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Genesis must be literal; it is straightforward narrative (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Genesis must be literal; it is straightforward narrative (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CH102.1:

Genesis must be literal; it is straightforward narrative.

Source: Morris, Henry M., 1998. The literal week of creation. Back to Genesis 113a (May).


CreationWiki response: In Talk Origins' source, Morris is not talking about Genesis as a straightforward narrative, but the fact that the days in Genesis 1 are literal Earth days. So Talk.Origins is not even accurately representing their source. Furthermore, this statement of the claim is an over-simplification.

With some minor exceptions, the entire book of Genesis is a straightforward narrative, spanning 2,000-3,500 years. It covers not only creation but also Man's Fall, The Flood, Babel, and the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his children. It does so in a single straightforward narrative that clearly is intended as history. It includes several genealogies; one is seven generations of the line of Cain pointing to the development of nomadic herding, music, and metal working. One is the genealogy from Adam to Noah, complete with ages, and life spans. This genealogy among other things provides an historical connection between Adam and Noah and between Creation and the Flood. The Flood account, besides giving a good description of the ark, reads as though it was taken right from Noah's log book including exactly when some events took place. The genealogies of Noah's sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth after the Flood show their ancestry to all the nations of the world. Shem's genealogy gives a detailed list all the way to Abraham, including ages and life spans, thus providing an historical connection between Abraham and Noah and also to Adam. This provides an historical connection between Abraham and Creation. The rest of Genesis is straightforward narrative of the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his Children.

But it does not end there. Exodus picks up right where Genesis leaves off and continues all the way to Deuteronomy. Joshua then picks up where Deuteronomy leaves off. This pattern continues through Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, and 1 & 2 Kings. This brings the narrative all the way through to the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar which is unquestionably an historical event. Other Old Testament books continue the narrative.

The point is that, since the Bible does give some clearly historical events and it shows a straightforward narrative from Creation to these events, it is clear that Genesis is intended to be an historical account. There is nothing to suggest where the myth ends and the history begins, and that is because it is all intended to be history

(Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. Straightforward narrative does not imply literalness. Aesop's Fables are also straightforward narrative, but they are not literal.

This response is weak in many ways. It is based on an over-simplification of the actual claim. Furthermore, it is obvious that Aesop's Fables are not meant to tell real events. On the other hand, Genesis gives straightforward narrative that give every indication of being historical, while leading to verified historical events with no indication of a break between myth and history. Given the fact that it is based on a misrepresentation of the claim this is actually a Straw Man.

In actuality what literal or a plain reading of the Bible means in cases like this, is we let the Bible dictate how we are to interpret what is put forth in it.

For example we can take Daniel. We read it and we can see that it speaks on seven-headed dragons and all sorts of incredible things. But it also states that these visions are about certain real-world events and kingdoms, a classic example of the Bible literally stating what is seen but then symbolically linking those visions to that of another meaning. Just connect the dots via words and phrases given which identify what is being read.

With Genesis it is only different in that there is no other meaning put forth other than very direct statements about actions God takes to create the, "heavens and the earth."

2. It is far from clear that Genesis is straightforward narrative. Genesis 1 has a formulaic and poetic structure.

Genesis is nothing but a straightforward narrative. Genesis 1 has a unique structure, but it does not conform to the structure of Hebrew poetry and is still straightforward narrative. God did this and that and the evening and the morning were the nth day. It is saying what God did, when God did it and how God did it. If that is not a straightforward narrative, what is? I mean, if I say, "I am going to go to the gas station and get gas," what are you going to think?

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