Is Genesis real history? (new Common Questions page)

(Jay Johnson) #121

This is how almost all of history works, not just those events we label “miraculous”. How do we know that the battle of Marathon actually took place? I could go on, but you get the idea.

The miracles are not erasing the evidence, and neither is God. Witnesses die, landmarks disappear, buildings become ruins, etc. This is not supernatural erasing of evidence, but the natural passage of time. If a global flood did occur, the passage of time would have erased some of the evidence, but surely not all. God certainly wouldn’t have erased the evidence, would he?

The event serves to point to the messenger, that people would listen and heed God’s words. The event itself has no meaning apart from the messenger and the message. That actually would be God “flexing his muscles” just to catch our attention and show off, which would be antithetical to his character.

Yes. Isaiah 52.13-53.12. Jeremiah 31.31-34. Etc. The prophetic witness to Christ is a lasting miracle that will testify to all generations.

We are not talking about witnessing a miracle or hearing a voice from heaven. We are talking about the philosophical question: If God exists, why doesn’t he make it more obvious? Pascal’s point was simply that if God wanted to prove his existence, he could have done so easily at any time and in a manner that would have left no doubt in anyone’s mind. That will happen at the last day, when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. In the meantime, the world is ambiguous.


A global or even a regional flood at the right time should produce physical evidence that is still here today. How else do you suppose the many regional floods were dated?

AFAIK, QM says something might exist in multiple possibilities until it becomes known and then it is a single possibility. So it is not a fairy tale when you know the final reality.

Antoine is.

Well after dinner they all returned home and told their neighbours what just happened. Hard to do if you are in a different universe.

No God could have created the bread and fishes and in fact there were multiple baskets of leftovers to prove that He did.

It can if you make it part of the miracle. A truly global flood would require a tub load of miracles to happen which is OK. The problem is it also requires a tub load of miracles to provide the false evidence that it didn’t happen.

Yes I tend to write in a stream of consciousness manner.

I would say the vast majority of cases.

Not necessarily. The people that were healed could have travelled or people they know came back from a far country and the evidence would still be there. With the exception of a global flood it is true that any physical evidence of a miracle does fade away and we are only left with the written record. Trying to invoke a multiverse is just a rescue device to save the historical fact of Noah’s Flood.

(Jay Johnson) #123

Interesting, but your thesis proves too much. If I perceive a sensory experience differently than you, is the most reasonable explanation a parallel world? I don’t think so.

Just to clarify, I don’t hold the “regional flood” theory. I’ve tried to explain Walton/Longman’s position, but I don’t entirely agree with them. Ancient, devastating floods may explain why flood myths arose in Mesopotamia, but Genesis 6-9 came along much later than those and as an obvious reaction against their theology, ideology, and cosmology. There is an explanation here, but “miracle” isn’t among them.

We can certainly agree on that!

(George Brooks) #124


You think there was a literal, global flood? Do you think it happened 4000 years ago? 10,000 years ago?

(Jay Johnson) #125

No. The Genesis flood story subverts existing Mesopotamian flood myths and ideology. It has no connection with actual history. The flood is depicted as universal because violence and bloodshed (sin) are universal throughout humanity. The difference between Genesis 1-11 and ANE mythology is that in Genesis, everything that befalls humanity, including the flood, traces back to human choice, not the capriciousness of the gods.

(George Brooks) #126


So I must have misunderstood what you meant here. If you don’t “hold” to the regional flood theory, you simply believe it was a fiction with important moral value?


oh yea, duh, good point.

I am trying to think of a miracle that would leave evidence that evidence has been found. Why haven’t we found some armor in the red sea?

Though in the case of the flood, if it happened in another ‘dimension’, there humans would have been decomposed and if it didn’t affect the land, there only evidence would have been the ark. Maybe that ark was part of the ‘flood multiverse’?

So maybe the chasing of the Egyptians and parting of the sea all occurred in that multiverse, and that is why there is no evidence of such?

I think it is important to differentiate between prophesy and miracle, but yes, that is the one miracle I stipulated that effects the entire world, so it can be evidenced by all for eternity.

He might have been able to? But then why didn’t He? Maybe because He wasn’t able to. I know it is ‘taboo’ to limit God’s powers or abilities… But what if the reason things unfolded as they did, is because that is the only/best way? We have an incredibly knowledgeable, wise God, and He did chose this way, maybe because it is the only way.

If God just appeared to all with no doubt, that wouldn’t require much faith, and He wants faith. I don’t think He does just want to prove His existence, I think like Pascal said, He wants us to seek and find Him. Like an adult playing hide and go seek with a 3 year old. The adult hides, but they want to be found. They give hints and clues and make noises to help. God wants to be found, and gives clue and hints, but He wants us to seek Him. It is a test, if you don’t want to seek Him, then no amount of clues or hints would have you to find Him. This could also be for our benefit, anyone who looked Him in the face in our sinful flesh would probably be decimated. Seeing His holiness, goodness, and love compared to ours would bring us to our knees and we would beg to be destroyed. So He hides, and wants us to seek.


" making a mechanical version of Schrodinger’s cat, where the drum vibrates and stands still at the same time.""

