Not real sure I follow you there, but interesting to consider. If put together in the 5th - 6th centuries BCE, as seems likely given the use of nation names that did not exist in Moses time, you feel it is more likely to be historical? I do understand your thought that an inspired vision as the origin may be more symbolic and less literal, I think. But please elaborate a bit on your thoughts for the benefit of those of us who are a little slow on the uptake.
It would seem that you need to choose between the traditions of men or the demonstrable facts of the world around us.
Dr. Francis Collins wrote a wonderful essay about evolution and other scientific discoveries that is geared towards his fellow christians. You may want to give it a read:
If it was put together from any kind of pre-existing material, whether written or oral, that may place it in a different category than a divine vision. Some parts could still derive from a vision, but the whole of Genesis would not.
From my reading of Scripture, if Genesis is entirely a divine vision revealed to Moses that does not rely on any pre-existing sources, I wouldn’t expect a straightforward historical narrative. Perhaps history told through a symbolic story that reveals God’s perspective on events. Perhaps a glimpse behind the curtain to see how supernatural actions affect earth in ways no human witness could physically perceive. This is what I see especially in parts of Daniel, Ezekiel, Job and Revelation. But in a vision I wouldn’t expect a prosaic recounting of past events (such as Ezra, Nehemiah). Of course prosaic recountings are also shaped by the writer and what they choose to focus on, but the style is still quite different.
Personally, I don’t think Genesis was written by Moses due to a divine vision. I think there were written and spoken sources from Israel’s cultural memory, creative and thoughtful editors, and God’s Spirit working through all these people and pieces to give us what God wanted us to have.
The point I wanted to make, though, is that if one does view Genesis as the result of a divine vision, it’s actually simpler to argue that we should expect symbolism and a non-literal style than under a more convoluted view of Genesis’ origin. (The problem, of course, is that Genesis as a whole doesn’t look like other divine visions. Visions don’t usually have genealogies, for instance.)
Sort of. You have to consider that in light of the fact that during the first millennium nobody had any reason to believe in an old earth. Any of us who so strongly support an old earth would have been YECs in the first millennium.
What is related but demonstrably false is the oft-made claim that a six ordinary 24-hour day view of creation was universal in the early church. Not only was it not a universal view, it is also true that the early church didn’t make a fuss about it–since the early creeds emphasize the who (God) and the what (created) but not the how or when.
It is really only with the advent of the ToE that a segment of the church started to elevate six-day creation to a cardinal doctrine.
Edit: The quote insisted on appearing to come from T_aquaticus. I did my best to fix it.
Thanks, that clarifies it for me, and I tend to agree with you.
I think you’re main hold difference is going to be over an understanding of “Biblical innerancy”. Mainly “all words being God breathed”, implies that the Bible is 100% historically and scientifically accurate according to modern categories of science and history.
If you take Genesis 1 and 2 at face value, AND you accept that definition of Biblical inspiration you have to also accept a flat earth, that plants grew before there was a sun, ((not to mention what in the world a 24 hour day was before there was a sun anyways) and are raised with some very difficult issues to explain of how the order of creation is different in Genesis 1 and 2. Generally you have to either choose to ignore reality and accept Scripture or reject Scripture and accept reality.
You seem to be operating out of the assumption that most people become evolutionary creationist, by first accepting evolution, then trying to reconcile it with Scripture. Many (including myself), arrived at the position by first coming to the conclusion that YEC(and the implied understanding of Biblical inspiration/inerrancy) was a flawed way of reading Scripture-based on studying the Ancient Near Eastern culture in which Scripture was written, then concluding that the Bible was neutral on science and the later accepting evolution after studying the science.
An analogy that has helped me is seeing parrells between Scripture and Jesus in being fully God and still fully human. Jesus was fully God while on earth, yet he was not all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-present (or all those other omni’s); Even his miracles he could do only through the Holy Spirit just like us. There’s no reason to believe he knew the earth was a sphere, rotating around the sun, nor that he knew anything about modern biology.
