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Genesis 1: the obvious reading??

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I have not had much luck on this forum with starting new threads; but we'll see. 

 

It has been claimed on this site that Genesis 1 is "obviously" pure narrative.  By pure narrative I mean that the genre of the text excludes the following: allegory, poetic liturgy, myth etc.  I will not delay in defining those terms.  I only want to deal with the contention that it is "obviously narrative".

 

Elsewhere I proposed that YEC is based not primarily on exegesis but on something akin to fear.  I will not delay my reasons with apologies to those offended: I doubt apologies would soften the insult (though it was not intended as an insult). Nor will I labor the point that I am not necessarily an OEC; I think the YEC interpretation dead wrong, but I don't necessarily think that the scientists are right.
 
The real logic that I see operating among the YECs goes something like this, “Unless Genesis 1 is mere narrative depicting creation occurring over 6, 24 hour days, then nothing else in the Bible can be trusted as infallible.”  Thus the safest approach to Genesis if faith is to be sustained is to regard it as mere narrative.  Every other argument, whether scientific or exegetical, rests upon this foundation.  That is, the YEC begins first with the need for Genesis 1 to be mere history; then proceeds to look for the “proofs” that it is so. But of course all exegesis or science performed after the conclusion is formed is nothing more than a charade; everything becomes evidence in favor of the verdict, for desperation can find almost anything almost anywhere. 
 
I believe my proposal is corroborated by the habit of declaring the laws of physics inoperative whenever something astonishingly incongruent to our experience of the natural world is described in Genesis 1.  It is, or appears to me to be, a desperate maneuver.  When asked, “Why, if the laws of physics are good now, should God not have applied them at the start?” the common answer is “I let God be God” or “it is a mystery.”  Of course there are real mysteries of the faith and it is wise to recognize them.  But in a debate, this is the last card to be thrown down and one must be extremely cautious before doing so. Lay it down too early and everyone will see how weak your hand is.
 
Of course much of what I have just accused YECs could be accused of OECs and me (to distinguish myself from them): do we not want Genesis 1 to be something other than mere history?  Do we not come to the text already biased?  For my part, I don’t think so. I was not raised in a context where science and Scripture were at war: I never felt that other parts of Scripture were threatened by a non-literal reading of Genesis 1. But to show this I would like to try an experiment: I would like to simulate a “first-time reading of Genesis 1”.  The premise is this, “We are reading the Bible for the first time, with little training in languages and a smattering of science derived from experience and, say, a few Gen ed classes at the local college—with this question before us: is this intended as mere history, or as something else—a kind of poetry, or a kind of myth?”  For the general contention by YEC is that “it is so obvious a 12 year old can see it.” I am not sure I would allow a 12 year old to lead me in a Bible study.  But the point is clear.  Even a cursory reading of Genesis should make it obvious that the genre is mere narrative.  Let’s attempt a cursory reading with the basic education of an adult.
 
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters."
 
 
It is near impossible to imagine such a conglomeration of unformed matter hanging out in infinite space.  Do we still have a spherical object before us?  No, for the dome (the expanse) will not yet be created until day 2.  What is it then that keeps the waters from drifting off.  More so, how is it that the waters are not frozen at absolute 0?
 
My immediate response to these questions is, “Perhaps we are not dealing with that kind of text.”  But it is claimed by YECs that the “obvious” answer that should come to mind is, “Clearly the laws of physics were inoperative or different back then.”  But I for one would never have even thought of that answer, let alone affirm it, unless I already had decided upon the question of what genre this text is—but the assertion we are dealing with is that the text declares itself to be pure narrative, and that obviously so; and the point of this experiment is to see how it “clearly is a narrative”.  So far it is “clearly” very unclear what kind of genre it is; but pure narrative would not be my first bet.
 
We can move on to the first day,  
 
And God said, a"Let there be light," and there was light.
 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.
 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
 (Gen 1:3-5 ESV)
 
We have source-less light; a phenomenon absolutely unknown to me and probably all humanity.  Not only that, but we have darkness somehow impregnable to the light, yet without the moon or any other object to block it.  What is it that keeps the light from penetrating and filling the darkness?  Again, how is there morning and evening (an alteration between light and darkness) without a sun around which the earth (still domeless) can move?
 
Of course there are all kinds of ingenious ways around this and, I admit, it has been fun to assume the viewpoint of a YEC and generate them: if I had begun with the “need” for this to be pure narrative, it would not only be fun but absolutely necessary.  But remember, we are coming at this text without the question of genre already answered.  And already by day two I find it less and less “obvious” that God has given us pure narrative—scientific speculations might alleviate most, if not all, of the apparent absurdities; but why should I resort to those kinds of speculation?  That is, why resort to them unless I already assume it was narrative before reading the text?
 
Day 2 I see little problems with; but I am not trying very hard.  This is a cursory reading and I am only looking at “obvious” features.
 
