"I'm not interpreting it, I'm just reading it!"

(Brad Kramer) #1

Continuing the discussion from Distasteful…The Implications Of Evolution Before The Fall:

Hi @J.E.S, I wanted to address your statement here in more detail, because I honestly don’t think you are trying to come across with “breathtaking…hubris,” as others have suggested. It seems you are saying the following:

  1. You believe the Bible is God’s Word, beginning in Genesis 1
  2. Genesis 1 says God created in a literal week
  3. Therefore, that’s how God did it.

I understand this line of reasoning. However, in order for this reasoning to work, there needs to be a number of “hidden” presuppositions, which need to be exposed. To illustrate this point, I’ll adjust the argument above:

  1. The Bible is God’s Word, beginning in Genesis 1
  2. Genesis 1 says there is an ocean of water above the sky, which is separated from the sky by a solid barrier of some sort—and God put those all in place by his command. (Genesis 1:6-8)
  3. Therefore, that’s how God did it.

There are examples of prominent Christian theologians and church leaders making exactly this argument. I cited some examples in an article I wrote for BioLogos last year: http://biologos.org/blogs/brad-kramer-the-evolving-evangelical/scripture-and-science-a-long-history-of-conversation. Similar arguments have been made about the shape of the Earth and its central place in the solar system.

Here’s the point: The so-called “literal” interpretation of Genesis is only possible with a sleight of hand wherein the long history of conversation between science and Scripture is basically dismissed as irrelevant. The truth is that what you read as the “plain meaning” is just one of many “plain meanings” people have read out of Genesis. If you claim your reading requires no interpretation, how do you explain this? How do you argue—without any interpretation—that yours is the real plain meaning and all the others are fakes?

I am not personally faulting you for any of this, I grew up in a community which taught exactly the approach to Genesis that you have. It is only through a long and difficult journey that I have come to realize that there is no such thing as a “plain reading.” And my love and appreciation for Scripture has only grown through that realization.

Blessings to you on your journey and thank you for sharing your thoughts here.

(Jonathan) #2

Are there any other hidden presuppositions?

Anyhow, about the vault/firmament thing…I’ve actually seen that word translated MANY different ways, and each has a different nuance to it (firmament vs. expanse)…I’ve heard many different interpretations of this verse as well. However, one difficult passage does not seem to undermine a literal 6 day creation…Your thoughts?

(James McKay) #3

So if you have no problems with raqia (the vault/firmament) being translated in a whole variety of different ways, why do you have a problem with yom (day) being translated in a whole variety of different ways?

(Jonathan) #4

As I have said in other posts, there is more than the word “yom” that indicates the days being 24 hours…

(Jonathan) #5


To be honest, I would put my interpretation forth as the Word of God…because it IS the Word of God. I believe that God created the heavens and the earth in 6 literal days by the power of his Word, and that he rested on the seventh literal day. That’s what it says in the Bible, so if you think my “interpretation” is not the word of God, you should talk to Him, not me.

This goes for you too, @Benkirk.


Wow, so you have the one true interpretation. So tell me when did God personally revel this interpretation to you?

(Benjamin Kirk) #7

[quote=“J.E.S, post:192, topic:36407”]
To be honest, I would put my interpretation forth as the Word of God…because it IS the Word of God. I believe that God created the heavens and the earth in 6 literal days by the power of his Word, and that he rested on the seventh literal day. That’s what it says in the Bible, so if you think my “interpretation” is not the word of God, you should talk to Him, not me. [/quote]

The Bible also includes a lot of parables. Who appointed you to be the One True Judge of what is meant to be taken literally and what is not?

[quote]This goes for you too, @Benkirk.
[/quote]And you’re accusing people of being prideful? Exactly how is it that you understand the Bible better than the majority of Christians who have been reading it for centuries?

(Benjamin Kirk) #8

How does viewing this passage as poetry or parable bring down the credibility of all of the other poetry and parables in the Bible?

(Jay Johnson) #9

One of the boldest statements I’ve ever heard in my life. Breathtaking in its hubris.

(Jonathan) #10

@Benkirk, @Jay313
The Bible is also typically pretty clear about what is a parable. Genesis just does not, clearly at least, fit into that category. Furthermore, God references the 6 literal day creation in other parts of scripture as well. So, I am not the “one true judge of what is meant to be taken literally and what is not,” but, as @Casper_Hesp says (probably about other matters), such deceit as God saying (and repeating) that he created the world in 6 literal days (and then repeating it) does not fit with God’s character as revealed in the Bible. However, I found that statement rather amusing, since it is somewhat self-defeating. Why do you think it is prideful to put faith in what God says in his word?

This brings to mind a traditional quote from Martin Luther:

"Unless you can show me through scripture, and sound reasoning where I am wrong, I cannot and will not recant anything. Here I stand. God help me, Amen.

If you can show me, from the scriptures, where I am wrong, I will gladly purge my YEC views from the internet at large myself!


The name of one of the characters is “Man”. Literally.

The main characters live in a magical garden with magical trees that impart eternal life and knowledge.

A woman is tempted by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

The characters of the story are kicked out of the magical garden, which is now guarded by a magical being with a magical sword.

If this doesn’t scream PARABLE, then I don’t know what would.

