Should Answers in Genesis be called ‘Answers against Genesis’ instead?

Why do so many Christians like Ken Ham insist on compromising on God's Word?

Editor’s note: The following post is satire. See here for my wonderful source of inspiration.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).

In this verse, the Greek word logos is translated “word.” There is much that could be said about the word’s deep meaning in regard to Jesus being the Word, the Creator who spoke the universe and life into existence (Colossians 1).

So why do I propose that Answers in Genesis (AiG) might be better called “Answers against Genesis” (AaG)? Because this organization, which heavily promotes atheistic scientific ideas like a round earth, geocentric solar system and the water cycle, is dangerous to Christianity. Headed and co-founded by two-time honorary degree-holder Ken Ham, Answers in Genesis (which has never received a major grant from the Templeton Foundation) is devoted to trying to get as much of the church as possible to compromise on the clear teachings in God’s Word about the flat, sky-domed earth He created.

Now, I am not claiming that such compromising people can’t be Christians. (I would never say that!) Salvation is conditioned upon faith in Christ, not what a person believes about the roundness of the earth or the origins of atmospheric phenomena.

Such compromise, however, undermines the authority of the Word and is dangerous to the health of the church. In reality, an attack on the Word of God is an attack on Jesus Christ, who is the Word. Those apologists involved with AiG will certainly stand before God one day (as we all will) to give an account of how they handled the Word. And those people who used their influence to teach others many false ideas are warned in Scripture: “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment” (James 3:1).

Sadly, and even though the pastors at AiG might reject the assertion, such blatant compromise (which permeates the church) is resulting in many young people walking away from the Christian faith.

Consider the following passages (emphases ours):

“[C]an you join Him in spreading out the skies, hard as a mirror of cast bronze?” (Job 37:18)

“It is He who sits above the [two-dimensional] circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in” (Isaiah 40:22).

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

“And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree” (Revelation 7:1).

“The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises” (Ecclesiastes 1:5).

“Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved (1 Chronicles 16:30).

“He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved” (Psalm 104:5).

“The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands” (Deuteronomy 28:12).

“He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills” (Psalms 147:8)

Scripture is unequivocal on these matters: The sky is solid (with “floodgates”, like a dam, that God can open and close at will), the earth is flat; the earth does not move, the sun does. And precipitation comes from God alone, not some messy, unguided process of “evaporation” and “condensation”!

It’s impossible to maintain that the whole Bible is the authoritative Word of God and at the same time say that the above passages are incorrect because man’s fallible ideas about the composition of the sky, the shape of the earth, the movement of celestial bodies and so on must override what the Bible clearly teaches. In fact, for secularists, such ideas really are man’s fallible attempts to explain the universe without God. The round earth, water cycle and heliocentric solar system really are the pagan religion of our day. Christians who compromise with such pagan ideas are no different than the Israelites who compromised God’s Word with the pagan religions of their day (like the Canaanites).

At God of Evolution, we believe that the Christians at AiG are our brothers and sisters in Christ. And as such, we believe it’s our biblical duty to draw their attention to their error about God’s Word and challenge them to return to the authority of God’s Word. (I like to try and say “God’s Word” as many times as I can per sentence. My record is 11.)

Christians who believe in the water cycle, round earth, heliocentric solar system and gaseous sky are ultimately accepting secular beliefs and are just adding God to them — but then also rejecting the Bible as trustworthy on all scientific matters.

By the way, what does Mr. Ham and his heliocentric-model-believing colleagues do with the triumph over the Amorites in the book of Joshua? If the earth rotates around the sun, then the “great light” of Genesis 1 is not hung in the solid sky (as Genesis 1:17 plainly teaches), but nearly 100 million miles away in empty space. Most theistic heliocentrists like AiG accept these ideas, with their millions of miles, without blinking. But what do they do with the references in Joshua 10 that teach that the sun “stopped in the middle of the sky”? Are we to believe that what God “really meant” was “the earth stopped spinning in the middle of empty space“?

It’s so tragic to see the lengths some Christians are willing to compromise on God’s Word. Satan’s method has been used to lead people to doubt God’s Word and put them on a slippery slide of unbelief. In this era (beginning in the late 14th and early 15th centuries), there has been a very specific attack on the Bible — compromising with the beliefs of millions of miles and a permeable sky.

Can Mr. Ham explain how secular meteorological teachings can be reconciled with Genesis 1:7-8a (which clearly says the sky is a “firmament,” not some multilayered “atmosphere” of nitrogen, oxygen, argon and trace gases), plus Matthew 5:45 (where Jesus references the sun being “made to rise” and the rain being “sent” — both attributed directly to God and not natural processes dreamed up by secular scientists), and other verses?

