Why do fundamentalists need the Creation story to be literally seven 24 hours?
There was no death before Adam and Eve’s first sin. What does that mean? Does that mean no plants died? Yes? No? Okay, plants must have died, because they ate the plants, so decay was part of the Garden of Eden before the Fall. It was just animal life that could not, had not died. Because Adam brought death into the world. So cells matured, aged and died, decayed and became compost and then it started all over again. But only plants? No animals died. Animal cells did not mature, age and die? Why then did plant cells mature, age and die?
Let’s back up a little bit here. Light was created before the sun, moon and stars. For 24 literal hours there was light, but no source for the light to come from. Makes no sense to me.
Why not just believe that these are truth-telling stories, telling spiritual truths, that are not literally, historically true, as we understand historical truth today?
When the Creation story was originally written, it was written in contrast to a similarl story in Babylon (Iraq) of how the gods came into being and how they created the world. In pagan religions the gods are not particularly interested in humans or human welfare. The biblical creation story differs from the Babylonian story in that there is only one God in the Genesis account, One Who is portrayed as purposeful and beneficent, as well as creating humanity in God’s image. So the story taught wonderful truths to the Jewish people in the time of Moses. “See how we are different from the Babylonians? We believe God cares about us, has a purpose for us, and that we are in the image of God.” The biblical writer took a current iconic story and altered it to teach a powerful spiritual truth. That truth buoyed up and supported the Israelites for thousands of years, and that creation story has outlasted most other creation stories.
Taking a current iconic story and teaching a spiritual truth from it today, would be like us taking the current iconic story of our origins and adding a narrative that teaches a powerful truth: “God patiently waited for millennia until the first humans appeared on the face of the earth, apes whose brains had matured until they could conceive of, and worship their Creator, as well as choose to nurture one another instead of destroy each other. God was thrilled. How long He had waited for these creatures to evolve in His own image. And now it was time for Him to begin His long conversation with humanity…”
If the Creation Story is not literally true, then the human race could have come about some other way than created whole in seven 24 hour days. And that calls into question a host of doctrines we hold very close to our hearts: the superiority of humans, the sanctity of life, humans created in God’s image, humanity as the center of creation, the restoration of the Garden of Eden, eternal life, the holiness of our genetic makeup, the nature of sin, the superiority of males, etc.
Each of these doctrines has to be painstakingly re-examined if one lets go of the seven 24 hour days of creation. Each doctrine has to be examined in the light of what we determine God has revealed to us in Scripture, in Nature, in our intellect and in our hearts. This is hard work, and frightening because we may end up believing things that are not as safe and secure as we originally believed. And we many not be ready for that.