Accommodationist... ehhhhhh

Sometimes it seems like the phrase accommodationist is tossed around with a negative connotation as if people with a less than literal interpretation bends the Bible to solely fit their worldview and scientific facts. That’s not a accurate understanding whatsoever of why many take a mythical interpretation of scripture. For me what we understand from science only helps accent what I already see painted in scripture.

The first thing to remember is that by the time this story is wrote, everything in Genesis has already happened. There are other faiths already in place. The Mesopotamian faiths all carried a similar atmosphere. I’ll bounce around between reasons.

  1. The great sea monsters are not whales or simply large fish. It’s the sea dragons. Later on that idea is built on even more and fleshed out as a multi headed Levithan. The word is tannin. It comes from the Sumerian word which is similar and refers to their main antagonist at that time which is a sea dragon. Their languages are very distinct. That word was purposely chosen to convey the understanding that God is over creation and that creation itself is not a god.

  2. Adam does not mean male. Adam means human. Before Eve the name simply meant the human. The human is created after the dry earth is misted. We see land rise up out of water and then see some land being misted with water like a golem. The play is ādām ( human ) is made from adāmāh ( dirt ). They understood the concept of the golem already.

  3. The four rivers are all puns that give clues about upcoming events. Again, unless you believe Hebrew was the first language , forgotten, and then relearned you have to see the names were chosen to hint at the stories.

The river Gihon which hints at the story of the snake on his belly ( gehon). The rivers all tie into future geographical plots.

  1. The trees that can be eaten are all said to eat the fruit of the trees in the garden but not the “fruit” of the tree of good and bad. The tree seems to be hinted at as being a fig tree for two reasons. The fruit of the fig tree is different. It’s a inverted flower. Secondly the fig tree is used to cover their nakedness.

  2. Refers to God as walking around. Same as it refers to God walking around before the flood. He came to earth without revealing himself and walked around looking at things just like he walked around in the garden. God did not need to come to earth. He’s all knowing. It’s for the purpose of the story. Especially prior to the flood during Babel. It said he came down ( we don’t actually believe heaven is up above or that god needs to come down to earth to witness what’s wrong.

  3. Other names are based on their story. (Cain- acquires), (Abel - vapor as in gone quickly) ( Seth - replaced).

  4. As mentioned with the river puns Gihon, the snake is cursed and the reason why it crawls on the ground in the dust ( mocking the fact to dust we return so he’s crawling around in the mess he made) is because he deceived Eve.

There are many other reasons in genesis also that makes it very reasonable based on literary analysis that it’s mythological and not literal in nature. We are accommodating scripture as well. In addition to following the patterns set up by scripture it’s just a helps accent its non literal understanding that science does not follow the plot and that the other faiths are very similar. I left thing things like God hovering over the water like Enlil did before the ocean was personified as the dragon sea dragon.

So any subtle hints or negative connotations that by “accommodating” is simply inaccurate.


Accomodation is also a neutral theological term referring to the belief that God accommodates his message to the audience.

I think many ECs willingly concede that there is this kind of accommodation going on in Genesis.

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I definitely believe that was the original intent. Just pointing out how often it seems to be tossed around with a negative connotation by some people.

Kind of like how a conservative or liberal will toss around the opposing phrases with a clear negative connotation.

When I hear a Democrat say they are liberal, I know it’s not used in the same nuance as when I hear a republican refer to a Democrat as a liberal. Same word, just being used differently about the same qualities.

My main point is also not over the connotation I believe some use sometimes. It’s primarily focused on the fact that the story itself gives more than enough reasons to believe it’s meant to by taken as less than literal by the gaps it chooses to have, subtle little word plays, and parallels. It’s not wrote in a way to where even if I knew nothing about Mesopotamian faiths or science that I would just assume it’s meant to be taken literally. It expands a lot further into things like most fruits ( fruits were edible and authorized) except for one and the next actual fruit tree mentioned is a fig which is not really the fruit of the inverted flower pollinated by a wasp losing its wings to get inside and die. That’s ironic too given the story. Even to things like how paul used the same phrases of the whole earth heard the gospel while the apostles carried out the great commission connecting to how Noah used the term in the same way and ect…

Just wanted to point out that if someone thinks it’s ridiculous to not feel that the story was written in a way to be appreciated as art and not a literal history throughout the first several chapters that it’s more on there misreading and not so much someone accommodating the views.

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Yeah. Including a certain moderator who evidently too flippantly makes spin-off thread titles in honor of “some people.” :crazy_face:

I’m honestly not to sure what that last statement means. I was just basing it on experiences. Like I’ve mentioned this site to people in my congregation and I don’t see them joining, but then in church hear them sometimes repeating parts I know they read from here and have heard the word accommodating used sarcastically and negatively. A preacher today that I’ve talked to a few times outright said that he does not make the Bible accommodate so called scientific theories but makes everything be filtered through accommodating the word of god.

I felt like it was jab in person. But I don’t see them in the forums but know they read through some of it. I never heard the phrases used outside of here until lately in this manner.

