Re: How to encourage a former creationist to persevere in faith?

From: Peter Ruest <>
Date: Thu Sep 01 2005 - 11:19:03 EDT

Iain, Glenn, Bill, George, Michael, Robert:

Apparently I poked into a hornets' nest, provoking a flurry of different and
partially conflicting statements of what Genesis 1 must represent. What the
different opinions have in common (with the possible exception of Iain and
George?) seems to be the conviction that there is just one correct
interpretation of a biblical text - an assumption I have repeatedly questioned.

Iain Strachan: "Concerning whether it's a historical narrative, doesn't the fact
that 'evening and morning' are written for day 1, and the sun wasn't created
till day 4 imply again that a literal/historical interpretation is not indicated
here, and that maybe this is a literary device?"

Glenn Morton: (revelationary day model)

Michael Roberts: "literary and theological nature of Genesis... to express THAT
God is Creator... puts it in a specific style... Gen One much more as a hymn to
the Creator rather than anything else... its purpose was to convince the Hebrews
that the one God is the only Creator... a pre-scientific culture."

Robert Schneider: "its... cosmogony is that of it's own time. It was bound to be
superceded... it is theology couched in the form of liturgy... a
theological/liturgical narrative..."

Bill Hamilton: "God commands and various agencies -- perhaps the earth itself --
execute the commands... God speaks, nature executes."

George Murphy: "When God speaks, things happen. There's a big difference between
that picture & one of God setting out a schedule of events... This is not at all
to deny that in Gen.1 living things are created mediately... but that happens
because of God's Word."

PR: A normal text, as we know them, has usually just one correct interpretation.
But a divine revelation may have more than one aspect. This is most easily seen
in the prophetic writings, which often refer to both an immediate,
contemporaneous issue, as well as one or even more than one future events.
Virtually all messianic prophecies belong to this category. Of course, no human
author is capable of foreseeing or guiding history, thereby producing such a
coincidence of two or more different - and correct! - interpretations of a text.
But God, being "outside" of time, has our whole time axis before His eyes - and
in His hands.

As far as Genesis 1-2 is concerned, I never denied the fact that its primary
import is theological, nor that it is written in a beautifully poetical form and
formulated in simple, anthropomorphic language understandable to the old Hebrews
- as well as people of all times and cultures. I don't claim Gen.1-2 provides us
with scientific information unknown to the writer and his contemporaries. But
God being the ultimate Author of this text, I claim that it is feasible that He
wanted to keep His revelation as unobjectionable as possible (the only central,
absolutely required "rock of offense" [Rom.9:33] is the crucified Christ), and
that He may therefore have prevented erroneous (cosmological or other) concepts
of entering this text. He may have gently guided the thoughts of his writer to
formulate in a way compatible with reality - even where this reality might have
been unknown to that writer. We may therefore rightfully try to harmonize the
text with modern science, but we can never _deduce_ science from it. Clearly,
such harmonization attempts are always a secondary application of the text, not
"the only correct" interpretation.

The reason which led me to consider such a possibility is the astonishingly
precise parallel that can be drawn between a linguistically feasible
interpretation of Gen.1 and what we know of the history of the universe and of
life. And at the same time, this allows us to read as narratives the texts which
look like narratives, rather than declare them (broken) myths, (superceded)
cosmogony and the like.


Dr. Peter Ruest, CH-3148 Lanzenhaeusern, Switzerland
<> - Biochemistry - Creation and evolution
"..the work which God created to evolve it" (Genesis 2:3)
Received on Thu Sep 1 11:26:06 2005

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