In the same way, Scripture was written by humans, in known-human language, and known-human literary types, and is written in a way they would understand (ie there understanding of science/history) yet it contains a divine message that is timeless and for all people in all places.
If I understand what you are saying, I disagree. Biblical inerrancy and the inspiration of scripture do not, even taken together, imply one must have a literal hermeneutic. One can (and I do) affirm both inerrancy and inspiration while still allowing the biblical writers to employ all figures and techniques of speech including metaphors, allegories, similes, hyperbole, etc. In that sense the bible only has to be scientifically accurate if it is making a definitive scientific statement. (And I can’t think of any that it does, except possibly in its first three words.) The bible can, like any other book, say “the sun rose” rather than “the earth rotated” and still be inerrant.
That’s a nicely crafted response!
So don’t be too disappointed if @HmanTheChicken shows no sign of feeling the persuasive power of your logic.
@heddle, please note that there lots of other categories of texts that are not proclamations of science - - but which should still be accurate or reliable… based on either “inerrancy” or “divine inspiration”.
I have quoted what I think is your best paragraph. And there is so much more you could add to a list of Biblical realities that don’t seem to reflect the world’s realities:
o Job has a verse about snow and hail being stored in “treasuries” or “warehouses”… presumably kept up in the Heavens where they can be best deployed;
o the Witch of Endor who can summon the soul of Samuel, who says that by the next day Saul and his son will have joined him in the underworld (this whole scenario is based on a pre-Exile metaphysics which is dramatically re-written after contact with Persian rule);
o the difference in facts that become unavoidable when comparing historical events described in Kings compared to the same events described in Chronicles;
o the difference in facts that become unavoidable when comparing historical events described in Ezra compared to the same events described in Nehemiah;
o the impossibility of Abraham fraternizing with the Philistines 800 years before the Philistines have even arrived in the Levant;
[My Personal Favorite!]
o the timeline problems created by Exodus occurring sometime after the Philistines arrived on the Levantine coast [[ Exodus 13:17 "Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go,
that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near;
for God said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.”]].
Egyptian documents and archaeological digs confirms that the Philistines were not in place until approximately 1200 BCE, and had become the dominant military presence in Palestine by 1130 BCE.
No doubt I am forgetting some other choice examples… and will gladly be reminded of what I have forgotten by any of the readers.
MULTIPLE VERSIONS OF EXODUS TEXT ON PHILISTINES
“And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt…”
Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.”
When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.”
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them along the road to the land of the Philistines, even though it was nearby; for God said, “The people will change their minds and return to Egypt if they face war.”
Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, “The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.”
When Pharaoh released the people, God did not lead them by the way to the land of the Philistines, although that was nearby, for God said, “Lest the people change their minds and return to Egypt when they experience war.”
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, “Lest the people repent when they see war, and return to Egypt.”
And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not by the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:
And it cometh to pass in Pharaoh’s sending the people away, that God hath not led them the way of the land of the Philistines, for it is near; for God said, ‘Lest the people repent in their seeing war, and have turned back towards Egypt;’
And it came to pass, when Pharaoh let the people go, that God did not lead them the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, That the people may not repent when they see conflict, and return to Egypt.
And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near, for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt.
