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Biblical Creation Observations: the Problem of Death, and Is it Poetry?

June 5, 2013

Continuing with Dr. Barrick’s 2013 creation series, some key points and responses to common objections to young earth creationism.  (From Barrick’s lectures #3, “The Problem of Death,” and #4, “Is It Poetry?”)

In reference to the theological issue of death, as in animal and plant death supposedly for millions and billions of years before man, old earth creationists sometimes point to Romans 5 and “reason” that the issue of spiritual death only relates to man’s death: the death of plants and animals is irrelevant.  As one undecided pastor remarked years ago in a conversation about death before Adam, “Ahh, but what kind of death was Paul talking about?”  Another pastor, firmly set in the Old Earth view, somehow thinks that plant and animal death is “normal” and part of the overall creation that God purposed, of course completely unrelated to Genesis 3.

Here we note that, indeed, Romans 5 is talking about spiritual death, in a comparison and contrast between the first and last Adam.  Yet Romans 5 is not the full answer or even a “prooftext” for Old Earth Creation, since of course we look at all of God’s revelation.  Genesis 3 is the first obvious text, and we also note many other OT texts which equate “blessing” with “life” and “curse” with “death.”  Another text to consider is Romans 8:19-22, which clearly links the curse put on the creation, not willingly, and  this curse affecting the creation is clearly linked to man’s sin – and the promise of redemption given both to redeemed sinners, as well as to the creation: the future Resurrection of the Righteous, and the future deliverance for creation itself.

Regarding the common claim that Genesis 1 is just poetry, I often think of a  John MacArthur quote (from the 2009 Shepherd’s Conference), emphasizing that: Genesis 1 is not poetry, and that the person who admits that ‘Genesis 1 purports to be a narrative account, only I do not believe that account’ is a better interpreter of scripture than the one who says ‘I believe Genesis but it’s just poetry.’  Dr. Barrick devotes a full message to this topic, with major responses to the ‘Genesis is poetry’ line.

1)      Genesis 1 lacks  parallelism, a major feature of Hebrew poetry.

2)      The grammar is same as that of the narrative style, not poetry.  Barrick references a study (through ICR.org) in which the scientist worked with a group of statisticians. They tabulated and analyzed all the grammatical features in the original Hebrew, of many passages recognized as narrative (such as 2 Kings 5), as well as passages recognized as poetic, and even passages considered part poetry and part narrative.  No surprise here, but Genesis 1’s grammar came up as on the extreme narrative category.

3)      Genesis 1’s lack of imagery and symbolism.  Compare it to Psalm 104, poetic verses about the creation.  Why would anyone think Genesis 1 is poetry, in comparison to Psalm 104?

4)      Even if an account is poetic, that in no way negates its truthfulness. Or as Barrick described it, “Poetry provides no automatic confirmation of a lack of historical veracity.  The genre style of a text has no connection to its truthfulness or historicity. We have non-true prose: it’s called fiction.  Even in secular literature, who would dismiss the classic poem “Charge of the Light Brigade” as of no value since it’s just poetry?  Looking more closely at biblical texts: compare Judges 4 (narrative account) with Judges 5 (Song of Deborah), and Exodus 14 (Deliverance through the Red Sea) and the song in Exodus 15.  Each of these provides one narrative account followed by a poetic version of the same event.  Psalms 78, 105 and 106 provide additional examples. Do we think these cannot be taken as fact, taken seriously, just because it’s poetry? No way.

  1. Truth2Freedom
    June 5, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Reblogged this on Truth2Freedom's Blog.

  2. June 6, 2013 at 12:22 am

    I thought the lecture on whether it’s poetry was the best of the four lectures!

    • June 6, 2013 at 8:20 am

      Yes, that one was good, included a lot of good information that was new to me!

      • June 7, 2013 at 3:17 am

        Same here.

  3. June 6, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    I am sending you a file I have put together on the theological issue of death slightly related to the issues covered in this post.

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