The Instigator
nickthengineer
Pro (for)
Losing
65 Points
The Contender
InquireTruth
Con (against)
Winning
79 Points

The Geneis account of Creation should be read literally

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 25 votes the winner is...
InquireTruth
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/20/2009 Category: Religion
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 16,330 times Debate No: 10528
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (126)
Votes (25)

 

nickthengineer

Pro

I contend that the wording of Genesis within the context of the Bible does not allow for the Day Age Theory, the Gap Theory, or the Framework Hypothesis.

For the purposes of this debate, I ask that scientific arguments be kept to a minimum. By this I mean that I do not wish to delve into a debate on carbon dating, the big bang, how to explain distant starlight, etc. I wish to stick to the Bible, its wording, and whether or not we can interpret the Creation week as anything other than 24 days and still be consistent with the Bible. An example of a scientific argument that is welcomed is the apparent conundrum of light existing before the Sun. I hope it is clear that science may be used in a supporting role, but that the purpose of the debate is to address what Scripture does/does not say.

This is my first debate on this site, but that did not deter me from challenging such a formidable opponent. I admire your debate record and your belief in the truth of Word of God, and I look forward to a friendly debate on a subject that has long been controversial (yet need not divide Christians). If you wish to refer to interpretations of the Creation week other than the three I already listed you may certainly do so, and you are by no means obligated to defend any or all of the three theories listed.

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It was clarified via the comments section that Con will be arguing a form of the framework hypothesis, and Pro will be arguing that a literal reading of Genesis is required for various reasons. Con may begin with his arguments in favor of his specific type of non-literal reading, as a good portion of Pro's argument will consist of showing how such a theory should be considered wrong.
InquireTruth

Con

=========
Introduction:
=========

I am very happy to be treading both familiar and comfortable terrain, being that the topic of debate is one well covered in my degree. It is also a great pleasure to be participating in Nick's first debate on debate.org. I would like to thank, Nick, for both his challenge and for his forthcoming and anxiously anticipated arguments.

Before we get started, it should be noted that I am willing to concede that it is possible that the Genesis account of creation is a literal retelling. However, I am neither willing to concede that it SHOULD be read literally nor that it is probably meant to be taken literally. Therefore, I will maintain in this debate that the creation account should PROBABLY not be taken literally. Obviously, since there are no mathematical means by which we may quantify the probability of literal and non-literal interpretations, we will have to leave it up to the discretion of the readers.

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The Problems of a Literal Interpretation:
=========

My opponent has requested that this discussion stay clear of pertinent scientific material, and I will respect that request. But the fact that a literal interpretation of Genesis' creation account is impossible given our current understanding of science is no small matter. In fact, I think an intellectually responsible interpretation of Genesis not only looks at what best fits the scriptural and historical context, but also one that best fits our current understanding of the universe. For instance, where two competing hypotheses have a legitimate scriptural and historical basis, I believe the hypothesis that makes the most sense given our understanding of the universe should be preferred.

One of the major problems with the Literal Interpretation is that it seems to contradict the psalmist's and Paul's proof for God's existence (Psalm 19; Romans 1:20) - that God is self-evident in nature. What is abundantly clear and remarkably unanimous among those who exhaustively research and meticulously study the intricacies of our universe, is that it appears to be very old - much older than a literal interpretation of Genesis would allow. It would seem that if God is self-evident in nature then it would align with what he said about nature, namely that it is remarkably young (assuming a literal reading). Those who study the age of the earth, however, come to a demonstrably different conclusion. Perhaps though, God did not intend the creation account to be taken literally. If God is self-evident from nature, it stands to reason that what he says about nature will be true. Was the point of the creation account to state HOW God created or THAT he created. The latter view, in my mind, seems the most likely.

=========
Multiple Creation Accounts:
=========

Another hurdle for the literalist, is the fact that there seems to be more than one creation account presented in the beginning of Genesis. Many scholars maintain that at least two creation accounts are coalesced within the first and second chapter of Genesis. A quick reading of the 1st and 2nd chapter of Genesis, with this in mind, will make this abundantly clear. The first account separates the creation order into 6 segments of 24 hour days. The second account (staring at 2:4), makes no mention of days or a particular creation order. To make this dichotomy even more clear, the first account prefers Elohim for God's name, while the second prefers YHWH (1).

In the first creation account, God creates both the man and the woman simultaneously ( 1:27-28) - they remain unnamed until the second account. In 2:7, God creates Adam and does not create Eve until 2:21-22. Moreover, in the first account, the entire world is covered in water at 1:6-8. Yet in 2:5-6, the second account, the earth seems remarkably dry - insofar as the plants could not grow because God had not allowed it to rain. It was not until God brought water up from the bottom of the ground that plants received nourishment.

If we are to take the creation account literally, we are poised with the problem of answering which account we ought to take literally.

=========
The Day Conundrum:
=========

Light was created on the first day. Since even those living during the time of Genesis' authorship knew that the sun was a measurement for days (in terms of day/night and dusk/dawn), the fact that light was created before its source only serves to show that Genesis 1 was never meant to be taken literally. In fact, this poses a significant problem to reading Genesis literally. If a day, by definition, is the average time of a single rotation of the earth in respect to the sun, then from day 1 we could never have arrived at day 2 - insofar as the measurement cannot predate the metric.

=========
Why the Framework Interpretation(2)?
=========

First, let me briefly explain the Framework interpretation for the readers. This interpretation insists that the point of the creation account in Genesis is not to give a literal or scientific explanation for the origins of the universe and the earth therein, but to give us more of a theology of creation. The point of the creation account was not to show us how God created, but to merely inform us THAT he created.

The days listed in Genesis, therefore, are not meant to be taken as literal, chronological days, but rather has a 7 day motif - a literary or symbolic structure meant to reinforce important theological themes (e.g. The Sabbath).
The REASON why Genesis 1 does not seem to represent a literal retelling is because the author used a common 7 day literary motif. Moreover, there is a stylistic parallel of the days mentioned, day 1 parallels day 4; day 2 parallels day 5; and day 3 parallels day 6 – leaving the last day to figuratively represent the Sabbath. The Genesis account shares many similarities with ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian creation myths. In fact, it seems that in many ways, the Genesis creation account is written to combat other competing mythologies (3)

=========
The Theological Problem of Death
=========

The most common method of combating theological hypotheses is by finding other, better supported theological truths that stand in friction and make the hypothesis generally irreconcilable with scripture. I anticipate that my opponent will suggest that death before the fall of man is irreconcilable with scripture. There is NO scriptural teaching that states death did not exist before the fall of man. Romans 5:12-14, often used in support of no death before the fall, teaches that there was no death of MAN. Moreover, the presupposition would be that death refers to the loss of biological life and not the origin of sin and transgression.

=========
Conclusion:
=========

This is all for now! I anticipate that the focal points of argument will be narrowed and, no doubt, sharpened as we progress in this debate.

Sources:
1. http://en.wikipedia.org...
2. http://en.wikipedia.org...(Genesis)
3. The IVP Bible Background Commentary pg 30-31.
Debate Round No. 1
nickthengineer

Pro

I thank my opponent for engaging in this debate. This is the kind of topic I could debate for 20 rounds!

INTRODUCTION

My opponent has contended that although it is possible that the Genesis account of creation is a literal retelling, it actually isn't because the use of a common 7 day literary motif is most obvious. Therefore, I will first discredit the use of the 7 day motif in this case.