Day 3 We have plant life growing at an incredible rate—a rate without testimony in all of history (except, of course, here) and growing without heat.  Can God do this?  Of course!  But why should I assume He has?  I would only jump to that answer if I began this reading insisting I was embarking upon mere narrative.  But the point of the exercise is not to find out how it is narrative; we want to find out whether it is narrative.
 
Day 4 (and I am done).  Luminaries set in the sky.  I confess I do not know what gravitational effects such a sudden appearance of enormous matter in our proximity would have on us—perhaps none.  I will leave that alone.  I am told by the scientists that the stars are billions of miles away and that even light must take its time in getting here.  This creates something of a problem; the stars are for signs and seasons.  That is, they have a functional role in man’s life on earth.  But man is about to make his appearance in less than 72 hours and that means the stellar light will be rather tardy in fulfilling their roles!  The YECs would have me believe that the obvious answer is, “not only were the luminaries created instantly, but the light was created as already reaching us.  This raises a few questions for me: if light is created as already reaching me, at some point it must assume its normal behavior of ‘C’.  But that would mean that at some point it must, relatively speaking, begin to crawl across space.  And until it reaches me, we have no stars in the night sky; and therefore no functional signs.  
 
But there is no end to the ingenious ways of wiggling out of these discrepancies; my question is (and has been) why do I need to invoke scientific speculation, unless I have come to the text determined that it is pure narrative?  When I come to the text without that question already answered, I do not find that I am "obviously" dealing with “mere narrative”.  Perhaps it is mere narrative; I am not excluding that from the possibilities.  But it is not “obviously” narrative.  There is enough doubt to search for other possibilities. And if other genres make better sense of the text, if they answer more problems than raise them, then (is this Occam’s razor?) it is time abandon the suggestion that it is mere narrative.
 
In short, the YECs begin their exegesis by begging the question.
 
Side note: It would be an interesting exercise for YECs to count how many current laws of physics are broken in the first 6 days of creation. 
 
Anyhow, thoughts (better hurry up though, this thread is probably up for a limited time).
 
clb
 
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I have not had much luck on this forum with starting new threads; but we'll see. 

 

It has been claimed on this site that Genesis 1 is "obviously" pure narrative.  By pure narrative I mean that the genre of the text excludes the following: allegory, poetic liturgy, myth etc.  I will not delay in defining those terms.  I only want to deal with the contention that it is "obviously narrative".

 

Elsewhere I proposed that YEC is based not primarily on exegesis but on something akin to fear.  I will not delay my reasons with apologies to those offended: I doubt apologies would soften the insult (though it was not intended as an insult). Nor will I labor the point that I am not necessarily an OEC; I think the YEC interpretation dead wrong, but I don't necessarily think that the scientists are right.
 
The real logic that I see operating among the YECs goes something like this, “Unless Genesis 1 is mere narrative depicting creation occurring over 6, 24 hour days, then nothing else in the Bible can be trusted as infallible.”  Thus the safest approach to Genesis if faith is to be sustained is to regard it as mere narrative.  Every other argument, whether scientific or exegetical, rests upon this foundation.  That is, the YEC begins first with the need for Genesis 1 to be mere history; then proceeds to look for the “proofs” that it is so. But of course all exegesis or science performed after the conclusion is formed is nothing more than a charade; everything becomes evidence in favor of the verdict, for desperation can find almost anything almost anywhere. 
 
I believe my proposal is corroborated by the habit of declaring the laws of physics inoperative whenever something astonishingly incongruent to our experience of the natural world is described in Genesis 1.  It is, or appears to me to be, a desperate maneuver.  When asked, “Why, if the laws of physics are good now, should God not have applied them at the start?” the common answer is “I let God be God” or “it is a mystery.”  Of course there are real mysteries of the faith and it is wise to recognize them.  But in a debate, this is the last card to be thrown down and one must be extremely cautious before doing so. Lay it down too early and everyone will see how weak your hand is.
 
Of course much of what I have just accused YECs could be accused of OECs and me (to distinguish myself from them): do we not want Genesis 1 to be something other than mere history?  Do we not come to the text already biased?  For my part, I don’t think so. I was not raised in a context where science and Scripture were at war: I never felt that other parts of Scripture were threatened by a non-literal reading of Genesis 1. But to show this I would like to try an experiment: I would like to simulate a “first-time reading of Genesis 1”.  The premise is this, “We are reading the Bible for the first time, with little training in languages and a smattering of science derived from experience and, say, a few Gen ed classes at the local college—with this question before us: is this intended as mere history, or as something else—a kind of poetry, or a kind of myth?”  For the general contention by YEC is that “it is so obvious a 12 year old can see it.” I am not sure I would allow a 12 year old to lead me in a Bible study.  But the point is clear.  Even a cursory reading of Genesis should make it obvious that the genre is mere narrative.  Let’s attempt a cursory reading with the basic education of an adult.
 
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters."
 
