Should we take the creation story literally?


Then what happens when science contradicts an interpretation of scripture? For example:

“First, . . . to want to affirm that in reality the sun is at the center of the world and only turns on itself without moving from east to west, and the earth . . . revolves with great speed about the sun . . . is a very dangerous thing, likely not only to irritate all scholastic philosophers and theologians, but also to harm the Holy Faith by rendering Holy Scripture false.”–Cardinal Bellarmine, 1615

What happens when a Christian biologists runs into mountains and mountains of evidence demonstrating that humans and other species are related through common ancestry, and that they evolved through the mechanisms described in the modern theory of evolution?


Historical science is science. You use the same scientific method. For example:

Observation: Deleterious mutations can occur functional DNA, and natural selection tends to remove deleterious mutations. Exons are functional DNA while the bulk of introns do not contain functional DNA.

Hypothesis: If species share common ancestry and evolved through the mechanisms described by the theory of evolution then you should find more shared bases in homologous exons than in homologous introns due to negative selection against deleterious mutations in exons.

Experiment: Compare homologous genes between species and determine if there more conservation of sequence in exons than in introns.

Results: There is a strong signal of conservation in many homologous genes, and that conservation is seen in exons and not in the vast majority of introns.

Conclusion: The repeatable experimental results are consistent with species sharing common ancestry and evolving through the mechanisms described by the theory of evolution.

Can you show us how that is not real science? It follows all of the steps of the scientific method which is what real science is.

That’s not true. The fundamental assumption in science is that natural laws don’t change over time and space. Even that assumption is testable by looking through telescopes and seeing how stars and galaxies behave out in the universe.

No scientific laws were broken in your scenario.

(James McKay) #106

I’m sorry, but this is simply not correct.

The only things that scientists assume to continue in their normal state are the most basic, fundamental laws and constants of physics. For example, the mass and charge of the electron; the speed of light; the electrical permittivity and magnetic permeability of a vacuum; Planck’s constant; and so on.

Why can we assume these things are constant? Because if they weren’t, the physical and chemical properties of the elements themselves would have been different. Chemistry would not have worked in the same way, and life as we know it would have been impossible. Furthermore, we would observe evidence of any such changes in the light that we see from distant stars and galaxies.

Nobody assumes that the seismic properties of the earth, solar flare activity, or atmospheric pressure remains constant. Nobody assumes that earthquakes, tornadoes, floods and storms do not happen. And neither the age of the earth, nor evolution, nor any other area of science, historical or otherwise, depends on any such assumption.

The word you are looking for is “incomplete,” not “incorrect.”

The information from historical science is most certainly not “broad.” An age of the earth of 4.54±0.05 billion years is not “broad”; it is accurate to within ±1%. A date for the extinction of the dinosaurs of 66,038,000±11,000 years ago is not “broad”; it is accurate to within one part in six thousand.

In any case, historical science does also give us useful information that has significant real-world consequences if you get it wrong. Finding oil is a case in point. Petroleum geologists need to know how old the deposits are in order to know whether they can get the stuff out of the ground. Too young, and it won’t have started decomposing yet. Too old, and it will have hardened into bitumen and pitch and it won’t be possible to extract it by drilling.

In other words, can young-earth creationists find oil?

(Albert Leo) #107

I did not join in the BioLogos Forum to convince anyone that I am right (and therefore they must be wrong.) If you accepted my beliefs regarding Original Blessing, I am not sure, in your particular circumstances, it would result in your leading a better life. I would rather you stayed put. Before joining in, I had some misconceptions about evangelical Christians and this forum has put me straight. I am better off for it. On the other side of the coin, I hope that my posts have shown to the more rigid Evangelicals that super liberal Christians (like myself) may not be 'lost souls.
God bless,
Al Leo

(George Brooks) #108


So, the example you use to discredit “historical science” involves merely physics? Do you think Physics is an unreliable field? And I mean just Newtonian Physics… there’s nothing about a skyscraper that requires applications of General Relativity.

So you relegate Newtonian Physics as unreliable because the builder - - or the people who put the building codes together - - left out a section on seismic activity?

