Should we take the creation story literally?


You might want to brush up your memory. According to the ESV Study Bible, surely not a pagan source, Jesus quoted only 3 verses from Genesis. All on the origin of marriage. Genesis 1:27, 2:24, and 5:2. Those 3 verses are quoted in Matthew 19:4 and Mark 10:6-8. These are the only direct quotations from Genesis.

(Susan Linkletter) #62

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

You are correct George Brooks when you state that what I take from the creation story is not universal to all christian communities. Its not something that I was taught but rather what I get from the creation story.

In the early days of creation, God was not an invisible God, He walked with Adam and Eve. It is only after the fall of man that God separates Himself from man by no longer walking with Adam and Eve in the garden. Seeking God was not a priority for Adam and Eve, instead they chose to seek knowledge and the satisfaction of their physical bodies.

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!

Yes we could say Gods will has power just as easily as we can say His spoken word has power. All spoken words have power. Don’t they?

I don’t see how (Science) has anything to do with our quest for Resurrection.

For some, science gets in the way of spirituality because there are some people that will not believe in the concept of God since it cannot be proven that God exists.There is no search for resurrection if you rule out the existence of a God that is capable of resurrection.

5] Life on Earth is exactly what God expected. It took him millions of years to get it that way.

Life on earth as it is now is not what God wanted for us at all. What we learn from the creation story is that it was His plan for us to live in paradise in perfect harmony with Him. What we have now is what we get when we choose to reject God and to rely upon our own physical knowledge - which can be used for good or evil. I believe that Gods heart is broken over what life on earth has become and how far we have drifted from the perfection that He had intended. I believe that each one of us symbolically stands before the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and that we have to choose from which tree we want each day. Many choose to eat from the tree of knowledge and turn their back on a spiritual life because they cannot consolidate their knowledge of science with a literal understanding of the Bible.

Is there any way we could be less insulting to teachers and scientists?

Its not an insult to science or teachers, its just an observation that people often turn their back on a life of faith if they choose to believe evolutionary theory, and its a shame people feel that they have to make that choice because science and creation can go hand in hand if you don’t take the theory of creation literally. Evolution nicely fills in the details left out of the creation story.

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.

In the creation story our physical bodies were initially created to live forever - the physical and spiritual were one. It was not until after the fall of man (when Adam and Eve chose the tree of knowledge over the tree of life) that man would have to die as a result (and the physical and spiritual were separated). So I believe what God had intended for us, is what we find in the creation story before the fall, when He walked with us in the garden and we had physical bodies that did not have to die and had full access to spiritual knowledge (God Himself). The Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge are symbolic of the choices we must make as humans. Because the physical body is now subject to death (life is limited to about 80 years) we must choose to receive eternal life by actively choosing to seek spiritual knowledge and discernment from God - essentially what Adam and Eve had when they had access to the Tree of Life.

Men and women were equal before the fall.

It wasn’t until after the fall of man that men gained superiority over women (and physical death). this does not mean we have to live that way, I believe the ideal is equality, what we had before the fall, and that is what those of us who choose to pursue spirituality should strive for. We should be striving to restore our fallen earth to what God had originally intended.

(Susan Linkletter) #63

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.

Jesus told stories (that were not actual events) in His teachings to get His point across. Those stories were not meant to be taken literally, but to help His listeners to learn something or to convey a point. Jesus quoted scripture as truth, but He also told stories that were not true in the sense that they ever happened. This does not make Jesus a liar.

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.

The Bible is my authority, I just use it differently than you do. Evolution has no authority, nor does it demand it. I can accept Genesis as real and as history. The only reference that I can find in which Jesus refers even remotely to creation is in Revelation 22 when He says He is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. I can accept this as truth. Not taking the creation story literally has no impact upon the validity of what Jesus says about anything. I am a follower of the teachings of Jesus, giving evolution some merit does nothing to the creation story or my faith.

