MY ORIGINAL CASUAL MESSAGE WHICH SPARKED LENGTHY DEBATE:
“On holiday last week we walked on England’s famous Jurassic Coast and I discovered a couple of fossil Ammonites. It is awesome to think they had been lying there for perhaps 190 million years. It spoke to me of the wonder of creation and the greatness of our Creator!”
DISCUSSION ON FACEBOOK:
David Sax: Of course Tony I would have to disagree on the time spans but I’m glad you had a great time.
My reply: I think that what ultimately matters is not when or how God created the universe but THAT he created the universe. To me it would be just as wonderful whether he created the universe 13.7 billion years ago, 6000 years ago or last week and it would be just as wonderful if he created it over billions of years, seven days or instantaneously.
David Sax: I respect your work and your opinions Tony
Katie Chapman: We are hooked on time, whereas God operates in eternity. A day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day. if we could understand everything about God, He wouldn’t be God, that’s why He is worthy of our praise.
Stephen Mountier: I have no worries about 13.7 billion years or 6000 – God is GOD and he could have done it anyway he chose… I have an opinion like any person should but really at the end of the day the HOW is interesting and exciting but not important… the WHY he created is!
David G Lazell: I disagree. If you gave me your name and address and I said I didn’t believe you, you would be offended. God’s word clearly says that he made the world in six days (with an evening and morning after each one) and, unless you beleive in a Gap theory, only a few thousand years ago. Was Jonah in the fish for 3000 years? Did Joshua march around Jericho for 7 million days? Why do we doubt the Genesis day which is the same Hebrew word? How can we say that God is wonderful when we don’t believe His word?
David Sax: The Bible is not a science book, but we need to take Genesis seriously as it sets the scene for the rest of the holy books of scripture. I think evolutionism is mistaken. But at the core of Genesis and beyond is that we accept God’s rescue plan in Jesus the second Adam. Bless you all.
My reply: David, It is simply not a credible position to take everything in the Bible literally and I’m sure you don’t do so. It uses figures of speech: similes, metaphors, hyperbole, idioms, etc. We have to recognise these and to seek to understand what is meant by them. For example, Genesis 1-3 speaks of God breathing, walking and resting. All of these are non-literal statements. It shows no disrespect or lack of faith whatsoever to see them as non-literal. Jesus speaks of people being salt, and having planks in their eyes and tells them to hate their father and mother. These are not literal statements but they do convey God’s truth. I can’t deal with the bigger issues here so see my article http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/doesevolutiondisprovegod.html which, amongst many other things, lists the 10 great theological truths which I see in Gen 1-3. I firmly believe Genesis 1-3 is God’s word but we have to understand it correctly.
Lynda Edwards: I believe evolution is part of creation. God is adapting this planet and its inhabitants to different conditions. That is not to say we can abuse it though!
David Sax: @ Tony – many thanks. I wholly agree with you. The Bible is full of literature, allegory, poetry, metaphor etc. etc. Time doesn’t allow in depth debate here! Thanks for the link.
My reply: Thank you, David, I realised after putting “David” in my reply to David Lazell that it could have seemed I was replying to you! There are just too many Davids!
Stephen Mountier: Another interesting read is John Lennox’s “Seven Days that divide the World” written by a committed christian and Oxford Don in Mathematics… whilst it is heavy going at times it presents all cases very well… My view is do not dismiss any view without valid research – It is important to respect all who genuinely have done such and come to their conclusion. David L. I can assure you my Christian faith is very strong and my commitment to the bible and Christ’s teaching equally. We are able to disagree in love on issues that are, in my view, secondary which is why I distinguished the HOW from the WHY. The bible to me is ‘primarily’ God’s Love for us and His plan of Salvation from beginning to end and how it developed to it’s fulfillment in Christ. Imperfect men and women being inspired by the Holy Spirit to record such. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” 2 Tim 3:16… Getting right with God is the aim.
My reply: You took the words out of my mouth, Stephen. We must not fall out over creation/evolution (or eschatology). We must listen carefully and, where necessary, disagree in love. I believe the very public creation/evolution controversy has done enormous damage to the cause of the Gospel. However unintentionally, it has given the impression that a person has to choose between believing in evolution or believing in God. Sadly, I think that it has caused many to make that choice – against belief in God. I want to say loud and clear that belief in evolution is not incompatible with belief in God and that many godly Christians (including scientists), with a high view of Scripture, believe evolution is the method God used to bring about the universe. In fact evolution doesn’t answer ultimate questions of origin and purpose – they are only answered by belief in God. I am not too concerned about whether evolution is true/proven or not. I am DEEPLY concerned not to hinder people coming to faith.
