Genesis: The Polemic, Part 3

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, October 3, 2019 1 comments

by Steve Risner

We are furthering our investigation into Genesis—its literary style and, most importantly, its intent. What's the message that the book of Genesis was written to give us? Is it important? Is it history? Is it theological or spiritual? Can it be used to denounce other religious faiths? The answer to all of these questions is, “Absolutely.” You can catch up by reading the previous posts here, here, here, here, here and here.

Recently, on the Worldview Warriors Facebook page, a person who believes that Genesis was written much later than tradition, or most scholars, supports, after suggesting there is evidence to show Genesis is a polemic (a written response to denounce neighboring pagan faiths) and is not actual history said this:

“In this case what we have is not so much answers to the questions: When did creation take place? Where did everything come from? or How did everything come about? Instead we have answers to questions like: Who is the creator? What is he like? What is my relationship to him? What is my relationship to the created world? And in this case we find that God created an orderly universe that is meant to be the perfect environment in which people can experience fullness of life in harmony with God and all of his creation.”

To me, it seems rather obvious that the narrative answers all of these questions, not just the latter questions. The Bible gives us a very specific timeline as to when God created Adam. You can find that in my blog post called “Is Young Earthism New?” God seems to emphasize special events for us. The Jews had several major holidays they were meant to keep and commemorate special things He did for them, and, of course, every week they were commanded to celebrate the creation of the universe by resting on the Sabbath. None of this makes sense if the timeline or information isn't real.

The creation account obviously tells us where everything came from and how; it came from the mind of God. He spoke all that there is into existence. This, I believe, would be true regardless of how you read Genesis. The narrative gives us a clear indication of who the Creator is and what He's like. He is full of compassion and love and is generous, but He expects obedience and demands payment for rebellion. He's merciful and gracious, but He hates sin and punishes those who have no intention of following after Him. But He sees the heart and is willing to give us many opportunities to repent and come back to Him. He longs for a personal relationship with each of us and that's why He created us—for fellowship.

The end of the above quote “...we find that God created an orderly universe that is meant to be the perfect environment in which people can experience fullness of life in harmony with God and all of his creation” doesn't really follow if the account isn't recounting something that actually happened, does it? If the account in Genesis didn't actually happen the way it states it happened, does it really tell us that God created an orderly universe for people to live life to the fullest? Telling cute stories and distributing folklore doesn't actually seem like something to base your faith on. Not for me, anyway. My faith is based on truth. It's based on who God actually is and what He's actually done. I can gather evidence for my faith from the Bible as well as from creation.

The same people who make such claims—that Genesis isn't actual history even though that's exactly how it's written and seemed to be taken by every Biblical author who touched on it—also say things like this: “We know that the earth is billions of years old. We know that plants didn't exist on the earth before there was a star in our solar system. God's natural revelation shows us.”

This is unfortunate unless this person has perfected time travel. Otherwise, we can't possibly know any of this unless we're told by someone who was there. This person is raising our frail, incomplete, and terribly inept understanding of nature (what they like to call “God's natural revelation”) to a higher level of importance than that of the actual written revelation of God to mankind. This, of course, is the Bible. This is actually a huge mistake, and the naivety of such a gross misapplication of interpretive freedom—of the Word of God and of nature—cannot be overstated.

Think of it: we have a written communication from God Almighty. He is far more intelligent and capable than we could possibly imagine. He invented communication so He's probably very good at it. He told us very plainly and very clearly what happened on the days of creation—what He created and when. It's recounted in several other passages of Scripture including Exodus 20:11 and Exodus 31:17. The first of these 2 passages contains a “therefore” telling us that since God created everything in 6 days, we are to work for six days but rest on the 7th day. This confirms the historicity of the creation narrative. The second of these 2 passages contains a promise, again emphasizing the fact that what is being promised is as true as what it's being compared to. The following verse, Exodus 31:18, tells us this was written in stone by God Himself. It's not the incomplete, ancient near Eastern sheep farmer understanding of the cosmos. It's God Almighty telling us and writing for us exactly what He wanted us to know.

