Of course! I was just trying to illuminate why natural history is a reasonable and accurate term to use.
The Bible is, perhaps, about how to be human. It’s not about how we became human. It summarizes many things not relevant to the main purpose of the text, or does not mention them at all. Just from reading the Bible, would we have any idea that we are made up of cells, and that these cells have mitochondria and nucleii with DNA in them, and cell membranes and ribosomes and the endoplasmic reticulum? Of course not. All that stuff is left to human ingenuity and perseverance to find out about.
But the Bible tells us not to fall into goofy superstitious explanations, not to worship pagan gods or golden calves or other false idols. It tells us to see reality as it is, not as we would like it to be. And it tells us to be honest with ourselves and others when we seek truth, and without that, how far would science ever have gotten? Even if someone figured out something brilliant, it’s worth nothing if others refuse to see it as true and pass it on.
The Bible doesn’t tell us how many planets there are or the structure of an atom. Nobody expects it to. It would be bizarre if it did.
There are interesting questions in this day and age about what kinds of questions are best solved by computers vs. what kinds of questions the human brain still outperforms computers in. I do not think it is simple hubris to put higher value on the kinds of thinking that a computer cannot do for you, easily or at all. And I think the wisdom of the Bible—the kinds of things God would consider it important to convey—falls almost entirely on this higher, more complex, non-computational level. I think trying to apply nitpicky factoid-based error-searching the way we critique a science paper is so totally pointless and counterproductive to actually getting anything out of the Bible that you might as well be trying to use a jet engine for brain surgery. It’s nothing against jet engines, which are marvels of engineering, and it’s not that we shouldn’t be trying to do brain surgery, either. It’s about recognizing appropriate tools for the job.
I think the ancient Hebrews who wrote the Bible did a remarkably good job of not including a lot of fanciful myths which we know were floating around neighboring cultures at the time. And yet they weren’t perfect, and God didn’t try to make them write like they were all-knowing: that would be ridiculous. Early Genesis in particular is obviously something that went through many generations of (likely oral) transmission before being written down by Moses or even later writers, not something recorded by any human who had any reason to be there. And yet apart from the sea monsters, the talking snake, and the flaming sword—
Ok, I just talked myself out of the argument I was about to make.
Instead, let’s say you take a poll of reputable biologists on the subject of whether snakes can talk. Nearly all of them agree that snake dentition, oral structure, and vocal cords (not to mention brains) are totally unsuitable for talking. Do you:
A. Conclude that the biologists are part of an atheist conspiracy,
B. Conclude that the Bible is wrong and you must become an atheist,
C. Conclude that anything is possible with a miracle from God,
D. Conclude that it is a figurative snake, or
E. Conclude that it is a figurative snake and also it is the Devil.
Here’s the great part about this example: nobody needed modern biologists to tell them that snakes can’t, as a rule, talk, so theologians have a well-established tradition in place that it was not a simple, ordinary snake. We are used to this ‘conflict’ and everybody’s pretty much fine with it.
Ancient Greek science and the early church fathers supposed that future generations were all miniaturized and contained in semen. So it made sense to them that when Adam sinned, we all sinned “in him.” Modern explanations of original sin would do better to reject the biological, genetic idea of sin entirely. Sin is something you do, not something you are.
And the opportunity for sin coincided exactly with the opportunity or capacity for us to be good: for us to be gardeners for God, to care for and cultivate the tree of knowledge, and ultimately to look at and fully absorb what good and evil are, and to choose between them. That didn’t go well the first time around. It continued not going well until Jesus, as the Bible documents extensively. It’s hard to see what relevance the question of whether God made us out of monkeys or mud has to the point of the story.
Adam was called to a higher purpose than his neighbors by God. After an unspecified but presumably short period of time, he fudged it up and lost all opportunity for Life. His descendants continued in cycles of successes and failures, and got thoroughly mixed together with everybody else.
I think the original impetus for seeing Gen 1&2 as the same story probably had a lot to do with wanting to make the theological point that all humans are related to each other and that sin (and the need for redemption) is universal to the human condition. The question we need to ask ourselves is whether we can still arrive at those conclusions without the belief that Adam and Eve are the sole progenitors of the human race. I think science amply demonstrates the relatedness of all humans, and if you believe in sin at all, that, too, has pretty plainly spread univerally, even without being genetically transmittable.
I feel a bit as though I’m swinging in the dark, trying to guess what specific things in Genesis you’re hanging up on currently, but this post has gotten more than long enough and I see you’ve started a new thread now, so I will conclude that means it’s time for me to be done with it and hit post.