How the flap over Gungor shows everything that’s wrong with Ken Ham’s theology

Michael Gungor, a man Ken Ham hopes you hate.

In a stunning turn of events, something said by a well-known Christian figure caused a controversy on the Internet last week. In a completely unprecedented series of occurrences, statements made by the fantastic Christian band Gungor in 2012 were resurrected, ripped out of context and exaggerated by uber-conservative propaganda machines — er, I mean, “respected media organizations” — like World magazine and used to fan the flames of a non-existent controversy.

It was all about as unpredictable as tomorrow’s sunrise, and though my wife and I are actually big fans of Gungor’s music, it was normally not something I’d interrupt my vacation to discuss. But then, thanks to a friend on Facebook, I saw Ken Ham’s take, and I just couldn’t help myself.

Not because Ham’s perspective is anything new either. But his views and his tactics are so harmful that I can’t, in good conscience, read such a toxic diatribe submitted in the name of Christ and fail to respond. It would be like coming on the scene of a recent car wreck and refusing to pull over and help.

Read for yourself his latest misleading, condescending and arrogant article. Ostensibly, Ham is responding to a recent blog post by Gungor, in which the group beautifully articulates why they think reflecting the character of Christ is more important than believing God destroyed almost every living thing in a flood a few thousand years ago.

Such a contradiction infuriates Ken Ham, of course. But he doesn’t really respond to Gungor. Instead, true to form, he ignores the valid points that the group makes, twists their words into saying something they never said and, in general, uses the occasion to trot out the same tired old talking points that he’s been using exclusively for decades.

Here are a few excerpts from Ham’s writing that illustrate exactly what I’m talking about.

Michael Gungor studied jazz guitar at Western Michigan University and the University of North Texas. His wife, Lisa, studied music at Oral Roberts University. Neither is a Bible scholar nor scientist. And yet, they are writing as though they know more than people who have spent their lives studying the inerrancy of Scripture and who—in many cases—have come to different conclusions.

No, they weren’t. They were writing as people of faith, who admit to having trouble understanding how a God who never changes could have made mankind, with full foreknowledge of the sinful condition into which we would quickly descend, regret it and try to destroy us, then reverse course again — all the while harboring a separate plan for our salvation that, fortunately, does not involve drowning.

I agree with Gungor; the God of Genesis 6-9 doesn’t really sound like God to me. Actually it sounds more like the nobleman of Jesus’ story in Luke 19 — in other words, a parable, which shows one aspect of God (in both cases, his rather strong views of sin and rebellion), but not necessarily an entirely literal, historical account of God’s complete nature or his true workings in creation.

I could be wrong, and so could Gungor. But so could Ken Ham, too. And since, apparently, this matters to him, I’ll note that he isn’t a Bible scholar either. Nor a scientist.

Nor, for the record, a kick-ass musician and songwriter.

So in other words, man’s autonomous reasoning and what Gungor calls “science” supposedly mean we can’t take the account of the Flood in Genesis as a historical record. But as we’ve explained many times on our website and elsewhere, “science” means knowledge. And there is a big difference between observational science (that builds our technology) and historical science (beliefs about the past—e.g., concerning origins). As you read his post, you realize that what he calls “science” is man’s beliefs concerning evolution and millions of years. So, when Gungor asks why he doesn’t believe in the literal Flood account from Genesis, he is really answering this way: “Because of my autonomous reasoning as a fallible sinful human taken with fallible man’s evolutionary views based on naturalism, I can’t take God’s Word as written in Genesis.”

Beautiful, isn’t it? This old bait and switch is what Ham has made his living on, and he’s elevated it to an art form. In four sentences, he manages to reduce over 200 years of progress in geology, astronomy and archaeology to barely more than blind guesswork — without alienating the technological advances we evangelicals love (otherwise we’d be like the Amish, and they’re kuh-raaazy, amirite?) — and since he used the phrase “God’s word,” he has the majority of his Christian readership nodding along serenely.

Gungor also uses straw men arguments in his attempt to mock those of us who take the Flood account literally. Concerning the distribution of animals after the Flood, he just makes up the idea that Noah built “hundreds or thousands of boats” to hold all the animals “to send to every continent and island,” or that, he states, “God just did it Star Trek style and performed a beam me up miracle to everything.” Of course, all of this is written to misrepresent and make fun of those Christians who hold to a literal Genesis.

Well, I can’t speak for Gungor, but something tells me it was actually written to point out that the theorized forced migration of the ark animals from a single mountain in Palestine to the unique environments all over the world that they inhabit today (most of them separated from the Middle East by deserts, mountains, thousands of miles and oceans) is one of the many major flaws in the young-earth creationism model.

Ultimately, Gungor is declaring that he knows better than what the Bible writer clearly states.

As does any Christian who reads any part of the Bible and interprets it other than what its most “natural reading” implies (which is all Christians). But it sure sounds sinister when Ham levels the accusation at one person in particular, doesn’t it?

To his first point, the writers of the Bible did not believe the earth was flat. Scripture repeatedly affirms the spherical shape of our planet. For example, Isaiah 40:22 mentions the “circle of the earth,” while Job 26:10 talks of a “circular horizon on the face of the waters”—put there by God Himself!

I just thought this was funny. Now pay attention, Ken: This is a circle. It’s two-dimensional (which is a fancy word for “flat”). This is a sphere. It’s three-dimensional (“not flat”). The ancient Hebrews had a word that meant “sphere”; the author of Isaiah used it in regards to a ball, but no biblical writer ever used it to describe the earth.

What’s more, the layers in the fossil record appear to have been deposited by the Flood waters in a certain order, with single-cell fossils buried first and land animals buried last.

Yeah, except for dinosaurs. Not a single one has ever been found buried above sea mammals like whales or dolphins. I guess the Flood really hated the dinosaurs.

The fact that we descended from Adam and Eve is a divine revelation from God, found in Genesis. Now, certainly observational science confirms this. For instance, the Human Genome Project (2000) found that all humans belong to one race.

And that the vast majority of our DNA structure, including noncoding segments and endogenous retroviruses, is almost identical to those of animals that were supposedly distinct creations.

I could go on and on, but here’s the key:

Gungor states, “I would be very surprised to find a single respected and educated theologian or biblical scholar that believes that one MUST read Noah’s flood completely literally down to the last detail to be ‘orthodox.’ That’s crazy!”

But, even Friday and Saturday of this week, the Creation Research Society is hosting a conference here at our Creation Museum. This meeting features leading scientists, with PhDs in geology, biology, astrophysics, and so on, as well as scholars with qualifications in theology—and all are biblical creationists! And of course, AiG employs PhD scientists and trained theologians who certainly believe God’s Word in Genesis.

Ham repeatedly describes Gungor’s thoughtful, self-effacing post as a “rant,” a “mocking rant,” and (his favorite) “an attack.” He describes Gungor’s views of Genesis as “a denial of Genesis” and “not trusting God’s word.” But Gungor never said that Genesis doesn’t matter, that it’s false or irrelevant. They, like me, simply believe that it wasn’t meant to be taken literally. You know, like Psalms. And most of the illustrations in Proverbs. And Revelation and the other books of the prophets. And the parables of Christ. And anything else in the Bible that doesn’t make sense if you take it literally.

Ham’s criticism, then, is a blatant logical fallacy. Just because someone believes a story is not meant to be taken literally doesn’t mean the story has no value or is even untrue. I don’t read the parable of the prodigal son literally, but that doesn’t mean I believe it’s untrue. To the contrary, it is a sublime expression of God’s love and forgiveness through the good news of Jesus Christ.

It’s the same with the creation accounts and the flood story in Genesis. They convey deep and important, even foundational, theological truths about God, man and the relationship between the two, and reading them as history or a kind of parable doesn’t change that at all.

So, just to be clear, Ham’s reaction is the equivalent of someone accusing me of “not taking God at his word” because I don’t read the parable of the prodigal son literally.

For all these reasons and more, Ken Ham’s theology is just terrible. By that, I don’t mean that I think it’s unbiblical. I do, but it goes further than that. What I really mean is that what Ken Ham and his multimillion-dollar “ministry” teach is divisive, destructive and so far from the gospel of peace and unity that they should be rightfully condemned as blasphemy. The ultimate conclusion and consequence of their teachings, intentional or not, is to tear the body of Christ apart.

His goal in this piece, obviously, is to whip up his devotees into a righteous fury against other, sold-out believers, who happen to have a different view of a dozen chapters of scripture. If anyone can explain to me how that’s in keeping with any of Christ’s instructions for his followers, I’ll shut down GOE right now.

This kind of stuff used to make me angry. Now, it just makes me sad. Sad, because these tactics are so shallow, so manipulative, so self-serving, and so few people seem to care. It’s like we Christians prefer to hate on each other then actually try and do what the Bible tells us to do.

I know people will say I have a log in my eye, that I should give Ham a break if I really cared about unity. And maybe they’re right. I’m no saint (and I’m also not a Bible scholar or a scientist). But I do know this: The most important thing in the universe is the gospel of Christ. I see that come through, clearly, in the music and writing of Gungor, but I don’t see it at all in the work of Ken Ham.

If, in the end, I’m wrong, I’ll be wrong with Michael Gungor. Ken Ham can keep his convoluted, cherry-picked and highly selective understanding of what it means to be a Christ follower.

Tyler Francke is the founder of God of Evolution and author of Reoriented. He can be reached here.

  • Mic

    This is you’re best post yet Tyler. Keep it up! I wpipd share this post on Facebook in a heart beat, but I know I will be scolded by my conservative evangelical fans that think I’m an agnostic or some other crazy crock of crap. You gotta love the Bible Belt…..

    • Thanks, Mic! Glad you liked it! And hey, though I appreciate the difficulty, you can always post a link as, “I don’t really agree with this, but wanted to see what you guys think.” Then all the fundies will take turns bashing it, but at least they’ll read it 😉

  • hlgeorge

    Ken Ham- “Michael Gungor studied jazz guitar at Western Michigan University and
    the University of North Texas. His wife, Lisa, studied music at Oral
    Roberts University. Neither is a Bible scholar nor scientist.”
    Pot meet Kettle. Ken Ham’s diploma mill scholarship is in Bullshit.

    • Well, I’m not sure if his degree was a B.S. or not, but it certainly wasn’t in science or Bible. 😉

      • ashleyhr

        Judge for yourselves (if you can bear just one minute of Ken Ham ‘facts’):
        https://www.facebook.com/aigkenham

        Video – ‘How Unique is Planet Earth?’
        Nobody except a fool or a bigot can claim to know the answer for certain.

  • Caleb G

    I agree that Isaiah 40:22 presents the earth as a flat disk, but I find it difficult for those who insist that the Bible is scientifically accurate to accept this. I certainly would not have when I was younger. I love how you reference Isaiah 22:18 to show how Hebrew has a word for a sphere, but did not use it in Isaiah 40:22. Way to interpret scripture with scripture.

    • Thanks, Caleb! I appreciate it. Interpreting scripture with scripture? What a novel concept, eh??

      • Professor_Tertius

        Yes, Isaiah 40:22 “presents the earth as a flat disk” because ERETZ is the Hebrew word for “land”, “nation”, “country”, or even “region” or “wilderness”. It also can refer to the ground, as in “soil”. When the KJV was translated in 1611, the word “earth” tended to be associated with “land” or “soil”, much like ancient Hebrew. Yet today when we see the word “earth”, we think foremost of “planet earth”. And that leads to a lot of misunderstandings when reading the scriptures.

        The ERETZ as a “flat disk” is actually a very fitting description—because it is reference to the DISK OF LAND that every observer sees in looking in all directions for the horizon. The horizon is indeed a “circle of the earth/land”, the disk everyone lives on.

        Of course, the limitation for most ancient Hebrews was assuming that “circle of land” was basically the entire world. But, of course, for them it WAS the “entire world”. So when the Bible speaks of God looking down on the “circle of the earth”, it is simply use terms that the ancient Hebrews understood. It is not really some sort of “glaring scientific error” any more than someone saying “We drove through the flatlands on our vacation.” (Nobody jumps up and down and says “You are a cosmological idiot. The planet is not flat!” They weren’t talking about the planet.)

        It is interesting how Young Earth Creationist is intent on “helping out” the Bible—when the Bible doesn’t need their help. (Plus, the Bible isn’t trying to be an earth science textbook.)

  • Alan Christensen

    “But, even Friday and Saturday of this week, the Creation Research Society is hosting . . . leading scientists, with PhDs in geology, biology, astrophysics, and so on, as well as scholars with qualifications in theology—and all are biblical creationists! And of course, AiG employs PhD scientists and trained theologians who certainly believe God’s Word in Genesis.”
    This statement of Ham’s seems to suggest that lots of credible scientists believe in YEC. That’s debatable, of course, but it doesn’t even address the statement of Gungor’s that Ham’s responding to–that you don’t have to accept YEC to be a Christian.

    • Hey Alan! Exactly. That’s why I thought it was such a key portion of the article. Gungor is saying that no legitimate Bible scholar would say YECism is essential to the Christian faith, and Ham says, “Nuh uh! See, there are smart people who are YECs!” To Ham, Christianity and YECism are basically one and the same. It’s a total nonsequitor, but his audience laps it up. Sad.

    • Kevin Doyle

      None of the scientists involved have credible peer reviewed articles or dissertations. They are not taken seriously in the science community. Try to find just one?

      • Connor
        • Kevin Doyle

          The Scientist at AIG are not respected in the peer community. All of them (google) have not defended dissertations in the Science community especially the ligitimate one . And I did do some cross reference. AIG’s Dr. Jason Lisle, arguments on Earth’s magnetic field is decaying and Climate change, have been been debunked by his peers.

          • Connor

            Dr. Jason Lisle isn’t even at AIG. You didn’t do much research, because if you do a quick search of “earth’s magnetic field getting weaker” You will find plenty of articles on it getting weaker.

            “150 million years old” and what perfectly accurate dating method did they use to get this number? Sure hope it wasn’t something like potassium argon dating. Just checked it was. The potassium in the sea floor would be removed almost entirely from the older rocks by the water. Not to mention dates can appear older when excess argon seeps into the new rocks. There is a very large amount of reasons not to believe that the rock is 150 million years old.

            Also you never admitted that you were wrong about no peer reviewed articles. Here are some more for you. https://answersingenesis.org/answers/research-journal/v5/

          • Kevin Doyle

            Here he is at AIG- He has a whole page!!

            His “Distant Starlight” paper still has not been submitted for peer review and for good
            reason. His only peer reviews have been by creationists and they are not
            accredited dissertations. He still refuses to submit his paper to the
            prestigious science journal. When challenged with difficult questions, Lisle
            does what most creationist do-Ignore the question! (See YouTube debates).

            I am a professor who has standing in the science community and have access to thousands of peer reviews on evolution written by experts. Dr. Jason Lisle has a degree in Astrophysics, but he is considered an abnormality in the Science field. The remainder of so called experts at AIG are really ignorant Charlatans.

          • ashleyhr

            Lisle was at AiG until recently. He still churns out pseudo-science with the ICR.

            The YEC argument about Earth’s magnetic field ‘always’ decaying in the past (because it is now) “thus earth cannot be old” is based on uniformitarianism. Something they normally condemn (except when it suits them).

            Articles on the AiG website are NOT peer reviewed by the scientific community LOL.

          • Hey Connor, and how many scientific tests confirm that the oceans, the rocks beneath them and the life within is less than 10,000 years old?

            And the “Answers Research Journal” is not a peer-reviewed science journal. It’s a cargo-cult vanity press rag run by Answers in Genesis in a futile effort to legitimize their propaganda.

          • And, as has been mentioned by others, Lisle was a staff member with AiG for some time. He left in 2012.

        • Kevin Doyle

          According to your model, all of the sea floor would be about the same age, since they were created in less than 40 days. However, radiometric dating of the ocean floor indicates the age of the ocean floor changes gradually, from brand new at the mid-ocean ridge, to about 150 million years old at the farthest points away from the ridge. Why would you ignore issues that completely invalidate that model?