(George Brooks) #64


Do you really think so?

The Mormons believe God (in a full corporeal manifestation) has a home planet that he lives on…

(Susan Linkletter) #65

Once we decide to be led by the Holy Spirit, God lives within us. He is a spirit, he does not need a physical planet to live on, He wants to walk with us, just like He did in the beginning.

I have never read the Book of Mormon or any of the writings of Joseph Smith.


(Andrew M. Wolfe) #66

Just wanted to circle back to this briefly.

I don’t understand this last thing you said here. When you cited, “I have been writing on the Pagan channel of Patheos for about four years now,” you were not quoting from anything written by the author of the original article that @jpm linked to. You were instead quoting from an actual practicing pagan author who self-identifies using the word “pagan.” The author of @jpm’s article does not self-identify as a pagan. She identifies as a feminist — and you in turn identify all feminists as pagans, because of your narrow definition of “feminism” and your wide definition of “pagan.”

So are you actually saying that this quote — “I have been writing on the Pagan channel of Patheos for about four years now” — was by the same person whose article @jpm linked to?


The evolutioinary story is supposed to have taken billions of years to bring us to this point.

Exodus 20:8-11 clearly states another message altogether:
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.
11 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.

Everything was created in six days. The same six days that man understands is precisely that which is attributed to God as having used to create everything.

Of course to see the stories written on biologos to discredit such an understanding, simply do a search…


Susan, how long have you been on this website and not noticed that the very essence of most of the arguments is precisely this:
The evolutionary story demands billions of years and also death before Adam sinned. Therefore death is not the result of sin. Death is your friendly neighbourhood ally that begets all of life as we know it. It was all good, see?
The biblical statements clearly read otherwise. But because they contradict the evolutionary story, they have to be re-interpreted by highly educated and deeply informed others and hence the whole argument here on biologos.

Furthermore, Jesus made a number of references to Genesis, regarding it as pure history:
Matthew 19:4-5, Mark 10:6, John5:45-47, Matthew 24:37-39.

Biologians completely re-interpret these verses to fit in with the evolutionary authority of the atheistic religion.

If it does nothing to your faith that death did not follow as a result of sin, well then which faith is it exactly that you are following again? Why did Jesus have to die if death is such a good ally for life on earth? Why bother with a new creation at all in which there will be no pain, suffering and DEATH?
Why does the bible call death the last ENEMY to be vanquished? Why are people destined for punishment via eternal DEATH?

Perhaps another look at the evolutionary story is required. See how it decimates the whole bible and destroys the basis of that faith you are talking about.

Evolution and Christianity are not bed-fellows. Richard Dawkins himself recognized that and made the point of calling those who support evolution yet claim to be Christians “useful idiots”. You can look that up.

Perhaps for a balanced view you should also look at just ONE of the creationist viewpoints:

(Laura) #69

Hmmmm… death did follow as a result of sin. Your view of death seems to be the purely physical, material kind. If Jesus died to overcome death, then he didn’t do a very good job, because it’s still everywhere. Perhaps the death he overcame was the spiritual death that separates us from God. Isn’t that more important?

(Susan Linkletter) #70

Yes in the creation story everything is created in 6 days and on the seventh day, three is a day of rest. If you don’t take the creation story literally, then you look for the symbolic meaning of seven days. Seven was often use to symbolize completeness or perfection. In Exodus 22:30, the Israelites are told not to sacrifice an animal until it is at least seven days old. Naaman is commanded to bathe in the Jordan seven times to be cleansed of leprosy (2 Kings 5:10). Joshua and the people marched around Jericho for seven days, circled it seven times on the seventh day, then had seven priests blow seven trumpets before the walls came down (Joshua 6). There are many more examples of the number 7 being used to symbolize completeness, thus it is appropriate to symbolize the completeness of creation in 7 days.

