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Genesis must be literal (EvoWiki)

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Response Article

This article (Genesis must be literal (EvoWiki)) is a response to an evolutionary or anticreation assertion that was published on the EvoWiki website.


If any creationist, by making this claim, thinks that all the Bible is to be taken literally they would not be representing the mainstream creationist view that CreationWiki promotes. Creationist's should suggest an exegesis containing a critical historical-grammatical objective method of interpretation regarding biblical passages. One common thing that people forget is that the Bible is made up of 66 books which are at times written in different literary styles. For example, the Psalms are written in a poetic and musical type of fashion. People also tend to disregard, when taking the Bible literally, that in our modern day, just as it was in ancient times biblical authors use what they consider modern idioms and metaphors. The meaning of those idioms or metaphors can be defined by immediate textual context.

1. This claim suggests that the person has not actually read the Bible (with all its poetry, metaphors, etc.) or looked into the history of the various interpretations/redactions/translations.

It is Genesis that is of concern, not "the Bible". Genesis is almost entirely history, although there is some poetry.

EvoWiki is basing the last part of this on a typical skeptical view that the Bible has gone through various changes, including the inference that it has been through a series of translations like the game of "Chinese whispers". However, contrary to this inference, although there have been many translations into English and other languages, modern translations are direct translations from manuscripts in the original languages (primarily Hebrew and Greek).

The Israelites, revering the Bible as the Word of God, were very concerned with preserving it unaltered, and employed various mechanisms to ensure its accurate transmission. Thus claims or inferences of it having changed over time by any more than a non-trivial extent are without foundation. Any document may be open to some interpretation, but if language has meaning at all, written documents must be understandable with at least a fair degree of certainty. Most of the main points of the historical narrative in Genesis are sufficiently clear to be understood by anybody fluent with the language.

2. Even if the Bible were "straighforward (sic) narrative", this wouldn't tell us anything about its truth or otherwise.

No, but this statement is not a part of the claim. EvoWiki has taken this claim out of context, thus turning it into something that it is not. Biblical creationists use this argument in the context of refuting claims—usually from old-Earth creationists and theistic evolutionists—that Genesis doesn't actually teach a young Earth because it is poetic, metaphorical, or otherwise not actual history. Contrary to EvoWiki's point, they don't use the claim to attempt to prove that the Bible is true.

3. The first and second chapters of Genesis actually give differing accounts as to the order that God made the various things.

The first chapter of Genesis is written as a chronological account of creation. The second chapter is not. Skeptics are not interested in any harmonization that is possible between the two creation accounts. They prefer to find any possible differences that can be exploited. The second account has a closer look at some of the details of the first account, from a different, and non-chronological, perspective. There is no necessary incompatibility between the accounts. (see Alleged contradictions)

4. The Lord of the Rings is a straightforward narrative, but we all know it isn't historically true.

This is a restatement of point 2.

References