Posted 15 July 2008 - 11:57 PM
I understand and appreciate how hard you're trying here, but my personal problem is really quite simple. I'm a comic book reader, and at least once a week, I open up a comic book, and I enter another world. When I close the comic book, though, it's time for me to get back to the real world. If Genesis 1 through 11 isn't literally true -- no 6-stage creation in the order described, no creation of man straight from the dust, no Adam and Eve being the first parents of all humanity, no undying state prior to human mortality, no global flood, no confusion of languages at Babel, etc., etc. -- then for me, reading Genesis is inevitably going to be like reading a comic book. When I close the book, it's time to get back to the real world.
Back before I understood evolution and was content to remain ignorant, I would tell people, "Unbelievers keep telling Christians to get their noses out of the Bible and into the real world, but for Christians, the world in the Bible is the real world -- the very same world in which you and I live." And you would have a very hard time convincing me that that isn't how the Fathers felt, too, because I've read a great many of their works, and I have a good sense of what they believed about Genesis, and it's much like I would have said before: The Bible says we're all descended from Adam and Eve, and that's what the Fathers (and many Christians today) believe; the Bible says a flood covered the whole world and drowned all the land animals except for a scant few from each species who were safely sequestered on a large boat, and that's what the Fathers (and many Christians today) believe. The problem is, neither thing happened -- at least, it didn't happened the way it's recorded in the Bible.
If there was a first couple, they were more ape than human, or else they were representatives of humanity and not the sole progenitors of humanity. If there was a fall, it must have happened way before man ever hit the scene, because ever since there has been life, there has been death. If there was a flood, it wasn't global, and it sure didn't wipe out humanity save for a mere eight people. Eight members of a species -- and certainly not two, in the animals' cases -- wouldn't have enough genetic diversity among them to keep extinction from eventually occurring.
Like it or not, what we're looking at in Genesis 1 through 11 is a collection of folklore. These stories probably started out polytheistic and were later rewritten into the monotheistic based stories we have today. Or perhaps not -- perhaps these stories developed the other way around. The bottom line is the same: these stories, as written, are not accurate representations of actual events. They may contain truth, but they are not themselves true. And that fact is a very difficult one for me to grasp without feeling horribly resentful toward everyone who's been telling me for a long, long time now that the Bible can be believed and trusted 100%, because it can't, and I think deep down we all know it. So we try to push back and say, "The Church, not the Bible, is infallible," but any honest assessment of what the Church has taught everywhere and in all times is going to including the infallibility of Scripture and the impossibility that God should tell us to believe in anything that is, in fact, untrue. So where does that leave us? I, frankly, have invested a considerable amount of effort into trying to bridge this gap that's opened up underneath me, but every day I'm feeling less and less motivated to bother trying. I just want to be able to grab onto something true with a capital "T" like I once believed I was doing, but all I've got now is a shattered illusion that I've been trying to reassemble for so very, very long, and I'm getting a bit tired of cutting myself as I try to pick up all the shards....