Detailed question:

My question is regarding the creation story. How come plants were created before the sun? Were those nocturnal plants? As we know, plants need the sun to live. I’ve posted this question in other sites and I got answers like: Plants can survive 24 hours; There was already light on the first day; It was God’s divine light that nourished the plants and so forth. But none of them really answered the question. First, there was no 24 hour day until the 4th day of creation when the sun and moon were created. Second, the first light was not the sun (as mentioned in the previous sentence). Third, is God’s divine light still present today?

Your questions are evidence that the six days of creation in Genesis 1 should not be taken literally. If we insist on an interpretation of scripture that conflicts with well-established facts and just does not make sense, then that shows that the interpretation of scripture is faulty.

As you have pointed out, light was created on the 1st day, but the sun was only created on the 4th day. Therefore the most natural reading of this is that God does not intend us to understand these details as literal.

And plants. There is strong evidence that plants have been growing for a long time. Plants that have seeds, for example, were first formed about 305 million years ago. However even before this modern scientific knowledge it should have been apparent to a careful reader of scripture that in Gen 1 the seed plants were created on the 3rd day, and man on the 6th day, but in Gen 2 the plants are described as first growing after man’s creation. It is only by forcing an unnatural reading that these two records can both be interpreted literally.

It is honouring God’s word to read it as making sense, not nonsense.

Yes, God’s divine light is still present today.

2Co 4:6  For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

 

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  • Rico

    Thanks for answering my questions!

    In my opinion, the chronological order of creation should be taken literally. It doesnt qualify not to be. The meaning of a sentence with within the story could be considered so but not the time element. I can only consider this to be an error in the bible. Gen 2 is worse…Man before Plants? Man can’t survive without food. Man only ate fruits then.

  • Russell Downs

    There are three possible approaches:

    1) The Christian fundamentalist approach that says that Gen 1 and 2 are literal and true. As you have pointed out this does not work. You conclude that there is “error in the Bible”.

    2) Atheists such as Richard Dawkins who agree with Christian fundamentalists to interpret the Gen 1 and 2 literally and therefore is false because a literal interpretation conflicts with known facts.

    3) Christians who accept well-established scientific facts and interpret Gen 1 and 2 non-literally. I have given some reasons why Gen 1 and 2 should be interpreted non-literally. Gen 4 provides additional reasons to doubt the fundamentalist approach, even without modern scientific knowledge. Cain and his brothers (for example Seth) found wives. If there were previously people on the earth then this avoids the unpleasant necessity of assuming that they married their own sisters and nieces.

  • Rico

    Gen 4 talks not only of Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel. In the 13th verse, Cain was worried after being punished (to become a wanderer) for killing his brother that “anyone” who would find him will kill him. This means that there were already other people in the land and not just Cain’s family.

    Adam and Eve maybe the first humans on earth but the bible didnt say they were the ONLY humans on earth. God could have made others too. But I still partly disagree with this notion. I think they were the first homo sapiens or the thinking humans. Hominids already existed maybe millions of years before them. What I think happened is accounted in the story the Annunakis in Sumeria wherein hominids were genetically modified. Now you might say that this is too far out of the discussion. Not so. Let me sight an example from the Bible itself and it is in Genesis 3:14. After tempting Eve to eat from the tree of life, it now crawls on its belly. Which means before that happened, it had legs. :-). If God just cut-offd its legs, its offsprings will have legs again. And snakes today dont have legs as a proof.

    • Russell Downs

      Sorry Rico. I just saw your comment about Gen 4. It deserves more attention than I can afford to give it before tomorrow.

    • Russell Downs

      I agree with your idea that there were already existing “people”, and with your reasons for coming to that conclusion. However they were thinking beings as is evidenced, for example, by their cave paintings. There was something special about Adam and Eve. You can postulate a change in genetic nature but the evidence for it is very thin. However I don’t see any need for this supposed change, any more than for there to be a genetic change in people after the coming of Christ. By God revealing his laws, those who received the revelation became responsible, but not by a sudden change in their level of intelligence.

      I will admit that there are things I don’t know about this subject. Were Adam and Eve created directly out of the ground? They could have been, just as Christ was miraculously conceived. Or were they selected from the existing people? I am open to argument about this.

  • Rico

    Cont.

    I still think the Christian fundamentalists are correct.

    • Rico

      sorry….

      They are correct in saying that Gen 1 and 2 are to be taken literally and therefore are chronological errors.

  • Russell Downs

    I’m not quite sure where you are, Rico. You seem to be saying that you agree with the fundamentalist approach. But then you say that there are errors; this is not part of the fundamentalist approach which denies any errors. So perhaps you mean that the Dawkins approach is correct. viz. interpret it literally and the Bible is therefore false. Or perhaps you are saying that you are still working it out, but that the atheist approach (which ironically is similar in some important ways to the fundamentalist approach) seems to have merit. If this is what you mean then it can be answered in two ways:

    1) Show reasons to trust the Bible (another subject that is dealt with elsewhere on this site), and then look for a way to reconcile a “difficulty” in Gen 1, 2.