7 DAY MOTIF

My opponent is classically begging the question by claiming that the author's recording of the creation account is the use of a 7 day motif. Quite simply, where did the 7 day motif come from? Either the 7 day motif came from the 7 day calendar week, or the calendar week came from the motif. Cool? Cool. Next step, which came first, and where did it come from? Aha, conundrum for the motif-ist!

If the 7 day calendar week came first, from humans understanding that God created in 7 literal days, then the motif itself is therefore based on the LITERAL creation week. My opponent's only hope with this one is to prove that either: 1. The 7 day calendar week originated first, arbitrarily and based on nothing, and that the 7 day motif is based on it, or 2. The 7 day motif originated first, arbitrarily and based on nothing, and that the 7 day calendar week is based on it.

Without proof of either of these scenarios my opponent can only ASSUME that a non-literal interpretation is correct despite the apparent literal grammar of the text. After this assumption, he can then use the 7 day motif as an explanation. However, he cannot make that assumption first, as we are debating that exact issue.

ISSUE

My opponent does not seem interested in contesting the Hebrew grammar and semantics of the creation account (I don't blame him). Upon request, I can produce various facts demonstrating the following conclusion: the account of creation is grammatically identical to the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph in the latter parts of Genesis, all written as literal, historical narratives chronicling what were believed to be real people and real events.

For this debate, the only issue of contention is how the literal, historical narrative of the creation account SHOULD be taken. My opponent asserts that it SHOULD NOT be taken literally. As the issue of the grammar being literal is not at issue (unless my opponent wishes to contest the facts of the Hebrew grammar), I will proceed with why it is necessary to interpret these literal statements literally, noting that I have already shown to be errant my opponent's only argument presented thus far in favor of a NON-LITERAL INTERPRETATION of LITERAL STATEMENTS, the 7 day motif theory.

COMPROMISING

Leading advocates of the framework hypothesis, Meredith Kline and Henri Blocher, admit that their rationale for trying to interpret Genesis as a framework rather than literally is to make the Bible agree with long-age science that insists the earth is billions of years old [1]. Other common creation compromises are the day-age theory and the gap theory. Essentially, no creation compromise ever arose from a reading of the text itself, but rather from Christians who wanted to remain Christians in the face of the long-age science they believed. Regardless of the credibility of modern science (which I am not contesting here), this is a cut and dry case of exegesis vs. eisegesis.

EXEGESIS VS EISEGESIS

Exegesis: critical explanation or interpretation of a text or portion of a text, especially of the Bible [2].
Eisegesis: an interpretation, especially of Scripture, that expresses the interpreter's own ideas, bias, or the like, rather than the meaning of the text [2].

I am striving to understand the meaning of the text by examining the Scriptures alone (exegesis), and I submit this as a summary of the arguments I am using to support the following conclusion: the Genesis account of Creation SHOULD be taken literally. My opponent absolutely cannot reach the conclusion that the account should be taken non-literally from what the text itself actually says, as the grammar is clearly literal.

Whatever the outside forces or influences are that are driving my opponent to not take the literal statements literally, and however credible modern science considers them, is of no value to this debate, as that is clearly importing outside ideas into the text and corrupting the conclusion (eisegesis). Examining the text for what it is and deciphering what it says (exegesis) is the only fair way to determine the meaning that a text is claiming.

Example:
Some scientific theories from the past have since been proven false (just think of one, like the earth being flat). Do we reinterpret the words of the previous scientists to make them agree with what we currently think or know? Of course not; we acknowledge what they ACTUALLY MEANT by what they ACTUALLY SAID, even if we currently think it to be false. I submit that as an explanation of how something SHOULD be understood. It should be understood as it was meant to be understood.

I'm not saying you have to believe in a literal Creation week, but that is what the text says, which means that is how the text should rightly be understood. And let's not forget that how the text should rightly be understood is the issue that is being debated here, not whether science, Darwin, Dawkins, aliens, Santa Claus, or my opponent agree with it as being true and correct.

Every Atheist or Evolutionist who disagrees with the Bible because it makes the ‘absurd' claim that God created in 7 literal days is acknowledging that the text does indeed call for that understanding of it.

PROBLEMS OF A LITERAL INTERPRETATION

"One of the major problems with the Literal Interpretation is that it seems to contradict the psalmist's and Paul's proof for God's existence (Psalm 19; Romans 1:20) - that God is self-evident in nature."
My opponent's argument on this point goes as follows:

1. The Bible claims that God is self-evident in nature
2. Science says that nature is billions of years old
3. A literal interpretation of Genesis calls for a young earth
C: Genesis should not be read literally

However, my opponent is attempting to make use of the LITERAL claims of the Bible that God is ACTUALLY self-evident in nature. He is placing some literal statements of the Bible on his side as evidence that the literal statements of the creation account should not be taken literally. The only argument presented thus far for not taking the literal statements in Genesis literally is the 7 day motif theory, which is clearly begging the question. Therefore, my opponent must now present a different reasoning for taking some literal statements literally and others not, or else he contradicts himself in the above argument. At any rate, I plan to address any issues raised of a literal Genesis contradicting anything else in Scripture.

CONCLUSION

As the focus of this debate is clearly how the literal statements of Genesis SHOULD be taken, the issue of the scientific impossibility of light before stars is irrelevant to this debate, although I may touch on it later. I do vow to touch heavily on the conundrum of "two creation accounts", as it can easily be demonstrated that an analysis of the grammar shows that the "second" account is nothing but more details of the sixth day of creation, and that any appearance of events happening out of order with the "first" account are merely improper interpretations.

CLARIFICATION: In this debate, I have the burden of proving that the account of creation should be interpreted literally, so I will focus first on my opponent's criticisms of a literal interpretation, as I need not focus on refuting his specific type of non-literal interpretation. As space allows, I will do my best to address the claims of the framework hypothesis.

1. Dr. Jonathan Sarfati, Refuting Compromise, pp. 94,136
2. http://www.answersingenesis.org...
InquireTruth

Con

I resonate with my opponent's sentiments, it's topic's like this one that I could debate ad infinitum.

=========
INTRODUCTION
=========

It is not at all true that my argument stands or falls on the existence of a 7 day motif. I am defending the position that the creation account should not be taken literally based on a number of varying reasons (e.g. Multiple creation accounts, creatively paralleled days, YHWH and Elohim dichotomy, day conundrum, scientific unlikelihood, contradiction of God's self-evidential nature and etcetera). To keep this debate as organized as possible, I will address each of his arguments under the headings provided in his second round.

=========
7 DAY MOTIF
=========

It is claimed that I am begging the question. I think this is misapplied, given that the truth of my claim is not contingent upon the truth of the matter in question (the traditional begging of the question). My opponent criticizes my argument by saying that I have no idea whether or not the motif is based upon the 7 day week or vice versa. It's helpful to point out that there were varying calendar weeks in existence before the writing of the book of Genesis (and indeed afterwards, as there are still varying calendar weeks)(1) - most notably the Chinese 10-day calendar. But he is quite right, I do not KNOW whether the chicken or the egg came first. But that is really quite inconsequential. As it stands, both my opponent and I are standing on the likelihood of our assumptions. So pointing out my assumption does nothing more than highlight his own. we cannot prove our assumptions absolutely, we can only discuss their likelihood. As long as I can show that Genesis seems to utilize a literary device, then I have shown that it not only differs from the following chapters, but that it is likely more focused on form than fact.