 
It is near impossible to imagine such a conglomeration of unformed matter hanging out in infinite space.  Do we still have a spherical object before us?  No, for the dome (the expanse) will not yet be created until day 2.  What is it then that keeps the waters from drifting off.  More so, how is it that the waters are not frozen at absolute 0?
 
My immediate response to these questions is, “Perhaps we are not dealing with that kind of text.”  But it is claimed by YECs that the “obvious” answer that should come to mind is, “Clearly the laws of physics were inoperative or different back then.”  But I for one would never have even thought of that answer, let alone affirm it, unless I already had decided upon the question of what genre this text is—but the assertion we are dealing with is that the text declares itself to be pure narrative, and that obviously so; and the point of this experiment is to see how it “clearly is a narrative”.  So far it is “clearly” very unclear what kind of genre it is; but pure narrative would not be my first bet.
 
We can move on to the first day,  
 
And God said, a"Let there be light," and there was light.
 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.
 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
 (Gen 1:3-5 ESV)
 
We have source-less light; a phenomenon absolutely unknown to me and probably all humanity.  Not only that, but we have darkness somehow impregnable to the light, yet without the moon or any other object to block it.  What is it that keeps the light from penetrating and filling the darkness?  Again, how is there morning and evening (an alteration between light and darkness) without a sun around which the earth (still domeless) can move?
 
Of course there are all kinds of ingenious ways around this and, I admit, it has been fun to assume the viewpoint of a YEC and generate them: if I had begun with the “need” for this to be pure narrative, it would not only be fun but absolutely necessary.  But remember, we are coming at this text without the question of genre already answered.  And already by day two I find it less and less “obvious” that God has given us pure narrative—scientific speculations might alleviate most, if not all, of the apparent absurdities; but why should I resort to those kinds of speculation?  That is, why resort to them unless I already assume it was narrative before reading the text?
 
Day 2 I see little problems with; but I am not trying very hard.  This is a cursory reading and I am only looking at “obvious” features.
 
Day 3 We have plant life growing at an incredible rate—a rate without testimony in all of history (except, of course, here) and growing without heat.  Can God do this?  Of course!  But why should I assume He has?  I would only jump to that answer if I began this reading insisting I was embarking upon mere narrative.  But the point of the exercise is not to find out how it is narrative; we want to find out whether it is narrative.
 
Day 4 (and I am done).  Luminaries set in the sky.  I confess I do not know what gravitational effects such a sudden appearance of enormous matter in our proximity would have on us—perhaps none.  I will leave that alone.  I am told by the scientists that the stars are billions of miles away and that even light must take its time in getting here.  This creates something of a problem; the stars are for signs and seasons.  That is, they have a functional role in man’s life on earth.  But man is about to make his appearance in less than 72 hours and that means the stellar light will be rather tardy in fulfilling their roles!  The YECs would have me believe that the obvious answer is, “not only were the luminaries created instantly, but the light was created as already reaching us.  This raises a few questions for me: if light is created as already reaching me, at some point it must assume its normal behavior of ‘C’.  But that would mean that at some point it must, relatively speaking, begin to crawl across space.  And until it reaches me, we have no stars in the night sky; and therefore no functional signs.  
 
But there is no end to the ingenious ways of wiggling out of these discrepancies; my question is (and has been) why do I need to invoke scientific speculation, unless I have come to the text determined that it is pure narrative?  When I come to the text without that question already answered, I do not find that I am "obviously" dealing with “mere narrative”.  Perhaps it is mere narrative; I am not excluding that from the possibilities.  But it is not “obviously” narrative.  There is enough doubt to search for other possibilities. And if other genres make better sense of the text, if they answer more problems than raise them, then (is this Occam’s razor?) it is time abandon the suggestion that it is mere narrative.
 
In short, the YECs begin their exegesis by begging the question.
 
Side note: It would be an interesting exercise for YECs to count how many current laws of physics are broken in the first 6 days of creation. 
 
Anyhow, thoughts (better hurry up though, this thread is probably up for a limited time).
 
clb

 

Well, I done heard of Yuck, but this is my first experience with YEC.  Let me guess, "Young Earth Chipmonks"?

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Thanks for posting this. I would have posted something similar if you hadn't.
 

Elsewhere I proposed that YEC is based not primarily on exegesis but on something akin to fear.

The real logic that I see operating among the YECs goes something like this, “Unless Genesis 1 is mere narrative depicting creation occurring over 6, 24 hour days, then nothing else in the Bible can be trusted as infallible.”  Thus the safest approach to Genesis if faith is to be sustained is to regard it as mere narrative.  Every other argument, whether scientific or exegetical, rests upon this foundation.  That is, the YEC begins first with the need for Genesis 1 to be mere history; then proceeds to look for the “proofs” that it is so. But of course all exegesis or science performed after the conclusion is formed is nothing more than a charade; everything becomes evidence in favor of the verdict, for desperation can find almost anything almost anywhere.


