Help! Common Arguments For Literal Genesis

(Eakin C) #41

I’ll restate what God has stated clearly through Paul and others: Only those indwelt by the Holy Spirit have any clue as to how the Bible is to be interpreted, per 1 Cor. 2:10-16. One can attend all the right schools, earn all the right degrees, speak at all the right conferences, and host all the right blogs, but if you don’t know and embrace the gospel that saves, all that is scubalon, rubbish, worthless per Paul in Phil. 3.

BTW, the Word of God is not dead but living and active, and that includes Genesis, per Heb. 4:12.
BTW 2, there was no “culture of the time” until the 6th day of God’s creation, per Gen. 1.

Per Jesus in Luke 24:27 and elsewhere, Moses wrote for us today as much as any “culture of the time.” Cultures have not changed since they began, in the sense that they are all made up of sinful people who need redemption by the substitutionary atonement of Christ. Since the Scriptures were given, that is the message to all people in all cultures.




I assume that would be you. And your McManis, of course.

(Chris Falter) #44

Here’ a good way to apply this:

No matter what scientists discover about the details, Genesis assures us that God is the author and creator of everything.

To me this seems like a faithful application of McManis’ hermeneutic.


(Michael Peterson) #45

To your point, I know of no Hebrew scholars - especially ones who publish in peer reveiwed literature - that would agree with your premise that the use of “bara for creation automatically invalidates scientific principles of any pertinence in further discussion.” . The literature on the meaning of bara is legion. Oceans of ink have been spilled, and centuries of grad student time have been spent trying to come to grips with the mystery of bara. All we know about bara is that only God does it. But that doesn’t mean its untethered to creation by scientific principles.

You can stop here as the following word salad is just a more detailed recapitulation of the explanation above,

The two roots, bara and yasar, are synonomous. In general, both mean create, but yasar is used most frequently to describe God and/or people fashioning something. Yasar implies a “hands-on” kind of creation, much like a potter fashions clay into pots or God fashioning dirt into the man (Gen 2:7). Bara, by contrast, is used only by God (which you rightly mention above) primarily to describe the creation of something not seen or experienced before. But not always! In Genesis 1:26, for example, God announces that he intends to na`aseh (a form of yasar) mankind in his image and likeness. But then in the next verse the Bible tells us that God vayyivra (a form of bara) mankind in his own image, in the image of God. Evidently the author of Genesis would have us believe that, for this case anyway, yasar and bara have identical meanings. Both result in the creation of mankind.

Here’s what Harris, et al(see ref 278) have to say about bara,

The root bara denotes the concept of “initiating something new” in a number of passages. In Isa 41:20 it is used of the changes that will take place in the Restoration when God effects that which is new and different. It is used of the creation of new things in Isa 48:6-7 and the creation of the new heavens and the new earth (Isa 65:17). Marvels never seen before are described by this word (Exo 34:10), and Jeremiah uses the term of a fundamental change that will take place in the natural order (Jer 31:22). The Psalmist prayed that God would create in him a clean heart (Psa 51:10) and coupled this with the petition that God would put a new spirit within him (See also Num 16:30; Isa 4:5; Isa 65:18).

The word also possesses the meaning of “bringing into existence” in several passages (Isa 43:1; Ezek 21:30, and 28:13)

Where you go off the rails, I think, is your claim that devine creation (my term for bara) means that its creative force is untethered to scientific principles. Now, you may be right, but there’s no evidence to which you can point that would lead a reader to accept the claim that the use of bara automatically invalidates scientific principles.


(Eakin C) #46


I appreciate you extensive review. You clearly have studied this topic. Thank you for your response.

The evidence to prove that I am not off the rails in my contention comes from the rest of Scripture. The paradigm of catastrophism at the bookends of time requires no deviation from the normal interpretation for verses such as Gen. 3:20 and Acts 17:26. The paradigm of uniformitarianism, on the other hand, continually upends the plain rendering of Scripture to make its assumptions work.



You are conflating translation and interpretation. I must have missed it so can you point out where in the Bible it says that human translation is infallible?

The language is not the Word of God. Biblical Hebrew is a dead language just like Latin.

So the culture of the author is exactly the same as the culture today? How exactly does that work?

You need to get out more often. So someone from 4000 BC would feel right at home if transported to today?

(Colin Eakin) #48

Moses didn’t write in 4000 BC but around 1405 BC. Humans no matter the age or culture have all been similar in the one regard that matters: they all understood from God that He is holy and they are not, and that some sacrifice would be necessary bridge the gap. I didn’t say that someone from 4000 BC would feel right at home today. But that person just as today would know from God that he or she is a sinner in need of redemption. God has saved in the same manner throughout time, through repentance and faith

I do need to get out more.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #49

I’d probabaly add that while that is how the two principles were originally classified because it became more and more evident from 19th century geologists that many many events were responsible for the geology we see on Earth’s surface and not a single global flood. However, that is not to say that catastrophic events don’t occur as obviously they do. All that the word uniformitarianism really means today is that the laws and processes we observe at present were also at work in the past - an assumption that can actually be tested and is actually employed by everyone who does argue for a global flood anyways. That is that we can study floods and other catastrophic processes today and infer about the past because the laws of nature were the same. But ironically, the young earth position must necessarily hold that the laws were different and thus cannot use any present physics or geology to provide evidence for their model.

