Interpreting Genesis Ch 1 (was: How to encourage a ..... )

From: Iain Strachan <>
Date: Thu Sep 01 2005 - 16:45:35 EDT

Since this thread has moved way off the original question of mine that
prompted it, but moved into alternate and fascinating waters, I
thought it needed a new title.

First off, I agree with all the people who say there should not be one
unique interpretation of Genesis 1. Each of us, with the prompting of
the Holy Spirit, should perhaps received a slightly different insight
into what it might mean, and hopefully this forum is a safe place
where we can all share our private views of it, and learn from each

I'll address some of Peter's points - nothing is definitive, of course:

> earth dwellers for orientation. This corresponds to changing the atmosphere to
> make it transparent. In contrast, the light of day 1 is /'or/, diffuse light,
> and light-giving bodies are called /ner/ or /menorah/, not used in Gen.1.

This is an interesting interpretation that harmonises 1:1 with day 4,
that had not occurred to me.

> > Like Nicodemus saying "How can a man enter his
> > mother's womb again", I could ask "How can there be evening and
> > morning before there's a sun?", and perhaps I'd be missing the point
> > just as much as Nicodemus was.
> The Nicodemus story is not really a parallel. What he misunderstood was just a
> single expression, to be "born again" or "born from above", whereas in Gen.1-2:4
> we have an entire narrative of 35 verses. Is its real content just the idea that
> it is God who created all (and that it is therefore good)? Then what's the use
> of all the details of the narrative?

Point taken. The Nicodemus story was the first thing that got me away
from the dilemma of the YEC dogma of there being "no death before the
fall", (not that kind of birth - not that kind of death argument) I
stretched it (perhaps too far) to deal with the spiritual meaning of
chapter 1.

> This analogy does not really take into consideration the narrative form of Gen.1
> - which is enhanced by the 7-day structure. You would not think of writing a
> software specification whose outline structure would conflict with the logic of
> its implementation.

It wouldn't conflict with the logic of the implementation, but equally
the implementation wouldn't necessarily proceed in the same order as
things appeared in the specification.

God's universe has to be a functioning whole at each point
> during its creation. This would correspond to a requirement of each software
> module to be testable immediately - without stubs. I rather get the impression
> that the software creation analogy is just a trick to evade the perceived
> problem of creation day 4.

Not really (just a trick to get round day 4). I think it can be
extended further, if we take the analogy of the planning (let there be
..) with the implementation phase ( physical processes that took place
to bring all the planned things into place). If I write a software
requirements specification, in terms of what the program looks like on
the screen, what buttons there are on it, what is displayed, and what
calculations are performed, then I do not say anything about how that
program will come into being, e.g. what language will it be written
in (C++, Basic, Fortran etc), or what algorithms will be used to
perform the calculation, or what machine it will run on
(Windows/Mac/Unix etc), or how many programmers are going to be
involved in the project. But it could be said that I actually CREATE
the system when I lay down that specification - I say "that's what
it's going to do", and after that it comes into being by some means
that is not specified in the requirements specification.

Likewise, Genesis 1 does not tell you HOW the extraordinary complexity
of life came into being (was it evolution, or God going zap, or some
as yet unknown natural process). It tells you that God says it will
be so, and it is, just as a team of programmers will carry out what
the designer species.

... don't forget, this is just a "through the glass darkly" way of
looking at it. I'm not saying it's gospel.

Received on Thu Sep 1 16:47:05 2005

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