Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Meaning of Creation

I was just rereading Conrad Hyers' book The Meaning of Creation, which is an outstanding treatise on the nature of Genesis 1 and 2 and why modern discrepancies between the creation accounts and science are misguided. He says this about the creation accounts:

Thus, beneath a disarmingly simple surface, the creation texts are a complex interlacing of a number of issues which, if one is willing to take the time to understand them, lead one to appreciate even more the genius of their simplicity. The religious literalist sees the simplicity, and declares this to be the "natural," "clear," "obvious," "matter-of-fact," and even scientific and historical meaning of the texts. The secular literalist sees the simplicity, and declares this to be the primitive gropings of a prescientific era. Little credit is given to the degree of sophistication in such ancient texts or to the knowledgeability of their authors, their capacities for metaphorical and symbolic expression, or their ability to compress issues that could fill libraries (and which subsequently have) into an amazing economy of words. The Bible is credited with stories which, when reduced to their most literal dimensions, are on the level of a child's garden of verses. Instead of the oceanic depths of Genesis, we are shown a small fishpond of space and time: six literal days, a young earth, a small and recent universe, and a reduction of geological ages to the effects of a single flood. It is as if Genesis were a kind of Alice in Wonderland where one is invited to believe at least three impossible things before breakfast!

True indeed. I believe that any person interested in the topic of science and creation ought to read this book.

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