Why do you think that the whole book has to be either literal or figurative? Is it not possible that part of it is literal and another part figurative? More importantly though: non-literal is not really the same as useless, is it?
When I start reading a book, and it opens with scenes of Zeus throwing thunderbolts, I know I'm reading a fiction and I settle in to enjoy it. Later it may talk about Jason assembling his team of Argonauts and I enjoy that fiction as well. Why would any reasonable person stop thinking it was fiction part way through? What are the indicators that the author has switched from writing a fiction to providing a documentary account of things that actually occurred?
Fiction is not 'useless' but it isn't anything on which to base a civilization. The story of the boy who cried wolf is a good lesson to be sure, but I wouldn't establish a society of sheep herders around it, following the tale dogmatically by having every young boy spend his formative years in the hills with sheep.
What makes you think that any part of Genesis is anything other than the imaginations of Bronze Age authors?
I think this is not a consistent analogy – what you are saying is that using figurative language automatically makes the text a fiction. That is obviously not true. :) You see – Genesis makes use of figurative language and is true. Your post does not use figurative language and is not true. So clearly both of these combinations represent valid options... :D :D
First off, what about Genesis is 'true'?
Second, what about my post is 'not true'?
I already said so – you assert that using figurative language automatically makes text a fiction. That is not true. As to Genesis, the whole book is true of course, why even ask a Christian that? :D
Ok, well you started by saying that you didn't refute evolution. Genesis suggests that all speciation occurred at the moment of creation, which directly conflicts with evolution. So which one is it? Do you refute evolution or do you accept that the Genesis account is not true?
I did NOT assert that using figurative language makes a text fiction. 'Zeus throwing lightening bolts' is not a figurative phrase, but it is a fictional one. If I were attempting to convey the magnitude of a storm by saying, "It were as if the almighty Zeus himself were all too real and hurling the lightening down in supernatural rage," then that would be figurative.
Anyway, do you refute evolution or not?
You were making that assertion or why else were you comparing the statement about Zeus and Argonauts with Genesis? You either wanted to make that assertion or else the whole paragraph is actually completely off-topic, isn't it? :D
I do not refute evolution. In fact I rather like it, it has several beautiful uses in computer science, such as evolutionary algorithms and genetic algorithms. Anyway, the theory does not conflict with Genesis. The account in Genesis is not untrue, it only uses figurative language to teach us the truth – the truth that the universe has been created by God, not how precisely it was created.
Ok, so you realize that Genesis doesn't actually describe how the cosmos came to be but you maintain that at the core, the part about a god doing it, is real. How do you feel about the convenants with Noah, Abram/Abraham, and Jacob/Israel? Do you believe there was a world wide flood? Do you believe a god actually spoke to Abram in his dreams? Do you think Jacob physically wrestled a god?
Those are good questions. :) I believe that there was a great flood, that theme seems to occur in several other countries, although the general understanding seems to be that it wasn't really quite as world-wide as one might think. :D ;) As to whether Noah actually existed as a real person I do not know. I do not find it very probable that he would indeed fit all kinds of animals into a single boat, so if there was a man with a really big boat called Noah, which is quite possible, I suppose that at least that piece about all kinds of animals is not meant quite literally. :D There is even that joke – you would probably have heard it before – that dinosaurs became extinct because they did not fit into the Ark. :D
As for Jacob wrestling "a man" I recall that the holy father has recently addressed this fascinating passage of the Scripture in one of his general audiences, offering some intriguing reflections upon this topic. :)
Ok, well it seems then that out of the entire book of Genesis you retain only that a god created everything. I have to ask you then, why do you even think a god exists? I also have to ask, if the covenants between Noah, Abram/Abraham, and Jacob/Israel are not literal then who the hell is Jesus and what law was he sent to uphold?
"Ok, well it seems then that out of the entire book of Genesis you retain only that a god created everything."
Do not let yourself be deceived. :D :D It isn't so. Also, my post didn't even mention Abraham at all so why would you propose that I do not think there is no real covenant between him and God. Also I only expressed uncertainty as to what an extent is the account of the flood to be taken literally. That does not necessarily mean that I think there was no Noah. :D Also, I didn't say anything about Jacob, apart from mentioning that there is an interesting material that you might want to read considering the passage that you referred to. :D Seriously, where did you even come up with all that you've just said? :D
I'm just trying to figure out what the hell you actually believe here. You suggest that you accept the evidence for evolution and acknowledge that Genesis cannot be taken as a literal account of events and now you are suggesting parts of it are fact. What exactly are the 'facts' out of Genesis then? How do you discern the difference between the fantasy parts and the fact parts? How can you possibly feel that any of it is 'fact' when so much of it is obviously preposterous? If I told you that I spent the night wrestling with god and was too strong for him so he had to cast a spell to lock my hip in place, why wouldn't you think I was insane?