A question for accommodationalists

If that be the case should we be either YEC or OEC? How else should we explain the creation stories in Genesis 1-2 in the fact of billions of years, isn’t PoD accommodationist in itself?
And I will have to disagree with you, the ancients, at least in the Ancient Near East believed in a flat earth and solid dome sky. I have studied the ANE cosmology to long to throw that out the window so easily.

In that, you’ll find few of us arguing with you. I disagree when you take figurative or symbolic readings as implying God can’t do what they literally say. I’m sure you don’t read Jesus’ parables as showing that God can’t be a shepherd or can’t be a woman who loses a coin or can’t be a father who gives his literal flesh-and-blood son his inheritance early. To read Jesus’ illustrations of God’s kingdom as showing what God can’t actually do would be bizarre, and the same applies to illustrations of God’s creation. Rather, these illustrations show us what God really can and has done, once we understand how they are conveying truth.

In Genesis 1, God really did create the world and all that is in it, and it’s no problem to me that the actual creation is both more (bacteria, angels, seaweed, kiwis) and less (scratch that firmament that contains the sun, moon and stars and keeps the upper waters above us) than the account depicts. Rather than coming away saying “God can’t make frogs because they don’t fit either day 5 or 6,” what I see in Genesis 1 is an affirmation of God’s sovereignty and orderliness as everything is created according to a set timetable with clear divisions. And in Genesis 2 I see God’s providential care affirmed as needs rather than a timetable determine what is created. I don’t know how one literal story of creation could convey both God’s sovereignty and God’s providence, but through the two that begin Genesis, that’s exactly the portrait of God we get. I find that far more helpful and theologically productive than mining Genesis for a few scientific spoilers.


Hi Marshall, it is great to hear from you again.

Ah, but I am saying exactly what I believe here. Everyone here, including me, has argued extensively against YEC. I recall showing a girl the picture below, of an eroded topography in a basement granitic bloc which was later covered by Ordovician limestones. It would take hundreds of thousands of years for this dendritic pattern to form and be carved as deeply into the granite as it is. This block is covered by several thousand feet of sediment today and was captured in a 3D seismic project. It is from the Tarim basin.

I recall the YEC saying that that really bothered her. And indeed, she went into a crisis of faith. I think she left the faith, but I can’t be positive. That was the moment I left the evolution/creation wars. Why? Because we all believe false things and are still Chrristians. So what if my friend became a Christian because God used the Big Bang. Should I try to deconvert her because of accommodationalism? Of course not. False belief is among all of us; most just don’t want to admit that they could be wrong, including me. But I wanted to know how dedicated people are to having a lack of objective data in the Bible–and it seems they are mighty dedicated to having it all be false.

Yet accommodationalists, like me earlier, take umbrage at our Christian brothers for not being true to science. I agree that their science is fantasy land. We should not be a stumbling block to them.

I would have huge concerns with anyone who became a Christian for reasons other than Christ, but I don’t know if that’s the case with your friend. Perhaps the science in Genesis 1 was just the nudge that led her to an encounter with Jesus. In that case, I’d hardly see it as a huge mistake, since whatever God used as the nudge shouldn’t become the foundation of one’s faith. But if the science of Genesis 1 rather than Jesus truly is the foundation of anyone’s faith, I do think that’s something that needs to be addressed. It’s a faith crisis waiting to happen.

We absolutely agree on the bolded. And I think YECS in general do not become Christians because of YEC. They too become Christians because of Christ, but then their theology, like your theology, and like my theology, get in the way and causes problems… for them it becomes YEC. For many here it becomes a case for God of the Can’t-do, as explained in an answer above.


Should someone take Genesis 1 as a real event?

If that someone is gbob, that’s tricky. I think you hold to the days of proclamation reading, so you do see a real event in Genesis 1. But that event is a series of visions over six days through which God communicated what was done long before. Someone who thinks the real event is rather six days of creation might see your reading as destroying the reality of the chapter. In fact, they might even lump your reading in with mine as just another way to reduce the plain literal truth into a story that doesn’t conflict with science.

LOL, yes it is tricky and yes, you are correct about what some critics of what I have suggested have claimed. Are they correct? Maybe. we will know in time, but at least I have offered one scenario that matches fact. There might be others. Someone should try to find them, rather than sit around lazily proclaiming how false everything is. My opinion.