Why should God pay any attention to what people can understand? What would we think of a teacher who paid no attention to what the students in his classroom can understand? Not only does it sound like a bad teacher, but like someone completely wrapped up in themselves. Who would believe in a God like that? Well… I think there are a lot of people who create God in their own image, and so they believe in God like that, because they are like that themselves. After all if they are so wrapped up in themselves that they cannot understand why they should pay any attention to what the people they are speaking to can understand, then why would they think that God should do any such thing either?

I looked up this Frank J. Tipler guy. That omega point idea was some really crazy stuff. I wouldn’t call this guy any kind of scientist – more like some kind of cult guru. Doesn’t sound Christian to me either – reminds me most of L. Ron Hubbard.

I don’t know who that Frank guy is.

Why would God not do that? God does the same exact thing with the book of revelation. Historically, and now, Jews have also considered the book of Esther and Jonah as fictional stories. Everyone I know views revelation as a end times mythology. No one thinks it’s a literal tale.

Why would God use hyperbolic language to convey truths to people or allow to express what they are told in their own way? I guess simply put because he can and very obviously did.

We can look at thousands of years of writings by the Jewish people to see exactly how they understood all of these words. You won’t find any ancient Jewish writings talking about evolution, a globe earth, or a solar system with the sun at the middle of a galaxy or group of planets. You also won’t find anything about verses 1:1 being anything but a introduction to the following text and you won’t find them arguing that the sun was created, and then it’s light revealed later on. You find them believing that the world and space was basking in the light emitting from God. The same light that made Moses shine and for Christians the same metaphorical light revelation speaks of when it says there will be no sun or moon ( or sea too ) in the restored heaven or earth.

So… uh… talking about nucleosynthesis, field equations, and inflationary expansion of space-time is not the way to go in Genesis instead I take it? LOL.

I can see what you mean. I sometimes see the same thing with the term “fundamentalist,” where it started out as a description of particular beliefs (or a subset of beliefs) but with shortened terms like “fundie” it’s become more of a derogatory term, and something I rarely hear people refer to themselves as anymore. I wonder whether “evangelical” will go down that road someday. Probably it’s only a matter of time before “gellies” or some other variant becomes derogatory. For that reason we should probably aim to refer to someone’s (or a group’s) beliefs with a term that they want to be called, unless it’s a term that makes incorrect assumptions about others. I think general terms like YEC, OEC, ID, and EC seem to be working well, and hope they can continue to be used in ways that are not derogatory.


In case anyone is not sure what I made this as a separate thread, it’s because it’s about how textual analysis shows hyperbolic techniques within the scriptures themselves. It’s just a plus that science and history supports that interpretation as opposed to believing it’s meant to be a literal tale.

The order of things don’t determine the focus. I was simply introducing the reason behind why I wanted to make a post focused on why scripturally many stories seem to be full of fictional , mythological, metaphorical, proverbial, and mountains of other styles that are not meant to be literally understood.

Happy to sign up to accommodationism in that there can be no conflict between science and religion as the former makes no religious claims and the latter no scientific ones.

Me too. But it does not change what I wrote.

Why should it?

Guess I’m still trying to learn the implications of your musings and games. You have textual mannerisms that are weird to me so I can’t tell when you’re trying to be serious or just being you or what you’re trying to imply. I don’t mean anything to be negative just that you talk differently than what I do or I am use to and half the time I can’t tell if your messing around, disagreeing, or just what.

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Not a problem Mi. I always mean what I say. In this instance nothing in religion, no claim, can challenge anything in science or rationality. Science, as a subset of rational enquiry, must not include any consideration of the unnatural as explanatory. Religion as an area of scientific enquiry is developing well. Rationality beyond the falsifiable, science, does allow for the supernatural as ultimately causal.

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is Teilhard de Chardin’s. supported by Pope Benedict XVI

It used to beguile me too.

I like the nasty LRH comparison.

I agree, and feel it is done purposely to try to disparage those who accept this reasonable idea. It is done to associate it with “compromise-rs” and such as it has an overlapping common meaning to most people in the general population, even though accomodationalism is a widely accepted thing in theology. It basically states that God speaks to us in ways we can understand. I am probably guilty of using fundamentalist in the same way at times, as noted by Laura above.


Where is it defined that way Phil?

Wikipedia offers a representative definition as follows:
“Accommodation (or condescension) is the theological principle that God, while being in His nature unknowable and unreachable, has nevertheless communicated with humanity in a way which humans can understand and respond to. The concept is that scripture has accommodated, or made allowance for, the original audience’s language and general level of understanding.[1] Often included in these ideas is the notion of human sinfulness or capacity; so in other words God accommodates himself to the human capacities of those to whom biblical revelation is given.”

My paraphrase is at least in the ballpark, I think.


Ah, accommodation as opposed to accommodationism. Thank you. Yeeeeaaahhhh. Condescension. I feel it’s real. We rise in yearning to an invisible sun. It gives its heat to everyone … gives us hope when the whole day’s done

How can it have negative connotations?

“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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