The fact of the matter is that the Bible is full of the number 7 - from the seven days of creation to the 7 seals of revelation. But the creativity of the creation account is seen in the way these days parallel. What we have is a marvelous parallel of the realms: sky (or the celestial realm), water, land.

Realms:

The first day God creates the celestial realm.
The second day God creates the waters.
The third day God brings forth the Land.

Then we see that each following day parallels the previous days with the entities that inhabit those realms:

The fourth day God creates all the celestial entities that inhabit the sky.
The fifth day God creates all the animals of the sea
The sixth day God creates all that inhabit the land.

=========
ISSUE
=========

My opponent may have missed where I brought up the startling fact that the creation accounts ARE written differently from the other parts of Genesis, so much so that it has caused many scholars and theologians to accept the documentary hypothesis(2) of Genesis - insofar as they believe that Genesis 1 and 2-4 are written by entirely different authors. One of the major reasons for this belief is that there is a dramatic switch in the divine name, from Elohim to YHWH.

Moreover, I'm not particularly concerned with the grammar of the creation account as it is no real consequence. There is no relevant or significant difference between Jesus' parables and their explanation, this does not mean that we ought to think that Christians are literally wheat and others are literally weeds. Grammar, more often than not, is irrelevant to whether or not a literary device is being utilized (e.g. Jesus' hyperboles, his parables and John's visions).

=========
COMPROMISING
=========

I am neither of those two people and as a result my intentions ought not to be generalized. My view is shaped by growing literary and historical understanding of Genesis. The fact that this better fits with what we know about our universe is no small victory either. Since my case rests on historical and literary understanding of the text, one could hardly accuse me of eisegesis.

=========
EXEGESIS VS EISEGESIS
=========

Before we move on at this point, I would like my opponent to give me some examples of non-literal grammar. For instance, when Jesus says that we ought to gouge our eye out or cut of our hand off if one of those things causes us to sin, we understand this to be hyperbolic. But why do we understand it to be hyperbolic? Is the grammar of any relevant difference from the grammar before it?

Moreover, my opponent completely limits the text by restricting all "outside" influences. For instance, we cannot at all understand the book of Revelation without understanding the historical context in which it took place. My opponent's reasoning would restrict the use of cultural and historical analysis because it is not a property of the text. But if we take the text of revelation alone, we are met with absurdity. If the meaning of a text is contingent upon the historical context in which it took place, the historical context is of utmost importance.

=========
PROBLEMS OF A LITERAL INTERPRETATION
=========

Here is where my opponent gets very slippery. He claims that my logic is self-refuting, because, I mean, if I take one part of the Bible metaphorically then how do I know it's not ALL metaphorical? My opponent needs to answer me this: Do you think that scholars and theologians should not take literary devices, genre and other stylistic attributes into consideration when determining the meaning of particular biblical passages?

My opponent commits the Black-or-white fallacy(3). Essentially the Bible must be either wholly literal or wholly non-literal. This false bifurcation is an affront to Job, Psalms, Songs, and Revelation. It renders all of Jesus' hyperboles and parables nonsensical. The reason my point stands is because the theological implications of the prose in Psalm 19 are unavoidable. Moreover, there are no GOOD reasons for believing that Paul was being anything but literal in Romans 1. So what we have here is an argument from the coherency of scripture. Either Psalm 19 and Romans 1 are correct and the creation account is non-literal, or the creation account is a literal, scientific retelling and Psalm 19 and Romans 1 are false. Which would my opponent have?

=========
CONCLUSION
=========

My opponent has not addressed either the paralleled days or the day conundrum. He goes so far as to suggest that the day conundrum is irrelevant, but this could not be further from the truth. Given that the Jews were well aware of how days worked, they would have immediately understood that the days COULD NOT be literal given the impossibility of days occurring without the sun. It is not possible for the creation account to be a literal, scientific retelling given this conundrum.

Sources:
1. http://en.wikipedia.org...
2. http://en.wikipedia.org...
3. http://www.fallacyfiles.org...
Debate Round No. 2
nickthengineer

Pro

=======
CONTEXT
=======
My opponent continues to bring out that the facts of modern science confirm a much older universe than a literal Genesis allows for and is using this as evidence affirming his interpretation. However, the reliability of science is a separate issue that should deserves a separate debate. My opponent is drawing attention away from the purposes of this debate and has made it into a ‘science has already proven Genesis wrong' thing. As my opponent has pointed out on MULTIPLE occasions, the historical context is VERY important, as I emphasized in my example in R2.

For example, if the historical context of the author of Genesis was that humans had scientifically affirmed that the earth was billions of years old, it would make sense to interpret the text as the use of some literary device, knowing that a learned and educated man would not think the earth was only a few thousand years old.

However, that was NOT the context in which the author was writing! The conclusions of modern science have NOTHING to do with the MEANING that an author intended for readers to get out of his now ANCIENT text! As I've explained before, people used to think the earth was flat. Do we think that by ‘flat' they really mean ‘spherical' because of what we NOW know?

=======
7 DAY MOTIF
=======
"As it stands, both my opponent and I are standing on the likelihood of our assumptions."

If my opponent believes I have made any assumptions in my reasoning, he should point them out clearly. What I have done is read the text and referred to the knowledge of Hebrew scholars for a deeper understanding of it, which does not require ANY assumptions. If the 7 day calendar week actually came from 7 dwarves that Adam saw in the garden, my argument does not fail. I contend that the text teaches literal days, and my opponent contends that the literal grammar uses a literary device that may ultimately be based on a literal creation week. He must make the assumption that it DOES NOT come from the creation week, whereas my argument requires no assumptions.

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LITERAL GRAMMAR
=======
"My opponent commits the Black-or-white fallacy. Essentially the Bible must be either wholly literal or wholly non-literal."

For the record, I never stated that the entire Bible is either literal or non-literal, although my opponent thinks my argument must call for this. When it is clear that poetry (as in the Psalms and other places) or parables (as in many of Jesus' teachings) are being used, we understand the meaning of the text as non-literal and simply teaching a lesson, as my opponent pointed out. This DOES NOT, however, mean that any literal statement can be taken non-literally. Genesis does NOT contain poetry (Hebrew poetry has nothing to do with rhyming words), it does NOT contain parables, NOR does it contain similes or the like [1]. My opponent has asserted that the literary device it does contain is a 7 day motif, which has already been established as quite possibly being a teaching that is derived from a literal creation week, which is why I repeat that this argument holds no water.

=======
TWO CREATION ACCOUNTS
=======
My opponent has asserted that there are two creation accounts in Genesis and that the literalist is faced with which one to take literally. However, the "second" account makes no mention of days because it is clearly referring only to day six. Genesis 1 gave a streamlined and chronological view of all 7 days; Genesis 2 (beginning at verse 4) gives more details of a very busy day, day 6.

"In the first creation account, God creates both the man and the woman simultaneously (1:27-28)…"

My opponent is referring to "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (NKJV) This statement does not demand the understanding that God created man and woman at the same moment in time, as it does not follow the construction "God said…and it was so" that is used throughout the rest of Genesis 1 (see v. 3,7,9,11, etc.). The lack of this construction indicates that something a little different is taking place than the rest of the creating in chapter 1, and we are given these details in chapter 2.

