Argument a with friend over creation


#1

Hello! I've surfed this site for about a year and a half now, but I finally made an account today. Mostly so I can ask this question.

So I had an argument with a friend of mine (He's non denominational) Over taking the Genesis story of creation literally. I gave him many standard reasons not to. But his claim (And, consequently,what his pastor told him) is that in Hebrew, having a number next to the word for "day" meant it was a literal day, and therefore god created the world in 7 literal days. Meaning our planet can not be millions or billions of years old.

Well something about that smelled fishy. But all I could get out of him after that was that his translation was what the bible literally says so he must be right. (wasn't even going to touch on "what the bible literally says" But I digress) So I want to know if what he said about the Hebrew language was correct, and other arguments to use against him. Thank you all in advance for charitable responses! :D


#2

Taking Creation literally is a traditional Catholic view. But there are many levels to how literal you can go. As for me I do take it literally in the sense that I believe that the Creation account actually happened and that it is not just some allegorical story that has some deeper all-together different meaning. But I do believe that Moses used metaphors within the account to simplify the account so that all the generations of readers would be able to grasp the event. I personally don’t take the “days” as being literally 24 hour days but literally large intervals of time, I just feel that days is used metaphorically.

If you don’t believe that its a literal account then you would have a view that its not really a creation account that actually happened and that it has no value in understanding how the universe came about. I totally oppose that view myself. I belive that the creation account is a very simplified account of how God created the universe.


#3

That’s what I’m trying to say. The issue is that he refuses to believe that this has any metaphor in it. He thinks the word days refers to 7 literal 24 hour periods, He does’t believe the story is simplified at all. I’m not saying that what it says in the bible is wrong. But he retorts that “the bible is truth” and that means that scientific evidence on how the universe formed is contrary to the biblical creation story.


#4

I would ask your friend that since he/she takes the literal translation of creation then why not take the literal translation of the Body and Blood. Many Protestant will pick which verse to take in a literal sense and ignore others. In 2 Peter 3 and Psalm 90, we are told that a day could be a 1000 years and vice verse. Time is of no issue for God. The Sumerians are the ones that invented the “24” hr days, not Moses or Genesis.

We have no clue what a “day” is to God.


#5

Well what is one day to God exactly, Jesus said he would be back soon but 2000 year later and where is he. God is outside of time therefor a billion years to him can seem as one day. ;)


#6

There are two creation stories in the Bible, Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. Which one is literal?

In Genesis 1, man is created last, after the animals. In Genesis 2, man is created first, before the animals. Which one is literal?

Was man created before or after the animals?

-Tim-


#7

[quote="Gricken, post:1, topic:313794"]
Hello! I've surfed this site for about a year and a half now, but I finally made an account today. Mostly so I can ask this question.

So I had an argument with a friend of mine (He's non denominational) Over taking the Genesis story of creation literally. I gave him many standard reasons not to. But his claim (And, consequently,what his pastor told him) is that in Hebrew, having a number next to the word for "day" meant it was a literal day, and therefore god created the world in 7 literal days. Meaning our planet can not be millions or billions of years old.

Well something about that smelled fishy. But all I could get out of him after that was that his translation was what the bible literally says so he must be right. (wasn't even going to touch on "what the bible literally says" But I digress) So I want to know if what he said about the Hebrew language was correct, and other arguments to use against him. Thank you all in advance for charitable responses! :D

[/quote]

Like the whole Bible, Genesis is history but not scientific history. This does not mean that it is myth or fable, but that its style is often poetic and that its content is selective. The author is like a photographer who points his camera only at the subjects that are important for his purposes, from his point of view. The purpose of the Divine Author of vthe Bible, the Holy Spirit, is to tell us about God and His acts of “Salvation History”.

Did God use evolution? He may have. Genesis is not a science text, so it does not tell us how so much as why. But there are hints. Only three times in the creation account is "bara" used: for the creation of matter (I:I), life (I:2I) and humanity (I:27). The other times, God said, "let the waters bring forth..." or "let the earth bring forth...." that is, for most of His acts of "creation", He made rather than created.

For example, He used the pre-existing material of "the dust of the earth to make man. Was that an ape body? Perhaps. Why not? Our 'image of God" distinctiveness, our personality, is grounded in the soul, not in the body. We are "rational animals". God is not an animal.

Catholics have seldom had the difficulties and embarrassments many Protestants have had about creation vs. evolution. Ever since Augustine they have interpreted Genesis' "days" non literally. (The Hebrew word there, yom, is often used non-quantitatively in Scripture.) Purposes not clocks, measure God's time.
KREEFT "You Can Understand the Bible"


#8

Two different sources for each creation story but pondering over the two stories will allow you to look past the message. The 1st creation story presents an all-powerful God and the 2nd presents a “father like” God that created man. The best way is to bring the stories together and find their meaning rather than trying to find an angle of distrust.