BTW, I will send you a PM to tell you something important, because it is you and you alone among the folk here actually took the time to understand what I was trying to do. For that I will always be grateful.

If all you mean is the event of Genesis 1:1, not the whole chapter, then we probably share a similar reading. But for me, I wouldn’t see that reading – that God created everything from nothing – as unambiguously taught by the text. There are many ways to translate and understand Genesis 1:1, and several of the most compelling readings do not imply creation ex nihilo . A couple New Testament texts, as well as general logical and philosophical points move me towards ex nihilo .

Of course, I take it further than just 1:1 but we can be happy we have agreement on one verse in the Bible. Surely that is worth something.:grinning:

It doesn’t hurt that I live in a time when that reading dovetails nicely with the established science. But if I had lived in an earlier time? Maybe it wouldn’t be so clear. Maybe some of the other readings would seem more compelling. So, rather than seeing Genesis 1:1 as predicting the Big Bang, I instead read Genesis 1:1 in light of many other things (the rest of Scripture, what is known from science, the history of interpretation, etc.). And further, I’m okay if sometimes how I read a text goes beyond what the original writer would have intended, but that awareness gives me more reason to hold such readings loosely. They are the product of my faith rather than its grounds

I have often said, to the horror of some hermeneutical purists that God has the unique problem of communicating with Neolithic man as well as Homo scientistus assuming that last is a word. He must embed different things for different times to know as truth. The earlier people had no doubt God created the heavens and the earth as outlined in Gen 1. There was no contradictory data to the normal reading. We don’t live in such times but God should still be real to us as well.

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Mitch, you are the one person I won’t respond to. I find most of our interchanges just are not useful. Sorry.

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Hi @gbob. I didn’t say Genesis 1:1 teaches science; I said that Genesis 1 teaches that God is the creator of everything. That’s very different!


I find this an interesting objection because once God has someone’s attention that he has done something miraculous to get their attention and show his power, then my understanding of human nature says that they will listen to what he has to say.

Let’s take a bunch of idol worshippers who’s ‘where they are’ is worshipping a God who gives them things. God comes along and say, ‘It’s no problem that you continue to believe that’ I will accommodate my message to where you are. Make an idol of me and bow down before it."

That is meeting people where they are, and God didn’t do it on that issue. Child sacrifice was big back in those times–those who have been to Tunisia to see the phonecian baby cemeteries would understand. God didn’t meet them where they were with regard to child sacrifice. God didn’t meet them where they were by accommodating to adultery, theft, oh yeah, where they were included worshipping any or many Gods, and He didn’t met them where they were on those issues.

It seems the only issue that God accommodated was the one issue of truth about nature. I find accommodationalism very ad hoc. it is advocated to solve ONE problem–science. It isn’t advocated for moral issue. Frankly it would have been easier for the ancient folk to accommodate their views to science than to accommodate to God’s morality rules.

See my answer to Mervin

Ok, thanks for clarifying my mind. This is a science place lets look for evidence.

Was it Jehovah or Ahura Mazda who created the world? You clearly say it was the Jewish god. What evidence do you have to back up such an audacious claim that the Jewish God is the creator of everything and not some other God? Please explain why you trust that evidence.

If you have no evidence, then the above claim is mere assertion, nothing more

How else was God to explain rocket science to a bunch a goat herders who though the land they were on was the “world”? You cannot ignore the ANE symbols in the creation stories of Gen. 1-2, did God also give that information as well or was it added? Also a lot of the moral rules are not meant for all time. God was working with a people within their time and native location. God worked differently for the people of NT then the OT, both pre and post exile. And God woks with us in the way that we can understand Him. Again, though the Bible is for us, not everything in the Bible is for us.

Marshall, I use reduction ad absurdam a lot. It is one of the most powerful logical tools we have. When I am saying God can’t do this, I am trying to show that accommodationalism leads to that view. I think you and I agree that God CAN do a whole lot. Accommodationalism puts a fence-wall around God’s ability and makes him in some sense a god of our own making, in that we get to control what he can and can’t do. As Scripture says, it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of a living God. We can’t control him, we can’t decide his actions. We can only try to deduce his actions.

Take my views. one reason I haven’t really pushed them much over the years (admittedly I am doing a bit of pushing before my exit stage right), is that while I know they match reality, I can’t prove they ARE reality. Accommodation on the other hand won’t acknowledge that it might be possible for God to do precisely what he said AS HE SAID IT–meaning YEC. Here is how YEC could literally be true.

