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Ever since eighteenth century geologists suggested that the Earth might be older than 6000 years, Biblical scholars have attempted to reconcile the Scriptural record with the geological record. Many have taken a closer look at what the text actually says and doesn’t say about the origin of the Earth and biosphere, and come to the conclusion that there are valid alternatives to the traditional “literal” interpretation that would require a young Earth. Many other Christians have concluded that all such efforts are futile, and that the Biblical record is incompatible with modern geological thinking. They believe that modern geology somehow has the story of Earth’s history wrong. Others have used this apparent conflict between geology and the Bible as a reason to reject the Bible altogether.
What is your preferred way to understand Genesis One? I have the poll set up so you can pick up to three answers.
I am aware that some of the positions I have listed as “Old Earth,” such as the analogical days interpretation and framework hypothesis, actually make no statement on the age of the Earth. It could be young, it could be old. But it is pretty rare for a young-Earth creationist to hold to these interpretations, so I have labeled them as Old Earth.
No poll is perfect, so feel free to add your comments.
I’ll have this poll up for the entire month of February.
Grace and Peace
If one removes, the swarm of “Genesis is a myth” votes that came from the Skepchick blog, the poll results look more like this:
19 votes (13 percent) — Young Earth
30 votes (20 percent) — Old Earth — not committed to an interpretation
22 votes (15 percent) — Old Earth — day-age
5 votes ( 3 percent) — Old Earth — gap theory
21 votes (14 percent) — Old Earth — analogical days
26 votes (18 percent) — Old Earth — framework
5 votes ( 3 percent) — Old Earth — revelatory day
11 votes ( 7 percent) — Old Earth — cosmic temple inauguration
9 votes ( 6 percent) — Christian, but Bible contains errors
Unfortunately, I don’t know what percentage of my readers were voting for “myth” before the inundation, but from previous polls and comments, it seems that around 10% of my readers are in the “skeptic” category.
It looks like a pretty broad variety of viewpoints among the readers of The GeoChristian.
7 thoughts on “Poll: Understanding Genesis 1”
I’m not sure believing that the Bible has errors ipso facto makes one a “liberal Christian.”
I chose myth, because none of the other options accurately describe my position. I’d prefer an opotion of “true myth.” Modernism has consigned myth to the category of falsehood; however, I believe myth can reveal deep truths.
There is another option -literal days, no gap, with an old earth, viewing Gen 1:1 as a headline, the latter being an important view among major scholars.
“In his book Genesis Unbound Dr. John Sailhamer, a Hebrew scholar and biblical commentator of international reputation, has presented a fully exegetical interpretation of Genesis 1 which suffers no conflicts with contemporary sciences, no conflicts with the predominant viewpoints of contemporary Hebrew scholarship (as the Gap Theory encounters) and no logical difficulties of the order of things created (as the Day Age Theory encounters). Although it presents an exegetical “old earth” alternative to young age creationism, Dr. Sailhamer’s book was actually given a very favorable review here by a prominent at “young age creationist” (YEC) at Probe.org
Sailhamer’s exegesis is not new; J. Lightfoot defended it, and it is also known from ancient Jewish Rabbinical writings. Briefly, this position holds Gen 1:1 describes the creation of the universe at an indeterminate time in the past (“in the beginning,” which translates the Hebrew בראשית/bereshith, as Sailhamer emphasizes, frequently denotes an unspecified or indeterminate time in the past in the Old Testament, e.g. Genesis 10:10; Jeremiah 28:1). Sailhamer views the six days of creation as special preparation of the land for human habitation as having transpired over a period of six literal days in fairly recent times. This view is not be confused with the Gap Theory or restitution cosmology (as will become clear below), whose best recent defender was the late anthropologist Arthur Custance…” -read more here:
If God really wanted me to believe in Him, he would exist.
I remember when I was in 4th grade and we lived right at the base of North Mountain Park here in Phoenix. One of the things my brothers and I loved to do was hike up the trails that ran all over the mountain. I’ll never forget noticing that there were tiny sea shells up there and thinking that I had proved that the story of Noah’s flood was true. Because how else could tiny sea shells get up that high? There must have been a big flood.
Today I know better. But I am convinced that the reason we have flood stories all over the world is because all cultures have had that moment of finding sea shells way up in a mountain and going “Wow, that must have been a huge flood that washed these clear up here.” Because the idea of a really big flood just seems to make more sense than the idea that this mountain used to be sea floor and was raised up by huge forces. But if you follow the evidence, then you understand that the flood story is just that, a story. One used to explain how tiny sea shells got to an impossible place on a mountain.
So the flood is a myth. And like all myth it was used to explain something that was beyond the understanding of the people at the time. That does not make the rest of the bible untrue.
I suspect it’s a lot of what you mention Devin, combined with the experiences of the culture – if they’re in an area that experiences flooding, then there’s a pretty good chance that floods will factor into their stories. Considering that rivers and seas are extremely useful for civilizations, it makes sense that flood stories are common.
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To me the analogical view of the Genesis days in Genesis One seems to offer the best and most natural grasp of what the Holy Spirit wanted us to know about this portion of Scripture. Analogical means an analogy of something. God’s days were meant to be an analogy of our own. That means that God’s days are like but not the same as our own days. In a similar way, God has given us His image. We are like God but not the same as God. His ways are different from ours. His days are different from ours, too. We should not place the image of our days upon God’s days. Moreover, God has only seven days but ours repeat continually. God’s days appear be non-temporal since God is able to work and rest at the same time. God is working now, as Jesus said but He is also at rest and we look forward to His seventh day rest.