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Genesis is foundational to the Bible (Talk.Origins)

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Response Article
This article (Genesis is foundational to the Bible (Talk.Origins)) is a response to a rebuttal of a creationist claim published by Talk.Origins Archive under the title Index to Creationist Claims.

Claim CH050:

True science and true religion are founded on Genesis. All Biblical doctrines have their foundations laid there, and the book of Genesis itself is founded on the events of its first chapter.

Source: Morris, Henry M. 1983. Creation is the foundation. Impact 126 (Dec.).

CreationWiki response:

The claim is correct. (Talk.Origins quotes in blue)

1. This claim is an instance of religious bigotry. Lots of religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Druidism, and many more, have no connection with Genesis at all. For a person to say that these are not true religions is
  • a gross insult to the people who practice the religions. Many of these people are highly devout, with a spiritual relationship at least as great as any creationist.
  • a gross insult to God. The person is saying that God's revelation must coincide with his own opinion to be valid, that God cannot reveal Himself differently to different people. Anyone making this claim places themself above God.
  • a disservice to oneself. Bigotry is hateful and will prevent good relationships with good people.

It is not bigotry to claim that the Bible is right.

One is not saying that God's revelation must coincide with one's own opinion, but rather is saying what God Himself has said, when He said "You shall have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3, NIV).

Certainly God can reveal himself in different ways to different people, but this claim deals with one specific mode of revelation: Genesis. It remains the same no matter who reads it. By refuting a claim that is not even made, Talk.Origins is setting up a straw man.

2. If Genesis is so all-important, why do creationists reject serious study of it? Modern (and even not-so-modern) scholarship has revealed much about the authors of Genesis (called J, E, P, and R) and other books of the Old Testament, including their motivations and places in history. For example, the Flood account is an interleaving of two different flood stories by J and P. [Friedman 1987] Creationists studiously avoid any such knowledge. (Creationists are not alone in this; most Christians generally are woefully ignorant of Biblical scholarship.)

This is a blatant misrepresentation of creationists. Not agreeing with the Documentary Hypothesis is not the same as "rejecting serious study" of Genesis. In fact, the claim might be turned around and restated: why do skeptics not give serious consideration to Wiseman's theory of Genesis authorship?

The existence of doublets in the Flood account reveal it cannot be the work of multiple authors but has a poetic framework running throughout, and that a more probable theory is the Tablet Theory or Wiseman Hypothesis suggesting Genesis is a collection of Mesopotamian family tablets combined into a single book by Moses himself.

3. Ideas in other parts of the Bible stand on their own. Creationists themselves frequently quote them out of context. The Old Testament itself refers to documents that no longer exist (the Book of the Wars of the Lord [Numbers 21:14]; the Book of Jasher [Joshua 10:13, 2 Sam. 1:18]; others [1 Kings 11:41, 14:29,19, 16:5, 1 Chron. 29:29, 2 Chron. 20:34, 13:22]. Knowledge of earlier scriptures is helpful but not critical. Jesus sometimes rejected the letter of some Old Testament laws, so the letter of the Old Testament can't be too important, and Jesus exemplified the spirit. The reason creationists find Genesis so important is because they depend on it, not because other parts of the Bible depend on it.
  • Even if it is true that "ideas in other parts of the Bible stand on their own", it does not follow that this applies to all the Bible, so is not a refutation of the claim.
  • The claim that creationists frequently quote out of context is (a) irrelevant, and (b) unsubstantiated. CreationWiki rejects the claim.
  • That the Old Testament refers to other documents that no longer exist is not disputed, but is irrelevant.
  • Jesus rejected the attitude of the religious leaders that saw them more concerned with the letter of the law than the spirit of the law, but Jesus did not actually reject any of the Old Testament law. Talk.Origins provides no substantiation to this claim. In fact Jesus often quoted from the Old Testament in support of what He was saying, indicating how important it was, contrary to Talk.Origins' claim. The same applies to other Bible authors. Exodus 20:9–11, for example, explicitly bases one of the Ten Commandments on the events recorded in Genesis.
4. If you believe God created the earth and heavens, then surely the earth and heavens are God's primary work. Study of the earth and heavens should be foundational. Placing an object such as the Bible before them is idolatry.

The Heavens and the Earth, God's creation, is known as God's General Revelation. His Word, the Bible, is known as His Special Revelation. Both are equally God's work, but His Special Revelation is less open to interpretation and has suffered less corruption than His General Revelation. Therefore His Special Revelation takes precedence over His General Revelation.

5. No accepted science has ever been based on the Bible. That is not for lack of trying. Up to the 19th century, serious scientists tried to accomodate literal readings of the Bible to what they saw in nature. Young-earth creationism failed early on, so scientists tried gap creationism, day-age creationism, and other attempted reconciliations. But purely Bible-based science has always failed. True science is based on reality as expressed in the world. [Young 1988]

Prior to the rise in popularity of uniformitarianism and evolution, most of science was based on the Bible. And, at the time, it was "accepted science". Johannes Kepler is famous for his line that his science was thinking God's thoughts after him.

Young earth creationism didn't fail, it was replaced by the assumption of uniformitarianism.

"Gap creationism", day-age creationism, and other attempted "reconciliations" were attempts to reconcile the Bible with the new uniformitarian paradigm, not with the evidence itself.

Talk Origins' claim that true science is based on reality has the unspoken assumption that reality and the Bible don't agree, but without providing support for that assumption.