James Jordan, in his book Creation in Six Days, made an interesting observation regarding the way Genesis 1 is read. He noted that liberals and unbelievers have never had a problem seeing that six 24-hour days are intended in the text.
Furthermore, the traditionally orthodox – including conservative Lutherans, Orthodox Jews, conservative Calvinists, and Christians fundamentalists – have never seen the need to read it any other way.
So, as Jordan notes, the historic Church and historic Judaism, conservative Christians, and unbelievers have all agreed on the literal reading of Genesis 1. This leaves only one group to question the literal reading of Genesis 1; only one group that sees the need to challenge 24-hour days – some modern evangelicals.
But, why? Jordan doesn’t get into assigning motives unduly and I have no interest in that either. But, we should want to know why one particular group feels the need to somewhat suddenly question the literal historical reading. Jordan suggests, and I agree, that this cannot be attributed to any other source than the influence of modern science.
Granted, some of the early Church fathers questioned the literal reading for philosophical reasons, but none of them did so because they felt pressured to give in to scientific claims.
Because all articles must end somewhere, I would like to leave it with questions. Are the evangelicals who question the literal reading of Genesis doing so from a proper method of biblical interpretation? In other words, is it safe and wise to attempt a re-reading of the Bible simply because of claims from modern science? When this takes place, what is the real source of authority?
For those interested: Jordan, James. Creation in Six Days. Canon Press: Moscow, ID, 1999.