The perceived contradiction between chapters 1 and 2 is heightened in chapter 2, as it almost sounds like God creates animals after Adam and before Eve, but in chapter 1 the animals were created before Adam and Eve. This is best seen in 2:19, "Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them." (NKJV) However, in a translation that predates even the KJV, the verb for "formed" was correctly translated as "had formed" due to the use of the pluperfect tense, and the NIV still carries this rendering. [2]

The correct understanding of day 6 is therefore: 1. God creates animals, 2. God creates Adam, 3. Adam names the animals and does not find a suitable helper, 4. God creates Eve. This is consistent with both chapters.

=======
LIGHT BEFORE SUN
=======
On day one God said "let there be light"; He never said where the light came from. My opponent says that the fact that no luminaries were created until day four clearly demonstrates that Genesis was never meant to be taken literally, but I think a more plausible interpretation is in order.

According to Revelation 21:23, when God creates the new Heaven and new earth there will not be need for stars for light, as "the glory of God illuminated it." Biblically speaking, there is nothing wrong with understanding light existing before the stars. A possible reason God created in this order was so that people would not be able to confuse a powerful thing like the Sun with a god that should be worshiped. The order of creation was in effect a polemic against future Pagan sun-worshipers.

"If a day, by definition, is the average time of a single rotation of the earth in respect to the sun, then from day 1 we could never have arrived at day 2 - insofar as the measurement cannot predate the metric."

However, in Genesis 1 the author did not directly use the same metric for days we use today. Genesis 1:5 reads: "God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. So the evening and morning were the first day." (NKJV)

It should be noted that the definite article "the" before "first" is inserted so that it reads more smoothly in English, although the article does not appear in Hebrew. Dr. Andrew Steinmann, Associate Professor of Theology and Hebrew at Concordia University, points out the meaning of this:

"Therefore, by using a most unusual grammatical construction, Genesis 1 is defining what a day is…It would appear as if the text is very carefully crafted so an alert reader cannot read it as "the first day." Instead, by omission of the article it must be read as "one day", thereby defining a day as something akin to a twenty-four hour solar period with light and darkness and transitions between day and night, even though there is no sun until the fourth day… Another evening and morning constituted "a" (not "the") second day. Another evening and morning made a third day, and so on." [3]

Before the author numbers any of the days, he shows that God's definition of a day is a period encompassing one period of light and one period of dark. As God uses the word, we need not a sun, but simply light.

Furthermore, the fact that the same word (day, Hebrew yom) is also used to refer to a normal solar day in the rest of Genesis every single time it is combined with a number (as in "one day") [4] means that the periods of light and dark referred to in Genesis 1 were the same length that they currently are, as Dr. Steinmann noted.

[1] http://creation.com...
[2] http://creation.com...
[3] Sarfati, Refuting Compromise, 77-8
[4] http://www.answersingenesis.org... (section II)
InquireTruth

Con

CONTEXT:

The question within this section of the debate has become whether or not modern science should influence our reading of the Genesis creation account (GCA hereafter). My opponent incorrectly summarizes my argument, as if I have somehow affirmed that science has proven Genesis false. That is not only wholly inaccurate, but so egregiously off base that I wonder whether he has clearly read my argument at all. My contention was and is that modern science has shown that the GCA cannot represent an actually, scientific retelling of origins. If modern science affirms that it is impossible to take the GCA literally without scientific contradiction, then I think it ought to influence our view on whether or not the GCA is a literal retelling and consequently whether or not it ought to be read as such.

Moreover, if read as a literal, scientific retelling, then the GCA finds itself WITHIN a scientific context, subsequently making modern science directly relevant. Furthermore, if the author's intent was for the GCA to be read literally, then one must affirm that he/she was intentionally lying about how everything originated. Given the stylistic differences between the first and second creation account in Genesis, however, it is possible that the author's(s') intentions were of a theological nature, not literal. This brings us to an important question: What is the point of the GCA? Is the point to retell in detail the origins of the universe, or was it of more theological import - illustrating Imago Dei, The Sabbath, man's fallen nature and the profundity of marriage?

The important context is not just historical, but theological. My opponent and I are both operating under the framework that these authors' were not writing your typical ancient text, but were writing with the inspiration of the breath of God. So they were understandably privy to information not necessarily known within their sociohistorical context.

7 DAY MOTIF:

"...which does not require ANY assumptions."

Assumptions made by my opponent:
1. Upon reading the text, he has understood it correctly
2. The referred to Hebrew Scholars were correct.
3. That the 7 day motif comes from a 7 day calendar week and not vice versa.
4. The Hebrew's number of completion came from the creation account (though the GCA could have used the number seven because it was their number of completion).
5. That Genesis 1 and 2 do not represent two different creation accounts.
6. That literal grammar cannot be used within a larger literary metaphor (which is demonstrably untenable given Jesus' wide variety of parables).
7. That light and darkness, absent the sun, still represent 24-hour periods.
8. That God was the light source referred to in Genesis 1.
9. The second creation account is an account of day 6.

Though I could certainly exhaust more space by listing more assumptions, the aforesaid should demonstrate that my opponent stands on the likelihood of his assumptions.

The fact of the matter is that the Hebrews saw the number 7 as the number of completion and consequently used it more than any other number in the Bible (save for 1). But most importantly, the 7 day motif was NOT unique to Jewish writings and Scripture. It was a COMMON Mesopotamian and Babylonian literary device(1) - most notably found in their epics. A prime example can be found in the Epic of Gilgamesh, an ancient text that predates the authorship of Genesis by some 1,600 years(2). We therefore have GREAT literary reasons for believing that the author of the 1st GCA was utilizing a literary device common to his/her sociohistoric context. Coupled with the use of creatively paralleled days, the creation account is looking more obviously non-literal than literal.

LITERAL GRAMMAR:

What is non-literal Grammar? How does it differ from literal grammar?

"...although my opponent thinks my argument must call for this."

Actually my opponent's argument was that I cannot claim that some statements of the Bible are literal and others are not; specifically in using the Bible as a hermeneutical lens by which to interpret itself. So the literal statements regarding God's self-evidential nature cannot be pitted against the supposed literal statements of the GCA. Now here is a true example of the traditional begging of the question, inasmuch as the truth of my opponent's assertion is unilaterally contingent upon the very premise in question, namely whether or not the GCA is literal. To the contrary, there is good reason to believe that the GCA is not literal given the literal statements made elsewhere in the Bible (Romans 1).

Conspicuously left out from my opponent's argument are examples of non-literal grammar. The fact that there is no relevant difference in grammar between Jesus' parables and their explanation shows us the unsoundness of such reasoning.

"...possibly being...holds no water"

Showing possible alternatives is not tantamount to proving that an argument does not hold water.
Also not addressed in my opponent's response is my question regarding the verity of either Romans 1 or the GCA.

TWO CREATION ACCOUNTS:

My opponent tries, unsuccessfully, to resolve the issues between the two creation accounts. He first unabashedly asserts that it is CLEAR that the second account is an account of day 6. If this were truly the case, why would God have to create vegetation AGAIN (2:5)? Vegetation was created on the third day (1:9-13) according to the first account, but in the second account it CLEARLY states that no vegetation had yet appeared because God had not allowed it to rain (2:5,6). Moreover, in the first account, God brought the land up from the water which subsequently allowed for vegetation. Yet in the second account, God brought the water up from the land which allowed for vegetation. The accounts are clearly not reflective nor necessarily complimentary of one another.

