Most people know the inspired account of creation found in Gen. 1, with the six days of creation narrated. Many interpretations have been offered. I’m interested in seeing which ones are held to.
Oh yeah, I should mention that this is poll and thread for orthodox Catholics only.
In the first place, I want to mention that this is more than just literal vs. figurative. This is a little more precise.
The various theories that have been proposed are:
The Verbal Theory: This theory holds that the six days are to be interpreted more or less literally, meaning that God created the heavens and the earth in six literal days. In support of this there is the great weight of many Church fathers such as St. Basil, St. Gregory, St. Thomas etc. Against this is the very large corpus of scientific evidence.
The Gap Theory: This theory holds that there exists a gap, possible billions of years between Gen. 1:1 and 1:2 starting with which it’s read more or less literally. Thus they seek to harmonize the appearance of billions of light years with the Mosaic account. In support of this view, it does help at least ameliorate some of the scientific difficulties posed by the Verbal Theory, but against it lies the fact that the remaining scientific difficulties are not explained away, the lack of Traditional support for it, and the rather forced reading this imposes on the Divine account.
The Day-Age Theory: This theory holds that the six days represent, more or less, six long ages of cosmological/geological/biological history. That is, God created the heavens and the earth, but where the Scriptures use the word “day” to mean ages. In support of this view, it helps reconcile the inspired narrative with scientific evidence. Against this view is lack of tradition in the Church, and also the fact there are words for ages in Hebrew which could have been used.
The Vision Theory: This theory holds that the six days represent a vision of either Adam (traditionally) or Moses or the inspired editor, and that the vision has some bearing on the created reality, but not necessarily a literal or analogical concordance, as the above two theories hold. In support of this theory, it avoids a slavish adherence in trying to reconcile the Scriptures with science; moreover St. Gregory the Great could cited as an authority in this regard (he says Moses prophesied about the past). On the other hand, there is no mention of any vision in the text, which is normally otherwise given when a vision is occurring, and the fact that it seems somewhat forced.
The Idealistic Theory: This theory holds that the six days represent six conceptions or ideas in the Divine Mind, by which God created and arranged the things of the world. In other words, the truth of the narrative exists in the Creator not in creation. St. Augustine to a certain extent holds this opinion. In support of this theory, the difficulties of reconciling the account with science disappear all together. Moreover, the objective reality of the narrative is preserved. On the other hand, there is little evidence in Scripture to support this theory, and the use of the word “day” seems somewhat odd, given that the Scriptures could have just as easily said “First, God created…, second, God created…etc.”, without mention “day”, “night”, “evening”, “morning” etc.
The Liturgical/Poetic Theory: This theory holds that the six days are poetic device used to construct a liturgical hymn or reading or something of that sort. In support of this theory, the sanctity of the Sabbath is certainly brought out by the text. Against this theory is that it virtually destroys the objective nature of the Hexaemeron, and the fact, the no Churchman held this view.
The Literary Theory: This theory holds that the six days are a literary device used to distinguish the creative act of God, and to teach the sanctity of the Sabbath. It distinguishes itself from the liturgical theory in that it does preserve the historical nature of the Hexaemeron, but it sees the specific mention of days as merely a literary figure, rather than ideas in the Divine Mind, or literal days or ages. In support of this view, is the fact that this theory does not seem forced, and seems somewhat supported by Ex. 20:11, and moreover, St. Augustine seems to have held this view to a certain extent. Against this view is that, like the Liturgical Theory, it removes an objective reality from the six days, which is rather contrary to Tradition.
Anyway, please take the poll and post a reason for why you chose the view you did below.