    2) Show reasons why a literal reading of both Gen 1 and 2 is not a good interpretation even without modern scientific knowledge. I have briefly tried to do this. If the arguments did not convince you I could expand on them if you like. Once this is shown then any perceived difficulty vanishes.

  • Rico

    Sorry Russell if I was confusing you. I agree partly with fundamentalists but I wouldnt say I have exactly the same stand as Dawkins (taking what you have written as Dawkins’ views) to consider the creation story or the Bible as false. I just consider Gen 1 and 2 as chronologically incorrect, unlike an atheist who throws the whole basket of apples because of few bad ones. Who I dont understand, are the fundametalists. Taking it literally and still not an error? They have to prove: That there is/were nocturnal plants on earth to support Gen 1; That man was a carnivore before he became fruitarian to support Gen 2. Deuteronomy 33:14 will tell us that fruits are brought forth by the sun. Its not important anyway if there were nocturnal plants (no fruits) because they do not support life of man which is the center of creation.

  • RizKrispin

    Hey guys – I just read Gen 2:5 which says plants were there while there wasn’t any human yet. Would seem to agree with Gen 1, in which plants were created first and then man. Sounds like both say plants first, then man. Why are you saying Gen 2 is opposite to Gen 1?

    Also – I notice neither of you has discussed the approach that many people take, that the Bible is not written as a book of science and instead uses language that accommodates a human perspective. The sun, moon, etc. could have existed beyond the mist that covered the earth, which is explicity described in the first chapters of Genesis. From the perspective of someone standing on the earth, had anyone been created yet, the process of the thinning of that mist would first make light visible, then a division between sky and sea, then the sun… this is as it would appear to an earth-bound observer.

    Third, you discussed cavemen. Be careful how much “evidence” you take for granted:
    http://www.gotquestions.org/cavemen.html

    Also, notice the Bible does actually talk about post-Adamic cave dwellers of low intellect – Job 30:3-8. See also this discussion of men and women who lived in caves in Bible times, about whose ‘human-ness’ there is no reason to doubt:
    http://www.cai.org/bible-studies/bible-study-cavemen-ancestors-or-offspring

    • Russell Downs

      By a natural reading of Gen 2 the plants are described as being formed after Adam. Yes I know that it is possible to understand it the other way round. My point is that a literal read-what-it-says approach does not uniformly support a literal 6-day creation; Gen 2 supplies just such an example.

      Of course there are people even today who live in caves. That does not say anything about whether there were people and/or people-like animals who predated Adam. In fact there is overwhelming evidence for their existence well before the Adam who was approximately 10,000 years ago. This evidence comes not from God’s Word, but from God’s Work, which are the things that God has made. An interpretation of God’s Word must be a false interpretation if it contradicts clear evidence from Gods’ Work.

    • Rico

      I’m sorry RizKrispin but Gen 2:5 doesn’t agree with Gen 1. Gen 2 says man was created first and Gen 1 says plants were created first.

      I do agree that the bible is not a book of science. I have encountered the approach of “earth observer” and I can say that this doesn’t make the “error” not an error. If the sun and moon were created before plants but wasnt not able to shine thru it, still plants wouldn’t live. To make an exaggeration just to prove my point that there is a chronological error in the creation story, what if man was created before the earth in the Genesis creation story? would you still consider it not an error?

      About post-adamic humans, I have no concern about that in this discussion. Im taking about pre-Adamic humans which Gen 4:13 will tell us that the lineage of Adam and Eve are not the only humans in the area.

  • Cliff Wigg

    It would seem to me that the issue here is how one reads the verses in Gen 2.

    Gen 2:5 before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground;

    Notice the words ‘plant of the field’ and ‘herb of the field’ this would tell us that the record is talking about a particular types of plants not all plants.

    These plants had not grown because it had not rained on the earth yet and there was no man to till the ground.

    Gen 2:6 but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.

    So God causes the ground to be watered fixing one reason why those things had not grown yet.

    Gen 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

    And now God has fixed the second issue because now there is a man to till the ground.

    But I hear some saying “WHAT DID THE MAN EAT?”

    Gen 2:8 The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.

    God creates an garden for the man which in the Hebrew is talking of a fenced area.

    H1588
    גּן
    gan
    gan
    From H1598; a garden (as fenced): – garden.

    Now if it took God in Gen 1 to create the plants on the earth how long do you think it took God to create a garden?
    I suggest that it would have taken even less time thus Adam would have had food to eat.