If a mobile sun really was hung in the hard firmament, and if the rain really does come from God, and if the earth really is flat and stationary (as God’s Word clearly teaches), and as Jesus and several inspired authors affirmed in the New Testament, then what Mr. Ham and his colleagues are proposing requires readers to reinterpret the clear words of Scripture — and in a hermeneutically inconsistent way. How is this not a clear example of the undermining of biblical authority? That’s why I came up with “Answers against Genesis” — what these compromisers are teaching is contrary to what the Word clearly states.

We at GoE are not teaching anything more than what Scripture plainly teaches and what observational science confirms. And while we appreciate AiG’s staunch defense of a semi-literal interpretation of Scripture, we must oppose their willingness to compromise on other teachings that are so clear in the Bible, simply because the secularists say they must.

In all we do at GoE, our motivation is to stand uncompromisingly, boldly, and unashamedly on the authority of God’s Word and proclaim the gospel.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

Tyler Francke

If it wasn’t before, I hope it is now clear to you how hypocritical Ken Ham’s hemming and hawing about “biblical authority” is. Like any other Christian, young-earthers like K-Ham interpret the Bible, often in ways that go outside the plain meaning of the text. What makes them different (and not in a good way) is that they insist they are the only ones being “true to God’s word.”

Despite his claims to the contrary, Ham does present a false choice between science and scripture (see here). But to Christians, he presents another false choice, that Genesis can only be one of two things: literal history or “incorrect” and “lies.”

The truth is that prominent church leaders have been openly rejecting the literal reading of Genesis 1-3 (in favor of more metaphorical views) at least as early as Origen in the third century. Even Paul interpreted part of Genesis allegorically in Galatians 4:24, while the four evangelists (Matthew in particular) took great liberty with a number of Old Testament “prophecies” that, in their original contexts, weren’t remotely messianic (Hosea 11:1, for instance, explicitly refers to the nation of Israel).

Would Ham call Paul or Matthew “compromisers”? Probably not. But even if he did, I’d rather “compromise” with them any day than “stand firm” with Ken Ham on the “authority” of the convoluted mess of a hermeneutic that he calls “the plain meaning of Scripture.”

  • Nancy R.

    Don’t forget, our flat earth rests on foundations and is immovable: Psalm 104:5: “He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.”

    • Oh yeah! I have that one in my list but forgot to include it. I’ll add it now. Thanks!

  • Nancy R.

    And snow and hail are kept in enormous storehouses, of course: Job 38:22-23: “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or seen the storehouses of the hail, which I reserve for times of trouble, for days of war and battle?” This is God Himself talking to Job, so it has to be literally true. God is not a liar.

    • Yes, and don’t forget about verses 28 and 29, which talk about the rain’s father, and the dew and ice coming from a womb. That is another excellent passage to make this point; I didn’t include that one just because it was too long. But I appreciate your mentioning it!

      • Nancy R.

        The point is – that you made very well – is that these ancient understandings of the world, that we no longer accept as literally true, appear throughout scripture. So why don’t they shake the faith of people who insist that the whole Bible must be read as literally true?

        • Easy. They just say, “Well, those parts obviously weren’t meant to be taken literally,” evidently oblivious to any irony in the statement.

          • Nancy R.

            Hmmm… were they there?

  • kaffikjelen

    Why do anti-creationists always paint the issues in terms of a literal reading, when AiG and other creationists exhort a genre-specific reading? They self-confessedly take some parts of the Bible figuratively, but Genesis they take literally because they suppose it is in a historical genre. It seems to me they’re right about that. Anyone who disagrees with their assessment, and says that the first chapters of Genesis are true, but in a deeper/metaphorical way, might as well say that the Harry Potter books are true.

    Can you imagine some guy from the ancient Near East approaching the text with such a mindset? When asked about the origin of the cosmos, he would reply “I don’t know, and this text sure doesn’t give us the answer, because it is merely theological, as opposed to historical.”
    I can’t imagine such a fellow.

    • I am not an “anti-creationist.” I just have a different view of creation than Ken Ham and his cohorts.

      Anyone who disagrees with their assessment, and says that the first chapters of Genesis are true, but in a deeper/metaphorical way, might as well say that the Harry Potter books are true.

