Disproving Creationism: Hurdle 2 The interpretation of Genesis

Last time I noted three problems that one must jump to logically combine evolutionary thought with Christian thought. Thus, the question is one of trying to be consistently Christian and combining this with evolutionary thought. They were:

  1. Evolution must be demonstrated scientifically rather than philosophically.
  2. They must develop a viable interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2 within the confines of grammatical/historical interpretation.
  3. They must present a viable answer to the questions raised for Biblical Theology and Systematic theology.

Today I am looking at Hurdle number 2.

  1. They must develop a viable interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2 within the confines of grammatical/historical interpretation.

The major problem with discussions of Genesis one by old earth Creationists is that their application of the rules of interpretation are different when it comes to Genesis 1 and 2 from other parts of the book of Genesis (I sometimes use Genesis 24 as an example). Many people will argue, for example, that Genesis 1:11 is not meant to be taken literally, but will assume that discussions involving Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are. Yet, we cannot take this text in terms of allegory because we have no contextual clues within Genesis 1 to indicate it is allegory,[1] and there is no “shift” in the type of literature. One might argue that this is true of the entire book of Genesis, but this misses two major points. First, Genesis is taken as historical in the rest of the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament), and so one is forced very quickly by this logic to assume the entire Old Testament historical books are allegorical. Yet, this does not fit the discussion of Jesus, Himself about these books. Second, the Torah is written in the format of a Hittite Suzereignty treaty, and the first part of this type of literature is a discussion of the history of the parties. Allegorizing the text, then is out.

Similarly, approaches such as the day-age hypothesis (which assumes the days of Genesis are not literal twenty-four hour days) fails the hermeneutical test, because it requires one to violate the rule of context. Genesis 1:3-5 clearly identifies the day and night with the cycle of light and darkness. It is difficult to conceive of anything other than a literal twenty-four hour day given this statement within the context.

Other attempts have been made, but usually they also fall afoul of the details. The gap theory is based on an error in the understanding of the Hebrew underlying the text. Similarly, I recently listened Hugh Ross speaking on his conversation on the basis of his work from Genesis 1. I am profoundly grateful the man came to Christ, do not get me wrong. butRoss’s work with the text has some serious issues. In that disucssion he makes a number of claims about the meaning of Genesis 1 – but grammatically, his assertions don’t work.[2] While I am not an expert on Hebrew Grammar, it doesn’t take one long to realize he is out of his depth in the interpretation of Genesis 1. Similarly there are contextual issues with Ross’s analysis.[3]

So far, those who try to correlate evolution to Christianity fail in their exegesis of Genesis 1. Next time we will look at their failure with the rest of Scripture.

            [1] There are allegories and symbols of course in Scripture, however, they usually occur either in the context of a vision or in the context of an indirect discourse, such as a parable. Often they are clearly labeled as such, and often the meaning is provided within the context itself, or the meaning was obvious to those at the historical time of the writing.

            [2] For example, he discusses the importance of the existence of multiple heavens, and that the Hebrew term is in the plural. The problem is that the plural number in Hebrew does not always mean that there is more than one of something. In the case of the heavens, this is known as the “plural of expanse” and may indicate a very large surface.

[3] Ross argues, for example, that day two is the beginning of the water cycle. Yet, Genesis 2:5-6 indicates that the water cycle did not function the same way before the flood as it did after the flood.

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