IS THE STORY OF CREATION IN GENESIS A LEGEND?
The opinion of many in modern theological schools, specially among Roman Catholics, is that the story of the Seven Day creation, including the story of Adam and Eve, are a mere religious legend, invented by the Jewish priesthood, based on different sources, in order to put forward a fabula, with their message of a common origin and the birth of sinfulness in humanity, as something spontaneous born from the human heart.
If this is correct, that would not alter the divinely inspiration of the story, neither Genesis or the Bible itself. GOD could indeed use a story, like Jesus used parables, to put across a point.
The Seven-Day creation story, could let us know that GOD is the only source of everything we see in the world and in space, as far as we can see and beyond.
It also would let us know that human life is sacred because it is made in the image of GOD, whatever that may be.
It would let us know that GOD created us good, but that we chose the wrong path, falling in disgrace, what we normally call ‘sinfulness’.
Indeed, GOD ALMIGHTY could do that, and it would be as sacred and word of GOD as if it was literal or not. The message behind the narrative would not change a bit.
This is what most Roman Catholic and many Anglicans and Lutherans theologians, and other evangelicals hold as truth these days.
THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST
Surprisingly enough, also the nature of the incarnation and the sacrifice of JESUS would still hold the equal value ‘fundamentalist’ give it today.
Being man sinful by nature, it needs the example of a perfect life to view as a measuring rule, and an atoning sacrifice for the forgiveness of their sins.
(For those who still hold the death of JESUS as an atoning sacrifice and not an execution, as many modern theologians hold these days).
JESUS would still be the one who provides that. An example of righteous living, and an atoning offering for our sins, so that we may attain forgiveness when we repent.
IF this is truth, this also would not stop being sacred and the infallible Word of GOD, because still holds JESUS as the only source of forgiveness and salvation for all humanity.
Every thing will be the same, except two things.
TWO THINGS THAT WOULD BE DIFFERENT
Even though this would not contradict the sacredness of Scripture, it will affect two points that are crucial in our concept of GOD and the internal testimony of equally valuable Scripture in the New Testament.
OUR CONCEPT OF GOD
If sin was a spontaneous manifestation of the human heart, and not the consequence of an inherited distortion of our original nature; the universal spread of it, would mean that GOD created humanity, either faulty, so that everyone failed and continues failing, or simply that HE is the author of evil, making humans susceptible to sin intentionally.
1 - To think that creation is faulty is a human concept that cannot be harmonize with the idea of a perfect deity.
We do not acknowledge the GOD of Genesis to be like the pagan gods, who committed mistakes.
Mistake is an error that comes from an imperfect source who missed the mark. GOD does not commit mistakes, otherwise He would be a very powerful being, but He would not be GOD.
This is impossible.
2 – On the other hand, to think that GOD created evil, by intentionally make us able to fall into error, again and again, without fail or exception, would make GOD a cruel being, so negative, that we could say that the origin of the universe is evil, since death and disgrace, as far as we can calculate, is everywhere in the universe.
GOD would be the sadistic direct author of every thing bad in the universe, let alone the earth, and we would be in the hands of a tyrant.
If this was truth, that will make all humans and angels, even Satan, free from guilt, because we will be simply acting as we were made by our Creator.
AGAINST INTERNAL EVIDENCE
Another problem we encounter with the idea of Creation being a tale, is the contradictory internal testimony of JESUS and the Apostles who professed a literal understanding of the Genesis stories, including the creation narrative.
Lord JESUS Himself seems to have understood the story in a literal manner:
“Haven’t you read, that at the beginning GOD ‘made them male and female?”
By saying ‘Haven’t you read’, Jesus is implying the narrative creation in Genesis, since it is understood it was a well known story they should be aware of.
Even though here JESUS does not get into detail, as to assume a literalistic understanding of the creation story, He definitely admits acceptance of at least the part that says in Genesis 1:27, where it says that GOD created man, male and female.
By saying ‘haven’t you read’, it also implies a common free access and understanding of the narrative, which brings us to a literalistic understanding of Genesis.
Some theologians argue that in this case, JESUS simply used the version known to the Jews, so even knowing that it was just a tale, Jesus used it as He used parables. In this case, going along with the common understanding of Genesis, to make his point across.
However, there is nothing in the narrative of the four gospels to support this idea. This is a modern assumption, never considered before the 19th century, that also does not disprove the possibility that JESUS was also a ‘fundamentalist’.
The apostles of the Lord on the contrary, were very explicit when they quoted parts or events from Genesis, that leaves no doubt that they understood it literally.
About Adam being the first man, Paul spoke like that:
“From one man He made every nation of men”
And Peter also speaks about Noah:
“When once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water”
Or Judas regarding Genesis genealogy:
“It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam”
ACROSS these three passages we can clearly see, beyond any possibility of mistake, that at least the apostles, all of them, took the narratives of the Torah in a literalistic manner, even to small points as numbers, genealogy and events. There is no possibility of ‘figurative’ expression, like modern theologians try to attribute to JESUS.
Unless we have corrupted versions of the NT, which is a different topic altogether, or the apostles were wrong, which by faith we reject as they were sent as witnesses of the truth (John 20:21), there is no doubt that all the apostles, as men of their time and religion, understood and theologized from the Tanakh in a literalistic way, to the iota.
Bible believing Christians understand that the possibility that the creation story could be an ancient Mishna or tradition, or even a tale expressly made by pious Jewish priest, and that that, does not affect the divine inspiration of Scripture.
But also acknowledges that it does affect directly our concept of the divine nature, contradictory to human good reasoning, as well that it is contrary to the internal evidence of the NT, that clearly understands all the narratives of Genesis as literal to the last point.
Our conclusion is that, the idea that the creation story is an invented tale is unsustainable, unless we reject biblical infallibility and inerrancy, leaving Christianity without a sure guidance of truth, except our human opinions. Therefore, we reject this theory as contrary to true Christian doctrine.