If you do not accept Genesis as fact, you are not a Christian!

Note: this was part of an E-mail message I received from Bruce Waldron on April 3, 2001. He is a Christian, but he is not a fundamentalist Christian. He and I did not see eye to eye on numerous issues, but he was in full agreement that "scientific creationism" is a terrible idea.

He expressed this sentiment as follows (reproduced with his permission):

Please allow this very abridged response to the Creationists.

The story found in Genesis Chapter 1 through to Chapter 2, verse 4a, is a temple liturgy, emanating out of about the sixth century BC judging  by the syntax and vocabulary.

It has the repetitive nature of a liturgy with the responsive phrases and rhythm appropriate.  The meaning of it was never intended as a historical text book but is a deeply religious statement, full of significance and nuances, mostly missed by those who only see it as a textbook for the creation of material stuff.

People locked up in concrete thinking actually misuse the scriptures terribly.  The second creation story which starts halfway through Genesis 2:4 (the verse divisions and punctuations were added much, much later according to tradition) is a much older story, predating written records.  It is a beautiful story, full of meaning and faith, sadly neglected in this senseless argument over where the garden was and how old the people lived.

I think the writers would have wept had they known how literally some people would interpret it.  The matter is again one of culture. Creationists read the scriptures as though they were written with the sort of questions in mind that a post industrial culture would ask.  In so doing, they misrepresent everything that the ancient writers were striving for.

It seems to me that creationist thinking often does not seem to be aware that it has been completely captured by the rationalist mindset of 20th Century thinking which it so despises and suspects and in so doing has deserted the mindset of the people who, inspired by God, wrote those beautiful ancient words.

I could easily take exception to certain things he says, but the point here is that there are obviously ways to interpret Genesis other than the literalist approach, and they do not mean you are any less of a Christian.

Last updated: July 29, 2001

Return to main Arguments page

Jump to: