People who criticise those who wish to read Genesis 1 and 2 as symbolic/metaphorical constantly imply that they are rejecting what Scripture says. This is an incorrect assertion. Those who wish to read Genesis in this manner are not suggesting that we disregard the first two chapters of the bible -- the point is that we need to interpret it correctly. These interpreters may be wrong about their interpretation -- but it is important to recognise that they are just as concerned to respond to the authority of Scripture as the literal readers are. (In any case, to describe people as literal or metaphorical interpreters is too simplistic). Augustine once pitted the claims of science that there were humans living in the Antipodes against Scripture. He said it was absurd and impossible that this was so because Scripture didn't teach it. Science proved his interpretation of Scripture wrong. Scripture didn't teach what he thought it did. There was nothing wrong with science in this case. There was nothing wrong with Scripture, either. The problem was Augustine and his interpretation. Too many people only see two components in the alleged warfare between science and Scripture:
If you choose to disregard the first two chapters of the bible in Genesis that specifically state that God rested the 7th day of creation and want to interpret it in a way that you see fit by your own reasoning that is your choice.
I cannot in good conscience - in full assurance of God's grace and acknowledgement of His Sovereignty in creation - forgo His stated word in scripture against the claims" of science. We either are or are not his created beings... sorta kinda maybe doesnt work for me.'
- The scientist may interpret the empirical data incorrectly.
- The Bible student may interpret the biblical data incorrectly.
- A naive understanding of science.
- A naive understanding of Scripture.
- the original authorial intent - the purpose of the text.
- the original historical and cultural context -- understanding the text as the original readers would have.
- the genre of the text (poetry? history? narrative? etc?)
Open up at least three commentaries (preferably from different perspectives) and have a look at the sections on authorship, genre, culture, and history of Genesis. Discover that these questions are not as simple as we sometimes try to make them appear to be!
Genesis 1-3 contains incredible truth such as (adapted from Waltke):
- God is the reason and power behind the whole mysterious universe.
- Human society is in a mess because people have left God out of their reckoning.
- God is patient and forgiving, but God is also Judge of all disobedience.
- Fallible human beings can be used to achieve God's purposes.
- Faith means trusting God alone and following God even when doing so seems crazy.
You don't need to read Genesis as science to believe these important truths.