The Difficulties of Genesis 1 (Part 1 of 2)

One of my last articles on UBFriends was a book review on Stewart and Fee’s How to Read the Bible for all its Worth. The authors, who are not only great scholars but also committed and Jesus-loving Christians, laid down some sensible ground rules that ought to be observed by everyone who approaches Scripture. In this article, I would like to put those rules into practice by applying them to Genesis chapter 1. The reasons why I want to look at Genesis 1 are plentiful.

To begin with, it is the first chapter of the first book of the first section (OT) of the Bible. Genesis has been called “the book of beginnings” and Genesis 1 is the beginning of the book of beginnings. Furthermore, it is one of the most frequently studied passages in UBF. It is impossible to count and document all the UBF conferences, Sunday worship services, Friday meetings and Bible academies where Genesis 1 has been discussed. Genesis 1 ranks among the most often read passages in UBF (along with our other favorite passages, such as Genesis 12, John 3 and 4).

Having witnessed and participated in Genesis 1 studies in several UBF chapters, I have seen that our approach to Genesis 1 has a common flavor. The study materials that were used in these chapters were similar if not identical. We began with the same questions, so we ended up with similar answers and conclusions every single time. An advantage of this is that it fosters agreement in our teachings about Genesis 1. But this uniformity also had a downside. As I repeated the same questions over and over, I discouraged myself from thinking outside of the box. Other questions that could be asked never even came to my mind. My understanding of this passage remained nearly constant for more than a decade. I had not trained myself to think more deeply about Genesis 1.

I had conveniently overlooked scores of mind-boggling issues related to this chapter, questions which were very difficult to answer. Here are a few examples: What does the author mean by the terms “heavens” and “earth”? When God creates light, why doesn’t He call it “light” but instead calls it “day”? Why does God create light on the first day and sun, moon and stars on the fourth day? What exactly is the expanse in Day 2? Do the days in the creation account refer to 24-hour periods? How do we know? The unsolved mysteries go on and on.

I had also overlooked the fact that the diversity of interpretations of Genesis 1, even amongst evangelical ministers and scholars, is tremendous. Many of these interpretations contradict one another. I would love to discuss some of them later to give you an idea about the diversity of opinions out there.

Then, of course, there is another issue that I cannot entirely neglect. I am a trained biologist. As a scientist and researcher, I am supposed to follow the evidence. Advances in molecular biology in recent decades provide robust evidence for ancient evolutionary processes. (Another article about this may follow). Analysis of genomic DNA sequences strongly suggests that life did in fact undergo a development from relatively primitive single cells to more complex life forms. I am well aware of the arguments made by proponents of Intelligent Design (ID), Young-Earth Creationism (YEC) and Old-Earth Creationism (OEC). To my knowledge, none of the proponents of ID, YEC or OEC have thus far been able to refute the evidence found in genetic sequences. I know that some evangelicals may regard this statement of mine to be highly controversial. But I cannot deny what I know and see. To purposefully ignore the evidence would be for me an act of dishonesty.

I understand why many evangelical Christians would object to allowing science to dictate how we study the Bible. It instinctively sounds wrong, But may we consider the possibility that science can occasionally correct some interpreters of the Bible when their interpretations have gone awry? We are told in the book of Joshua that he once, in the heat of battle, commanded the sun to stand still over Gibeon. Centuries ago, some Bible readers interpreted this verse as “proof” that the sun revolves around the earth and not vice versa. It was an accomplishment of science to show that these people had erred.

I believe that all truth is God’s truth. As we open our ears to the word of God revealed in Scripture, we ought not to shut our eyes entirely to God’s revelation in nature.

And so the question remains: Are there contradictions between what scientific evidence suggests and what Genesis apparently teaches? And if yes, how can we reconcile these discrepancies?

We are slowly approaching the heart of the problem. The Pentateuch is traditionally ascribed to Moses. Jesus, in referring to the Pentateuch, mentions Moses as the author. So the question arises: What did Moses intend to say? How did he want to be understood when he edited or wrote Genesis 1? Answering this question is the opposite of being trivial. For instance, let’s start with the literary features of Genesis 1. Let’s compare the style of Genesis 1 with the remaining chapters of this book. Wouldn’t you agree that there are significant stylistic differences, and these differences are obvious even to those who cannot read it in the original Hebrew? Most of Genesis is a Hebrew narrative. But what about Genesis 1?

Genesis 1 contains elements of historical narrative; it presents God creating the universe as a factual event. But then again we find repetitions all over chapter 1, which are rather atypical for narratives. The repetitions include “God said”, “And it was so”, “God saw”, “and there was evening, and there was morning”… And so the question arises: Doesn’t the first chapter of Genesis sound a bit like poetry? Doesn’t it remind us of a song? In light of these stylistic observations, must we interpret Genesis 1 as historical narrative? Or should be rather see it as an artistic, poetic song about God the creator and his creation? Bruce Waltke, a renowned evangelical OT scholar, points out in his commentary that assigning a literary genre to Genesis 1 is exceedingly difficult.

There are few passages in the Bible besides Genesis 1 that raise so many fundamental questions and controversies. I do not claim to have many answers. But I hope I have been able to demonstrate that Genesis 1 is a difficult chapter, to put it mildly.

In my next installment on Genesis 1, I will describe four different interpretative approaches, and then I will close with a couple of suggestions.


  1. Hi Henoch, this is an interesting article! My issue with science guiding our reading of the Bible  is that it is constantly changing its opinions (and there are many times, especially in archeology where the Bible has corrected “science”)! Archeologists consistantly claimed that King David never existed, until the middle of the 20th century when a discovery was made of an ancient tablet with his name on it. I also  remember in the 90’s hearing so much about  the growing hole in the o-zone layer and how that could spell the end of the world, but I never hear about that now!

    I am not anti-science or anti-intellectual, but people must recognize  there is a limit to what science is able to tell us, and I would not be in the least surprised if 20 years from now science has completely debunked its own theory of evolution. You said in your article, “Analysis of genomic DNA sequences strongly suggests that life did in fact  undergo a development from relatively primitive single cells to more complex life forms.” I am curious about this statement. Certainly we can see single cells developing in to more complex life forms in the development of embryos, but of course that is not evolution…could you explain this a little more to lay folk like me?

    Thanks for this article, we need to think about these things and have an opinion on them, especially in our times! I personally hold strongly to fiat creationism but I know that there are plenty of dear brothers and sisters who believe in theistic evolution, even some good friends, and like I say to them…nobody’s perfect ;-)

    • Thank you, David. Your point with science being evolving is absolutely correct. And at times, scientific discoveries have been more like revolutions rather than slowly evolving constructs… However, it is good to bear in mind that the theory of evolution is not new. It has been more than a 150 years now since Darwin published his work, which is a very long time to critique and deconstruct a scientific theory.

