So with another year it is always good to try to get on some sort of bible reading plan. I have started reading Evertte Fox’s The Five Books of Moses, his translation of the Pentateuch. It is very good, with much more vivid and colorful word pictures than a standard bible, but still quite accurate.
The earth is old, but how old? Is it an antique or not? Did a skilled a designer leave his signature or was this a cosmic knockoff?
In answering these questions it seems to me that Christians are simply afraid of the Galileo problem. They don’t want to come down dogmatic on an issue that some scientists are actively turning their heads from. Fear of being on the wrong side of history is a bugbear these days. In the 1600’s Galileo proved the Earth to circle the Sun and not the other way around, but at that time the church was convinced that it wasn’t, the Pope specifically. So there definitely was some egg on the face with that one. But I think biblically speaking, creation is a whole other animal completely, Roarrrr! But one that is after its own kind.
Some have tried to use the poetic nature of the opening verses of Genesis to try to hide the fact that the Bible is making the creation account into history. But Genesis is not simply a clever way to communicate a completely different theological truth. If it were, it would undermine the theological truth it is communicating. The Bible teaches that God is a creator, so why discount its creative narrative? The Bible teaches that man is accountable to God, so why discount that man was created as a direct action on God’s part? Moses would be silly to use a metaphorical origin story and then proceed to build actual truth on it. Just because something sounds memorable or poetic does not mean it lacks truth, this is especially true in the Bible. Genre affects how it is read for sure but genre does not change the truthfulness of the passage.
A recent book about the people of the ancient near east illuminated how they were more interested in converting chaos into order and this has convinced many that this was all Genesis was trying to do. While this provides useful background it doesn’t mean that order into chaos discounts a creative narrative. The Bible hinges too much of its own account for this to be the case with the creation narrative.
But to shorten the argument considerably it is enough to say that too much theology rests on the bedrock of God the creator. And it is not simply that he did create but the way he created has many implications for biblical truth. A mere metaphor cannot buttress the important doctrines that are built on it. Sin rests in the man Adam whose accountability to God resides in the creation narrative. Redemption and the promise of rescue from the pollution of sin are meaningless without the garden account. If Adam was not the first man then he is not representative for mankind and Jesus coming to die for mankind makes little sense if mankind has not fallen. So Adam does represent us but he is not representative for another account, else the subsequent acts of the story would crumble under its own pretense.
Not to mention Jesus and Paul would be quite wrong in continuing in the biblical tradition to build theological truth on Adam and Eve as actual people.If God can raise up sons of Abraham from stones why can he not raise up mankind from dirt? If you want to believe evolution as a Christian then answer the question what other biblical truths are you prepared to lay down for scientists? I say scientists because I don’t believe the Bible and science are at odds.
The origins account has always been a theological question because we can not go back and observe the phenomena for science to dogmatically say. This is why this debate remains in the theoretical realm. To say evolution is more than a theory is to venture into the area of faith, and that is where the Christian is anyway.
It really feels like some Christian leaders don’t want to made fun of. But if we are really prepared to go down that road, at what intersection will we concede to “scientific consensus” that dead men cannot rise again.
Similarly if we are out antique shopping, we should realize it is not for us to try to change the authenticating signature or defining marks to make the item into something more tenable. We simply decide whether or not to buy the thing. Be an informed shopper sure, but stand by your purchase. We are the ones who have to live with whether it looks good in the den or not.
The Bible is never asking for your approval, but it is asking for your decision.