In case you hadn’t noticed, there is a difference of opinion on how to interpret the early chapters of Genesis, especially the creation stories. Some believe that the Genesis accounts are historical narratives of actual events. They insist that the world was created in six twenty-four hour days.
Others believe that the creation story is a myth written to communicate higher truths. There is no historical merit to the story. In fact, the story itself is contradictory. I happened upon a piece by Doug Linder, a law professor at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, in relation to the Scopes Monkey trial. It gives an excellent summary of how some scholars interpret the authorship of the Genesis creation accounts and the contradictions they see:
“How could anyone not see the contradictions? Most obviously, the order of creation is different in the two stories. In the six-day creation story, the order of creation is plants, birds and fish, mammals and reptiles, and finally man to reign over all created before him, while in the Adam and Eve story, the creation order is reversed, with man coming first, then plants and animals. The two creation stories also have different narrative rhythms, different settings, and different names for God. In the six-day story, the creation of humanity occurs through a single act and the creator, seeming more cosmic than human-like, is present only through a series of commands. In the Adam and Eve story, on the other hand, man and woman are created through two separate acts and God is present in a hands-on, intimate way. The pre-creation setting in the six-day story is a watery chaos, while in the Adam and Eve version, the setting before creation is a dry dessert. Finally, in the six-day story, the creator is called “Elohim,” while in the other version of events, the creator is “the Lord God” (“Yahweh”).”
I have found few scholars of any stripe who do not acknowledge the poetic structure and style of the Genesis 1 account. But is it completely metaphorical?
I grew up believing that the Genesis stories were more or less factual. As I became an adult, I concluded that the stories must be mostly metaphorical. Then, a few years ago, I came across work done by astronomer Hugh Ross, Ph.D. I would characterize Ross’ perspective as an old earth creationist. His view on evolution is not what concerns me here. What I do want to focus on is the correspondence he sees between current scientific knowledge and the creation story in the Bible.
I used his book The Genesis Question: Scientific Advances and the Accuracy of Genesis in a men’s study at church which included an MIT trained astronomer. He essentially confirmed Ross’s scientific claims made about the earth’s formation and development, as well as the sequence and timing of appearances for various life forms. I have personally double checked some of Ross’ claims and have found them to be quite accurate.
To be sure, the Genesis accounts are not science or pure history. Still, over the next few posts I want to review the Genesis account of creation along side our present scientific understanding of how the world and life came to be. I will rely heavily on Ross’s work but I take responsibility for all the claims made. Tell me what you think.