      You asked for evidence for evolution. Well, that is a very difficult thing to do in a nutshell… =) i am more than happy to discuss that, but i guess that space to talk about these issues here, is somewhat limited. (and also, having paper and pencil at hand can help alot to illustrate things).

      I can however refer you to some excellent resources, such as Francis Collin’s book “the language of God”. Collins also gave a very nice talk at the Veritas forum, which has been posted on youtube and can be seen here:

  2. Joshua Brinkerhoff

    Hi Henoch and others,
    I enjoyed your article Henoch. It reminded me of an excellent ministry and resource that I frequently use when I study Genesis, especially chapters 1-11. The ministry is Answers In Genesis–quite ironic, since your posting could be renamed “Questions in Genesis.” I’m not sure if such a link is allowed under ubfriends posting rules, but their website is . I recommend it for those interested in excellent creation science and Bible resources, lectures, videos, multimedia, resources for children, and other things. I’ve used some of the videos that are freely available on the website as jump-off points for discussion in some of our Genesis Bible studies. You may be interested in checking it out!
    God bless!

  3. Henoch, thank you for sharing your valuable insights.

    Like Henoch, I am a scientist. Recently I learned that the foundations of science were laid in the fourth century by a group of Christian theologians known as the Cappadocian Fathers who taught three principles.

    First: Because this world is the handiwork of a benevolent and rational God, it is coherent and understandable. The universe operates in a predictable manner, following laws that may be discovered and tested. God himself is not bound by these laws, but he does not intentionally confuse or deceive.

    Second: Because creation is distinct from God, it possesses a large degree of autonomy. God and Nature are not identical, and not everything that happens in Nature is God’s will. Therefore, accurate knowledge of Nature is gleaned not only by contemplating the attributes of God, but by careful, empirical study of natural phenomena.

    Third: The Incarnation demonstrates that God is willing to use earthly means for human salvation. The Creator became a part of his Creation. He shattered the idea that the material world is unspiritual. By this understanding, Christians came to believe that medicine could be used in a ministry of healing, and that science is not the enemy of faith.

    I  think these principles are biblically sound  and they guide me in my convictions. For example, Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptists is an ardent supporter of YEC. He says that, just as God created Adam and Eve as adults, not babies, he created the world with an apparent age, so that despite all the geological and radiological evidence, the world is only a few thousand years old. I don’t buy that, because it violates the first principle (God does not deceive us). And I do not the  idea that giving up YEC starts us down a slippery slope to liberalism and heresy.

    I agree with Henoch: All truth is God’s truth. I have no problem following evidence wherever it leads, both in my Bible study and in my scientific work.    As David L has said, science is  evolving all the time. And our understanding of Scripture is also changing and should be growing throughout our lives.  There are limits to what science can teach us. And there are limits to what the Scripture alone  intends to teach us. But each one can inform the other, and we can learn a lot by combining them, if we are not afraid to do so.

  4. Hey Henoch,
    This is great!  I can’t wait for the second part.
    I am currently studying for my PhD in cancer biology.  I neither consider myself a “Creationist” nor an “Evolutionist”.  However, I believe in creationism and evolution.
    For the major part of my life I’ve always feared the topic of Creationism/Faith “vs” Evolution/Science.  In every instance I can remember where this topic is discussed, the underlying premise is that they must be mutually exclusive.  For the most part, this has always caused problems for me as I’ve always felt alienated in both the Christian and scientific communities.
    I have concluded that the rift that exists between the communities as well as ideologies is a result of not only a poor understanding of both, but a lack of openness to the opposing view (if it can even be rightly called opposing).
    Science is frequently corrected as research continues just as a child is corrected each time 1 + 2 = 10. However, this does not mean that 1 + 2 cannot equal 3 (or 10?) once it has been definitively shown to the child, just because he erred the times before. It being a theory does not prove it is false. In a similar way, faith in Christ is not an evidence based belief, in the understanding of what a scientist would consider evidence. However, this does not negate the truth of God and his love.
    As a good Christian and a good scientist, it’s simply a matter of education. Not of how much we have but how much we are willing to receive.

  5. Interesting post!
    Joe had an interesting post on this on a separate site:

    On a side note, reading this website is starting to become the proverbial situation where you ask for something to drink and someone complies by opening up a fire hydrant to quench your thirst. :)
    So one suggestion to admin: can we have some more downtime between posts to give slow pokes like me to digest and meditate? ha ha. Like strategically put up posts on a friday afternoon, so I have the whole weekend ahead of me to think? Otherwise, I don’t know how anyone gets any work done during the week and keep up with all the interesting posts! (I’m just joking here…sort of )

    • We have lots of interesting articles in the queue, and we have stepped up the pace of publication to about 3 pieces per week. Good material begets good material. Who needs sleep anyway?

    • 3 pieces per week? O Lord have mercy…

  6. @Joshua: thank you for your comment. i have seen the link before and i had a look at some of their resources. This website has been around for a while and is steadily growing as i can see. I remember writing to John MacArthur’s “Grace to you” ministries because i at times i was struggling a lot with the issue of evolution versus creation during my studies. And i was referred to answers in Genesis. i really admire their efforts and i believe that all is done with best motivation, that is, to defend biblical truth against attacks and adverse world-views. However, as i will point out in the article to come, i do not think that their take of Genesis 1 reflects good and solid exegesis.

    Joshua, i am always delighted to hear from you. i remember our time in Korea at the world mission report in 2006 and your faith and devotion and sincerity deeply impressed me.


    @Joe: as always… i couldn’t have said it any better. The fact that there is order in the universe and that math makes sense and that complex phenomena in the universe can be described with relatively simple mathematical equations: all of this clearly points to the fact that there is a Creator who wants us to explore and understand his creation.

    i should be more thankful for the incredible privilege i have, to do scientific work, to get to know more of the genial creativity of God as revealed in nature and to even be paid for that.


    @Wes: i can absolutely understand you. Many a times, i have not been very honest in following where the evidence points to. For instance, whenever i saw an article with the headline “new evidence for evolution” or something similar, i would just ignore it as i was afraid that the article might say something which jeopardizes my faith in God as creator and what the bible says. i have become much more relaxed about this.

    I remember studying the molecular mechanism of the ATP Synthase for final exam preparations. What i read was absolute ingenuity and i felt overwhelmed by the resourcefulness of God. i have no problems to believe that God used evolutionary processes to accomplish and fulfill and bring forth what he always had in his mastermind.

