The Bible can't be taken literally

by Matt Slick

Email: I mean no personal hostility in my respectful disagreement with Young Earth Creationism. I recently attended a forum at the school on Intelligent Design. I was skeptical when I went in, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the theory has merit in the realm of logic. What gratified me the most was that the physics professor, himself a devout Christian pointed out the misconceptions about ID. Those misconceptions are that; It is not the same as creationism; It does not go against evolution; and that ID proponents are not trying to just "sneak creationism into public school." I consider myself a truth seeker and I could see why scientific minds would invoke a designer to the complexity of life. Having examined the evidence and thought for myself, I honestly can not swallow "Flood Geology," nor can I accept the age of the Earth at approximately 10k years.

One last note, Christian Apologists always win the Biblical Contradiction argument by challenging skeptics to name a contradiction. Few of them can, because they have never read the Bible, they just heard the rumor. I came across a contradiction right off the bat in Genesis. There is one story of creation, in which God creates Adam and Eve at the same time and one in which he first creates Adam, and after Adam does a few things, he asks God to create Eve for him. I know, the common response is that those are just two different versions of the same event. Fair enough, but if that is the case, than the Bible is not literally true. When it says "this" it does not necessarily literally mean "this."

Christian teachings, of loving our neighbors are wonderful and truly bring many people happiness. I mean no ill, but I respectfully do not agree with all that Christians teach.

Response: Thank you for your e-mail. I have read several books on intelligent design and was very impressed with the logic that was used in them. Intelligent design is not a haphazard construction of hopeful myths. Instead, it is a very well reasoned proposition that uses biological facts analysis on the very nature of information. Of course, its conclusions are that the present evolutionary theory cannot explain certain biological structures nor the development of information. But, that is another topic.

As far as your comments in Genesis go, words mean what they mean in context. This applies to verses as well. Genesis 1, 2, and 3 are not meant to be scientific explanations. They are two accounts of the one creative movement of God. In section (Gen. 1), seven days are described; and then in another, basically, one day is described. This is consistent with the ancient Jewish system of writing where a single event is used to describe the whole. Remember, they didn't have typewriters, word processors, and a stack of paper next to them that enabled them to write large amounts of prose. When they wrote, they had to write efficiently because the supplies were not as prevalent as we are so accustomed to here and now.

Therefore, it would make sense that the second "account" of the creation is not intended to be as literal as the seven-day description; rather, it is a short representation of the preceding information. Please note that Gen. 2:4 says, “This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven.” We see in this verse a description of the summation of the previous information found in Chapter 1. So, we can be confident to know that the writer was fully aware of the previous information and chose to speak of it in a more condensed form in the above verse.

But this does not mean that “the Bible is not literally true.” It is literally true where it is intended to be literally true, figurative where it is intended to be figurative, poetic where is meant to be poetic, etc. Therefore, we must examine the wide diversity of biblical writing using logic, contextual analysis, etc. Do I believe that God created the earth in the order that is described in Chapter 1 of Genesis? Yes, I do.

Now, to the issue of the age of the earth. There is a great deal of discussion and debate about this within the Christian Church. Very godly Christians who are quite knowledgeable reside on both sides of the issue. Personally, I do not believe the earth is millions of years old, but I believe it is older than 10,000 years. When I study this in more depth, I will provide a better answer later. But for now, that's where I stand.


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.