Also, in the first account regarding the simultaneous creation of man and woman, it DOES follow the "God said" repetition (1:26). Moreover, it uses the plural of human being.
My opponent also does not respond to the change in the divine name, from Elohim in the first account to YHWH in the second (making it even more clear that there are two differing accounts).

LIGHT BEFORE SUN:

My opponent is reading Revelation 21:23 into the text. Now there has to be some relevant difference between his use of scripture to support his point and my use of scripture to support mine that allows him to completely disregard my point as having any import while simultaneously lauding his. If God's glory is the SOURCE of the light, we have a problem with the proclamation, "let there be." Did God create His glory or merely imbue it with the property of light. Moreover, where has this light gone?

The bigger issue here is how these days manifested themselves absent a sun. My opponent says that they were dictated by light and darkness or morning and evening. The problem is that morning and evening do not exist absent a sun. Light and darkness are contingent upon the rotation of the earth in relation to the sun - insofar as different parts of the earth are experiencing a day while other are simultaneously experiencing night. Moreover, why in the world would we believe that these morning-evening segments represent 24-hour periods? To make matters worse, are we to believe that God is merely turning his glory off when he wishes it to be evening and turning it back on when he wishes it day? With these things never being said in the text, how are we to imagine that it was clear to the original readers of Genesis?

Sources:
1. How It All Began: Genesis I-II, Ronald Youngblood
2. http://en.wikipedia.org...
Debate Round No. 3
nickthengineer

Pro

==========
CONTEXT
==========

I would like to clarify a statement I made in R3 that made Con believe that I completely misunderstood his arguments. With regards to modern science, I tried to make it clear in R1 that the purpose of this debate was not to use any arguments from the authority of modern scientific consensus on the age of the universe, as most people would therefore take this debate as a ‘science has already proven Genesis wrong' thing and I would undoubtedly lose without anyone paying attention to the actual arguments. The mere mentioning of modern science making a literal understanding of the GCA silly skews the whole topic of the debate so drastically that I fear people will forget the topic altogether, how the author who had no knowledge of our context intended for readers to understand his text.

"My opponent and I are both operating under the framework that these authors' were not writing your typical ancient text, but were writing with the inspiration of the breath of God. So they were understandably privy to information not necessarily known within their sociohistorical context."

Correct, the author was writing about events in the past (further in the past than his time in history), so the sociohistorical context of that past is pertinent as well. However, my opponent's mentioning of modern science requires going in the OPPOSITE direction. With regards to the time period of the author of Genesis, Con has referred to FUTURE sociohistorical context in a futile attempt to understand the meaning the author meant to convey (eisegesis).

==========
7 DAY MOTIF
==========

It CANNOT be determined from Genesis that a 7 day motif was being implemented by the author. It does not matter at all that a 7 day motif was common at the time of the authorship of Genesis, as it cannot be said with ANY degree of certainty that one caused the other. I just baked a chocolate cake and a vanilla cake. If one of them caused the other, I concede this debate. Similarity is NOT causality.

==========
ASSUMPTIONS
==========

For time constraints, I will respond to a few of these in the next round.

==========
LITERAL GRAMMAR
==========

As I've stated ad nauseam, it IS possible to determine whether a parable, poetry, or the like is in use, AND GENESIS CONTAINS NONE OF THEM. Rather, the GCA is written as a literal historical narrative, just like the rest of Genesis. Refer to my R3 argument "Literal Grammar" and its source [1] for this.

My opponent continues to falsely assert that the Bible's claim of God being self-evident in nature is in contradiction with a literal understanding of Genesis. Clearly, the statements ‘God is self-evident in nature' and ‘the earth is about 6000 years old' do not contradict each other in the least. It is only when one takes the conclusions of modern science on the age of the earth and combines it with the statement of God being self-evident in nature does any contradiction arise with a literal understanding of Genesis. To find the contradiction that my opponent ridiculously professes is within the Bible itself actually requires the importing of our modern context into the ancient text (definition of eisegesis).

==========
TWO CREATION ACCOUNTS
==========

Chapter 2 only speaks of events that chapter 1 says happened on day 6. It should be noted that Jesus is on the side of the "two accounts" not being in contradiction [2].

My opponent has ignored what I actually said regarding the immediacy of creating man and woman. As I stated in R3, what implies the immediacy of action is the construction "God said…AND IT WAS SO" (emphasis added this time). With regards to creating man and woman in chapter 1, the text DOES NOT contain the ‘AND IT WAS SO' part, meaning that man and woman were not created simultaneously.

As I've stated, Genesis 1 gives an overall chronology of events, while chapter 2 gives more detail of specific parts, as is common to do in historical accounts [3]. Because of the shift of focus, it is not troubling in the least that God is referred to by one of His other names in chapter 2. Scofield's commentary on Genesis 2:4 gives great insight on the reasoning to use the names that the author did [4].

God did not create vegetation again. Con is confusing wild plants with plants that need a man to till them (i.e. cultivated plants). Chapter 1 says that plants were created on day 1 (it does not say all plants), but chapter 2 only says that plants that need a man to till them were not yet created. After the man was created, so were the plants that needed tilling. No contradiction.

"Moreover, in the first account, God brought the land up from the water which subsequently allowed for vegetation. Yet in the second account, God brought the water up from the land which allowed for vegetation."

With all due respect to a debater with 49 wins on this site, this argument is utterly ridiculous. In Con's first statement, he is referring to when the whole earth was still covered in water immediately after being created and then God brought up dry land for the first time (1:9). In the second statement, he is referring to when God brought "mist" or "springs" up to water the ALREADY VISIBLE DRY LAND (2:6).

==========
LIGHT BEFORE SUN
==========

My opponent refutes himself here. If in the future, as the Bible claims, "the glory of God" will illuminate the new Heaven and earth, then God evidently will "let there be light" at that time. As Con pointed out, it sounds like this would require God ‘creating His glory' in a way. However, as the Bible claims that God is unchanging, God will not ‘create' His glory, as that would be something new. The only conclusion is that in the future God will imbue His glory with light. So, my opponent believes that God CAN do it, but arbitrarily choose to believe that He just didn't do it in the past?

My opponent continues to falsely insist that the author's definition of a day depends on the sun. I explained in detail at the end of R3 that the author's definition of a day depends NOT on any particular source of light, but rather on the presence or absence of light itself. As such, the issue of days being possible hinges on our discussion of light before the sun. As with most of Con's "points" in this round, the reason why we should still understand these days as being 24 hours long was also already answered in R3 (see the last paragraph of my R3 and its source [5]).

==========
EISEGESIS ADMITTED
==========

"If modern science affirms that it is impossible to take the GCA literally without scientific contradiction, then I think it ought to influence our view on whether or not the GCA is a literal retelling and consequently whether or not it ought to be read as such."

Eisegesis: an interpretation, especially of Scripture, that expresses the interpreter's own ideas, BIAS, or the like, rather than the meaning of the text.

Clearly, if Con has not just committed the fallacy of eisegesis, no one ever has or will. I am sure that my opponent will undoubtedly try to wiggle out of his inadvertent admission. However, this is an undebatable example of my opponent exercising the definition of eisegesis. Con has admitted that even if the resolution is TRUE (the meaning of the GCA is literal), he has already rejected this meaning as possible due to his personal BIAS of today's scientific context. Whatever the meaning was that the author intended to convey to his readers, Con has shown that his aim is to make sure the "meaning" agrees with what science is currently saying. As such, no merit should be given to any of his arguments, as they are all motivated by a fallacy.