What you are really doing is attempting to discredit science because we sometimes don’t embrace all the relevant facts. But even if we did … if we were to build something to withstand a 500 year flood level, instead of a 200 year flood level, does that mean a flood 10 years later couldn’t possibly bring down the building? Of course not. Because 10 years from now, randomness from the human perspective can still bring a 1000 year flood into the valley.

What is not likely to happen is that the flood that brings the building down will probably not be as low as a 200 year flood.

@danswoodtree, you are the text book example of why it is difficult to discuss these issues with YECs. You invent categories of information, and use anecdotes about these categories to prove your points. This is not a scientific approach.

And as to your comment about storehouses/treasuries of snow and hail (mentioned in Job)… so - - you Do believe we will eventually discover invisible storehouses in orbit around the Earth?

(Susan Linkletter) #109

Using evolution to interpret scripture is like using another religion and its theories and books to interpret Christianity. We would never want another religion to like atheism, or Buddhism to be used to interpret Christianity.

If I were a buddhist and I read the Bible, I would use my Buddhist background in the interpretation of scripture whether I wanted to or not. When we know something, it influences how we interpret something else. I think that not only is it possible to interpret scripture within this context, it is highly unlikely that scripture could be interpreted any other way. So yes, what we know about science should guide us in properly interpreting scripture.

(Phil) #110

I agree, as we can only interpret something with the knowledge and skills we have learned, and in scripture, we owe a lot to the linguists and archeologists and anthropologists that contribute to our understanding of the ancient world and language, and thus allow us to find meaning in what we read.
That said, @danswoodtree has a point in that science does not dictate scripture. Indeed, in the way I see scripture, the text is not speaking to science, and science does not speak to scripture other than the overall sense of giving us background knowledge and an rational basis for interpreting the world. It is sort of ironic that the literal view tends to conflate scripture with science, whereas the more allegoric view tends to not suffer that problem.

(Daniel) #111

I appreciate what you said about that, and I am sure that some don’t intend to ridicule. Like you I honor those who spoke with ancient wisdom, especially those whom God used to write His Holy Word. I have to say however that the general tone in the posts I have read about that subject does seem to be ridicule. If you could point me to some posts that treat the ancients with respectful disagreement I would gladly read them.

(Christy Hemphill) #112

It’s not so much disagreement with the ancients as it is trying to understand them on their own terms. There are lots of articles on the BioLogos website by Bible scholars John Walton, Richard Middleton, and Tremper Longman that do just that.

Look at the “biblical cultures” tag:[bible][0]=Biblical%20Cultures

Please realize that these discussion boards are an open forum, and anyone can post their two cents. So the “ridicule” you may be reading in some of the threads may be from people who are not even Christians. If you want the evolutionary creationist perspective, it’s better to read the informed scholars who are writing about it and not depend on random internet posters who may or may not share your basic assumptions about the authority of Scripture.

(Daniel) #113

Yes we can measure things accurately… Assumptions present: account for local time and place.
There is no way to make accurate measurements of billion year old historical conditions. Science has trouble enough making accurate predictions +/- 100 years.

Carbon and Radon dating have been debunked so many times its not even worth trying that argument.

(Daniel) #114

Thanks Christy,
I will

(Daniel) #115

Not to be hard on you, but your quote here is a textbook example that EC’s constantly use to laugh at YEC’s and ancient wisdom. It’s not even a good argument. That is a place in Job where God is speaking to Job in broad poetic language. Its merely a literary technique that is used that God is using to put Job in his place… God is saying Job, I am the one who created, I am the one who set all things in the universe in place, I am the one who made everything, and sustains everything. You (Job) are nothing.

(Daniel) #116

Can you explain this a little bit more. I am not sure what you mean by background knowledge and rational basis…

In my mind the Word of God is enough background knowledge and rational basis for belief. Hebrews 11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen… Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God and that things which are seen are not made of things which do appear…

(Daniel) #117

That’s fine Al,
I don’t want to argue with you. But I can’t just accept beliefs before I am convinced of their veracity.

