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Literally 6 Days

Re: Literally 6 Days

Postby TruthInLove » Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:53 pm

I understand Dwight. God bless you and thanks for your consideration. Hopefully others have found our discussion helpful in their walk.
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Re: Literally 6 Days

Postby Singalphile » Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:14 pm

I was going to put this in Do you agree with the Ark Encounter?, but this is a more fitting topic.

I'd like to explain why I think that Genesis 1-3 is probably not entirely literal historical narrative.

Creation - Genesis 1:1 - 2:3

  1. It does not read like plain narrative (i.e., like most of the rest of Genesis). Rather, it has an obvious and unique structure that seems poetic or at least very stylized. As such, it is reasonable to think that the theological truth of it is in the structure and symbolism rather than the literalness.
  2. The details, taken literally, don't all make sense. You have the earth, night and day, and trees created before the sun, moon, and stars. That doesn't make any more sense to us than it would have to the original readers/listeners. One also wonders what God was actually doing all day. Why woukd it take Him more than a moment to create the universe? I suppose you can come up with explanations, but I think it's unnecessary. That's simply not the point.
  3. The details, taken literally, are of no use unless theological import is read into them. Of course you can do that, but then why does the literalness even matter? Answer: I don't think it does, because that was not the point.

Man and Woman - Genesis 2:4-25

  1. This uses a more historical narrative, but it still has elements that seem figurative or symbolic, as will be noted. As such, it seems likely to me to be a mixture of literal and symbolic.
  2. The author doesn't seem interested in connecting this account to the previous account in a literal way. For example, it gives the clear impression that man was created before there were any plants or animals. The literal details may not be consistent, but that doesn't matter because the theological messages are perfectly consistent, which is what matters, I think.
  3. I don't understand Hebrew, but as I understand it, the man is named "the man" or just "man", and the woman is likewise just "woman" (until later, when she's called "living" or "life"). These "names" suggest some degree of symbolism, I think. That's what you'd reasonably think if you picked up a book and read about a character called just "man" (or "the man"), I think.
  4. There is a "tree of life" and a "tree of the knowledge of good and evil". That is, there is a tree that makes you continue to live, and there is a tree that gives you knowledge of good and evil. They are mentioned matter-of-factly, almost as asides, not as miraculous. There is of course nothing like that in nature. I suggest that those elements only make sense as literary or symbolic devices (probably symbolizing the choices and results of obedience vs. disobedience to God). I suggest that the original audience would recognize that, as well.
  5. You have all animals being named by the man. Taken literally (as occurring in one day), that's very strange. Who cares what he called them? We don't speak that language. It raises a bunch questions that I think are unnecessary. More likely, it illustrates man's God-given importance and dominion over the animals.
  6. Lastly, you have woman being made out of the rib of man. An odd detail that could be literal - and I don't care one way or the other - but there is no need for it to be literal. The point that is made about it (explicitly, in this case) is what is important, I think. That is exactly what I'd expect from a symbolic narrative.

Sin and Evil and Hardship - Genesis 3

  1. This account involves a talking serpent who is more crafty than all the other beasts. This is stated matter-of-factly, rather than as something miraculous or demonic. If it were pronounced as a miracle or as a demonic possession, then I would view it as such. Instead, nothing in the story suggests that this is anything other than a talking animal, which is stated as if it was normal. That makes me think it's probably not entirely literal. I think the serpent represents temptation and probably the deceiver, the devil, specifically. I doubt that any serpent was actually involved, except figuratively, of course.
  2. Again, the trees are mentioned. Again, I think they are likely symbolic. I don't think there was an actual fruit that made a person know the difference between good and evil. In what way did the man and woman literally disobey God? I don't know. Perhaps the woman and man fought in some way. That would have been sinful, right? There were many wrong things they could have done. It doesn't really matter to me. The point is that they disobeyed God. That fact is illustrated in way that is more memorable, entertaining, and concise than any literal account could relate, I think.
  3. The resulting curses and hardships are symbolic for all hardship, I think. It would be nice if the only results were increased child-birth pain, thorns and thistles, and death, but sadly, that's only the beginning.

After all that, it seems to settle into regular, normal, "boring" historical narrative. There are miracles, but they are generally announced as such.

So that's why I suspect that those sections are a mixture of literal and symbolic (or illustrative).

I can think of some objections:

  1. The Bible elsewhere mentions some of these events and elements. Sometimes those accounts are even used to make theological points. Doesn't that mean they have to be literal?
    • No, that does not logically mean that the events/elements are to be understood entirely literally. Symbolic narratives are supposed to be referenced to make a point. Of course we reference those accounts to make our points. That is the whole point! We don't stick the word "literally" or "figuratively" in front of everything we say about them. That's not important. An allusion doesn't necessarily prove anything one way or the other.
  2. If we don't take these literally, then how do we know if anything should be taken literally? The whole Bible becomes meaningless at that point, doesn' it?
    • Not if we look at the genre of all the writing in the Bible. There's no reason at all why one collection of God-given, inspired literature cannot contain some historical narrative, some poetry, some symbolic narrative, some apocalyptic writings, and much more. It's usually not that difficult for someone above age, say, 12 to tell what is what. I explained why the sections above are unique, imo.
  3. If Genesis 1-3 is not literal, doesn't it lose its impact and meaning?
    • The theological importance is usually taken to be the same, either way, imo. In fact, people who think it's more literal will often read so much into it - things that the text does not at all say - that they might as well not take it literally!
      On the TNP last week, Steve stated that he didn't think that the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" was anything but a normal fruit-bearing tree. In his view, it was called that because it happened to be the tree that God told them not to eat from. That's a sort of literal-but-not-really-literal view. That's fine. It makes sense, but I just don't even think it was meant to be understood as a literal tree.
  4. Haven't you just been cowed by the world? Aren't you just afraid that people will think you are stupid if you say you believe in miracles? Aren't you putting the world's so-called knowledge above God's revelation?
    • No.