(Chris) #50

“Response plz?: When “evening and morning” are used with a day in Genesis it implies 24 hours”

Noting that I don’t read Hebrew myself, my understanding is that the use of "evening and morning " and also the numbering of days in Gen 1 means they are 24 hour days. At least this is consistent with usage throughout the rest of the old testament.
So they should be read as literal solar days even if someone wants to impose day-age or framework theory on top.

(Christy Hemphill) #51

‘Day’ is the normal kind, with evenings and mornings. Nothing prevents you from using the normal word for day in a literary device. I honestly get tired of talking about this. Most literary devices rely on the primary or “normal” sense of the word used. When we sing about Jesus as “the shepherd of our soul,” the word ‘shepherd’ has the normal meaning of the word shepherd. But it’s clearly being used in a literary device and no one is going to insist sheep must be involved. That’s what I feel like people are doing when they insist “literal 24 hours” must be involved. That’s not how language works. Language is not math. You cannot add up the sum of the parts and get the meaning.

(George Brooks) #52


Maybe you could help me with the Framework Hypothesis. To me it makes absolutely no sense… why would anyone bother with such a confused “context” for two chapters?

It is my understanding that there were several ancient cultures that thought daylight was quite separate from the Sun … basically because they didn’t understand how much light is scattered by the air.

Your comments about the light of the sun are right on target. You and I can remind ourselves of eclipses that we’ve seen: even with a total eclipse… the Earth doesn’t become NIGHT… there’s still a distinct amount of light all around.

Just as full-born rains are not yet operational in the early days of creation… the full light of the sun is not yet operational.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #53

There are two separate accounts by two different authors, i.e. the Genesis 1:1-2:3 account is meant to be read by itself and the next account is a different tradition. The first one actually ends with God resting which is the pinnacle of the first account, not the artificial ending at Genesis 1:31. It’s created a lot of theology based upon mankind being the pinnacle of creation but that’s not even technically true.

As for the first account in Genesis 1:1-2:3 I can’t say much more beyond just repeating what others have said:

(George Brooks) #54


I dont find the Framework discussion coherent…

To me it sounds like a massive apologia!

The 3 books of New Testament are not im agreement with each other… but i dont see a yone trying to apply a Framework hypothesis to justify these differences…

(Matthew Pevarnik) #55

That’s because there’s not an extremely obvious poetic-like construct.

(Richard Wright) #56

Hello Rob,

I’ve just read this and some of these ideas may have been presented before, so I apologize in advance.

The YEC ideas stated in your post do not support a literal interpretation of Genesis. They are attempts at an historical concordance of Genesis after assuming that it was meant to be taken literally. We are to try to determine from the text itself whether it was meant to be taken literally, or not, by the original audience. I am of the firm opinion that Genesis 1-3 is not to be taken as literal history, due to the following, first for Genesis 1:

  1. An ancient would have realized that the sun couldn’t have been created on the 4th day.

  2. An ancient would have realized that the sun couldn’t have been created before plants.

  3. The events described in days 1 and 4 are the same.

  4. Plenty of cues in the ancient Hebrew of the poetic nature of Genesis 1.

NOTE: those who believe that the days in Genesis 1 refer to something other than a normal, 24-hour days are not literalists, they are concordists - and concordism doesn’t work, for the following reasons:

  1. The original audience, and the audience for millenia, never would have taken the descriptions to mean the things that concordists want them to mean, as they attempt to force modern science into an ancient, theological narrative.

  2. No 2 concordist attempts at Genesis 1 have ever been the same.

  3. The days in Genesis 1, per the bible, cannot be taken as anything other than normal days.

  • “And there was evening, and there was morning—the _____ day.” If Genesis 1 is history, then this tells us that the days are regular days, like any ancient would have taken them.

  • Exodus 20:11 and 31:17 deny the possibility of the Genesis 1, “ages”:

For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.

Things I see in Genesis 2-3 that prompt me to believe that they weren’t to be taken literally:

  1. The differences in the order of events between Genesis 1 and 2:

Genesis 1:

  1. Plants
  2. Lights
  3. Birds and Fish
  4. Animals
  5. Men and women

Genesis 2

  1. Light (inferred)
  2. Man
  3. Plants
  4. Birds and Animals
  5. Woman
  1. Figurative language that to me indicates that the 2nd origins narrative is a legend or tradition:

Genesis 2

  • The ancient Hebrew words for Adam meaning, “humankind” and Eve meaning, “mother”
  • Man made from the dust
  • God putting the man in the garden
  • The woman made from the side of the man and
  • The trees of life and knowledge of good and evil

Genesis 3

  • The talking serpent
  • The flaming sword guarding the way to the tree of life

I’ll give ojections to specific points mentioned in your OP in a separate post or posts, as I do not want to make this post too long.

