The Lost World of Genesis: 7 – Challenges to a Literal Interpretation of Genesis

There are three reasons why a literal interpretation of the Genesis origin accounts cannot be taken seriously.

1. The Challenge of Modern Science

While the impact of the theory of evolution is well-known, and continues to be a point of contention in American schools and churches, it needs to be reiterated that other scientific fields, including astronomy and geology, have also independently established that the Earth is very old – much older than Young Earth Creationists would have us believe. Unless one chooses to live in denial and ignore all the scientific evidence that has accumulated through the centuries, this point should be sufficient to rip to shreds any attempt to accept Genesis 1 literally. As it turns out, some still choose to ignore it, so the other 2 challenges also need to be spelled out.

2. The Challenge of Biblical Criticism

Long before Darwin published ‘On the Origin of Species’, many theologians have begun questioning the traditional view that Moses was the author of Genesis and the other four books of the Pentateuch. Internal inconsistencies, repetitiveness of certain passages, among other things, raised these doubts. This came to a head when the Old Testament scholar Julius Wellhausen proposed a new theory for the authorship of Genesis and when it was written/edited/compiled, which has been highly influential ever since. These studies shed some light on WHY Genesis was written/edited/compiled, putting to rest any notion that the authors/editors/compilers were interested in the question of material origins.

3. The Challenge of Archaeology

The discovery of ancient Mesopotamian texts  such as ‘Enuma Elish’, have revealed the many similarities (and also distinctiveness) between the cosmology and creation myths of Israel and that of its neighbours. This raises questions, as to whether the creation accounts in Genesis can be accepted as God’s special revelation to Israel, while the other Mesopotamian accounts are not?

The latter two challenges are discussed thoroughly in the first part of Peter Enn’s book, ‘The Evolution of Adam’, which I hope to expound upon further in upcoming posts.


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