  7. Henoch and Joe, I do wonder how many ID scientists are allowed to publish articles attacking the theory of evolution  in well known scientific journals? Im sure you guys saw the Ben Stein movie “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” which exposed the extreme prejudice of many in the scientific community against Creationists. You said, Henoch, that you used to be scared to read new articles promulgating advances in evolutionary understanding. But  Im just curious, for every one of those,  how many articles are there  that poke holes in the theory but  are muzzled and buried before they see the light of day? Like I said, I am not a scientist, but I know a monopoly when I see one, and the Theory of Evolution has a monopoly in the scientific world justifiably or not. And even though there has been 150 years to “deconstruct” it, that does not mean that there has been a fair fight. Michael Behe and Phil Johnson however are two examples of men who are trying in ernest to change that though!


      <p>David L, you do know that there are no scientific articles published (at least in prestigious journals) refuting intelligent design, as far as I know.  I do a quick search for “intelligent design” in a well known scientific journal database and it pops up under 130 articles ever published.  A lot of them are also not related to intelligent design itself.  Even Google Scholar pops up only 27,000 hits while p53 (a cancer gene) brings up reaching 800,000 hits.  The far majority of articles published about intelligent design are philosophical in nature.</P><p>The truth is that you can’t actually scientifically study intelligent design apart from philosophy.  Again, this goes into the fact that faith (at least the way I believe it) is not an evidence based belief in the sense of how scientists view evidence.</p><p>That being said, I personally am a proponent of ID because I believe in a Creator God.  However, I do not wholly subscribe to ID as it is known popularly.  Yet at the same time I do believe it is entirely possible as God is Almighty God that he has created the world thusly.  But as far as the scientific observations are, it does not seem to be this way.</P>


    • David, i think you are right in saying that papers, which aim at refuting or attacking evolutionary science will probably have a more difficult time to get published in good journals.

      But as i said, i am aware of the arguments of proponents of creationists and ID scientists and i honestly can say that i spent time to get acquainted with it, mostly because i used to be one of them! Five years ago, i used to be a ‘hardcore creationist’, claiming that God created everything within seven 24-days. i argued with my friends from research about the impossibility of evolution, telling them that the irreducible complexity of all life forms cannot be explained by random mutations and natural selection.

      Again, what changed my mind were the tremendous data sets generated by sequencing the DNA of living organisms. If you look at the sequence data, there are a number of significant problems attached to it that simply do not make ANY sense apart from the theory of evolution (e.g. telomeric sequences in the middle of a human chromosome, the existence of pseudogenes, the remarkable sequence similarities of crucial genes in all organisms, which, after aligning them would form an evolutionary tree etc). I apologize that i won’t go into details here because it’s impossible to explain this understandably in a couple of sentences.

      Richard Dawkins was once asked for one convincing proof for evolution. And he mentioned the DNA evidence and criticized creationists for not listening because they don’t want to listen. Believe me, i do not agree with Dawkins too often, but i have to agree with him on this one, because i, myself, have been like this.

      As a Christian, i have now two choices in light of the sequencing data evidence: either i believe that God created everything as is or i believe that God created by means of evolutionary processes. First one would imply that God is fooling us, similarly to Joe’s argument: why would he create a universe that seems to be old when it is not? why would he create us with genomes that suggest that evolutionary developments took place when they didn’t? I thus feel more comfortable with the 2nd choice.

      Importantly though: these are important issues but not essential issues for our salvation. whereas i clearly state my position and am willing to discuss these with any Christian, i don’t want to give the impression that i would go as far as to make a peripheral issue a central issue and in this way jeopardize the unity of the church. And as you said well: “nobody is perfect.” :)

  8. Thanks for the article Henoch!
    Regarding intelligent design.. Michael Behe was invited by my professor to give a talk on intelligent design to my class (not because my professor is an advocate, but because we were discussing the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial about intelligent design in education, where Behe served as a witness.)  He was a great speaker.. While the majority of the class did not agree with his theories, they agreed that he had excellent rhetoric and respected his commitment to ID.
    One thing I remember that Behe mentioned was that according to a survey of the National Academy of Sciences (leading organization of scientists), approximately 7% or so believe in God.  This is roughly the reverse of the American population, where about 90% of Americans polled express belief in God.
    I like what Dr. Joe wrote about the three principles of the Cappadocian Fathers.. I don’t think science and the Bible are at odds with each other.   I read an article about Richard Dawkins, where he said he’s gotten letters from former Christians who said they used to struggle with their doubts about science and the Bible, and reading his work made them convinced that scientific research disproves the existence of God.   I hope and pray for more Christian scientists, who can make significant contributions to scientific research and are able to be influential in secular and Christian circles..

  9. Great discussion, everyone!

    David L: Yes, I saw Ben Stein’s movie and liked it.  That film was not  an apologetic for ID. It was an  exposé of  bigotry among scientists and  a cry for common sense, openness, and intellectual honesty. These  are in short supply all around, Anti-Christian bigotry is rampant in science and academia; I have witnessed it and experienced it firsthand. But things are not so different in the church. I have seen  Christians of all stripes  stake out positions in science, politics, ministry and Bible study that  are defensive, agenda-driven, narrowminded, bigoted and ideological.  

    I really do believe that we have nothing to lose and much to gain by combining rigorous, honest empirical research with rigorous, honest study of Scripture. The two are not as different as some may think. Over the years, I have come to know many renowned scientists. Most are not Christian, as far as I know. They have genuine love for learning and desire for truth. And they are sometimes driven by ideology, ego, pride, shame, loyalty toward friends and animosity toward enemies. They choose sides, line up behind their favorite authority figures, and so on. The same can be said of every Christian I know. The processes by which scientific communities and faith communities achieve common understanding are similar. Both are messy and very human.   Both are most edifying and effective when people submit and listen to one another,  show kindness and respect, put aside ideology and politics and humbly cooperate to seek the truth.

    I think the battle between creation and evolution is part of a large culture war that has gone on for well over a century in theology, politics and society at large. It is difficult for people to weigh evidence fairly because,  always in the backs of the minds, they are calculating. If they follow a particular line of evidence or logic too far, they might have to  adopt a position  which is at odds with the prevailing culture of their own  group, jeopardizing their personal relationships etc. And because they have unknowingly bought into the prevailing modernistic view of knowledge (fundamentalists  and liberals alike have bought into  this), they do not know how to process uncertainty and ambiguity. They do not understand how it is possible to maintain faith in the midst of ignorance and doubt.