    Gen 2:9 And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

    To me it comes down to how you read the chapter and as far a I can see the literal reading of the chapter fits just fine with Gen 1.

    In Gen 1 it is clear that there is light before there is plants thus fixing the problem of no sun, now what that light was could be debated but I would suggest that it is God himself as we know that the angles can shine as divine creations of God or they can withhold that light to look just as men do.
    God himself says that he dwells in unapproachable light.

    With this all in mind it is possible that God allowed that light to shine on the earth for the time before he appointed the sun and moon.

    The reality is that it doesn’t matter that much what the light was as much as it matters that there was light and there was light.

    Even those people in society that are not that well educated but are looking for illegal ways to make a little extra cash can tell you how t grow plants in your roof space where there is no sun light therefore do you think it was a problem for God to use a different light other than the sun?

    I don’t think it makes me irrational just because I can see a logical and consistent way to understand Gen 1 and 2 in a literal way without changing the text.

    Hope all are well

    Cliff

    • Russell Downs

      I don’t think Cliff that you are being illogical. There is more than one way of understanding the passage. My point is that the straightforward interpretation of Gen 2 that is the on-the-face-of-it interpretation places the creation of Adam before plants. If I read those verses without reference to any other scripture then its apparent meaning is that plants were made after people. There are those who say that we should interpret scripture in a straightforward way as it appears on-the-face-of-it. I disagree with that view. Often we need to dig a little deeper. Actually plants with seeds were made hundreds of millions of years before people. However the origin of agriculture is not enormously different from the time of Adam, something like 10,000 years ago.

      • Cliff Wigg

        There may be more than one way to understand the passage but I don’t think that both ways can be right.
        I think it is clear what God was telling us in Gen 1 and 2 and this doesn’t require me to twist the text at all rather just carefully read each word to understanding what it means.
        One argues that Gen 1 and 2 don’t align with each other because they say plants were created after man in Gen 2 but if we carefully read the text we find that is not the case.
        Gen 1:11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

        Gen 2:5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.

        Now take special note of the words used around the words “plant” and “Herb” and do you notice that in Gen 2 that there is the descriptive words to tell us that it was a plant of the field and herb of the field.
        The obvious issue here is not whether Gen 1 and 2 fit in with each other literally rather it is whether it fits in with some people’s ideas of evolution and other such ponderings.
        One could argue one way or the other on that topic without ever convincing each other one way or the other.
        I myself am happy to believe that Adam and Eve where the first people on the earth and that there were not others before them in this creation.
        I have read a fair bit on the topic and as far as I can see the evolutionists have had far more money and time invested into proving their view but I wonder what would happen if that time and money was spent trying to prove the other view.
        This example of Gen 1 and 2 being reinterpreted to suit the idea of man before Adam just demonstrates how one needs to seek to change the message of the bible to suit ones ideas thus changing what God is trying to tell us.
        The fact that the words of the bible need to be twisted to suit ones view demonstrates to me that that view is incorrect.

        Hope everyone is having a great day,

        Cliff

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kenneth-Gilmore/1421493586 Kenneth Gilmore

          Cliff, if one reads Genesis 1 literally as detailing creation in six literal consecutive days, then there is a flat-out contradiction between the order of creation in Gen 1 and Gen 2:4-25 which won’t go away with creative reading. As the OT scholar Peter Enns notes, we see the following differences [1] when comparing the accounts:

          Duration: Six days vs one day (implied by “in the day” at Gen 2:4)

          Start: Dark, watery chaos vs an oasis

          Creation sequence: (Light, firmament, dry land, plants, sun and moon, birds and sea creatures, land animals, human males and females) vs (Adam, garden, land animals and birds, Eve)

          Method of creation: (God speaks,separates, names and blesses) vs (God forms, breathes, puts to sleep, builds)

          Portrait of God: (Transcendant, minimal anthropomorphism, called Elohim) vs (Immanent, involved in creation actively, anthropomorphism, called YHWH)

          Portrait of man: many humans (male and female) created simultaneously vs man from ground, then woman from man.

          Enns is hardly alone in this view. Around half a century ago, the biblical scholar Meredith Kline notes that Gen 2v5 notes that there was a time when the land was devoid of vegetation for two reasons: the absence of rain and the absence of a cultivator. To remedy that, God supplied both the rain and the (human) cultivator. The problems emerge when we assume that Gen 2 and Gen 1 are both literal descriptions of creation and try to harmonise them:

          “it was the work of the “third day” that the waters should be gathered together into seas and that the dry land should appear and be covered with vegetation (Gen. 1:9-13). All this according to the theory in question transpired within twenty-four hours. But continents just emerged from under the seas do not become thirsty land as fast as that by the ordinary process of evaporation…
           
          “The results, indeed, approach the ludicrous when it is attempted to synchronize Gen. 2:5 with Genesis 1 interpreted in terms of a week of twenty-four-hour days. On that interpretation, vegetation was created on what we may call “Tuesday”. Therefore, the vegetationless situation described in Gen. 2:5 cannot be located later than “Tuesday” morning. Neither can it be located earlier than that for Gen. 2:5 assumes the existence of dry land which does not appear until the “third day”. Besides, would it not have been droll to attribute the lack of vegetation to the lack of water either on “Sunday” when the earth itself was quite unfashioned or on “Monday” when there was nothing but water to be seen?