We know little about the ultimate structure of the universe, we don’t know why energy congeals itself into matter–we know it does and can predict how much energy is in a unit of matter. We don’t know how our minds interact with the material world really. We can claim that it is an epiphenomenon of the brain but some evidence suggests that consciousness is not subject to natural law (Mitch you don’t need a knee jerk response here). go look up Wheeler’s delayed choice experiment:

Wheeler noted that it is possible to devise a double slit experiment at the cosmic level using light coming from quasars and a galaxy which operates as a gravitational lens on the way to Earth, bending the light inwardly as it passes by massive objects (as predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity). This light would generate an interference pattern showing that light has travelled as waves. But if a measurement would be performed before the screen on which the interference pattern takes form, the pattern would dissolve and the photons would change from waves into particles. In other words, our choice on how to measure the light coming from a quasar influences the nature of the light emitted 10 billion years ago. According to Wheeler, this experiment would show that ‘retrocausal effects operate at the quantum level. " 13

Wheeler changed his mind and said eventually that we create the past with our observations. That is a profound concept. There are delayed choice experiments in quantum (and I will refer people again to the site no one goes to. my blog) which indicates that humans when making quantum observations actually create the past. What if what we see is not reality but what was altered by sinful human observation? It is a stretch, I don’t believe it, but one can’t rule it out. It is a way to make YEC literally true and what we see a matter of consensus observation by humanity.

One: we are not talking about ‘rocket science’ and two: God could have said, “out of the slime I brought forth life” Even a goat herder could understand that. It ain’t hard to say something true in a simple manner. Sheesh, everyone seems to think God had to give them a college education about nature when simple things like that would suffice.

Are you going to tell me that a goat herder couldn’t understand that?

Edited to add: maybe God added the rest of the stuff to communicate with us.

Since Genesis 1 is by all accounts a unique piece of literature, I would add a factor in that uniqueness, that there can be two true and noncontradictory narratives at the same time, not unlike the classic optical illusion drawing that contains the image of an old woman and a young woman. A sequential reading and an ANE/literary framework reading can be simultaneously true. (It is developed somewhat here and here – short reads. :slightly_smiling_face:)

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These were your words, not mine. I took you at your word, gbob, but I see now that the OP about your friend wasn’t really about your friend. I guess it was just a rhetorical device so you could talk about your beliefs about Genesis 1. More fool me.

Please don’t assume you know anything about me and my understanding of God or Creation or the science that’s found in the Bible. Thank you.

I gotta go do other things for a while. bbl

Yes, thank you for pointing out that they are my words. I already knew that. But my words do not convey in any sense guilt. The argument I was using is called reduction ad absurdam. it basically means show that the debate opponents position leads to an absurdity. I think it worked. You may disagree.

While that could be true, but Gen. 1:27 and Gen. 2:7 don’t state that though, In Gen.1 humans just appear out of no where and in Gen.2 Adam is made from the dust.

I think you are nearer the truth here than you probably intended this parody to be.

It’s been said that God meets us where we are, but never leaves us there.

Those were times when idols, sacrifices, and conquests (my god is bigger/badder than your god, etc.) - that was the common currency of tribal turf wars. God most certainly did enter into just those sorts of things with them and allowed those contests to play out with Himself as one of the players. True - they were to be different in many respects than their neighbors. They were not to make idols or graven images, etc. But God certainly did enter into that world with them and tolerated quite a bit of it too, before some of those prohibitions (think of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their household idols/gods). We don’t think in those terms any more, so for us having depictions of deity in art or in the art encyclopedia on your coffee table are no big deal for us because we don’t worship those images or confuse them for actual deity. God meets us today in a different place than he met them then. We are in need of different sorts of prohibitions than statues or images.

It isn’t about God getting their attention - it’s about giving them a word that actually means something once their attention is so-fixed. Telling ancients about 21st century sciencey stuff would have had exactly zero value (or truth - because it would mean nothing to those hearers). It would only have served to be embarassingly anachronistic on God’s part - almost as if he can’t remember which epoch he’s talking to.


For me, it’s more that the way certain accounts are written give clear signs of a different style of literature. Imagine the following story came from anywhere but the Bible: A character named Humanity is split in half, one side becoming a woman and the other a man. The two sides reunite as one flesh in marriage. Our protagonist, Humanity, is prohibited from eating fruit that gives knowledge, but once split in two his other half is tempted by a talking beast into disobeying, prompting God to bar Humanity from eating fruit that gives eternal life.