David G Lazell: David Sax rightly said the Bible is not a science book. That is very true; science books are always changing! We shouldn’t need to feel we have to accommodate the theory of evolution and somehow ‘shoehorn’ the Bible into it. The Bible stands alone as the infallible, inerrant word of God. “Let God be true but every man a liar.” (Romans 3:4b) Jesus certainly believed the Genesis account was literal; when questioned about divorce He refers to when He made Adam and Eve at the BEGINNING ( Matthew 19:4). John 5:47: “If you do not believe his [Moses] writings, how will you believe Mine?” Answers in Genesis.org is a great website providing sound apologetics on this topic.
My reply: What God says is obviously infallible but our interpretation of it is not. Sometimes the two become confused and we rate our interpretation too highly, as if our interpretation is God’s word, when it might be mistaken. The way we understand if a passage is literal or symbolical is to relate it to other knowledge we have, including scientific knowledge. Therefore, among many other things, we need to examine carefully what science has discovered about the origin of the universe and of life on earth. This is not ‘shoehorning’ the Bible into science, it is a necessary and legitimate part of interpretation. We may decide science is unproven or even invalid but we need to do that after careful consideration of the facts. All truth, including scientific truth, comes from God.
When Jesus refers to the “beginning” in Matthew 19:4 he is referring to the beginning of humanity, not the absolute beginning of creation. Genesis says humans were created on Day 6 – the end of creation – not Day 1. The question remains: are the days literal or do they symbolize a long period of time. The latter would mean humans were created long after the creation of the universe, Earth etc. Nor does Matthew 19:4 mean Jesus took the whole of Genesis 1-3 literally. He could just as easily have quoted the verses about God breathing, walking in the garden or having a rest on the seventh day which are clearly non-literal. After all, he used symbolism in his teaching and he told parables, the content of which may well not have been actual historical occurrences. We are still faced with the need to decide whether the Genesis account is literal or a wonderful symbolical ‘parable’ which teaches a great deal of theology.
Sue Hooper: Another interesting man to listen to on this subject is Grady McMurtry – a scientist who was an evolutionist and now totally believes the Genesis account of creation. A very clever guy and challenging.
David Sax: I would agree with Tony that we must show love and understanding in these matters as Christians together. Amen. However, in my view, there is so much conventional science really does not know. For example after 68 million years in the ground you wouldn’t expect to see blood vessels and DNA. This link is NOT creationist, and discusses how soft tissue and DNA was found in dinosaur remains. Makes you think eh? http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/dinosaur.html
My reply: Thank you, David and Sue for your interesting messages. Let me re-iterate my position. My concern is to counteract the very damaging idea that belief in evolution is incompatible with belief in God, which has encouraged people to give up believing in God. I firmly believe that to say evolution is incompatible with belief in God doesn’t make sense. Some scientists seem to treat Natural Selection as a god but it is merely a process. It can’t explain the origin of the universe. It can’t even explain its own existence. I don’t believe in a god-of-the-gaps. I am simply interested in the process God used to create the universe and everything in it.
It wouldn’t bother me one scrap if evolution were proved untrue tomorrow and I know there are unanswered questions about it. On a superficial level, watching the fascinating recent documentaries on penguins, I asked the slightly tongue-in-cheek question: “What was Natural Selection doing? Life would have been a lot easier for them if they could fly!!” But, of course, we could ask the question “What was God doing – not allowing them to fly?!” I’m not a scientist and so am not competent to comment in any depth on the scientific arguments for (or against) evolution, although I can learn from the debate between scientists. Nor do I have the time to go into the matter in great depth. It is not amongst my priorities. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what method God used and I’m quite convinced Genesis doesn’t rule out evolution. I was brought up as a young earth creationist but there are very serious problems with that position also and I discovered ‘scientific’ arguments used (and still used) to support it (and creationism in general), which I once accepted, are either inconclusive or invalid. However I am interested (and certainly not threatened or dismissive) when new arguments arise which might challenge evolution. In fact I would be very interested to read any NON-CREATIONIST scientists who critique evolution – so long as it doesn’t take too much time. I’ll follow up the sources you both mention.