That is two observed/known possibilities…

Yeah, after the miracle is over, we are all back in the same universe. So after the fish was created, it would appear normal to all observers, so they could easily go back and tell their neighbors. Like a person getting healed, after they are healed as you said, a doctor would see them as a healthy person, no miracle occurred. The old test would be thrown our as erroneous.

I don’t think they are literally transported into a different location/universe, rather another ‘universe’ that is 99.9999% identical comes to us for a small moment. Which if we think about it, kind of makes sense. We have known laws of physics and miracles violate all those laws. So if those laws are changed for an instant in a specific place, is that still our universe? If our universal laws aren’t there? It is more like God puts up a ‘portal’ where He can do what ever He wants, there are no laws to be violated, and then once the miracle is over, the ‘portal’ closes. I guess that is a nerdy way at looking at a miracle. Evidence can’t really be left behind, because that evidence is contrary to our universal laws. The ‘evidence’ went through the portal back the way of that multiverse.

Our universe can’t have a dancing sun, so a multiverse portal came to be, the sun was now allowed to dance and do whatever God wants it to do, then that portal closed. So those who saw it were in that portal, and those that didn’t weren’t.

Those who have a cancer, and God opens a portal where matter is destroyed (as in our universe, matter can’t be created or destroyed) the tumor is destroyed, and the portal closes.

Which I guess doesn’t really matter, God is doing the work, whether He is temporarily changing our laws, or opening a portal where our laws don’t apply, is just semantics. The only difference is the miracle can only affect those allowed in the portal. Which does seem to have some biblical backing, as the verses on faith I quoted above seem to effect miracles. At the Pentecost, some heard them in their own tongues, others heard drunk guys yammering on. Maybe they were not seeking, and weren’t invited into that portal?

I agree there, I was by no means intending to imply that God didn’t provide the bread and fish for them. But I am saying after the bread and fish were there in plenty the portal closes. So we are back to the healing cancer scenario. Those who have faith believe, and the skeptics will say the before inventory was flawed.

Hey, me too, hehe.

Thanks all for the conversations, I learned some interesting things, I’ll probably keep reading it, but I think I will bow out and stop annoying the educated folks with my incessant ramblings. Sometimes it is good to stream consciousness, and sometimes I think it is better to keep it to myself and chew on it for a bit so it can come out more filtered/polished.


The armour wasn’t made of metal. Small quantities of metal from the chariots or weapons would corrode.

Yes. Just because God is not bound by physical laws doesn’t mean you have to postulate another universe in which He can violate physical laws. If He can violate the laws there why not just say He does so here?

(Jay Johnson) #129

Sorry that I’m making this more confusing than it should be. Fiction with a moral value? No. Genesis 1-11 is not Aesop’s Fables or A Series of Unfortunate Events. Do you believe the flood story in Genesis happened exactly as stated in every detail? If not, you’re in the same boat with me and every other non-YEC Christian (pun intended). Perhaps you should give up this infatuation with genealogical Adam? In your zeal to convert YEC, you’re even starting to sound like them. What happened to the old George? Bring him back! haha

My objection to the whole “regional flood” enterprise is fairly simple: It proves nothing about Genesis 6-9 that it doesn’t also prove about Gilgamesh. What, then, has been gained? If we claim Noah’s Flood has been “vindicated” by this tiny historical nougat generously dipped in hyperbolic chocolate, what of the rest of Gen. 1-11? This ad hoc approach falters at the same place every time: the tower of Babel. Find me the historical precedent for that, and then we’ll talk.

(George Brooks) #130


Okay, let’s check these off.

1] you reject the Globall Flood.
2] you reject the Regional Flood.
3] you reject the idea that it is fiction with moral content.

Are you able to say what you think the Flood narrative in the O.T. might be?

It’s either true, fiction, or a mixed story.
It either has moral content or not.

It strikes me that you reject the Flood Story so much, you don’t even agree that it can be found in the Bible!

What’s left for you to assess?

(Jay Johnson) #131

You are running off the rails here. Parallel universes popping in and out of ours. Step back for a minute and think about what you’re proposing. It turns our entire experience of the world into nonsense, and all of it is pure speculation. We have no idea how God “does it” when he intervenes in his creation.

Exactly, which is why we will never find definitive proof of his existence. The world is ambiguous because it is a test.

No, this doesn’t make sense at all. Did the people in our universe who ate the fish have counterparts in the other universe? The multiverse with the dancing sun – How did that affect the earth in that universe? Were there people on that earth? I could go on and on. The questions never end, and the answers are speculation pulled out of the thinnest air possible. I think this is called letting your imagination run away with you. Come back to Earth!

  1. I reject a literal global flood. However, the language of the text is clearly universal in scope. If we cannot understand it as a blow-by-blow account of actual events (YEC), then we must understand it in its literary context (everyone else).
  2. I reject the literal regional interpretation of the text as a blow-by-blow account of events. I accept Walton and Longman’s conclusion that a regional flood inspired the many flood myths of the ANE; I only disagree with the importance of that conclusion.
  3. I reject the label. “Fiction with moral content” is inadequate. The genre of Genesis 1-11 is something else.

