Alice C. Linsley
American physicist Stephen M. Barr has written, "There are two fundamentally different battles raging in the current debates about evolution. The first pits nearly the entire scientific community against creationists, who believe that they are upholding the veracity of Scripture by denying that evolution happened at all.
The second battle concerns not the fact of evolution but the standard neo-Darwinian explanation of it, and the issues at stake are primarily philosophical and scientific." (From here.)
In my view, the battle of legitimate science - which must include Biblical Anthropology - is between Biblical literalists and the Biblically illiterate. I have know the wrath of both through the thirty years that I have taught and written about Genesis. I have experienced ad hominen attacks from Biblical literalists and Biblical illiterates. Both groups have made their interpretations into idols and it has been difficult to have reasoned conversations with these people.
Those who do not read the Bible assume it is a compilation of myths, superstitions and religious laws, with little grounding in history. Strangely, they tend to dismiss the Bible more quickly than they would the Quran, the Hindu Shastras and the Buddhist Tipitaka. In fairness, they know as little about these writings as they do about the Bible. These are the secularists of our time who want nothing to do with religion in general and certainly less with Christianity. Their rather selective rejection of Christian religion suggests that it poses the greatest threat to their materialist worldview.
Biblical literalists can be equally defensive. They feel threatened when their assumptions about Genesis are questioned. In my view, their Young-Earth position presents the greatest obstacles to understanding the book. Their false assumptions are, without doubt, the most pervasive cause of confusion. The righteous tone with which they assert their version of Genesis fools many into believing that Young-Earth Creationism is biblical. In fact, their doctrines are quite contrary to what Genesis reveals.
Perusal of their books and websites causes the educated and scientifically-minded to scratch their heads in wonder. The Earth is only 6000 years old? Humans and dinosaurs co-existed? God created the Grand Canyon with the appearance of great age? These far-fetched conclusions contribute to prejudice against a scientific approach to Genesis, making my work as a Biblical Anthropologist more difficult. Many in the scientific and academic communities assume that all Christians think like Young-Earth literalists.
Young-Earth Creationism is declining in popularity among Evangelicals, especially those influenced by the BioLogos crowd. However, Evangelicals and Fundamentalists alike tend to think that evolution is the only alternative to literalism, and that is not true. An anthropological approach to Genesis acknowledges Earth's great age and the milleniums of human existence without accepting the evolution theory of human origins, for which there is no substantial evidence. Biblical Anthropology, as scientific study of the text, requires setting aside both ideological templates in order to determine the meaning in cultural context. This is a labor to which I am fully committed.
In the next essay, I will demonstrate how the following assumptions of Young-Earth Creationism actually contradict Genesis.
Assumption 1: Genesis is history and should be read as a chronological account. (Response is here.)
Assumption 2: The Genesis “begats” list the first people living on Earth. (Response is here.)
Assumption 3: Bishop Ussher's timeline is reliable and can be used to calculate the age of the Earth. (Response is here.)
Assumption 4: All the peoples of the Earth came from Noah’s three sons. (Response is here.)
Assumption 5: Skin color and linguistic diversity are the result of God’s judgment at the Tower of Babel. (Response is here.)