      Do you feel the same way about the parables of Christ? Do you feel the same way about the Psalms, or the books of the prophets, including Revelation? This is not a question of genre. My position is that Genesis 1 is symbolic, metaphorical truth in exactly the same way that the parables of Jesus and the books of the prophets are symbolic, metaphorical truth. So you’re argument applies equally well. Do you agree that saying the parables of Jesus are “true,” but not literally so, places them on equal footing with “Harry Potter”?

      Can you imagine some guy from the ancient Near East approaching the text with such a mindset? When asked about the origin of the cosmos, he would reply “I don’t know, and this text sure doesn’t give us the answer, because it is merely theological, as opposed to historical.”

      I can’t imagine such a fellow.

      Nor can I. Let me ask you this: Do you think your hypothetical Ancient Near Easter would interpret the “firmament” of Genesis 1:17 the same way Ken Ham does, that it’s a permeable, gaseous structure? Do you think he would read Joshua 10 (a plainly historical text, by the way) and say to himself — as Ham does — “Well, the sun didn’t really stop in the sky, because it’s not in the sky at all. It’s hundreds of millions of miles away. It only appears to move because of the rotation of the earth”?

      My position is not — nor has it ever been — that the original audiences of this text didn’t read it literally. I seriously doubt that very many people — if any — had read Hosea 11:1 as a messianic reference before Matthew, and I’m quite sure no one read Sarah and Hagar as representations of divine covenants before Paul wrote Galatians. A lot changed in many people’s views of the Old Testament after Jesus came, obviously, and interpretations of the Bible have continued to change over time, and that’s OK. My argument is simply that the allegorical view of scripture has a rich history in the Christian church; it can be applied perfectly reasonably to Genesis 1-3, and in fact, it has been since at least the third century.

      Ken Ham’s view is fundamentally inconsistent, and a plea to “genre specificity” doesn’t solve things, since many of the passages he takes figuratively appear in “historical” books.

      • kaffikjelen

        (How do you cite in this thing? I tried the “cite” tags, but they didn’t work…)

        My position is that Genesis 1 is symbolic, metaphorical truth in exactly the same way that the parables of Jesus and the books of the prophets are symbolic, metaphorical truth.

        None of Jesus’ parables are true, but as any other parable they aren’t intended to be, they only illustrate a point. Prophetic and apocalyptic literature is symbolic for future (or past) events. This is unlike Genesis 1, which is certainly more in the ballpark of historical literature. Forcing truth upon it by interpreting it metaphorically is the exact same as forcing truth upon any other myth (or Harry Potter books). What’s the point?

        Do you think your hypothetical Ancient Near Easter would interpret the “firmament” of Genesis 1:17 the same way Ken Ham does, that it’s a permeable, gaseous structure?

        I think the guy would interpret it contrary to Ham, and–you’re right–that is where Ham is inconsistent with his urging to read the text as an accurate portrayal of the cosmos. This is of course equally incongruent with the label “literalist” as it is with “genre-ist”. I wouldn’t call Ham either “literalist” or “genre-ist”, I would just call him a plain ol’ YEC. I guess I have a beef with this “literalist” word, because most YECs rightly don’t recognise themselves in it.

        I seriously doubt that very many people — if any — had read Hosea 11:1 as a messianic reference before Matthew, and I’m quite sure no one read Sarah and Hagar as representations of divine covenants before Paul wrote Galatians. A lot changed in many people’s views of the Old Testament after Jesus came, obviously, and interpretations of the Bible have continued to change over time, and that’s OK.

        Of course, the difference between the instances you mention, where early Christians took certain interpretive liberties, and an allegorical view of Genesis, is this: In the case of the former, I rule out that either Paul or Matthew took the texts they referred to as mere metaphor, whereas in the latter case you take Genesis solely as metaphor. So your cases are disanalogous.

        • (How do you cite in this thing? I tried the “cite” tags, but they didn’t work…)

          You mean the quotes? Just use the tags

          and

          (no spaces). There might be a shorter version but that’s the only way I know.

          None of Jesus’ parables are true, but as any other parable they aren’t intended to be, they only illustrate a point.

          Well it appears that you and I have a fundamental disagreement, because I reject the idea that Jesus’ parables aren’t “true” simply because they’re not factual historical stories. I believe they express profound and eternal moral, relational and theological truths.

          You are partial to your analogy about “Harry Potter,” but by your apparent definition of truth, I could just as easily say that the rigidly literal view of Genesis removes the lasting, eternal truths from the text, transforming it into nothing more than an ordinary history textbook that bored you in school. The only truths that can be gleaned from it are, “Huh, so that’s what happened back then.”