          “Hence the twenty-four-hour day theorist must think of the Almighty as hesitant to put in the plants on “Tuesday” morning because it would not rain until later in the day! (It must of course be supposed that it did rain, or at least that some supply of water was provided, before “Tuesday” was over, for by the end of the day the earth was abounding with that vegetation which according to Gen. 2:5 had hitherto been lacking for want of water.” [2]

          With respect to the question of plants and light, a far bigger problem with the literalist view is that prior to the creation of the sun and moon we have three days and three nights. Given that the Gen 1:14 specifically says that the sun and moon were given to divide the day from the night, the existence of day and night prior to the creation of the entities regulating them is piuzzling, to say the least.

          Much of the problem vanishes when one recognises that the first three days denote creation of domains, while days 4-6 depict the creation of inhabitants of those domains. Recognising this parallelism in the days of creation obviates the need to interpret them literally, avoids the contradiction with Gen 2 and more importantly provides the path to interpreting the creation narratives in a way compatible with the fact of evolution.

          References

          1. Enns P “The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say About Human Origins” (Brazos Press, 2012)
          2. Kline MG “Because it Had Not Rained” Westminster Theological Journal (1958) 20:146-157

          • http://www.facebook.com/Cliffordwigg101 Clifford Wigg

            I just want to say
            sorry for the long post just one thing to note is that it isn’t really that
            long I have just posted my answers after each section.

            For those reading along I have put [KG] before what Ken wrote and [CW] before
            what I have replied with.

            [KG]

            Cliff, if one reads Genesis 1 literally as detailing creation in six literal
            consecutive days, then there is a flat-out contradiction between the order of
            creation in Gen 1 and Gen 2:4-25 which won’t go away with creative reading.

            [CW]

            Despite your attempt
            to try and lesson my argument by accusing my clear and logical interpretation of
            Gen 1 and 2 by referring to it as creative reading the reality is that the contradiction
            only exists because you are trying to fit it with the theory of evolution just
            as the writers of the articles that you posted have done.

            [KG]

            As the OT scholar Peter Enns notes, we see
            the following differences [1] when comparing the accounts: Duration: Six days
            vs one day (implied by “in the day” at Gen 2:4) Start: Dark, watery
            chaos vs an oasis Creation sequence: (Light, firmament, dry land, plants, sun
            and moon, birds and sea creatures, land animals, human males and females) vs
            (Adam, garden, land animals and birds, Eve) Method of creation:

            [CW]

            It is clear that Gen 2 is not retelling the story of Gen one rather it is just
            telling us the detail of the creation of man.

            Once again it is clear that the plants of the field and the herbs of the field
            are of the field and not those that God created back in day 3.

            [KG]

            (God speaks,separates, names and blesses) vs
            (God forms, breathes, puts to sleep, builds) Portrait of God: (Transcendant,
            minimal anthropomorphism, called Elohim) vs (Immanent, involved in creation
            actively, anthropomorphism, called YHWH) Portrait of man: many humans (male and
            female) created simultaneously vs man from ground, then woman from man.

            [CW]

            I do not see how Peter Enns comes to the conclusion that there were many humans
            created on that day from reading the text. It does say that he created them but
            it never refers to the number being more or less than two, that being one male
            and one female which would fit just fine with Gen 2.

            [KG]

            Enns is hardly alone in this view. Around half
            a century ago, the biblical scholar Meredith Kline notes that Gen 2v5 notes
            that there was a time when the land was devoid of vegetation for two reasons:
            the absence of rain and the absence of a cultivator. To remedy that, God
            supplied both the rain and the (human) cultivator.

            [CW]

            God supplied water according to the text as it says that God caused a mist to
            go up from the earth it doesn’t say that it rained in fact it is clear by the
            different Hebrew wards that are used that it was not a rain that came up from
            the earth rather it was like a fog.