My reply: Dear David and Sue I have followed up the sources you mention. Sue you mention that Grady McMurty is a scientist who was an evolutionist and now is a creationist. I have no reason to doubt that he is a good man but my research shows his academic qualifications do not give him particular scientific expertise on the subject of evolution (he is not a biologist, paleontologist, anthropologist etc.). His BS degree is in agriculture. His master’s degree is in forestry. His doctorate is in theology from a non accredited private college. I have found this before that sometimes creationist scientists do not have expertise in biology or other subjects related to evolution.
David you mentioned palaeontologist Mary Schweitzer’s recent discovery of blood vessels and DNA in dinosaur remains which couldn’t have survived if it really was 68 million years old and so this must be an argument for dinosaurs being only a few thousand years old. However Schweitzer, who is a practising Evangelical Christian and overt about her faith, strongly disagrees with this and fully accepts the geologists’ dating of the site at 68 million years old. She and her scientific colleagues are clear that what it proves is that such tissue can survive for such long periods, which is a new and very unexpected discovery. Again, this is what I have often found, creationist claims based on scientific evidence are open to evolutionist conclusions and so are, to say the least, inconclusive.
John Hagger: 190 million years – that’s nothing against the age of the Universe! 13.77 billions years for that!
Binyamin Sheldrake: Just a thought Tony… if evolution is correct and the age of the earth as you say, then how is that compatible with your teaching on eschatology? If the start reaches back that long, then the end of the universe, again according to science, is millions of years ahead, so no panic just yet then. If your end times teaching includes a ‘catastrophism’ (can’t think of a better word to talk about a violent interruption of the natural) then why not the start too? Just a thought.. seems to be allowing one without the other, especially when it comes to the time frames involved?
My reply: Thank you, Binyamin. Yes, in theory, the universe could go on for billions of years but that does not mean God will allow it to do so (without the transformation Scripture foretells). It is well known that scientists accept that life on earth could be wiped out at any stage, e.g. by a massive asteroid strike or the like. Astronomers are already urgently searching for such near earth asteroids. So even secular science accepts the possibility of the early demise of humanity. God normally works through the “changes and chances” of life. But I don’t believe God just leaves the universe and the earth to ‘get on with it.’ He is constantly working out his purposes. So he may work out some of the fulfillments of eschatological prophecy through natural events (e.g. “signs in the heavens”). Some of the prophecies sound remarkably like possible scenarios envisaged by science.
However, I certainly don’t believe that God ONLY works out his purposes through the “changes and chances.” God specially intervened in the past. The main example is, of course, the incarnation. But I also have great difficulty in believing that the spiritual nature of humanity just developed ‘naturally.’ It seems to me that this required divine intervention. (However, I don’t see those past interventions – creation and incarnation – as a catastrophic “violent interruption of the natural.”) So, just as God specially intervened in the past, I have no difficulty with believing he will specially intervene in the future, fulfilling eschatological prophecy. In particular, Jesus will return and we should watch for the signs he foretold. As far as I understand, the age of the universe has no relevance to the eschatological ‘timetable.’
David G Lazell: I’d like to close my case with 2 thoughts, if I may, Tony:
1. The world that God made was”very good” (Genesis 1:31). Therefore evolution is not compatible with the Bible because nature, “red in tooth and claw,” was needed for the world to have come to where it is today. How could the LORD in His infinite wisdom and righteousness have made an imperfect world?
2. What is Science? It is about examining the evidence, conducting tests and making an hypothesis. I teach Science to children and they know that theories are very hard to prove; even with lots of testing. I am yet to hear of a scientist who successfully tested the theory of (macro) evolution in a laboratory! Evolution is not testable Science – it is a belief system based on faith in a supposed historical event; historical science, if you like.
My reply: On point 1, David, I have dealt with this in depth in my article “How does the Genesis account of the Fall of man relate to Evolution” (see http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/?p=186). I seek to show that ‘nature red in tooth and claw’ before the Fall is not inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture as understood by creationists. It is a substantial article but here are a few very brief points which are substantiated in the article:
- Satan pre-existed the Fall, so all was not well
- Evangelical commentators, say Scripture indicates there was a state of travail in the pre-human world (i.e. carnivores etc) which man was to “subdue” – a strong word implying opposition.
- The Hebrew word for ‘wild animals’ includes carnivores (and many animals are clearly designed to be carnivores/predatory – surely creationists are not saying that developed after the Fall).
- Scripture does not say there was no animal death before the Fall.
- God clothes Adam and Eve in skins and calls for sacrifice, implying the death of animals is not evil in itself.
- Adam and Eve must have had some concept of death for God’s warning to mean anything (“You will surely die”).
- Evangelical commentators say when God called creation ‘good’ it means fit for purpose and that does not rule out suffering and death.