It happened, when Par`oh had let the people go, that God didn’t lead them by the way of the land of the Pelishtim, although that was near; for God said, “Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and they return to Mitzrayim;”
igitur cum emisisset Pharao populum non eos duxit Dominus per viam terrae Philisthim quae vicina est reputans ne forte paeniteret eum si vidisset adversum se bella consurgere et reverteretur in Aegyptum
וַיְהִ֗י בְּשַׁלַּ֣ח פַּרְעֹה֮ אֶת־הָעָם֒ וְלֹא־נָחָ֣ם אֱלֹהִ֗ים דֶּ֚רֶךְ אֶ֣רֶץ פְּלִשְׁתִּ֔ים כִּ֥י קָרֹ֖וב ה֑וּא כִּ֣י אָמַ֣ר אֱלֹהִ֗ים פֶּֽן־יִנָּחֵ֥ם הָעָ֛ם בִּרְאֹתָ֥ם מִלְחָמָ֖ה וְשָׁ֥בוּ מִצְרָֽיְמָה׃
ὡς δὲ ἐξαπέστειλεν Φαραω τὸν λαόν οὐχ ὡδήγησεν αὐτοὺς ὁ θεὸς ὁδὸν γῆς Φυλιστιιμ ὅτι ἐγγὺς ἦν εἶπεν γὰρ ὁ θεός μήποτε μεταμελήσῃ τῷ λαῷ ἰδόντι πόλεμον καὶ ἀποστρέψῃ εἰς Αἴγυπτον
Many evengalicals explicitally state in there statements of faith that they also extend the Bible to accuracies of Historic and Scientific details.
So yes I would agree the Bible doesn’t directly make many if any scientific statements.
However, what do you do when the authors scientific worldview is subtly comunicated. For example, the raqia in Genesis 1, Job 38-41, god looking down at the disk of the earth in Isaiha. All these clearly communicate the author believed the earth was flat. He’s not useing methaphor, alagory or similaly, but at the same time neither is his point to teach science. How do you define innerancy here?
Furthermore the way ancient writers wrote history is much different than us. We are very concerned with accuracy of details above “what you should learn” from the history. Ancient writers had no problem mixing myth, legend, or slightly modifying actual historical events to better communicate their point. Furthermore many of the “historical” books in the Bible directly quote their sources and we written well after the events happened. They only knew of the events because of passed down historical writings and oral tradition.
If it can be demonstrated that there wasn’t actually a global flood, or if it can be demonstrated that any historic detail in the book of Genesis, Kings, Chronicles or Judges is not 100% accurate, does that mean that the Bible is no longer inspired? To many evangelicals the answer to this is yes.
And I would agree. However I would add that the set of testable historic statements made by the bible has many elements, while the set of scientific statements–statements that were actually intended to relate definitive scientific facts rather than just describing appearances, is either the null set or close to it.
I disagree, even though I accept that the likelihood that the writers thought the earth was flat. I disagree that they clearly communicated that belief, even given that in their minds they might have thought they were communicating that belief. The inspiration part, I would speculate, prevented them from going too far and stating their belief as scientific fact. It constrained them to speak only of appearances. Put differently: I could have written the same words. I have no trouble whatsoever describing the moon as a disk, or a circle, even though I know it is a sphere. Now if I teach my students in a physics class that the moon is a disk–that’s a serious problem.
The writers of scripture held to any number of scientific errors. We can stipulate that they believed the earth was young, and we can (arguendo) assume they believed the earth was flat. We can also be virtually certain that they believed in a small, geocentric cosmology . That has no direct bearing on the inerrancy and/or inspiration of scripture given that they never wrote, definitively, that the earth was only thousands of years old, the earth was flat, or that the earth was the center of the solar system. Everything they wrote, regardless of what they believed, can be attributed to normal non-scientific speech describing appearances. Today we speak of the four corners of the earth, the sun rising and setting, and the disk of the moon (or the disk of the earth as viewed from space) and describe Kansas as flat, even though it’s curved. None of this is a scientific error today because they describe appearances, not scientific reality. The same holds for the bible.
Had the writers been inspired to make a scientific statement about, say, geocentricism–then that would have precluded inerrancy and probably inspiration. But, thankfully, they made no such statements. In my opinion anyway.
No to the global flood because there is clearly (I think) a viable interpretation of the flood that does not demand it to be global. Regarding the historical statements of the bible, if any are demonstrably false then inerrancy and inspiration are dead. However, that is not the same things as saying that you can find some problems that currently lack an adequate explanation. It is subjective. I can tolerate a certain number of “problems” that I can’t resolve if that number is small, because I can cling to the belief that, given time, they can be resolved. I can accept, perhaps with a false hope, that there are a limited number of “apparent” problems. However if the number is too big, if it reaches a critical mass, then I would abandon inerrancy and inspiration.