What seems more likely: that we've misunderstood these passages of Scripture for thousands of years, even though they're written in very plain, ordinary terms, or that we've misunderstood nature? It seems even foolish to put any time into considering which is more likely. We've been making major mistakes concerning nature forever. It's true we've also made some mistakes in terms of interpreting Scripture, but generally we're talking about things that 1) probably weren't major issues anyway, 2) were written such that they could be interpreted a variety of ways, and 3) were probably not taken as Biblical truth by a large portion of believers. But Genesis 1 through 11 are not written like that. These chapters are written very clearly to give us a basic understanding of how God created everything and, further, we can figure out when approximately starting in Genesis and working through the Old Testament.

What if the basic premises behind the humanist origins myth (the ideas of the Big Bang, deep time, and universal common descent) are wrong? What if even some of the many assumptions associated with it are off or just flat our incorrect? What if man, who is a fallen being and has very limited intelligence compared to our Creator, has misinterpreted something foundational as he's peered into a cursed creation, giving him a false understanding of the cosmos and life? What if the reason anyone put any stock in any of that at all was because a handful of people were determined to remove “Moses from the sciences.” We know there are major issues with all of the above-mentioned ideas—Big Bang, deep time, and universal common descent.

As a simple example of how little we actually understand about the universe, according to NASA, what we can measure with instruments—what we know actually exists because it's been detected, observed, measured, etc.—accounts for 5% of the actual universe. The other 95% is something we've invented to fill in the gaps we don't understand. This is dark matter and energy—something no one has yet detected, measured, observed, or had any indication of other than we need it to fill in the major gaps we have in our understanding of the universe. I could understand hanging on to a fudge factor of 5% or even 10% in terms of astronomical numbers (maybe even 20% if we wanted to be really generous) but a 95% fudge factor is a little much, isn't it? We are ants in an unimaginably huge universe. We desperately want to understand and we assuredly want to feel powerful and in control, but the truth is we are tiny specs in a universe so large, and we are so insignificant in our abilities that it's beyond measurement to determine the amount of control and understanding we have (or don't have). Please don't try to tell me we “know” how old the universe or earth is or that something happened before something else. What evolutionists and others who like the humanist origins myth “know” is really what they believe. It's not knowledge; it's faith. They trust in themselves to figure it out. I (and many other Christians) trust what God has plainly told us.

Strangely, people who follow after the secularists' version of origins but want to be Christians will say totally bizarre things to Biblical creationists like, “I don't need to call God a liar and pervert his word like you do.” This is an actual quote from the conversation I previously mentioned on the Worldview Warriors Facebook page under one of my blog posts. This person thinks that allowing the text of Genesis (and the rest of Scripture, really) to read like a narrative (which it unarguably is) on history is to call God a liar. That makes no sense at all, but this is the mindset of some of people. I guess it's a perversion of His Word to allow it to tell us what it plainly tells us rather than injecting man's thoughts on the subject? I don't know, but that seems foolish. The text says what it says. It clearly says, “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them.” This is the very short version of Genesis 1. It very clearly states that God flooded the world, destroying all living things on land except those He put in the Ark. This was a judgment against a world filled with sin. It very clearly tells us that using a series of different markers throughout the Old Testament when God created Adam. This is calculated to be about 6000 or so years ago. It's very clear, and suggesting it's not or that it means something radically different means you're not trusting in the Word of God but putting more stock in the word of men—fallen people who are interpreting what they see in a cursed world. Injecting man's ideas into the text before you read it or interpret what it's telling us is not proper and is exactly what old earth creationists and theistic evolutionists do every time.

I didn't even get into what my intended topic was today—the nature of the writing style of Genesis and how it was understood by the Hebrews, Jews, Christians, and pretty much everyone who read it until the last few hundred years. Come back for that next time.

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Clay Brown said...

In my years spent at college I remember the cloak of secrecy believers had to take when discussing origins, morality, and scripture. Once, while serving as a lab assistant to the Physics department, I brought up the topic of lead dating methods. My professor froze. The room grew silent. I had stepped outside of the Overton Window. Being at a Christian university, I was able to surround myself with fellow students who shared my faith and interpreted the scriptures without distorting them through the lens of militant secularism.