            [KG]

            The problems emerge when we assume that Gen
            2 and Gen 1 are both literal descriptions of creation and try to harmonise
            them: “it was the work of the “third day” that the waters should
            be gathered together into seas and that the dry land should appear and be
            covered with vegetation (Gen. 1:9-13). All this according to the theory in
            question transpired within twenty-four hours. But continents just emerged from
            under the seas do not become thirsty land as fast as that by the ordinary
            process of evaporation…

            [CW]
            The ground may have not been thirsty as the record doesn’t say that the ground
            was too dry for these plants.
            I would suggest that the issue was more if an issue to do with the salt levels
            of the ground as we know in this day and age that high salt levels in the
            ground otherwise also known as ‘salinity’ could have been the problem.
            Main article: Environmental impacts of irrigation

            Salinity from irrigation can
            occur over time wherever irrigation occurs, since almost all water (even
            natural rainfall) contains some dissolved salts.[3] When the plants use the water,
            the salts are left behind in the soil and eventually begin to accumulate. Since
            soil salinity makes it more difficult for plants to absorb soil moisture, these
            salts must be leached out of the plant root zone by applying additional water.
            This water in excess of plant needs is called the leaching fraction. Salination from irrigation
            water is also greatly increased by poor drainage and use of saline water for irrigating
            agricultural crops.

            Salinity in urban areas often results from the combination of irrigation
            and groundwater processes. Irrigation is also now common in cities (gardens and
            recreation areas).

            This is just one possible reason I am sure there is no reason the evaporation
            of the earth could have not been sped up to separate  the waters and the earth and so forth.

            [KG]
            “The results, indeed, approach the ludicrous when it is
            attempted to synchronize Gen. 2:5 with Genesis 1 interpreted in terms of a week
            of twenty-four-hour days. On that interpretation, vegetation was created on
            what we may call “Tuesday”. Therefore, the vegetationless situation
            described in Gen. 2:5 cannot be located later than “Tuesday” morning.

            [CW]

            The issue here is that Meredith Kline has miss read Gen 2 in that she assumes
            that Gen 2 is talking about all vegetation rather than just the plants and
            herbs of the field, please not the word “field” because this is talking about a
            particular plant not just all plants.

            [KG]

            Neither can it be located earlier than that for Gen. 2:5 assumes the existence
            of dry land which does not appear until the “third day”. Besides,
            would it not have been droll to attribute the lack of vegetation to the lack of
            water either on “Sunday” when the earth itself was quite unfashioned
            or on “Monday” when there was nothing but water to be seen?
            “Hence the twenty-four-hour day theorist must think of the Almighty as
            hesitant to put in the plants on “Tuesday” morning because it would
            not rain until later in the day! (It must of course be supposed that it did
            rain, or at least that some supply of water was provided, before “Tuesday”
            was over, for by the end of the day the earth was abounding with that
            vegetation which according to Gen. 2:5 had hitherto been lacking for want of
            water.”

            [CW]

            Once again the issue is that Meredith Kline is that she has not taken the care
            in reading the record which I have already shown.

            This does demonstrate that by not taking care when reading what God has written
            then it is easy to go off in the wrong direction.

            [KG]

            [2] With respect to the question of plants and light, a far bigger problem with
            the literalist view is that prior to the creation of the sun and moon we have
            three days and three nights. Given that the Gen 1:14 specifically says that the
            sun and moon were given to divide the day from the night, the existence of day
            and night prior to the creation of the entities regulating them is piuzzling,
            to say the least.

            [CW]

            I do not see how this is such a problem at all unless you have already locked
            yourself into the mindset that the only way things could have been done is
            through evolution.

            Once again let us start by reading the text:

            Gen 1:3  Then God said,
            “Let there be light”; and there was light.

            Gen 1:4  And God saw the
            light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.

            Gen 1:5  God called the light
            Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the
            first day.

            We read that God
            created light and he divided it into night and day, what was the source of that
            light I do not know for sure but I have posted my view on this in an earlier
            post.

            Just because the light was not the Sun and Moon doesn’t mean that there was not
            time.

            When it talks about the sun and moon being appointed maybe the point of that
            was for man on the earth to be able to have time.

            The other reason being, for seasons, as we understand the sun and moon have a
            great effect on the seasons on the earth.

            Something that I have only picked up on now is that it could be worth noting
            that the sun and moon were made after the general vegetation on the earth thus
            this would have meant that the climate on the earth at the time before the sun
            and moon were appointed to their place that the earth could have and big
            difference in climate thus evaporation could have been at a much higher rate
            thus the rain was needed. I will say that that is speculation and nothing more.

            [KG]

            Much of the problem vanishes when one recognises that the first three days
            denote creation of domains, while days 4-6 depict the creation of inhabitants
            of those domains. Recognising this parallelism in the days of creation obviates
            the need to interpret them literally, avoids the contradiction with Gen 2 and
            more importantly provides the path to interpreting the creation narratives in a
            way compatible with the fact of evolution.

            [CW]

            Once we reach the end of this article we come to the real issue of the problem
            for Meredith Kline and that is that she needs Gen 1 and 2 to fit with her
            belief in evolution.

            I believe I have shown how there is no contradiction in the record when one
            reads it literally as is intended.