As a former die-hard YEC, I can attest to this.

My faith in YEC was based on the fear that questioning ("doubting") was undermining the Word of God. I was indoctrinated from a young age, and if any questions about Genesis 1 came up, my faith in God was also questioned. My mother would say that I needed to "just trust God's Word", implying that my questions were a result of my lack of faith. (Although, even as a die-hard YEC, my mother believes that the serpent in the garden was figurative...).

IMHO, YEC is a radical reaction to the implications of the theory of evolution (whether it is true or not). When man encounters a deception, his usual reaction is to adopt the exact opposite stance, when the truth may lie somewhere in the middle.  Evolution is a lie (clearly), but is likely based on things that are true.  We all know that when Satan lies, there is usually some truth sown in to make the lie more believable.

 

 

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It has been claimed on this site that Genesis 1 is "obviously" pure narrative.

 

 I have never seen that claim.  I have claimed that Genesis 1 is a historical narrative and nothing more, though.

 

By pure narrative I mean that the genre of the text excludes the following: allegory, poetic liturgy, myth etc.  I will not delay in defining those terms.  I only want to deal with the contention that it is "obviously narrative".

 

Well yes, it excludes those things.  It doesn't follow rules of Hebrew poetry, there is no evidence of allegory anywhere in the text.  You have to go outside of Bible to impose allegory on the text.  The Bible always indicates when allegory is in play and there are no internal textual indicators that alleory is in play.  There is no liturgy in play either.  Again, you have to go outside  of the Bible to make that kind of appeal to the text of Genesis 1. 

 

The Hebrew text of Genesis 1 is written the same narrative style that is used in any other historical narrative in Genesis or any other OT narrative. 

 

Elsewhere I proposed that YEC is based not primarily on exegesis but on something akin to fear.

 

Yes, that is the value you have to assign to us because absent that you really don't have any intelligent response to offer.

 

 

The real logic that I see operating among the YECs goes something like this, “Unless Genesis 1 is mere narrative depicting creation occurring over 6, 24 hour days, then nothing else in the Bible can be trusted as infallible.”

 

Well it is a little more complicated than that.  The nonliteral approach to Genesis isn't limited to Genesis 1.  It usually includes the view that seeks to accomodate evolution.  In addition, there is usually a rejection of Genesis three and man's fall in the Garden of Eden resulting from eating the forbidden fruit as real history, a rejection of a global flood and the tower of babel incident.   Most of the time, those who reject Genesis 1 as historical ususaly include the entire first eleven chapters of Genesis as being nonliteral. 

 

Furthermore, there is a view out there that Moses didn't really write Genesis that it was written around 850 BC as a polemic against the gods of Babylon, by two anonymous authors known only by the letters J and E.   I don't know if you suscribe to that view, but many who reject Genesis 1 as history, view it through the lense of being a moral story, not an actual occurance.  This makes plenty of room for an old earth, and evolutionary theory.

 

Thus the safest approach to Genesis if faith is to be sustained is to regard it as mere narrative.

 

Not exactly.  Looking at it as a historical narrative doesn't necessarily mean that one believes it to be true history.  The safest approach is to believe that it is true history inspired by the Holy Spirt as written and that God can be trusted to mean what He says.

 

 

Every other argument, whether scientific or exegetical, rests upon this foundation.  That is, the YEC begins first with the need for Genesis 1 to be mere history; then proceeds to look for the “proofs” that it is so.

 

Again, that is not really accurate.   The ones claiming it is not a historical narratives are the one who are on the wild goose chase trying to make the text something that it is not.  They are the ones seeking to prove what the text is.   My claim rests on the fact that it is a historical narrative by virtue of the structure of the text.  If you cannot provide any internal textual indicators provided by the author that clearly indicate the author had something else in mind, the text, by default, is to be understood as written, which is historical.

 

 

But of course all exegesis or science performed after the conclusion is formed is nothing more than a charade; everything becomes evidence in favor of the verdict, for desperation can find almost anything almost anywhere. 

 

Actually it is exegesis that proves it to be a historical narrative.  It is impossible to to do exegesis after forming a conclusion.  It can't be done.   A prior conclusion is eisogesis.  Any work done to prove a conclusion already reached isn't exegesis by definition.

 
I believe my proposal is corroborated by the habit of declaring the laws of physics inoperative whenever something astonishingly incongruent to our experience of the natural world is described in Genesis 1.  It is, or appears to me to be, a desperate maneuver.  When asked, “Why, if the laws of physics are good now, should God not have applied them at the start?” the common answer is “I let God be God” or “it is a mystery.”  Of course there are real mysteries of the faith and it is wise to recognize them.  But in a debate, this is the last card to be thrown down and one must be extremely cautious before doing so. Lay it down too early and everyone will see how weak your hand is.

 

Who says the laws of physics were not in existence or were broken in the first place?