(Susan Linkletter) #71

The evolutionary story demands billions of years and also death before Adam sinned. Therefore death is not the result of sin. Death is your friendly neighbourhood ally that begets all of life as we know it. It was all good, see?

The evolutionary story demands billions of years and death before Adam sinned. That is true. Adam and Eve did not suffer an immediate physical death after eating from the tree of knowledge, but their bodies began to age and they lost access to the tree of life. The death in the creation story is symbolic of the separation that now exists between God and man and a physical death becomes the penalty for the sin that comes from satisfying the flesh rather than seeking God.

Why did Jesus have to die if death is such a good ally for life on earth? Why bother with a new creation at all in which there will be no pain, suffering and DEATH?

In the Old Testament, the Jewish followers of God had to make sacrifices of animals to make atonement for their sins. Not just any animal could be sacrificed, but the very best. God then ended this sacrificial atonement of sins by providing His own perfect sacrifice, that of His son Jesus Christ. Jesus death on the cross broke the barrier that existed between God and man because of sin and offered us eternal life. Jesus’ physical death is the sacrificial lamb for atonement of our sins, but it does not end there. Jesus was resurrected and appeared on earth after His death to show us that He had power over death and for those who choose to believe in Him, He offers them an eternal spiritual life in heaven. So Jesus death accomplishes two things. the first was to be the ultimate sacrifice for humanities sins and the second was to demonstrate Gods power over death, which is offered to those who choose to believe and follow Jesus. We are spiritual beings in bodies of flesh, our bodies of flesh follow the same evolutionary course of birth and death as any other animal on earth. God offers His followers spiritual bodies that do not die, restoring what was lost in the Garden of Eden for those of us who choose the tree of life - which is now Jesus.

Why bother with a new creation at all in which there will be no pain, suffering and DEATH?

God says in the Bible that once we become followers of Christ that we become “new creations” and in Revelation 21:1-8 John has a vision of
" a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them.”

In essence, God plans to restore His original perfect creation and those of us who choose to follow Him while we live on this imperfect earth. In the new heaven and earth there will be no death, the Bible does call it the last enemy to be defeated.

Why are people destined for punishment via eternal DEATH?

In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve have to choose between the Tree of life and the Tree of knowledge. They choose the tree of knowledge and are then subjected to Gods punishment of physical and spiritual death. We have that same choice to make, we can choose to symbolically choose the Tree of Life by following Jesus Christ or we can reject Gods will and choose to rely upon the Tree of knowledge of good and evil - or human knowledge. Just like Adam and Eve, if you choose to not follow Gods will for your life you die spirituallyand physically - and a physical life on earth is all you get.

Evolution does not decimate the creation story, it is part of the planet that God created and provides us with the necessary support systems that we require for a physical life on this planet. Richard Dawkins makes the mistake of presuming that creation and evolution cannot co-exist. His entire arguments are based upon that one presumption which makes them faulty at best.


(Ronald Myers) #72

All of this discussion of the source of some numbers is a distracting smoke screen which reveals attitudes more than fact. Yes non Christians can count and come to objective truth. It is highly unlikely that you inquire about the faith of the bridge designers and builders before you drive over bridges. Other examples abound.

It doesn’t matter how many time a book was reference by Jesus since He accepted the validity of the scriptures as understood at the time by the Jews. Were not this the case, the books Joshua, Ruth, Song of Songs and some others would need to be discarded.

More important is how Jesus read Genesis. About this scripture gives us no clear answer. We do know that at least in one example Jesus exegesis of the Old Testament is loose

Matt. 17:11 Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. 12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” 13 Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.

John the Baptist was Jesus cousin nurtured from birth by Mary’s kinswoman Elizabeth the product of her union with Zechariah, not Elijah back on earth from either Sheol or heaven. Further, there is not a whiff of reincarnation in the Bible.

So look at how Jesus used the OT.

A bit of humility is in order here. Yes we (you, me and they) are in the absolute sense unreliable but there is a lot that can be known as long as we do not try to learn too much from the Bible. It can be observed that we and revelation are finite while God is infinite.

