that the earth is spinning, and what we call the rising of the sun, is simply the result of the earth turning.

    The philosophical idea of Pragmatism is not unreasonable. This is the acceptance of the most reasonable conclusion based on the evidence available to us at the time. At some stage we may need to re-assess an earlier position based on fresh evidence. This is essentially the position that Paul takes in writing to the Corinthians now we see in a glass darkly, then face to face.

    Faith calls us to step out beyond knowledge, not simply to refuse it.
     
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  4. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    As it applies to the statements in Genesis 1 and John 1 which I recently quoted, one either believes that God created (made) all of the different types of living things, as the church has always believed and as the Bible unequivocally states, or one is treading into heresy (at the least).

    Previously, you stated your idea that the many species developed over time by the power and design of God (I guess, apparently because He preferred to do things an incredibly slow, gradual, and random-appearing way? Even though He is powerful enough to have all the species come into existence at the moment He conceived of it and spoke it into existence? "And God said...and it was so" (Genesis). I presume you adopted the idea because you have been persuaded by the prevailing scientific theories to reconcile those unproven, unprovable theories with your faith).

    Immediately following your statement, @Invictus commented about your idea: "None of this makes very much sense on the assumption that these species were created independently and perfectly adapted to their environment by an all-wise and omnipotent Creator with a perfect plan." His logic was quite sound. Why would He have well-developed land mammals transition into sea-going whales, while having other sea-going species transition into land-dwellers? Thus, Invictus essentially rejected the idea that the many species evolved and developed by God's power and design. The remaining alternative is that the many species developed over time by random happenstance, not as a perfect plan put into place by the Creator. This is not a matter of reinterpreting the Bible but of rejecting its plain and obvious message, namely, that all things were created by God.

    So, yes, between the two choices of believing what Gen. 1 and John 1 state or believing otherwise, I would choose the former and gladly suffer being called a Bible fundamentalist (whether I really am one or not) for my insistence upon believing the written word of God even when modern, popular scientific theories say otherwise.

    After all, it is equally valid to theorize that the fossil record simply reflects the vast diversity of God's initial creation, and that the large bulk (perhaps 90%+) of that diversity has ceased to exist by now due to the flood of Noah's day as well as gradual extinctions from predation, inability to adapt to environmental changes, widespread diseases, and so on. We have seen (even in the space of a single century) and can bear record to the circumstances of many extinctions, yet we have not seen and can bear no record of a macroevolutionary change to any species during the history of mankind. Why do the scientists ignore the obvious and theorize that macroevolutionary advances (which we have never observed taking place even one time) have occurred literally hundreds of thousands or millions of times? Quite simply, they do so because they are searching for a way to justify existence apart from a Creator.

    The Bible-believing Christian has no need for 'evolutionary theory,' because the Christian has the faith of his forefathers, faith in the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth and of all that is on the earth. This theory has not been, and indeed it can never be, established as fact in the way that the earth's revolution around the sun can be established.... by observation. Thus it is a false argument to compare evolutionary theory to any fact established by science as an absolute. Belief in macroevolution of all life forms from a single-celled organism, which in turn came alive by application of some energy source to a combination of chemicals in the primordial soup, can only be taken on faith. Belief in macroevolutionary theory is a matter of faith, and it is a faith contrary to Christianity because it is contrary to the church's belief based on the word of God that He personally created all living creatures in all of their types and variations.

    "And God said...and it was so" (Genesis). When God said, 'let it be so,' immediately it was. Not eventually, after 30 million years of gradual change!
     
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  5. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I wasn’t even going to raise the issue of the Bible’s endorsement of Babylonian cosmography but that’s a great point.

    @Rexlion, it’s one thing for people to hold opinions that differ from the mainstream. Although in this case, given the state of evidence, it seems to me that to deny that evolution has occurred is about on the same level as denying the existence of gravity, let’s nevertheless abstract from the particulars for a moment and grant the underlying principle: The whole history of science is the story of people who were willing to buck the prevailing conventional wisdom of their time, sometimes at great personal cost. It would be hypocritical in the extreme to condemn those who honestly believe that we are in need of a better theory than the one that currently prevails. They may very well be right. What’s intolerable, at least to me, is when people actively work to convince others not to read or even consider arguments put forth by the opposing side. Each side in a debate should get a fair and impartial hearing, ideally. That being said, I regret the snarkiness of some of my earlier comments and have no wish to prolong a fruitless debate.
     
  6. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I think this is a fair statement of the difference between the two approaches. While we may disagree as to which approach is better, I appreciate your recognition of their incompatibility, and admire your zeal to uphold the Faith. I also regret my earlier frustration, as it was manifested in some of my comments, and ask your forgiveness.
     
  7. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    Firstly, let me say, that I believe much of science does rest of fundamental propositions that cannot be ultimately proven. Do atom's actually exist, or is it a thesis that has been tested, and ultimately is the only way to make sense of things. Are all atoms the same? Are protons, neutrons and electrons a viable way to explain physical matter? On the basis of the evidence we have to date, it would seem so.

    If the universe started with a Big Bang, how did that happen, what caused it, and a trillion other questions that this proposition raises.

    Science and Theology are siblings in the pursuit of truth. Followed honesty Anselm argued they would arrive at the same conclusion. I think that is true. Many scientists are ultimately people of faith, sometimes harassed by a God Fearing Church, but in the end truth will out.

    My belief in God as Creator, something I hold quite dearly, is dynamic, not static. It seems clear to me that God made the world a living moving creation where change is the only constant. I do not have it all sown up, not even close. If you have a house, you may need some renovations from time to time, you may need to re-purpose some of it from time to time, so whether you bought it or built it, it is not static. I can see no good reason why evolution could not be one of the things that God created as part of the infrastructure of this place.

    On my last trip to the UK, I was interested to observe that I bumped my head quite a bit. Lots of the older places we visited were built when people where shorter. Numbers of things have changed in the way of diet. When I was growing up 6 foot was considered quite tall, yet these days there is an endless array of young people who are clearly taller. Diet and lifestyle may both be contributing factors to that. When Australia introduced the pension for people at the age of 65, the average expectancy of a man was 58. These days, most men live into their seventies. Diet, improved health systems, workplace health and safety all have contributed to that.

    Given the strong likelihood that some part of the tradition was already extant in the Gilgamesh Epic, that is hardly surprising. In fact it argues well for the Abrahamic Migration from Ur of the Chaldees.
     
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  8. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Indeed it does!
     
  9. Lowly Layman

    Lowly Layman Well-Known Member

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    Excellent points Rexlion. I would only add that not only did God make all living creatures, He made them each according to their kinds (Genesis 1:24-25).
     
  10. CRfromQld

    CRfromQld Member

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    It is likely that the Genesis version predated Gilgamesh, even if there are no surviving copies.
    As just one example consider the dimensions of the Ark. The Gilgamesh version has length. width, and height all equal, which would be extremely unseaworthy, (and he built it from the material obtained by demolishing his hut). The Genesis dimensions are close to ideal. It is unlikely that the writer of Genesis would have started with 3 equal dimensions and just happen to pick the ideal proportions. It is more likely that during oral transmission the dimensions would be made equal so as to be easier to remember.
     
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