In the below discussion (see “Ardi = Eve?”) there is one singular point that I wanted to make and that I trust that I am qualified to make: Genesis 1 & 2 are not incompatible with the theory of evolution.
Let me state what this does not mean that I am saying:
(1) That Gen 1 & 2 describe evolution.
(2) That Gen 1 & 2 cannot be read as support for young earth/six-day creationism.
(3) That I understand the process of evolution in a very detailed way.
(4) That I can explain exactly where in Gen 1 & 2 that the author parallels Darwin.
All I am saying is that the biblical language is vague enough that evolution could be true and it would not necessarily be in conflict with the biblical text. It would be in conflict with some reading of the text, but not the actually words of the text.
Does this help at all?
Though I am extremely glad many evangelicals are accepting evolution, on the previous post someone asked an important question, that ironically conservatives ask of you, but non-believers ask for a different reason:
Evangelical Christians have already been asking these questions. I am willing to accept the Exodus as historical. Jericho may be historical with a sense of linguistic hyperbole. The flood may be described using hyperbole while still having been a large, localized flood that wiped out much of an early population.
The Exodus and the fish, for instance, are not scientific. That is why they are depicted as miraculous. We cannot go back to see if the Red Sea parted or if God misused a fish to save a prophet. We can go back to see how the earth developed or the size of Jericho. Those things that seem to be contrary to the Bible because of particular evidence may have to be re-read. Those things that cannot be proven or dis-proven may be believed or disbelieved.
Then again, there are times when particular hints within the text show us only that we have misread the text, not that the text itself was mistaken (e.g. some made Goliath over 10 ft, others have him around 8 ft; some have “giants” in Gen. 6, others just a race of people called “Nephilim”).
I totally get looking at the bible as myths with messages.
But you see the history of 2,000 years of people fighting the literalists. And finally they have given in. Ironically your view of the Bible is in major debt to Atheists (and some liberal Christians) who did not fear questioning the “sacred” texts.
I agree that the early writers probably did not intend them literal either.
But with such an open field of myth vs metaphor vs fact leaves the possible theologies wide open. Which I don’t have trouble with either.
I am very glad that Christians like you have moved away from literalistic and now appreciate both scientific and good historical research.
PS- go ahead and delete the double post
arrrgggghhh — you haven’t turned off the nested comments yet !
I want to clarify that I do not understand my own approach to be a Bultmann-esqu demythologization of the Scriptures. I do not reject the Exodus, or the Flood, or the fish of Jonah, or the collapse of Jericho. I am saying that the flood may have covered the “world” as understood by the ancients and Jericho may have been massive compared to cities of that time. Therefore, by our own standards we can only understand the language as hyperbole.
I must confess that I have actually grown to like the nested comment. My apologies to those who use things like Blackberry. I am not technologically advanced enough to have anything other than a laptop so it does not both me as it may bother you.
Same happens in my e-mail. I see a comment come up and I think, “Yeah, I like that, I will respond” but I go back to the post and can’t find it.
Also, I was showing my wife the conversation but since responses aren’t in order of time, it is actually hard to follow many nuances of the conversation.
I know it is hard to convert once you have bought into and are invested in a system ! (snicker)
So you are mythically inclined in Genesis but until you read more or learn more about the Exodus story, your default is literalism. But like I said, I think that is a very modern approach and not the mode of the writers of your documents.
Do you feel a tension there?
There is always tension when it comes to reading the Scriptures! If I thought Gen. 1 & 2 were meant to be read as I think the Exodus narrative is meant to be read I would apply the same hermeneutic. I personally do not think Gen. 1 is Mosaic in authorship. Following an acquaintance of mine I think someone like Ezra added it later as a “prelude” to the Book of Moses (Gen.-Deut.), therefore I do not think that the same author wrote Gen. 1 and the Exodus narrative.
I think I am closer on Gen. 2 in my hermeneutic to the Exodus than I am w. Gen 1. Why? Because I think Gen. 1 is poetic and Gen. 2 is narrative. I think Gen. 2 attempts to explain the “creation” of humanity using word pictures the author and audience would have understood. This is not an attempt to present a scientific moment-by-moment explanation of how Adam came to be and how Eve came to be. Rather, it uses the language and terminology of the day to convey that Israel’s God created the world and all people.
It may be that Gen. 2 does depict how humans came to be and I do not leave that option out. On the other hand, being created “from earth” is vague enough to allow for evolution. From the man’s side on the other hand may cause more problems as relates to Eve’s creation.
Exodus on the other hand is hard to read as being figurative. Either the Red Sea parted or it did not. I cannot do the same thing Exodus as I do w. Gen 2.
I’m sorry to jump into your discussion, and probably won’t follow up due to lack of time. Sorry!
Exactly! It’s all about genre. Genre! Genre! Genre! Too many people (Christian and not), read the text as though it’s all intended to be read in the same way…what a pity!
Pre-modern exegetes realized that Genesis 1-11 was meant to be read differently than the rest of the book, so doing so is by no means a “very modern approach” (if anything, reading it strictly literally was a modernistic response). In fact, allegorical/figurative readings of the Creation narrative are more common in church history (and Jewish history) than literal ones.
Reading the Midrashic literature, or much of the second temple texts will show anyone truly interested, that the OT has always been interpreted in various creative ways and “history” (as we understand it…which will surely change again in future generations) was never in mind.
I’d even argue that evangelical (and pre-evangelical) interpretations of the Creation narrative have not always been literalistic (i.e. supporting Young Earth Creationism). Noll’s work on the topic is helpful. Personally, the more I read of late 19th century and 20th century theologians, the more I realize that their views on Creation were highly nuanced, reflective and in no way feared what science may show about the world.
Ultimately, Genesis is a theological document, not historical/scientific or whatever else we may want it to be. It is intended to teach us about God, and I’m of the opinion that it does (in many of the ways you have already mentioned in this and the previous post).
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