Creation, Evolution, and Genesis 1-11

Creation, Evolution, and Genesis 1-11

Now that I’ve given admittedly brief summaries of the major views on origins held by Christians, I’d like to summarize all these views and how those who hold them understand the first 11 chapters of Genesis, element by element. But first, just in case you’re just joining this topic, let me link to the prior entries:

In addition, I present an overall summary in my pamphlet God the Creator, from the Participatory Study Series.

In the following table I will present the key elements of the story of the first chapters of Genesis and then briefly discuss how each of the views treats that element of the story. The elements include passages and ideas. Briefly, here is the list:

  1. The starting point
  2. The days of Genesis 1
  3. The narrative of Genesis 1
  4. The creation of human beings
  5. The fall
  6. Genealogies of chapters 5 & 11
  7. The flood
  8. The Tower of Babel

I want to make sure it is very clear that in a summary table like this, and even in the expanded discussions presented in my previous entries, it is impossible to represent all the variants in each of these general views. The best way to understand a viewpoint in more detail is to read something written by an advocate of that view.

YEC OEC RRC TE
Starting point Describes the creation of the universe Describes the creation of the universe Describes a recreation Describes creation within the ancient understanding of cosmology
Days Each day is a literal 24 hour period Each day represents a long period of time Each day is a literal 24 hour period The days are part of a formal structure presenting the figurative story
Narrative The narrative is an accurate, chronological narrative of events on each day The narrative is a general, simplified description of events over a period of time The narrative is an accurate, chronological narrative of events on each day The narrative is a figurative description of God’s relationship to the creation process
First Human God literally formed the first man of the dust of the ground Forming from the dust may be figurative, but God directly intervened in the creation of human beings God literally formed the man, Adam from the dust, but that might not be the first human/humanlike creature Forming man from dust indicates a personal care and relationship to God, and long-term relationship to the earth; God uses normal evolutionary processes in forming the first human being
The Fall God used a literal tree as a test of obedience. The first couple ate from it. The tree may be literal or it may figuratively represent some other test of obedience God used a literal tree as a test of obedience. The first couple ate from it. The fall, or eating from the tree, figuratively states a change in a close, but simple relationship to God into a spiritual separation
Note: There are significant variations in each of the camp concerning the fall and precisely how literally each element is to be taken. Some young earth creationists see symbolism in the story of the fall; old earth creationists can take it quite literally.
Genealogies The genealogies are literal and complete, including all patriarchal ages The genealogies are (probably) literal, but definitely incomplete The genealogies are literal. Whether they are complete or not is a matter for disagreement The genealogies and neither literal nor complete, though it’s possible some of the individuals named are historical.
Flood The flood is literal and universal The flood is literal, but is local, though widespread The flood may be either local or universal, but is literal The flood was local, and may simply be based on the memories of many large floods experienced by early humanity
Tower of Babel The Tower of Babel story is literally true, and explains why languages are different The Tower of Babel is literally true, though may be dated much before the time proposed by the young earth advocates The Tower of Babel story is literally true, and explains why languages are different The Tower of Babel story represents the social interaction between those establishing towns and cities and those continuing a nomadic existence; the evolution of language is much more complex.

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