The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
4 Points

Genesis of The Bible is Not to Be Taken Literally

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/19/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 670 times Debate No: 75531
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




First Round is Acceptance


Well, I accept the challenge with the qualification that people understand "literally" in
different ways, of course.

When some people argue for a "literal" interpretation of Genesis, they mean that they hold
to Young Earth Creationism and others do not intend this implication and mean quite the
contrary even though they are reading "literally."

By "literal," I would probably substitute "common-sensical."
Debate Round No. 1


According to Pope Francis, an upholder of Christian values and believes Evolution and the Big Bang theory are compatible with creationism, the Genesis account of Creation is false.


Thank you for the opportunity to engage this topic. We have accepted the topic in the first round and now move on in Round 2 to primary arguments.

Argument #1: One argument that I will employ in favor of a literal reading is that it makes it clearer to contrast God's creation of the universe with the view of the universe evolving by itself with no outside agency. That is simple but it cannot be overemphasized. Many people take it for granted but it bears repeating. If the Old Testament book of Genesis is interpreted however evolutionists want to interpret it, then that does not allow the Genesis text to speak clearly to us today.

Argument #2: The text is best understood in its literal meaning and that was probably how the original recipients understood it. Let me explain. Genesis 1 does depict six days of creation and one day of God resting from his creation. Later, in the Old Testament, that set of creation days is referred to as a historical fact. [4]

Argument #3: The days or "yoms" of Genesis 1 are best understood in their plain, ordinary sense of a day. This is another simple observation but it is powerful. If the "days" of Genesis 1 were *not* to be understood as ordinary days, then the author of the text would have given some contextual clues about this broader meaning of an "age" or something similar.

Argument #4: Here I will address the problem with your citation of the Pope. He does not offer an solid exegesis of the text. He goes for the metaphorical reading that suggests non-literal days, but why? Is there some compelling reason why the text ought to be understood differently other than to please scientists who believe in the theory of evolution? If not, then the normal textual meaning stands! Also, how does one take the Pope seriously when he, like science educators, does not believe in free speech for Young Earth Creationists and Biblical Worldview instruction. [1]

Argument #5: Trying to fit long evolutionary ages into the Genesis text does not work, particularly in regard to the lack of "death" before the coming of sin. This is a substantial point and James Stambaugh makes it better than I can. [2] Naturally, if people had been living and dying and coming and going for generations before the advent of sin which is described in Genesis, then it would not make sense for God to say that in the event that the fruit of the forbidden tree was eaten whoever ate "would surely die." [2], [3]

Well, I hope that my opponent has more interesting arguments than simply what the current Pope is expressing as dogma for the interpretation of Genesis. What we are looking for is more than the Pope's "say-so" but what is intended by the author of the text of Genesis and what that might mean, by implication, for readers today.

Thanks again and I look forward to ongoing discussion.--TS



[3] "[B]ut you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die." [Holman Christian Standard Bible]

[4] "For the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy." [Exodus 20:11; Holman Christian Standard Bible]
Debate Round No. 2


By literal, I do not mean a literary interpretation. I think you do not understand my resolution.


Well, it had sounded as though you were intending literal to mean taking the days of Genesis 1 in the 24-hour
sense of the term. Thus, I offered some arguments in favor of that view.

Did you want to respond to any of those arguments?

Thanks, TS
Debate Round No. 3


No, but it was nice hearing from you.

However, most people define 'literal' as in taking something word for word instead of from a literary perspective. For example, the phrase 'open your eyes' can be taken literally and from a literary perspective.

Literal: Raising the eyelids

Literary: Understanding a situation or environment better



I think that I understand now and that you and I are on the "same page," if I might speak non-literally.

Since we are able to move on in the debate, let's do so.

Certain Christians can be quite literal in understanding the days of Genesis in the 24-hour fashion,
as I argued previously. I subsequently argued that there were some other contextual (biblical context)
reasons for believing in this straightforward meaning of the Hebrew word "yom" for "day."

You cited the Roman Catholic Pope who had a different idea.

This would be a great opportunity for you to expand on what you think that the Pope meant by interpreting
Genesis in a non-literal fashion including some arguments which might have to do with "hermeneutics" or
the science of biblical interpretation.

Debate Round No. 4


I am not going to debate anymore because as I said, I meant literal.


Well, thank you to ConceptEagle, for initiating this topic of debate. It is a fascinating one, to be sure.

Despite what my opponent said in later rounds, I did defend a literal reading of Genesis, Chapter1!

However, he never responded to any of my arguments and instead proposed that we had a difference
of definition.

Even though I am more of a "literalist" than a "metaphorist" on this important first chapter, even I
know how to defend a more metaphorical reading of the text and I am truly surprised that ConceptEagle
did not put forth a bit more effort.

Also, I opened wide the door for him (and tried to help him with his own argument) by suggesting that
he explore some of the meaning behind the Pope's support of a metaphorical view of Genesis. Still, that
did not interest my opponent.

With that said, this appears to be a fairly straightforward debate!--TS
Debate Round No. 5
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by tajshar2k 3 years ago
Varracks right, you should be a bit more clear, or it sometimes can cost you the debate, as it did for me :(
Posted by Varrack 3 years ago
Pro, this is why you define terms in Round 1. You didn't, so trying to frustrate Con by saying "well that's not the resolution as *I* interpret it" is just going to come back and bite you because you set no standard for how it should be interpreted. A Pro win is pretty much impossible at this point unless Con concedes to Pro.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Varrack 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro loses conduct for refusing to engage in debate, which is equivalent to multiple forfeitures. Con wins arguments as he was the only one to make any contentions for a literal view of Genesis, which were all dropped by Pro. Pro's only argument was that the Pope believes in evolution, but this, as Con pointed out, is an Appeal to Authority Fallacy (name-dropping a well-known figure). Pro stated that Con didn't understand the resolution, but Pro never defined "literal" in the first place, leaving it open for interpretation. Con stated his interpretation in the first round, which Pro didn't even contend until the third round, which means that all he did was try to move the goalposts (which is also logically fallacious). Since Pro was very unclear about what the debate was about and asserted Con mistook the resolution right without showing how, Con wins.