    I was greatly helped by the book  Proper Confidence: Faith, Doubt, and Certainty in Christian Discipleship by Newbiggin. I had to read it a few times to understand it. Newbiggin gets behind the culture wars and asks the basic question of epistemology: How do we know what we know? He argues that the distinction between scientific knowledge and religious knowledge is artificial and unbiblical. Knowledge is a unity. Then he shows that all knowledge is ultimately personal. No one is smart enough to look at all the evidence for or against,  say, intelligent design and draw their own conclusions in a vaccuum. Whatever knowledge is presented to us, the act of receiving it is placing ourselves in a relationship of trust with the ones who present it. The receipt of any knowledge about ultimate truth is a transaction with the personal God who made the world and who incarnated himself into it. This book, and other ones by Newbiggin, have been helping me to sort out difficult questions such as
    * how to reconcile science and faith
    * how to study the Bible and deal with ambiguities such as the ones Henoch has raised
    * how to overcome relationship pressures and think independently while maintaining unity
    * how to be open to learn from all people, and especially from Christians, including those with whom I disagree
    * how to see the work of  the Father, Son  and Holy Spirit happening  in this world all around me

    I sense that there are some who have trouble reading  this article  by Henoch because they feel threatened by it, seeing the potential for disagreement and disunity. Is it better to bury this stuff and go back to the same Genesis 1 questions? The ambiguities that Henoch raises have been known to the Church since the beginning. Church Fathers like Augustine knew all about them. They had different opinions about what Genesis 1 meant, yet they all confessed the same Apostles’ Creed and recognized one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. I can be at one with sincere Christians who believe in YEC and with Francis Collins who believes in evolution. Being one with Christians of different positions  is not dishonesty or compromise. It is an honest recognition of the fact that different opinions are out there, that there are many open questions to which we do not have to pretend we know all the answers, and that Christians have many different reasons for holding the views that they do. But that the grace of Jesus covers all.

    My faith will not crumble if someone shows me that my present ideas about Genesis 1 could be wrong. My faith will not crumble if I learn that my own church is not perfect and has made big mistakes. My faith will not crumble if Christians whom I loved and trusted turn out to be self-centered and hurt me. My faith will not crumble if two passages of Scripture that describe the same event differ in certain details and I do not know how to reconcile those differences. But my faith will definitely crumble if Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead.

    • This is a bit of a non sequitor, but I have a couple of one liners I can’t resist posting:
      We definitely need more Christian scientists, but not necessarily the Mary Baker Eddy kind.
      Whenever someone asks me if Christians should be creationists or evolutionists I always say they should be procreationists in the demographic sense.

  10. Ok, this will be my last post on this thread so that I do not take up too much space. Joe, you said, “My faith will not crumble if two passages of Scripture that describe the same event differ in certain details and I do not know how to reconcile those differences. But my faith will definitely crumble if Jesus Christ did not rise from the dead.” Here is a question for you then: Lets hypothetically say that scientists “discovered” what they claimed to be the bones and tomb of Jesus. They say that there is an inscription inside the tomb that says ‘Here lies Yeshua, Son of David, Messiah, Savior of the world’ and they have conducted carbon dating tests which  determine that  the bones  are from  the first century, they also have nail markings scratched into the wrists and ankles.  The scientists  also say that they are able to extract DNA samples from the bones and they can trace them to another set of bones they found in a tomb nearby that had the inscription, “Here lies Mary, Mother of Yeshua the Savior.” The scientists thus conclude: Jesus did not rise from the dead.

    If this scenario actually happened and the vast majority of scientists in the world concurred with each other that the findings were not a hoax…would your faith crumble? Or would you say, “Let God be True and every scientist a liar!”

    The reason I think that this is relates to our discussion, is because until a couple hundred years ago, no Christian, let alone person,  on earth believed that man evolved from primates. Why is that? For at least 6000 years, people believed that God made man from the dust of  the earth, was man just simply ignorant all of that time about his true origins? And for that matter,  evolutionary scientists believe that Homo Sapiens have existed for WAY longer than 6000 years right? More like a million years or so?  So what  does that do for the geneology and events  of  Genesis? Certainly it must mean that Adam, Seth, Noah, Shem, Abraham…never existed. Now, some might call the fact that the Bible never talks about evolution  an “argument from silence” but I would think that somthing as monumental as people evolving from lower life forms would have come up at some point. (I could imagine, if evolution were true, God saying to his disobedient people, “you live up to your origin, you monkeys!” but he doesnt call people monkeys, he calls them dust, because that is what he made Man from).

    Personally, I am not scared of evolution, just as I am not scared of dracula. The Bible is my paradigm of how I judge reality. Someone might call that an anti-intellectual stance but nothing that “science” ever “finds” will be able to overthrow the everlasting Word that stands forever.

  11. Thanks David, for your excellent questions. i really enjoying reading your posts here, so please don’t feel compelled to stop. Unless, of course, you want to.

    I believe that by far and large science has been a good “companion” of Christianity. I critique the ideologies and the world views of many scientists who are proponents of evolutionary biology (mainly naturalism).

    You proposed a very interesting, provoking thought-experiment. What if scientists presented evidence that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead? John Lennox, in a debate with atheist Michael Shermer was asked, if there was anything that could change his mind and make him not be a Christian anymore. And Lennox replied to this question: “the evidence that Jesus did not rise from the dead.” i think this is a wonderfully honest answer.  If there was irrefutable, undeniable, absolute evidence that Jesus never rose from the dead, then i would be a fool to call myself a Christian. Isn’t this the very point which Paul is making in 1. Corinthians? I believe in the resurrection of Christ because the bible says so. In addition to this, i do believe because there is evidence for the resurrection of Jesus (the empty tomb, the rise of Christianity, the witness of the martyrs, etc. etc)

    Another thought concerning bible and truth… we very often argue by saying: “the bible says so. Therefore it’s true.” Haddon Robinson proposed to argue the other way round when we preach. We should show people that something is true and then tell the people: “you see, it is in the bible because it’s true.”

  12. Ok, Ill go against my word here and post one more time! A big problem that I have is: The theory of  evolution is taught as incontrovertable FACT in schools, starting at about 1st grade. I unquestioningly believed it my entire life until about 7 or 8 years ago. But then I started to think, which is more probable? That Man evolved from monkeys, or that scientists and teachers had ALOT to gain by teaching  evolution (and by “finding” evidence for it)  and ALOT to lose by denying it? Im Not trying to say here that all scientists are dishonest! But I am saying that when your research grant depends on discovering evidence, you are going to “discover” evidence! And when you have been taught something your whole life as Fact, you will (even unconsciously) fit “evidence” into your own worldview. In that way, I am glad that in God’s Providence, he did not have me raised in a Christian family or an Athiest family either, but I was pretty free as far as my parents were concerned to form my own beliefs.