(If anyone wishes to respond to these points, please read the article first).
On point 2, I am not a scientist so I don’t feel competent to comment on this point. Thank you for your contributions, David, which I have found stimulating. Having said that, I didn’t intend to discuss Evolution. All I said was I’d found an old fossil!
David G Lazell: Dear Tony, Sir, from reading the article above, it is clear that your mind is already made up concerning Evolution:” It does seem beyond reasonable doubt that nature “red in tooth and claw” evolved over many thousands of years, culminating in homo sapiens.” You say you are not a scientist. Do you think a man in a lab coat with a different degree to you is infallible? When was evolution ever proven? What evidence is there that it is reasonable? You say you cannot comment on the science and yet you are so convinced this theory is true. God-willing, I will respond to your points in due course, my motive being to defend God’s word in its entirety as you taught me when I was a member of your church as a boy.
My reply: If I came across an objective scientist (i.e. neither a campaigning creationist, nor a campaigning evolutionist) who could provide convincing evidence that, say, evolution between the species clearly did not take place, I would be very interested. I have no axe to grind. As I said above, it wouldn’t worry me if evolution were disproved tomorrow. I have, however, read many creationist arguments and found them unconvincing or inaccurate.
To answer your question, I do not regard any scientist as infallible but I think one has to take a very wide consensus of science seriously. I do not see how evolution is unreasonable, as you imply.
I too seek to “defend God’s word in its entirety” as you put it – I have done so very publicly in the Church of England – and I am quite convinced that there is no conflict between evolution and the teaching of the Bible, let alone belief in God. The issue is how we interpret the Bible. I repeat what I said earlier: What God says is infallible, but our interpretation of Scripture (yours or mine) is not infallible. In particular, a literalistic interpretation of the OT runs into some serious problems, including in areas not to do with creation/evolution. One has to take figures of speech: similes, metaphors, hyperbole, idioms, and cultural factors seriously.
David Sax: Putting the science to one side, creationist arguments are in the minority. However IMHO it doesn’t make them wrong. I would say (as a non scientist) there are many ambivalent and unanswered areas in conventional science. Like David Lazell I find the evolutionist circle very hard to square indeed. But of course the torrent of evolutionist thought is accepted wholly by media, society generally and of course most of science itself. Having said that the soft tissue and DNA found by (non creationist) scientists over the last 10 years is VERY hard to explain (I posted this evidence earlier in this thread). I see strong evidence for a recent massive global catastrophe, whether it was 5,000 or 10,000 years ago is not relevant. But as we said earlier the Bible is NOT a science book and I would also be careful how I disagree with folk (like my brother Tony) and ensure it is with great love and respect. This is important as we are to show love to our brothers in Christ and also to non believers also. I cannot accept evolution and there has been the rise of what we could call ”scientism” which is much broader than honest science. C.S. Lewis foresaw the rise of this arrogant and usually atheistic aggressive form of crusading science. The other area evolutionists rather wouldn’t speak about is the adoption of evolution and 20th century eugenic and later fascist theories. There was a strong acceptance of evolution by early fascist thinkers and there is plenty of evidence for this. Take a look at this You Tube clip about the rise of ”scientism”. It is worth a watch………..https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPeyJvXU68k
Stephen Brown: Tony wrote in his original post that the Jurassic Coast “spoke to him”. My personal view is that this Dorset coastline didn’t physically speak. I think we will find a deeper and more helpful interpretation of the post if we try to interpret the poetry and picture contained in the words. I would suggest the fossils within the coastline prompted Tony to remember the size, extent, diversity and richness of creation.
Angela Harverson: God created the species ..all different
My reply: Thank you, Stephen for your helpful comment. And thank you, Angela, I agree – there is nothing God didn’t create.
My reply: Thank you, David (Sax). I do, of course, agree that science, including evolution, has been misused including in the eugenics movement. I took seriously your earlier reference to the recent soft tissue discovery but, equally, I took seriously the reaction of the (Evangelical Christian) scientist who discovered it that this did not conflict with evolution. Thank you for being gracious, as always. All those involved in this discussion have been gracious, by and large. Just as there is the danger of what you call an “arrogant and usually atheistic aggressive form of crusading science” there is a danger of obsessive, judgmental creationism (of which you are not guilty!). We should avoid either like the plague. They are ungodly – even where they might be scientifically or theologically accurate.