[1] http://creation.com...
[2,3] http://creation.com...
[4] http://www.biblestudytools.com...
[5] http://www.answersingenesis.org... (section II)
InquireTruth

Con

========
CONTEXT
========

My opponent now contends that Modern Science is wholly irrelevant and goes further with his accusation that I am an eisegete! Should we consider the scientific possibility of an event when considering whether or not the GCA reflects a scientific retelling of the origins of the universe? Should we disregard the fact that modern science has shown that the GCA cannot be a literal, scientific retelling when considering whether or not the GCA should be read literally? Normally, if it were any other text, I would conclude that future understanding is irrelevant to the author's past understanding. But when dealing with a text that I believe is the divine word of God, such things as past and present are irrelevant. Either GCA is literal and God created the universe with at least the APPEARANCE of age (a deceitful, non self-evident God), or the GCA is not literal and the universe is old (a non-deceitful, self-evident God).

" With regards to the time period of the author of Genesis, Con has referred to FUTURE sociohistorical context in a futile attempt to understand the meaning the author meant to convey (eisegesis)."

Fortunately for me, the prophets of old have already wreaked havoc on this line of reasoning. Both the major (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel) and the minor prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi) made a habit out of knowing the future - from future captivity to the coming of the Messiah. In THIS context of the prophetic, what good reasons do we have for believing that the author of the GCA was NOT privy to the future and the science therein?

========
7 DAY MOTIF
========

My opponent tries to briskly cast this argument aside with the brevity typical of failing arguments. Given that the 7-day motif was a common Babylonian and Mesopotamian literary foil that predates the authorship of Genesis by orders of millennia (1), we have very GOOD reasons for believing that the same literary device was being utilized in the GCA. Given that the original readers would have been keenly aware of the motif, it would be ridicules to assume that they took literarily what, to them, would have seemed completely non-literal (given their cultural milieu). This is not just a case of similarity, this is a case of the author of Genesis using a well known literary device - similar to allegory, metaphor, hyperbole and etc. My opponent's casual disregard for this argument is tantamount to him insisting that we ought to take an obvious metaphor as literal. If anyone is inserting their biases into the text (eisegesis) it is my opponent! My interpretation comes from a clear understanding of the sociohistorical context, the original audience and a study of literary genres prevalent during the authorship of Genesis.

My opponent's whole defense is question-begging. He must assume the truth of his premise in order for his argument to follow. We know with certainty that the 7-day motif DID predate the AUTHORSHIP of Genesis by millennia. On the other hand, we do NOT know with certainty whether or not the GCA is either literal or recounting actual past events.

========
LITERAL GRAMMAR
========

My opponent continues asserting assumption as fact. Here he begs the question again: "AND GENESIS CONTAINS NONE OF THEM." This premise unilaterally relies upon the verity of the thing in question, namely whether or not a common literary device is present. As has already been shown, a literary device is not only present (the 7-day motif), but it is a device that would have been immediately recognized by the original readers of the GCA.

It has become abundantly clear that my opponent does not know what grammar is, nor its function within Semitic tradition. I asked him for an example of non-literal grammar and received only dancing. Metaphors, similes and a smorgasbord of other literary devices are used ALL THE TIME within historical narratives - even if there is no relevant difference in grammar (2). Moreover, Hebrew poetry is marked by its parallelism (3). What do we find in the GCA? We find the days are remarkably paralleled as already shown in my earlier rounds.

========
TWO CREATION ACCOUNTS
========

"Chapter 2 only speaks of events that chapter 1 says happened on day 6."

How do you know?

"Jesus is on the side of the "two accounts" not being in contradiction"

Jesus' use of both creation accounts has nothing to do with whether or not he thought they were either separate or made inconsistent claims. Jesus, on the other hand, is using the GCA in exactly the way I have been maintaining, not as a scientific retelling, but as literature that has THEOLOGICAL import.

"...man and woman were not created simultaneously."

Whether or not God said "and it was so" is inconsequential. If it is a LITERAL account, than it MUST have happened, EXACTLY as it said it happened.

"God did not create vegetation again. Con is confusing wild plants with plants that need a man to till them."

No I'm not, I am looking at the Original Hebrew and basing my conclusions off of the fact that the SAME Hebrew word, eseb, is used in both accounts. In Genesis 1:11, eseb is used, and it is used again in Genesis 2:5. Moreover, since when did all non-cultivated plants not require rain to survive?

"this argument is utterly ridiculous."

And fortunately for me, my opponent calling it ridiculous does not make it so. Nor does it count for much when it comes from somebody who sees no problem with asserting that all plants that do not require cultivation can exist without water.

Yam, the Hebrew word used in Genesis 1:10, refers to bodies of water (usually large). How is it possible that all other forms of vegetation could exist without this "mist" (ed).

========
LIGHT BEFORE SUN
========

My opponent refutes himself here. First, he is reading Revelation into the text of Genesis (eisegesis) - so he can apparently refer to future events but I cannot. And secondly, his reasoning for why God cannot CREATE His glory (his unchanging nature) by necessity, refutes his idea that God can imbue His glory with light - insofar as it requires a change in the nature of His glory. So if God is unchanging, how does imbuing his Glory with light not require a change?

Moreover, why is this light no longer visible? Also, with Revelation being written millennia after the death of the original readers of the GCA, how were they to know that this was the case?
Moreover, since we must conclude that the days in Genesis 1 were of a different nature, given that the Hebrew word for day requires the sun, how do we reasonably conclude that the days represent 24 hour periods absent the sun? - my opponent's sources notwithstanding.

========
EISEGESIS
========

I can only commit Eisegesis if the thing I am appealing to his not relevant to the ACTUAL meaning of the text. If Genesis is literal, then it makes scientific claims that can be tested. Modern science is relevant to Genesis because it can help delineate whether or not it is making scientific claims. My opponent marks me as an eisegete for referring to FUTURE sociohistorical context when considering the meaning of Genesis (which is but a small part of my argument), yet he himself refers to FUTURE scripture (Revelation) when determining the meaning of Genesis (and thus, he himself refers to a future sociohistorical context). How does he reconcile this inconsistency?

1. "How it All Began: Genesis I and II," by Ronald Youngblood
2. http://faculty.gordon.edu...
3. http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com...
Debate Round No. 4
nickthengineer

Pro

CONTEXT

"Normally, if it were any other text, I would conclude that future understanding is irrelevant to the author's past understanding." My opponent admits that for all cases except the Bible, future understanding is completely irrelevant. He tries to make an exception for the Bible because of all the prophecies contained in the Bible. However, the ONLY prophecy contained in Genesis is in 3:15 and it refers to a descendent of Eve (Jesus) ultimately defeating Satan. Also, the prophets my opponent lists prophesy nothing whatsoever related to 21st century science.

Ironically, many believe that 2 Peter 3:2-6 could be prophesying about long-age science, although the apostle clearly scoffed at those who would one day hold such beliefs in high esteem, being ignorant of God's creating acts and the global flood (neither of which modern non-Christian scientists believe): "I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming' he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation (naturalism anyone?).' But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed."

My opponent is clearly grasping at straws to say that because the Bible contains prophecies about the future, the author of the GCA would have known how old 21st century scientists would say the earth is. Obviously the author was well aware of the scientific impossibility of light before stars, yet he went to great lengths to make the grammar as clear as possible. Prof. of Hebrew studies James Barr of Oxford brilliantly demonstrates the resolution of this debate. Barr adamantly disagrees with the GCA, yet from reading it and understanding its context, he acknowledges the following [1]:

"…probably, so far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Genesis 1-11 intended to convey to the readers the ideas that:
1. Creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience,
2. The figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to the later stages in the biblical history,
3. Noah's flood was understood to be worldwide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those on the ark."

Modern science (and Barr) disagrees with creation in a literal week, with a rather young earth, and with the possibility of a global flood, yet Barr admits that the author of Genesis made all of these points as clear as humanly possible, and this is how we should understand the text.

My purpose in starting this debate was to establish the need to understand scripture as it was written, and I hope to someday become informed enough on modern science to discuss/debate it as it relates to the Bible. For now, curious readers can check out this source [2] for some evidences for a young earth (Con this is just for the curiosity of the readers).

LITERAL GRAMMAR

If it is really impossible to tell whether or not a literary device is in use by looking at the grammar itself, I can't help but wonder why my opponent believes that Jesus was a literal person. By his logic we can't know for sure that all the stories about Jesus weren't just metaphors.

I won't put everyone through a 6th grade grammar lesson, but it is possible to read a text and pick out the similes, metaphors, hyperbole, etc. I have not begged the question and assumed that Genesis does not use literary devices. All of Genesis is written as a historical narrative, like something you would read in a history textbook. Its meaning is clear, even if you believe it to be false.

When God personally wrote the Ten Commandments, He made it clear why we must observe the Sabbath (Exodus 20:10-11):

"But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work…"

God could have left it there, but for some strange reason He decided to give us a reason for why we mush rest one day per week:

"For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day."

God's clarification on the length of the days in question is an irrefutable clarification on the meaning of the GCA: its meaning is literal.

TWO CREATION ACCOUNTS

"…asserting that all plants that do not require cultivation can exist without water."

When did I say this? Never. I said that cultivated plants did not exist before there was a man to cultivate them. The plants that did exist at this point were watered by a mist, all of which is stated in 2:5-6.

The large bodies of water referred to in 1:10 are the oceans that were gathered in one place so that there would be dry land for the first time (1:9). Chapter 2 tells us that the dry land was watered by a mist so that plants could grow. These statements ARE NOT REFERRING TO THE SAME EVENT. Goodness.

LIGHT BEFORE SUN

"So if God is unchanging, how does imbuing his Glory with light not require a change?"

So what is my opponent's take on Revelation? Is it then a lie that there will not be a sun and that the glory of God will illuminate the new earth?

"Moreover, since we must conclude that the days in Genesis 1 were of a different nature, given that the Hebrew word for day requires the sun, how do we reasonably conclude that the days represent 24 hour periods absent the sun? - my opponent's sources notwithstanding."

As my opponent has chosen to make the dogmatic statement that the Hebrew word for day requires a sun without attempting to use any sources to back this up, my sources are the ones we'll be trusting.

EISEGESIS

I have not ‘read' Revelation into Genesis. As the Bible claims that every word in it is God breathed, I am treating the Bible as a whole and acknowledging that a statement in Revelation offers an example of how a statement in Genesis is not an impossibility for God. If my opponent wanted to cite a statement from anywhere in the Bible that says the earth is billions of years old as evidence that the GCA is not meant literally, he would be allowed to do that. But if such a statement existed in the Bible, I would never have begun this debate.

SUMMARY

1. A text should be understood according to the meaning the author meant to convey.
2. ALL of Genesis is written as a historical narrative, such as you would read in a history textbook.
3. Hebrew scholars are in agreement on the meaning that the text is claiming, even those who believe its claims to be impossible.
4. My opponent's argument in favor of a non-literal interpretation is fallaciously motivated by his desire to not have the Bible stand in contradiction to current scientific consensus.

In general, what is your take on miracles? They usually require scientific impossibilities. It's fine to not be able to comprehend light without a sun, the same way our minds can't comprehend the resurrection of the dead, something that you profess to believe. They are both miracles as far as our comprehension goes. Your stance just seems odd for a Christian who believes in God's power as strongly as you do. I'm just a little confused over when you take a scientific stance and when you don't. Thanks for the fun debate though! I apologize if I ever seemed hostile. It's hard not to when you feel you're right. I imagine you concur ;-)

[1] Sarfati 137
[2] http://creation.com...
InquireTruth

Con

INTRODUCTION

I would like to thank, Nick, for such a great opportunity to debate one of my favorite subjects. It was all in good fun. Before getting into my last ground, let me quickly respond to this question:

"In general, what is your take on miracles? They usually require scientific impossibilities. It's fine to not be able to comprehend light without a sun, the same way our minds can't comprehend the resurrection of the dead, something that you profess to believe. They are both miracles as far as our comprehension goes. Your stance just seems odd for a Christian who believes in God's power as strongly as you do."

I believe God does miracles all the time. I believe that Jesus was brutally flogged, spit upon by unruly and jeering crowds. I believe he carried his cross (as far as he could no doubt) upon a back of mangled flesh. I believe his hands were nailed up for my wounds and his side pierced for my transgressions. I believe he died. And I believe he rose again. What I don't believe is that this God who loved me dearly, created the universe with the deception of age. I also do not believe it is intellectually honest to posit the miraculous when other, more salient explinations exist.

CONTEXT

My opponent insists that just because the authors of the Bible showed a keen ability to know certain aspects of the future that we cannot, because the GCA was written literally, conclude that the author of Genesis knew anything about the actual age of the universe. I'm not sure how many times I have to point this out, but my opponent is once again knee-deep in fallacy. When you assume the truth of the very matter in question in order to make a point, you are begging the question.

James Barr is verifiably wrong. First, he himself does not believe that the GCA is a historic event (1) and, secondly, the late-earth theory (that creation was around 10,000 years ago) is within the distinct minority of today's scholarly community - including those Christians who are part of the scientific community (2). Competent scientists of astronomy, astrophysics, paleontology and archeology have shown that the earth is remarkably old.

As an important side note, John Barr actually spoke against those who stringently held to the minority view that the earth was created in six literal days and that the earth, despite overwhelming contrary evidence, is young (3). It is probably best to check sources before using them to support a point they do not, in reality, support.

LITERAL GRAMMAR

"If it is really impossible to tell whether or not a literary device is in use by looking at the grammar itself, I can't help but wonder why my opponent believes that Jesus was a literal person."

Again, missing my point. Literary devices are not always visible on a grammatical level, but are rather seen when examining the larger body of content and context. Jesus' hyperboles are not syntactically different from the sentences prior, but we know based on an examination of Jesus' character and the content of his other sayings, that certain sayings are hyperbolic.

But in this case, my opponent is wrong on BOTH levels. As I have been hammering home, a literary device is being used in the GCA and it is abundantly clear! We have grammatical repetition with the days and the "God said" phraseology. Repetition is a characteristic of Hebrew poetry (4).