        • The question is not whether a young-earth creation scientist could make valuable contributions to the scientific process. Of course they can, just as someone who believes tiny aliens inhabit the blowholes of whales could make contributions to society in a variety of fields that do not overlap with astronomy or marine biology. The question is whether any of the scientists have ever produced verifiable, peer-reviewed work that has confirmed their young-earth creationist views or that came about as a consequence of their young-earth creationist views, and of course, the answer is no. Any legitimate scientific accomplishments by a young-earth creationist have been separate and distinct from their young-earth creationist views.

  • BongoBongoLA

    I just have to pipe up here about something… At ORU, where Lisa attended, and also where Michael attended for a year before transferring to North Texas, theology courses are part of the general education component of a degree — even for music. So I’d gather they do actually have more theological training than what was required at Q-tech.

    • Wow, great insight, thanks! I didn’t know that about Oral Roberts, though it makes sense, but I hope anyone who read Michael Gungor’s thoughts with even the barest measure of an open mind would be able to clearly see he didn’t arrive at his position on a whim.

      • Alan Christensen

        The first quote from Ham really bugs me. It’s as if a Christian who isn’t a scientist or theologian but who has given these issues some serious thought can’t state an opinion in public. Unless they agree with Ken Ham’s opinion, of course.

        • That’s exactly what it’s like. The possibility that Ken Ham and his followers could be wrong is not even within the realm of possibility, and yet, they have the audacity to call Gungor “arrogant” for understanding science and basic rational thought.

          • James Vinson

            Why is it that people like yourself are quick to invoke judgment by God on others? Ham specifically spoke to not judging gungor having saving faith. You did judge Ham. I think it would be more profitable to consider the impacts of gungor beliefs (and evidently yours) rather than bashing Christians who uphold the authority of scripture. If scripture is up for grabs, why care what anyone believes? Truth is not knowable at that point.

          • Hey James, “considering the impacts” of Ham’s beliefs (and yours, too, apparently) is exactly what I did in this article. You see it as “bashing Christians who uphold the authority of scripture” because you’ve deluded yourself into believing your interpretation of the Bible is as infallible as the Bible itself. It’s not. Scripture is not “up for grabs,” but it is open to reasonable interpretation by sincere believers. Always has been, always will be. Sorry you have such a problem with that.

          • James Vinson

            You obviously fail to see the irony that you think I delude myself about my interpretation of Scripture as infallible yet you do not see that you are stating you’re interpretation is at least infallible enough to say I’m in left field. As you state in your article, “the God of Genesis 6-9 doesn’t really sound like God to me”. Seems clear that your hermeneutic (at least for the Bible) is that you disregard what you deem as not to your liking. You have a consumer mentality towards the Bible. You probably think everyone does, but I am here to tell you that this approach is dangerous.

            I read Ken Ham’s article as well as yours. For the life of me I am totally bemused how you can use words like “toxic diatribe” to describe his words. Yet, he showed much more respect towards Gungor than you showed him. Your tone is very clear, you do not like Ken Ham because he would dare believe that the first twelve chapters of Genesis are part of scripture and literal history…similar to what was scripture for Jesus when he walked Palestine. You can believe in a virgin birth but you can’t fathom a worldwide flood? Really?

            You state, in bold no less, that Gungor never said the Genesis account of creation through flood is false. Your words. Yet, again, by a plain reading of Gungor’s words (we don’t even have to quibble over Scripture interpretation), he does clearly think it’s false (ie, fiction). If his words have any meaning and are not nonsensical, then yes, Gungor thinks Genesis is a book of fairy tales. At that point, I wonder if you and Gungor have greater faith than me: you guys evidently believe in a Jesus that affirmed a literal interpretation of Genesis (or as “God”, was not capable of making the truth about the fairy tales clear for future generations), affirmed such a view to his disciples (Peter sure believed in a global flood), and can somehow contort your mind around a “good” creation (that evidently included death, disease, etc. for millenia…and before any sin – what was the curse all about?) and somehow choose to not think about original sin and what it means for Jesus to be the Second Adam. Lots and lots of mental gymnastics.

            Like I said in my original comment- “Why do you have the right/authority/freedom to say one negative word about anyone if no one can be sure their view of Scripture is correct or incorrect?” You are deluding yourself when you use words like “reasonable interpretation by sincere believers”. Who judges who is sincere and who is reasonable? You obviously think you’re qualified, thus the time spent preparing an article slamming someone for any and all to consume. I just think it’s so crazy that you care to judge others when you don’t think truth is knowable/objective nor that you are subject to it – whether you agree or not.

            I do believe that God is able to communicate about a creation history that no man was there to directly observe. If he is truly the Creator that is. And I do question what you have faith in if you can’t trust parts of the Bible that you happen to feel sincere disagreement about one week and may not take the same issue with the next week…or next year. How do you know that Jesus existed? Can you trust the New Testament since you do not trust the Old Testament (or the “scripture” that Jesus memorized and believed as a Jew)? Is the foundation of your “faith” your perspective/opinion that Jesus was a good guy?

          • You obviously fail to see the irony that you think I delude myself about my interpretation of Scripture as infallible yet you do not see that you are stating you’re interpretation is at least infallible enough to say I’m in left field.

            James, just because I believe my interpretation is correct, and yours, therefore, is wrong, does not mean I believe my interpretation is infallible. Neither does arguing to that effect. There is a rather important difference between striving to read scripture correctly, and believing you have done so to the best of your ability, and arrogantly asserting that anyone who rejects your childish interpretation is, in fact, rejecting God and his word. Do you seriously not understand this distinction?

            As you state in your article, “the God of Genesis 6-9 doesn’t really sound like God to me”. Seems clear that your hermeneutic (at least for the Bible) is that you disregard what you deem as not to your liking.

            I explained exactly what I meant by the portion of my writing that you quote here. Only an idiot, or someone who is determined to deliberately misunderstand what I’m saying, would arrive at your interpretation.

            You have a consumer mentality towards the Bible.

            Fair enough. And you have a childish, reductionist and incredibly arrogant mentality toward the Bible.

            I read Ken Ham’s article as well as yours. For the life of me I am totally bemused how you can use words like “toxic diatribe” to describe his words. Yet, he showed much more respect towards Gungor than you showed him.

            No, he didn’t.

            Your tone is very clear, you do not like Ken Ham because he would dare believe that the first twelve chapters of Genesis are part of scripture and literal history…

            You should work on your reading comprehension. My article was very clear that I don’t like Ken Ham because he purposefully and repeatedly seeks to sow disunity in the body of Christ amongst sold-out believers who happen to have different views of the first few chapters of Genesis.

            You can believe in a virgin birth but you can’t fathom a worldwide flood? Really?

            There’s nothing unreasonable whatsoever about this position. One is purely a matter of faith: there is no evidence one way or the other to suggest that the virgin birth did or did not occur. For the other, we happen to have quite a lot of evidence of what happened in the earth in the recent past, and none of it looks anything like what we would expect if it had been submerged in miles of water a few thousand years ago. As such, to believe in the global flood does not take faith, it takes willful ignorance and self-delusion.

            You state, in bold no less, that Gungor never said the Genesis account of creation through flood is false. Your words. Yet, again, by a plain reading of Gungor’s words (we don’t even have to quibble over Scripture interpretation), he does clearly think it’s false (ie, fiction). If his words have any meaning and are not nonsensical, then yes, Gungor thinks Genesis is a book of fairy tales.

            False dichotomy. Literal history and “fictional fairy tale” are not the only two options for interpreting Genesis, just as they are not the only two options for interpreting any other part of the Bible. It makes no more sense to apply this false choice to something like the Song of Solomon or the Parable of the Prodigal Son than it would to the creation accounts in Genesis. This is stated and explained very clearly in the original article, so you are obviously trolling.

            At that point, I wonder if you and Gungor have greater faith than me

            Oh, I’m certain that that’s true. Our faith is not inextricably tied to a fallible interpretation of man; it is strong enough to survive questions, new evidence, even (gasp!) changing our minds about non-essential matters of doctrine.

            Like I said in my original comment- “Why do you have the right/authority/freedom to say one negative word about anyone if no one can be sure their view of Scripture is correct or incorrect?”

            I have as much right as any other believer to consider and discuss and debate the proper meaning of scripture.

            You are deluding yourself when you use words like “reasonable interpretation by sincere believers”. Who judges who is sincere and who is reasonable?

            Well, for most of us who have not been irrevocably indoctrinated in chaotic YEC non-logic, reason and sincerity are not such foreign concepts that they are impossible to recognize.

          • Walt Grayum

            Tyler, I read your article first and followed your link to Ham’s article. I don’t read much of Ham’s material and sometimes when I’ve read one of his articles I’ve wishes he would measured his words more carefully. Having said that (and meaning it), I must say that your tone seems much harsher and divisive than Ham’s. From my simple reading there is no comparison – you seemed much farther across the same line you accuse Ham of crossing. In addition, your response to someone who commented and said they disagreed with you seemed to me to be even harsher and more divisive. I started reading your article with an open mind to your thoughts and ideas, wanting to read a reasoned response from someone who probably views the issues differently than I do. I was saddened to see your approach. I encourage you to really reconsider – not the beliefs you’re convinced of, but – your approach to communicating your beliefs and sincerely seek to promote the unity you so vehemently accuse your brothers in Christ of violating.

          • Hey Walt, thanks for the comment. Yes, I have an opinion, and I often express it forcefully, especially in response to those who wish to marginalize folks like me as “Christians who don’t uphold the authority of scripture” or similar nonsense. For those who hold such an opinion, perhaps I would be more effective in convincing them otherwise if I were more conciliatory in my approach. (I doubt it, but who knows?)

            But at any rate, I fail to see how my reaction to their divisive statements can possibly be considered more divisive than their original divisive statements. It doesn’t matter how nicely and politely Ken Ham couches his rhetoric; when his point is, “You’re not as good a Christian as I am if you don’t believe the same thing as I do,” that is by nature a divisive statement.

          • Walt Grayum

            I appreciate your response, Tyler. A follow up question based on what you said …

            Couldn’t you be fairly accused of communicating that “Ken Ham is not as good of a Christian as I am because he doesn’t believe the same thing I do” (i.e. that no one should make a judgment on the correctness of someone else’s interpretation of scripture related to creation)?

            Maybe I’m missing your main problem with Ham, but reading your comments (and others who are agreeing with you), it seems like you don’t believe anyone (especially Ham?) has the right to say they believe you’re wrong based on their understanding of scripture. At the same time you think it’s fine to say they’re wrong based on your understanding of the scripture.

            I think this kind of thing happens a lot in our Christian circles (and probably in the world at large). If you say you think I’m wrong, you explain why, and then you say you think it really matters, and I get all up in arms and cry, “How dare you make that kind of judgment of me and my beliefs! Christians shouldn’t do that to other Christians! How can you call yourself a Christian when you’re hateful (ignorant) enough to judge me like this?” – doesn’t this make me guilty of doing exactly what I’m accusing you of doing? And the divisiveness continues.

            Am I making sense, or am I totally missing the issue here?

          • Hey Walt, thanks for the follow-up. I appreciate the continued discussion.

            Obviously, I do not believe I am doing the same thing as Ken Ham. I have said on multiple occasions that I don’t think it matters in the slightest what Christians believe about how old the earth is. What matters is what you believe about Jesus. Period.

            Contrast that with Ken Ham, who has built an entire media empire on the constant marginalizing and belittling of fellow believers, whose views he routinely describes as “compromising” our faith and “rejecting” scripture.

            I do what I do because of the folks like Ham, who put their young-earth beliefs on the same level as those that are necessary for salvation, and therefore put obstacles before the gospel of Christ. Yes, I have strong words for Ham, because I believe him to be a divisive and corrupting false teacher who twists and distorts the gospel, and I have used very specific examples from his teachings any time I have accused him of such.

            Yes, I think there are serious problems with Ham’s “faith,” but it has nothing to do with simply his views of evolution or the age of the earth. There are plenty of Christians who hold identical beliefs about those things and yet don’t go around accusing anyone who believes differently of being second-class Christians on the slippery slope to atheism and hell.

            But if you want to believe he and I are one and the same, I really don’t care to argue the matter further. You’re welcome to believe whatever you wish.

          • Walt Grayum

            Yikes! I’m sorry if it seemed like I’m saying you and he are the same considering how you view him! That wasn’t my intent, but I can see how it could be seen that way. I’m sorry about that.

            Let me see if I can focus a little sharper … do you think it’s ever acceptable for someone who holds a strong enough belief about something in the Bible to point out why it’s important and warn about what he believes are problems associated with other understandings of the issue? Or are we all compelled just to hold our beliefs and not point out such things, even if we believe them strongly?

            My sense is that you would say, “yes,” about issues like the deity of Christ and salvation, and that you would say, “no,” about issues like a young earth understanding of scripture. Hopefully I’m not misrepresenting you here. Let me know if I am.

            Assuming that’s correct, here’s my next question: Who gets to decide whether or not an issue is important enough to “make an issue” of it? Do I get to decide that for you? Do you get to decide that for me? Does some group get to determine a list of doctrines it’s okay to take seriously enough to point out concerns about and anything not on that list is unacceptable?

            I know that could sound argumentative, but it’s not the way I intend for it to come across. I’m actually just trying to frame the issue as clearly as possible. And I guess I’m thinking that we each have to make such decisions for ourselves in our relationship with Christ, and seek to live out those decisions in a manner that’s Spirit-led and Christlike. And if I disagree, and I think my disagreement is important enough to point out to others to help them, then I should also say so in a manner that’s Spirit-led and Christlike.

            I also realize that it sounds like I keep going after you personally. Again, that’s not my intent. I am going after the line of reasoning to make sure I understand the issues, what’s being said, and try to model the very things I’m talking about. I hope I’m doing so charitably.

            Interested in your response!

          • Matthew Funke

            Let me see if I can focus a little sharper … do you think it’s ever acceptable for someone who holds a strong enough belief about something in the Bible to point out why it’s important and warn about what he believes are problems associated with other understandings of the issue?

            Yes. But honestly, in the case of Ken Ham, we’re talking about claims that are testable here. We can actually determine whether or not the things that he claims to be important to accept are true or not.

            And they’re not. Demonstrably not. And he still claims the available evidence matches his version of things. Which moves his statement from simple “accept this on faith” straight into denial.

            Nothing I’ve read that Tyler has written has required anyone who agrees with him to engage in active denial about demonstrable reality, never mind defining that activity as a lynchpin on which the entire faith relies.

          • Walt Grayum

            Hey, Matthew, thanks for the response. I’d like to follow up on your thoughts a little bit if you’re willing.

            I think I am correct in concluding that you do not hold to a young earth interpretation like Ken Ham does (and lots of other Christians, too), and that you do not hold to it because of what you’re convinced is demonstrable truth that is available to any/all. This leads you to conclude that Ham, knowing that the position he is holding is demonstrably wrong, not only holds to it but propagates it. This calls into question his character and, arguably, even his relationship with God because anyone working from a relationship with God would never do such a thing (at least I don’t think a relationship with God would lead to knowing denial of the truth and using error to build one’s own kingdom and check book). Is this consistent with your view and/or what you’re trying to say?

            If it is, then, for me at least, it raises a few questions.

            Wouldn’t it be true to say that anyone holding to a young earth interpretation of scripture is believing error about God and the Bible?

            Not only are they believing error, but they are believing error that is demonstrably erroneous, so they are choosing to believe in spite of demonstrable truth?

            People who choose to believe what is demonstrably wrong are acting inconsistently with what we know about God and His love for truth. Doesn’t their choice to believe in a young earth, then, set them in opposition to God?

            It seems to me that following your line of reasoning to the end requires us to say that these people really aren’t Christians, or at best are disobedient Christians who have departed from true Christianity. If you’re right, then that’s what we need to do.

            Is this line of thinking consistent with what you were trying to say?

          • Matthew Funke

            This leads you to conclude that Ham, knowing that the position he is holding is demonstrably wrong, not only holds to it but propagates it.

            This, yes, combined with the fact that he has been publicly confronted with empirical evidence demonstrating the wrongness of his position, and has not changed his claims in light of the evidence presented to him. It is possible for someone to simply be deceived; but at some point, when someone believes demonstrably wrong things, one is confronted with a choice about whether to willingly continue the deception or to admit that one needs to change one’s mind. Ken Ham is well beyond that point. He is actively lying.

            Wouldn’t it be true to say that anyone holding to a young earth interpretation of scripture is believing error about God and the Bible?

