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Featured It is not possible to take all of the creation account in Genesis literally.

Discussion in 'Creation & Theistic Evolution' started by Chadrho, Sep 9, 2019.

  1. Chadrho

    Chadrho exercises by pushing his luck Supporter

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    The title is a bit overstated. A more tempered, and personal, version would be, "I find it very difficult to believe those who say they take all of the creation account in Genesis literally."

    Why do I say that? There are metaphors in the account that cannot be taken literally. And, if they are taken literally, the interpreter runs the risk of missing the true intent of the metaphor. I'll give a couple examples.

    1) In Genesis 1, God separates light from darkness. God calls one Day and the other Night. This is the 1st day. And yet, the luminaries of the sky (Sun, moon, and stars) have yet to be created. Now, I ask, "What is a literal day?" A literal day is, at the very least, a twenty four hour period in which the earth rotates on its axis-the sun being that which determines light or dark. One cannot form a literal concept of a day in regards to the first day of creation. In other words, a metaphor has creeped in somewhere. Someone might attempt to explain the separation of light from darkness by saying, "On the first day, God separated right from wrong, good from evil, good angels from fallen angels." Fine. Whatever. I have no problem someone interpreting the metaphor. That's what we are supposed to do with metaphors. But, let's at least be honest and admit it's a metaphor.

    2) In Genesis 2:17 we are told of the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil." I ask myself, "What kind of tree is that? How do I form a literal conception of that kind of tree?" I challenge anyone reading my words to try, at this moment, to form a literal conception in their minds of such a tree. I contend, without having to try really hard to do so, one cannot form such a conception. Why? Because it is a metaphor. What does that fruit look like in your mind?

    Here is the important part. Even if someone were able to take all of the creation account in Genesis literally, it would do them no good. What matters is not affirming its historical reliability. What matters is grasping the spiritual truths being communicated in the account, e.g. God exists, God is Creator, creation is not God, creation is good, humanity is created in the divine image, sin is a killer, humanity is in need of redemption, a promise of redemption has been made, etc.

    Believing that something is historically true does not change anything. I believe Billie Holiday is the greatest jazz singer of all time, that doesn't somehow change my life. Arguments over taking the creation account in Genesis literally miss the point (including the argument I am now making). The point is the truths being communicated via the account. And, happily for those of us who accept the account, science can't communicate those truths to us, only the account in Genesis can do that.

    Does what I am saying make sense?
     
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  2. LaBèlla

    LaBèlla ❣️ His little lady ❣️ Supporter

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    For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

    I have Isaiah 55:8-9 written on a whiteboard. Its the first thing I see upon waking and a timely reminder throughout the day.

    And those words have kept me in a place of child-like faith that trusts and believes the impossible is possible because He said so.

    Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. —Matthew 18:3-4
     
  3. Tolworth John

    Tolworth John Well-Known Member

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    A day is a period of time. It does not have to involve a rotating planet.
    Once you've grasp that abstract concept. There aren't problems with a supernatural being being able to calculate time without a watch or a sun and a rotating planet.

    Why do you need to form a conceotion of a tree?

    What objections do you have to a super natural being by speaking, creates time, space, energy and matter.
    Who by speaking again organises what has been created into stars, planets, moons etc and goes on to create life.

    If this is rediculous please can you explain how it happened with out a super natural being?
     
  4. Chadrho

    Chadrho exercises by pushing his luck Supporter

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    I also believe that what seems to us as impossible is certainly possible for God. I believe in the resurrection. I believe Jesus is the Son of God. And, a good bit more. I'm just not convinced my faith requires me to read Genesis as a literal rendering of God's creating activity. Or better, I simply can't form such a literal conception. Is that the point you are making, that I don't need to be able to form a literal conception in order to take it literally? If so, I hadn't considered that as a possibility.
     
  5. ajcarey

    ajcarey Member

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    I disagree. Believing or not in the historical truth of the Genesis account can and should make a critical difference in one's life- because of the confidence or lack of confidence in the reliability of Scripture. To not believe in the Genesis account as written opens up a Pandora's Box where everything in Scripture becomes subject to the doubt "Yea, hath God said?"

    Nothing else in your life needs to be dependent on your belief about Billie Holliday, but everything in everyone's life depends on their belief or unbelief in the reliability of the Word of God- since the Word puts a claim on all of our lives and we will be judged by our response to all of it. "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4)

    Also:
    -Jesus affirmed the literal account of the 7 day Creation and of Adam and Eve when He said "But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female." (Mark 10:6)
    - You see in the final chapters of Revelation how New Jerusalem has no need of the sun or the moon because the glory of God did lighten it (Revelation 21:23 and Revelation 22:5). No reason to believe this wasn't the case before the sun and moon were created in Genesis.
    - Of course we can form a conception in our minds as to what the tree of knowledge of good and evil could have looked like. And though our conception is likely not 100 percent accurate, it doesn't matter since the tree's existance is in no way dependent on the potential conception of it in anyone's mind. The same can be said of the conception in our minds of any ancient person, place, or thing.

    Consider what is at stake here: "Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever." (Psalm 119:160)
     
  6. Chadrho

    Chadrho exercises by pushing his luck Supporter

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    If I am being asked to understand the tree literally, then I have many literal trees from which to choose: Pear, Pecan, Peach, etc. All of which I can form a conception of, i.e. imagine its leaves, its branches, and its fruit. I cannot form a literal conception of the fruit "knowledge of good and evil." Why? Because it is a metaphor communicating a spiritual truth.
     