(Jonathan) #12

Your retelling of it would be highly amusing if it was not demeaning (of the account) enough to be disturbing. I would strongly suggest that one read the actual account, and then determine if it is a parable or not. @T_aquaticus, this is hardly a refutation, sorry to say.


(Stephen Matheson) #13

LOL!! The retelling was amusing and completely accurate. Whether the account is a “parable” or not, I don’t know. I think not, since “parable” is a somewhat well-defined term that is (as I understand it) different from “myth” or “fable” or “hilariously mutated made-up fireside story.” And how exactly the retelling of story can be “demeaning” is beyond me.


I have. Many times. And it doesn’t read like any other historical account in the OT. In fact the first 11 chapters don’t read like the history in Kings for example. I am not sure I would call it a parable but it is definitely not straight history.


What is demeaning about it? Myths and parables have long been a way that humans communicate deeper truths. When an account has talking snakes, characters that are super obvious archetypes (Adam means “Man”), and fruits that impart eternal life it is pretty obvious that it is a myth. [quote=“J.E.S, post:214, topic:36407”]
I would strongly suggest that one read the actual account, and then determine if it is a parable or not.

I have read it, many times. It reads perfectly as a parable.

(Jay Johnson) #16

@BradKramer can move this to the other thread, if he wishes.

Since this is the statement in question, it deserves repeating. You are not putting faith in the word of God, you are equating your interpretation and the word of God. To put it plainly, your equation is: “My Interpretation = the Word of God.”

Should I show you, from Scripture and through sound reasoning, why such a statement is prideful beyond belief?

Fine. I will play along. Let’s try a thought experiment. Suppose, just for a minute, that I was able to show you through Scripture and sound reasoning, that you were wrong in your YEC beliefs. After deleting all of your Internet presence, you might not abandon your faith, in which case you would have to come to a new understanding of Genesis 1-11.

Is your new understanding also the word of God? Does this mean the word of God is subject to change, like our fallible human understandings? Is it possible to change your understanding of Genesis at all, if you equate your interpretation to the very word of God?

Your interpretation is fallible, just like mine and everyone else’s. If you cannot see this, if you think you speak with the very authority of God himself whenever you open your mouth to expound the Scriptures, then I cannot help you.

Edit: Forgot the Scripture! The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever. Is. 40:8

(Christy Hemphill) #17

The Word of God says if your hand causes you to sin, you should cut it off. That’s what it says. We have to figure out what it means. It is not demeaning to the word of God to take into consideration the context and Jesus’ communicative intent in that verse when we try to figure out what it means. Maybe somebody thinks it means we should literally mutilate ourselves to avoid temptation and claims that is the Word of God. I would argue that is not the best interpretation. Same with Genesis. Yes, it says the heavens and earth and everything in them were created in six days. That is what is says. But what it means is more complicated and debatable. It’s not demeaning to Scripture to take into consideration the context and the communicative intent as we figure out what that passage is supposed to mean for us.

(Brad Kramer) #18

The biggest two presuppositions are these: First, that Genesis is intended to communicate “eyewitness” information about the duration and method of God’s creation. Second, that information is communicated in such a way that one-to-one correspondences can be made between terms in Genesis and modern scientific concepts.

These two presuppositions control the way a person reads the text. It is no surprise that people find exactly what their presuppositions demand they find.

I want to return to the historical angle, because I think it’s vital. The history of conversation about Genesis and science can be summed up as this: Genesis is a theological masterpiece but a terrible scientific text. The theology of Genesis—that the universe is the free and good creation of an omnipotent and wise God—has had a massive impact on the development of the modern world, and particularly the rise of modern science. But every single time people have tried to use Genesis as a guide to science, it has failed. Every. Single. Time. So perhaps the lesson is that Genesis was not intended to give us that sort of information? Perhaps its depiction of creation is meant to communicate a different sort of truth than just a literal chronology of events? Perhaps its our own presuppositions which need to be adjusted?

This book has been extremely helpful for me: https://www.amazon.com/Beginning-We-Misunderstood-Interpreting-Original/dp/0825439272. Written by two professors at a conservative Bible college.

Sure, it can be understood in different ways. That’s the point. But lots of people in church history have thought the most “natural” reading is of a solid dome that separates the “waters above” from “waters below.” This also makes the most sense in the cultural context in which Genesis was written. More on that here: http://biologos.org/blogs/archive/the-firmament-of-genesis-1-is-solid-but-that’s-not-the-point

The firmament/expanse question has been debated here on the Forum at great length, so I’m not going to beat the dead horse any more than this. Here’s the biggest thread:

(James McKay) #19

Could you repeat what you’ve said in these other posts here please, or at the very least link to them? I ask this not just for myself but for the benefit of anyone else who stumbles on this thread.

(Jonathan) #20

Certainly. In the book of Exodus, God Himself says that He created the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th day (in reference to working 6 days and resting on the seventh). Also, after the creation days, it says “and there was evening and there was morning on the # day.”

More on this later, but I would like to reemphasize one thing (on this thread for anyone who stumbles upon it):

I am not so close-minded as to say I can’t be wrong. If any of you can prove to me through scripture and sound reasoning that I am wrong in my YEC beliefs, then I will delete my posts myself. So, this is what it has come to but in a good way). Let us use scripture to interpret scripture, and see if/where it says that the days in Genesis are not literal days.