            The only reason you would read it in any other way is to try and fit the record
            with a preconceived idea such as Meredith Kline has done in her work on this
            topic.

            [KG]

            References 1. Enns P “The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and
            Doesn’t Say About Human Origins” (Brazos Press, 2012) 2. Kline MG
            “Because it Had Not Rained” Westminster Theological Journal (1958)
            20:146-157

            [CW]

            I would also note that these writing all came after the theory of evolution and
            not before.

            I would also not that having an alleged contradiction in the creation record
            would have only confused the believer from the time of the revelation to Moses
            until the time of the theory of evolution.

            I just don’t see how this helps God at all. Why not just say that everything
            evolved from everything else?

            Because that is not what happened.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kenneth-Gilmore/1421493586 Kenneth Gilmore

            Hi Cliff, 

            I don’t’ see any substantive attempt by you to address the points provided. Instead, you have simply made unsubstantiated assertions based on nothing other than a literal reading of the creation narrative, and an extremely biased, superficial reading of Enns and Kline. Cliff, even if evolution is factored out of the equation, it is impossible to read the creation accounts literally. The earth is 4600 million years old [1] which alone destroys a literal reading of Genesis. As a rule, when facts of nature contradict a reading of Scripture, it is time to abandon that reading of scripture and reinterpret it in the light of the facts from the natural world.

            Statements such as this, Cliff:

            “Despite your attempt to try and lesson my argument by accusing my clear and logical interpretation of Gen 1 and 2 by referring to it as creative reading the reality is that the contradiction only exists because you are trying to fit it with the theory of evolution just as the writers of the articles that you posted have done.”

            prove nothing. Just because you claim your interpretation of Gen 1 and 2 is “clear and logical” does not make it so. You need far more evidence than your own unscholarly opinion. Likewise:

            “I do not see how Peter Enns comes to the conclusion that there were many humans created on that day from reading the text. It does say that he created them but it never refers to the number being more or less than two, that being one male and one female which would fit just fine with Gen 2.”

            is merely a statement of your inability to follow Enns, bolstered by a literal reading of the English text. 

            Likewise:

            “I do not see how this is such a problem at all unless you have already locked yourself into the mindset that the only way things could have been done is through evolution.”

            is simply a restatement of your adherence to a literal reading of Genesis (without any justification as to why we should read it as such), coupled with an attempt to bias the discussion by asserting that I am simply reading Genesis this way because I accept the fact of evolution.

            It is painfully clear that you have read Enns and Kline superficially, cursorily and with a closed mind. Furthermore, it is also clear that you know nothing about the ancient near eastern context of Genesis, which is critical to properly understanding the creation narratives, or for that matter the scholarly literature. For example:

            “Once we reach the end of this article we come to the real issue of the problem for Meredith Kline and that is that she needs Gen 1 and 2 to fit with her belief in evolution.

            “The only reason you would read it in any other way is to try and fit the record with a preconceived idea such as Meredith Kline has done in her work on this topic. ”

            Cliff, Meredith Kline was not a woman. If you were familiar with contemporary Biblical scholarship, you would not have made this error. It’s not being pedantic, but pointing out that you’ve never encountered Kline’s works before. Kline was not arguing for evolution, by the way which shows how poor your reading of the article was. In the second paragraph of his article, Kline pointed out:

            “At the heart of the issue, though its crucial character appears to be generally overlooked is the question of whether the modus operandi of divine providence was the same during the creation era as that of ordinary providence now. This is not to raise the question of whether Genesis 1 leaves the door open for some sort of evolutionary reconstruction. On the contrary, it is assumed here that Genesis 1 contradicts the idea that an undifferentiated world-stuff evolved into the present variegated universe by dint of intrinsic potentialities whether divinely “triggered” or otherwise.”

            You clearly did not read this article carefully. Kline noted that reading the days of creation in Gen 1 as literal, consecutive creation events flatly contradicted the order of creation in Gen 2. Both Kline and Enns (and most other competent OT scholars) freely recognise that the two creation accounts contradict if read literally, so I must confess that I am more inclined to place confidence in the work of genuine OT scholars than that of an amateur. Cliff, what you have written isn’t even remotely close to the standards of scholarship I would expect of a diligent Bible student, let alone an OT scholar.

            Again, when you said:

            “I believe I have shown how there is no contradiction in the record when one reads it literally as is intended.”

            you are simply asserting your opinion that the record should be read literally. Where is your evidence for this? Enns and Kline in their careful analysis show that a literal reading of both are in hopeless contradiction. I would suggest you go back and carefully read them again, not in order to criticise, but humbly, with a desire to learn from people who have much to teach you.