    Now, to answer your point Henoch, you said, “If there was irrefutable, undeniable, absolute evidence that Jesus never rose from the dead, then i would be a fool to call myself a Christian.” Thats the exact thing that LOTS of  people try to prove all the time! Why dont you believe them? I assume for a couple reasons (correct me if Im wrong): 1) You believe that the Bible’s record  is true,  in terms of the sightings of Jesus after the resurrection, the  empty tomb  etc. 2) You believe that the evidence presented to the contrary is not irrefutable.  And until there was absolutely irrefutable evidence you would refuse to concede, right?

    Well, I feel the same way about evolution. Until  there is  irrefutable, undeniable, absolute evidence that Macro-evolution is true, I will believe that it is an invention by an imaginative scientist in the 19th century to explain the origin of species outside of, and in opposition to  the Bible’s record. And even then I will be skeptical because of what I wrote in  the first paragraph! Thanks for putting up with me on this thread!

    • david bychkov

      great point, David! I tried to be away from this discussion as strong YEC (as, possibly, most of churches in CIS), but the point seems to be so reasonable.

    • i have the honor addressing two Davids, here… =)

      @David L: i am not aware of anyone trying to produce “irrefutable, undeniable, absolute evidence that Jesus never rose from the dead” because to the best of my understanding, historical evidences can impossibly fall into that category. (the very reason why i chose such extreme words). I have listened to several debates, where atheists were arguing against the possibility of Jesus’ resurrection. Their arguments cannot hold water and i found the arguments of Christianity to be more persuasive and more plausible. This is the very reason why i try to encourage people to avoid all kinds of “bilnd faith”.

      And yes, some arguments for the resurrection of Christ are derived from the bible. But, there are also extra-biblical evidences, such as the rise of the Christian church, or the martyrdom and witness of the first Christians. In this regard, historical, archeological research has done nothing to undermine my faith. In contrary, they support my faith int he resurrection of Jesus. As mentioned before, i am criticizing the world views and ideologies of many scientists but not science itself.


      @David Bychkov: i respect your position and i believe that it is derived and motivated by a noble desire to defend the truth of God’s word against contradicting world views. However, i do not believe that there is necessarily a contradiction between what the bible says and evolutionary biology.

      Nonetheless, and as i said before, i do not want to make a peripheral issue into a central issue. Being a YEC or a believer in evolution is not decisive for our salvation. But i think that a good and friendly debate of these things could be so helpful. Navigating in these issues with greater care and humility could serve the church well, in my opinion.

      Just to mention one example: i remember a young man coming to bible study and to church for quite some time. All of the sudden, he didn’t come to church anymore. So i asked his former bible teacher what happened. She told me that her bible student believed in evolution. When they were studying Genesis she got angry at him and challenged him to deny his belief in evolution because, according to her, it was not compatible with belief in a creator God. This offended him so much that he left and never came back.

      I am sure that this has not been a single event in our ministries, which is sad.

      The gospel, if rightly presented, will give people a very hard time. I think it is absolutely unnecessary to burden unbelieving people beyond that.

    • david bychkov

      I’m sorry, Henoch, If I’ve sound offensive here. I didn’t want it. Many times my poor English, lack of time and lazyness prevented me from more accurate comments and from more full accounting of my position for discussed topics. And as for this topic   beyond of that I am not really sure how to treat it, so I didn’t want to be engaged in discussion. Alhhouth I really appreciate honesty and any kind of truth – b/c all truth is just God’s truth. Yes sure I’m not afraid of testing my beliefs by facts – b/c the truth which afraid facts is not worthy to be called truth. Hovewer as I’m not scientist and I have no much time to investigate all things – I prefer to keep my Biblical beliefs as it is. And regarding Scriptures, we know that we believe in it just b/c of Holy Spirit convincing and this convincing is enough for us to believe, though eveidences are helpful to. Thank you and I will not rebuke my Bible students b/c of their evalutions beliefs, although will tell them that I not believe in it.

    • I value this discussion immensely because it reveals something very important: Members of our ministry do not all think alike. Over the years, we have intentionally avoided discussing creation and evolution, thinking that  the disputes are divisive and distracting from our main mission and from the main truths taught in Genesis 1. Indeed they are. But complete silence eventually breeds misperception. Here and there, as Henoch has said,  some of our  Bible teachers may have begun to assume that YEC is the only acceptable or faithful  rendering of  Genesis 1, and they may even assume that this is “what UBF teaches.” But that is not the case. I knew the founder of UBF, Dr. Lee, quite well. I cannot remember even a single time when he took a position in favor of YEC. Exactly what he believed, I do not know. The point is that he  never made  it an issue. Ditto for Sarah Barry. I have frequently talked with her about this and all sorts of controversial issues of the Bible. and her present position is that what the Bible teaches about the timing and process of creation is “an open question.” I have no desire to sway people one way or the other, because I do not have a strong position on the matter. It is not a burning issue of my faith, at least not now. But it brings up something else which truly is a burning issue for my faith. That issue is: How do we approach and study the Bible?  What do we mean when we say that the Bible is  authoritative? How can we be faithful to the integrity of the text and, as many have said, “Let the Bible be the Bible”? This is an area of intense interest for me, and I am searching for answers, because this really does impact my faith and practice in ways that the issue of evolution does not.

      Many thanks to Henoch for having the courage to bring this out into the open. He has  revealed that we do not all think alike about Genesis 1, and that this diversity of opinion is perfectly okay. We are, after all, University Bible Fellowship, and that word University means unity-in-diversity. If we  were not willing to tolerate different opinions on nonessentials, then we would have to change our name to Uniformity Bible Fellowship.

    • Thanks, Joe. i didn’t know that both Dr. Lee and Mother Barry had/have such an open-hearted attitude towards differential Genesis 1 interpretations.


      @David: oh, absolutely no need to apologize! No offense taken from what you said. i hope i didn’t sound too strong or offensive. (i have tendencies to get passionate in discussions…) :)

  13. Hi David L,

    I think Henoch gave a great answer to your question. Please do not feel obligated to stop posting comments and questions. That is why we created this website. The articles we post are just conversation starters.

    You posed a hypothetical situation. What would happen if some archeologists “proved” that Jesus never rose. That would be a big deal. Talking about these hypotheticals is always hard because they are, well, so darned hypothetical. My faith is not merely a set of intellectual positions that certain statements are true and others are false. My faith is an ongoing  relationship of trust with persons. I am trusting in  the Father  and his witness through the history of the Jews as recorded in the OT. I am trusting in Jesus and what he said and taught. I am trusting the witness of the Holy Spirit who testified through Jesus’ miracles. I am trusting the apostles who said that they saw the risen Christ and laid down their lives for that belief. I am trusting the witness of countless saints past and present, the evidence of Christ’s work in their lives. And my own personal experiences of God’s work in my life. And then Mr. Archeologist comes along and presents new evidence that Jesus didn’t rise. That would be a big deal. But to weigh his evidence and expert opinion and trust him enough to overturn the trust I have placed in everyone else? That would be a hard sell.