            Yes. Let me be plain about this: I think it entirely probable that we all get more wrong than we get right. When the subject matter is testable, though, we ought to be especially keen to try to find out what reality suggests (and even contraindicates), lest we fool ourselves and lead others astray. For a person who lives in community, this is common sense; it ought to be even more so for someone who erects himself as a teacher of correct doctrine and understanding.

            It seems to me that following your line of reasoning to the end requires us to say that these people really aren’t Christians, or at best are disobedient Christians who have departed from true Christianity.

            If they are being knowingly dishonest, they are being (at best) disobedient Christians, yes. It’s not my call to determine who’s a “real, true” Christian and who isn’t, but someone who is knowingly being dishonest doesn’t seem to be following Jesus in that area. We all fail to do that in several ways, if we’re honest; but if we’re really interested in following Christ, we also hope that our brethren would point out ways in which we’re failing and help us to do better.

          • Walt Grayum

            You wrote: “This, yes, combined with the fact that he has been publicly confronted with empirical evidence demonstrating the wrongness of his position, and has not changed his claims in light of the evidence presented to him.” [I don’t now how to do this the cool way you do – with the lines and the indents!]

            Could you point me to where I could find information regarding the public confrontation you’re referring to? I’d be interested in looking at it. Thanks!

          • Matthew Funke

            [I don’t now how to do this the cool way you do – with the lines and the indents!]

            That’s done with [blockquote] and [/blockquote] surrounding the quote, with angle brackets replacing the square ones up there. (If I’d tried to show you with angle brackets, Disqus would have thought I was trying to quote something and wouldn’t have shown you anything at all. I learned this rather recently, myself.)

            Could you point me to where I could find information regarding the public confrontation you’re referring to?

            Well, there’s the infamous recent Ken Ham/Bill Nye debate. Ken Ham even used a graphic that showed evolutionary descent of canines, corrupted to obscure the vital time-related information so that he could pretend all of it was possible in a young-Earth creationist timeline.

            Beyond that, there’s well-documented information all over the web. Here, for example (at the link under this text), is where he got stuff wrong that wasn’t even related to evolution — stuff about his park, his aims, and a Newsweek article about his organization.

        • ashleyhr

          Gungor was commenting on HIS own blog (where comments are allowed – unlike with Ham’s divisive and attempted manipulative blogs).

          • That’s a good point, too. Gungor engages with people, because he is actually interested in the truth.

  • ashleyhr

    Ham is a busybody policing the Christian church in America and beyond. Who appointed him to that particular role? Nobody as far as i know.

  • ashleyhr

    I also flagged Ham’s behaviour in this particular instance at the BCSE community forum in the ‘Rabble Rouser’ thread (however I cannot link as the page has crashed).

  • Kevin Doyle

    Ham continually blocks anyone who challenges his insane beliefs, on his and AIG facebook.
    Not only is he a Charlatan, he is a theocratic dictator driving many young Christians away.
    Christians these days are more knowledgeable and will not abandon their sense of logic and reason!

    • Dylan

      You are quite right. His view that one must take Genesis literally is one reason I became an atheist for years. If it wasn’t for groups like Biologos and God of Evolution, I don’t know if I would have faith now.

      • I honestly Ken Ham and his cronies will have a lot to answer for before God one day. In the flesh, Jesus was a man of abiding peace, boundless love and life-changing wisdom. His only moments of anger were for those religious hypocrites who twisted the words of God to put themselves above others.

        • Wasn’t there some dude in the Bible who talked about how people who deluded their followers were twice as damned? He seemed like a really trustworthy guy. Can’t remember the name, though. J-something. There was nothing about him that we should desire him, which makes it kind of tough.

          • Doesn’t sound familiar. Jeroboam? 😉

          • Close – Jehu, maybe? Nah, something stinks about that. Can’t put my finger on it, though.

          • Cassie Hale

            Maybe a quote on the warning to teachers found in the book of James?? New International Version
            Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

          • Cassie Hale

            Or Ezekiel talks an awful lot about false teachers leading sheep astray. I would consider Ham a false teacher leading sheep astray since he hinges salvation on whether or not one believes in creation vs. evolution.

          • That is very true.

        • Alan Clarke

          > [Jesus’] only moments of anger were for those religious hypocrites who twisted the words of God to put themselves above others.

          What do you think about people who twist(ed) God’s words of warning in Gen 6-9, or Jesus’ endorsement of those same words as evidenced by him repeating them:

          “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking… until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away.” — Mat 24

          In 2Pet 3:3-6, Peter warns us that in the last days there will be “scoffers, walking after their own lusts” teaching the equivalent of Charles Lyell’s principles of uniformitarianism, saying, “all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” Such doctrine necessitates denial of Noah’s flood:

          5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:

          6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:

          Who are you going to trust? God, Jesus, and Peter who all say the world was once “overflowed with water” or a bunch of materialist scientists who are overwhelmingly atheist in their beliefs who say there was no flood?

          • What do you think about people who twist(ed) God’s words of warning in Gen 6-9, or Jesus’ endorsement of those same words as evidenced by him repeating them:

            Nope, Jesus never showed anger toward anyone who didn’t read the story of Noah’s flood as literal history, or even to those who had no knowledge of the flood whatsoever, of which I would presume there were many in the uneducated and religiously diverse crowds among whom Jesus walked during his earthly ministry. Referring to a story as a basis for comparison is poor evidence that the speaker believes the story is literal history (if I told my son, “Your room is as messy as what New York City looked like after the aliens destroyed it in ‘The Avengers,'” does that mean I believe Captain America and the Hulk are real historical figures?), and it does not change the fact that Jesus never once in any of the gospels said a certain view of Genesis was absolutely vital to be one of his followers or to understand why he came.

      • Jesus_Freak3050

        Awesome to hear, Dylan!

      • Greg Carlet

        Same here!

  • Theodore Cyrene

    How long before Ken Ham makes a complete break from Christianity and leads his followers in forming a new religion based on his literal interpretation of Genesis?

    • I think we might have already reached that point a while ago.

  • Chris Mason

    “Neither is a Bible scholar nor scientist.”

    I laughed when I first read that and I’m guessing that you had the same reaction since you mentioned it above. I can’t tell if this is what we call “irony” or “hypocrisy” or if it’s both. It reminds me of a video that I saw on youtube (posted by DonExodus2) that was made in response to an episode of Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron’s the Way of the Master. In Part 1, we see the beginning of the episode, which features Comfort speaking with some college students who accept evolution and he uses their language as evidence that they accept evolution solely through faith. One example is their use of the phrase “I’m not an expert.” In part 3, Cameron explains how to “defeat the ‘evolutionists'” by somehow “circumventing the intellect,” which is apparently code-talk for making them not think about it or something. After that, Comfort says that this is good news or people like him because it means that he doesn’t have to be an expert in the fossil record. So, Comfort thinks that you HAVE to be an expert to defend evolution, but not to criticize it. [FACEPALM!!!]

    • I didn’t laugh when I read it, but it did make me want to punch the nearest face. Luckily there was no one else around at the time.

      • Chris Mason

        Also an understandable reaction.

  • ashleyhr

    For more than 24 hours now I have been unable to view the Gungor blogs. I am greeted with ”
    Bandwidth Limit ExceededThe server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later.”

  • JASON

    This article was not helpful. It was spiteful and adds to the ruckus.

    • Thanks for your opinion. I suppose you think Ken Ham’s article was wonderful, do you?

  • Richard Carnes

    AiG’s front-page banner linking to this story has the subtitle “Accepting Man’s Ideas over God’s Word.” I don’t know if you’ve discussed this on your blog, but AiG likes to pose the creation/evolution issue as one of “Who you gonna believe? Man’s fallible ideas or God’s infallible Word?” Never explained is how we can come to know what God has said (if anything) about creation or human origins without using our fallible human reason. Apparently human reason is always fallible EXCEPT in the case when it is being used to reach the conclusions that God created the world in six literal days, etc., in which case it becomes infallible.

    Science is essentially the attempt to overcome the fallibility of human reason to the extent possible, where it concerns how nature works and what has happened in the past, through methods developed painstakingly over hundreds of years. In place of this, Ham and AiG offer “just believe what we tell you to believe.”

  • ashleyhr

    Richard Carnes – I agree with your comments. You and others may wish to see this re the false dichotomies offered by the fundamentalist and busybody Christians at AiG: http://forums.bcseweb.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=3535

    • ashleyhr

      I have also documented at the BCSE community forum cases where what AiG present as ‘God’s word’ is either a twisting of the obvious meaning or a conclusion not supported by any specific Bible texts (this is done in order to pretend that Genesis etc is ‘scientific’ (at all) and ‘accurate’ scientifically).

  • Sam Haylor

    Hey Tyler, would it be fair to say you view the first 9 chapters or so of Genesis to be much like Bunyan’s book Pilgrim’s Progress?

    • Hey Sam. I think it’d be fair to say I view the first nine chapters or so of Genesis to be much like the parables of Christ, Psalms, Proverbs and the books of the prophets, that is, the large portions of the Bible that contain important theological and moral truths within metaphorical stories and concepts.

      • Sam Haylor

        Fair enough 🙂 I wasn’t suggesting you had a low view of the authority of those chapters, but as “metaphorical stories” go none of those other portions of Scripture you mention read quite the same way as Gen. 1-9. Pilgrim’s Progress just came to mind as a closer example of a fictional story with lots of theological truths in it. It’s just not “God-breathed” as the Scriptures are!

        • Hey Sam, thanks. You’re right, but then again, Psalms, Proverbs, certainly Revelation, the parables of Christ, etc., are alll unique in their own ways in comparison with the rest of the biblical record. The first portion of Genesis conveys incredibly unique truths about God, his nature, and his creation — why would it not do so in a unique way?

          • Sam Haylor

            Understood. Sorry for the digression! The reason I asked my question was to point out that you could read those stories in Genesis to somebody like Saeed Abedini, who is facing almost certain death for his faith in Christ, and encourage him by drawing out those incredibly unique truths about God, his nature and character, no?

          • I don’t think the truths of Genesis are so hidden and esoteric that only I would be capable of “drawing them out” for people, if that’s what you’re saying.

          • Sam Haylor

            Not at all. I could have said, “we could read” or “one could read” just as well. I just meant a fellow believer who happened to have the opportunity talk to a suffering saint.

          • OK. Well, of course, then.

          • Sam Haylor

            Figured! So, the only problem is that one cannot say to Saeed, as a way of encouraging him, “If these figurative people could do it so can you!” because they weren’t real people exercising real faith. The stories might describe what faith looks like but they don’t provide any proof of faith or examples that it can be done or has been done. Examples of faith, or courage, or whatever trait one wants to point to, can only come from real people who have actually lived through the trial.

          • I think the main scriptural lesson that I would attempt to offer to someone in that situation, which can absolutely be found in Genesis and many other places in the Bible, is that God is in control of everything, and that he is immeasurably stronger and more powerful and more lasting than anything that can happen to us in this life. The Bible, after all, is a book about God more than it is a book about people.

          • Sam Haylor

            True enough, but one the greatest gifts God has given to us in His Word is example. Hebrews 4:15-16 speaks of Christ being tempted as we are yet without sin. In 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul says to imitate him as he imitates Christ. And 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 is also a wonderful reminder of how those who have suffered before us are able to provide comfort.

            However, the premier passage that so beautifully and profoundly offers hope and endurance of faith to suffering or struggling believers is Hebrews 12:1-3. The author exhorts us to “consider [Jesus] who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself” providing the ultimate REAL example of faith.

            But he tells us why we should consider Jesus in verse 1, “since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us.” This “cloud of witnesses” is the long list of REAL men who had REAL faith in the REAL promises of God. The author is saying quite loudly, “If these men did it, so can you!” To draw upon fictitious faith is absolutely meaningless and doesn’t work as an argument to “run with endurance the race set before us.”

          • I don’t deny any of that, but there can be powerful lessons in fictional stories as well. When Jesus was asked what it means to love one’s neighbor as oneself, he told a FICTIONAL story about a NOT-REAL Samaritan who did NOT-REAL things for a man who was also NOT REAL. Your own argument, applied here, would seem to suggest that to draw upon a fictitious act of goodwill as the benchmark for the humanitarian ideal is “absolutely meaningless.”

            I simply don’t accept your implication that my view of the first few chapters of Genesis somehow weakens its meaning or lessens its impact as the word of God in comparison to yours. If that was not what you’re implying, then I apologize, but that’s what’s coming across to me.

          • Sam Haylor

            No, I wasn’t implying that at all. I stated in agreement twice above that we can glean many valuable lessons from fictional stories. My point was that you can’t use fictional characters to prove that enduring faith is possible. You have to look to real people who actually lived by faith, which is what the author Hebrews does in chapters 11 and 12.

          • I think you can use fictional characters as examples of just about anything, just as Jesus did.

          • Sam Haylor

            I’ll just say it again. You cannot use fictional stories to PROVE that something is possible. You can only illustrate what it looks like, but that doesn’t prove to me that I can do it. The only thing that can is an example of someone who has already done it, for real. I don’t understand the resistance to this truism.

          • So Jesus using a fictional story to illustrate the humanitarian ideal, and saying “This is how you should live,” is not enough — in your mind — to accept that living that way is possible? If, on the other hand, Jesus had shared a historical anecdote with the exact same details, that would make all the difference in the world to you?

            I, similarly, don’t understand why this is such a sticking point for you, and why you felt compelled to bring it up in the first place. Ideals can be demonstrated and truths communicated in the lives of real people, and in works of fiction, and the biblical authors did both.

          • Sam Haylor

            I mean that if Jesus had not actually lived a sinless life I would not believe it’s possible to even resist one temptation, because of my utter weakness. Likewise, if I did not have the real examples of men like “Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight…were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted…(men of whom the world was not worthy)…And all these, having gained approval through their faith” I would surely have despaired a number of times and believed it was impossible to go on.

            Yes, Jesus used fictional stories to illustrate the truth. But fiction doesn’t always suffice. And in the context of Hebrews 12, fictional characters simply will not do. You can’t call a fictional character to the witness stand to testify to the fact that God keeps His promises. You can’t tell somebody who is weak and beaten down, or persecuted, “It’s going to be ok. Here’s a pretend story of somebody who made it!”

            My point in bringing this up is to show the context of Hebrews 11 and 12, and that it would be, by definition, absurd for the author to use fictional characters to make the point he makes in 12:1-3. They must be real people, who exercised real faith, believing the real promises of God. That’s his point, and it’s very unambiguous.

            The reason I mention it here under this post is because Noah, Enoch, and Abel are first on the list.

          • I mean that if Jesus had not actually lived a sinless life I would not believe it’s possible to even resist one temptation, because of my utter weakness. Likewise, if I did not have the real examples of men like “Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight…were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted…(men of whom the world was not worthy)…And all these, having gained approval through their faith” I would surely have despaired a number of times and believed it was impossible to go on.

            So it appears that your answer to my questions (“So Jesus using a fictional story to illustrate the humanitarian ideal, and saying “This is how you should live,” is not enough — in your mind — to accept that living that way is possible? If, on the other hand, Jesus had shared a historical anecdote with the exact same details, that would make all the difference in the world to you?”) is yes. If God tells a fictional story and says, “Be like this,” that is of lesser value and encouragement to you than if God tells the exact same story as a historical anecdote and says, “Be like this.”

            Which makes no sense, by the way.

            Yes, Jesus used fictional stories to illustrate the truth. But fiction doesn’t always suffice. And in the context of Hebrews 12, fictional characters simply will not do. You can’t call a fictional character to the witness stand to testify to the fact that God keeps His promises. You can’t tell somebody who is weak and beaten down, or persecuted, “It’s going to be ok. Here’s a pretend story of somebody who made it!”

            I don’t really see that the point of every story alluded to in Hebrews 11 is to encourage somebody who is “weak and beaten down.” For the most part, they are simply illustrations of great faith, of what it means to trust God. And if a fictional story can serve as an illustration of the humanitarian ideal (as used by Jesus in the parable of the good samaritan and others), then why can a fictional story not serve as an illustration of ideal faithfulness and trust?

            My point in bringing this up is to show the context of Hebrews 11 and 12, and that it would be, by definition, absurd for the author to use fictional characters to make the point he makes in 12:1-3. They must be real people, who exercised real faith, believing the real promises of God. That’s his point, and it’s very unambiguous.