 

Of course much of what I have just accused YECs could be accused of OECs and me (to distinguish myself from them): do we not want Genesis 1 to be something other than mere history?  Do we not come to the text already biased?  
It is not a question of what we want the text to be.  The question has to be about what the text actually is based on exegesis and the rules that govern literary analysis.  You are trying to make the YEC position as one based on what we want the text to mean and that is a false premsise.  I operate from the text is, in reality.  My conclusion that the text of Genesis 1 is historical isn't based on anything other than the objective standards of hermeneutics.
 
The premise is this, “We are reading the Bible for the first time, with little training in languages and a smattering of science derived from experience and, say, a few Gen ed classes at the local college—with this question before us: is this intended as mere history, or as something else—a kind of poetry, or a kind of myth?”  

 

But that level "education" leaves you unable to answer those questions because Hebrew poetry has its own rules and without that knowledge, you are unable to make a competent decision as to whether or not you are reading poetry or not.  The same holds true for myth as well.

 

 

 

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters."
 
 
It is near impossible to imagine such a conglomeration of unformed matter hanging out in infinite space.  Do we still have a spherical object before us?  No, for the dome (the expanse) will not yet be created until day 2.  What is it then that keeps the waters from drifting off.  More so, how is it that the waters are not frozen at absolute 0?
 
My immediate response to these questions is, “Perhaps we are not dealing with that kind of text.”  But it is claimed by YECs that the “obvious” answer that should come to mind is, “Clearly the laws of physics were inoperative or different back then.”  But I for one would never have even thought of that answer, let alone affirm it, unless I already had decided upon the question of what genre this text is—but the assertion we are dealing with is that the text declares itself to be pure narrative, and that obviously so; and the point of this experiment is to see how it “clearly is a narrative”.  So far it is “clearly” very unclear what kind of genre it is; but pure narrative would not be my first bet.
All I see you doing is assigning responses to the YEC.  You are deciding what we will say and then offering your response to your imaginative YEC response.  That is a textbook strawman argument. 
 
We can move on to the first day,  
 
And God said, a"Let there be light," and there was light.
 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.
 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
 (Gen 1:3-5 ESV)
 
We have source-less light; a phenomenon absolutely unknown to me and probably all humanity.

 

That is factually in correct.  God is the source of the light.  One thing we see in Genesis 1 is that God is the sustainer of the universe.  Darkness was the last thing mentioned in Gen. 1:2.  It is the first thing God deals with as He begins creation.   He goes in reverse order of how the pre-creation conditions are listed in 1:2.

 
One thing I think is clear to see is that the light of the luminaries like the sun and stars ultimately have God has their source of light. 
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Continued form previous post...

 

Not only that, but we have darkness somehow impregnable to the light, yet without the moon or any other object to block it.  What is it that keeps the light from penetrating and filling the darkness?  Again, how is there morning and evening (an alteration between light and darkness) without a sun around which the earth (still domeless) can move?

 

Why is that a problem for the Lord?    It appears to me that you have a real problem with having to bring yourself to account for the fact that the creation story is a supernatural event.  It is a not a naturalistic event.   There is a divine, supernatural element to this that simply defies our ability to explain every detail.

 

Day 3 We have plant life growing at an incredible rate—a rate without testimony in all of history (except, of course, here) and growing without heat.  Can God do this?  Of course!  But why should I assume He has?  

 

Because that is what He said He did.  What this shows us is that God created the trees and other vegitation functionally mature.  He creaeted all of the fruit trees with fruit already on them ready to be eaten.  Same with other vegitation that was intended by God to be food for us.

 

 I will leave that alone.  I am told by the scientists that the stars are billions of miles away and that even light must take its time in getting here.  This creates something of a problem; the stars are for signs and seasons.  That is, they have a functional role in man’s life on earth.  But man is about to make his appearance in less than 72 hours and that means the stellar light will be rather tardy in fulfilling their roles!

 

But that assumes that such a function was an immediate need.  The sun and the moon are mostly what are used to determine seasons, not the stars. It only a matter of minuteis for sun light to reach the earth and the moon even less.  So there is no problem with the stars not being immediate available the day they were created.

 

The YECs would have me believe that the obvious answer is, “not only were the luminaries created instantly, but the light was created as already reaching us.

 

Frankly, you don't know squat about what YEC'ers would "have you believe."  All you know is what you might imagine they would say.

 
 
In short, the YECs begin their exegesis by begging the question.

 

Says the man who knows NOTHING about exegesis as proven in the OP on this thread.

 
Side note: It would be an interesting exercise for YECs to count how many current laws of physics are broken in the first 6 days of creation. 

 

Again, that is an assumption and I don't have to count anything.  I have the word of an all-knowing, all-powerful God who doesn't make mistakes and never lies.  I will trust His word over your beggardly and rather lame attempts at exegesis any day.

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I have not had much luck on this forum with starting new threads; but we'll see. 