The End!
... that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. John 5:23
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Re: Literally 6 Days

Postby dwight92070 » Thu Feb 01, 2018 6:34 pm

Probably the first time I ever read Genesis 1 was when I was born again at 21. It never even crossed my mind that it might have been written symbolically. I always took it literally.
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Re: Literally 6 Days

Postby Singalphile » Fri Feb 02, 2018 12:12 am

dwight92070 wrote:Probably the first time I ever read Genesis 1 was when I was born again at 21. It never even crossed my mind that it might have been written symbolically. I always took it literally.


Fine with me! :)
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Re: Literally 6 Days

Postby TK » Fri Feb 02, 2018 2:27 pm

But Dwight- you have to agree that the style of Gen 1 is very different from the rest of the book which begs the question: “why?”
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Re: Literally 6 Days

Postby dwight92070 » Fri Feb 02, 2018 9:30 pm

The difference I see in Genesis One is that there is one miracle after another after another, the magnitude of which was (pardon the pun) astronomical, until the completion of the sixth day. This is first and only time that that had ever happened, so obviously this chapter could never be like other chapters. This was the beginning of the universe. You call it a different style and given the fact that there has never been miracles of that magnitude or of that number since then, (multiplied trillions of stars and galaxies, for example), I guess I can see where you would say that. But that different style does not in any way mandate that we can only take it in a symbolic
sense. That is strictly arbitrary on the part of those who do so.
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Re: Literally 6 Days

Postby Si » Fri Feb 02, 2018 9:50 pm

dwight92070 wrote:The difference I see in Genesis One is that there is one miracle after another after another, the magnitude of which was (pardon the pun) astronomical, until the completion of the sixth day. This is first and only time that that had ever happened, so obviously this chapter could never be like other chapters. This was the beginning of the universe. You call it a different style and given the fact that there has never been miracles of that magnitude or of that number since then, (multiplied trillions of stars and galaxies, for example), I guess I can see where you would say that. But that different style does not in any way mandate that we can only take it in a symbolic
sense. That is strictly arbitrary on the part of those who do so.


It is not arbitrary. Speaking for myself, it was the sincere best I could do, weighing all the evidence in both special revelation and general revelation, and coming up with the best explanation I could. It was a process that occupied many years of my life, of study and prayer and contemplation. That's not arbitrary at all, quite the opposite. Christians who come to hold old earth or theistic evolutionary views I don't think arbitrarily come to their conclusions. They are genuinely and prayerfully seeking after God and seeking to understand his Scriptures.
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Re: Literally 6 Days

Postby dwight92070 » Sun Feb 04, 2018 6:03 am

So what will you do with the following piece of general revelation discovered by Dr. Jeanson, since it does not agree with OEC beliefs?

There is a new book out called Replacing Darwin: The New Origin of Species by Nathaniel T. Jeanson. Using the field of genetics, the book claims "that the Bible timeframe
(6,000 years) correctly predicts the total number of genetic mutations that we have discovered in human mitochondrial DNA in the cell's "energy factory". If humans have been around for 6,000 years, the number should be 80. If they have been around 200,000 years or more, as evolutionists claim, the number would be over 470. The number is around 80. This same amazing pattern occurs in other creatures, not just humans. When we graph all these differences in human mitochondrial DNA, we discover that the human family divides into three different groups. This is just what we would expect if all humans came from three women who got off Noah's Ark just a few thousand years ago".
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Re: Literally 6 Days

Postby backwoodsman » Sun Feb 04, 2018 6:54 pm

dwight92070 wrote:So what will you do with the following piece of general revelation discovered by Dr. Jeanson, since it does not agree with OEC beliefs?

We'll do the same thing with it that anyone else who values truth would do. That starts with not calling it anything like "revelation" until we've researched it enough to know that it truthfully and responsibly represents the science it uses.

Unfortunately for the author and promoters of this book, when looking into mitochondrial DNA mutations, just about the first thing one learns is that very little is understood about them. Several factors, including the timescale over which they happen, are still almost entirely guesswork. The kind of accuracy AIG is claiming in the paragraph you quoted is not even remotely close to possible; the science is still a long way from that.

It's sorta like what we just saw in the other thread with the Mt. St. Helens rock, where YEC's claim radiometric dating is inaccurate because it's based on assumptions... except that dating of mtDNA mutations really is based largely on assumptions and guesswork, not on well-understood observations and hard science like radiometric dating is. And now it's the YEC's who really are misrepresenting pure assumption and guesswork as scientific fact. Maybe it's just me, but that seems pretty hypocritical.
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Re: Literally 6 Days

Postby dwight92070 » Sun Feb 04, 2018 7:43 pm

I would like to declare a truce. Can we all agree that none of us can prove our position? You can't prove an old earth and I can't prove a young earth. All we have is evidence of our side. You don't accept my evidence and I don't accept your evidence. So we are at a stalemate.
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