We have the Hebrew phrase, tohu wa-bohu (formless and empty), in Genesis 1:2 that sets the framework for the entire literary structure of the GCA. Days 1, 2 and 3 represent God's forming (light, water and ground) and days 4, 5 and 6 represent God's creating (or filling) actual entities (e.g. stars, fish, animals). So God first gave form to the formless and filled that which was empty. If the author of Genesis wanted this to be read literally, why would he not put the definite article (the) before the days. Instead of reading, "the second day," it actually reads, "a second day." This omission of definite articles on the days allows for a non-chronological reading of the days. This non-chronological order can be seen clearly in genesis 10:5 and 11:1-9.

Those who study Semitic language have concluded that the GCA is composed of 40% poetry and 60% prose (5). Moreover, I have already demonstrated that a 7-day motif is being used. Dr. Ronald Youngblood, a specialist in Semitic languages, puts it this way, "Ancient Near Eastern literature, particularly from Mesopotamia and Canaan, provides numerous examples of the use of seven days as a literary framework to circumscribe the completion of a significant or catastrophic event (6)."

E.A Speiser adds further saying, "The pattern in these works runs uniformly as follows: 'One day, a second day, so and so happens; a third day, a fourth day, such and such occurs; a fifth day, a sixth day, so and so takes place; then, on the seventh day, the story comes to its exciting conclusion (7)."

The GCA follows a common literary structure most notably used in the very region that Genesis was authored.

TWO CREATION ACCOUNTS

Not only were the first plants, whose very existence relies upon photosynthesis, existing without the sun in the first account. But it is clear in the second account that the vegetation for cultivating had not yet sprung up because God had not allowed it to rain (it was not until then that God brought forth the streams from the land). So how exactly were the first plants existing without rain or streams?

It should be noted that my opponent never responded to why there is a drastic switch in the divine name from the 1st GCA account to the 2nd.

LIGHT BEFORE SUN

"So what is my opponent's take on Revelation? Is it then a lie that there will not be a sun and that the glory of God will illuminate the new earth?"

Instead of seriously responding to my criticism, my opponent asks a question that neither refutes my claim nor adds anything to his point. Revelation is a highly symbolic book whose apocalyptic literature should not be taken out of context. Why should Revelation be taken literally here when it is so undoubtedly symbolic everywhere else? This is what we call selective literalism.

As for the Hebrew word for day. Here is the number for strong's concordance: 3117. The meaning of Yowm has always been elastic (that is why there is debate over it in the first place). Also, the idea that it should be taken as 24 hour segments absent the sun is ridiculous. The first days were separated by lightness and darkness, this would actually represent 12 hour segments.

To insist that, ALL in one 24 hour day, Adam gradually realized that none of the animals or birds were suitable helpers - after naming each one of them no doubt - and then was around long enough to become lonely (as reflected by his joyful exclamation) is impossible to believe.

EISEGESIS

Revelation is a book written in the future and thus my opponent is unfairly applying future information retroactively, as if the original readers of the GCA would have been aware of this. If, as my opponent affirms, they would not been aware of modern science, I doubt they would be aware of Revelation.

CONCLUSION

To affirm a literal, scientific retelling of the GCA would require ignoring clear literary devices in the text and is tantamount to insisting that there is an error of 99.9998 percent in each of the major radioactive methods of dating. I think it is best to affirm the GCA as Augustine did, "the days are ineffable and timeless."

SOURCES
1. http://www.christiananswers.net...
2. D. England, A Christian view of Origins
3. James Barr, Fundamentalism
4. http://faculty.gordon.edu...
5. Ronald Youngblood, How it All Began
6. IBID
7. E.A. Speiser, Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament

No hostility taken (or given for that matter). This debate was all in good fun ;).
Debate Round No. 5
126 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by nickthengineer 6 years ago
nickthengineer
Would anybody be interested in debating me on this topic again? I will argue against framework, day age, gap theory, anything like that. Just let me know.
Posted by nickthengineer 7 years ago
nickthengineer
As a matter of fact, the last three people to vote said they agreed with me before the debate and IT after the debate. Wow. Including musicman, who felt compelled to vote for IT the very instant he made his account. Hmmm.... Although I got one of those too from jvallorani. No clue who that is. I'm pretty sure I don't know anyone from Georgia.
Posted by nickthengineer 7 years ago
nickthengineer
I was wondering that myself. Most people who cared to comment made it sound like both arguments were very convincing. I'm curious to hear why Yuanti thinks Con's arguments were so much more superior to warrent changing his stance.
Posted by Galiban 7 years ago
Galiban
Yaunti,
What specifically was so convincing?
Posted by nickthengineer 7 years ago
nickthengineer
15 last second points??? This was one of the closest debates IT ever had until this last second business. I hope this debate still makes a good statement. Congratulations though IT. Good debate.
Posted by Yuanti 7 years ago
Yuanti
IT, you actually changed my mind on Genesis account. Previously I had been a staunch literalist, but I'm still holding on to my anti-evolution stance.
Posted by heart_of_the_matter 7 years ago
heart_of_the_matter
Thank you both for a great debate. Lots of great information from both sides! :D

RFD -
This was very close on "convincing arguments"...I read all the rounds, a few key ideas here and there resonated with me more from IT, but Nick made many good points also and both of you are very skilled debaters imo.

I didn't read every source...so I left that as a tie.

S/G - normally I allow a tiny bit to slide but IT - I counted 4 misspelled words. 3 were actual words so the spellchecker wouldn't catch them...in close debates (like this one) those extra points could have been important.

So close overall...!
Posted by Lafayette_Lion 7 years ago
Lafayette_Lion
"I believe God does miracles all the time. I believe that Jesus was brutally flogged, spit upon by unruly and jeering crowds. I believe he carried his cross (as far as he could no doubt) upon a back of mangled flesh. I believe his hands were nailed up for my wounds and his side pierced for my transgressions. I believe he died. And I believe he rose again..."
Amen. I couldn't have said it better.
Praise Be to God:)
Posted by InquireTruth 7 years ago
InquireTruth
do should be *due
Posted by Galiban 7 years ago
Galiban
@both IT and Nick,
I am sorry. I firmly believe in the affirming power of the Holy Spirit. If you both appeal to the Holy Spirit in prayer in submission you will know the Truth 100%.

It is the last thing we do as Christians. When an appeal to the Church fails, when an appeal to the Bible fails, then we must appeal to the Great Teacher.

Failures to do this has lead to the Protestant reformation, Anglican persecution etc...
Success's have lead to some of the most powerful moments in Christian History, Moravian 100 year prayer session, the start of the Christian Church, the revelation of Daniel and indeed I could go on.

The key to wisdom is not study but being led to encounter the exact things we need to know to 'guide' us in our studies. We all study but we all do not arrive at the same conclusion. Thus we need supernatural aid in our studies.

Athiests study, Thiests study, Baptists study, Calvinists study, Catholics study, I could indeed go on, but to summarize the point which we would all agree,

"Humble submission to the leading ministry of the Holy Spirit will reveal specific divine Truth in our studies in which we would ordinarily get it wrong."
and
"The world has not seen what one man can do who is wholly devoted unto God; I pray I be that man."
25 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by MusicMan 7 years ago
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Vote Placed by pcmarketx 7 years ago
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Vote Placed by Yuanti 7 years ago
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Vote Placed by jvallorani 7 years ago
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Vote Placed by heart_of_the_matter 7 years ago
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Vote Placed by Alex 7 years ago
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Vote Placed by PwnzorDebaterLyncher 7 years ago
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