Sure. It’s not too difficult if we’re willing to look at Genesis 1-11 as a cohesive literary composition, regardless of how many hands may have played a part in shaping the text. Sketching with a broad brush: Genesis 1-11 is a polemic against Mesopotamian religion and culture, and at the same time, it was meant to inoculate Israel against the temptation to syncretism and assimilation into the Babylonian/Assyrian/Neo-Babylonian empire(s). This theme runs from the Pentateuch to the prophets. (Edit: Actually, all the way to Revelation.) The temptation to adopt their neighbors’ gods and customs was always the greatest threat to Israel. Indeed, unfaithfulness to the covenant was the nation’s undoing, according to the prophetic interpretation of the Exile.

(Phil) #132

I get your meaning and use the phrase myself, but am reminded that when we speak of God intervening in creation, we at times fail to attribute God’s work in all creation at all times. I think this is one of the strengths of Biologos in that it gives attention to God’s work in and through all creation, not just popping in to do a miracle here and there.

(Jay Johnson) #133

Yes, you’re right. Thanks for the reminder.


You are right, I know I go of the rails at times. My passion to know God more intimately get perverted into a quest to explain God to man.

I am sorry.

(Jay Johnson) #135

No reason to apologize! It’s just a discussion, not a formal academic paper. We’re all on the same journey.

For with great wisdom comes great frustration;
whoever increases his knowledge merely increases his heartache. (Ecc. 1:18)

(Antoine Suarez) #136

Yes, this is my line of thinking, but I would also stress the following important point:

At the End of the Flood God made all human-like creatures on earth to Image Bearers.

So we can summarize my proposal as follows:

  1. Just before the Flood the population of Image Bearers was about 200,000 people and leaved in the region of Sumer.

  2. With the Flood this population did shrink to Noah and his family.

  3. The population of all human-like creatures living outside Mesopotamia all over the planet during the Flood can be estimated to be 14 million. At the end of the flood God made all of these to Image Bearers. This is the moment T referred to in Genesis 9:6.

  4. At the End of the Flood Noah’s family spread through the world and reproduced with the new created Image Bearers.

  5. This way the story of the flood spread first to the regions near Mesopotamia and thereafter all over the world.

As said, before the Flood Image Bearers, and therefore creatures accountable for sinning, were about 200,000 living in the region of Sumer. All other human-like creatures over the planet could not sin and thus no flood was needed to wipe them.

I share Walton’s view that “the Flood narrative works as a Recreation narrative” although in a somewhat stronger sense:

I think that from the perspective of the Creation of “mankind in the Image of God” Genesis 1-6 can be considered sort of a test first phase, which is concluded with the Flood (Genesis 6-8); Genesis 9 marks the second and final phase where all anatomically human-like creatures became Image Bearers at the end of the Flood (time T referred to a above).

What about ‘non-image bearers’ that may have encountered Image Bearers before the Flood? They became immediately Image Bearers: It is the episode of the “sons of God” referred to in Genesis 6:2-4.

In conclusion:
There was no coexistence of Image Bearers with ‘non-image bearers’ at any time. And after time T at the end of the Flood the condition of Image Bearer is defined by the belonging to humanity on the basis of observable bodily features. This is crucial to the aim of assigning rights.

(George Brooks) #137


Don’t both Creation references to creating humanity include God’s image?

Or is your point that the human-like creatures on Earth are not yet homo sapien, and once they become homo sapien, they have God’s image?

(Matthew Pevarnik) #138

Do you you have any reasons for doing this? The verb tense in Genesis 9:6 certainly seems to indicate a past tense event and not present tense (referring then to Genesis 1). I’ll read your proposal next…

Where exactly do you get this number from? How long were the ‘image bearers’ around before this point? Are you familiar with genetic evidence that suggests such or is this based on something else?

It can? Where did you get the 14 million number from? So the flood you are suggesting is not global after all? I’m a bit confused as that was the sense I got from you above. Maybe I missed a post earlier.

It seems like you really wouldn’t need Noah’s family if God just instantly made everyone in Genesis 9:6 image bearers as 14 million people would easily dominate anything that 8 people who survived a large local flood could ever do.

That seems quite interesting, given what we know about the inherent genetic (selfish/sinful) nature of human beings and even other primates.

These next two seem a little contradictory to me:

So there were anatomical changes to all the ‘non-image bearers’ or how are you classifying this change?

Sorry that’s a lot of questions, I am needless to say quite confused over what you are saying here exactly and wonder how this lines up with what we know about our species.

(Randy) #139

Right. I wonder about the human embryo stage-with fish, gills, a tail and presumably lack of mentation, by this definition are they image bearers? I do believe that they are human, but I’m struggling to fit with this definition… Thanks.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #140

I personally don’t hold to the image is our physical characteristics and think that based upon what we see in the evidence for common descent, makes the image bearing a very long process with no clear demarcation when any human bore it, thus making it impossibly hard to suggest that Genesis was even remotely correct. If instead, it is seen as a divine purpose, that we are to represent the Creator and be his ambassadors, then it doesn’t matter when this event occurred, just that his purpose for humankind was declared to be this.