What is the first belief I let go of?
For me it was a literal interpretation of the first chapter of Genesis. I was taught from an early age that God created the world in six literal days. That god created a literal person named Adam and used him as the father of all humanity. And then how God sent a worldwide flood to destroy mankind only sparing Noah, his family, and the animals aboard the ark.
I was given reading materials from Ken Ham, Henry Morris, and Answers in Genesis. And I would listen to young Earth creationist songs by Buddy Davis a child.
Even my homeschool curriculum (Abeka) had a young earth creationist slant. And I can remember my science book spent a whole chapter debunking the “myth” of evolution. My history books talked at length about the evils of evolution and how evolution has allowed for such evils such as world wars and The Holocaust.
“Satan did not want people worshiping God, so in the late 1800s, Satan hatched the ideas of evolution, socialism, Marxist-socialism, progressive education and modern psychology to counter America’s increased religiosity”America Land I Love – Abeka
“The Abeka science and health program presents the universe as the direct, orderly, law-abiding creation of God and refutes the man-made idea of evolution.”Source – https://www.abeka.com/SubjectDistinctives.aspx
In every context I was in as a child, the belief in young earth creationism (YEC) was taught. In my church I heard how God had created the universe in six days. At home I heard it from my parents any time evolution would be mentioned. They would correct the statement and affirm that God was the creator, and evolution is a falsehood.
“We believe God created the universe in six literal, 24-hour periods. We reject evolution, the Gap Theory, the Day-Age Theory, and Theistic Evolution as unscriptural theories of origin. (Gen. 1–2; Ex. 20:11)”Taken from my childhood church’s statement of faith.
We went to hear Ken Ham speak, and I can remember the whole high school gymnasium packed with people who had come to hear him speak. Heck I’ve also been to the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter.
Even after I graduated high school. I went to a fundamentalist college (Pensacola Christian College) that promoted YEC. And as the infamous Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye debate occurred, I was required to watch at PCC. Of course cheering on Ken Ham as he put that “so called scientist” in his place. So suffice to say I had very little exposure to any contradictory opinions or theories on the origins of the universe.
I’ve had doubts, but I was always able to push that down with easy answers I had memorized. To counter the evidence of transitionary fossils, I was told that they were fakes. And I was given the names of several transitionary fossils that were later disproven after scientific advances. I was told that “no one has been able to witness evolution happening.” Also how no new genetic information had ever been passed on through evolution.
It wasn’t until I left that college and stopped attending a fundamentalist evangelical church that I started to look for answers. I started to look at other ways to interpret the genesis one narrative. At this time is still believed in interpreting the bible in a literal way. So I struggled to fit evolution into my interpretation of scripture.
I had been listening to the Holy Post podcast and came across an interview with John Walton. In the interview he talked at length about the historical context of Genesis and how it would have been read in ancient times. The Holy Post is still evangelical but it was “liberal” according to the views I was taught growing up. They often speak critically on the evangelical Church, trying to find a way for traditional evangelical views to find a place in the modern world. They would also discuss differing interpretations of creation, end times, and the bible. It was a great stepping point for me to rethink my beliefs.
I ended up picking up his book The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate. I had never been given permission before to examine the bible in this way. It discussed the bible heavily using the context of the ancient world and the genre of the different books of the bible. And I really struggled to make it through the book. But it did help raise some great questions for me.
The place I ended up starting was Biologos.com. It allowed me knowledge and information that I had never really ever heard before. I read about the historical context of the book of genesis. And I wanted to look deeper into things. Why did the flood narrative seem to fit other types of mythical texts like the Epic of Gilgamesh? Why does the bible discuss the world as if the sky was a dome? I came to see the views mentioned in genesis clearly don’t match any type of modern scientific understanding of the world.
I found ways to keep my literal interpretation of scripture, and to integrate evolution into it. Moving towards a view of Genesis one that John Walton had laid out in his book. That the genesis story wasn’t a literal creation account, but more of a retelling of the ancient creation myths in a Jewish light. And how it was story of the creation and foundation of their theological beliefs and as a temple consecration text. (Not a literal physical creation). Check out the linked BioLogos article if you want to read more.
My view at the time was that God used evolution as a way to create the world. And that genesis one or two even doesn’t really offer an explanation for the creation of the world. We are left to our own devices to figure out method of creation. And I also came to the view that some portions of scripture need to be looked at critically. Figuring out what the ancient context was and the intended genre of the text.
But I still had so many questions and any minor dent in my scriptural knowledge threatened to bring the whole system of beliefs. I had been told that the bible was the inspired word of god.
The Scriptures claim that God Himself breathed out Scripture (using human instruments, 2 Peter 1:21) and that it can be trusted to be His Word. His wisdom is infinite, and He is all-powerful and holy, so everything He says is trustworthy, accurate, and without error. Since God’s work will image His own nature, the accuracy of Scripture is guaranteed.https://answersingenesis.org/is-the-bible-true/and-god-said/
I was also told that the Bible is without error. And that the bible is 100% trustworthy in any scientific or historic claim it may make. This was re-enforced daily from birth to early 20s for me. I know it was a minor jump in belief for some people, but for me it rocked my world.
“The supposed Bible errors are well known to Bible scholars and have all been addressed and found not to be errors after all. In every case, there is a logical explanation for the supposed error. The Bible is a book we can trust—no, more than that, it is the only book we can fully trust.”https://answersingenesis.org/bible/
I can remember my thoughts as I processed it.