Talk:Biblical creation account

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"This does not, however, have anything to do with the Christian idea of the Three-in-One God, i.e. the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, since the concept was unknown at the time." -- Not unknown to the Author, wouldn't you say? :-) This just strikes me as an odd thing to say on a site like this. The article needs work. Presumably the allegation of a contradiction in the second paragraph needs to be removed, too. Bwilliston 01:40, 13 March 2007 (EDT)

It rather depends on who you think the author was, and why he (He?) made no reference to the concept anywhere in the Bible. As to the allegation of a contradiction, a contradiction is a contradiction, whether alleged or not, and if he (He?) made it, then perhaps he (He?) was not so infallible after all - or rather, whoever wrote it wasn't infallible, so presumably wasn't Him? In other words, test the theory against the facts, not the facts against the theory.--Petrus 11:59, 13 March 2007 (EDT)
Bwilliston is essentially correct. If God is the ultimate author, He would have known. It's also quite possible that Moses (if you accept him as the author) knew. An argument from silence is not a good argument. Regardless, for the article to state unequivocally that it was not the Triune God is putting a view as a fact.(1)
I agree that the theory should be tested against the facts, but it is not a fact that the creation narrative in chapter 2 contradicts the narrative in chapter 1. It might be the view of some, but not a fact. Chapter 2 does not say that creation only took one day, and neither does it say that man was created before the animals. My Bible, for example, says (Genesis 2:19): "Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air." (my emphasis).(2)
It's not a matter of chapter 2 unambiguously contradicting chapter 1, but of how one interprets the meaning of the original Hebrew text.(3)
Frankly, this article makes Wikipedia look good. I'll admit that it's early days for this article, however.(4)
Philip J. Rayment 04:10, 17 March 2007 (EDT)
To take each of my inserted annotations in order:
(1) Why not ask the Jews, whose scriptures they are, rather than argue backwards from post-biblical Christian dogma, arrived at only after much argument within the early Church? I think you might find that they disagree with you and express their usual amazement at the things that Christians somehow manage to read into the Jewish scriptures!
(2) KJV reads it as 'the LORD God formed': NEB as 'So God formed': the Jerusalem Bible as 'Yahweh God fashioned'. The Blue Letter Bible's presentation of the original Hebrew at [1] and their analysis of the tense at [2] show that this is correct. (All four also make it clear that at 2:18-19 the animals were created after man existed - in fact, as the Blue Letter Bible tense-analysis reveals, the Hebrew indicates specifically that Adam was asked to name the animals as they were being created). So it looks as if you are using a 'one-off' such as the NIV, whose translators, only too aware of the anomaly, have surreptitiously introduced their own 'interpretation' into the text so as to justify what they want the text to say! They do it elsewhere, too. Naughty, naughty! ;)
(3) Absolutely, as I just said! Or rather, a matter of of what the original Hebrew text actually says! In chapter one, the six 'days ' in question are yom. In chapter two, verse 4 refers to 'the day (yom again) that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens'. Therefore, unless the word yom has somehow changed its meaning in the meantime, chapter two is speaking of a one-day Creation. Either that, or the 'days' in chapter one are not really 'days' at all. Make up your mind. Or is the Bible literally true only when you want it to be? ;)
(4) Ain't it just?! --Petrus 13:15, 17 March 2007 (EDT)
Early days with no way to edit. Sigh. NousEpirrhytos 16:35, 17 March 2007 (EDT)
Replying to Petrus:
    • I reject that they are exclusively the Jewish scriptures. They tell the early history of the world, which means your and my history, and the Old Testament points forwards to the Messiah, which, if Christians are correct, was Jesus Christ. That is, your claim that they are the Jewish scriptures to the exclusion of others, is based on the presumption that Jesus is not the promised Messiah. I, of course, reject that presumption.
    • As far as I know, even the Jews consider God to be the ultimate Author.
    • In any case, your response doesn't answer my main point, that it is improper for the article to state as fact that it is not the Triune God.
  1. I think you malign the integrity of the NIV translators too readily. I agree that many other translations don't translate it that way, but neither do they explicitly state that man was created before the animals. That is a case of reading the order of narration as the order of creation. Chapter 1 is clearly a chronological sequence, but chapter 2 is also clearly a focusing in on Adam and Eve, and is not presented as a chronological sequence. Additionally, if you read the two chapters as a single account rather than two separate and potentially contradictory accounts, then clearly the mention in chapter 2 of the creation of the animals is a reference back to them being created in chapter 1, which is probably the line that the translators took and decided to make it clearer for the modern low-context western readers trying to read a document produced in a high-context society.
  2. Many words have more than one meaning, or more than one shade of meaning. If I said that in my father's day, it took six days to drive across Australia, travelling only during the day, I have used the word day in three different ways. Yet you would understand the sentence clearly, because each of those different ways is clearly determinable from the context. When day or yom is used with a number, it means an ordinary day, not an extended period of time. This is the case in Genesis. Just because Genesis 2:4 uses the same word (yom) as in chapter 1 does not indicate that it has the exact same meaning. (And in fact chapter 1 uses it—and defines it—in two different ways itself!). Chapter one uses the word with a number, indicating a normal day (not to mention other indicators, such as each having a morning and an evening). The same does not apply to Genesis 2:4, which has no such context.
Regardless of all the above, I don't expect the article to state as fact that the view I have is the correct one. But neither should it put an opposing view as the correct one, and that is the whole point I'm trying to make. Can you agree on that at least?
Philip J. Rayment 08:45, 18 March 2007 (EDT)

