Is Genesis an “Etiological Account”? Part 1

Well, BioLogos is taking a new approach in its mission to teach Christians that evolution and millions of years can be mixed with the Bible. In a recent article series called “Confronting Our Fears,” guest author Mike Beidler attempts to show Christians that they should have no fears about losing biblical authority or the gospel, in an effort to help them feel better about accepting evolution and millions of years. Today and tomorrow, I want to show you some of Beidler’s arguments because, even though they aren’t new, Beidler is very honest about the implications of theistic evolution.

Beidler’s view places man’s word in authority over God’s Word—it adds to the decline of biblical authority that is so prevalent in today’s culture. But Beidler’s goal in this particular article, “Losing Biblical Authority,” is to lessen believers’ fears of losing biblical authority if they compromise on the Genesis account of creation.

Now, Beidler openly states that “the ‘literal sense’ of Genesis 1 . . . does in fact rule out cosmological and biological evolution” (I would add geological evolution to that). And he’s right—if we take God at His Word, then evolutionary ideas don’t fit. But Beidler has an argument for this:

But I would also ask the question of whether a “literary sense” of Genesis 1 allows for evolution. . . . I would also argue that a “literal” reading of Genesis 1, framed by our own modern paradigm, is unfaithful to the original intent of the author, and that we should take special care to read Genesis 1 “literarily” through the eyes of the ancient Hebrews, understanding what was (and wasn’t) important to them.

In other words, since taking Genesis at face value means the people at BioLogos would have to reject evolutionary ideas, they’ve just found a new way to read Genesis. And really, reading Genesis “literarily” is not new at all—Bible scholars like John Walton (a professor at Wheaton College in Illinois), who believes that Genesis can be mixed with evolution, have made similar arguments.

You see, theistic evolutionists have to explain away what Genesis says so that their belief in man’s fallible ideas will fit with Scripture. And Beidler does just that—he claims that if we truly understand the culture in which Genesis was written, we’ll see that it’s unreasonable to take Genesis in a straightforward manner.

Sadly, Beidler’s view of Scripture—of Genesis in particular—is low. And even though he attempts to find ways around taking God at His Word in Genesis, he believes he is “let[ing] the Bible speak for itself.” But what he’s really doing is forcing a “modern paradigm” onto the Word of God.

And he admits what he’s done—he says that Genesis is an “etiological account,” which is a sophisticated way of saying that Genesis is simply about origins and does not need to be taken literally. So, how does he handle the New Testament references to a literal Adam and Eve? Well, that’s for tomorrow.

By the way—is not God’s Word for all people for all time and will stand forever?

Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. (Psalms 119:89)

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

Ken

Note: I thank Steve Golden for his work in composing this blog.