As a parent of two young boys to whom I’ve read many stories, I know that nobody’s natural inclination is to treat a story like this as revealing scientific facts, or even as being mistaken about scientific facts. It’s not that I’m dedicated to the story being false. I’m dedicated to reading it on its own terms.


And you did. Sorry for not reading enough to realize that!


However, I take even bigger issue with talking like God’s omnipotence means we should accept that God can do whatever someone says in whatever way they care to dictate.

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I believe the events are real, but figurative language is being used. Much like Revelation talks about the destruction of Jerusalem using figurative language.

Did God create the heavens and the earth in the beginning? Yep. Did he tell the earth to bring forth plants and animals? Absolutely. Evolution doesn’t contradict that.

What was the point of Genesis 1? To tell the order that God did things? No. To tell the method used to create things? No. The point is to tell who and why. Those two things matter a whole lot in understanding who God is and what His relationship is with us and why He has authority. There’s no reason to explain how tiny lifeforms started billions of years ago. Would that knowledge help your understanding of God in any way? So maybe God didn’t mention that, because it isn’t important.

I like your interpretation of Genesis 1, with the days of proclamation. I don’t hold that view, but I can see it as a legitimate possibility. Your view on Adam gets a little too out there for me, and he’s not really created from dust, if I recall correctly (it’s been months since I read it). You have him being born with one less chromosome and dead, right? I just don’t think Moses was talking about that when he wrote Genesis 2. I’m sorry. I just don’t see it. I do wonder if the creation of Eve story is possibly a vision, since the same language for putting Adam to sleep is used for visions elsewhere in the Bible. I haven’t fully fleshed that out though.

I do understand your issue with accommodationalism. I’ve talked to a YEC at church who had the same issue. He thought that if the order of creation in Genesis 1 wasn’t how it historically happened, then the Bible is false. I don’t think the order is intended to be the actual order of creation (and you get around that by making it days of proclamation). I think it’s likely a literary device. But I do think God created all of those things, and I don’t think old earth or evolution go against that.

Have you read Gregg Davidson’s recent book, Friend of Science, Friend of Faith? He goes through each of the main stories Genesis 1-11 is concerned with and looks at how the science and the Biblical text interact. I thought it was pretty well done.

I don’t completely understand what exactly happened in reality in those stories, but I do think they are real history. The language is just more difficult for us to understand. I find the OT in general to be more difficult than the NT. The style of writing is so different. That doesn’t make it untrue though. The message God is trying to convey is clear and easily accessible, no matter how you think it all happened.


And to me that is the point. why didn’t God, or at least this god, say something simple? I think most people who hold YEC and accommodationalism are only thinking within Christian theology.They are not thinking in terms of comparative religion, and that changes the game.

Further, as I pointed out to you, few people think about what is called counterfactuals. What COULD have been communicated. It isn’t as if someone has to know what we know to understand evolution. I get that kind of comment a lot. Consider Anaximander, b. 611 BC, back in that goat-herder era.

"Out of the Infinite, which he called “the Divine” and conceived as an eternal and living, though not immaterial, being, he supposed actual existences to have sprung by the generation, first, of the “contraries,” “the warm” and “the cold,” “the moist” and “the dry,” then, by an eternal motion, of the universe of worlds, in the centre of which is the earth, fixed in position and cylindrical in form. From the original moisture all things were generated by heat. Animals and men were evolved from fishes. The soul he declared to be aëriform. Anaximander may be called the earliest “evolutionist”. https://www.e-torredebabel.com/greekphilosophy/ionicnaturalphilosophers.htm

So here we have an example of a guy in a goat-herder society understanding what we understand, Men were evolved from fish. That leaves out a lot of detail about evolution but it is a scientifically true sentence.

Thus, I find the claim that goat-herders couldn’t understand what we understand to be utterly without merit.

So, given that the premise of accommodationalism is false (the idea that God had to accommodate scientific knowledge to the stupidities of that era), and given that we can see an example of an evolutionist in that era, why didn’t God inspire something simple like Anaximander said, that is true but not complete in detail? That is where my reading of Genesis 1 comes in. I think there is a case to be made for a fully scientific reading of Genesis 1, but people prefer to take the easy road–just give up on it having historical/scientific value.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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