Yes, but only in that the article should not represent any view at all. Instead, it should simply reflect what the accounts actually say. Thus regarding your specific points:

1. Before Jesus's day, they were the Jewish scriptures. During Jesus' day, they were the Jewish scriptures. Why they should suddenly have changed to something else I can't imnagine. The Jews assumed that Moses, not God, had written them - that's why the New Testament refers repeatedly to 'the Law of Moses' (i.e. the first five books of the Old Testament as written by Moses). Moses was a Jew.

2. Please refer to the grammar. The word 'formed' in Genesis 2:19 is specifically in the imperfect tense - i.e. it refers to an action that is not yet complete, corresponding to English 'was forming'. It is therefore emphatically not a 'reference back'. This has nothing to do with 'interpretation' -- it's what the Hebrew actually says. In other words (I deduce), as God created each animal, he brought it to Adam to be named. It makes perfect anecdotal sense (though you'll note that I didn't actually say so).

3. Your point about yom may have some merit, but your definition based on whether the word appears with a number or not is pure invention on your part, as you know perfectly well! Still, if you're happy with that... --Petrus 12:57, 18 March 2007 (EDT)

I don't believe that the article can not reflect any views at all. If the article simply "reflect[s] what the accounts actually say", it would simply contain the text of Genesis.(O)
  1. The New Testament also refers to all of Scripture being "God-breathed", or inspired by God, meaning that the human authors wrote (probably in their own words) what God wanted them to write. So believing that Moses wrote Genesis does not preclude God being the ultimate author. What do you mean by "Jewish scriptures"? Do you mean that they were written by Jews? That they are owned by Jews? That Jews have exclusive rights to interpretation of them? I would argue that they belong to God, who has given them to all mankind.
  2. Not being a Hebrew scholar, I can't argue the tense of the word with you. However, the fact remains that some people do translate it as "had formed". I've never seen any criticism of the NIV translators for translating it that way, and the TNIV retains that translation. There is also at least one other translation that, although translating it as "formed", has a footnote that it can be read as "had formed". There is also another explanation, that being that God did in fact create some animals after Adam, but that this was a separate lot of animals to the ones that he had created earlier. The descriptions are a little different.
  3. I'm astounded that you think that you can read my mind to know that I invented that explanation. The problems are that (a) you can't read my mind, and (b) I did not make that up.
Philip J. Rayment 22:03, 18 March 2007 (EDT)


O. No, an article reflecting 'what the accounts actually say' can equally well be a good paraphrase. It would need to be, since otherwise, in order to reflect what the Bible says, Conservapedia would have to abolish itself and simply reprint the Bible!

1. Once again you're arguing backwards from Christian New Testament and post-biblical dogma. If, for example, I were to argue now that Stonehenge was built by aliens then, this wouldn't entitle me to insist that all the archaeological literature on it was written by aliens too - even though I would probably have to. Nobody, even in Jesus' day, insisted that the scriptures were written by God. They were the Jewish national scriptures written by Moses, the prophets and a few others (some of whom, such as Job and occasionally David, were actually complaining at God!), and until the advent of Paul they were aimed specifically and exclusively at Yahweh's chosen people the Jews (which is presumably why, at Matthew 10:5, Jesus forbids his disciples to take his message to the gentiles). The words that you quote from Timothy 2, 3:16 merely mean that that he and others like him believed that the scriptures were inspired by God: it doesn't make either him or them infallible (now there's a circular argument for you!!).

