Monday, 26 October 2015

Contradictory or complementary? Correcting YEC views on the two creation narratives

The contradictions that emerge as a result of reading Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 as literal sequential accounts of the same creation event are well known both to Biblical scholars and any intellectually honest layperson who is not willing to sacrifice logic to dogma. When you read them literally, they contradict each other in the order and duration of creation, and have completely different views of God role in creation.

Critical to resolving this contradiction is of course recognising that both literal and strong concordist readings of Genesis 1 are untenable, and reading it as a polemic against ANE creation myths which accommodates ANE cosmogeography. Once Genesis 1 is decoupled from the science of how the universe began and the diversity of life appeared, we can interpret the first creation account on its own terms.

Even to the casual reader, Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 differ markedly in style and structure, clues that should be enough to remind the perceptive reader of a genre change. Is Genesis 2 referring to the same events as Genesis 1? Hardly. Just the reference to the creation of male and female humans alone in Genesis 1 should be enough to remind us that even when factoring in genre,  the two chapters are referring to different events. The first refers to the creation of the entire universe, while the second refers to the beginning of covenant history with the creation of the first two people with whom God entered into a covenant relationship. The absence and presence of the covenant name in Genesis 1 and 2, respectively, comports with this argument nicely.

In short:
1. Rejecting a reading of Gen 1 as a literal account of creation in six literal consecutive days and rejecting and attempt to harmonise it with Gen 2 because of the resultant contradictions AND...

 2. Reading Gen 1 as a non-literal account of functional origins and Gen 2 as a sequel describing the creation of two people in a garden - a separate event to Gen 1 
is a coherent reading of the creation narratives.