    But, as Henoch said,  the resurrection of Christ is the true cornerstone of our faith, the foundation on which everything rests.

    You said, “nothing that “science” ever “finds” will be able to overthrow the everlasting Word that stands forever.” That’s an honest statement. But I wonder what you mean by Word. Do you mean Jesus? Or the written text of Scripture? The two are not the same, and confounding them can lead to confusion.

    I maintain a high view of Scripture. I believe that it is the divinely inspired, living and authoritative word of God. But I don’t want to rest my faith on a statement about Scripture such as “infallible and inerrant in the original manuscripts.” Statements like that are a modern invention and, in my opinion, a  fundamentalist overreaction to problematic liberal theologies. The Bible testifies to its own authority, but not in those terms. The apostles and early Christians did not rest their faith on statements like that. The early Christians believed the OT as the inspired word of God. But their understanding of Scripture was turned upside down by the resurrection. The resurrection caused them to go back and reinterpret the OT in a radically new light. Their faith was based on the witness of the apostles who saw the risen Christ (1Co 15:1-11). It was based on the work of the Holy Spirit in the church on Pentecost and thereafter (Acts 2). When Jesus ascended to heaven, he did not leave behind a book of writings. He left behind a group of living witnesses who embodied the resurrected Christ in their community. The NT is super important because it is our most direct connection to that apostolic community. But the gospel was the gospel generations  before the books of the OT and NT were compiled and canonized into the present-day Bible.

    Ben Toh has often lamented  that evangelicals seem to believe in Father, Son and Holy Scripture rather than Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I have seen that too. The Bible is really, really important. But it is not the object of our worship nor the  center of our faith. Jesus is the object and center.

    I have often wondered why the ancient creeds of the early church (Apostles’ and Nicene) did not include statements about the Bible as infallible and inerrant. Church Fathers believed in the authority of Scripture. But perhaps because they were still so socially, culturally and historically close to the apostolic witness, they did not think it necessary. Or perhaps they realized that it is really, really hard to put down into words a statement that captures the essence of how God speaks through Scripture. They knew that the Bible is a messy human document, a product of particular people who lived in particular times. But the Spirit of God lives in that document, in much the same way that God incarnated himself into weak human flesh. How does that work? I don’t exactly know.

  14. For those interested in plunging into this issue even further, I suggest the following 2 books (one written by a theist, and the other written by an agnostic/atheist.)
    1) Darwinian Fairytales: Selfish Genes, Errors of Heredity, and Other Fables of Evolution (David Stove)
    2) God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? (John Lennox)
    You might think just by reading the titles of these books, you can guess who wrote which book, but you might find yourself quite surprised…
    Maybe Ben W can post a book review on these books as our official UBFriends book reviewer extraordinaire…

    • Ha!   Thanks John.   I will check them out.

    • Sorry, another interesting book on this issue:
      “Darwin’s Pious Idea: Why the Ultra-Darwinists and Creationists Both Get It Wrong” (Conor Cunningham)
      I’m not necessarily endorsing the ideas of these books, but I think it is worth hearing various perspectives on this issue that help one move beyond the well-worn creationism vs. evolution debate.

  15. It is good to remember that while this discussion may not have soteriological implications (salvation), it certainly does have moral and even Christological implications. I think you really cant pick and choose which parts of macro-evolution you are going to believe or disbelieve.  Although I could be wrong about that. But here are a couple of necessary consequences of belief in macro-evolution:

    1) Macro-Evolution explains the reason why there are different races of people. Thus, some races must have evolved more quickly than others and are more advanced than others. A  friend of mine jokingly said to me  yesterday, “Well, the Dutch are the tallest people in the world! So we must be the most evolved!” He was joking, but I am not,  how can one possibly escape the racist implications of evolution?  To simply claim that God is guiding the process equally does not answer the question scientifically. From an evolutionary standpoint, why are the pygmies of central  Africa so different in almost every way from the Germans of Berlin?

    2) What must be the necessary Christological implications of macro-evolution? Without trying to be too blasphemous here, If man is a glorified Monkey as it were, then what was Jesus Christ? Think of how staggering this view really is! I will try to be careful in my argument here: Hebrews 7:9-10 says about Levi, “One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.” Levi was in the “Loins” of Abraham, who was in the loins of Shem, who was in the loins of Adam, who was in the loins of….a MONKEY! So then, lets turn for a moment from the nature of Christ to his salvific purpose. For whom did Christ come to earth to save? Homo Sapiens only right? Well, if man evolved from primates, I feel bad for the last batch or so of primates who missed the cut off, they must have been pretty close to humanoids by that point!

    There are other points of theological contention that arise, but I have to go to work now, I am a plumber so I will probably get a chance to use my monkey wrench today!

    • Hi David L.

      I think those two are easy to resolve.

      First, the Bible, and especially the NT, upholds the God-given dignity of all people. Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female. People are different, but the Bible ends with all nations worshiping at the throne of the Lamb. A Christian who  believes in  macro-evolution would have to accept what the Bible says about the image of God in all people and the work of Jesus to redeem all nations, otherwise he/she is ignoring the obvious. Whatever you think about macro-evolution, it cannot overturn the plain teachings of the Bible about humankind, and macro-evolution does not place you on an inevitable logical  path to racism.

      Second, Christ came to redeem all of creation (the kosmos, according to John 3:16). The sin of man, who was made to rule the earth, broke mankind and the whole kosmos. Jesus is working to redeem it all, and he does it by saving mankind. Jesus is fully man. Whatever stock we are made of, he is made of the same stock. Hebrews 2 makes that clear. As he saves humankind, he also redeems the kosmos (Ro 8:22).

      You do have a point though. If we dispense with the idea that Adam and Eve were historical figures, that raises lots of difficult issues. That is a question of how to interpret Genesis 2-3. Perhaps Henoch will write about that in the future.

  16. David, you will probably emphatically disagree with what i am saying now: but i think you are proving my point. =)

    Macroevolution provides a rational explanation why from a biological point of view we are not that different from monkeys or from other mammals in general. And though this may sound offensive, it is true. (Again, only from a biological point of view!) This is the reason why we can test HIV vaccines in Rhesus macaques or why mouse models have contributed so much to our understanding of molecular mechanisms of a variety of human diseases.  This is the scientific aspect of macroevolution, which i think is plausible. Evolution becomes very problematic indeed, if you elevate science to a world view and ideology.

