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What if Genesis was a Creation Myth?

Today for April’s Synchroblog several bloggers are posting on the question “What if some or all of the Bible narrative is not necessarily true history, but is myth of one sort or another?” This video post is my contribution. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for a list of other contributors.

Evangelical author Peter Enns has recently suggested we interpret the early parts of Genesis not as literal history but as the unique style of writing of a creation myth. This leaves room for evolution to have taken place.

We often use the word myth in a dismissive way implying that a story is a hoax. But scholars have understood for some time that a creation myth can be allegorical truth. This is an issue of interpretation of the Bible not a question of its reliability.

Where does creation myth become actual history? Genesis 11 perhaps? But what to make of the genealogies that go all the way back to Adam? I don’t know.

I’m a lot less comfortable with the idea that the later Bible stories are mythological. If I came to believe that I might feel more at home in a more liberal church. If we took this idea to its extreme then Jesus death and resurrection would not be historical fact. What would be left of the Christian faith and even the Church?

Doubting the historical accuracy of the Bible could destroy our faith. But for each part of the Bible we do need to understand the style of writing. Is it history, poetry or allegory?

I’ve no problem with the idea that God may have used evolution to create us. I believe that if we interpret the Bible correctly it doesn’t have to be at odds with science.

I wonder what you think of this.

Below is the infographic Is The Theory of Evolution True? courtesy of Visual.ly showing some of the history and current state of the creation-evolution debate.

Further reading on Peter Enns

PDF Summary of Peter Enns’ Inspiration and Incarnation
PDF Summary of Peter Enns’ Evolution of Adam
Peter Enns own blog
Peter Enns at Biologos

Other posts from this month’s synchroblog

April 16, 2013 at 6:00 pm
7 comments »
  • April 17, 2013 at 5:05 pmJeremy Myers

    Nice! Part video, part infograph.

    The video cuts off at 30 seconds though… at least, it did for me.

    I heard this about Peter Enns, but didn’t know what he had said.

  • April 17, 2013 at 5:39 pmLiz

    Thanks for participating. I enjoyed your contribution and the infographic you shared is phenomenal!

    I completely agree with what you said here: “I’ve no problem with the idea that God may have used evolution to create us. I believe that if we interpret the Bible correctly it doesn’t have to be at odds with science.”

  • April 17, 2013 at 5:40 pmLiz

    PS I added my link late. Here is my contribution: Penultimate Truth http://gracerules.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/penultimate-truth/

  • April 17, 2013 at 10:38 pmChris Jefferies

    Hi Dave,

    Snap!

    Good to see another British blogger writing about the implications of seeing the biblical creation accounts as myth. I think you raise some interesting points, particularly that the Bible and science don’t necessarily need to be seen as incompatible.

    Greetings from deepest Cambridgeshire 🙂

    • April 20, 2013 at 10:36 pmDavid Derbyshire

      Hi Chris!

      Yes, Great to see another Brit. It is interesting that we took a similar approach to the Bible being myth and agreed that the creation can be mythological rather than literal history. Perhaps this view is more common this side of the pond?

  • April 19, 2013 at 5:03 amGlenn

    David – This is an amazingly thought-provoking piece, full of solid research. I, too do not believe that science and the Bible need not be at odds in explaining creation. I also believe that neither theologians nor scientists have creation, God, (or the absence of God) nearly as well figured out as they think they do.

    My post somehow didn’t get picked up on the synchroblog site.
    http://www.glennhager.com/2013/04/myths-in-the-bible-so-what/

  • April 20, 2013 at 10:38 pmDavid Derbyshire

    Thanks Glenn, I’m glad you appreciated this post!

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