            The fact that the universe is ancient (a position bre. Thomas, Roberts, Walker regarded as uncontroversial) alone makes a literal reading of Genesis untenable. To this is the fact that the word ‘firmament’ in Gen 1:6-8 literally means something solid, like a dome. Do you believe the Earth is covered by a solid dome? If you don’t, then you are not taking Gen 1 literally. The word raqia’ (translated as firmament in Gen 1:6-8) as the standard Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament points out means something solid:

            רָקִיעַ: רקע, Bauer-L. Heb. 470n; SamP. arqi; MHeb. DSS (Kuhn Konkordanz 208), Sam., JArm., Syr., Mnd. rqiha sky, firmament (Drower-M. Dictionary 437b): cs. רְקִיעַ: the beaten metal plate, or bow; firmament, the firm vault of heaven: Sept. στερέωμα, Vulg. firmamentum; by רָקִיעַ was understood the gigantic heavenly dome which was the source of the light that brooded over the heavenly ocean and of which the dome arched above the earthly globe (see von Rad TWNT 5:501); for bibliography see further Eichrodt Theol. 2/3:57, 130; Westermann BK 1/1:162f; Zimmerli Ezechiel 55; O. Keel Jahwe-Visionen und Siegelkunst 250-255; Reicke-R. Hw. 719.
            —1. a. הָרָקִיעַ Gn 17f Ps 192 Ezk 123.25f 101 Da 123, רְקִיעַ הַשָּׁמַיִם Gn 114f.17.20, רְקִיעַ עֻזּוֹ his mighty firmament Ps 1501, רָקִיעַ Gn 16 Ezk 122, רקיע Sir 438; —b. רָ׳ following a prepositional phrase: עַל־פְּנֵי רְקִיעַ הַשָּׁמַיִם in front of, before, across the firmament of heaven Gn 120 (→ *פָּנֶה D 7 b), cf. Westermann BK 1/1:190: beneath or upon the heavenly surface; similarly, Nielsen HUCA 43 (1972) 6.
            —2. expressions: with הָיָה Gn 16, cf. 114f; with II הלל pi. (בִּרְקִיעַ עֻזּוֹ) Ps 1501; with I זהר hif. (בְּזֹהַר הָרָקִיעַ) Da 123; with נגד hif. (sbj. הָרָ׳) Ps 192; with נתן (בִּרְקִיעַ) Gn 120; with עָשָׂה (obj. הָרָ׳) Gn 17; with קָרָא (לָרָ׳) Gn 18. †

            This same word also appears in Ezekiel 1:22 where the context is unarguably that of something solid, on which a throne rests:

            Over the heads of the living creatures there was something like a dome, shining like crystal, spread out above their heads.  Under the dome their wings were stretched out straight, one toward another; and each of the creatures had two wings covering its body.  When they moved, I heard the sound of their wings like the sound of mighty waters, like the thunder of the Almighty, a sound of tumult like the sound of an army; when they stopped, they let down their wings.  And there came a voice from above the dome over their heads; when they stopped, they let down their wings.  And above the dome over their heads there was something like a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was something that seemed like a human form.  Upward from what appeared like the loins I saw something like gleaming amber, something that looked like fire enclosed all around; and downward from what looked like the loins I saw something that looked like fire, and there was a splendor all around.  Like the bow in a cloud on a rainy day, such was the appearance of the splendor all around. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. 

            Ezek 1 reflects the universe as the Hebrews saw it – flat with a solid sky, over which YHWH was enthroned. Enns again points out that the scholarly consensus on raqia’ being a solid dome is overwhelming:

            Let me summarize some of the general arguments for why raqia is understood by contemporary biblical scholars as a solid structure:

            1. The other cosmologies from the ancient world depict some solid structure in the sky. The most natural explanation of the raqia is that it also reflects this understanding. There is no indication that Genesis is a novel description of the sky;

            2. Virtually every description of raqia from antiquity to the Renaissance depicts it as solid. The non-solid interpretation of raqia is a novelty;

            3. According to the flood story in Gen 7:11 and 8:2, the waters above were held back only to be released through the “floodgates of the heavens” (literally, “lattice windows”);

            4. Other Old Testament passages are consistent with the raqia being solid (Ezekiel1:22; Job 37:18; Psalm 148:4);

            5. According to Gen 1:20, the birds fly in front of the raqia (in the air), not in the raqia;

            6. The noun raqia is derived form the verb that means to beat out or stamp out, as in hammering metal into thin plates (Exodus 39:3). This suggests that the noun form is likewise related to something solid;

            7. Speaking of the sky as being stretched out like a canopy/tent (Isaiah 40:22) or that it will roll up like a scroll (34:4) are clearly similes and do not support the view that raqia in Genesis 1 is non-solid.

