Help! Common Arguments For Literal Genesis


#1

Hello Everyone,

I am a big fan of this organization and was hoping for some help. Below are some arguments I’ve come across that are for a literal interpretation of Genesis. Does anyone know how to address them?

  1. A common argument I hear for a literal interpretation of Genesis is that when God split water from the waters that’s reference to water-rich asteroids and protoplanets colliding with prehistoric earth, bringing water. Later, gaseous emissions from volcanoes added additional water. This occurred approximately 4.4 billion years ago. Over the next several billion years, as the earth cooled, water vapor began to escape and condense in the earth’s early atmosphere. Clouds formed and enormous amounts of water fell on the earth. The waters were separated, water on earth and water in the atmosphere. So day two of Genesis fits within current understanding of science and is in the correct order.

  2. In Genesis 1:3, it says let there be light, which perfectly coheres with science, even though light is listed before the creation of the sun. At some point in the history of time between, 9 and 15 billion years ago, the origins of the universe began. There was absolutely nothing but emptiness, when suddenly an infinitely hot and dense spot called the singularity appeared. From that spot there was an unimaginable gigantic explosion, called the Big Bang, and within less than a fraction of a second, the entire universe was formed. This was the start of everything that exists — matter, energy, time and every atom that was ever created. So the universe was around for 13 billion years without the sun. During the Big Bang, electrons caused very small packets of light making the whole universe glow. The sun was formed 4.5 billion years ago along with the Earth. So this perfectly coheres. First it was dark, then the light came and we could establish day from night on Earth.

  3. A common argument against a literal Genesis is the difference in the order of creation between Genesis 1 and 2, but an argument in response to this is it doesn’t say man is created before animals. It says God HAD created animals and birds - past tense referencing back to Genesis 1.

  4. Order of creation in Genesis is correct, Sea mammals > land mammals > man. This article discuss in more detail - https://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-l-wolper/genesis-and-science_b_500201.html

  5. Organizations like Reasons to Believe hold to a literal interpretation of Genesis, but don’t deny evolution, they actually affirm it I believe. They more-so are on the lines that humans definitively evolved from primates without any divine intervention. There’s lots of errors in the tree of life and it’s gotten really confusing for scientists to figure out. 40 years ago, it seemed clear, but now it does not.

  6. One of the biggest holes I see in evolution is the Cambrian Explosion, which Darwin was really troubled by. This goes against the notion that the entirety of evolution is true. 541 million years ago, tons of fully formed animals just appeared. Aligns with Day 5 of Genesis.

  7. I’ve read on the Biologos website that Adam and Eve could not have been the sole biological progenitors of all humans because genetic data & diversity reveals that there was a bottleneck.

What genetic data and diversity reveals a bottleneck? We share 99.9% of the traits with every other human?

  1. It looks like new evidence shows there may have been a global flood - https://abcnews.go.com/Technology/evidence-suggests-biblical-great-flood-noahs-time-happened/story?id=17884533

Thank you for your help!


(Laura) #2

Hi, Rob_b and welcome to the forum! There are a lot of questions here, and I think some answers might depend on what we all might mean by “a literal interpretation of Genesis.”

For example, in #8 I didn’t see anything in the article about a “global” flood – just that there may very well have been a large flood in the mesopotamian area, which I doubt many who subscribe to evolutionary creationism would dispute. For those like me who read the Genesis account as more of a “regional flood” view, I don’t see any challenge to that here.

As for 1 and 2, I’m not very knowledgeable about the science you’re describing, so I can’t delve into whether that’s correct or not, but assuming it is, then that might be a viable argument for what the text is referring to on “days” one and two. I don’t know that I’d call either of those arguments for a “literal” interpretation of Genesis though, since you’re already assuming that the term “day” refers to long ages rather than what we now think of as days. But I think it’s safe to say that even Christians who don’t adhere to a “literal” interpretation of Genesis believe God is communicating truth through it, and “let there be light” could certainly be one description of what we think of as the big bang.

Here’s an article on BioLogos that provides some scientific explanations for what was going on “in the beginning,” though it doesn’t cover every verse:


#3

Biblical Hebrew doesn’t have tense.

Except the correct order is land mammals then sea mammals. The article says life, not mammals, began in the ocean.


(Phil) #4

GSo many questions, and so little time! Welcome, and I am sure as more chime in the questions will be addressed. One thing we might clarify is that many of your questions are addressing concordism, not literalism, as I see it. Some concordists, like Reasons to Believe, feel that while the earth is ancient, scripture and and scientific observations relate to each other in order and scripture contains scientific information. Here are a couple of articles to go into more depth:


Most here seem to hold that Genesis does not concern itself with scientific information but rather uses assumptions and understandings of the day to help communicate theological truth. Thus, while there may be information present that we hold to be scientifically correct, it is not written for that purpose, and is not related to its meaning, but rather is happenstance.