 

It has been claimed on this site that Genesis 1 is "obviously" pure narrative.  By pure narrative I mean that the genre of the text excludes the following: allegory, poetic liturgy, myth etc.  I will not delay in defining those terms.  I only want to deal with the contention that it is "obviously narrative".

 

Elsewhere I proposed that YEC is based not primarily on exegesis but on something akin to fear.  I will not delay my reasons with apologies to those offended: I doubt apologies would soften the insult (though it was not intended as an insult). Nor will I labor the point that I am not necessarily an OEC; I think the YEC interpretation dead wrong, but I don't necessarily think that the scientists are right.
 
The real logic that I see operating among the YECs goes something like this, “Unless Genesis 1 is mere narrative depicting creation occurring over 6, 24 hour days, then nothing else in the Bible can be trusted as infallible.”  Thus the safest approach to Genesis if faith is to be sustained is to regard it as mere narrative.  Every other argument, whether scientific or exegetical, rests upon this foundation.  That is, the YEC begins first with the need for Genesis 1 to be mere history; then proceeds to look for the “proofs” that it is so. But of course all exegesis or science performed after the conclusion is formed is nothing more than a charade; everything becomes evidence in favor of the verdict, for desperation can find almost anything almost anywhere. 
 
I believe my proposal is corroborated by the habit of declaring the laws of physics inoperative whenever something astonishingly incongruent to our experience of the natural world is described in Genesis 1.  It is, or appears to me to be, a desperate maneuver.  When asked, “Why, if the laws of physics are good now, should God not have applied them at the start?” the common answer is “I let God be God” or “it is a mystery.”  Of course there are real mysteries of the faith and it is wise to recognize them.  But in a debate, this is the last card to be thrown down and one must be extremely cautious before doing so. Lay it down too early and everyone will see how weak your hand is.
 
Of course much of what I have just accused YECs could be accused of OECs and me (to distinguish myself from them): do we not want Genesis 1 to be something other than mere history?  Do we not come to the text already biased?  For my part, I don’t think so. I was not raised in a context where science and Scripture were at war: I never felt that other parts of Scripture were threatened by a non-literal reading of Genesis 1. But to show this I would like to try an experiment: I would like to simulate a “first-time reading of Genesis 1”.  The premise is this, “We are reading the Bible for the first time, with little training in languages and a smattering of science derived from experience and, say, a few Gen ed classes at the local college—with this question before us: is this intended as mere history, or as something else—a kind of poetry, or a kind of myth?”  For the general contention by YEC is that “it is so obvious a 12 year old can see it.” I am not sure I would allow a 12 year old to lead me in a Bible study.  But the point is clear.  Even a cursory reading of Genesis should make it obvious that the genre is mere narrative.  Let’s attempt a cursory reading with the basic education of an adult.
 
"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters."
 
 
It is near impossible to imagine such a conglomeration of unformed matter hanging out in infinite space.  Do we still have a spherical object before us?  No, for the dome (the expanse) will not yet be created until day 2.  What is it then that keeps the waters from drifting off.  More so, how is it that the waters are not frozen at absolute 0?
 
My immediate response to these questions is, “Perhaps we are not dealing with that kind of text.”  But it is claimed by YECs that the “obvious” answer that should come to mind is, “Clearly the laws of physics were inoperative or different back then.”  But I for one would never have even thought of that answer, let alone affirm it, unless I already had decided upon the question of what genre this text is—but the assertion we are dealing with is that the text declares itself to be pure narrative, and that obviously so; and the point of this experiment is to see how it “clearly is a narrative”.  So far it is “clearly” very unclear what kind of genre it is; but pure narrative would not be my first bet.
 
We can move on to the first day,  
 
And God said, a"Let there be light," and there was light.
 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.
 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
 (Gen 1:3-5 ESV)
 
We have source-less light; a phenomenon absolutely unknown to me and probably all humanity.  Not only that, but we have darkness somehow impregnable to the light, yet without the moon or any other object to block it.  What is it that keeps the light from penetrating and filling the darkness?  Again, how is there morning and evening (an alteration between light and darkness) without a sun around which the earth (still domeless) can move?
 
Of course there are all kinds of ingenious ways around this and, I admit, it has been fun to assume the viewpoint of a YEC and generate them: if I had begun with the “need” for this to be pure narrative, it would not only be fun but absolutely necessary.  But remember, we are coming at this text without the question of genre already answered.  And already by day two I find it less and less “obvious” that God has given us pure narrative—scientific speculations might alleviate most, if not all, of the apparent absurdities; but why should I resort to those kinds of speculation?  That is, why resort to them unless I already assume it was narrative before reading the text?
 
Day 2 I see little problems with; but I am not trying very hard.  This is a cursory reading and I am only looking at “obvious” features.
 