            The solid nature of the raqia is well established. It is not the result of an anti-Christian conspiracy to find errors in the Bible, but the “solid” result of scholars doing their job. This does not mean that there can be no discussion or debate. But, to introduce a novel interpretation of raqia would require new evidence or at least a reconsideration of the evidence we have that would be compelling to those who do not have a vested religious interest in maintaining one view or another. [2]

            If you insist on a literal reading of Gen 1, then you are obliged to believe the sky was solid, just as the Bible says it is. Needless to say, the sky is not solid, and the earth is billions of years old, so it is impossible to honestly read Gen 1 literally. Genesis is not telling us how the universe was made, but who did it and why. Bro C.C, Walker, in rebutting the claims of a brother who insisted that a literal reading of the Bible taught that the earth was flat and to argue otherwise was to challenge inspiration pointed out:

            Moses’ testimony is not so “plain” that it cannot be misinterpreted or misunderstood. He speaks of “the heaven and the earth” as being in existence “in the beginning;” and therefore it does not seem to be inadmissible to suppose that “the host of heaven” was likewise then in existence. Moses’ testimony was given to Israel in what might be called the infancy of the world, when men did not know the extent of the earth, let alone that of the sun, moon, and stars. And, as we believe, it was given (by God through Moses), not so much to instruct Israel in cosmogony in detail, as to impress upon them the idea that The Most High God is the Possessor of Heaven and Earth (Gen. 14:22). And this against the claims of the gods of the nations, as was abundantly proved in Israel’s history. As to “the fourth day,” we do not know of any “day” in the literal sense apart from the sun and its motion. And, therefore, if the “days” of Genesis 1 are to be taken as literal days, we feel bound to admit the sun as the origin of the “light,” and “evening and morning” that were the characteristics of “the first day.” How can you have “evening and morning” without the sun? We must settle up “the plain testimony” of verse 5 with that of verses 14–19. As we said before (The Christadelphian, 1910, p. 269), “If we understand Moses as saying that the sun came into existence on ‘the fourth day,’ we make him contradict himself; we make him present us with day and night, evening and morning, without the sun upon which these things depend. [3]

            As bro. Walker said, a literal reading of Genesis will make the Bible contradict itself, but if we recognise that the Bible was written to scientifically unlearned people, and accommodated their limitations (such as belief in a solid sky), we will avoid such errors as young earth creationism.

            References

            1. Dalrymple GB “The Age of the Earth” (Stanford University Press, 1991)
            2. Enns P “The Firmament of Genesis 1 is Solid but That’s Not the Point” Science and the Sacred Jan 14 2010 http://biologos.org/blog/the-firmament-of-genesis-1-is-solid-but-thats-not-the-point
            3. Walker CC “Is it wrong to believe that the earth is a sphere?” The Christadelphian (1913) 50(590):346-348

  • RizKrispin

    I don’t mean to sound silly guys, but I’m having trouble following a couple of your arguments. Rico and Russell, could one of you please DIRECTLY QUOTE the words of Gen 1 and Gen 2 that you’re comparing, and indicate which version you’re using? I don’t see words that, taken literally or otherwise, say what you’re saying, and I wonder if it’s a version thing. If you could actually type the quote of the words and let me know which version, I might be able to understand better.

    As for the “error”-no-error and light-no-light thing, I’m not sure I caught your meaning, but it looks like Cliff possibly did and responded to it adequately.

    My point about post-Adamic cave-dwellers is that “God’s Work” (i.e. archeaology) could actually be turning up instances of these people, taking away the requirement to argue that there were some before Adam. I actually agree there were likely some form of sentient creature inhabiting the earth before Gen 1 begins, but my point was that archaeology doesn’t necessarily demand a conflict with the Bible when reconciliation is possible based on the verses I quoted.

  • Luke Fraley

    wow…. christians – if you cannot take gods word litarally then what good is it…

  • http://www.facebook.com/wchswill Will Mercep

    If I had a dollar every time I heard people disagree on what was literal and what isn’t literal in the bible… Why not just disregard it entirely and become a virtue ethicist and secular humanist.

    • Jonathan Morgan

      You are quite correct that people disagree about what is literal and what isn’t. However, I don’t understand why that in itself should mean that we should disregard the Bible entirely. There are many disagreements about what ethics should cover and what it shouldn’t, and what being a secular humanist should mean and what it shouldn’t. If we tried to avoid every area where people disagree then I am convinced we wouldn’t do anything at all. Disagreement is a fairly fundamental part of coming to a better answer.

  • Aneel Khokhar

    First of all Plants do not need Sunlight but HEAT.

    Heat was always there
    in universe because everything was made by the Word of God, the Word is the sound and sound is force and where there is force there is Heat.

    So, even though plants were created before Sun ( even before billions of years), the plants did not
    need sunlight to grow because Genesis 1:2 describes “…….a wind from the God swept over the face of the water”. Means God Himself was present everywhere. He himself is light (1 John 1: 5). And when there is light, ultimately there is heat.

    You got my point.