So The Genesis Question at first came off a little bit contradictory. It also remained contradictory. Ross was stating and seemed to be complaining about how people have now started reading too much science into the Bible. Then, of course, Ross proceeds to read science into the Bible. Such as how are we going to explain how humans lived for hundreds of years? Well, let’s refer to some sort of supernova that exploded in the ancient past introducing radiation into the atmosphere.
To be fair to Mr. Ross, he makes a lot of good points and strong arguments for his views and it challenged my position on evolution a little bit. The footnotes he includes are helpful as well as the appendices in regard to where the scientific method comes from (err…at least the basis of it).
Some of the problems I had reading into it was that he kept reading his theology and theodicy into his scientific arguments for Genesis 1-11 being history. This made me a little bit suspicious. Was he really setting out to be scientific or was he just simply setting out to assert his theological viewpoints in something disguised as science? For starters, he argues how elohim demonstrates that God is a plurality of persons because elohim is the plural of el. This demonstrates that he has obviously studied Hebrew from a biased perspective and might actually turn young earth creationists and atheists/agnostics off to his other Hebrew assertions. Never mind that behemoth is also a plural yet Ross would interpret that as one animal and not think anything about the alleged plurality of that animal.
No person trained in Hebrew apart from one of those pseudo-theological schools teaching evangelical theology would use elohim to prove that God is a plurality. Elohim can either mean “God – singular as in plural intensive like behemoth” or it can mean “gods – plural” but never is elohim a group noun like “people” or “church”. Of course, there are instances where “elohim” speaks as if he was singular person and these instances are way more numerous than the ones where elohim speaks as if he might be a plurality. In other words, Ross’s argument, and the fundamentalist Christians’ argument on elohim is big “Forget about it!”
He also goes into talking about “soulish” animals and how some animals actually don’t have “feelings”. So I guess a bug wouldn’t mind getting smooshed since after all, it has no “feelings”. A lizard doesn’t mind getting eaten by a bird because it has no “feelings”.
Ross uses some of his progressive creationist theology in an attempt to poke holes in the theory of evolution and “prove” the existence of his creator. He confuses the exact atheist position on the theory of evolution with the “religion” of scientism (strict materialistic philosophy and belief that only the material world garners all known truth). An atheist can actually accept intelligent design or creationism without having to appeal to the divine whatsoever. Atheism does not always equal “theory of evolution” or “strict materialist”. Atheist always equals “no god”. As such, Hugh Ross would have to refute the existence of faeries before he uses anti-evolutionism as an argument against atheists. He also further has to argue against Lovelock’s Gaia Hypothesis in order to destroy any attempt of naturalistic origins of life scientific findings.
His arguments against a global flood are quite handy and might actually prove useful in my Hebrew classes for when I propose a local flood interpretation of the Hebrew texts of Genesis 6-9.
Yes, there was some value in reading his book. I don’t agree with every single conclusion he made but I do think that it can be used as a great resource for communicating with young earth creationists and non-Christians as well as even more liberal Christians in discussions as to exactly what Genesis 1-11 teaches. Is it trying to teach history, theology, or both? Can it be reconciled with evolution? Although Ross opposes the theory of evolution, his book can still be used to give a better sense as to whether or not evolution and Biblical faith can be reconciled.
I think his book made Genesis 1-11 a whole lot easier for me to understand however, I think he also comes off a bit liberal (which is something he seemed to not be intending to do). It was self-contradictory and I think he needs to work on expressing a little bit more in a harmonious matter. He makes too many “God of the gaps” arguments for it to actually be classified as 100% scientific which is what he is trying to make it be. His arguments about the flood are in contradiction and opposition to the “out of Africa theory” but because human origins are debated as to where humans came from and some propose Eurasia, this can be dismissed as nothing more than minor criticism.
It is a beneficial book if you always thought Genesis 1-11 was hard to take as history but be a little bit discerning about it because he incorporates a lot of his opinions about what the Bible has to say and what the relationship of science and religion are. One does not necessarily have to agree with every point an author makes in order for it to be a good book and this was probably slightly better than Kenneth Miller’s book I read on the subject of evolution. It is a valuable source for allowing oneself to see Genesis 1-11 as history in spite of the scientific discoveries but some stuff is just a little bit too over the top. I can suggest this book to someone questioning the historicity of Genesis 1-11 with the sole warning that not everything the author has to say are necessarily authoritative and unanimous conclusions amongst Christians. Nor is what he says about evolution, science and religion necessarily genuine and his position on the “soulish” animals is over the top for my standards. Overall though, a good book, just with some really bad and hard to get through theology. Doesn’t necessarily consider other positions in full.