(Daniel) #118

Good article actually… But it is actually really doesn’t have much of an argument

You do not have to believe that earth is billions of years old and all life evolved to find oil. Physical geology is important for discovering oil wells, but the history of life doesn’t matter as much. Most of oil discovery is about testing, experiments, and finding physical patterns – not about evolution and long ages. It doesn’t matter how old you think the layers are, the main point is the way they are arranged physically. Special vibrations are made to test an area and see where a layer changes, much like an underground version of a radar. Certain rock types and patterns in the layers are used to discover good places for oil. It’s all about observing and testing today. Finding oil and gas is physical, observational science

This is just fundamental science we are comparing rock strata with rock strata. The creationists knows that rock strata A (observed via vibration testing etc) will have usable oil because it is the same type of strata observed in oil producing wells, He knows that rock strata B will not produce usable oil because rock strata observed in A is the type found wells that dried.

Are you suggesting that when evolutionist X is hired to find petroleum he digs up some rock 4000 ft down and then does some carbon dating on the rock to determine if it is the correct age for oil drilling? Sounds like an expensive way to run an oil drilling operation…

Or does he just follow the same process as YEC A and then label one strata old and one strata young based on his preconceived notions about the formation of oil and organic matter?

(Phil) #119

Basically, everything we read in scripture or othwise is based on our understanding of what the words mean, which is based on what we have learned from school, from research in the original languages and the meaning that the original writer was expressing in his cultural setting. That is often dependent on science of one sort of another, whether linguists to determine how best to translate the original language, anthropologists to help us know the meaning that was to be comunicated, and so forth. The hard sciences are not as directly applied, but may be involved in dating manuscripts, verifying their authenticity and so forth. In addition, our concept of reality is formed by scientific findings. Before Galileo, the interpretation of scripture might well have concluded that the Bible was describing a universe with Earth as the physical center, whereas that interpretation was shown to be incorrect, thus the scripture has a different meaning. It is no less true, but we now know the physical description of the solar system and universe is not a teaching of those scriptures, but the meaning is something else, as a result of our better understanding of the physical universe.

(James McKay) #120

I’m sorry, but again, as the article points out, that is simply not correct.

The article points out that petroleum geologists need to know both the age of the rock strata and their thermal history. Too young, or too cool, and it will not have decomposed enough. Too old, or too warm, and it will have decomposed too much into bitumen, pitch, tar, asphalt and the like.

No it is not just a case of comparing rock strata with rock strata. It’s much more complex than that. A 100 million year old layer of shale and a 300 million year old layer of shale may yield completely different types of oil. Two 100 million year old layers of shale may yield completely different types of oil because they’ve been at different temperatures. One may even yield oil while the other does not. They need to construct models that take everything into account. Including the age of the rock strata.

OK, here’s where the rubber hits the road. If you don’t respond to anything else I’ve got to say in this reply, answer me this question. Are you able to name any companies that have managed to turn a profit by successfully finding oil using YEC models of how it is formed? Please give me their stock market identifiers so that I can buy shares in them.

$eriou$ly, thi$ i$ where the di$tinction between “operational $cience” and “hi$torical $cience” break$ down.

  1. “Evolutionists” do not search for oil deposits. Petroleum geologists search for oil deposits. Petroleum geologists are not motivated by a desire to prove evolution right; they are motivated by a desire to get the stuff out of the ground.
  2. Nobody uses carbon dating on rocks 4000 feet down. They use uranium-lead, rubidium-strontium, potassium-argon, argon-argon, lutetium-hafnium, and other rates of decay with long enough half lives to give meaningful results. The only carbon-14 to be found in rock samples that old is contamination.

No, he doesn’t follow preconceived notions, he takes measurements. The ages of rock samples are determined by measuring things. The claim that “evolutionists” date rocks based on preconceived notions is a lie.


I don’t know if parable is the word I would use, but yes, I do think it was not a material account, rather a function and purpose account, like the building of the tabernacle.

I do not agree with this. Why would God created a tree of life if we were immortal? I think God created us mortal, to depend on Him to live forever. Or possibly to eat of the tree of life and live forever. It was merciful of God to not allow us to eat of that fruit after sinning, so we don’t have a live an eternal life separate from Him. But now that we have acknowledged we can’t live apart from Him and we were create to live to glorify Him, in heaven, we will be able to eat of that fruit and live forever.