My reply: David (Lazell), I’ve given more thought to your latest message and have concluded that if you are going to respond in detail to one of my website/blog articles it would be far better on the blog, rather than Facebook. The reason for this is that I want people who read your response to be able to read my original article alongside it. That will mean I don’t have to try to repeat any of the points made in my article on the rather limited facilities of Facebook. It will also mean that you can write at greater length than would be practical on Facebook. So, by all means respond to my article – that’s partly what it’s there for – but I’m moving that particular discussion to the blog http://www.christianteaching.org.uk/blog/ Thanks.
David G Lazell: Will do, sir. Thanks very much.
Peter Gray: Read: Ps 119:126 It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law. This is a powerful word for today. 130 Million years? Have a look at http://creation.com/.
My reply: Thank you, Peter, please see the discussion elswehere on this page (which begins “On holiday last week we walked on England’s famous Jurassic Coast and I discovered a couple of fossil Ammonites” which has been expanded since you wrote. You will see some of the main points in my position. You will see that I think the choice is simply about which method God used to create the universe and, like many Christians who have a high view of Scripture, I believe that evolution is not incompatible with the Bible. (However, it wouldn’t bother me if evolution were totally disproved tomorrow!)
Peter Gray-Read: Thank you Tony I appreciate your position re creation. The KJV rendition of Ps 119: 126 is a call to intercession don’t you think… The NIV says ‘broken your law’ But ‘made void’ reminds me of the ‘tow ho v’boho’ (Hebrew) ? ie ‘without form and void’ of Genesis 1. We need God to work again. In this land.
My reply: Yes, Peter, we need nothing less than a revival by the Holy Spirit on a level with the Wesleyan
DISCUSSION ON THE BLOG
DISCUSSION WITH DAVID G LAZELL: MY RESPONSES (INCLUDING HIS POINTS)
A. I wrote: Satan pre-existed the Fall, so all was not well” [i.e. nature was ‘red in tooth and claw’] You responded that Satan’s ejection from heaven “must have been after day 6 of creation week because God pronounced everything very good (Genesis 1:31). Otherwise, God would have pronounced Satan’s rebellion very good.”
1. Scripture does not say when Satan was ejected from heaven so we are speculating.
2. It seems highly likely that angels existed long before the creation of the universe. They are not part of the space-time universe.
3. It seems highly likely that if something as significant as the ‘fall’ of Satan had happened within the ‘seven days’ of creation it would have been recorded, especially if they were seven literal days).
4. The words: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Gen 1:31) are clearly referring to the physical time-space universe God had created, not the spiritual realm of angels. The time-space universe was fit for purpose. There is nothing inconsistent with the existence of evil in the spiritual realm.
B. I wrote: “Evangelical commentators say Scripture indicates there was a state of travail in the pre-human world (i.e. carnivores etc) which man was to “subdue” – a strong word implying opposition”, and, “The Hebrew word for ‘wild animals’ includes carnivores (and many animals are clearly designed to be carnivores/predatory – surely creationists are not saying that developed after the Fall).”
MY RESPONSE: You referred to an article which says that all animals were originally herbivores based upon Genesis 1:29-30 “Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food.’ And it was so.” My comments are as follows:
1. This is part of a highly symbolical account of creation which shows the original intention of God that creation should be paradise but that this was ruined by sin. The story of the garden of Eden and the picture of the original world being without bloodshed are important parts of this.
2. Some of the wording is clearly not to be taken literally – not “every” seed-bearing plant or tree is suitable for human consumption. Not “every” plant is suitable for every animal to eat.
3. Some animals (and plants) are clearly designed for a carnivorous diet. Surely creationists are not saying they evolved into that state after the Fall.
4. I am quite convinced that the days of Genesis 1 are not to be taken literally and that the universe is not a mere few thousand years old. The evidence for the latter is overwhelming. And there is plenty of evidence of carnivores pre-dating the arrival of homo-sapiens. We decide whether a passage is literal or symbolical partly by relating it to relevant clear knowledge we have from other sources (including science). Hence I cannot take the reference to universal herbivorous diet as literal. (That is not to say that God will not bring that about in the future – which I think will be the case – but the evidence points to the conclusion that that was not the case in the past).
5. What the passage is saying is that ultimately all life depends on vegetation and, more important, divine provision.
C. I wrote: “Scripture does not say there was no animal death before the Fall.” You responded: But Scripture does say that in Adam all die (1 Corinthians 15:22).
MY RESPONSE: This is referring to human beings.
