Genesis

People who know me describe me as intelligent and educated, even scholarly (among other things). Some of them are surprised to learn that I regard the biblical book of Genesis as historically reliable and accurate. They have been told again and again that the accounts of that book have been discredited by science and archeology. They don’t understand why I will not wave a white flag of surrender whenever they confront me with what “studies have shown.”

In the near future, I will write a second post to comment upon scientific studies. Before writing that, I want first to address my reasons for regarding Genesis as a good source of information about the past. My reasoning is not the circular argument that Genesis is in the Bible and the Bible says it is from God and true, so Genesis must be true. My confidence in the Bible comes from my faith in Jesus Christ. I do not worship the Bible as such, but I follow the example of Jesus in trusting what the Bible says.

Of course Jesus is best known through the Bible, so I might not have escaped yet the accusation of circular reasoning. However “studies have shown” that the New Testament documents were created by the first and second generation of Christians, reflecting information that came from eyewitnesses of Jesus. The four gospels were delivered as oral tradition before they were written—the similarities of outline and content among Matthew, Mark, and Luke testify to this oral tradition. The source of that tradition was a group of witnesses identified as apostles, men specifically chosen by Jesus to carry his message to the world. Gross inaccuracies in the account of Jesus would have been corrected or removed from the gospels. Without demanding belief in inerrancy of Scripture or addressing every apparent discrepancy or contradiction among the gospels, one can accept their general description of the attitudes and opinions of Jesus to be reliable for historians.

Among those attitudes and opinions of Jesus are respect for the accuracy and reliability of the Hebrew Bible (called Old Testament by Christians). Jesus frequently quoted from the Torah (known also as the books of Moses), and he treated the historical information they contain as true. Because I trust Jesus, I imitate his respect for the Hebrew Bible, and I use my intelligence to comprehend the message of those books rather than to fight against their message.

Perhaps on Judgment Day Jesus will tell me and other Christians that the book of Genesis was always meant to be treated as parable and metaphor. Perhaps he will reveal that Adam and Eve were not historic figures, that there was no Garden of Eden, no world-wide flood, and no Tower of Babel. I will not be sorry at that time to learn that what I believed about those stories was false. In fact, I will delight to relearn history and science from the Master. Meanwhile, I risk trusting that they are true, not because I don’t want to use my intelligence, but because I don’t want to lose my relationship with Jesus.

Other people, who cannot accept the accounts in Genesis because of their trust in scientists and historians, use their lack of confidence in Genesis to support their rejection of the entire message of the Bible. Because they cannot believe that the world was created in six days, or that a talking snake met Eve in Eden, they say that the entire Bible is nothing but fairy tales and that God is an imaginary being. Being wrong about how long the world has existed does not matter. Being wrong about God does matter. One of the strengths of science as a discipline is the ability of scientists to keep exploring new ideas, to admit that some ideas are wrong and others are better. One of the strengths of Christian faith is the ability of Christians to remain anchored in unchanging truth even while every scholarly finding is questioned and changed.

I have high respect for scientists, historians, and archeologists. I have high respect for their findings and discoveries. I do not have respect for people who try to use those findings and discoveries as weapons against people of faith. With unintended irony, they mock people of faith who aver that scientists and historians may be wrong, while genuine scientists and historians are always open-minded toward the possibility that they may be wrong. The air of superiority worn by those who trust science to disprove faith will be overturned when they meet God face to face. Sadly, that Day it will be too late for them to change their minds. J.

 

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16 thoughts on “Genesis

  1. I enjoyed reading this J. Especially you starting with Jesus and how Jesus’ way of reading the Torah shapes your approach to Genesis and keeping relationship with Jesus as central to your apologetics endeavor and the role of the intellect,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s a bit odd to me that there are Christians who argue that the Bible should not be taken literally. Like you, it wouldn’t perturb me to find out in the end that much of it was metaphor and allegory.

    My faith is in knowing that God can do all the things written in the Bible. Whether or not He did so exactly as written really makes no difference. I believe he is the God that can save a righteous family from an unrighteousness world. If I were faced with empirical evidence that disproved the story of Noah, my faith in the God of that story would be undiminished.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mrs. Spike, it seems odd to me also, but I have met such Christians by the dozens. All I can say is that some people will have a lot of learning to do in the new creation. But, I guess, that’s probably true of every one of us. Yes, the message of salvation is essential. Those who deny the cross and the resurrection should not consider themselves Christians. But I guess the Lord will do the sorting in his time. J.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good article!

    I’m not a fan of that circular argument either, and I would never use it (especially with a non-believer).

    For us who do believe, however, it’s important to note that almost every book in the Bible contains some reference to God as our creator. Adam is mentioned in Christ’s lineage, and there is reference to his sin in many of Paul’s discussions. If he was a myth, then who is the Adam in the lineage? Also, Abraham is not a myth, even to historians and he is discussed frequently through the word. If Christians choose to dismiss Genesis as bunk, then they pretty much need to throw out the rest of the Bible.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hey brother Elihu,
      Interesting you mentioned about the circular argument. It’s not my first thing to get into with a nonbeliever as I usually just evangelize by explaining the Gospel using a lot of questions with those I”m talking to but I do think when a nonbeliever attack Christianity for being circular it often is a lot more complicated than they think. This is where I think Presuppositional apologetics is very valuable.
      Love your blog by the way and its contents.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s an important point that needs to be understood: Jesus Christ the Son of God AND the historical person believed in and referenced the OT accounts as history, as fact, as Truth. Well said!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. It all starts there doesn’t it J? I am no scientist or any kind of scholar but a huge stretch. But, as you said, I will choose to believe it because my Lord believed it. Good enough for me.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I agree with Wally (except the part about him not being a scholar, ‘cuz he’s shown himself to be a pretty studious guy). My husband also made a point that those closer to the events in discussion would seem to be the ones more trustworthy in their observational skills, and that some of the ancient events that seem so bizarre to our modern minds may have been the very things that gave rise to later mythology. In other words, as man’s mind continued to corrupt, what they say was wrongly interpreted, but still real.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Wow, that was pretty deep. Tell Bob well said. Interesting thought he had there, because a major atheist argument is constantly that the Bible stories used other mythology as a source, but that thought you just expressed is really the opposite. Interesting.

        Liked by 2 people

      • That’s an important point. One group of people likes to think that we’ve gotten smarter over the generations, and now we are able to throw out ancient beliefs. It seems, though, that we have been moving the opposite direction. J.

        Liked by 2 people

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