Day 3 We have plant life growing at an incredible rate—a rate without testimony in all of history (except, of course, here) and growing without heat.  Can God do this?  Of course!  But why should I assume He has?  I would only jump to that answer if I began this reading insisting I was embarking upon mere narrative.  But the point of the exercise is not to find out how it is narrative; we want to find out whether it is narrative.
 
Day 4 (and I am done).  Luminaries set in the sky.  I confess I do not know what gravitational effects such a sudden appearance of enormous matter in our proximity would have on us—perhaps none.  I will leave that alone.  I am told by the scientists that the stars are billions of miles away and that even light must take its time in getting here.  This creates something of a problem; the stars are for signs and seasons.  That is, they have a functional role in man’s life on earth.  But man is about to make his appearance in less than 72 hours and that means the stellar light will be rather tardy in fulfilling their roles!  The YECs would have me believe that the obvious answer is, “not only were the luminaries created instantly, but the light was created as already reaching us.  This raises a few questions for me: if light is created as already reaching me, at some point it must assume its normal behavior of ‘C’.  But that would mean that at some point it must, relatively speaking, begin to crawl across space.  And until it reaches me, we have no stars in the night sky; and therefore no functional signs.  
 
But there is no end to the ingenious ways of wiggling out of these discrepancies; my question is (and has been) why do I need to invoke scientific speculation, unless I have come to the text determined that it is pure narrative?  When I come to the text without that question already answered, I do not find that I am "obviously" dealing with “mere narrative”.  Perhaps it is mere narrative; I am not excluding that from the possibilities.  But it is not “obviously” narrative.  There is enough doubt to search for other possibilities. And if other genres make better sense of the text, if they answer more problems than raise them, then (is this Occam’s razor?) it is time abandon the suggestion that it is mere narrative.
 
In short, the YECs begin their exegesis by begging the question.
 
Side note: It would be an interesting exercise for YECs to count how many current laws of physics are broken in the first 6 days of creation. 
 
Anyhow, thoughts (better hurry up though, this thread is probably up for a limited time).
 
clb

 

Well, I done heard of Yuck, but this is my first experience with YEC.  Let me guess, "Young Earth Chipmonks"?

 

Apologies 

 

I have never heard of yuck, and only met YEC on this forum = Young earth creationists

 

clb

Edited by ConnorLiamBrown
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Continued form previous post...

 

Not only that, but we have darkness somehow impregnable to the light, yet without the moon or any other object to block it.  What is it that keeps the light from penetrating and filling the darkness?  Again, how is there morning and evening (an alteration between light and darkness) without a sun around which the earth (still domeless) can move?

 

Why is that a problem for the Lord?    It appears to me that you have a real problem with having to bring yourself to account for the fact that the creation story is a supernatural event.  It is a not a naturalistic event.   There is a divine, supernatural element to this that simply defies our ability to explain every detail.

 

Day 3 We have plant life growing at an incredible rate—a rate without testimony in all of history (except, of course, here) and growing without heat.  Can God do this?  Of course!  But why should I assume He has?  

 

Because that is what He said He did.  What this shows us is that God created the trees and other vegitation functionally mature.  He creaeted all of the fruit trees with fruit already on them ready to be eaten.  Same with other vegitation that was intended by God to be food for us.

 

 I will leave that alone.  I am told by the scientists that the stars are billions of miles away and that even light must take its time in getting here.  This creates something of a problem; the stars are for signs and seasons.  That is, they have a functional role in man’s life on earth.  But man is about to make his appearance in less than 72 hours and that means the stellar light will be rather tardy in fulfilling their roles!

 

But that assumes that such a function was an immediate need.  The sun and the moon are mostly what are used to determine seasons, not the stars. It only a matter of minuteis for sun light to reach the earth and the moon even less.  So there is no problem with the stars not being immediate available the day they were created.

 

The YECs would have me believe that the obvious answer is, “not only were the luminaries created instantly, but the light was created as already reaching us.

 

Frankly, you don't know squat about what YEC'ers would "have you believe."  All you know is what you might imagine they would say.

 
 
In short, the YECs begin their exegesis by begging the question.

 

Says the man who knows NOTHING about exegesis as proven in the OP on this thread.

 
Side note: It would be an interesting exercise for YECs to count how many current laws of physics are broken in the first 6 days of creation. 

 

Again, that is an assumption and I don't have to count anything.  I have the word of an all-knowing, all-powerful God who doesn't make mistakes and never lies.  I will trust His word over your beggardly and rather lame attempts at exegesis any day.

 

Hello all,

 

Some people here have missed what the point of the exercise was: the exercise was not necessarily to disprove YEC but to show that it was not "the obvious reading".  That the YEC reading begs for other approaches to be tried.  

 

Some people also don't realize that comments like these 

 

I will trust His word over your beggardly and rather lame attempts at exegesis any day.

 

 

actually hurt their case--not the case for YEC (that can still be established by sound exegesis)  but the case that it is not primarily based on fear.  Insults are the final, and desperate attack against a perceived threat: theyre  what come out when you are backed into a corner.  I think it would be better for one's soul  and position to resist reading posts if one can't keep his cool.