(Richard Wright) #57

Hello Matthew,

I like the chart with a column for, “separations” between the, “days” columns, which clearly shows God ordering the earth.

(Richard Wright) #58

Hello again Rob,

The 2 days of Genesis only fit a contorted, concordist view. The above doesn’t sound anything like a physical structure separating the already existing water in v2 into a water below and above. Also, the Hewbrew raqia means sky, so the water above can’t be clouds or water vapor, it is above the sky, as the ANE thought. Beyond that, nobody born before 1850 or so would ever have thought that the above is what God meant in Genesis 1, which demonstrates the most fundamental reason why concordism doesn’t work. Lastly, every concordist attempt has a different scientific interpretation as what the waters being separated means, displaying another reason why concordism doesn’t work.

I’ll break down the 2nd point.

There was no, “emptiness” before the appearance of the singularity, there was true physical nothingness - no time, space, matter or energy.

No, it doesn’t perfectly cohere. There is no way of telling, if Genesis 1 is historical, what the light in verse 3 refers to. A concordist must believe that that light refers to something so they always pick something, a different, “something” for each concordist! But they put the cart before the horse to begin with - deciding that Genesis has to be, “literal” then finding something in history to match the descriptions in the text.

Beyond that, how can the light refer to something from the earliest moments in the universe when directly proceeding it is, "And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day." So you have light, then evening, then light again - the v3 light must have been making the daylight for the text to make, “literal” sense. Not a perfect coherence.

Thirdly, the sun wasn’t created, “with the earth”. The earth and other was planets were formed gradually from the leftover dust that wasn’t used to make the sun. Again, it doesn’t, “perfectly” cohere.

The above is only true in the NIV, which is known to harmonize the bible to smooth out inconsistencies, contradictions, etc (I say that even though I ironically like and read the NIV). They also have, “had formed a garden”. Check every other major english version, which I did for my apologetics paper against concordism - they all verify that the orders contradict - as I lay out in my preamble post above.

I don’t have time to read the paper now but what about plants? Genesis 1 has them before animals but we know that that is not true. The narrative is plainly written from a phenomenological view, where plants seem simpler so they thought that they must have come first.


People have already made many good points. I’ll add some quick responses of my own;

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.

Incredible. So that’s what the Iron Age Israelite’s were talking about! It’s not like Genesis 1 with its sky firmament and all is based on a totally ancient and near eastern version of astronomy! Oh wait.

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.

Yep, perfectly coheres with science … except for the part where it doesn’t. As someone pointed out earlier for point 3, biblical Hebrew doesn’t have tenses – but for all intents and purposes, this can be accepted simply because it isn’t actually an argument for a literal Genesis at all. People have also pointed out how the order of creation is, in fact, wrong.

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.

Reasons to Believe rejects evolution. You can see Hugh Ross’s debates with evolutionists if you want. The tree of evolution seems to be much more clear now than it was decades ago, at least from my personal knowledge (I’m in no way an expert, but hey, neither are creationists). One question decades ago, for example, is whether or not neanderthals are an ancestor of ours or just a cousin. Well, I’ve read Svante Paabo’s book Neanderthal Man (Svante is one of the founders of paleogenetics and was the leader of the Neanderthal Genome Project) and I now know that, after the Neanderthal genome had been decoded, we now not only know that Neanderthals are cousins – not ancestors – but we know that we have 2% Neanderthal DNA and that Neanderthals went extinct, not because we killed them all, but because we bred them out of existence (as in they were absorbed into our populations – this makes perfect sense once you realize that there were only a couple thousand neanderthals in all of Europe). Not only that but since a few decades ago, many more hominid species have been discovered which also helps piece together the family tree quite a bit. Homo erectus, for example, was only discovered in 1991. Homo floresiensis was discovered in 2003. Homo naledi was discovered in 2013 and first described in 2015.

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.

Here’s the BioLogos response to this by Keith Miller.

  1. It looks like new evidence shows there may have been a global flood -

Read the link. It proposes a really big flood in the Black Sea region – at best, a local flood.

(Richard Wright) #60

Hello Christy,

I agree with the, “normal day as a literary device” in principle, but have 2 objections as it relates to Genesis 1. One, while anyone reading about Jesus as a shepherd would understand the literary device, it’s less certain that someone reading Genesis 1 without a knowledge of modern science would see the days as a literary device, and not 24-hour days. Two, Exodus 20:11 and 31:17 make clear that the days in Genesis 1 refer to normal days.