Sunday, September 12, 2010

Why Biblical Literalism is Wrong Part 1: Creation Myths

Something that seems to plague conservative Christianity is the idea that the Bible is literally true, literally the word of god and that it is infallible. This becomes problematic from the very start of the bible with the Genesis creation myth. Besides the extremely basic distinctions between the "historical" texts, law texts, prophetic texts, gospels and epistles, biblical literalists don't seem to be able to grasp the more specific genres contained within certain books.
First off, with Genesis, the first few chapters belong to the genre of Creation myth. The Genesis story is not unique, original, or true in any sense and to interpret it as such shows an enormous misunderstanding of the genre. It isn't meant to be interpreted literally because creation myths were symbolic narratives that described how the known world came to be, not scientifically accurate accounts of actual events. They developed in the same way most folklore does, by being passed down orally through many generations. Genesis was written down to preserve the cultural tradition of the Israelite creation myth. This is most likely the reason why there are two different accounts of the same basic story contained in Genesis. Chapter one and two give two divergent accounts of the same basic story, the events are in different orders, one contains details that the other doesn't and vice versa. The biblical creation story is a myth, nothing more, and we find parallels to it all throughout early human history, many of which predate the Israelites. If you want to understand the Genesis creation narrative, you interpret it within its cultural context, not take it as infallible, literal truth.

Anyway, here is a List of 46 Creation Myths if you're interested.

Part 5: New Testament
Part 4: Errors
Part 3: Genesis
Part 2: Contradictions


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  2. Genesis 1 and 2 and the first few chapters have no conflict, no disagreement whatever about the order of events etc.

    The reason there are similar accounts in many other societies can be explained quite simply - if it is the truth, then other societies would be likely to discuss it and pass it on, witness the number of accounts - over 200 - of Noah's Flood which we find among many ancient peoples.

    The Bible certainly has symbolic and prophetic passges, but not one of its historical statements has yet been disproved.

    There is a wholly rational case for accepting both Genesis 1 and 2 - and the rest of Genesis - as literal history. And there is no scientific fact to contradict Genesis.

  3. No disagreement whatsoever about the order of events? Go back and read Genesis 1 and 2 again and if you can't figure out what's different, I'll give you a hint.

  4. Anon, I have a feeling you're trolling but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and pretend that you really are that stupid.

    First off, Genesis 1 and two are completely contradictory. In Genesis 1 god creates the animals first, and then men.
    "And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image.... So God created man in his own image." Gen 1:25-27

    It is the other way around in Genesis 2 however, with man being created first, and then the animals being created for his companions.
    "And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. " Gen 2:18-19

    I think that should be enough to show that they are contradictory.

    With regard to historical statements and scientific facts, I'll be dealing with those in a few days in part 3, 4 and 5 of this series.

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