Consider this argument:
- If Christianity is right, every assertion of rightly interpreted Scripture is true.
- Genesis 1-3 is rightly interpreted literalistically.
- The approximate truth of our best relevant science contradicts the assertions of Genesis 1-3 when these texts are interpreted literalistically.
- Our best relevant science is approximately true.
- So, Christianity is not right.
Liberal Christians reject (1), and often (2) as well. Young Earth Creationists either engage in revisionary science and deny (3), or they simply deny (4).
The right way out of the argument is, of course, to reject (2). But in this post I want to undercut the argument in a very different way. Basically, I will argue against (3) by offering a defense–a logically possible story that is compatible with both our best science and a literalistic reading of Genesis 1-3, without scientific revisionism, scientific irrealism, or invocations of divine or demonic deception.
I am not claiming the story is true. In fact, I think it’s false. It is in tension with the Thomistic view of the soul which I hold (but I think it may be logically compatible with it). As I said, the right way out is to deny (2). My story is inspired by a hypertime story that I heard Hud Hudson give in a talk, but this version doesn’t need any hypertime.
The story is simple. First, everything happens exactly as it is described in Genesis 1-3 interpreted literalistically. Everything, including a light-studded dome (“firmament”), with waters above and below, creation in six days, vegetation without any sun or moon. Eve is literally taken from Adam’s side, and so on. (If we’re going literalistic, let’s go all out!) Then Adam and Eve sin, exactly as described in Genesis 3. All this happens in a universe–Paradise–where all of this is possible by the laws of nature.
God then kicks them out of Paradise. In the process, he destroys their bodies (i.e., he stops sustaining their existence) and puts their souls in stasis. But in Paradise, there was a law of nature that when the forbidden fruit is eaten, a Big Bang will occur (this could also be a miracle), initiating a 14 billion year process leading to some pretty clever apes in a universe better suited to sinners like Adam and Eve. God then takes the matter of two of these clever apes (if animals have souls, he de-souls them first, or perhaps he simply miraculously ensures that these two never get souls) and instills Adam and Eve’s souls in this matter.
And so all the science as to what has happened in the material universe since the Big Bang is right. (Of course, science doesn’t talk about souls.)
A materialist Christian could also run a variant of this story of Adam and Eve being asleep for fourteen billion years, but it would involve some miracles in the physical world and maybe disagreement with science at one point. (Maybe Adam and Eve’s brains are put in the bodies of some apes. Or maybe God is capable of so guiding indeterministic processes that there develop two apes that are just like Adam and Eve, and God can replace them with Adam and Eve.)
Of course, I don’t believe these stories. But they do show that premise (3) of the anti-Christianity argument is false.
(Cross-posted, in slightly earlier form, to my blog.)