(Daniel) #73


I understand where you are coming from. This view seems to dismantle a steadfast and evangelically historic view of scripture and faith. I would encourage you to look deeper as there are some very strong issues within this view of Christianity that arise. There are issues with Biologos and all Christian perspectives as we are imperfect and God uses this for His glory.

You talk about the evolutionary story in a very condescending manner. This story is really observation from many lines of evidence that point towards a conclusion regarding the development of life and/or age of planet and universe. This is not a just-so story. Even Jesus in Luke 12:56, NRSV,

56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

produces this approach of using evidence to gain understanding and contrasts this with spiritual understanding via spiritual approaches.

You are also taking a very literal approach when there are many issues and cracks within this perspective. The bible is not simple. Peter affirms this in 2 Peter 3:16 (NRSV)

16 speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures.

and in general, how the New testament authors interpret the old also affirms this including and especially Jesus. Then you get to issues such as pi being 3, heaven rotating earth, numbers, so many things that conflict with the literal approach.

Then you discredit belief in Christ and in God’s mechanisms for the world by saying faith is useless if the death mentioned in Genesis did not mean literal death even though the first few chapters can hardly be read entirely literally as there are many issues arising from such an extremely simplistic reading of the text.

After this you conflate evolution and Christianity as opposites and other Christians as tools because one prominent person said so and apparently defines everything.

Finally, you suggest a balanced view comes from Answers in Genesis as apparently other places such as biologos or peaceful science are not balanced. This is the same organization that openly suggests results from debunked RATE experiments among other things. I am not saying that people on all sides are perfect or that all things are perfect but you are suggesting to someone else a passionate refute that suffers weaknesses not unlike how you perceive Biologos to have.

(George Brooks) #74


Funny, my personally inspired view of God’s use of “day and night” during the time when there was no Sun is … say… about 4 billion years per day…

(Ronald Myers) #75

Prode now has three lengthy, minimally repetitive replies. So we should let Prode reply to these in equally irenic manner before adding more comments.

(Christy Hemphill) #76

Excellent plan.

(George Brooks) #80


I think you are over-stating the problem.
If we look at your Part 1, you quite boldly say that being a Christian does not include liberty to “use evolution to fill in the details”. For heaven’s sake why not? Are we not free to to “use the principles of evaporation and the water cycle” to fill in the details for when God specifically states an intention makes it rain in a specific place? The “liberty” to do so may not be the same as the “requirement” to do so… but it is certainly one of the options for good Christians everywhere.

The Book of Job describes God storing snow and hail in warehouses (“treasuries”)… are we to take that literally? Or are we to use the science of meteorology to fill in the details for what is really going on? Or must we believe there are invisible warehouses of snow and hail in orbit around Earth.

Naturally, Part 2 is defective by reason of the discussion about Part 1. We do not need a more literal understanding of what is being portrayed. We need a more figurative understanding to compensate for the errors in the literal meanings.

Part 3 is a rather awkwardly worded mis-statement.
The fact that “science is in a state of flux” is not the same thing as saying “natural laws are in a state of flux”. What could form a better testimony by God than if Genesis (or other sections of the Bible) sounded wrong in the old days…but turned out, over time, to be precisely correct?

Do you think we will one day discover invisible warehouses of snow and hail? I don’t. Many months ago, in another part of the archives, I posted much of Isaac Asimov’s essay on the evolution of science, vs. the evolution of natural law. He points out that while science continues to correct prior errors, the progress is one where the errors “in flux” continue to be smaller and smaller in scale. We aren’t going to suddenly discover that gravity doesn’t really exist… or that the Sun is actually a planet. And so it would seem you have intentionally used rhetoric to accomplish your conclusion, rather than thinking through what exactly is at stake: human understanding of man-made science? vs. human understanding of God-made natural laws.

