Young Earth creationists frequently assert that they are being faithful to Scripture, and consistent in their interpretation of it (phrases such as 'Taking God at His Word' are popular), and that those of us in the theistic evolution camp reject Scripture that contradicts our evolutionary understanding and are therefore unfaithful to Scripture.
My aim in this short essay is to show that this is not the case, and that Creationists are inconsistent in their approach to Scripture.
Note: All quotations are from the AV, the King James Version. This is not my preference, but some people think that all the more recent translations are the work of Satan, so I'll not let them wriggle out of this by saying that I'm quoting from a corrupt version...
First of all, let us forget all the science we know, and approach Scripture assuming that it is inerrant and everything it states is true. This is what the Creationists claim they are doing.
Firstly, what is the sky, or firmament?
Gen 1: 6-8
"And God said: Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
"And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so.
"And God called the firmament Heaven."
Note - Heaven in this sense is the sky, rather than anything more metaphysical. This is clear from later on in the chapter when God is described as putting lights - sun, moon and stars - into the firmament. So, clearly it is something (the Good News translates it as dome, for example) seperating water above from water below.
Genesis 1:9 then goes on to say:
"And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gather together unto one place, and let the dry land appear"
So under this firmament (does rather sound like a dome) is a flat thing - the earth. A bit like this:
Here the Waters above are pale blue, the firmament is deep blue, and the seas medium blue. In the firmament are the sun and moon and stars, and the earth below is brown. This is the cosmology the Genesis passages we've read this far present to us.
Earth is created from gathering the waters below together (the sea) so that what is left is the land.
So, what of the stars, sun and moon?
Well, according to Gen 1: 16-17
"And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also. "And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth"
So far, so good. Or so bad, if you want to claim that this is a literal description of how God made the universe as we understand it to be now. But wait - there's worse to come!
What of the flood waters? Well, Genesis 7: 11says that God opened the windows in heaven, which you will recall is the same thing as the firmament - that thing within which are the sun moon and stars, and the water, presumably that 'above the firmament' came in. So the water came from beyond the firmament; that is, beyond the sun, moon and stars.
What of the Earth?
Psalm 104: 5
"Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever."
It is unmoving and indeed unmoveable.
What of the motion of the Sun and Moon?
Psalm 104: 19
"He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down"
So the sun does set - it's not just the apparent motion of the earth - because God has told it when to do so.
And again; Joshua 10: 12-13
"Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun stand thou still upon and Gibeon and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon.
"And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day"
Joshua commands the sun and moon to stay still. This is clearly because it's these bodies which move, not the earth. On its own, you could take this as being 'how it appears to an observer', but coupled with the clear picture of the cosmos above, it is obvious that the earth spinning on its axis and the sun's movement being an illusion is not a Scriptural option. Lest you think I'm being silly here, Luther used just this passage to refute Galileo when he advanced the Copernican model of the earth going round the sun. He said that Scripture couldn't be wrong, so the science must be. Does this remind you of anything?
What of the Sea?
Job 38: 8, 10-11
"Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?
"And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors.
"And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further; and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?"
The coastline is fixed by God and doesn't change. The British Isles were never joined to the continent. Nor is the sea eroding the coast. Those mediaeval maps showing villages now drowned by the North Sea must be wrong. Those people in Norfolk who claim that their houses have dropped into the sea are presumably involved in a complex insurance fraud.
Having established what the biblical picture of the universe really is, it has to be asked whether anyone really believes it. Well, there's probably someone somewhere - there is certainly still a flat earth society. But most creationists would distance themselves from them.
So - which is consistent? Taking Scripture as being allegorical when in contradicts scientific facts that cannot be weaselled out of, and literal whenever the Institute for Creation Research claims it's found a loophole? Or to take it all as being allegorical whenever it talks about science?
If you do choose to be as literal as you can get away with, and hang the inconsistency in that approach, you have to decide which story is literally true.
Did God create the animals first, and finally man, male and female in one go? (Genesis 1: 27)
"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he them, male and female created he them"
Or did He make the earth, then make the man? Did He then decide that the man needed companions, and made animals? (Genesis 2: 7 & 18-19)
"And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living soul"
"And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him
"And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air, and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them..."
Did He finally decide that they weren't good enough, and so make a woman as a separate creation out of the man? (Genesis 2: 20-23)
"...but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
"And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof:
"And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
"And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman because she was taken out of Man."
I'm familiar with the contortions used to harmonise Genesis 1 and 2. And I'm afraid I find them thoroughly unconvincing. You have to do exactly the same twisting of the text that we theistic evolutionists are condemned for doing. We have two contradictory creation myths. Which one do you believe? Or are they both allegories?
And do you notice that God is just 'God' in Genesis 1, and "the LORD God' in Genesis 2. The LORD is YHWH, 'I Am', the name God gives Himself in Exodus. The two usages are consistent through the two chapters. They are different myths from different sources within early Judaism - a source that called God merely 'God' - El or Elohim, and a probably later - post Exodus, anyway -source that used the unique Name of God - YHWH.
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