            Ditto what I said above, plus Hebrews 12:2 reinforces that our eyes should be fixed on God in Christ anyway, not men. However exemplary the men may have been, they pale greatly in comparison with the author and perfector of our faith.

          • Sam Haylor

            I didn’t answer your question directly because I was trying to stay on point, and you misunderstood what I meant by “proving enduring faith is possible”. But to be specific, Jesus’ illustration of the Samaritan is perfect for helping us understand the command to love your neighbor. It wasn’t meant to do more than that. Jesus wasn’t trying to encourage the saints to keep enduring. So for point I’m trying to make regarding Hebrews 11 and 12 your question is irrelevant, because it is not in the same context.
            I maintain that the author of Hebrews is being very obvious with his point. Notice in 10:35 and on where he says “Do not throw away your confidence… for you have need of endurance… but we are not of those who shrink back to destruction but of those who have faith. Then he defines faith, and then he lists a whole line of real men who exercised the kind of faith he’s calling them to have and finishes the chapter, not with “they were great but Jesus is better” as you say but with “they had faith unto death and didn’t even receive what they were looking for” because that’s what faith is, the “conviction of things not seen.” “THEREFORE,” he continues saying since they held their faith without receiving the promise, “you do the same, and stay fixed on Christ, as they did.”
            Furthermore, he goes on in chapter 12 and says, “you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin,” then continues with a discussion of God disciplining His sons whom He loves, and how that discipline “seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful…there strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble. So yes, chapters 11 and 12 are about wavering, weak Christians who are being tested in their own faith and on the brink of “falling away” as he talks about way back in chapter 3.

          • Right, Sam, I get that you think they’re real people, but you’re not really proving your point. You are merely asserting your point. They are not the same thing (though given the tactics now common in modern public discourse, I can see how one might be confused about that.

            The contexts of the parable of the good SamaritanSamaritan and Hebrews 11 may be different, but the overall purpose is not. In the parable, God is offering an illustration of love and charity for our instruction and exhortation. In Hebrews 11, he is offering examples of faithfulness and trust for our instruction and exhortations. Both can be encouragement; both can be models.

            Even you admit the chapter’s subjects are used as examples when you wrote, “he lists a whole line of real men who exercised the kind of faith he’s calling them to havehave” (though women are listed, too, not just men). So I ask again: if the purpose of the text is to give examples of faith in action, why is it absolutely inconceivable that fictional examples could be used, especially given the penchant the biblical authors display for symbolism, metaphor and parable throughout scripture?

          • Sam Haylor

            First of all, the purpose of Hebrews 11 is not merely to “give examples of faith in action”. The author gives his purpose in 12:1 saying, “Since we have so great a cloud of WITNESSES surrounding us, let us ALSO lay aside every encumbrance…” In other words, “since all of those men (and of course women) trusted God for something they never received in life, you do the same by continuing in your faith in Jesus.”

            But to answer your question, fictional characters can illustrate faith; they cannot exemplify it. They’re not real! They didn’t actually struggle with sin and doubt or face insurmountable odds. Surely you can at least see that distinction.

            It’s also obvious just looking at the text that the author of Hebrews presumed everyone on his list was real. “For by [faith] the men of old (literally “the elders”) gained approval. The stage is set. “The (definite article) men” who lived a long time ago gained God’s approval. That’s a plain, historical statement, not a metaphor, and not an illustration.

            Of Abel he says, “though he is dead, he still speaks.” How can a fictional character be dead?! The Lord Jesus concurs with this author in two of the Gospels (Matt. 23:25 and Luke 11:51) condemning the Jews for killing the prophets, stating that their blood “may be charged against this generation, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah.” Nobody can be guilty or held responsible of killing a fictional character!

            Noah is called “an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” That is a future promise.

            As an illustration of faith, Enoch doesn’t even fit! There’s no story demonstrating his faith. There’s just “he walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” We only know of his faith from the author of Hebrews and Jude, from information the Holy Spirit revealed later.

            There’s certainly no doubt of Abraham’s existence, or any of the other names mentioned after him, plus “the prophets” plus the “others”. It would indeed have weakened his argument to the readers (or listeners) if he threw in a few fictional characters with no distinction between them and the real ones, because there’s zero credibility with a fake witness. He would have been accused of falsifying the data, jacking up the numbers just to make a point, when he had no reason to. He had plenty of real examples to use.

            I certainly may be confused, but I think this is more than an assertion. I’m doing what every student of the Bible ought to do, which is letting the text speak for itself and draw the meaning out of it (exegesis) rather than inserting one’s meaning into it (eisegesis).

            If you see symbolism, metaphor and parable throughout chapter 11 it’s not because the language of the text (in Hebrews or Genesis) compels you. Something else is driving that conclusion. I suspect it’s because you are unwilling to accept the implications of its plain meaning.

          • First of all, the purpose of Hebrews 11 is not merely to “give examples of faith in action”. The author gives his purpose in 12:1 saying, “Since we have so great a cloud of WITNESSES surrounding us, let us ALSO lay aside every encumbrance…” In other words, “since all of those men (and of course women) trusted God for something they never received in life, you do the same by continuing in your faith in Jesus.”

            Well, I certainly don’t believe every person listed in Hebrews 11 is a fictional reference. And even if I did, Paul alludes to many people without naming them in his conclusion to that chapter.

            But to answer your question, fictional characters can illustrate faith; they cannot exemplify it. They’re not real!

            The word “exemplify” means a “very good or clear example,” so I’m not really sure what the distinction is that you think you’re making. The Good Samaritan exemplifies what it means to love one’s neighbor, wouldn’t you say?

            It’s also obvious just looking at the text that the author of Hebrews presumed everyone on his list was real. “For by [faith] the men of old (literally “the elders”) gained approval. The stage is set. “The (definite article) men” who lived a long time ago gained God’s approval. That’s a plain, historical statement, not a metaphor, and not an illustration.

            Again, you’re simply asserting what you already believe to be true. You believe the verse is “a plain, historical statement” because you believe the verse is a plain, historical statement. The construction is no different than if I said, “It was by his willingness to help and sacrifice his time and money for a total stranger that the good Samaritan pleased the Lord.”

            Of Abel he says, “though he is dead, he still speaks.” How can a fictional character be dead?! The Lord Jesus concurs with this author in two of the Gospels (Matt. 23:25 and Luke 11:51) condemning the Jews for killing the prophets, stating that their blood “may be charged against this generation, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah.” Nobody can be guilty or held responsible of killing a fictional character!

            As the first act of martyrdom and the first murder described in the biblical record, I believe Abel was meant to serve as a symbol for martyrs and for the shedding of innocent blood in any way. In the gospels, I believe Jesus is using examples his contemporary audience would understand, not as strictly literal bookends on a period of time, but to all martyrs throughout history. This is just like when Paul, in Romans 5, says “death reigned from Adam to Moses,” when what he really means is “death has reigned over all people.” He certainly doesn’t mean that death stopped its reign when Moses was born.

            As an illustration of faith, Enoch doesn’t even fit! There’s no story demonstrating his faith. There’s just “he walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” We only know of his faith from the author of Hebrews and Jude, from information the Holy Spirit revealed later.

            Jude refers to the apocryphal Book of Enoch; it’s possible that the author of Hebrews was familiar with and alluding to the same work. Even if not, Hebrews 11 doesn’t seem to me to include details that can’t be reasonably interpreted from the short account of Enoch in Genesis 5. The first part of Hebrews 11:5 is basically a direct quote of Genesis, and the fact that he received such a reward and that Genesis 5 says not once, but twice, that Enoch “walked with God,” I think it’s a pretty reasonable assumption that “he was commended as having pleased God.”

            It would indeed have weakened his argument to the readers (or listeners) if he threw in a few fictional characters with no distinction between them and the real ones, because there’s zero credibility with a fake witness. He would have been accused of falsifying the data, jacking up the numbers just to make a point, when he had no reason to. He had plenty of real examples to use.

            I totally disagree. If the author’s goal is to show the best examples of faith from stories with which his audience was familiar, then I see no reason why he couldn’t have used both historical examples and well-known biblical stories to make his point. And I think you’re greatly exaggerrated what the audience’s reaction would have been. I don’t recall anyone accusing Jesus of “falsifying the data” when he used fictional stories to present illustrations of how we as his followers should live.

            I certainly may be confused, but I think this is more than an assertion. I’m doing what every student of the Bible ought to do, which is letting the text speak for itself and draw the meaning out of it (exegesis) rather than inserting one’s meaning into it (eisegesis).

            With all due respect, no, you aren’t. As I’ve already said, it’s clear to me that you believe the text has to refer to historical figures because you have already presupposed that it does, and that there’s simply no other way it makes sense.

            If you see symbolism, metaphor and parable throughout chapter 11 it’s not because the language of the text (in Hebrews or Genesis) compels you. Something else is driving that conclusion. I suspect it’s because you are unwilling to accept the implications of its plain meaning.

            If you’ll recall, it is certainly the language of the text in Genesis that has led me to the conclusion that the creation accounts are not literal history. The blatant contradictions of Genesis 1 and 2, the talking serpent (whose ability to speak, unlike Balaam’s donkey, is not described as a miracle, nor does it surprise anyone in the story), the magical trees (including one whose magical power was totally useless) and much more, lead — I believe — to the inescapable conclusion that the text is either not meant to be taken as literal history, or it’s not divinely inspired and trustworthy.

            I think there is probably some historical information in other early parts of Genesis. For example, I do believe there was a catastrophic flood as described in the story of Noah, but that it was local in extent (there is even some scientific evidence that supports this, though it is by no means undisputed). This would explain why flood stories exist in the traditions of many ancient cultures, but not all (like the Japanese).

            Even so, I still believe the primary purpose of the flood account, e.g., was to convey theological truth — mainly, God’s harsh view and hatred of human sin, rebellion and disobedience — not history.

          • Sam Haylor

            Well, I certainly don’t believe every person listed in Hebrews 11 is a fictional reference.

            So which ones do you believe are fictional? And how have you come to that determination? The author of Hebrews certainly makes no distinction. He speaks of them all in the same way. Moses makes no distinction either with the genealogies in Genesis. They’re all described as having lived so many years before having children, having children (always naming at least one), then living so many years after having children, and then dying. Jesus makes no distinction between Abel and Zechariah. At the very least it’s possible, just from reading the text, to get the impression that they believed all those people are real. In fact the authors seem to go out of their way to make it seem so. You have to already be convinced they are not all real to think otherwise. So I ask again, from where in the text do you get the idea that some of them are not real?

            Asserting “blatant contradictions of Genesis 1 and 2” and the like is not arguing from the language of the text. It’s arguing from assumption. You assume there can’t possibly be an explanation you haven’t thought of or might not understand, even though the LANGUAGE suggests those things actually happened. Arguing from the language of the text is to observe the grammar, syntax, literary genre and context of a book or passage to determine its meaning. So, again, when I read things like “though he is dead,” “he was pleasing to God,” “fellow heirs of the same promise,” “therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them” and so many more in that single chapter, and names Cain, Abel and Enoch among all the other people whose existence nobody questions, I draw the rational and reasonable conclusion that the author is asserting they are all real people.

            No sane person speaks of make-believe people as if they were real. Neither Jesus nor any of the NT authors goes that far with any of the characters in Jesus’ parables. They are never counted among the living or faithful. They are never described as being pleasing to God, nor does Jesus ever call Himself their God. They “exist” only in the context of the story and for only as long as the lesson is being taught then are forgotten.

            This is just like when Paul, in Romans 5, says “death reigned from Adam to Moses,” when what he really means is “death has reigned over all people.” He certainly doesn’t mean that death stopped its reign when Moses was born.

            Well,you’re at least right that Jesus saying “from Abel to Zechariah” is just like Paul, but that’s about it. If Paul meant “death has reigned over all people” he would have said “death has reigned from Adam until now” or something like it. But Moses lived 1400 years prior to Paul so his example would have been really bad! But actually verses 13 and 20 tell us why he stopped at Moses… because Moses wrote the Law which then made man culpable for their sins and actually incited the people to sin even more. There’s no time or point to getting into what he means by “death reigned”, but however it reigned prior to Moses he is saying that it no longer reigned the same way after Moses. So we see that Paul was referring to the length of time death reigned, not to whom it reigned over. Granted that doesn’t PROVE Paul meant that Adam was a real person, but it certainly fits since Moses is a real person, and there is nothing to suggest he meant Adam to be symbolic. Also, given all the specific references to Adam committing “the offense” and being “the one” through whom sin entered the world it’s definitely not a leap to say that Paul did in fact assert Adam’s literal existence.

            and the fact that he received such a reward and that Genesis 5 says not once, but twice, that Enoch “walked with God,” I think it’s a pretty reasonable assumption that “he was commended as having pleased God.”

            But that’s my point. There’s nothing in the Genesis record where Enoch was tested in his faith. He doesn’t fit the pattern. In fact, the only remarkable thing about him is that he didn’t die. But if that’s just a story how is that evidence of anything? Fictional characters don’t die anyway. Only if such a thing really happened would it be worth considering.

            If the author’s goal is to show the best examples of faith from stories with which his audience was familiar…

            Again, that’s not the author’s goal. He gives his goal in 12:1, which is to fill the sky around these weak believers with witnesses to the God who keeps His promises and to incite them to follow in their steps. Pardon my repetition, but fictional characters CANNOT bear witness to anything. In fact, it is a mockery to the real martyrs who have been killed for their faith to include fictional ones with them, as if their story carries the same weight.

          • So which ones do you believe are fictional? And how have you come to that determination?

            I don’t see the value in looking at the text in such black-and-white terms. I try and read the Bible with questions like, “What is God saying here?” “What was the Holy Spirit’s purpose in inspiring and preserving this particular text?” and “What does this mean for my life today as a follower of Jesus and the work of the church?”

            “Was this an actual historical person or not?” doesn’t really figure into the equation for me. I mean, either way, the answer has little to no impact on the theological and moral teachings of any particular text and no impact on how I’m going to live my life as a follower of Jesus in the 21st century.

            The author of Hebrews certainly makes no distinction. He speaks of them all in the same way.

            Jesus made no distinctions when he was making references to Caesar or the actual poor widow in Mark 12, or to the people in his parables. He spoke of them all in the same way.

            At the very least it’s possible, just from reading the text, to get the impression that they believed all those people are real.

            Certainly, I can see how people would get that impression. The question is whether the text absolutely requires it, and I say it does not.

            In fact the authors seem to go out of their way to make it seem so.

            Oh, I very much disagree. If the first few stories in Genesis were meant to be taken no other way than literal history, and if it was absolutely essential for Christians to read them that way, I think the authors could have been and would have written them very differently, and been much more clear about it.

            Asserting “blatant contradictions of Genesis 1 and 2” and the like is not arguing from the language of the text. It’s arguing from assumption.

            No, it’s arguing from the language of the text. Like, for example, the fact that the language in the two texts contradict blatantly, if they’re both read as literal historical accounts, and especially if they’re read “plainly,” as groups like AiG assert that they do.

            No sane person speaks of make-believe people as if they were real. Neither Jesus nor any of the NT authors goes that far with any of the characters in Jesus’ parables. They are never counted among the living or faithful. They are never described as being pleasing to God, nor does Jesus ever call Himself their God. They “exist” only in the context of the story and for only as long as the lesson is being taught then are forgotten.

            That’s true enough of the characters in Jesus’ parables, that the NT authors didn’t use them in that way, but I think they could have. I don’t think it would have been at all out of place if, in one of Paul’s letters, he had written something like, “Remember the kind of heart that pleases God: the Good Samaritan, who stopped to help a total stranger in need.” Of course, Paul would have been far more eloquent than I, but tell me truthfully, do you really think this would have been an inappropriate use of that story?

            Fact is, when Paul was writing his letters, the gospels had yet to be written and widely disseminated. The mostly Jewish audiences that Paul was primarily writing to were likely to be far more familiar with the stories of Adam and Cain and Enoch than they were the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son. The same is no doubt true of Paul himself. Remember that he never met or actually heard Jesus himself, as far as we know. And though he did receive special revelation from God, nothing in his writings seems to suggests that Jesus’ parables or large swaths of his discourses were ever conveyed to Paul.

