A Skeptic Asks about The Compositional Approach

I would be interested in your argument to this effect. It’s not the most natural reading in any translation I’ve ever seen. If it’s mistakes in the English translation, it appears to be mistakes in every English translation.

Again, I would like to see your argument for this.

I’ll defer to @jongarvey and @deuteroKJ on this.

I’ve already explained this to you once before: Literal Interpretations and the Genealogical Adam. A Hebrew scholar (@deuteroKJ) added his endorsement. Perhaps engage with it over there.

Tried that at length, but never got any satisfactory arguments. I found your initial post to be irrelevant to a defense of both the consistency of the two stories, or the most natural reading being a genealogical Adam, or the problem being with English translations (plural). Nobody else did much more than tell me I was ignorant or a bad, bad atheist, or similar unhelpful comments.

Perhaps this time it will be better?

Okay, let’s take point at a time.

Do you understand that one?

Yes, but I don’t know that it’s true. I believe the resident Hebrew scholar has disagreed with you on that. Anyway, I don’t see that it’s relevant, whichever the reading.

He agreed it is debatable, and disputed the precise substitution I put forward. The part we both agree on is that that is not a statement about the fixity of the kinds. The phrase “according to their kinds” was misunderstood by YECs as a statement of the fixity of kinds, but that only arises from the old english phrasing.

Do you understand this one?

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I will agree that I don’t know what it means, either in Hebrew or in the KJV, so I don’t know if it was or was not intended, either time, to refer to fixity of kinds. More importantly, whether it was is irrelevant to what we’re talking about here, which is not whether a natural reading of Genesis corresponds to reality so much as whether a natural reading shows the two stories to be mutually inconsistent and whether either or both is compatible with genealogical Adam.

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Yes, but I don’t think it’s true. A natural reading does not imply that the Genesis 2 Adam is anything other than the single male first ancestor of all humanity, or that Genesis 1 and 2 are consistent with each other on the creation of humans. What you see as different stories of two real events I see as different attempts to describe the fiat creation of humans in two independently derived myths. And I think that mine is the more natural reading.

So, we can test this historically. It turns out that many people did not read it this way in the past. Genesis 4 and 6 gives strong hint that there were people outside the Garden. Genesis 1 is clearly using “adam” as a plural noun.

All these things are true, but they aren’t tests unless you claim that the various stories of Genesis must be mutually consistent. The certainly don’t say anything about how people read Genesis 2 in the past. Can you find actual evidence that some historical folks did not consider Genesis 2 Adam the sole male progenitor of the human race?

Maybe that is the key point for you, how you define this.

It seems that there are tensions in the text, but that seems to be intentional. There are several paradoxes throughout Scripture, and also in Genesis. This seems to be part of the point.

Please explain. How do “tensions” differ from contradictions? How is it part of the point? And again, a natural reading impies contradictions.

Tensions make you think, and unsettle simplistic readings. They are not ultimately contradictions, but they force the reader into a more complex engagement with what the text does and does not say, and what it could mean. The fact that there are two accounts, for example, that use different language and different orders is part of that pattern.

What makes you think these “tensions” are on purpose and are not just contradictions? Can one distinguish tensions from contradictions based on the text, or must you just make the assumption that there are no contradictions, only deliberate “tensions”?

I see a pattern of complexity and coherence in Scripture. It seems that early readers (including Jewish) saw these tensions too, and no one was concerned about contradiction, nor did they usually write it all off as figurative. This is one of the appeals of Genesis, in that in invites deeper engagement by leaving open ended questions. It is and was an effective and timeless technique.

As for “contradiction”, I can accept that on face value, taking the english translation, there do appear to be contradictions if we extinguish our imagination. That is exactly how many American YECs read Genesis, and why they find so much conflict. I’m not sure why that should be a considered a sensible way to read it.

A lot of times, YECs saying ridiculous thing is a primary way how skeptics experience Genesis. I’m sympathetic to the confusion that arises. However, just from a basic place of rationality, before science enters the picture, this is not a sensible way to read it. What matters is the original language and the original context, which is often speaking timeless truths to us all. Even as an atheist that should be agreeing with this statement. The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Odyssey, and Shakespeare are also speaking timeless truths to us, but we can only understand these stories if we engage what they actually wrote and why.


For example: The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings

“If we extinguish our imagination” only suggests to me that one must exercise considerable imagination to rationalize away the real contradictions. Also, your mention of “English translation” leaves room for many so far unspecified translation errors that would make everything fine. Perhaps you could start specifying them.

YECs do exercise their imaginations, occasionally to explain away clear differences between Genesis and reality (e.g. the existence of a solid “firmament”), and at other times to resolve internal contradictions (i.e. to put the creation of the animals in Genesis 2 into the past perfect tense). But YECs, as a result, find no conflict, since they have rendered all harmonious.

What did the writers of Genesis actually write that I am not engaging?

I have. In both this thread and others.