How about these ones:
Genesis 1 describes God separating the waters above from the waters below.
Psalms 148 calls for the “waters above” to praise God.
Job 37:4 states that God spread out the sky last a cast metal mirror
Revelation 4:6, and exodus 24:10, describe God sitting on top of the sea of glass and this is also reflected in the design of the tabernacle.
All these verses clearly reflect the ANE view that the sky was a solid dome holding back a heavenly ocean and that the thrown of God was on top of the heavenly ocean.
Also many in this thread have already pointing out many of the anachronisms in Genesis and contradictory details in Kings/Chronicles.
I wouldn’t try to dissuade you. Follow the evidence where it leads.
I also find much of interest at Evolution News although they are not YEC.
If I can help in any way you can contact me either in this forum or by PM.
If you want to be a YEC, no problem as long as you get Jesus right.
However, it is clear that God is the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega. He is eternal. So what do you think a day is to God? So God created the universe and all in it in 6 days, but in God days because man wasn’t created until the 6th day. Interestingly enough science also teaches us that time is relative. In God’s time it is indeed possible that 6, 24 hour days to God would appear to be billions of days to a human living today looking back at the geological record and other scientific evidence. So I guess I could be called a YEC as by God’s time it is young, but still accepting scientific discovery in the process. I am amazed at how concepts such as quantum physics (electron double slit experiment) prove how observation creates reality. Bizarre, but not if you include God in your science as the great observer. Let there be light!
Peace be with you.
They do not, and they certainly do not “clearly” do so. And you appear to have missed my point. For the sake of argument let us assume that every biblical writer had the view of the cosmos as you described. It is completely irrelevant. It is also completely irrelevant whether they thought they were expressing this as scientific fact. What is relevant (to one who affirms inerrancy and inspiration) is whether or not what they were inspired to write amounts to a definitive statement on cosmology. I claim it does not.
In the very same manner we can imagine that no biblical writer had a 100% accurate theology. Yet the Holy Spirit, as the arbiter of inspired scripture, prevented them from penning theological error.
This is even more obvious in the Prophets, of whom we are told explicitly (in 2 Peter) they they didn’t understand their own prophecy.
Inspiration does not mean dictation-- nor does it mean that the writers understood everything they wrote–it means some convolution of the writer’s knowledge, experience, style, and the supernatural guidance of the Spirit, in which their words were augmented at times to express nuances beyond their knowledge and restrained at times to prevent their personal errors from being presented as truth.
That said, no, I’m not going to get sucked into a variant of the Gish Gallup. I played that game in various forums and blogs for 20 years. It is pointless, primarily because there will be two different standards (and that’s assuming both people are actually arguing in good faith, which is the exception.) The person challenging will seek a refutation of the alleged problem at the level of a counter-proof. While from my perspective all I need to preserve my affirmation of inerrancy and inspiration is a sort of reasonable doubt or plausible deniability that satisfies me. I don’t need to prove that my counter-exegesis is correct.
I like that reminder.
I believe with all my heart, God did NOT sit around His domain for eons of time contemplating what to do and how to do it. I believe with all my heart, God looked around, saw He was alone, and began His works of creation. Which leads me to conclude with all my heart, the Earth is ALMOST as old as God.
To disagree would require me to consider God too old to know what He wanted, and too far gone to make creative decisions without eons of time to bring them to fruition. I doubt that with all my heart.