            In that understanding, your argument seems rather misleading. It’s at least just as likely, if not much more so, that the reason the NT authors selected OT figures for their exemplars rather than characters from Christ’s parables is because their audiences — and most likely they themselves — were more familiar with them.

            Well,you’re at least right that Jesus saying “from Abel to Zechariah” is just like Paul, but that’s about it. If Paul meant “death has reigned over all people” he would have said “death has reigned from Adam until now” or something like it. But Moses lived 1400 years prior to Paul so his example would have been really bad!

            Paul’s point throughout the entire book of Romans, and especially 5:12-21, is to demonstrate that sin and its consequences affect all people, Jew, gentile and otherwise affiliated. To argue that “death reigned from Adam to Moses” means anything other than “death reigns over all people” is to be contrary for no other purpose than to be contrary.

            But that’s my point. There’s nothing in the Genesis record where Enoch was tested in his faith.

            There’s nothing in Hebrews 11:5-6 that says Enoch was tested in his faith, merely that he had faith, and in doing so, pleased God.

            But if that’s just a story how is that evidence of anything? Fictional characters don’t die anyway. Only if such a thing really happened would it be worth considering.

            This is the same argument you were using before when you tried to say fictional characters can’t be good examples of anything because they didn’t actually accomplish what their stories say they did, and so didn’t face or overcome any challenges in doing so. I think we already discounted this with the example of the Good Samaritan. The fact that he was fictional, and didn’t actually sacrifice his time or money (neither of which really existed) in helping the beaten man (who also did not exist) does not make the Good Samaritan any less an excellent case study for the kind of selfless love that pleases God.

            Again, that’s not the author’s goal. He gives his goal in 12:1, which is to fill the sky around these weak believers with witnesses to the God who keeps His promises and to incite them to follow in their steps. Pardon my repetition, but fictional characters CANNOT bear witness to anything. In fact, it is a mockery to the real martyrs who have been killed for their faith to include fictional ones with them, as if their story carries the same weight.

            Again, I believe most of the people discussed in Hebrews 11 were historical figures, and the author alludes to many more in the conclusion to that chapter. A few of the characters in Hebrews 11 being fictional does not diminish “the cloud of witnesses” that surely exists to cheer on the faithful servants of God, and is alluded to in Hebrews 12:1.

          • Sam Haylor

            I don’t see the value in looking at the text in such black-and-white terms.

            Is it possible there’s value where you cannot see it? For one, there’s the matter of consistency across the whole of Scripture. If the author in fact assumed Abel and the rest to be real historical people then that means of necessity that he (along with his readers) believed Genesis 4 to be real history, and that it wasn’t even a debate for him since he felt no need to argue the point.

            For another, as I have attempted to explain a couple of times, it really does make a difference to know that real people in history have truly lived by the faith we’ve been called to, just as knowing the names of real soldiers who have actually given their lives to protect and preserve the freedoms I possess has an infinitely greater meaning to me than reading about a character in a Tom Clancy novel.

            Seeing faith in action is different than learning about the quality of faith (or love, or obedience) which is what a parable is good for. It’s not better, just different. And so, again, the author of Hebrews explains his main point of chapter 11 in chapter 12, particularly in verse 1 but even the verses following. He’s showing us faith in action, not merely what faith looks like.

            Jesus made no distinctions when he was making references to Caesar or the actual poor widow in Mark 12, or to the people in his parables. He spoke of them all in the same way.

            You know that wasn’t my point. My point was that Jesus never spoke the same of real people AND make-believe people in the same context, the same conversation. He didn’t mix them up and blur the line between them.

            Certainly, I can see how people would get that impression. The question is whether the text absolutely requires it, and I say it does not.

            On the contrary the question is, how did you come by that assertion? Because the reader of the New Testament will get this “impression” in a whole lot of other places as well. So how do you decide the text doesn’t mean what it seems to be saying plainly?

            No, it’s arguing from the language of the text. Like, for example, the fact that the language in the two texts contradict blatantly, if they’re both read as literal historical accounts, and especially if they’re read “plainly,” as groups like AiG assert that they do.

            This is my point exactly. You are assuming things about Gen. 2 that it does not say. You think they contradict each other because you assume chapter 2 is a second creation account, even though it doesn’t suggest anything of the sort. It would be a woefully lacking account of creation if it were. No mention of the heavens or the stars actually being created. The earth is already assumed to be created (verse 5). Water is assumed to already be created (verse 6). Everything from verses 5 to 15 is very localized to a specific place on earth (“a garden”, “toward the east”, a specific river flowing through the garden and four specific rivers flowing out of the garden into specific cities.) Causing plants and trees to grow that were “pleasing to the sight and good for food” does not encompass every possible plant and tree and it clearly coincides with them being made in the garden where man would live. Same with the animals where fish are not mentioned, nor are insects or “crawling” creatures. It works quite nicely as an exploded view of day six, certainly far more reasonable than a disjointed alternative creation account where more than half of creation is missing!

            Paul’s point throughout the entire book of Romans, and especially 5:12-21, is to demonstrate that sin and its consequences affect all people, Jew, gentile and otherwise affiliated.

            There’s so much more in the book of Romans than the impact of sin on mankind. The theme of the book is the Gospel of Christ as declared in 1:16, which INCLUDES sin and its consequence, but oh so much more!

            To argue that “death reigned from Adam to Moses” means anything other than “death reigns over all people” is to be contrary for no other purpose than to be contrary.

            Except that Paul doesn’t SAY “death REIGNS over all people” but says “death REIGNED FROM Adam to Moses.” These are completely different things, and Paul clearly brings in Moses to verse 14 because of what he just said in verse 13. Law, Moses.

          • For one, there’s the matter of consistency across the whole of Scripture. If the author in fact assumed Abel and the rest to be real historical people then that means of necessity that he (along with his readers) believed Genesis 4 to be real history, and that it wasn’t even a debate for him since he felt no need to argue the point.

            Do you disagree with my goal of reading the Bible with questions like “What is God saying here?” and “What does this teach me about how to live as a follower of Christ?” in mind? How does the question, “Is this a historical person?” help me follow Jesus and worship God?

            For another, as I have attempted to explain a couple of times, it really does make a difference to know that real people in history have truly lived by the faith we’ve been called to,

            Interpreting a few additional chapters of the Bible as allegory does not make that any less possible. In fact, many of the most powerful and detailed stories of Christian faith exist outside the biblical record, such as in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.

            He’s showing us faith in action, not merely what faith looks like.

            I’m getting very tired of having to say the same things over and over again, Sam. I agree: He’s doing both. And interpreting a few of the examples in the list as allegorical or symbolic doesn’t change that.

            You know that wasn’t my point. My point was that Jesus never spoke the same of real people AND make-believe people in the same context, the same conversation. He didn’t mix them up and blur the line between them.

            Sure he did, all the time. Most of Jesus’ parables were so powerful precisely because they were derived from commonplace and everyday examples. Stories like the parable of the sower are not even really “fictional,” in the traditional sense. It has been re-enacted in history millions of times.

            He also made references to symbols in reference to real people and events, even in ways that confused his disciples, like when he described his death as the “sign of Jonah” or said “Elijah has already come,” meaning not Elijah, but John the Baptist, who fulfilled the role of Elijah.

            On the contrary the question is, how did you come by that assertion? Because the reader of the New Testament will get this “impression” in a whole lot of other places as well. So how do you decide the text doesn’t mean what it seems to be saying plainly?

            I seek to read the Bible holistically, rather than prooftexting specific verses out of context, and I also use logic and reason, the help of educated translators, scholars and theologians, and even the truth derived from nature — which is also a work of God. Everyone who reads the Bible interprets the Bible, Sam, including you. I am not some weird exception. What Psalm 104:5 “seems to be saying plainly” is that the earth is fixed in space, and certainly does not move around the sun, or anything else for that matter. This was so “plain” that the church interpreted this and similar passages in this way for hundreds of years until the likes of Copernicus and Galileo came along, and showed that the interpretation was mistaken.

            You think they contradict each other because you assume chapter 2 is a second creation account, even though it doesn’t suggest anything of the sort.

            Right. It only starts off with an introduction that says, “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,” and begins with an empty world which contains no plant, animal or human life.

            No mention of the heavens or the stars actually being created.

            Except in the introduction above. But by this same logic you could call Genesis 1 a “woefully lacking creation account,” since it does not describe the creation of the billions of other planets and galaxies, not to mention quasars, black holes, comets, and so on, that occupy the universe, nor does it describe the vast universe that is the microscopic world of microbial life.

            The earth is already assumed to be created (verse 5).

            The earth is described as being created by God in the introduction to the account, just as it is in the introduction to the first creation account in Genesis 1. The introduction of the second creation account is actually twice as detailed, since it mentions God creating the earth twice.

            Causing plants and trees to grow that were “pleasing to the sight and good for food” does not encompass every possible plant and tree and it clearly coincides with them being made in the garden where man would live.

            True, but the contradiction is that they appear after mankind, on a world in which “no shrub had yet appeared” and “no plant had yet sprung up.”

            It works quite nicely as an exploded view of day six

            Yeah, except the order of the creation of man, plants, land animals, birds and woman is totally different than in Genesis 1.

            There’s so much more in the book of Romans than the impact of sin on mankind. The theme of the book is the Gospel of Christ as declared in 1:16, which INCLUDES sin and its consequence, but oh so much more!

            I agree. I did not say it was Paul’s only point in Romans, but it is a prominent and consistent one, that is revisited a number of times.

          • Sam Haylor

            Do you disagree with my goal of reading the Bible with questions like “What is God saying here?” and “What does this teach me about how to live as a follower of Christ?” in mind? How does the question, “Is this a historical person?” help me follow Jesus and worship God?

            Ok, I’ll bite even though I think the question is irrelevant to the discussion (which is whether the Bible affirms accounts such as creation and the flood to be real historical events and the people named real historical figures). The questions you ask of the Bible are good questions. I ask similar kinds of questions as well. I think the difference you and I have – which is why knowing these people were real or not and whether these events really took place or not is so critical – is how we come to answer those questions. For me to ask “What does the text say?” is exactly the same as “What is God saying here?” The answer to the one IS the answer to the other.

            Interpreting a few additional chapters of the Bible as allegory does not make that any less possible.

            This is exactly what I mean above. Rather than reading what the text says you have decided for yourself that this chapter is allegory and that chapter is history and another chapter is a mix of both. Yet there is not one hint, suggestion, or command anywhere in the Scriptures that gives us permission to do so. The whole of the Bible is written in a way where we are expected to take it at face value. Paul creating an allegory from the lives of Sarah and Hagar does not in ANY way deny their existence. Clearly he believes they were real. It is one thing to SEE an allegory in the text. It is quite another thing to make the whole text itself an allegory and deny its reality.

            Sure he did , all the time. Most of Jesus’ parables were so powerful precisely because they were derived from commonplace and everyday examples. Stories like the parable of the sower are not even really “fictional,” in the traditional sense. It has been re-enacted in history millions of times

            Maybe you didn’t get my point because Jesus using the activities of everyday life is NOT the same as referencing historical figures AND fictional figures together in the same context or conversation. He did “all the time?” Where? Give one example of Him doing this.

            Parables are not even fictional?? By definition they are fictitious stories in order to clarify a point.

            Since you bring up Psalm 104:5, let’s take a closer look at it. The NAS reads, “He established the earth upon its foudations, so that it will not totter forever and ever.” KJV says, “That it should not be removed for ever.” The Hebrew word for “totter” and “removed” is a word that means “to sway, to be made to stagger, totter.” Now the only way one would get the idea that it says the earth doesn’t move in space is either from a poor translation (I don’t own the vulgate and can’t read Latin so I can’t say whether that’s the case) or, as the Roman Catholic Church is so famous for, to not actually READ the text but to ignore what it says and to see allegory and symbol where it doesn’t exist. Those are the same folks that provided most of the material for Foxe’s Book of Martyrs by killing folks who simply took the Bible at its word and refused to acknowledge Rome as an equal authority with the Word of God.

            Right. It only starts off with an introduction that says, “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,” and begins with an empty world which contains no plant, animal or human life.

            And again, you’re reading something into it that it does not say, or rather you’re not reading what it actually says. If verse 4 is an introduction to the heavens and the earth being created, then where is the account of it in the subsequent verses? If verse 4 IS the account of the heavens and earth being created why would it reference itself? It doesn’t actually describe the event but only references it. Not to mention that “account” is actually “the generations” and not “account”. Also, verse 5 actually clarifies what it means by “no shrub” and “no plant”, not by stating, “for the LORD God had not created them yet” but “for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground.” How does that make any sense if it meant the earth was empty of plants?! And what’s the point of mentioning a mist rising and watering the whole surface of the ground if there were no plants to water?

            “No plant had yet sprouted” is an awfully funny way of saying God had not created any plants on the earth. Plants have to exist for them to sprout, since “sprout” is in the Hebrew imperfect meaning the plants that were already there had not yet begun the cycle of sprouting.

            Chapter 2 simply makes no sense as a creation account and is clearly focused on Adam’s role on the earth (and in the garden) and his relationship to Eve and with Eve.

          • For me to ask “What does the text say?” is exactly the same as “What is God saying here?” The answer to the one IS the answer to the other.

            Sam, do you really believe you impose absolutely no interpretation upon the biblical text? That there is not a single passage in scripture that you interpret other than the plain, straightforward reading of “what the text says”? Because, I know that isn’t true, but you seem to really think that it is.

            Yet there is not one hint, suggestion, or command anywhere in the Scriptures that gives us permission to do so.

            Hogwash. The Bible is itself full of metaphor and allegory, and the New Testament authors read allegorical meaning into Old Testament verses all the time. Many of the prophecies they use as evidence of Jesus messiahship, for example, had very different meanings in their original context and in the “plain-meaning” ways they had always been interpreted by the Jews.

            Paul creating an allegory from the lives of Sarah and Hagar does not in ANY way deny their existence. Clearly he believes they were real.

            Paul saying Sarah and Hagar were allegories is “clear” evidence that he believes they were real? I guess you’re right: We do look at the text differently.

            He did “all the time?” Where? Give one example of Him doing this.

            I gave several.

            Since you bring up Psalm 104:5, let’s take a closer look at it. The NAS reads, “He established the earth upon its foudations, so that it will not totter forever and ever.” KJV says, “That it should not be removed for ever.”

            I see, so the translations you agree with are the correct ones (at least in this case — I’m certain you would not accept the way the NASB or the KJV renders Genesis 2:19, e.g.) while all the other ones that translate it “move” are wrong. Fine.

            If you want to believe the author of Psalm 104 wrote that God “established the earth upon its foundations, so that it will not totter [NASB footnote: or “move out of place”] forever and ever,” and what he was really referring to was the earth’s being set on an axis around the sun in empty space, and still claim you’re doing nothing but “getting the plain meaning from what the text says,” then I certainly can’t stop you.

            If verse 4 is an introduction to the heavens and the earth being created, then where is the account of it in the subsequent verses? If verse 4 IS the account of the heavens and earth being created why would it reference itself? It doesn’t actually describe the event but only references it.

            You could say the exact same thing about Genesis 1:1, and thus conclude that Genesis 1 isn’t a real creation account because it “doesn’t actually describe the event but only references it.” Genesis 1 does not describe the creation of the planet, the watery earth is in existence from verse 2 onward, and what follows (as far as the earth is concerned) is God organizing and altering what is already there.

            Also, verse 5 actually clarifies what it means by “no shrub” and “no plant”, not by stating, “for the LORD God had not created them yet” but “for the LORD God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground.” How does that make any sense if it meant the earth was empty of plants?!

            Um, not sure if you knew this, Sam, but plants need water to live. The “plain meaning” is rather obvious: No rain = no water = no plants.

            Chapter 2 simply makes no sense as a creation account and is clearly focused on Adam’s role on the earth (and in the garden) and his relationship to Eve and with Eve.

            You’re kind of ignoring the fact that the chapter mostly concerns God creating things, and in an order that is entirely different from that in Genesis 1.

          • Sam Haylor

            Sam, do you really believe you impose absolutely no interpretation upon the biblical text? That there is not a single passage in scripture that you interpret other than the plain, straightforward reading of “what the text says”? Because, I know that isn’t true, but you seem to really think that it is.

            It is my ambition for that to be true of myself, but I’m not perfect. I know I impose my own interpretation on passages sometimes, but I am wrong to do so (2 Peter 1:20).

            Hogwash. The Bible is itself full of metaphor and allegory

            I was only talking about allegory here, not metaphor. There’s a difference so let’s not equate them. And no, I don’t believe there is a single narrative passage in the Bible that is written as allegory. I repeat, finding allegory in a text is not the same as the author writing it as allegory. And I didn’t say Paul believed Sarah and Hagar were real BECAUSE he made an allegory from them. Good grief! I figured it needed no explanation, Paul being “circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews.”

            and the New Testament authors read allegorical meaning into Old Testament verses all the time. Many of the prophecies they use as evidence of Jesus messiahship, for example, had very different meanings in their original context and in the “plain -meaning” ways they had always been interpreted by the Jews.

            Let’s make sure we’re defining things the same. An allegory is a fictitious story using fictitious characters with a hidden meaning (like Pilgrim’s Progress). Finding types and fulfillment of Old Testament passages in Christ, and even drawing allegory from a passage, does make those passages allegory.

            I gave several.

            Humor me. Just one citation, because I can’t find any in your previous replies. The only passage I can find you citing directly is Mark 12, which is not an example of what you’re claiming. The parables, mention of Caesar, and the widow are three very distinct conversations that took place at different times.

            I see, so the translations you agree with are the correct ones… while all the other ones that translate it “move” are wrong. Fine. If you want to believe the author of Psalm 104 wrote that God “established the earth upon its foundations, so that it will not totter [NASB footnote: or “move out of place”] forever and ever,” and what he was really referring to was the earth’s being set on an axis around the sun in empty space, and still claim you’re doing nothing but “getting the plain meaning from what the text says,” then I certainly can’t stop you.

            Oh, I see. You don’t think I recognize metaphor at all anywhere in the Bible, but of course I do. I see it here in Psalm 104 for sure. I was trying to point out that Rome had no excuse to take from this verse that the earth is fixed in space, because the language doesn’t allow for it. The imagery is over the top! Beams in the oceans, foundations supporting the earth, chariots and wings.

            You could say the exact same thing about Genesis 1:1, and thus conclude that Genesis 1 isn’t a real creation account because it “doesn’t actually describe the event but only references it.”

            Well, Tyler, we’ve already discussed the use of the toledot in Genesis, which appears in 2:4 but not in 1:1. So no, those two verses are not exactly the same. The first is actually the account of God creating the empty universe and the earth. The second is a toledot summary/intro. In every other use of the word in Genesis it refers to the descendants of a particular man, but since there were no men prior to Adam and Adam was formed from the dust of the earth, the earth is referred to as the progenitor. Note that in every instance of the toledot the one referenced is already mentioned in previous passages so that the toledot is not an introduction to the birth of the one referenced but rather an accounting of their immediate and significant descendants, who are also mentioned previously in all cases but Isaac’s and Esau’s. Gen. 2:4 fits that pattern perfectly. The earth (and the heavens) was introduced in chapter 1 and its “descendants” – namely Adam and Eve – are seen following 2:4.

            Um, not sure if you knew this, Sam, but plants need water to live.

            Which is why I pointed out verse 6 which mentions water coming UP from the ground.

            Let me ask you something. Is there any narrative passage in all of the Bible that you believe to be 100% historically accurate in its account of what was said or what was done?

          • It is my ambition for that to be true of myself, but I’m not perfect. I know I impose my own interpretation on passages sometimes, but I am wrong to do so (2 Peter 1:20).

            In context, 1 Peter1:20-21 is obviously speaking to the process by which the original scriptures were inspired. It is not prescribing how they should be read. Anyone who reads or has ever read or will ever read the Bible interprets the Bible. It is impossible to read the Bible without interpreting it.

            And no, I don’t believe there is a single narrative passage in the Bible that is written as allegory.

            Yes, definitions are important. What do you mean by “narrative passage” here? Because most of Christ’s parables were constructed in narrative form, as are a number of the allegorical devices in the books of the prophets.

            And I didn’t say Paul believed Sarah and Hagar were real BECAUSE he made an allegory from them. Good grief! I figured it needed no explanation, Paul being “circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews.”

            Oh, OK. Paul says Sarah and Hagar are allegories, and to you, that does not indicate that he believes that they are allegories. However, he says that he is a “Hebrew of Hebrews,” and you take that as irrefutable proof that he believed they were historical figures.

            Yep, that clears everything right up.

            Let’s make sure we’re defining things the same. An allegory is a fictitious story using fictitious characters with a hidden meaning (like Pilgrim’s Progress). Finding types and fulfillment of Old Testament passages in Christ, and even drawing allegory from a passage, does make those passages allegory.

            An allegory is a story that can be interpreted to contain hidden meaning. I don’t know that the definition requires the word “fictional.” If larger meaning can be found in historical events or non-fiction accounts, then they are allegorical just as surely as Christ’s parables are allegorical. This is how you claim Paul is using Sarah and Hagar in Galatians, that just because he called them allegories doesn’t mean that they are fictional.

            From the Wikipedia entry on medieval allegory: “Allegory has an ability to freeze the temporality of a story, while infusing it with a spiritual context. Medieval thinking accepted allegory as having a reality underlying any rhetorical or fictional uses. The allegory was as true as the facts of surface appearances.”

            Humor me. Just one citation, because I can’t find any in your previous replies. The only passage I can find you citing directly is Mark 12, which is not an example of what you’re claiming. The parables, mention of Caesar, and the widow are three very distinct conversations that took place at different times.

            I guess you missed the examples I gave of Jesus referring to the real John the Baptist as Elijah (the symbol of Elijah, not the real prophet, whom both he and three of the disciples had just seen and conversed with) or referring to his own death, symbolically, as the sign of Jonah. Jesus constantly used symbols and stories to describe, define or refer to real things, even if they were, at times, a spiritual reality, rather he was talking about the kingdom of heaven, himself or the prophets who had come before him, and even God himself.

            Oh, I see. You don’t think I recognize metaphor at all anywhere in the Bible, but of course I do. I see it here in Psalm 104 for sure. I was trying to point out that Rome had no excuse to take from this verse that the earth is fixed in space, because the language doesn’t allow for it. The imagery is over the top! Beams in the oceans, foundations supporting the earth, chariots and wings.

            Since Psalm 104 also refers to very mundane, entirely literal things, like sunsets and birds making nests, I suppose Rome could be forgiven for being a little confused. And of course, this is not the only place in scripture that says something about the earth being fixed. There’s also 1 Chronicles 16:30, Isaiah 45:18, and a number of other psalms.

            Well, Tyler, we’ve already discussed the use of the toledot in Genesis, which appears in 2:4 but not in 1:1. So no, those two verses are not exactly the same.

            I didn’t say they were exactly the same, I said the same criticism could be made of both, because neither describe the creation of the earth beyond simply stating that it was created by God. I also said they were both introductions to creation accounts.

            Note that in every instance of the toledot the one referenced is already mentioned in previous passages so that the toledot is not an introduction to the birth of the one referenced but rather an accounting of their immediate and significant descendants, who are also mentioned previously in all cases but Isaac’s and Esau’s. Gen. 2:4 fits that pattern perfectly. The earth (and the heavens) was introduced in chapter 1 and its “descendants” – namely Adam and Eve – are seen following 2:4.

            The phrase also always serves as an introduction, either to a genealogy or a narrative, and always moves the overall “story” of Genesis forward in some way, except — according to you — in the case of Genesis 2:4, which moves backward in time for a “zoomed-in look” at a story that has already been concluded.

            Which is why I pointed out verse 6 which mentions water coming UP from the ground.

            Yes, and I responded to it in detail and explained how the passage almost certainly does not mean what you seem to think it means. But you, apparently, wish to stick with the ESV’s rendering of the verb in the progressive form, despite the fact that both the original text and the vast majority of English translations disagree with it. Do you believe the verbs in Genesis 2:8 should also be translated in the progressive form: “And the Lord God was forming man of the dust of the ground, and was breathing into his nostrils the breath of life; and man was becoming a living soul”? That makes total sense, doesn’t it?

            I would think someone who purports to hold the plain meaning of the original writings in such high regard would not be OK with such a monkeying around of the text. To alter the renderings of verbs in such arbitrary ways is not a service to the text, it is a service to a particular, presupposed interpretation of the text. Honestly, wouldn’t you think a text that was meant to be read literally should be able to be in harmony with the account that preceded it, without the text being subjected to such a convoluted translation method?

            Let me ask you something. Is there any narrative passage in all of the Bible that you believe to be 100% historically accurate in its account of what was said or what was done?

            Yes, I believe there are many. The gospels, for example, are historical accounts and I believe them to be historically accurate. The difference, in my mind, between the gospels and, for example, the book of Genesis, is that in the chapter 1 introduction to Luke, the author explicitly describes the purpose and nature of his writing and those of the other gospels. And he describes these writings as “orderly accounts” of “the things that have been fulfilled among us,” passed down by “eyewitnesses.” In other words, the gospels are SELF-DESCRIBED as historical accounts, to be accepted or rejected on the basis of their accurate description of real events.

            Genesis, on the other hand, contains no disclaimer in which the purpose or nature of the text is clearly described, and it certainly is nowhere in scripture purported to be an “eyewitness account.” Therefore, I believe it is and should be open to reasonable interpretation, and I think that many of the elements in the early stories of the book — such as the contradictory nature of Genesis 1 and 2, and clear metaphors like talking snakes and trees with magical properties — point to them being symbolic texts.

          • Sam Haylor

            In context, 1 Peter1:20-21 is obviously speaking to the process by which the original scriptures were inspired. It is not prescribing how they should be read. Anyone who reads or has ever read or will ever read the Bible interprets the Bible. It is impossible to read the Bible without interpreting it.

            It’s too complex to argue the context of this passage here but in short I think you’re only partially correct. The word in verse 20 really is “interpretation” so there’s more than just the process of inspiration going on. In any case, I’m not disputing that a meaning must be given to every passage of Scripture we read, but I cannot, and must not, trust my own understanding of things and must submit myself to the authority of the text itself and be diligent to let it speak for itself. It means what it says, so if I understand what it says (grammar, syntax, word definitions, literary style, context, etc.) then I will understand what it means.

            Yes, definitions are important. What do you mean by “narrative passage” here? Because most of Christ’s parables were constructed in narrative form, as are a number of the allegorical devices in the books of the prophets.

            By “narrative passage” I mean any passage of Scripture that is written in narrative form, where the writer narrates events and discourse. The Gospels, Acts, and much of Revelation, are the narrative passages of the NT. Genesis – Job are almost entirely narrative, as are Daniel, Jonah, and many portions of the other prophets. To give a specific example, none of the authors of the Gospels wrote in allegory, they recorded events that actually took place. I hold that to be true of all Scripture that is written in narrative form.

            I guess you missed the examples I gave of Jesus referring to the real John the Baptist as Elijah…or referring to his own death, symbolically, as the sign of Jonah.

            You’re arguing against a point I didn’t make. I’m not asking for passages where Jesus uses symbol, I’m asking for passages where Jesus speaks of real people AND fictional characters together in the same discourse. Elijah and Jonah are real people so those don’t work as examples.

            I didn’t say they were exactly the same, I said the same criticism could be made of both, because neither describe the creation of the earth beyond simply stating that it was created by God. I also said they were both introductions to creation accounts.

            That’s just silly. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” is a narrative statement of God performing the act of creation, brief though it is. “When they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven” is a reference BACK to that narrative. They are entirely different kinds of statements.

            The phrase also always serves as an introduction, either to a genealogy or a narrative, and always moves the overall “story” of Genesis forward in some way, except — according to you — in the case of Genesis 2:4, which moves backward in time for a “zoomed-in look” at a story that has already been concluded.

            Except all the other toledots repeat information to some degree as well, and the story in Gen 2 does move forward starting at 2:25, only there were details about Adam’s sin that needed to be filled in for us to understand what happens next. There are many other passages in the Bible where this happens and it only shows God’s genius not only in storytelling but in revealing vital truths about His nature and plans for people. Again, you assume too much about what chapter 2 doesn’t say, and that is confusing your understanding of how it fits in with chapter 1.

            Yes, and I responded to it in detail and explained how the passage almost certainly does not mean what you seem to think it means. But you, apparently, wish to stick with the ESV’s rendering of the verb in the progressive form, despite the fact that both the original text and the vast majority of English translations disagree with it….

            I have no idea where all that vehemence toward the ESV comes from but I actually don’t use it much even though I think it’s a very nice translation. Rendering the Hebrew imperfect verb as “was coming up” depicts the nature of the verb just as well as, or better than, “went up” or “came up” but they really aren’t all that different. They all give the impression of natural springs providing water to the soil.
            Your “detailed explanation” of chapter 2 is only plausible if you ignore a WHOLE bunch of verses in it. Note the mention of a garden (an enclosure or piece of land to plant things in), which was planted toward the east, in a city name Eden, and that a river flowed out of the city and became four other rivers each flowing to a specific city. All of these refute the idea that the things described in this chapter are global or pertaining to the whole earth. And note that the plants and animals God brought forth are specific kinds and not just general descriptions of all plant and animal life. So try all you like to claim that chapter 2 is a second, completely different and contradictory creation account from chapter 1, but once again, the language and context prove otherwise.

            The difference, in my mind, between the gospels and, for example, the book of Genesis, is that in the chapter 1 introduction to Luke, the author explicitly describes the purpose and nature of his writing and those of the other gospels. And he describes these writings as “orderly accounts” of “the things that have been fulfilled among us,” passed down by “eyewitnesses.” In other words, the gospels are SELF-DESCRIBED as historical accounts, to be accepted or rejected on the basis of their accurate description of real events.

            You’re going beyond what is written here Tyler. Luke only speaks for himself about his own accounts and his are the only ones that are “self-described”. The other gospels were not written by Luke, nor are they “in consecutive order”. In fact, Matthew’s beginning reads an awful lot like the toledot sections throughout Genesis, and John’s beginning is amazingly similar to Gen. 1:1. It is not Luke’s testimony about his work that validates it as being historically accurate, but the fact that he was “moved by the Holy Spirit” as Peter says. You pick and choose which passage are historical based on your own preconceptions, not on the nature of the text.

          • The word in verse 20 really is “interpretation” so there’s more than just the process of inspiration going on.

            The author is drawing a distinction, in reference to the process of inspiration. He is saying that the biblical prophecies were not a matter of human interpretation, as compared to, say, astrologers or magicians who attempted to divine the future through some natural means, but came about as the result of people being given the words of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

            Just because the translated passage happens to use the same word as we are using in our discussion of biblical interpretation does not automatically mean the verse is relevant to our discussion.

            By “narrative passage” I mean any passage of Scripture that is written in narrative form, where the writer narrates events and discourse.

            Then most of Jesus’ parables would also qualify as “narrative passages” by your own definition.

            That’s just silly. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” is a narrative statement of God performing the act of creation, brief though it is. “When they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven” is a reference BACK to that narrative. They are entirely different kinds of statements.

            You can call it “silly,” if you like, but simply asserting that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” is “an entirely different kind of statement” from “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven” is not enough to convince me.

            Except all the other toledots repeat information to some degree as well, and the story in Gen 2 does move forward starting at 2:25, only there were details about Adam’s sin that needed to be filled in for us to understand what happens next.

            This is not an example of a few names from a genealogy being repeated. There is no other use of the phrase in which a story is unambiguously concluded (“Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”) and then jumps back in time to rehash narrative events — actual works of God in history (or so you say) — and in an entirely different order.

            I have no idea where all that vehemence toward the ESV comes from but I actually don’t use it much even though I think it’s a very nice translation.

            I have no vehemence against it. In fact, I own several copies and used to use it almost exclusively. I am just more cautious with it now that I’ve seen some of the highly questionable ways it renders certain parts of Genesis 1-3.

            Rendering the Hebrew imperfect verb as “was coming up” depicts the nature of the verb just as well as, or better than, “went up” or “came up” but they really aren’t all that different.

            They are entirely different uses of the verb, and if the progressive form was “just as good” a translation, if not “better than,” the simple past, then the ESV wouldn’t be the only major English translation that used it.