    Evolution will never be able to explain, why human beings have worth, dignity and value, which is beyond all biology. By definition it cannot because it is nothing but a scientific model. The theological implications of macroevolution you have been talking about are in my opinion not implications of evolution per se, but of naturalism. It is the world view of naturalism that degrades us and reduces us to nothing but matter. Naturalism would say that we are nothing but advanced monkeys, or to put it even more extremely, a bag of biomolecules, biochemical factories, if you will.

    This kind of world view is in contrast to what the bible teaches. The bible tells us that we have been made in the image of God, which endows us with worth and human rights. This is an area, which biological science will never be able to assess, the dividing line of science and theology or philosophy.

  17. Henoch, is it possible that the reason our structure and DNA are so similar to other mammals is because God created us on the same day? Just as fish are similar to fish and birds similar to birds etc. I personally do not take our similarities to mean that other mammals are our progenitors!

    Also, if evolution is true, then how did sin and death come in to the world? Surely, if Humans existed hundreds of thousands of years ago, than Adam must have been the first? And if that is the case, then literally ALL of Genesis (and Exodus for that matter)  must be thrown out as fable or parable at best, because Adam only lived 930 years, and thus ALL subsequent stories about his children and grandchildren could not have happened…The Bible says that the Israelites were in Egypt for 400 years, not 400,000 years!

    So, if there was not an actual “Adam” or if Adam lived a million years ago, then by necessity there was no “sin in the garden,” no  flood, no tower of babel, no Abraham or Moses, no Exodus, no Judges, no King David……..UNLESS you say that the first human being came into  existance 6-8 thousand years ago. What other possiblility could there be for the historical reliability  of Genesis or the other history books of the Bible?

    • You would actually be extremely surprised by how similar human genes are compared to those of fruitflies, c. elegans (worm), etc.  In fact these animals are used incredibly frequently for modeling and studying our understanding of cancer.  There are some genes that are nearly identical in depending on how important the system is for the function of a lifeform whether it is human or something else.
      That being said, you bring up very important points that every Christian, especially in the context of evolution and creation, must think about.  So the question is not whether which is right or wrong.  But how do we rectify these seeming conflicts.  Because the truth of the matter is that evolution has been thought of very thoroughly through a scientific process.
      This brings to mind different ways of knowing.  Is scientific logic incorrect because sometimes it has been overturned?  No. Just because it was inaccurate a couple times does not mean it is wrong all the time. That’s just bad logic and dishonesty.  And I believe all Christians who believe in evolution, or at least do not dismiss it, are willing to say that while science is a very important way of knowing, it is not the complete way of knowing.  Faith, as the Bible describes, offers another way of knowing that unfortunately scientists dismiss too quickly.  So when we come across situations in which everything doesn’t seem to be as smooth as we’d expect, we need to understand (by faith and science, not necessarily just one or the other, which is the problem that scientists and non-scientists make all the time) how everything fits together.  The foolish thing to do would be to throw out entirely one or the other because we cannot seem to rectify the conflicts.  That’s dishonest, ignorant, blind and bad science (shame on scientists too).  The end should be to seek after the truth, and I believe God will reveal the truth (in his time) to all who seek.
      I think the unfortunate aspect of the talk between evolution and creationism is that those who subscribe to one or the other make bad assumptions about the other without being willing to listen and learn.  There are things that scientists must learn from Christians and there are things that Christians must learn from science.
      On a different note, HPUBF is going to have a talk on this on March 19.  (I don’t know what’s policy is on shameless plugs).  Although the intent is not to debate, but to discuss how one goes about talking about this topic in an honest and coherent manner.

    • David, I don’t follow your logic at all. The Bible is a complex document written by many human authors over a long span of time. It has is not a fragile house of cards that completely falls apart if you acknowledge that a 6,000 year-old earth is problematic. There are many literary genres in the Bible, and each one deserves to be read on its own terms. The interpretation and dating of the early chapters of Genesis   (which could have been based on very ancient sources handed down to Moses and edited by him) is a different question from the interpretation of the accounts of Abraham (which again could be based on ancient sources passed down to Moses and edited by him), and that is a different question from the interpretation of narratives that describe events in Moses’ day. And the  interpretation of Judges, Kings, etc are separate questions. To lump them all together and pretend that they are the same genre, and to  impose the same set of cultural, historical and literary assumptions on them all, doesn’t do justice to the text.

  18. Hi Joe, are you saying that the account of Noah is a different genre than the account of Abraham? Because I really dont see a different genre of Biblical literature there…but it still does not answer my question: Do you believe in a literal  Adam? And if so,  if Adam lived a million years ago, then what of Noah and Abraham and the others? Or is Adam a parable? Is the number of his years on earth that the Bible records the true number or not?  Was  Noah a real person? Did the flood really happen? If so, then when?  The timeline for these things (give or take a few thousand years, but  NOT a few hundred thousand!)  really matters because it determines if they actually happened or not!  Do you believe that Joseph was the Pharoah’s right hand man in 892,000 BC? Of course not! There was no Egyptian kingdom  back then! Therefore, if we take Genesis 5-12 even loosely, giving 5,000 years to each generation, it still would not go all the way back to when evolutionists say the first man lived. Theistic evolutionists must then take Adam and his near descendants as a parable. Could you explain any other way to see it?

    The Theistic Evolutionary folks must answer the question, Was Adam the first human being, and if so, when did he live? If they say, “a million years ago” then, can you not see the implications that that has for the rest of Genesis and the Bible?

  19. I think what Dave is saying is that in order for the Genesis account to make sense, Adam would have to 6,000–8,000 years old.  The earth could be millions of years old, but a literal Adam could not be.

  20. Hi David. I believe the Pentateuch is one edited volume. (The division into five  books came later in history and masks some important common structure.) It was put together by someone — say, Moses. He seems to have had access to sources that were ancient even in his own day. Different parts (Genesis 1, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Babel, Noah, Abraham) might have different ancient sources behind them. But they appear to have been edited and compiled by Moses into a coherent whole with a plan and purpose. So we see common stylistic elements  within and between  the different sections, but also some major differences as well. As Henoch pointed out, assignment of genre can be really hard. My answer to your first question is: I don’t know.

    I have long assumed that the initial chapters of Genesis were intended to depict Adam and Eve as historical figures. Lately I have been reading some Old Testament scholars (e.g., Peter Enns) who claim that the literary  genre of these chapters may not actually be proclaiming the historicity of Adam and Eve. I have not been convinced by them, but I  am willing  to  hear them out. I have met Peter Enns and he’s a committed Christian. I want to respect the faith of committed Christians on all sides. I do realize that non-historicity of Adam and Eve could have many theological ramifications of which I am  only vaguely  aware, and I would not know how to resolve those issues. Are those issues crucial? I do not know. Therefore, with respect to this statement, I confess some ambivalence due to ignorance.

