The “One Thing” Behind the Genesis Debate

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Talk about timing. This is exactly what I was thinking about as I drove into work this morning.

And I always love the use of a good movie quote. :slight_smile:

To many readers, its completely obvious that the early Chapters of Genesis were never intended as a chronological scientific account, given the audience and content of the text, not to mention the higher theological purpose it seems to serve. But what’s obvious for some of us is obviously unacceptable to someone who views the text as necessarily perfect by every standard (artistic, moral, historical, scientific, mathematical, modern…).

It’s helpful to bridge the gap by pointing out that we have a common need to lean on hermeneutics when dealing with any text. While I’m fully on board with what this article is saying, it would have been nice to explore exactly what unnoticed hermeneutical decisions are actually being made by YECs.

It’s one thing to confidently tell someone that they are unknowingly applying their own interpretative framework and another to explain exactly what linguistic and cultural biases they are smuggling into the text.

The other point that I think needs to be made is that most YECs are suspicious of what motive is driving the interpretative conclusions of ECs, and this suspicion is understandable. They note that the EC interpretations tend to lean towards reducing any possible conflict between scientific findings and the text of Genesis, whereas their own interpretation doesn’t obviously do this. This isn’t completely accurate, since all sorts of ideas (hyper-evolution, ice-ages etc) are imported into the Genesis text in order to turn it into a smooth and apparently scientific account, but it still seems to be true at first blush.

Because of this, even when other ANE literature is carefully taken into account, scholarly works that have less of a stake in science are looked to and genre clues are taken seriously, the EC position still sounds suspicious to most YECs, and I can see why the argument in the article has trouble gaining traction.

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For starters, it’s not at all intuitively obvious that Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 should be read non-chronologically, despite the traditional interpretation that they refer to the same story. It’s pretty weird to jump back in time when you hit Gen 2 and tell the creation of humans twice! How do these ‘just read it’ interpreters know that the two “creations” of humans aren’t sequential?

True enough, although given that other books in the Bible that have historical content (like Matthew for example) are thought to often arrange material thematically or aesthetically instead of chronologically - and this is used as an apologetic response to the synoptic problem - it might not be seen as a problem to solve Genesis 1-2 in the same way. The idea of taking a non-chronological approach to one of these two chapters is a possible solution no matter what view you take on creation, since its strange from either perspective that the final editor of the Genesis text would not try to resolve obvious discrepancies like this if chronology was a real concern.


…still, I agree with you, this is a good example of a common layer of interpretation that is added by YEC apologists. It isn’t a straightforward reading, but it does seem to be within the range of what is acceptable for a literalist.

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