            Note the mention of a garden (an enclosure or piece of land to plant things in), which was planted toward the east, in a city name Eden, and that a river flowed out of the city and became four other rivers each flowing to a specific city. All of these refute the idea that the things described in this chapter are global or pertaining to the whole earth.

            How? Why in the world does a reference to a specific place later in the story necessitate that the author could not have been speaking more broadly earlier on? Authors change their scopes all the time in telling stories, and that very much includes the biblical authors. I say Genesis 2:4-7 is referring to the earth as a whole, and then the author begins to speak of a more specific place in verse 8, which is only bolstered by some of the references you mention. If the entire passage was meant to refer to a limited local area, then it seems there would be no need to narrow the focus with the geographical descriptors that start in verse 8.

            And note that the plants and animals God brought forth are specific kinds and not just general descriptions of all plant and animal life.

            Sorry, what about Genesis 2:19 (“Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field andevery bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.”) makes you think this is some kind of limited description? Looks a lot like Genesis 1:24 to me: “Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind’; and it was so.”

            You’re going beyond what is written here Tyler. Luke only speaks for himself about his own accounts and his are the only ones that are “self-described”.

            Actually, most of his introduction is spent discussing the work of others. I admit that it is a bit of a stretch to suggest he is referring to the other gospels — we don’t know for sure — but I think it’s a pretty reasonable assumption from what we do know about the timeline in which the gospels were written, and the manner in which we believe they were written.

            “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.”

            Luke does not actually start talking about his own writing until verse 3.

            You pick and choose which passage are historical based on your own preconceptions, not on the nature of the text.

            Likewise, my friend.

            As an aside, Sam, as much as I appreciate your thoughts and the time you have spent here, we don’t seem to be getting anywhere in this discussion. I certainly don’t think you will ever convince me that two passages that so plainly contradict (when read literally), don’t “really” contradict. And you clearly have your mind made up, too. So please feel free to respond, but I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to dedicate any further time to repeating the same things I’ve already said.

          • Sam Haylor

            Then most of Jesus’ parables would also qualify as “narrative passages” by your own definition.

            You seem to be struggling with this, but I’ll try again. I’m talking about the words that the authors, such as Luke, wrote. Luke wrote, in historical narrative, those events of Jesus’s life on earth, including times when He spoke in parable. Luke did not write in parable or allegory form. Paul didn’t even write in allegory form. He an allegory, but in the context of a didactic letter. Does that make sense now? Jesus sometimes spoke in parables, and we can read about them in Luke’s (and Matthew’s, Mark’s and John’s) narrative book.

            There is no other use of the phrase in which a story is unambiguously concluded… and then jumps back in time to rehash narrative events…and in an entirely different order.

            I agree completely, which is one reason Gen. 2 should not be viewed as a second creation account! Rather, it is an expansion of one particular point in the previous narrative (day 6) which leads up to the events that follow in chapters 3 and 4. This pattern does occur elsewhere in 5:1 and 25:19, and the lines between what took place prior and what takes place after are blurred in most of the other uses.

            I say Genesis 2:4-7 is referring to the earth as a whole, and then the author begins to speak of a more specific place in verse 8, which is only bolstered by some of the references you mention. If the entire passage was meant to refer to a limited local area, then it seems there would be no need to narrow the focus with the geographical descriptors that start in verse 8.

            I agree completely with this. Starting in verse 8 we see the focus shift to a local garden in a specific spot of land on the earth. It’s in this local context where God formed and planted the trees and animals mentioned.

            Sorry, what about Genesis 2:19 (“Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field andevery bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.”) makes you think this is some kind of limited description?

            I mean it only mentions “beasts of the field” and not every kind of animal mentioned in 1:25-25, nor does it mention fish. It also only mentions trees that pretty and/or good to eat. The animals and trees mentioned are clearly specific to the relationship with Adam, not an account of all animals and plants God created.
            You’re going beyond what is written here Tyler. Luke only speaks for himself about his own accounts and his are the only ones that are “self-described”.

            Likewise, my friend.

            I think we both know I don’t do that. My whole argument is that EVERY narrative passage in the Bible is historical narrative and not allegory or figurative.

          • You seem to be struggling with this, but I’ll try again. I’m talking about the words that the authors, such as Luke, wrote. Luke wrote, in historical narrative, those events of Jesus’s life on earth, including times when He spoke in parable. Luke did not write in parable or allegory form. Paul didn’t even write in allegory form. He an allegory, but in the context of a didactic letter. Does that make sense now? Jesus sometimes spoke in parables, and we can read about them in Luke’s (and Matthew’s, Mark’s and John’s) narrative book.

            I get what you’re saying, Sam, I just don’t understand why. Most of the time Jesus, whom we believe to be God in the flesh, set out to convey a moral or theological truth, he did so in an allegory in narrative form or a simple metaphor. And yet, you maintain that, when God was conveying moral and theological truth through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the biblical authors, he would have NEVER done so in an allegory in narrative form.

            I agree completely, which is one reason Gen. 2 should not be viewed as a second creation account!

            Glad you agree, though you still seem a bit confused. The phrase is always used to introduce a genealogy or a new narrative, and it is never used to jump back in time and rehash events that were just described and concluded. Therefore, it seems logical that, in this case, as in all the others, it is being used as an introduction (to an entirely new story), and not as a time-traveling exercise in which a story that was just finished in completed is now rehased in an entirely different order.

            This pattern does occur elsewhere in 5:1 and 25:19, and the lines between what took place prior and what takes place after are blurred in most of the other uses.

            Neither of those cases is remotely comparable to how you claim the introduction is being used in Genesis 2:4. The genealogy in Genesis 5 references a few lines of Genesis in describing mankind, but it does not jump back in time and rehash the events in greater detail, as you claim is being done in Genesis 2. And Genesis 25:19 does not jump backward in time at all, it merely picks up the story of Isaac and Rebekah where it was left at the end of Genesis 24, after brief digressions to mention the death of Abraham and the line of Ishmael.

            I agree completely with this. Starting in verse 8 we see the focus shift to a local garden in a specific spot of land on the earth. It’s in this local context where God formed and planted the trees and animals mentioned.

            Again, glad we agree, Sam. but this does not solve the contradictions. I agree the garden in the east was where God caused the trees of 2:9 to grow, but that does not change the fact that 2:5 says (before the focus is narrowed): “Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground.” If this is really the sixth day of the supposedly literal creation week described in Genesis 1, then there should have been plants all over the place. And Genesis 1 describes animals being formed before — not after — man on the sixth day, and birds on the fifth. So, local context or not, the narrative does not fit the sequence of Genesis 1, if both are to be read literally, and the second is meant to be a “zoomed-in look” at day 6.

          • Sam Haylor

            I get what you’re saying, Sam, I just don’t understand why. Most of the time Jesus, whom we believe to be God in the flesh, set out to convey a moral or theological truth, he did so in an allegory in narrative form or a simple metaphor. And yet, you maintain that, when God was conveying moral and theological truth through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the biblical authors, he would have NEVER done so in an allegory in narrative form.

            It’s not that God WOULD have never done so, it’s that He DID not do so. There are many reasons to prove this, some of which have already been given in our discussions. Here are a few in summary:
            1. Allegories and historical narratives have different styles and are usually easily distinguished from each other (unless the author of the allegory doesn’t want you to know it’s an allegory). Names of people, and their ages at the time of certain events, and their children’s names, and where they lived, all clue us in to the fact that what’s being written is historical. Where else in all of human literature are detailed genealogies meant to be figurative or are used in allegory? Some are certainly fictitious, but never figurative.
            2. Many of those names and places are referenced in later passages in the same context of genealogy and dwelling, and many of those places are known to us today as real places.
            3. The actions of those described have significant impact on future events, and promises and covenants made by God.
            4. Jesus explained his parables to His disciples because their meaning was not obvious and He intentionally used parables to keep the meaning hidden from the masses. Without an explanation for an allegory we would be left to guess as to its meaning, which is contrary to the very purpose of Scripture as declared in many places throughout the Bible.
            5. Not understanding how something could have happened in history is not a valid reason to declare that passage to be allegory, especially when all of the surrounding passages are clearly historical narrative.

            Glad you agree, though you still seem a bit confused. The phrase is always used to introduce a genealogy or a new narrative, and it is never used to jump back in time and rehash events that were just described and concluded. Therefore, it seems logical that, in this case, as in all the others, it is being used as an introduction (to an entirely new story), and not as a time-traveling exercise in which a story that was just finished in completed is now rehased in an entirely different order.

            I guess I am confused… How is Gen. 2 being a second creation account a new narrative and not going back in time to rehash the events of Gen. 1? Was the world created twice?
            Reading Gen. 2 as happening on day 6 provides new information about God’s design and purpose for man, the elevation of man over animals, the special relationship between man and woman, the kind of work man was designed to do, the freedom man had and the law he was to obey, the specificity of man’s dwelling, and much more. Very little of that was revealed in Gen. 1 – being a broader description of all creation – and all of it is vital to understanding what comes next in Gen. 3 on.
            Why does the forming of animals and trees in Gen. 2 have to be the first and only time God made animals? Is there some theological reason He couldn’t have made more of certain kinds in order to bring them before Adam, seeing as how the ones He made before would have been scattered across the face of the earth?
            And is there some theological reason one passage cannot overlap in time from a previous one?
            Gen. 5:1-3, short though they may be, “rehash” previous narrative events, but give us even more new information. In fact, 5:1 reads very similar to 2:4, but you don’t seem to consider it a third creation account, or an introduction to Adam being created even though it says, “in the day when God created man.” Why is 2:4 a creation narrative but 5:1 is not?
            Gen. 6:9-11 is a “rehash” of what was just narrated in 5:32-6:8, but it gives us new information and leads us forward to what comes next.
            If you do the math you’ll see that the events that follow 37:2 actually occur before Isaac’s death mentioned in 35:29. It’s a very brief statement to be sure but it does prove (with the others above) that there is in fact overlap in the timeline from one toledot to the next.

            Again, glad we agree, Sam. but this does not solve the contradictions. I agree the garden in the east was where God caused the trees of 2:9 to grow, but that does not change the fact that 2:5 says (before the focus is narrowed): “Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground.” If this is really the sixth day of the supposedly literal creation week described in Genesis 1, then there should have been plants all over the place. And Genesis 1 describes animals being formed before — not after — man on the sixth day, and birds on the fifth. So, local context or not, the narrative does not fit the sequence of Genesis 1, if both are to be read literally, and the second is meant to be a “zoomed-in look” at day 6.

            It’s worth repeating, that you are assuming these supposed contradictions, and mostly because you’re not taking the words of the text seriously. It doesn’t say “there was no plant life anywhere on the planet.” “Shrub” is a rare word in the Bible and is NOT the equivalent of all plant life. “No plant of the field had yet SPROUTED” implies the plants existed and had not yet reproduced from their seed. Both the shrub’s and the plant’s condition are explained by the fact that there was no one to cultivate them, NOT because they weren’t created yet. And again, you assume the event of God forming animals and bringing them to Adam is the exact same event described in Gen. 1:24-25.

          • It’s not that God WOULD have never done so, it’s that He DID not do so.

            This is absurdly presumptuous.

            Allegories and historical narratives have different styles and are usually easily distinguished from each other (unless the author of the allegory doesn’t want you to know it’s an allegory). Names of people, and their ages at the time of certain events, and their children’s names, and where they lived, all clue us in to the fact that what’s being written is historical.

            Gotcha. I always thought “The Chronicles of Narnia” was allegory, and “Lord of the Rings” was fiction, but now I know both were historical narrative. Thanks for clearing that up.

            Where else in all of human literature are detailed genealogies meant to be figurative or are used in allegory?

            It was not uncommon for genealogies in ANE cultures to have symbolic meaning, with kings being the descendents of gods and/or ruling for thousands of years. Numbers in Hebrew culture held great significance, and it has been suggested by many scholars that the ages in the early genealogies were symbolic and not meant to be read literally.

            Many of those names and places are referenced in later passages in the same context of genealogy and dwelling, and many of those places are known to us today as real places.

            And many of them aren’t. Or they are contradictory, or there are gaps and other changes. Not to mention that fiction can and does incorporate real places and real people all the time. Your “proofs” prove absolutely nothing.

            The actions of those described have significant impact on future events, and promises and covenants made by God.

            According to your interpretation.

            Jesus explained his parables to His disciples because their meaning was not obvious and He intentionally used parables to keep the meaning hidden from the masses. Without an explanation for an allegory we would be left to guess as to its meaning, which is contrary to the very purpose of Scripture as declared in many places throughout the Bible.

            Actually, in the biblical record, the vast majority of Jesus’ parables are not explained. I guess God just meant for us to never understand most of the things he said through Christ. … Or maybe he had a higher opinion of people’s ability to use the reason he gave us than you do.

            Not understanding how something could have happened in history is not a valid reason to declare that passage to be allegory, especially when all of the surrounding passages are clearly historical narrative.

            I agree, which is why I have never used that reason. I think the blatant contradictions, clear metaphor in the form of non-miraculous talking animals and magic trees, vague settings and characters, theologically inconsistent portrayals of God, etc., are more than enough reason to doubt Genesis 1-3 is meant to be read as literal history.

            I guess I am confused… How is Gen. 2 being a second creation account a new narrative and not going back in time to rehash the events of Gen. 1? Was the world created twice?

            No, they’re both allegories, meant to convey different theological truths about the nature of God, creation, mankind and the relationships therein. You’re confused because you are childishly incapable of reading the text with anything other than your rigid and presupposed interpretative lens.

            Why does the forming of animals and trees in Gen. 2 have to be the first and only time God made animals?

            Because the way you claim the passages were meant to be interpreted demands it. Genesis 2 has to be the first time God made plants because Genesis 2:5 says it is. Genesis 2 has to be the first time God made animals because Genesis 1 is quite clear about the order in which things were made. It says he made birds, then on the next day animals, then mankind. if he had made birds, then on the next day animals, then man, then some more animals and birds, then woman, it would have said that, and we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

            The simple fact is that you’re reading the text wrong. If you weren’t, it would not be this difficult to read adjacent chapters without blatant contradictions.

            It’s worth repeating, that you are assuming these supposed contradictions, and mostly because you’re not taking the words of the text seriously.

            Oh, I disagree. I’m taking the words of the text quite seriously, as what they plainly mean. It is you who is attempting to contort them in service to a presupposed interpretation of this text and the one that came before it.

            Both the shrub’s and the plant’s condition are explained by the fact that there was no one to cultivate them, NOT because they weren’t created yet.

            Actually, the shrubs’ and the plants’ non-existence are explained by the fact that there was no one to work the ground and, more importantly, there was no rain. Cultivated plants may need people to care for them, but all plants need water.

            And again, you assume the event of God forming animals and bringing them to Adam is the exact same event described in Gen. 1:24-25.

            Again, the text is quite clear. The description of Day 6 does not say God made man in his own image, and then proceeded to make some more animals and then also some more birds. It says the work he had been doing (CREATION) was complete after the creation of mankind.

  • Jordan Peiffer

    Wow. By your quotes, I’d say Ken Ham was twisting some of Gungor’s words there, and also claiming to know what Gungor was trying to do and say as if he had been inside his head. I think he was making a fair amount of assumptions there, too. It also disappoints me that in this article Mr. Ham again declares the prerequisites for God being a liar, defining it as either “young earth or God”, and that the Gospel hinges on a literal Creation. Without a literal Genesis, the Gospel falls apart, according to that article…

    Anyhow, I also wanted to ask a question. Why are YECs saying that science has shown we’re all one race? I thought “race” was the same as “ethnicity”. Now if we’re trying to change or lose the term because of the negative uses it has been/is being put to, I’m all for it. But I don’t quite get the statement. If they mean “species”, then fine, but I don’t think that’s what race means or ever has meant. Or did the DNA project find that we’re all descended from one ethnical group?

    • Thanks, Jordan. I agree, and yes, Ken Ham seems to be bent on reinforces his “literal Genesis or bust” in every single thing he writes. It is his meal ticket after all.

      That’s a good question about the race, and I’m sorry, but I’m not sure what the answer is. Historically, the word “race” did mean more a “subspecies” or “species” than ethnicity (hence, “Origin of Species'” original subtitle, “The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”). However, I’m not sure how Answers in Genesis is trying to use it.