#9

My :twocents:

This is not a matter of salvation. I wonder how productive it is to argue about. Pride over wanting to be "right" has caused a lot of separation. I am not saying this in a judgmental way, I'm speaking to myself. I have had many of these conversations before and I just think we could have more unity if we learn to have more humility in our conversations. I could be wrong though. JMO


#10

Thank you all for the responses. I'll answer them all individually as soon as I can.


#11

Exactly what I was thinking :smiley:


#12

I would keep in mind that it does no harm at all for one to take it literally right down to the idea of 24 hour days, and it just shows their loyalty to the Bible, and that is worthy of respect. I do believe in the metaphoric idea in some of the places, and when it comes right down to it we all are just speculating.

I do believe that there is a level of danger in the opposite position, that Genesis is all myth and only meant to teach us a lesson. That in my opinion brings doubt of reliablity and truth in the rest of Scripture.


#13

Timothy H. I’ve asked which creation story is true before. His only response is “Are you sure there are 2?” He hasn’t actually looked yet. I’ll think I’ll show him it in my bible soon.

Polycarp1: This is what I try to explain. His only argument is “The bible is truth. The bible says seven days. Not evolution or billions of years” He says he’ll take the word of god over “The science of man”

Loving Disicple: When I say that time means nothing to god. he just says “the bible says seven days”

The issue is that he keeps putting science at odds with scripture. The evidence he puts froth is that: The bible says seven days, When the hebrew word for days was put next to a number. it means LITERAL days, and he also mass vauge references to some canyon that has mixed up sediment that messes up fossils, proving they could be only a few thousand years old. I don’t have the info to counter that.


#14

As a side note. He takes everything his pastor says at face value. That’s where he gets all his information. I do not doubt his pastor is a smart man. But whenever I try to ask what makes what he says more correct than say, what the catholic church says. He claims it’s because his is what the bible “Literally says”


#15

Please tell your friend that the Bible is not a science book, and here’s the proof that I heard a priest/astronomer use: We know that science books are often outdated and updated every ten or so years. We know also that the Bible is never outdated or updated; ergo, the Bible is not a science book, and you do not do it any favors by trying to turn it into one. Science and faith can both exist!


#16

I’ve told him it isn’t a science book. The argument I keep getting is that “The bible is truth” No matter how much I explain that it’s Moral Truth, Spiritual Truth, and Theological Truth, and not scientific truth. When I tried that he told me something about how the biblical flood can explain how fossils can get buried in sediment. I try explaining that the flood did not necessarily cover the entire world, that if it had, the water vapor in the air would have made people drown by breathing. But all I get is “That’s not what the bible says” I’m not sure if this is coming down to science, or authority to interpret the bible.


#17

[quote="COPLAND_3, post:12, topic:313794"]
I would keep in mind that it does no harm at all for one to take it literally right down to the idea of 24 hour days, and it just shows their loyalty to the Bible, and that is worthy of respect. I do believe in the metaphoric idea in some of the places, and when it comes right down to it we all are just speculating.

I do believe that there is a level of danger in the opposite position, that Genesis is all myth and only meant to teach us a lesson. That in my opinion brings doubt of reliablity and truth in the rest of Scripture.

[/quote]

:thumbsup: Great post.


#18

Consider that Gen 1 seems to be written from God’s perspective. Now imagine a rolled up tape measure 7 times. We live on the tape and have to look past the graduations. God sees all the 7 layers at once.


#19

There is no harm in assuming literal 24 hour days unless in so doing one begins to doubt that those who disagree are “real Christians,” or spends so much attention on this relatively unimportant detail that they miss the real purpose of the passage. It may turn respect for actual scripture into a respect for details along the lines of respecting the alphabet but not being all that interested in reading, and hence may lead one to a respect for a nearly meaningless human interpretation that blinds one to what scripture is actually saying. Or it may not.

The takeaways from the genesis creation stories are that the universe was created ex nihlio by God (as opposed to the violent “the world is made out of the body parts of some proto-god” myths that were popular), that the universe is ordered, that creation is fundamentally good (if now damaged), that man has dominion (and stewardship) over the world, etc. Whether the days were literal has no effect on any of this aside from technical questions of what it looked like while these things we all know happened were happening. Interesting, but not crucial

Either position can be dangerous, if held in the wrong way. If taken as just a guess about how things happened while focusing on the parts of the story that are actually important and respecting those, then either position can be harmless. I’d hesitate to say that either position in itself is inherently good in any respect other than how true it is, because I think that any other goodness would have to flow from how and why it is held.

That said, it’s fun to argue about. We just have to remember that in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter.


#20

An over-reliance on the notion of ‘metaphor’, at the expense of the message on its face, is certainly a danger. However, so is an insistence that the Bible is only literistically true, and that no metaphor exists in it. We can see the weakness of this approach in the OP’s friend’s comments: a need to ‘fight’ with science over physical facts, a naive view of Scripture and the notion of salvation history, and a presumption that one’s pastor’s assertions are found verbatim in Scripture. Danger, indeed! :wink:


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