          It is only by digging beneath the surface that one finds the deeper truths about God, mankind and the relationship between the two that may still apply to our lives today.

          This is unlike Genesis 1, which is certainly more in the ballpark of historical literature.

          I disagree. I think Genesis 1-3 is packed with clear markers of a nonliteral text. For example, the fact that the first three days, mornings and evenings progress without a sun, moon and stars (even without a sky in the first day); the fact that the characters are not named (Eve is simply “the woman” until the end of Gen 3, Adam’s name isn’t much of a name, since it means “the man”); the fact that there is a talking snake; clear metaphors like trees with magical fruit; indeterminate place and time; and finally, the fact that — if read literally — Gen 1 and 2 contradict in several places.

          I wouldn’t call Ham either “literalist” or “genre-ist”, I would just call him a plain ol’ YEC. I guess I have a beef with this “literalist” word, because most YECs rightly don’t recognise themselves in it.

          Fair point. In a different post, I recently recognized the failings of the term “literalist,” and you’ll notice that I did not use it in the piece above.

          whereas in the latter case you take Genesis solely as metaphor.

          Actually, I don’t. I think it’s a mixed bag. Much of Genesis has historical content, though I do still believe the allegorical interpretations often have more lasting value for our lives today. I do think Genesis 1 is largely metaphorical, though I interpret Genesis 1:1 entirely literally. Genesis 2 and 3 I see as symbolic accounts of real events that transpired.

          • kaffikjelen

            Well it appears that you and I have a fundamental disagreement, because I reject the idea that Jesus’ parables aren’t “true” simply because they’re not factual historical stories.

            Is the story of the Good Samaritan true? Was Jesus referring to a specific man who was as a matter of fact attacked by highwaymen, and subsequently ignored by several passersby? Presumably not, so it’s trivial to say that the story is false.

            The points Jesus intented to teach, however, are unharmed by the imaginary storyline. It is true that it is morally right to be a good neighbour.

            On the other hand, did the author(s) of the first chapters of Genesis only intend to tell a fictional story to illustrate such ethical/theological points? Why think that, when every other cosmogonic myth has been construed to supply an explanation of the universe’s existence? My hypothetical ancient Near Eastener did so with Genesis.

            It is only by digging beneath the surface that one finds the deeper truths about God, mankind and the relationship between the two that may still apply to our lives today.

            I agree (and I’m sure most YECs would also) that Genesis teaches some important theological truths, laying the foundation for much of Judeo-Christian theology. But it would still be inaccurate to call the text true. If an autobiography contained some wild and patently false stories, the author couldn’t defend their veracity by merely claiming that they manifested some of her personality traits.

            I think Genesis 1-3 is packed with clear markers of a nonliteral text.

            Many of these things you mention, it seems to me, are common in myths generally, and are also symptomatic of pre-scientific ignorance. Contradictions between the two creation accounts can be explained through some later editor(s) combining them (Wellhausen’s hypothesis).

            But I wonder; has such a substantial number of people really misread these chapters as affirming historical facts, when they should be read as poetry?

            In a different post, I recently recognized the failings of the term “literalist,” and you’ll notice that I did not use it in the piece above.

            Sorry, I had just read a different post which contained the word “literalist” before I commented on this.

            Actually, I don’t [take Genesis 1-3 solely as metaphor].

            Sure, there are factual assertions in Gen 1-3 that you would affirm, but if you take some parts only metaphorically, then the analogy with Paul and Matthew doesn’t work. They took their texts literally, but they found additional symbolic meanings. Whereas a non-YEC view (except for the ridiculous “Gap Theory”) would take most of Genesis 1-3 allegorically.

          • The points Jesus intented to teach, however, are unharmed by the imaginary storyline. It is true that it is morally right to be a good neighbour.

            This I agree with. The question with Genesis 1-3 is what is it intended to teach. If the answer is, among other things, that God is the creator of the universe and everything in it, the creation of all things was a logical and “good” process that proceeded only at God’s command, mankind was made to be in relationship with God but we chose to go our own way, and so on, then I would argue that all of those points are equally “unharmed by the imaur ginary storyline.”

            On the other hand, did the author(s) of the first chapters of Genesis only intend to tell a fictional story to illustrate such ethical/theological points? Why think that, when every other cosmogonic myth has been construed to supply an explanation of the universe’s existence? My hypothetical ancient Near Eastener did so with Genesis.