      • Larry Bunce

        The term ‘human race’ referring to all humans uses ‘race’ in its older meaning. AiG is trying to accuse all evolutionists of being racists because some people misused Darwin to claim caucasians were ‘more evolved’ than other races, and hence superior. Scientists have recognized that all humans are a single species decades before DNA analysis proved it. Even if the prevailing scientific opinion had been that certain races were superior, science developed DNA analysis to correct itself. Would AiG admit their interpretation of some passage of Scripture had been in error?
        I would bet that more Creationists than scientists are racial bigots even today.

  • Alan Clarke

    > the God of Genesis 6-9 doesn’t really sound like God to me.

    Your statement indicates that you somehow came to a knowledge of God’s nature independent of (or contrary to) what the Bible teaches. Where did it come from? Hopefully not your head otherwise I don’t see how you are much different than Hindus who literally have millions of gods, one to accommodate the imagination of every man, woman, and child:

    Gen 8:21 “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth”

    “God cannot be a figment of my imagination because He is not at all what I imagined Him to be.” – C. S. Lewis

    • My conception of God is based on a holistic look at scripture, which stands in contrast to your preferred proof-texting method of interpreting a few verses so that they line up with your presupposed views and ignoring whatever doesn’t fit. The “God” of Genesis 6-9, though certainly illustrating the Christian God’s just anger toward and hatred of human sin, disobedience and rebellion, does not — among other things — appear to possess God’s foresight and omniscience. After all, why would a God whose plan from before time began has been to send his son as a propitiation for our sin, decide, apparently on a whim, that he regrets making mankind and wants to destroy us entirely? (Genesis 6:6-7) Then, why would the same God reverse course again, and declare, in apparent contrition, that he would never again do what he had just done? (Genesis 8:21-22)

      It doesn’t sound like a God who never changes (James 1:17), and it certainly doesn’t sound like a God who has in mind a plan to rescue us from our wretched condition by the loving sacrifice of his son.

  • Alan Clarke

    MICHAEL GUNGOR WRITES:
    “Do I believe that God literally drowned every living creature 5,000 years ago in a global flood except the ones who were living in a big boat? No, I don’t. Why don’t I? Because of science and rational thought. … you can still love God and love people and read those early Genesis stories as myth…”

    Grungor rejects God’s judgment (as described in Genesis 6-9) because he thinks the story is mythical. Let’s review the Biblical account(s):

    1) The author of Genesis (presumably Moses writing on God’s behalf) described Noah in a literal sense by providing clear details of the flood height, day, month & year for when the flood began, rose, assuaged, & ended, the date of Noah’s death, and the dates of birth & death of Moses’ ancestors & descendants.

    2) The author of 1 Chronicles 1:4 includes Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth in a genealogy of literal people that includes Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob, and even a detailed account of Ishmael’s and Esau’s descendants. Are there not literal nations in existence today (both Jews & Arabs) who affirm that these individuals are real?

    3) Isaiah the prophet wrote: “For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.”

    4) Ezekiel wrote of Noah & Daniel in the same sentence (Ezk 14:14) as being individuals who experienced like sufferings and deliverance. Is not Daniel a literal person who lived in Babylon during Israel’s 6th – 7th century BC captivity? In 1983, Saddam Hussein tried to rebuild Babylon: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylon

    5) Jesus Christ compared his return to Noah’s flood (Mat 24 & Luke 17). Why would Jesus refer to an event that never happened to warn people of the literal significance of his return? That would be like telling your wife, “Honey, I’m leaving for a few months but you can trust that I’ll be back, just as you can trust that Santa will return through our chimney before the year’s end.

    6) Paul the apostle describes Noah’s strong faith in the same context of others who had strong faith: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Samuel, etc. Was not David a literal king of Israel? What would be the purpose of Paul writing of Noah’s faith if he had no literal faith that God would save him & his family from drowning? Paul writes, “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”

    7) Peter, Jesus’ disciple, wrote of Noah’s flood as a literal event. Peter warned “there shall come in the last days scoffers” who “willingly are ignorant” of the fact that “the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.” Read it yourself in 2Pet 3:3-6 and also 1Pet 3:20 & 2Pet 2:5. If the flood was only a “type” or allegory, why would Peter write that willingly-ignorant scoffers would come in the last days who would “forget” that God created the earth in/out of water and “forget” that the prior world was overflowed with water and perished? If there was no literal flood, Peter would not have condemned scoffers who doubted it.

    8) Biologist and comparative anatomist Thomas H. Huxley, Charles Darwin’s leading proponent, earned the title, “Darwin’s bulldog” and coined the word, “abiogenesis” in 1870. Both Michael Gungor & Tyler Francke appeal to “rational thought” but reject Huxley’s rational thought:

    “I confess I soon lose my way when I try to follow those who walk delicately among “types” and allegories. A certain passion for clearness forces me to ask, bluntly, whether the writer means to say that Jesus did not believe the stories in question or that he did? When Jesus spoke, as a matter of fact, that “the Flood came and destroyed them all,” did he believe that the Deluge really took place, or not? It seems to me that, as the narrative mentions Noah’s wife, and his sons’ wives, there is good scriptural warranty for the statement that the antediluvians married and were given in marriage: and I should have thought that their eating and drinking might be assumed by the firmest believer in the literal truth of the story. Moreover, I venture to ask what sort of value, as an illustration of God’s methods of dealing with sin, has an account of an event that never happened? If no Flood swept the careless people away, how is the warning of more worth than the cry of ‘Wolf’ when there is no wolf?” — Thomas H. Huxley

    If Michael Gungor trusts science (which is based on naturalism) more than the Bible, how can he defend or believe in Jesus’ resurrection or any miracle attributed to him? I would love to hear him explain Jesus’ resurrection in scientific or naturalistic terms. How can one call himself a Christian and doubt Jesus’ words that he would resurrect from the dead? You might as well put Jesus next to the bouncing hula girl on your dashboard. The best thing Michael Grungor & Tyler Francke can do at this point if they want to affiliate themselves with Jesus Christ and those whom Jesus affirmed (i.e. Moses & the prophets), is to confess they’ve made a grave mistake and quit being ashamed of God’s judgement of the ungodly.

    • 1) The author of Genesis (presumably Moses writing on God’s behalf) described Noah in a literal sense by providing clear details of the flood height, day, month & year for when the flood began, rose, assuaged, & ended, the date of Noah’s death, and the dates of birth & death of Moses’ ancestors & descendants.

      “The Lord of the Rings” is literal history folks. It provides clear details of numerous battles that were fought, including the size of the armies involved and the numbers of the casualties, as well as times, days, months and years, the date of Aragorn’s birth and death, and the dates of birth and death for Aragorn’s (and many other characters’) ancestors and descendants.

      You think these things prove the events actually happened because you have presupposed that they actually happened. You’re using circuloar logic, and you’re imposing meaning on the text, not deriving meaning from it.

      And you’re wrong: Genesis does not contain the birth dates or death dates of any of the people you claim it does.

      2) The author of 1 Chronicles 1:4 includes Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth in a genealogy of literal people that includes Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob, and even a detailed account of Ishmael’s and Esau’s descendants. Are there not literal nations in existence today (both Jews & Arabs) who affirm that these individuals are real?

      Like Christians, some Jews would and some wouldn’t. By and large, I doubt you would agree with the traditional Jewish interpretations of much of the Old Testament, so probably not your strongest evidence here. And I’m not aware of any homogenous nation called “Arabs” that would affirm what you’re claiming.

      3) Isaiah the prophet wrote: “For this is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.”

      Isaiah, like all the prophetic books, are deeply metaphorical. Jesus is called everything from a rose to a root to a lion, and in the same chapter you reference, the nation of Israel is called a wife and the Promised Land is called a tent. Like everything else, you interpret the Bible literally when it suits you and you don’t when it doesn’t.

      4) Ezekiel wrote of Noah & Daniel in the same sentence (Ezk 14:14) as being individuals who experienced like sufferings and deliverance. Is not Daniel a literal person who lived in Babylon during Israel’s 6th – 7th century BC captivity? In 1983, Saddam Hussein tried to rebuild Babylon

      Referring to a character by name as a basis for example does not constitute a solemn oath that you believe that person to be a historical figure. If I compare a body-building friend to Hercules or refer to a “Sisyphean task,” does that mean I believe Hercules and Sysphus were historical figures? Of course it doesn’t.

      Not sure how much the beliefs of a homicidal dictator should really be taken into account when it comes to the proper interpretation of scripture, but to each his own, I guess.

      5) Jesus Christ compared his return to Noah’s flood (Mat 24 & Luke 17). Why would Jesus refer to an event that never happened to warn people of the literal significance of his return? That would be like telling your wife, “Honey, I’m leaving for a few months but you can trust that I’ll be back, just as you can trust that Santa will return through our chimney before the year’s end.”

      Actually, it would be like referring to a well-known story as an example to provide a basis for comparison. Like if I told my son, “Your room looks as messy as New York City did after the aliens destroyed it in ‘The Avengers.'”

      6) Paul the apostle describes Noah’s strong faith in the same context of others who had strong faith: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Samuel, etc. Was not David a literal king of Israel? What would be the purpose of Paul writing of Noah’s faith if he had no literal faith that God would save him & his family from drowning? Paul writes, “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” Israel is a literal country consisting of literal people who have literal faith in literal miracles:

      Again writing about the Bible from a position of authority while having little clue as to what you’re talking about. Paul did not write the Epistle to the Hebrews, at least he is not considered to have done so by any modern scholar or traditional church teaching. The book’s vastly different style, different theological focus and complete lack of the traditional marks of verified Pauline letters makes Paul’s authorship of Hebrews very unlikely.

      As to your point, it’s already being discussed in this thread, I would encourage you to look it up.

      7) Peter, Jesus’ disciple, wrote of Noah’s flood as a literal event. Peter warned “there shall come in the last days scoffers” who “willingly are ignorant” of the fact that “the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.” Read it yourself in 2Pet 3:3-6 and also 1Pet 3:20 & 2Pet 2:5. If the flood was only a “type” or allegory, why would Peter write that willingly-ignorant scoffers would come in the last days who would “forget” that God created the earth in/out of water and “forget” that the prior world was overflowed with water and perished? If there was no literal flood, Peter would not have condemned scoffers who doubted it.

      I do believe there is some historical information in the story of Noah’s flood. I think it does describe a catastrophic local event (for which there is even scientific evidence, though it is by no means undisputed), though I believe the primary purpose of the text’s inspiration and preservation is theological. That’s why, in my opinion, Peter writes that the flood destroyed “the world that then existed,” not the entire world. The civilized world, at that time, was concentrated in Mesopotamia.

      8) Biologist and comparative anatomist Thomas H. Huxley, Charles Darwin’s leading proponent, earned the title, “Darwin’s bulldog” and coined the word, “abiogenesis” in 1870. Both Michael Gungor & Tyler Francke appeal to “rational thought” but reject Huxley’s rational thought:

      I have already responded to your quotes of Huxley and Dawkins numerous times in other articles, and I won’t do so again. I prefer to get my understanding of the Christian faith and how it should be lived from the Bible and others who hold the Bible in high regard, not anti-theists who hate religion, are ignorant of scripture and willfully misrepresent it.

      If Michael Gungor trusts science (which is based on naturalism) more than the Bible, how can he defend or believe in Jesus’ resurrection or any miracle attributed to him? I would love to hear him explain Jesus’ resurrection in scientific or naturalistic terms. How can one call himself a Christian and doubt Jesus’ words that he would resurrect from the dead?

      I have never said that I don’t believe in miracles or that God is capable of miracles. I certainly do. The resurrection of Jesus is, in my opinion, a legitimate historical event. The gospels are not open to reasonable interpretation in the way that the book of Genesis is, because they are self-described as historical, eyewitness accounts of “things that have been accomplished among us” in Luke 1:1-4. Nothing in Genesis or anywhere else in scripture describes the creation accounts this way.

      The best thing Michael Grungor & Tyler Francke can do at this point if they want to affiliate themselves with Jesus Christ and those whom Jesus affirmed (i.e. Moses & the prophets), is to confess they’ve made a grave mistake and quit being ashamed of God’s judgement of the ungodly.

      Your arrogrance is astounding to me. Go preach somewhere else.

    • Richard Carnes

      This comment warms my atheist heart. Preach it, brother! The more Christians believe that Christianity requires them to believe in the literal truth of the snake story and the flood story, the sooner Christianity will become a marginalized loony sect like the flat-earthers and geocentrists, the sooner Christianity will fade away, and the more likely it becomes that Richard Dawkins will die a happy man. So please continue to walk the righteous walk! Tell your fellow Christians to blindly believe what some religious authorities say they should believe, and not to believe what their lying eyes or their human reason (shudder, gasp) lead them to believe.

  • Walter Swaim

    Just read this blog post today. So essentially for the writer of this blog and the majority of his readers, as long as your sincere then it’s all cool and all doctrinal beliefs are equally valid and what God intended. What a shame that Jesus considered Noah and Jonah and their experiences as literal and real as they did and expected us to as well. Doggone it.

    • Just read this blog post today. So essentially for the writer of this blog and the majority of his readers, as long as your sincere then it’s all cool and all doctrinal beliefs are equally valid and what God intended.

      Are you sure you read it? Because I’m pretty sure I said nothing remotely like that.

      What a shame that Jesus considered Noah and Jonah and their experiences as literal and real as they did

      I say nothing about Jonah in this post, and you have no idea what my views are of the Book of Jonah, so your reference to him is irrelevant. As for Noah, I guess you’re referring to the one time in Jesus’ three-year ministry and countless teachings that he alluded to the flood story to make a theological point about the Second Coming. We actually just made a meme about that. So, I suppose if I describe someone as having an “Achilles heel” or giving me a “Sisyphean task,” that would indicate to you that I believe Achilles and Sisyphus to be “literal and real”?

      expected us to as well.

      Wow, you seem to really know your stuff. Please list all of the verses where Jesus taught that he expects his followers to view Noah and Jonah as “literal and real” people. Take your time. There must be quite a few for you to be so confident of your position.

      Doggone it.

      Indeed.

  • Walter Swaim

    Doggone those pesky literalists, indeed.

    • Great response! Way to stonewall reason and immediately derail any meaningful discussion. By the way, still waiting for the list of all of the verses where Jesus said he expects his followers to view both Noah and Jonah as “literal and real” people.

  • Joey

    Everyone see be knocking down Ken Ham for replying to Gungors post. If you dive into research concerning the flood you will find theoretical evidence that further proves the theory of the flood, and theoretical evidence that Denys the flood. I love Gungor the band. I am disappointed that he took such a strong stance by saying phrases like “Because NO REASONABLE PERSON takes the entire Bible completely literally. It’s not possible.” By doing that he’s calling a large portion of his fans unreasonable, and he pushes his view in a very offensive manner. Now I’m not saying Ken Ham did not offend people as well, because he clearly did. But as Christians should we really be arguing with each other in such a harsh way online? Saying things that tear Ken Ham, or Gungor down is not pleasing to God. When it comes to theoretical conversation, as Christians we should be willing to listen, and willing to accept that someone’s theory’s may be different then our theorys. We still believe in the same God. So what if instead of displaying anger and trying to prove who’s right, we swallow our pride, and point others to Christ. At least that’s my take on the situation.

    • Thanks for your comment, Joey, though I have to say that Michael Gungor’s statement, which you’ve quoted here, is quite true and inarguable. No one does take the “entire Bible completely literally,” including Ken Ham. Ham does not read passages like Psalm 18:2 literally, nor does he read the references to the firmament in Genesis 1 literally. Gungor’s point, which is a similar point to things we’ve said before, is simply that everyone who reads the Bible interprets the Bible. We who interpret Genesis 1-3 as allegory are not doing something crazy, we are simply interpreting the passage differently than the way Ham interprets it.

  • Jesus_Freak3050

    Gungor is awesome! I love “what Gungor thinks about things”. He had a phenomenal blog post

  • Carl Anderson

    In the article two claims are made about biblical scholarship. One claim is that Ken Ham isn’t a biblical scholar. The other is that the author of this article isn’t a scholar. 2Tim2:15 “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Anyone who publicly makes a criticism of scripture should be very familiar with this verse. Another verse to know: Matthew 7:21-23.