Should i feel an obligation to reinterpret the early portion of Genesis or explain away the plainest reading of it?
If so, is it because i am from the outset committed to Scripture as Gods supremely authoritative word, implicitly trust it as such, and from this basis I ask questions like:
Has God presented this piece of text to me as something *other* than a record of history?
Has God in this passage or in the rest of Scripture provided me with clear reasons why I should *not* accept the plainest, most prima facie reading of it?
Are there significant differences between this text and other biblical historical records that should cause me to conclude that this passage does not accurately and plainly represent real space-time historical events?
--and after asking these kinds of questions, I find real, textual reasons to view this passage differently than recorded history?
Or do i feel this obligation because I am faced with some idea, object, or opinion external to scripture, and I feel in some way obligated to subject and alter the meaning of a passage to the appeasement of this idea/object/opinion? If I do this, haven't i implied that God is obligated to fess up to modern scientific belief?
Consider this*hypothetically,* let's just suppose that in our culture it was the authoritative, scholarly, scientific opinion that the earth in its present form came into being in the span of 6 seconds. Should Christians all start trying to make a case that day in Genesis 1 could be soundly understood to only represent a second? Should we start trying our hardest to explain how "day" probably only means one second?
If we say no, then why should we now, in our present scientific age, feel in anyway way urged to stretch day out as far as it will go?
If we say yes, then how can we ever truly claim that Gods word is authoritative over everything including science, in its methods and conclusions?
I certainly agree we shouldnt commit ourselves to what the text doesn't say. And for that reason we could point out something such as "the earth was without form and void" being an unspecified length of time. But isn't it strange that when that point is made, it's always made to suggest the possibility of extreme lengths of time? --When in truth, if it's the case that we simply dont know how long the earth was "without form and void," then it's equally possible that such a state only lasted 5 minutes.
Why isn't anyone suggesting that? Why isn't anyone using that point to suggest an extremely short amount of time? Well, we might say because we have evidence for great lengths of time such as in geology or paleontology or astronomy---that's exactly my point! At base we are saying that we should alter our understanding of scripture based on what man through his own endeavors has found out for himself as though such an enterprise is equally or more trustworthy and equally or more authoritative than Gods word in itself.
Notice how we sometimes even say that we should be reluctant to commit ourselves to any particular interpretation of Scripture, yet some people are clearly willing to completely commit themselves to certain interpretations of *science,* and then, in turn, to subject Scripture to those interpretations--doesnt that seem backwards? --especially coming from anyone who in the same breath claims to believe that the Bible is the inspired, authoritative revelation from God, Himself?
Don't misunderstand--for all i know, "day" does allow for eons of time. My point is that before we ask that question, there seems to be another question behind it--that is, how does the authority of Scripture relate to the authority of man's rational organization of the world independent of Scripture? Notice, even if someone says that God's word "trumps" science in authority, he/she could still decide that "day" is figurative and means eons for some other reason (not just because some guy in a lab coat says so). But i think that the matter of deciding whether we take God's word or man's rational endeavors as finally and ultimately authoritative is paramount in all issues, but of particular importance in this case.