            With your hypothetical Near Easter, I understood that you were describing how an ancient person might read Genesis, not the person who wrote it. We know very little about the author or his or her intentions. Indeed I do think that the role of sacred myth was understood very differently in the time that Genesis was written than we popularly understand it today. I don’t think it was nearly as black and white, “true” or false.

            I agree (and I’m sure most YECs would also) that Genesis teaches some important theological truths, laying the foundation for much of Judeo-Christian theology. But it would still be inaccurate to call the text true. If an autobiography contained some wild and patently false stories, the author couldn’t defend their veracity by merely claiming that they manifested some of her personality traits.

            You are welcome to your own opinion, but I still maintain that I see no need to believe a text cannot be true unless it is literally true, and I would wager that many Christians, including young earthers would agree with me.

            has such a substantial number of people really misread these chapters as affirming historical facts, when they should be read as poetry?

            Is it really that surprising? I think it’s only human nature to gravitate toward the majority view and the “simplest” interpretation, and in contemporary times, the young-earth view is both.

            They took their texts literally, but they found additional symbolic meanings.

            This is quite a bit of a presumption on your part, is it not? I’m not aware of any systematic theology of the Old Testament that is presented in the writings of either Matthew or Paul? We see only glimpses here and there.

          • kaffikjelen

            So we mainly disagree on what Genesis 1-3 was originally intended to teach. I find that your position, then, is better than brute reinterpretation of the text, contrary to orginal authorial intent (a la a Roman Catholic view of Scripture, where the “Church” designates meaning to the Bible, in opposition to the original author).

            If the answer is, among other things, that God is the creator of the universe and everything in it, the creation of all things was a logical and “good” process that proceeded only at God’s command, mankind was made to be in relationship with God but we chose to go our own way, and so on, then I would argue that all of those points are equally “unharmed by the imaur ginary storyline.

            I agree.

            We find ourselves in dangerously slippery semantical territory here, about meaning and language. But here is what I would maintain:
            *The main story of Genesis 1-3 is false
            *Genesis 1-3 contains factually accurate sentences (at least Gen 1:1)
            *Genesis 1-3 teaches certain true theological points (e.g. that God creates man as the pinnacle of creation)

            I think these are trivial points. So where we then mainly would differ is whether the author intended only to teach theology, not history. You say that he did, which means that he would consider the main storyline imaginary/false.
            What I find problematic is that this guy must have been the single person in ancient history who wrote a cosmogonic account, but didn’t intend it to be a cosmogonic account. In a culture where humans had progressed from the neolithic habit of explaining merely their immediate surroundings through myth, to creating a more comprehensive cosmology including the origins of the cosmos, this guy was in the unfortunate situation that his allegory would be pathologically misinterpreted as something it was not. I find it hard to believe.

            Indeed I do think that the role of sacred myth was understood very differently in the time that Genesis was written than we popularly understand it today.

            Could you give a source for that? I’m no expert on ancient culture, though in my neophytic naivete I’d assume that people accepted myth as an explanation of whatever it was about. What use is an etiological myth unless it actually is understood as explaining something?

            I’m not aware of any systematic theology of the Old Testament that is presented in the writings of either Matthew or Paul?

            Yeah, of course, what I was talking about were the specific Matthean and Pauline texts you referred to in your article. Paul takes Abraham as an historic figure, and Matthew seems to consider the OT historically reliable (cf. his genealogies). So their allegorical interpretations come on top of their more literal interpretations.

          • I think these are trivial points. So where we then mainly would differ is whether the author intended only to teach theology, not history. You say that he did, which means that he would consider the main storyline imaginary/false.

            What I find problematic is that this guy must have been the single person in ancient history who wrote a cosmogonic account, but didn’t intend it to be a cosmogonic account. In a culture where humans had progressed from the neolithic habit of explaining merely their immediate surroundings through myth, to creating a more comprehensive cosmology including the origins of the cosmos, this guy was in the unfortunate situation that his allegory would be pathologically misinterpreted as something it was not. I find it hard to believe.

            Here is the best way I can think of to explain my view. If a time traveler from our day went to the ancient Hebrews, and spoke to the original author and said that it is true that God created the universe and everything in it, but it took much longer than six days, I think it would have given him no trouble.

            Could you give a source for that? I’m no expert on ancient culture, though in my neophytic naivete I’d assume that people accepted myth as an explanation of whatever it was about. What use is an etiological myth unless it actually is understood as explaining something?