Science has nothing to do with knowledge of good and evil…That is like saying a thermometer can taste if an orange is good or not.

I am pretty sure that was stated as a parable. Luke 15:3 “Then Jesus told them this parable:” Vs 11 “Jesus continued:11-32”. Genesis wasn’t stated as a parable. It is a real account explaining why things are.

I can agree with that.

  1. I agree
    1b agree
  2. agree
    2b No, again, science is not good and evil. Nothing apart from God is good. If you use science to know how insanely complex and impressive God’s creation was/is, and He receives glory, science is good.
  3. agree
    3b I kind of agree that we are seeking to do things our own way, or our own logic as opposed to trusting God
  4. I don’t agree, why would there be a tree of life if everyone was immortal?
  5. I think it needs to be worded better. Men and woman are of equal value, just like a murdered and a petty snickers theft lives are valued equally in the eyes of God. But were were clearly not created equally in our roles. If that was true, God would have said something about cloning or copying Adam and then changing some things. He didn’t, He pulled from half of Adam, it was not good for man to be alone, man could not do the job properly by himself and needed a helper.

Yea, the Bible isn’t a science book, so there is nothing wrong with understanding the natural process of something, or using science to attain that knowledge. That doesn’t take anything away from God, but what we take away from God. If we say some singularity created us all and science shows that, that is bad, because it is taking the glory away from God.


I think all that “speak” means is to have intention. You can think that you want to say hello to someone, but they will not know this until you say it. You can think to move your arm and not move it, it isn’t until you actually move your arm, that anyone is aware of your thoughts. But if you just think that you want to move your arm and never do it, it doesn’t move.

I think “speaking” creation into being is just saying, there was a thought, and intent and we all know it now. Like “confessing with you mouth” isn’t required to be saved (or mute people would be screwed) rather it shows intent and belief.

I am doing a terrible job explaining that, but I hop you are understanding what I mean?

It isn’t just made up stories though. But it could be coming from a different perspective than you are used to living in this modern world.

If some tells you of a house they built and the foundation first, then the first floor they made a 14 x 14 room with nothing in it, and then a 8 x 8 room with pipes going to it, and a roof, how could you interpret it?

One could say, cool, now I know how to build a house. I need a foundation, and plumbing, and a roof. Should I build my own, should I move in here, I have no purpose, just a house.

The other could say, I understand a home was created, a space for one to rest, a room with water so one can cleanse ones self. One can feel safe and secure and dwell this home and invite others to enjoy it with me.

One is a material perspective, one is a function/purpose perspective, neither is lying, but only one understands the true meaning. Why build a house if not to live in it? It doesn’t say on the 6th day, God made more. It says He rested, He ruled, He moved in His temple, and allowed us to stay as guests.

Evolution is not my authority. It is a logic conclusion I came to with what natural process God possibly used to being about creation.

The authority it has, is the original meaning, the meaning that God created a place with function, and order. He was to rule over this temple/home with us as priest in this home.

Not how there are no seas in heaven Revelation. There are seas in the beginning. Seas represented disorder, God created order. Any Israelite or Babylonian would have understood this. The Bible was written to them, but it is written for all of us.

Any Jew would have recognized the word rest as a temple word.

Me too.

My main problem with AIG is this insane allegiance to it, seemingly more than God. Hard core literal Bible believing folks are the ONLY ones that AIG is going to “help”. But if they already know God, how can you help lead them to God? And anyone else who has an scientific intelligence and understands basic science knows the universe is billions of years old in measurement. So all AIG is doing is preaching to the choir, and alienating those who they are supposed to be reaching out towards.

I don’t care if you want to believe in YEC, you might be right. I don’t happen to think so, but only God one knows for certain. But attempting to ram YEC down the throat of a non-believer is not going to glorify God in any way, shape or form.

I am uncertain of this, I have thought this at one point in time. But Gen 3:22 kind of makes me not think that. “22 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.””

Like we were moral, and needed this thing to live forever and we could have ate it as a sinner?

