Should we take the creation story literally?

What if our entire approach to the creation story as outlined in the first few chapters of Genesis has been entirely wrong because we have tried to understand it in a literal sense. What if the creation story is more of a parable from which we can draw certain truths, like God created man, that His intention was to walk with us in perfect communion, that we were created to live forever and that we have destroyed our communion with God by putting our faith in the wrong kind of knowledge - knowledge of God (tree of life) or knowledge of good and evil (science). Don’t you think that on some level we all like Adam and Eve have to choose to eat from the tree of life or the tree of knowledge of good and evil?

When Jesus told the story about the Prodigal Son - the story of a young man who asks his father for his inheritance, then squanders it and returns home to the delight of his father and the anger his brother. Was this a true story about a real family or was it a made up story to help us understand a truth? I don’t think it matters. What we learn from this story is true whether the story is true or not. In fact we could spend hours just debating about whether this story is true or not and miss the entire point of the story. I think that this is exactly what we are doing with the creation story. Whether or not you take the creation story literally, there are some very simple truths that we can get from it:

  1. God created the earth by willing and speaking it into being.
  • God’s word has power
  1. God wanted (and wants) a relationship with us.
  • Knowledge of good and evil (science) still gets in the way of our quest for eternal life.
  1. Life on earth is not what it was supposed to be.
  • We are still seeking knowledge of good and evil instead of Knowledge of God.
  1. We were created to live forever physically and spiritually in harmony with both nature and God.
  2. Men and women were created as equals.

There is no personal account of creation or witness to it except God himself and it was revealed to man by God in a way that does not have a lot of scientific detail. I believe it can be understood as truth without having to be taken literally.Not taking the creation story literally means that we as Christians are free to use evolution to fill in the details about how God created us and how we have come to find ourselves on a planet that is in trouble today. It is perfectly compatible with science and evolution. To me it solves a lot of problems. What do you all think about that?


Welcome, Susan! I think you will find a lot of agreement around here with your approach. If you check the archives, you will find a lot similar posts, but that is not to say your post is not important, as it reminds us to welcome those who are new to some of the ideas here. There are also some good resources in past blogs and in the book recommendations.
I look forward to hearing your ideas and thoughts on what is presented on the forum. It is comprised of a diverse crew of characters, but even the occasional grouch provides entertainment and enlightenment.

I definitely do believe Christians spend too much time meditating on the truth of scripture, and not enough time about the meaning of scripture. The meaning of Genesis 1 in my opinion is that the God alone is the creator, the Universe is very good, the universe is a temple to God and we are to be the priests, or carers of God’s temple.

The same applies for the rest of genesis. The meaning of the flood and Sodom and Gomorrah is that God is a just God, he judges the wicked through natural evil, unlike the pagan gods of other nations who punished mankind for malevolent reasons, such as being denied sleep in the Atrahasis epic.

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And although judgment is coming, the righteous (those who live by faith, not necessarily those who are pure and holy) are vindicated because God provides a way of rescue for those who believe his word. It’s key to get the grace component out of those stories.


There you go… “meditating on truth” again. The West’s fixation on “punishment via natural evil” is what led the West into the witch hunts, and treating disease as God’s punishment instead of as a natural ailment.

Perhaps the Eastern church is just more tolerant to have mysteries. When someone has epilepsy, they don’t rush to judgment that it is God’s punishment. It’s just one of those strange maladies that needs to be treated…

Gosh, @Susan_Linkletter, still seems to be a lot of items here that are not Universal to all of Earth’s Christian communities.

[1] What does it mean for a invisible God to “speak” in a vacuum of space?
[2] It makes for nice imagery, but I’m not sure it is a crucial point. We could just as easily say "God’s will has power!
I like [3]… very much.
[4] I don’t see how (Science) has anything to do with our quest for Resurrection.
[5] Life on Earth is exactly what God expected. It took him millions of years to get it that way.
[6] More of [4]? Is there any way we could be less insulting to teachers and scientists?
[7] This seems pretty clearly refuted in Genesis. If we were created to live forever in our physical form,
we would not have needed the Tree of Life to obtain immortality. I think we were created to achieve
immortality in a spiritual body.
[8] I like this one too.

Obviously it’s a metaphor.

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A metaphor, for sure. But how else might we describe it to better understand? Perhaps, “God expressed his will” or " Creation came into being at the will of God" or ?

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Yes, but understand that it used metaphorical language to describe literal truth. Also, that something literally happened does not mean that we understand correctly what literally happened. Just like scientists re-interpret evidence to revise theories, so should theologians re-interpret scripture to revise doctrines when there is good reason to do so. For example, here is part of why I think that the Bible doesn’t really teach that Adam is the father of the human race, just the line to Messiah… The Bible Does NOT Teach that Adam is the Father of All Humans - YouTube

I think most people have a feel for what it means. God is often described in anthropomorphic terms, even though he has no physical body.

“God’s hand” is referred to again and again in the Bible. Psalm 144:7 is “Stretch forth Your hand from on high…” in the NASB and “Send thine hand from above…” in the KJV.

We also find references to the eyes of the Lord, his ears, and so forth.


Your comment about the vacuum of space reminded me of the poster for the “Alien” movie. :wink:


No one is a complete literalist. See john 3:3 and following. ‘You must be born again”. Jesus expected Nicodemus to understand before being told it was a metaphor. So to be a literalist until forced to not be is too extreme a position. It was a position that disappointed Jesus in both nicodemus and the disciples. One can over metaphorize anything but with the plethora of fossils one has warrant to be non literally.


Literal… spell checker strikes again

Well, you have a problem, since Jesus CONSTANTLY reiterated the book of Genesis. If Jesus were referring to the book of Genesis as truth when in reality, it was just made up stories. Jesus would be a liar.

Regardless of how you interpret Genesis, you do realize that stories can convey truth, do you not?
And regarding how often Jesus quoted or even referenced Genesis, here is a blog looking at someone who actually counted:


I never said that Jesus quoted from Genesis more than any other scripture. I said, that Jesus reiterated Genesis as truth, and if he did so in a way knowing full well what he said to be false would then render Jesus a liar, therefore we could trust NOTHING Jesus said. You have to believe that Jesus stories are not true or some semantic fashion of truth; a conclusion not based from other scripture but your belief in evolution. Because evolution is your authority. You cannot accept Genesis as real, literal history therefore it negates any real, concrete validity of what Jesus says in Genesis. I believe in authority of scripture therefore I can trust Christ words.

That article is a fantastic reference, by the way. Bookmarked for future use!

(And the first comment thereto, liked 44 times, is a helpful addition!)

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You sourced a pagans article, bordering on heresy and abhorrent teaching and expect me to learn something from them about the bible…really??? I guess I should just ignore all the gifted men of God (who taught differently), and their teachings on the bible lead by the Holy Spirit, primarily Genesis. This is why I have a problem with theistic evolutionists.

She was doing simple counting. How is that abhorrent? We all count using the same numbers … except apparently some who claim to be “gifted men of God.” Up to you who to believe, obviously.


I guess this means you’ve found nothing substantial to counter the substance of their argument with, if you’re resorting to ad hominem attacks instead. Perhaps you found their arguments compelling. Hard not to, since it consisted of a pretty straightforward verse count.

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