Discussions about origins of the universe and life are fairly frequent, and often filled with some very … well, interesting statements.
Consider this one from a professor of Old Testament:
…the Bible teaches us that there was a time when the beast became human and that time was when God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).
So what does Genesis 2:7 say?
Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
I’ll admit to not being a Hebrew expert, though I read Hebrew almost every day (I am in 1 Kings right now). However, I am pretty familiar with the opening chapters of Genesis, and I am pretty sure that Genesis 2:7 says nothing about a beast becoming human, unless the “dust of the ground” is some Hebrew idiom for “beast” (an argument that I have never seen anyone try to make, though perhaps I am looking for it in the wrong place).
Which leads me to wonder, “Why does an Old Testament professor who can read Hebrew far better than I can, and whose Hebrew vocabulary is no doubt far larger than mine, say something like this?”
It cannot be because of rigorous exegesis of the text. The text simply does not say that in any way, shape, or form.
It has to be because of a desire for concordism—that current “science” says something and that must be the controlling factor in exegesis. You see, “concordism” is the idea that the Bible accounts and the prevailing scientific opinion must agree. That idea is severely handicapped on a number of fronts which I will not address here though a new book Coming to Grips with Genesis is a solid contribution to this field.
Dr. Mariottini’s first comment is by a “professional postgraduate biologist” and “a follower of Jesus.” He believes that the conflict is not between the Bible and science but between the Bible and creationism.
Yet this too is a deeply flawed statement, loaded down by the weight of presuppositions that would causes even the stoutest ship to sink. It simply reveals what seems a bit of naiveté about the nature of the “facts” and the issues that are really at stake. It simply cannot bear the weight being attached to it.
I realize that he is making only a brief statement in a comment section. But there is no reason to set the Bible and science at odds with each other, not even in a brief blog comment, and there is no reason to pretend as if creationism is not also science. That is a naked attempt to gain ground by defining creationism out of legitimacy. If one presents evidence from science that supports creationism, it is immediately ruled out as “non-scientific.”
However, it fails to note at the most basic level that creationism is as scientifically valid as evolutionism, which is to say that both involve a boatload of presuppositions that have no observable basis.
The question, at one level, is simply one of rationality—Will we engage in irrational suppositions and arguments in order to defend a view of origins that likely no one would believe were there an option other than believing the Bible as it stands?
Are they truly irrational? Well, I do not use that word here perjoratively. But the word “rational” deals with reason, clarity, and coherence. And simply put, arguments for evolution are certainly not arguments driven by sound reason; they are not clear; they do not cohere. They keep changing (a supposed mark of honesty—which has the disturbing implication of previous inaccuracy which is stunninlgy untroubling to its proponents. In other words they must say, “Yeah, we were wrong last time, but trust us this time. No really, trust us … This time we are for real.”).
These arguments do not correspond to anything reasonable or logical. They do not correspond to anything we see in the current world.
In other words, in an argument that essentially depends on uniformitarianism—that things have always been the same (in opposition to catastrophism—that major cataclysmic events have had major impacts on the universe)—in an argument that depends on uniformitarianism, they must depend on the fact that the universe is not uniformitarian—that things do not happen now like they used to.
This is a point that is given far too little weight by those who subscribe to some form of evolution—whether atheistic or theistic (that God guided the process).
So what must we do?
Well, the big question is this: Why make the Bible say something it doesn’t?
Genesis 2:7 does not say that “beast became human.” It instead communicates a direct act of God by which dust was turned into man. If the evolutionary argument is that a sandbox became a human, we could see some exegetical legitimacy to that based on Genesis 2:7. But “science” doesn’t say that, and therefore, it doesn’t gain any ground in the discussion.
Far better for us to simply believe that man is the direct, special creation of God and is endowed with His image that sets man apart from the rest of creation. Man was not the next step in the evolutionary process, but the crowning pinnacle of God’s glorious creation, made specially to resemble, reflect, and represent God through His image.
So when we say that the Bible teaches something, we need to look at the text to see what it actually says. This is not an argument for naive literalism, but rather to assume that our readers are not naive.