2. I'm rather surprised, despite what I said earlier, that you are unaware that anybody has criticised the NIV for its patent twisting of the texts: you may care to refer to [[3]], for example, which is pretty explicit on the subject, even though a right old rant! You would need to explore the reasons behind the other translations' 'alternative option': I suspect that they're merely acknowledging the less reputable efforts of Darby, the NIV etc.. As for your report of the suggestion 'that God did in fact create some animals after Adam, but that this was a separate lot of animals to the ones that he had created earlier', this is absolutely typical, I'm afraid, of people who insist that the Bible must be read literally, but who are then trapped by their own literalism into having to explain away the Bible's many and obvious self-contradictions with specious and, frankly, laughable 'logic' - such as the conflicting genealogies of Jesus in Matthew and Luke (Ah, but the one is traced through Joseph, the other through Mary! [it isn't, incidentally]), or the fact that in Mark 6:8 Jesus tells his disciples to take a stick, but in Matthew 10:10 and Luke 9:3 he tells them not to (Ah, but they were different lots of disciples! Pull the other one!). The very suggestion you cite, though, reveals that they at least noticed the anomaly!

3. OK, I accept that you didn't make it up. Apologies. Clearly it's somebody else's pure invention!

So where does that leave us? Well, the article, clearly, is strictly correct as it stands. If the words are taken literally (as most Conservapedians clearly expect them to be), then 'day' (yom) means what it says (and not what, on the basis of false interlinguistic analogy, you and/or others might manage to twist it into saying), and the order of creation is different in Genesis chapter 1 from that in Genesis chapter 2 (however much you and/or others may refuse to take the grammar as it stands and pretend that it is other than it is). Reputable (and certainly non-denominational) biblical scholars (see Bible) have long since spotted this problem and advanced a suitable explanation, but unfortunately you, because of your prior beliefs, will be unable to accept it. If you refuse to take off the blindfold - or the star-spangled blinkers, it that's what it is - I'm afraid there's absolutely nothing I can do about it, especially as the article is locked anyway!

So shall we leave it there? --Petrus 06:46, 19 March 2007 (EDT)

  1. I fail to see the logic of the Stonehenge analogy. And your argument seems to be of the form that if they didn't realise at the time that the Scriptures were inspired by God, they weren't.
  2. I'm quite aware that there are those who criticise the NIV. I was referring to specific criticism of the particular translation in Genesis 2 that we have been discussing. I haven't seen any criticism of that. As for explaining away things, just as I remind you of that, you remind me of those that prefer to see apparent contradictions as real contradictions instead of determining if they are just apparent and not real. Many claimed contradictions are not actually contradictions at all, if you are logical about it. How do you know that Luke's genealogy is not traced through Mary?
  3. You continue to describe my explanation of the use of the word "yom" as an invention, but offer no rationale as to why it is wrong. Surely you don't disagree that words can be used in different ways?
Insinuating that I'm closed minded is not the appropriate way to debate an issue.
Philip J. Rayment 10:29, 19 March 2007 (EDT)

Ah -- so, if words can be used in different ways, you're admitting that the Bible doesn't have to be read absolutely literally after all, then? Well, there's progress for you! That opens up a whole field of possibilities, then -- such as that Genesis doesn't have to be read as factual history at all, but can be read as typical Middle Eastern explanatory myth instead...

As for Luke's genealogy, I know it's not traced through Mary because it says it's traced through Joseph - which is pretty odd, by the way, seeing that he's not supposed to have been Jesus' father in the first place.

Still, let's not open up a whole new can of worms, eh? --Petrus 13:20, 19 March 2007 (EDT)

Too late, you've already opened that can of worms. But rather than digest it (yuk), I'll just say that this is an example of preferring to see a problem rather than not looking to see if there is an explanation.
As for reading the Bible absolutely literally, sure, I'll admit that, because I never said that I do read it all literally. Like most creationists, I recognise the existence of metaphor, parable, poetic language, etc., and try to read the Bible the way that the authors intended it to be understood. So Genesis 1 is actual (literal) history, but other parts are not. But that doesn't mean that we can interpret any part we want in any way we want. We still have to accept that words carry specific meanings, and understand how they are used. Thus there is no need to take the word "yom" in Genesis 2 as literal, because the context indicates a non-literal use of the word. But the context of Genesis 1 indicates that it is to be taken literally. There's nothing at all unreasonable about that. We do that all the time with language, as I tried to illustrate above with the sentence about travelling across Australia. To suggest, as you seem to be, that one has to take every occurrence of a word literally or not at all literally is absurd.
Philip J. Rayment 05:13, 20 March 2007 (EDT)
But what makes you think that Genesis 1 was intended to be understood as literal history? Tsumetai 05:20, 20 March 2007 (EDT)
  • Because that's the style of the language. It doesn't conform to the style of poetry or metaphor, for example.
  • Because other Bible writers and Jesus refers to the events of Genesis as actual history.
  • Because that's what the experts say. Professor James Barr:
...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 Gen. 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience ...
Philip J. Rayment 06:09, 20 March 2007 (EDT)