 

clb

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My guess: Yuck = Young Universe Creationist? Not very nice. I can see why some prefer YEC.

I've never heard either before coming to this forum, and I used to be one. lol

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Very interesting OP.  It seems to me that if one is married to the idea of a literal Genesis, they should not comment on science as science does not do well with presupposition.  As you mentioned (or at least that's my interpretation), it ends up boiling down to faith and supernatural when the tale conflicts with known science/logic.   

 

 

 

 Insults are the final, and desperate attack against a perceived threat: theyre  what come out when you are backed into a corner.  I think it would be better for one's soul  and position to resist reading posts if one can't keep his cool.

 

clb

 

Seems to me, it's not always the "final...attack", but the first response. 

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But of course all exegesis or science performed after the conclusion is formed is nothing more than a charade; everything becomes evidence in favor of the verdict, for desperation can find almost anything almost anywhere. 

 

Actually it is exegesis that proves it to be a historical narrative.  It is impossible to to do exegesis after forming a conclusion.  It can't be done.   A prior conclusion is eisogesis.  Any work done to prove a conclusion already reached isn't exegesis by definition.

 

Correct.  We are both agreed here.  My contention is that you are doing eisogesis (and yours is that I am doing it).  The point of this exercise is to see what the obvious reading is.

 

I believe my proposal is corroborated by the habit of declaring the laws of physics inoperative whenever something astonishingly incongruent to our experience of the natural world is described in Genesis 1.  It is, or appears to me to be, a desperate maneuver.  When asked, “Why, if the laws of physics are good now, should God not have applied them at the start?” the common answer is “I let God be God” or “it is a mystery.”  Of course there are real mysteries of the faith and it is wise to recognize them.  But in a debate, this is the last card to be thrown down and one must be extremely cautious before doing so. Lay it down too early and everyone will see how weak your hand is.

 

Who says the laws of physics were not in existence or were broken in the first place?

 

 

Many people off this site; Enoch on this site; you when you say (below) that it is a supernatural event.  If supernatural does not involve the suspension of laws (i.e. laws of nature) then perhaps you had better define supernatural.

 

Of course much of what I have just accused YECs could be accused of OECs and me (to distinguish myself from them): do we not want Genesis 1 to be something other than mere history?  Do we not come to the text already biased?  

It is not a question of what we want the text to be.  The question has to be about what the text actually is based on exegesis and the rules that govern literary analysis.  You are trying to make the YEC position as one based on what we want the text to mean and that is a false premsise.  I operate from the text is, in reality.  My conclusion that the text of Genesis 1 is historical isn't based on anything other than the objective standards of hermeneutics.

 

 

 

This is not entirely true:  in one of your more biographical posts you made it a spiritual crisis.  Either trusting the Word of God or Evolution or the sciences (can’t find it right now).  That is not exegesis.  That is a leap of faith.  One doesn’t reject Evolution because one feels it is incompatible with God’s Word; we must reject evolution because we see that evolution is wrong (on its own terms).  Intellectual honesty requires it—and since God created the intellect and enjoins upon us the duty of honesty, God requires it.

 

The premise is this, “We are reading the Bible for the first time, with little training in languages and a smattering of science derived from experience and, say, a few Gen ed classes at the local college—with this question before us: is this intended as mere history, or as something else—a kind of poetry, or a kind of myth?”  

 

But that level "education" leaves you unable to answer those questions because Hebrew poetry has its own rules and without that knowledge, you are unable to make a competent decision as to whether or not you are reading poetry or not.  The same holds true for myth as well.

 

 

The exercise is to test the hypothesis that the “obvious” reading is historical narrative.  If you never made that claim, then maybe I wasn’t addressing you.

 

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters."

 

 

It is near impossible to imagine such a conglomeration of unformed matter hanging out in infinite space.  Do we still have a spherical object before us?  No, for the dome (the expanse) will not yet be created until day 2.  What is it then that keeps the waters from drifting off.  More so, how is it that the waters are not frozen at absolute 0?

 

My immediate response to these questions is, “Perhaps we are not dealing with that kind of text.”  But it is claimed by YECs that the “obvious” answer that should come to mind is, “Clearly the laws of physics were inoperative or different back then.”  But I for one would never have even thought of that answer, let alone affirm it, unless I already had decided upon the question of what genre this text is—but the assertion we are dealing with is that the text declares itself to be pure narrative, and that obviously so; and the point of this experiment is to see how it “clearly is a narrative”.  So far it is “clearly” very unclear what kind of genre it is; but pure narrative would not be my first bet.

All I see you doing is assigning responses to the YEC.  You are deciding what we will say and then offering your response to your imaginative YEC response.  That is a textbook strawman argument. 

 

 

I have to remind you you are not the only YEC out there; is it possible I am responding to other YECers?

 

 

 

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