Thursday, December 15, 2011

Genesis Myth or History?

David Miller Ph.D.

What do we mean by “myth”? German theologian Rudolf Bultmann popularized the notion that the New Testament must be stripped of its mythical elements, specifically, its supernatural features (e.g., Jesus Christ and Mythology, 1958). “Myth,” therefore, in theological circles refers to a traditional, non-literal story in a particular culture that manifests that culture’s world view. The story serves as a vehicle to convey a truth, without necessarily being historically true. The Bible’s depictions of heaven, hell, demons, evil spirits, and Satan are viewed as symbols for deeper meanings rather than being literally existent. Many theologians, and now many Americans, insist that the Bible is a pre-scientific document that is riddled with the errors that accompanied early man’s quest for knowledge.

Along with the onset of modern scientific discovery and understanding has come a widespread tendency to compromise the biblical text of Genesis 1-11. Otherwise conservative thinking Christians have not been immune to this deadly cancer that ultimately undermines the entire Bible and one’s ability to arrive at the truth. In the 1980s, it was discovered that evolution was being taught by two Abilene Christian University professors. One of the biology professors provided his class with a handout that included a photocopy of the first page of Genesis. In the margin he scrawled the words, “Hymn, myth” (Thompson, 1986, p. 16). The university mobilized in an attempt to discredit the charge and sweep it under the proverbial carpet, but the evidence was decisive, as acknowledged even by objective outsiders (see Morris, 1987, 16[5]:4). The fact is that evolution has been taught on other Christian college campuses as well. The lack of outcry testifies to the fact that even Christians and their children have been adversely influenced by secular education.

It is amazing, even shocking, to see the extent to which the authority of the biblical text in general, and the book of Genesis in particular, has been undermined in the minds of the average American, especially in the last half century. In virtually every corner of our country, relaxed and compromised views of the Bible prevail—even among otherwise conservative Americans and those who profess to be Christian. Before leaving office, President Bush (“W”) was interviewed by Cynthia McFadden on ABC’s “Nightline.” When asked if he believed the Bible to be literally true, he responded: “You know. Probably not.… No, I’m not a literalist, but I think you can learn a lot from it, but I do think that the New Testament for example is…has got… You know, the important lesson is ‘God sent a son’” (“Bush Says…,” 2008). When asked about creation and evolution, Bush said:

I think you can have both. I think evolution can—you’re getting me way out of my lane here. I’m just a simple president. But it’s, I think that God created the earth, created the world; I think the creation of the world is so mysterious it requires something as large as an Almighty and I don’t think it’s incompatible with the scientific proof that there is evolution (“Bush Says…”).

Myriad instances could be cited in which Americans manifest the degrading effects of skepticism, atheism, evolution, and liberal theology.

What a far cry from most of America’s history. It is hard to believe that—up until the 1960s—American education was thoroughly saturated with the biblical account of Creation (e.g., New England Primer, 1805, pp. 31-32; Webster’s The Elementary Spelling Book, 1857, p. 29). The book of Genesis was taken as a straight-forward account of the formation of the Universe and the beginning of human history. People took God at His word. Though liberal theology swept through Europe in the late 19th century, which included attacks on the verbal, inerrant inspiration of the Scriptures, and though the Creation account began to be openly challenged at the 1925 Scopes trial in Dayton, Tennessee, still, the majority of Americans continued to accept the biblical account right on up to World War II. Since then, however, sinister forces have been chipping away at belief in the inspiration and integrity of the Bible. They have succeeded in eroding confidence in its trustworthiness and authority.
But there are no excuses. The evidence is available, and it is overwhelming. No one can stand before God at the end of time and justify themselves for their rejection of Genesis as a straightforward record of literal history. Failure to take Genesis at face value can easily result in acceptance of views and/or practices that will jeopardize one’s standing with God.

Source: Apologetics Press  Click to read the full essay. Leave a comment here at Just Genesis.

Related reading:  Getting the Facts about Human OriginsGenesis and Genetics; Jesus Fulfills the Horus Myth


Lon W. said...

There is a very concise video on YouTube that could be an integral element to any "scholarly" discussion of the many different evolutionary "theories" (educated guesses). It is very short in length. "How to disprove atheists in 82 seconds." I hope you do not mind this suggestion on your blog Alice Lindsey.

Wading Across said...

I find it rather interesting that you post the article considering that the author is evidently a YECer!


Alice C. Linsley said...

I fully agree with his conclusion: "Failure to take Genesis at face value can easily result in acceptance of views and/or practices that will jeopardize one’s standing with God."

His idea of "face value" and mine are different, however. He sees a conflict between Genesis 1 and science. I see no such conflict. The conflict arises when we force Genesis 1 into a preconceived dogma. When we understand that this account comes from the ancient Kushites, Abraham's ancestors, we are able to place it in the proper cultural context: originally a Nilotic priestly cosmology.

I doubt that Dr. Miller takes the Genesis 4 and 5 Horite marriage and ascendency pattern at face value. He likely believes that Cain's line died out in a universal flood, ignoring the fact that the Horite ruler-priest lines intermarried exclusively, as is characteristic of castes. If Cain's line ceased to be, why were the Canaanites living in Abraham's time? The Canannites are descendants of Cain and his brother Seth. To ignore this reality is to accept a view that runs counter to the entire theme of Scripture - God's fulfillment of the first promise that the Son of God would come into the world exactly as was promised, miraculously conceived by the Horite "Woman" (not Eve) of the ruler-priest lines to whom the promise was made in Eden (Gen. 3:15). Since all the Apostles agree that belief in the Son of God is absolutely essential for salvation, wouldn't rejection of this "jeopardize one's standing with God"?