He may be right, but who the hell is Professor James Barr? If Jesus and the other Bible writers believed in the Genesis account (as in Abraham, Moses, Daniel and a whole lot of other stuff), as they clearly did, it is perfectly clear from the by-now well-established facts of the case (geological, paleontological, biological, historical, archeological, geographical) that they were wrong (refer, for example, to Finkelstein and Silberman's The Bible Unearthed) - a fact which has serious consequences, of course, for traditional Christian belief, though in no way diminishes the nobility of Jesus' initiative (see Schonfield, The Passover Plot, Lemesurier, The Armageddon Script etc. etc.)! But then perhaps they were aware - as certain other people evidently are not - of the difference between fact and truth!

As for the context of chapter 2 of Genesis, dear Philip J. Rayment, the one you adduce is one supplied by you (i.e., something like 'the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, and therefore cannot possibly disagree with itself'). That is the whole problem - and context is all in language! In actual fact, Chapter 2 doesn't suggest in the slightest degree that its own, particular context is meant to be any more or less literal than that of chapter 1. It's simply (and fairly obviously) a different account, as nearly all reputable academic scholars agree -- at least those who are not wedded to some particular Christian denomination (in which case their judgement may justly be regarded as potentially warped).

That context includes the linguistic context, BTW. Thus, in English, you can, as you point out, say, 'In my father's day' - but, curiously and possibly illlogically, you cannot say 'in the day when my father was alive': in that case you would have to say 'in the days when my father was alive'. Unless, of course, you're referring to a particular day! Yet it is precisely that formulation that the KJV's English translation of Genesis 2:4 uses - and it is the self-same formulation as it uses at Genesis 5:1, which apparently is referring to a particular day!

So you're on distinctly shaky ground, PJR, since chapter 2 does indeed suggest that creation took place on a single day, even if you would suggest (without the slightest evidence, other than in the context of anachronistic Christian dogma that you insist on superimposing on the text) that its 'day' is of a different order and length to those listed in chapter 1. But that's entirely typical of the childish squirming, designed to avoid facing the facts, that gives fundamentalism a bad name, I'm afraid - so it's just as well that you didn't invent it!

Still, at least you appear to agree that, since 'words can be used in different ways', the 'days' in chapter one could perfectly well be days of other than 24 hours - always provided, of course, that nobody imposes a context of their own on it. At least, that would appear to be the upshot of your logic.

Meanwhile, I have better things to do with my time than continue to argue about such idiocies, so... 'Bye! --Petrus 06:51, 20 March 2007 (EDT)

Barr was Oriel Professor of the interpretation of the Holy Scripture at Oxford University.
Whether or not the Bible is wrong (and I don't believe it it) is a separate question entirely.
Why is it wrong to adduce that the Bible cannot disagree with itself? That seems to be a presumption on your part that you are stating as a conclusion.
I agree that Genesis 2 is historical as well, rather than metaphorical. But that doesn't preclude using words in a non-literal way, such as "in so-and-so's day".
So scholars that believe it to be a single (or at least complementary) account are "warped", but scholars who don't are apparently reliable? Come on, that's prejudging who to believe based on what conclusions they come to.
You will not find "yom" used with a number, with "morning", with "evening", or with "morning and evening", anywhere else in the Bible except to mean a normal day. So no, the use of "day" in Genesis 1 cannot be interpreted as other than a normal day.
And thanks for the (un)civil way that you've been discussing this. Not.
Philip J. Rayment 09:31, 20 March 2007 (EDT)

Fascistic editing

Why has the article now been arbitrarily edited in favour of the creatonist standpoint and then re-locked, with no opportunity for anybody to redress the balance? --Petrus 08:29, 21 March 2007 (EDT)

That is not arbitrary editing, it is the avoidance of liberal bias.
JC 09:25, 21 March 2007 (EDT)

By arbitraily imposing illiberal bias, you mean? Something tells me that's the sort of thing Hitler approved of! --Petrus 11:55, 21 March 2007 (EDT)

Actually, I thought that last edit was a bit, umm, liberal: "Some have suggested that creation occurred about 4000 BC."? No, many have claimed it. Lightfoot and Ussher were only two of many, and Ussher, at least, did more than just "suggest" it. Philip J. Rayment 08:06, 22 March 2007 (EDT)

Whatever happened to the angel with the flaming sword?

Reckon the flood put it out, but was it never re-lit?--Trajsmith 23:35, 7 May 2007 (EDT)

You reckon the flood put out the angel?
The Bible doesn't record what happened, but the Flood would have destroyed the Garden of Eden, so there was no further need for an angel to guard it. Philip J. Rayment 06:44, 8 May 2007 (EDT)
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