    Of course I do not believe that Joseph was Pharoah’s right-hand man in 892,000 BC. If one chooses to interpret “XXX begat YYY” in a general fashion as “YYY is descended from XXX” there is no logical reason  to require  that each “begat” must designate the same time interval.

    Having said that, I agree with you that Theistic Evolutionists have some theological issues to wrestle with. That’s why I am not  trying to argue in favor of  TE. (I don’t know nearly as much as Henoch  does, nor have I thought about it much.)  The historicity of Adam is a big issue for TE. The origin of death as well. The origin of death is a tough question for everyone on all sides. The animal world is full of cruelty and death. Fangs and claws etc. which God gave animals to use to eat one another. Was that a result of the Fall? Many people assume so. But were animals immortal before the Fall? I don’t see where  Genesis says that. I don’t see where in Genesis the herbivores get retrofitted with carnivorous gear.  I get the sneaking suspicion that the author of Genesis is sometimes looking down from heaven and shaking his head at us, wondering why we  stupid modern people keep trying to  draw out from his  writings all kinds of information that he never intended to convey.

  21. Provocative post, Henoch, and great comments, guys. Thanks. I choose the wrong time to travel, and haven’t been able to comment. I am presently in Singapore, and jet lagging. Here’s my jet-legged contribution, based on what I’ve looked at over the past few years, which I thought helps us to be more broad minded and open and understanding, as we teach Genesis to our skeptical postmodern generation of students. I think these 3 references addresses many of the points brought up:
    1) This 14 page pdf article by Tim Keller is called Creation, Evolution and Christian Lay People.

    2) The first lecture by D.A. Carson, Professor at Trinity, is called The God Who Made Everything.

    3) Mark Driscoll’s 99 page Genesis booklet.

  22. Oh dear… such great articles and so many comments..   :D

    I’ve been busy to catch up with all the articles since the foundation of this side and I’ve not finished yet. ^^;;

    Following the discussion above I can say I’m able to just  lean back, read, think and learn instead of commenting myself because all the thoughts I had regarding ‘creation and evolution/science’ are included and discussed in your great comments. =)
    Honestly, I didn’t spend many thoughts to the interpretation of Genesis because it’s quite difficult for me and there are so many  aspects that have to be considered carefully…

    But I think I’ve already learned pretty much while reading your inputs.
    Not only about the different interpretations and their arguments themselves but also about considerate, open, GOOD  communication (see “What is good communication?”).

    THANK YOU ALL very much ~

  23. Thank you, David L, David B, Joe, Wes, Ben T, Ben W, John, Sua and all others for your interesting posts. I really, really didn’t expect this kind of discussion here.
    Joe is very kind and flattering but not accurate on my knowledge of the implications of theistic evolution (TE). I am aware of the problems that come along with TE but I don’t have solutions to offer for these problems.

    I just would like to address one question here. David raised the question, whether Genesis 1-11 is a different kind of narrative as compared to the story of the patriarchs.
    Bruce Waltke, in the introduction of his Genesis commentary, makes a very interesting observation. When you look at the first eleven chapters you will find two main narratives: the creation narrative and the flood narrative. The narrative structure of these and the parallels between these two are striking.
    A. Creation account, blessing
    B. Sin, fall, nakedness, nakedness covered, curse
    C. Righteous son Abel has no descendants because he was murdered
    D. Descendants of sinful son Cain
    E. Descendants of chosen son Seth
    F. Ten generations to Noah
    G. Brief introduction to Noah

    a. Flood (as opposite to creation), blessing
    b. Noah’s sin, nakedness, nakedness covered, curse
    c. Descendants of Noah’s righteous son Japheth
    d. Descendants of Noah’s sinful son Ham
    e. Descendants of chosen son Shem
    f. Ten generations to Abram
    g. Brief introduction to Abram

    (this is just off the top of my head). This kind of arrangement is not coincidence. What I see here is masterful, highly artistic narrative told by a genius of an author. Now interestingly, this kind of narrative structure can NOT be found in the rest of the book of Genesis. Instead, when the author proceeds to tell us about the patriarchs, he organized the story of Abram, Jacob and Joseph each in concentric circles, every one of them displaying genial symmetry.
    Question: did the author intend to make a purposeful break between the primeval part of Genesis (1-11) and the rest of the book?
    Answer: Absolutely!

    Does this justify a different exegetical approach to these sections of Genesis?


    This was a great read! But I’m still confused as to how full blown Darwinian evolution can be compatible with a belief in God, especially if it states that Darwin’s mechanism of natural selection is the primary process by which life has evolved. How can God bring purpose to what is by definition a totally unguided, purposeless process of random variation? Aren’t theistic evolutionists twisting Darwin’s actual theory to posit a teleological form of evolution? Anyway, thanks for the read!


    • Thank you.  You are raising an excellent question here. Your question is: how can darwinian evolution, which supposes a process of random mutations and selection, account for God fulfilling his purposes and his design in creation?

      i don’t know whether this answer will satisfy you or not, but let me try. I think the main problem here is making evolution a world view instead of letting it be a merely scientific explanation. If you elevate evolution to an ideology and world view you will automatically end up reducing everything to material and naturalistic processes. It is the view of naturalism that cannot be reconciled with belief in God as the Creator, because everything is reduced to the physical world. Interestingly, i think that people on both sides make the mistake of elevating the theory of evolution to a world view: Hardcore atheists like Dawkins, Hitchens and co. do so in their attempt to rule out the necessity of God, and Creationists do the same thing in their attempt to dismiss evolutionary biology as godless ideology.

      To answer your question: i believe that random mutations and God working through these seemingly random processes are not incompatible beliefs at all. Apart from evolution, we hold these kind of beliefs all the time! One of literally innumerable accounts: a German miner was hit by a rock and since then paralyzed. If you are a naturalist, you could argue that this is just a tragic co-incidence. And you can find random natural causes why the rock fell down at that particular moment etc.

      This miner ended up being in a wheel chair and was known for his abusive language, for his bitterness and for cursing God. One day, he was wheeled to a bible study group and left there. Through this bible study group he met Christ personally. At the end of his life, he talked to a pastor and gave a remarkable testimony: “I believe the rock falling on my bag and paralyzing me was God’s act of love. I would have never met Christ personally if this didn’t happen.”

      Does this answer your question?

  25. you made some great points. i think  i was  equating evolution with naturalism, but you cleared it up this issue for me.  thanks henoch!

  26. For your edification…a recent symposium on a relevant topic