            It’s just that “explaining something” is not all that myths do, and in fact, it may not even be the most important thing that they do/did. They also unify people and give them a sense of cultural significance. In the case of Genesis 1, it gave the ancient Hebrews a grounding for their faith. It showed them that — unlike the other cultures around them — their God was not some strange, capricious animal, but a spirit, and yet, one who is not unlike us (because we are made in his image) — a being who thinks and speaks and reasons. And it also taught them that the creation was not born out of some war or terrible chaos (like many other contemporary creation myths) but an orderly progression from the mind of this reasonable, benevolent God, hence, meaning that the creation itself is good.

            Perhaps this short video and essay at BioLogos, by N.T. Wright and Peter Enns respectively, might also be helpful in explaining what I’m trying to say.

            Paul takes Abraham as an historic figure, and Matthew seems to consider the OT historically reliable (cf. his genealogies). So their allegorical interpretations come on top of their more literal interpretations.

            Although Matthew’s genealogy goes back only as far as Abraham (it’s Luke’s that goes all the way back to Adam). As I’ve said before I think Genesis has a lot of historical content, and I don’t at all think the entire 50 or so chapters is just a metaphor after a metaphor. I see no reason not to believe Abraham was a legitimate historical figure, for example.

          • kaffikjelen

            Sorry for the delayed reply.

            If a time traveler from our day went to the ancient Hebrews, and spoke to the original author and said that it is true that God created the universe and everything in it, but it took much longer than six days, I think it would have given him no trouble.

            I’m not quite satisfied with this response to my reasoning. Do you deny that cosmogonic myths were written in those days, or that cosmogonic myths are just that, cosmogonic, or that Genesis 1-3 is a cosmogony? I really see no plausible reason to deny any of these things. And that means that the original author would have been troubled by your time traveller’s suggestion.

            It’s just that “explaining something” is not all that myths do, and in fact, it may not even be the most important thing that they do/did. They also unify people and give them a sense of cultural significance.

            Sure, but I don’t think that would remove the explanation component of myths. Ancient people didn’t just disregard the factual claims in the myths, as if that was irrelevant. This I reason, because it was a turning point when ancient Greeks started philosophy, trying to rationalise the world, instead of just pointing to the supernatural. So clearly people before that (and also after) thought of the world in accordance with myth, and at that point, some viewed it in a different manner, through reason.

            And of course, as all myths are fictional narratives, the fact that they contain deep messages and theological ideas does not entail that they are allegory. An ancient person would presumably think that the history of nature actually reflected the life and times of his culture’s gods.

            Although Matthew’s genealogy goes back only as far as Abraham

            Oh, I had actually never noticed, thanks for pointing that out. But as he includes Abraham, he seems to think of the OT as reliable; so again, his allegorical interpretation comes on top of his historical.

          • I’m not quite satisfied with this response to my reasoning. Do you deny that cosmogonic myths were written in those days, or that cosmogonic myths are just that, cosmogonic, or that Genesis 1-3 is a cosmogony? I really see no plausible reason to deny any of these things. And that means that the original author would have been troubled by your time traveller’s suggestion.

            It’s a fair point. Ultimately, I suppose we can not do much more than speculate on what exact views and ancient person would have held of his or her particular creation myth. Personally, I have no trouble envisioning them as having seen them as spiritually discerned accounts that would not conflict with material science — had material science existed at the time for it to conflict with. However, that is easy for me to say, looking back with my 21st-century eyes.

            It is also difficult not being able to see the writings, commentaries, etc. of the people at the time. We must guess at their beliefs of the text using only the text itself. In support of my view, however, I can offer the testimony of Philo of Alexandria. He was a prominent Jewish scholar (in the first century BC, I believe); some of his writings have survived and we know that he often used and promoted the allegorical views of Genesis in his work.

            Interestingly, some scholars believe the work of Philo was influential on the OT views of the early Christians.

            This I reason, because it was a turning point when ancient Greeks started philosophy, trying to rationalise the world, instead of just pointing to the supernatural. So clearly people before that (and also after) thought of the world in accordance with myth, and at that point, some viewed it in a different manner, through reason.

            There were Jewish philosophers as well, weren’t there?

            Oh, I had actually never noticed, thanks for pointing that out. But as he includes Abraham, he seems to think of the OT as reliable; so again, his allegorical interpretation comes on top of his historical.

            I say again, I do not view all of the Old Testament as a metaphor. I’ve already stated that I see no reason to reject Abraham as a legitimate historical figure.

          • Benjamin Vincent

            When the Bible refers to things like “the ends of the earth” or “the four corners of the world” and so on, it is using them metaphorically. People still use those expressions today, for crying out loud! In the Psalms, Proverbs, books of Prophecy, etc., they are used for poetic emphasis. Read some modern poetry- does it ever say “and the earth rotated farther so that the enormous gaseous ball called the sun could be revealed over the horizon caused by the curve of the earth, and its light could penetrate the gaseous atmosphere of the round earth as it spun through space?” No! It says, “And the sun rose.” Was the sun literally rising? No. We all know that. But that is what it’s called- the sunrise. Because that is what it looks like, and that is what people are familiar with.

            There are very clear distinctions between such poetry and actual historic texts. The book of Genesis is written as history. If the creation account was intended to be interpreted metaphorically, then after the account ended and it continued into the true and accurate historical accounts of Cain and Abel, Noah and the Flood, the Tower of Babel, Abraham, etc., it would make it evident that we were transitioning from allegory into history. Notice in the places where aforementioned metaphors about natural processes are mentioned, the context is simply praising God, or speaking of His glory, not recounting actual past events.

            And as for parables, is that even a question? They say, “And Jesus told them a parable, saying…” They don’t say, “And Jesus then told them a history lesson about a dude who really lived 200 years before.” It’s a clear distinction.

            It’s imperative that as Christians, we don’t succumb to the pressures of the world. Just because people around you are believing evolution and other such foolish and completely ridiculous notions doesn’t mean that you should. Who will you believe- God, or Man?

            I admire your ambition, but it’s pointed in the wrong direction. Use it to further God’s Kingdom, not unintentionally tear it down. And I’ll be praying for you.

          • Hey Benjamin, thanks for your thoughts. I appreciate the response, but you are not entirely correct in some of the things you say. Allow me to explain.

            If the creation account was intended to be interpreted metaphorically, then after the account ended and it continued into the true and accurate historical accounts of Cain and Abel, Noah and the Flood, the Tower of Babel, Abraham, etc., it would make it evident that we were transitioning from allegory into history.

            I think that is a rather arbitrary and illogical requirement. I do not believe the ancients did not share our modern scientific and epistemological views. They would not have seen that something must be literal and historical to be “true,” and if it’s poetic and symbolic, it’s “not true.” I believe the Bible is at all times concerned with the dispensation of eternal truths about the nature of God, man and the relationship between the two. That being said, its genre changes constantly and without warning. Even the book of Genesis alternates frequently between metaphor, myth, history, poems, songs, prophecy and so on, without stopping to inform the reader what it’s doing.

            This is still how we tell stories today, by the way. I might tell you about my day yesterday and mention that I went to the store around noon and then, later in the day, my wife and I argued and were at each other’s throats. Do I have to stop and explain that “the store” and “around noon,” are non-specific, non-literal references and that “at each other’s throats” is a completely non-literal figure of speech? Of course not.

            These exact same principles are at work all throughout scripture. If we force some rigid and arbitrary reading upon the text, we will come away with incorrect impressions, plain and simple.

            Notice in the places where aforementioned metaphors about natural processes are mentioned, the context is simply praising God, or speaking of His glory, not recounting actual past events.

            Not true. As I mention before, metaphors occur all throughout Genesis. Genesis talks about the sun moving, rising and setting. Genesis 1 refers to the moon as “a light,” which it isn’t — it is merely a reflector. Joshua 10 recounts a time “the sun stood still in the sky” (which is scientifically impossible) and other historical books like 1 Chronicles talk about the earth being firmly fixed upon its foundations and not moving (when, in truth, the earth is constantly moving across empty space, in an orbit around the sun).

            And as for parables, is that even a question? They say, “And Jesus told them a parable, saying…” They don’t say, “And Jesus then told them a history lesson about a dude who really lived 200 years before.” It’s a clear distinction.

            Not true. Many of Jesus’ parables are not preceded by this statement or any other kind of label. He simply moves from teaching directly into a story like, “Once there was a man…”, which could just as easily precede a statement of historical fact.

            It’s imperative that as Christians, we don’t succumb to the pressures of the world. Just because people around you are believing evolution and other such foolish and completely ridiculous notions doesn’t mean that you should. Who will you believe- God, or Man?

            I accept evolution because there is overwhelming evidence for it, not because of “peer pressure.” I would encourage you to really take some time and explore the evidence in favor of an ancient earth and evolution by common descent. Here is a primer on the age question by a Christian organization.

            The reason I would suggest that is because this stuff about the billions of years of evolution is not something I just “choose” to “believe in” because I want to. There is a lot of evidence there, enough that I think we can reasonably presume the billions of years to be true. And, if it is, it does not stop being true simply because it is inconvenient for our theology. We have to acknowledge and we have to deal with it; we can’t simply pretend like it isn’t there.

