I enjoy the openness here regarding varying views on Genesis 1. That is why I am here: to discuss Genesis 1 (and Genesis 2, and a very few other passages throughout the Bible).
I started out in careful study of the Bible in the matter of its supposed material ‘contradictions’. This was by way of a comment made in the late 90’s on a homeschool website discussion forum. Specifically, the comment mentioned ‘The Skeptics Annotated Bible’ website.
I either had never before come across even the very idea of Bible contradictions, or did not recall any specific instance in which such concerns were brought abidingly to my mind. But, I had grown up with a dad whose very conversational life was centered on the Bible, and of which the ever-present undercurrent was Noah’s Flood. And this was no small education for me. So now I came upon this massive collection of supposed Bible ‘contradictions’, complete with a discussion community that was aimed at construing as many passages as logically possible as any one or more of an internal material contradiction, empirical or historical error, or other flaw.
So I immediately understood a most basic principle of truthful witness which that Atheistic website was missing. But I also assumed that simply the information constituting this principle would cause that community to reconsider its hyperskeptic tack. I even suggested to them that, from the standpoint of their atheism, it was unrealistic, and non-objective, for them to treat the Bible as if it had been authored by any kind of God that they cared to imagine for the purpose of ‘debunking’ the Bible-as-authored-by-that-God.
The real-world dynamics of humans as unique individuals in all matters is not to be discounted, I told d them. That, given a set of data in common to multiple persons, those perrsons’ abstract and sensory perceptions comprise respectively unique sets of emphases of that data. Not even a simple set of simple shapes like o<o is going to subjectively ‘strike’ all persons under all circumstances in the same way; Much less is a particular photo of a random person in the newspaper going to ‘look exactly like’ a particular known ‘so-and-so’ to every person’s respective best friend.
So we are not carbon copies of some universal ‘ideal’ or ‘normal’ person. So, I told them, it is only by artifice that two or more persons even CAN bear true witness of the same data by the exact same objective set and sequence of outputs (reports). So it would be ridiculous to initially approach the Bible according to any ‘hermeneutic of suspicion’ of material inconsistencies, as if the Bible ever was intended to be some kind of linguistically a-historical Complete Idiot’s Guide.
But that led to my deep and general concern for such things as linguistics and cognition, philosophy of language, comparative languages, and the philosophy and psychology of human learning (including development of a shared general system of intellectual expression, or ‘language’).
I also have always been a very committed ‘Young Earth’, (that is, ordinary normal day) Creationist.
Even more so, I am NOT anything like the status quo ‘Bible-faithful’ version of a Blank Slate theorist of Human Mind and Learning. By such a theorist I mean someone (anyone) who, for whatever reasons, motives, intuitions, and preferences, tends to conceive of the human ‘mind’ (you know, that thing which God designed to actually think, and learn, and stuff?) as a Blank Slate, and therefore which essentially is strictly distinct from the biological human person (ie. from the body, the kinesthetic sense, hunger, taste, neurology, blood pressure and blood sugar, inter-organ hormones, microbiome, ‘subjective’ memory, emotions, etc.). In other words, this is a person who, though having become a Christian, is less or more given to a ‘Dr. Spock’ discounting and oversimplification of the ‘non-rational’ faculties. These are persons who, by a combination of particular cultural and neurodevelopmental forces, are the more inclined than most to conceive of the ‘mind’ as some kind of ideal Platonic entity that basically functions apart from the ‘subjective’ senses, and thus from which the ‘mind’ ‘learns’ according to some supposedly equally non-material, non-biological thing called the ‘will’. The only thing lacking, then, is fundamentally important information, the right system of esteeming that information, and all this preferably provided in the form of the shared instantiation of a system of intellectual expressions (‘language’). Such persons tend to be those the most distressed when living strictly amongst, and thus generally depending upon, a people whose language they do not yet understand.
Hence, according to the initial ‘scientific facthood’ of a culture hegemonized by such ‘Platonically rational’ notions of ‘the mind’, ‘animals’ either are senseless automatons or are some kind of ‘mindless’, ‘instinct’-driven beings that have no real capacity of any kind of objective observation and estimation. Honey bees’ communication, for instance, ever is admitted to being very complex only AFTER such is established by HUMAN observation and analysis of bee behavior. We now know this about bees, but "we still retain our same (cheap and crude) notions that ‘animals’ lacking even the ability to make tools as such. Thus, for example:
Blockquote “Ants who build complex hives do not actually have any knowledge or appreciation of that complexity, but simply are blindly acting out the building process as the purely impulse-driven creatures that they are. After all, ants do not respond in the mentally and practically universally adaptive way that makes humans human. God simply programmed ants to carry out the process, but he gave humans the capacity to sense and reason. That’s why, compared to humans, ants never really do anything but keep carrying out their clearly very limited range of practical abilities and concerns. They are practically, if not actually, automatons, because their abilities and sensibilities are so limited compared to those of humans. Therefore, we safely may deem Genesis 1 to communicate only to that same Blank Slate way of conceiving of the account’s plainness. After all, is it not the single most foundational account in all of the Canon?”