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  7. Chadrho

    Chadrho exercises by pushing his luck Supporter

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    In all kindness, I disagree. I don't treat the scriptures like a house of cards, so that if one thing is not taken literally it all falls down. I don't treat the scriptures a perfect. Only God is perfect and I don't consider God and the scriptures as being identical. They are not. I don't worship the words, I worship the Word. There is a difference.
     
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  8. Chadrho

    Chadrho exercises by pushing his luck Supporter

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    That's a good point. So, you're saying I don't have to be able to form a conception of something in order to take it literally, or maybe better, as actual. Hmm. I'll have to think about that, but I find it somewhat compelling. I just think the tree is intended to be a metaphor for...humans were not meant to be able to differentiate good and evil, perhaps.

    And that's kind of my point. Even if I take it literally, but miss the spiritual point being made, what good does it do me?
     
  9. JohnAshton

    JohnAshton Active Member

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    Literalism falls apart with Genesis.
     
  10. Tolworth John

    Tolworth John Well-Known Member

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    And Jesus hung on a tree. We do not know from what tree the wood was cut, but that does not stop us understanding the cross and the crucifixtiuon.

    So what stops you from understanding that a fruit was illegally taken and eaten from a tree.

    It is not as if knowing what type of tree makes any difference to you and I being sinners.
     
  11. LaBèlla

    LaBèlla ❣️ His little lady ❣️ Supporter

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    Yes. That is why He referenced children. They’re not a slave to reason or bothered by competing ideas. If they believe something in their hearts its wholly true for them.

    It is possible to believe the things you read in the bible while failing to operate in faith in certain areas of your life. Consider this passage.

    And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.”

    And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. —
    Matthew 8:24-26

    He referenced their belief because they knew who He was. This was on the heels of Him driving out demons and healing the sick (Matthew 8:13-16).

    But in that situation they were lacking faith that all was well. In spite of the circumstances.

    In like fashion, you don’t need to understand how the creation account is true to believe it happened as we’ve been told. Your belief in Him covers that.
     
  12. Chadrho

    Chadrho exercises by pushing his luck Supporter

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    The difference is, I can form a conception of the cross, his death, and his rising again. These things I can take literally, even if I don't know all the details. And, the type of tree in the garden does make a difference. It was a particular kind of tree with a particular kind of fruit, i.e. the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Taking it as a metaphor does not empty it of its truth value or the importance of what it is trying to communicate. What it is trying to communicate is very important, but it is still a metaphor.
     
  13. ajcarey

    ajcarey Member

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    There is no difference when you consider that confidence in someone is inseparable from the confidence you have in their words. If we treat not the Scriptures as a house of cards, then we are setting ourselves up as the authority to overrule anything in the Scriptures which we don't like or care to follow at the moment. Satan deceived Eve by making her doubt the surety and certainty of God's Words. This is a matter of life and death.

    Consider the implications of this statement: "I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name." (Psalm 138:2)

    But if you won't receive that, you're still proving my point because in not receiving it you're setting yourself up as the judge of what you'll take from Scripture and what you'll leave. And the issue is inseparable from how you receive the Genesis account.
     
  14. Tolworth John

    Tolworth John Well-Known Member

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    The problem is that it is not a metaphor but a real act of rebellion.
    Just as Adam was a real man and Eve a real women.
    The consquences of that act of rebellion are eqwually real.
     
  15. Chadrho

    Chadrho exercises by pushing his luck Supporter

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    This is an interesting approach that I will have to take time to consider. My argument does hinge on the idea that taking something as literal entails being able to form some kind of conception of it. If not, then what does "literal" mean? But, maybe that is a blind spot with me.
     
  16. Chadrho

    Chadrho exercises by pushing his luck Supporter

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    I am not setting myself up as judge. I am simply making a distinction between the scriptures and God, the words and the Word.
     
  17. mothcorrupteth

    mothcorrupteth Old Whig Monarchist, Classically Realpolitik

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    I'm loosely theistic evolutionist, formerly Young Earth, and I don't see the problem. Photons could have been uniformly scattered throughout the universe when God initially created them. The tree of knowledge of good and evil could have been a unique species that God forced into extinction upon revealing itself to present a problem. I can form a concept of it by analogy to experiences I have had, but this does not make it any less "literal" than if the Scriptures were to say "an apple tree."
     
  18. Chadrho

    Chadrho exercises by pushing his luck Supporter

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    Maybe it helps to remember that I didn't say all of Genesis was a metaphor. I said, one cannot take all of Genesis literally. Those two statements are not the same.

    I believe humanity has rebelled against God, and I believe that in large part because of Genesis (also because I can simply observe human evil). Likewise, I believe the consequences are real. In this we do not disagree.
     
  19. ajcarey

    ajcarey Member

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    It wouldn't do you good- and many who say they believe the Genesis account for this reason fail to translate their belief to real life faith in action.

    But you do have to take it literally to grasp the spiritual point adequately also, because the attractiveness of the tree to the sight, to the sense, and to the ego is more than a metaphor- it was an actual temptation for Eve. And even more so, if you don't take every word of God as reliable, then you're going to fail to properly define temptation and you'll feel justified giving into things which God condemns- things that you would have shunned had you really believed and held on to the authority of the Word of God. A key aspect of the spiritual point of the Creation account is that we will fall into condemnation and forfeit eternal life if we don't take God's words as literal and wholly reliable.
     
  20. Chadrho

    Chadrho exercises by pushing his luck Supporter

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    You are about the third person who has brought this up. I am tempted to acquiesce. ;)
     
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