They had different jobs/roles, or God just would have created 2 men to help out. Man needed woman to do what man couldn’t do. And women need man to do what they can’t do. One thing they can do together is to accept each other despite their flaws like in marriage is an example of Christ and the church. In seeing marriage, we can spill our the blessings of God to others.

What? Man never gained superiority?! That isn’t anywhere in the Bible. Woman was instructed to respect man, and man to love woman, roles were spelled out, but none is superior or inferior.

Was Jesus inferior to His disciples when He washed their feet and served them? Nor is a wife inferior to her husband when she serves him. Especially when she is serving him as God commanded to give glory to the Father. Jesus respected the Father, does that make Jesus inferior to the Father?

Neither is inferior by any means, but they are not equal. A tuperware is not something you would use at a fine dinning, but a crystal glass is not something you would take to a construction site. Different roles, both of great value where intended.

Do you think our biology changed when they sinned? Woman’s testosterone dropped and was exchanged for estrogen and they now have a MUCH harder time developing muscle? All because of the fall? Think that one through…

This could mean God made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and gave the purpose in 6 days. How long do you think it took to make the tabernacle? But it wasn’t complete until it had purpose and God rested in it. It was just a temp with expensive stuff inside of neat craftsmanship.
“Several ancient texts chronicle this ceremony as lasting seven days. During those seven days, the functions of the temple were identified, the functionaries installed, the priests commissioned and most importantly, that which represented God was brought into the center of the sacred space so that He could rest and be worshiped.”

Genesis was also 7 literal days…of inauguration, not material creation. Before the inaugural 7 days in Genesis billions of years could have occurred. The earth was set up, so was the sun, but before it had purpose, it was just useless stuff that showed neat craftsmanship.

Physical death is not the result of sin. Show a verse where this is said? The only verses I can think of are ones that say the wages of sin is death (meaning spiritual death), or else we would all be physically dead by now. There were all sorts of physical death before Adam and Eve, that is how God’s creation works, the whole nitrogen cycle.

Surely this cycle that we can know and test didn’t just start after the fall. Like God had to edit all of the physics He created to fit what man did. Physical death is never a bad thing (it is a blessing if nothing else, so we are not forced to live eternity in these flawed bodies, our lives belong to God, so taking that life from someone is a bad thing, only God has that right.

Jesus had to die, to become spiritual death (separation from God) for us. In order to do that, He had to physically die. But death could not hold Him! So He raised back to live, and symbolically, we can be buried with Him, and brought to life with Him, reconciled to God, no longer separate from Him, no longer spiritually dead.

There will be no spiritual death as we will be with God, and we will have access to the tree of life, so we can forever glorify Him!

Yes 1 Cor 15:26 The last enemy has been destroyed, it is death. We can no longer be separated from God, if we want to be with God! It goes onto say in vs 55-56 “Where, O death, is your victory?Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Hence when Jesus said “It is finished!” Because it has been.

Via eternal separation from God.

I believe that. Thankfully Dawkins doesn’t have scriptural authority. He can say whatever he wants about us, that doesn’t make it true. Dawkins does not understand God or the scriptures, so he has no clue what he is talking about with that statement.

They aren’t incompatible either. The Bible says nothing that says evolution it is incorrect. It doesn’t say it is correct either…it doesn’t say ANYTHING about science or biology or cosmological geography!

Could that master builder have used a billion sculptors to make it? I can assure you the master builders of the pyramids didn’t do it by themselves. The oversaw it, and should get all the credit for it, but the labor was done by many. Though I don’t really like that analogy.

You have heard the shaking a watch parts in a bucket a billion times could never make a watch analogy? I agree. BUT, one could have designed a watch that could assemble itself piece by piece while being shaken. Not a human, but that would be some incredible intellect to design that!

Or a computer programmer, that has all the steps and coding and writes it down, then hits the “on” button. Bits and bites go flying around and 0’s and 1’s make logic and groups of that logic makes programs and eventually, an operating system comes ‘alive’. So it took 5 billion transfers of bits or 1’s and 0’s to make what is now windows. It is a pointless thing to just sit there. But it only takes 7 days to explain it’s purpose and begin using it as it was intended.