Yes, it is the most foundational. But as I see it, there is the problem with the Blank Slate conception as to the nature of the account’s plainness, about which I will end this post after presenting the most basic part of my model of the account.
The conception of the ‘plainness’ of the account commonly taken for granted is that of some Platonic pure ‘description’ that is little better than that of a computer program that specifies every last thing it basically means for the computer to carry out. This requires of the reader no ‘subjective’ biological sense of gravity or of kinesthesis; no sense of any biological need or of its routine satisfaction. It requires on the ‘objective’, abstracted, senses of a Platonic kind of creature. This is a creature that needs nothing from any environment, such as air, air pressure, light, or the entire, cosmically local, life-support ecology which is the completed living planet. The account this is ‘plain’ MAINLY or ONLY according to the supposed ‘objective’ power of ‘language’ to ‘describe’, and of such a creature’s ‘objective’ Blank Slate mind to understand the particular ‘pure’ descriptions provided.
This kind of ‘plainness’ discounts any and all God-given natural orientations that the human being has to his God-given everyday sense of his natural ecological-cosmological world. The account is then ever admitted to communicate at that God-given everyday human level only because, and strictly in regard to, whatever of the account that precludes a more arbitrary, and ‘transcendently theological’ Divine obscurantism and non-ecological specialism. Most of the account is normally seen to preclude this. But some ‘Young’ Earth creationists see fit to reject the normal universal ecological reading for the entire first eight verses. This leaves vs. 9-10 with no prior proper normal context. This, in turn, renders the pair of subjects of this pair of verses as either (A) atomistically related to one another, and thus the one of which is a mere surface upon which humans and animals are to stand, walk, and carry on their lives, or (B) renders the planet the analogue of a woman-shaped mannequin that a mad-scientist version of God has nevertheless determined to impregnate.
The deeper flaw in all this is that the account actually fully allows a COMPLETE physics’-first consideration of the account only by a terrestrial-first ‘main thing’. The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing, and this is the most clearly seen in the very and only part of the account that specifies the luminaries.
So the account’s main thing applies as much to the first eight verses as it does to the final six verses. This is because this account is not simply of what God did, but why. It is of the First Wedding—and not as if this was a surprise to either the bride or groom:
The general cosmos and its Special member, Earth;
The general Earth and its Special member, its abiding maximal abundance of liquid water;
The general such water and its Special dynamic, the water cycle (why the Day Two portion of the account does not report that God esteemed the work of that Day to be ‘good’);
The general water cycle and its Special membership, life;
General life and its Special membership; animal life;
Animal life and its Special instantiation, human life;
The man and his…
In other words, by the most plain everyday complete sensibilities both of our natural cosmos and of the two accounts, the 23 verse of the Special account implies that Adam ALREADY KNEW that his wife was to be made from part of himself, as opposed to from either nothing or any other material source. And any sense that these accounts are mere condensations of a larger number of events can only normally suggest that she knew all this in the same way, and personal time frame, that he did. The parathetical central portion of the Special account separates two instances of the report that God took ‘awdam’ and put ‘him’ in the garden.
There is a ton more things in the two accounts that fits this seven-fold reading perfectly. And if there is even one detail, even in the Hebrew, of either account that does not exactly fit this reading, I am unaware of that.
As we have come to have it, Genesis 1, or the Prime General Account, is to be read, not heard. In this form, it is statically complete before us, and so is more native to a completed Still Life painting than to an actual narrative. But, we must actually read it, not take it as a whole prior to reading it. It is a narrative, not a completed painting.
Of course, in many cases, speech’s chronological normality constitutes a constriction of articulation of nuance. This is because, without any ready-made terms that distinguish one nuance of a subject from another of the same subject, the chronological dimension of speech must be heavily used in order to communicate that distinction. But, even in such cases (as is being exemplified, virtually, by this post), the fact of having to so use the chronological dimension of speech shows one of speech’s most powerful factors: the author’s ability to limit the information presented to the receiver at a given time, so that the receiver is effectively commanded to engage particular information in its own globally normal terms. For, with no more information being presented by the author during an author-controlled span of time, the more sure that the receiver is to see to…
…Fully. And Most Normally. Engage. The Information. Thus far presented.