D. I wrote: “Adam and Eve must have had some concept of death for God’s warning to mean anything (“You will surely die”). “ My response: “You will surely die.” (Genesis 2:17) The Hebrew for the word die here means (among other things) destroy. Adam experienced the LORD’s creation of Eve, and so to be warned of the destruction of life would have been understood as the undoing of His work. And anyway, we don’t know how Adam responded to this word from God because Scripture does not tell us. My son says he does not want to die and yet he has not witnessed any death in the family. He understands the concept as a child, why wouldn’t Adam as a man fathered by Almighty God?
MY RESPONSE: I think we must stick to the threat of death ( as the text says), not some vague destruction. Your son understands the concept of death because he has been told or learnt about it. Death has to exist in order for that to happen, which is what I’m saying with respect to Adam and Eve.
E. I wrote: “Evangelical commentators say when God called creation ‘good’ it means fit for purpose and that does not rule out suffering and death.” You responded that the Hebrew word means “fine, beautiful, best, loving etc. It may not rule out death and suffering, but it certainly is not included within the meaning of this word.”
MY RESPONSE: As you say, David, the word may not exclude death and suffering. That is what I’m saying too.
F. You asked: “The biblical book of Genesis: what genre is it?”
MY RESPONSE: One can’t give a simple answer to that. Genesis includes various genres. There is literal history, for example. One has to assess each passage. Genesis 1-3 is theological symbolism. I will say, though, that all of it (Genesis) is the Word of God.
FURTHER DISCUSSION WITH DAVID G LAZELL: MY RESPONSES (INCLUDING HIS POINTS)
G. You write: Genesis 1:1 cites, “In the beginning God created.” In its plainest meaning, this was the beginning of all of creation; including when He made angels.
MY RESPONSE: Even a literal interpretation doesn’t have all creation completed instantaneously, so it is not clear when in that process (be it six days or billions of years) angels were created. To say it is clear is an argument from silence.
H. You write: As for the genre of Genesis, it is law/history. When Jesus was questioned on divorce (Mark 10:1-6) – a legal matter – He referred to the beginning of Genesis, calling it, “from the beginning of creation.” (verse 6)
MY RESPONSE: It simply isn’t true that Genesis is only “law/history.” For example, I do not believe the following are literal but are rather symbolical representations of important theological truths:
• The light and darkness of day and night being created days before the sun.
• Vegetation being created before the sun.
• God being heard walking in the garden (presumably his footsteps being heard).
• God not knowing where Adam and Eve were.
• God having a rest day.
• Woman being made out a man’s spare rib.
• God bringing all the wild animals and birds to Adam for naming (In view of the millions of species).
• A tree which gives eternal life and God having to prevent Adam and Eve eating from it and so living for ever.
• A talking snake.
• The garden of Eden presumably still being there with an angelic guard, since Genesis doesn’t say it was removed. (If it would be removed why the angelic guard of the tree of life?).
I. You write: If you argue the first three chapters are symbollic, how do you justify the genealogy of mankind? When do people become real? For example, was Noah the 10th in line from Adam or not? When does “symbolism” become history? Was Adam the first person? To accept your theory in terms of genre would muddle original sin and the Last Adam (was He symbollic?).
MY RESPONSE: I have no problem with the idea of God taking an original human couple and bringing them into spiritual relationship with him. In other words I have no difficulty with a literal “Adam and Eve” couple. Nor do I doubt the existence of Noah. As for original sin and the Last Adam I take those literally and don’t really understand your criticism.
As for genealogies, it is well known that the ancient world’s approach (including that of Israel) is not the same as our modern approach. I will quote B. B. Warfield whom you will probably know was a conservative theologian who argued strongly for the inerrancy of Scripture. He wrote:
“These genealogies must be esteemed trustworthy for the purposes for which they are recorded; but they cannot safely be pressed into use for other purposes for which they were not intended, and for which they are not adapted. In particular, it is clear that the genealogical purposes for which the genealogies were given, did not require a complete record of all the generations through which the descent of the persons to whom they are assigned runs; but only an adequate indication of the particular line through which the descent in question comes. Accordingly it is found on examination that the genealogies of Scripture are freely compressed for all sorts of purposes; and that it can seldom be confidently affirmed that they contain a complete record of the whole series of generations, while it is often obvious that a very large number are omitted. There is no reason inherent in the nature of the scriptural genealogies why a genealogy of ten recorded links, as each of those in Genesis v. and xi. is, may not represent an actual descent of a hundred or a thousand or ten thousand links. The point established by the table is not that these are all the links which intervened between the beginning and the closing names, but that this is the line of descent through which one traces back to or down to the other.”