Should We Take Everything Literally?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, October 20, 2022 1 comments

by Steve Risner

We’ve looked at Scriptures I was told support theistic evolution and create problems for Biblical creationists. Of the 6 references so far, not one even remotely connects to the topic of theistic evolution or deep time and, in fact, some of the passages of Scripture are quite supportive of the Biblical narrative on creation and the Flood. We’ve looked at 2 Peter 3:8, Psalm 90:4, Romans 1:20, Job 12:7-10, Genesis 1:11-12 and 1:24. None of these passages hints at universal common descent or deep time. It’s uncanny to me that a person would make a big deal about how they can use the Bible to support their position (which is anti-biblical) and then provide references such as these to do so.

Because these references are so weak and because few if any are taken in context, I’ll just write a couple more posts on these. The bottom line is that there is not a single passage of Scripture that supports the theistic evolutionist in his belief in abiogenesis, deep time, and universal common descent among other things related to origins. Not one passage of Scripture. Conversely, the Biblical creationist’s entire basis for their beliefs on origins is founded in reading Genesis as well as other important portions of Scripture. Genesis 1-11 are critical to the origins beliefs of what some call young-earth creationists. I prefer the term Biblical creationist because that’s what we are—creationists who believe the Bible and gather information on origins from it.

This week, we’ll lump several Scripture passages together as they all seem to be suggesting the same sort of thing. However, please keep in mind I may not be applying these passages as the theistic evolutionist would like. I was not given an explanation at all for them, just a list. For most of these, the same one or two explanations will work, so we’ll list them and then talk about them.

Psalm 102:25: “At the beginning You founded the earth; The heavens are the work of Your hands.”

Psalm 19:1-4: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.”

Psalm 104:5: “He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.”

Habakkuk 3:6: “He stood, and shook the earth; he looked, and made the nations tremble. The ancient mountains crumbled and the age-old hills collapsed—but he marches on forever.”

Deuteronomy 33:15: “With the choicest gifts of the ancient mountains and the fruitfulness of the everlasting hills.”

Ecclesiastes 1:4: “Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.”

None of these verses are used to support universal common descent, but instead they are used to create issues for Biblical creationists. It’s a weird idea, really. We all know that “literalism” is a thing and I do not know of any person who adheres to it exclusively. Literalism simply means you take everything literally. So, if the Bible says, “The heavens are the work of Your hands” that HAS to literally mean God used His hands to build the heavens—though maybe with some large hammers, saws, and some good lumber. When the Bible says, “In the heavens, God has pitched a tent for the sun” this HAS to mean God built a tent to go over the sun. Obviously, no one believes these things so BAM! They think that Biblical creationism or YEC is destroyed by this.

Except no one believes this way. No one says every word in the Bible is 100% to be taken literally. It’s a silly idea, and if ever there was a strawman fallacy, this would be a great one! We choose to read the Bible “naturally” as Ken Ham is known to say. Let it be read the way it was intended. We allow for figures of speech and idioms and things like that. Often, poetic language and prophetic language are not to be taken exactly as they are written. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean you can willy nilly pick what passages you want to read literally and which ones are to be read figuratively. That creates major issues, like the one we have in the Church today where so many have abandoned God’s Word, claiming it either says something it doesn’t say at all or claiming that even though it says something it really means something entirely different. Figures of speech are just that. Like, “It’s raining buckets” or “That’s as dangerous as forked lightening” or “They’re so good they’ll make you wanna slap your mama.” We don’t mean these things literally, and no one is ever confused by these things. But apparently, theistic evolutionists don’t get it. They think if you take Genesis 1-11 as a historical narrative, you are bound to take every written word in the Bible as a literal statement. It’s nonsense and no one that I know believes this. I find it hard to believe that they think we believe this way; perhaps it’s just a defense mechanism.

I’m not sure how else to explain this other than to say poetic language and figures of speech do not have to be taken literally. This is not inconsistency on the Biblical creationist’s part. It is understanding communication. Genesis is clearly written as a historical narrative. In fact, it is more consistent with that format that other texts in the Bible that no one argues about—like Samuel, Kings, or Chronicles. Its language and word usage demand a historical reading, and it is continuous with the rest of Genesis. There is no break or change of content between chapters 11 and 12. The entire book is written as historical narrative. It’s not poetry, although if it was it wouldn’t mean it’s not true. It’s not figurative, although elements of it can be applied to other areas of our lives.

There are nearly 2 dozen major doctrinal positions that come directly from a historical reading of Genesis. Few of these make sense if you read the Biblical text a different way.

To further understand the topic of how to understand Genesis and other passages of Scripture related to origins, you can read these blog posts:
What Is the Plain Reading of Scripture? and Part 2
Genesis: the Polemic and Part 2 and Part 3
The Genesis Myth and Part 2 and Part 3 and Part 4

Thanks for reading! Let’s stand on the Word of God and reject the humanist origins myth for what it is—a way to pull people from the Truth.

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Nezir Katan said...

Thanks for your post- I enjoyed reading it. Psalm 19 is beautiful and is connecting the Heavens with the mysteries of the Tabernacle and Temple. You are right about using the term literal one can believe that the events of Genesis are historical but not limited to that which doesn't mean one has to interpret Genesis in a literalistic manner.