That is evolution and big bang theory, a possible (explanation with strong logic behind it and science) explanation (not proven fact) of how God “coded” molecules and atoms to make the temple of our universe with Adam and Eve to live in it as guests as God rules it.

That is the best we can do, we have no other means of deciding this. The Bible is not a science book, or a book or cosmological geography, so how else would we come up with a theory?

Cool, I would then be able to learn a neat thing that God did and can praise Him for that. But the truths of God don’t change.

Maybe He isn’t trying to deceive us…or for that matter get across any material creation account. The ancients knew God created everything, they didn’t need a book to tell them this. They did however need a book to tell them WHY He created us.

I am not so certain of that. I think God was speaking to Job in a way he understood things. I think Job literally thought that the heavens had store houses, so God spoke in such a way. Not to say that this is scientifically true or a scientific statement made by God. If God started speaking of the rain cycle, Job would have been so bewildered.

The Bible was written for everyone, not to everyone.

(Daniel) #122

Unfortunately said article is not very useful for you argument… If you read it carefully, you will find nothing in it proving that petroleum geologists who are creationists have any more difficulty finding oil than evolutionist petroleum geologists.

Yes, the article says that petroleum geologists “need” to know both the age of the rock strata and their thermal history etc etc. But is that really true? Also the article really never says anything about how the age of a rock is determined and what it does say just goes to prove my point.

Nobody uses carbon dating or uranium-lead or rubidium stontium or potassium-argon, argon argon, lutetium-hlfnium etc… in the initial search for oil… In order to map an oil field and determine location of possible well sights “Petroleum Geologists” measure the density of underground rocks by sending radio waves into the ground and measuring the speed with which they reflect back to the surface. This can be done quickly and easily from a plane (which obtains what’s called “aeromagnetic” data), or it can be done from the surface.
They definitely aren’t drilling 4000 ft wells everywhere to get a little rock sample and then doing their dating on it to determine if the rock is good for oil… that would be far to costly. (the point obviously wasn’t carbon dating the dating method is irrelevant to the argument)

This is a classic example of TE’s skirting the argument. No matter how many times it is disguised a rock is still rock… How do you think the dating method can differentiate between the different types of rock? Well, its the physical properties of the rocks themselves. There is not a “spiritual” rock nature that an evolutionary petroleum geologist can somehow connect with that a YECs petroleum geologist can’t determine? (inform me perhaps that is what you believe?)

A YEC pg can easily use the same “dating” methods and other methods as well to observe the difference btw. two rocks. She doesn’t need to draw historical conclusions from the differences observed, merely scientific and analytical conclusions. (Not to say that she doesn’t have her own ideas about the historical age of the rocks but the physical difference is the only important thing for her to be able to do her job.)

The only difference between the YEC’s petroleum geologist method and the Evolutionists petroleum geologists method for determining which are oil rocks is that the Evolutionist petroleum geologist labels the rock with a date, a very big date with lots of zeroes… The YECs pg cuts to the quick and calls an oil rock an oil rock.

Alright so I can’t believe you said this:

and then you said this…

I agree with bold and that is why you won’t find any company on the market that makes a huge deal about using YEC methods or Evolutionary methods the point is find the oil… and make money…

Like indicated above, there really is no difference btw the YEC pg’s method of finding oil and the evolutionist pg’s method of finding oil, except that YEC’s pg’s documentation tends to be a lot less encumbered with 0’s behind their dates. Save on paper work save money, a win win!

(Daniel) #123

God saw that it was good. and the evening and the morning were the… Would God have seen death and said that is good?

Did God create death? Then it must be a “good” thing when people die? And if God created the evolutionary process then he is an awfully cannibalistic and terrible God. God created a world in which the weak and helpless can do nothing. Is it part of the “good” of evolution that the weaker of the species are condemned to be supplanted by the stronger?

Why would God die on the cross to abolish death…

I Corinthians 15:55, 56, 57

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin: and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory

through our Lord Jesus Christ.

So you would console someone who has just lost a loved one and is weeping uncontrollably. Don’t worry person, death is a good thing…

What is death then independent from God? How do you explain it, it certainly isn’t good?