          • Ben Amend

            I’d also like to point out, on the topic of “the ends of the earth” and the “rising of the sun”, that they’re metaphors *today*. A lot of our modern metaphors/allegory are based on beliefs held by ancient peoples a long time ago. It seems totally natural to assume today that when someone says “the four corners of the earth”, they don’t mean that literally, but to apply that same assumption to people who lived thousands of years ago would be a mistake, especially when it’s a well-known fact that many people back then truly believed that the earth really *was* the center of the universe, and that it really *wasn’t* spherical. I think people today tend to lose sight of the fact that people who lived long before us didn’t talk the same way we do now, and that a lot of metaphorical language is largely cultural.

            As for the question, “Who will you believe- God, or Man?”, I choose to believe God’s revelation through nature, as I think it would be foolish to stake my understanding of the history of our planet on man’s pre-scientific worldviews.

          • Good points, Ben! Thanks!

  • Jordan Bradford

    Awesome satire. I laughed a lot while reading it.

    • Thanks, Jordan. Glad you liked it, brother. Please share!

  • Joshua Hedlund

    I think this begs a question… If YECs do not want to treat Genesis as metaphor because they do not want to compromise the literal truth of Scripture, why are they clearly NOT afraid to do the same thing with flat-earth texts? Do you think they’re just being randomly irrationally inconsistent, or do you think there are more charitable explanations?

    • Personally, I think they’re being randomly, irrationally inconsistent, but there probably are more charitable explanations out there. 🙂

      • Joshua Hedlund

        Well, I don’t think the evidence matches that conclusion. Why is the alleged irrational inconsistency so one-sided? There are tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of Christians who emphatically choose literal Bible verses over science when it comes to evolution, but (as far as I know) zero who do so for the shape of the earth or the water cycle. If these Christians are just irrationally anti-science, wouldn’t we expect a more even distribution? (It’s not like Christians lack the creativity to expostulate about all manners of possible interpretations of Bible verses.)

        I have a couple charitable hypotheses, but they lead to different conclusions than yours, so I’m curious to see what your explanations might be, or if you simply disagree that the distribution is unexpected.

        • Fair point. I think it starts very early on. Concepts such as the earth being round, the sky being made of air, the earth rotating and revolving around the sun are fairly simple and are not controversial. I imagine many kids wonder about things like this at a young age, and their parents have no problem telling them the truth, and then their teachers reinforce this at school. Concepts like the water cycle are a bit harder to explain, but parents can simply say something like “rain comes from clouds.”

          In the case of evolution, I’m sure all kids also wonder about questions like “Why do fish have fins?” “Why do birds fly?” and “Where do people come from?” Statistics consistently show that large percentages of American adults reject evolution outright, and even those who accept it don’t understand it very well. So their answers to these kinds of questions are more likely to be along the lines of “That’s the way God made them.” It’s the easiest and simplest explanation, and it’s not even untrue as far as I’m concerned, but it doesn’t tell the whole truth and it doesn’t leave much room for evolution.

          So one could argue that the kids are set up to reject evolution from an early age. And I don’t know all the hard statistics for this, but from my experience, most schools don’t really start teaching evolution until the later grades. By that time, the evolutionary skepticism is already deeply ingrained.

          Also, I’d propose that you’re analyzing the symptoms rather than the root causes behind the symptoms when you say, “There are tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions of Christians who emphatically choose literal Bible verses over science when it comes to evolution.” Do you really think every one of these tens or hundreds of millions have done an honest, open-minded and thorough analysis of both the scientific evidence and the various theological views and interpretations regarding the relevant Bible passages? I seriously doubt it. I’m guessing the vast majority of them take their cues directly from the likes of Answers in Genesis, Creation Today, ICR and so on (which for better or worse, do have tremendous influence in certain pockets of the church). These organizations are the ones that I direct most of my attention to on this blog, because I do think their views are fundamentally inconsistent, and they know it, but they don’t care.

          Mostly speculation, but there you go 🙂

  • Victor Polk

    You know, the bible wasn’t talking about the planet. When it says the word “Earth”, it was actually talking about earth, ground. They even have an article that explains about earth. https://answersingenesis.org/astronomy/earth/is-the-erets-earth-flat-holding/ Similar article. http://creation.com/is-the-raqiya-firmament-a-solid-dome Even an old-earth creation website: Biologos had featured the reference about earth. I couldn’t find it, but it had that the bible was talking about earth for land/
    ground.