There is a misconception that attribution in biblical terms is as rigid as it is for us in our culture. For example, in 1 Kgs 19:15-16, God commands Elijah to anoint Hazael, Jehu, and Elisha. The only one whom Elijah actually personally anointed was Elisha. Later, Elisha sent his own servant to anoint Jehu (2 Kgs 9:1-6), meaning that God’s command to Elijah was carried out at two removes in that case. Elisha also anointed Hazael only in the very loosest meaning of the term “anoint” (2 Kgs 8:7-15). All these actions could be attributed to Elijah because of the chain of agency involved.
Another interesting example is Judas Iscariot, who is said to have purchased a plot of land only because, as it turns out, his money was used to buy it (Matt 27:5-8; cf Acts 1:18). Such examples of attribution through agency could be multiplied.
In a biblical sense, the Torah being attributed to Moses need not mean that he personally wrote all of it or even most of it, just that somewhere in back of the scribal tradition that produced it stands Moses in his key role as covenant mediator and prescriber of law for the people. The same reasoning can be extended to Isaiah and other books that give evidence of a long history of additions and editing, and to wisdom literature associated with Solomon.
I think so too. There is a similarity to the stories we call mythological which I think comes from the transmission via an oral tradition shared by a community in fire-side gatherings. They are from a time before we had the specialization of activities into such things as law, history, science, philosophy, and entertainment, and thus these served all of these purposes at the same time. But while they don’t have same standards as the modern activities such as history, I think it is a mistake to equate them with fiction (which is after all another modern specialization).
In any case there is a definite cobbled together structure to the early chapters of Genesis which looks very much like a gathering together of different tales rather than a composition by a singular author. In some ways this can be said to set the tone for the whole Bible which of the same nature. It is such a contrast with books like the Qu’ran and the Book of Mormon, which makes the Bible look more like a demonstration of history rather than simply someone’s particular window into it.
I’ve enjoyed the conversation you started.
Let’s take a look at how “Bara” is used in Genesis. First, please note that in 1:1 it is used in reference to the entirety of the heavens and earth:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. [NIV]
Note also it is used in Genesis 2:3 to describe everything that God had done in the previous chapter:
Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. [NIV]
So I see no reason to build a theology on top of the conjecture that the Hebrew verb “bara” is used only to describe how God created humans. The verb’s use in Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 2:3 is just too strong to overcome, in my opinion. Does that make sense?
I agree with you that, in Genesis 1 - 3, God’s involvement in our existence right from the beginning is far more critical than the details of the earth’s geometry. Moreover, God’s involvement in our origins doesn’t stop at the point at which humanity is present; it continues on in the origin of each one of us. As David put it in Psalm 139:13:
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
While David certainly used “knitting” as a metaphor, the main point is completely clear: God is intimately involved in fashioning all the details of who we are, from zygote to infant to child to teen to adult to retiree and even to the grave and beyond.
What would scientists think about this? Some, like Jerry Coyne, would mock the notion. In the modern age, he would say, we know how a sperm unites with an ovum, and how a zygote implants in the uterine lining, and how the embryo develops, etc. In Coyne’s view, there are only two possibilities: Either science is right about the origin of a human and the Bible is wrong, or the Bible is right and science is wrong. Based on that assumption, he asserts that scientific knowledge supplants traditional theology.
Christian scientists like Kenneth Miller and Francis Collins, however, assert that Coyne’s assumption is wrong: It is a false dichotomy to claim that you have to choose between the theology and the Bible. They contend that scientific knowledge about the origin of a human, from the uniting of the sperm and ovum all the way to the birth of an infant, is complementary to traditional theology. Science explains the how; theology explains the why.
I agree with Miller and Collins: I do not have to reject embryology to accept the truth taught by Psalm 139:13 that God knit me together in my mother’s womb. And I do not have to reject the truth about my origin in God’s love and action in order to accept the science of embryology.
How about you, @HmanTheChicken? Do you think it is necessary to reject the “story” of “human science”–the sperm and the ovum, the implantation in the uterus, the development of different kinds of cells from stem cells based on DNA instructions, etc.–in order to accept the origin story of Psalm 139:13?
Wow, that’s a great example. Thanks.