(Albert Leo) #81

After reading the posts in this thread, I am even more convinced that Christians would be better served if they believed that the story of Adam & Eve in Eden could be seen as the reality that, in creating a conscience-guided Mind in Homo sapiens, God conferred a precious Gift that could raise a primate above its instinct-driven past and seek to become an image of its Creator. From then on (perhaps some 50K yrs. ago in a GLF), humankind would consist of two natures–one physical (which was destined to die, as all animals do), and one spiritual, which, as Jesus promised, could live forever in harmony with its Creator. The concept of Original Sin, and its consequence of bringing death into an otherwise ‘very good world’, has resulted in a great deal of mischief in both Christian and Islamic circles.

Creation Stories are extremely important, because, in discerning what God ‘had in mind’ before he created humankind, we get a better idea of what he might expect of us in the future. There is so much evidence to support the fact that God uses evolution in his continuing creation, it behooves us to incorporate that truth into how we can best serve him. Susan, IMHO BioLogos and many posters on this forum have made praiseworthy attempts at doing this, even without embracing my concept of Original Blessing.
Al Leo

(Daniel) #82


Dealing with the first part of the post.
I am very interested in this topic. I think you present the case quite clearly.
My question is: Why don’t we take the creation story literally? Science? Evolution? Historical Literary devices?

A simple fact we would never have considered Genesis 1 etc. not to be literal unless we needed to make it fit with something of our own observation (ie evolution). That is why this forum exists and BioLogos exists.
We want our theology to be scientifically acceptable to other people.

But what would happen if we found out that we don’t need to change our theology to make it compatible with science.

What if trying to make our theology compatible with evolution is just making us look stupid?

Richard Dawkins, a well know atheist, and scientist, said " the evangelical Christians got it right when they see evolution as the enemy to Christianity while the more sophisticated theologians who are quite happy to live with evolution, the theistic evolutionists, I think they are deluded"

To this I would have to concur.

Here is the problem… You have to believe something, belief isn’t science and neither is evolution. I would be just as “scientific” to throw my hat in the boat with the group who believe that dollar bills created the universe as to throw it in with the evolutionists.

Don’t give me this nonsense about it looking like evolution occurred and there is a "scientific consensus"
The fact is it doesn’t matter how it looks, we weren’t there to watch it happen. Believing in evolution and calling that science is kind of like observing a master sculptor building a clay version of the grand canyon, layer by layer and then saying millions of years ago there was a billion master sculptors who all worked together over a long period of time to create the grand canyon. That would be simply ludicrous… Just because we observe how things work today doesn’t mean we can extrapolate that back to the origin of the universe. All of our attempts to do so in the modern world almost always result in epic failures. And if you want to say well evolution takes that all into account and makes changes to correct for the present conditions etc etc… then tell me how is that science. All you are doing again is putting your eggs in the fragile basket that those assumptions are valid. The reason science works and is a useful tool is that it is based on current and frequently changing direct observation.

(Daniel) #83

I like what you are saying Susan.

If you think today that somehow we have arrived at some Scientific Pinnacle, “Modern Scientific Achievements” and now we have everything correct then you are in for a shocker… What if 5,10,15,500 years go by and we find out whoops we were wrong about evolution… there is no way it could have happened that way. We have unquestionable scientific proof for creation… Then where would we be?
This should be obvious to Theistic evolutionists and Creationists. We both believe in God, we both believe that men are sinners and all their wisdom is incomparable to the wisdom of God. If the ancients could have been wrong for 4000-6000 years what is preventing us from being wrong for another 4000-6000 years. The theistic evolutionists says God has made everything so clear, observation and evolution mesh so nicely why would He create in 6 literal 24 hr days and deceive us because science points to x billion year creation… I say why would he deceive the ancients into thinking literal 24hr days for 4-6 thousand years and then suddenly reveal to us modern brilliants that it was billions of years?

Just wanted to take what you said a little further Susan!