(Christy Hemphill) #5

For issues 1 and 2, this is a kind of concordism that reads scientific information that would not have been accessible to the original audience into the text. John Walton concisely explains why this hermeneutic approach is problematic here:

Argument 3 sounds suspicious to me because Hebrew has an aspect based verb system, not a tense based verb system. I don’t read Hebrew, but I would be skeptical about grammatical arguments based on the tense of English translations. In Hebrew verbs are perfective or imperfective, there is no past perfect tense. The English verb tense that would be used to translate the Hebrew verb aspect is a deduction required by translation.

I’m not sure this is typical of RTB old earth creationism. I think they generally hold to a form of progressive creationism.

There is a different understanding of the Cambrian Explosion now than in Darwin’s time.

??? The argument is that there is evidence that the ancestor population did not dip below 10,000, and certainly not down to a bottleneck of two individuals at any time in the last 200,000 (?) years. Maybe @DennisVenema could point you in a good direction here.

The article actually says one archaeologist believes he might find evidence. Weigh that against practically every geologist in the world who says there is no evidence of a global flood, and if there was one, especially as recently as creationists claim, there would be evidence all over the place.


(Matthew Pevarnik) #6

They definitely reject any common descent and the theory of evolution in general. Here’s one article that highlights how we are so much better than other primates we can’t share ancestry with them, or another where their Biochemist, Fuz Rana, propagates the Christian myth that evolution is a theory in crisis (its not, and well you get the idea), or a third one similar to the first on the amazing human-ness of modern homo sapiens which again is a rejection of common descent.

Not really. With the advent of genetic sequencing there was a chance for it to overturn the idea of common descent that was well established from morphology but despite a few surprises, turned out to support the idea with even more evidence. Do you have any references for this claim?


(Randy) #7

Right. I skimmed the article, but I noted that the archeologist was working at the Black Sea–which I understand is the site for theories of a flood based on the land bridge at the Bosporus giving way. that would have been a huge flood, but not world wide. Lamoureux’s writings are good on that too; his free online course at Coursera and his website are helpful. https://www.coursera.org/lecture/science-and-religion-101/episode-131-what-about-noahs-flood-1-global-flood-theory-rYPW0 https://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/2008/PSCF3-08Lamoureux.pdf

Best wishes!


(Phil) #8

Yep, actually the article supports a local flood, not a global flood, so no real argument with it, as it may well have been the basis of the Noah story.


(Randy) #9

Ah, that makes sense. Thanks.


(George Brooks) #10

@rob_b

The article doesnt describe a global flood… it describes regional floods!

“Where I live in Connecticut was ice a mile above my house, all the way back to the North Pole, about 15 million kilometers, that’s a big ice cube,” he said.

“But then it started to melt. We’re talking about the floods of our living history.”

“The water from the melting glaciers began to rush toward the world’s oceans, Ballard said, causing floods all around the world.”


(Chris) #11

My understanding is that ~10,000 people is the minimum population size built into most population genetics programs, so that’s what you get. However when correctly modeled the data also fits with with the Biblical story and a young Earth.


(Matthew Pevarnik) #12

What exactly are you referring to? Do you mean if one arbitrarily changes various rates of natural processes by factors from ten to a billion one can squeeze the entire history of earth in a tiny window?


(RiderOnTheClouds) #13

According to Genesis 1:2-8 the waters were originally a single body which is liquid (Tehom). There hardly seems like a splitting in this creationist argument. Psalm 104:13 also contains a parallel to an egyptian texts which mentions a river in heaven.


(RiderOnTheClouds) #14

I read the article, you could find the same concordance in Egyptian and babylonian texts.

Genesis is clear that the primordial light was not from the sun, which was made on the fourth day. The writer of Genesis had no idea that daylight came from the sun.


#15

True. We start with a chaotic, watery world. And God separates the waters above from the waters below; part of his imposing order on the world.


(Christy Hemphill) #16

I think you are confused then.


#17

@aarceng

You might want to expand on that understanding. You could start with this.


#18

Thank you all for your replies! This is all extremely helpful. If anyone has additional info fee free to add.


#19

But this argument is claiming that light did exist before the sun. During the development of our universe, so there is no problem with the sun being created on day 4 after God said, “let there be light.”


#20

Genesis 1 describes the origin of the earth, not the universe. When you make it mean the universe you are just trying to get the text to agree with modern science which it was never intended to do.

Genesis 1:2 The earth was formless and void