Is Genesis 1–11 Actual History?

Angry Tiger

Three terrible tigers of doubt that threaten our faith

By Brian Thomas, Ph.D

The early chapters of Genesis contradict ancient history as portrayed in public schools, television, and movies. For example, our culture insists humans evolved from ape-like creatures, while Genesis says we were made in God’s image. Culture says the earth formed over eons, but Genesis 1 says it took God just six days. Is it possible to believe both the Bible and evolution’s history? Many try. Some say early Genesis doesn’t convey real events and that God never intended for us to take Genesis 1–11 as history but as poetry. How well does this idea work?

We may think this approach leads to a lovely land of resolution where we can simply label controversial Scriptures “poetic” to avoid their plain meanings. Instead, opening the “Genesis is poetry” gate unleashes three terrible tigers of doubt that threaten our faith.

The first is that if we treat Genesis 1–11 as non-history, then what other passages should be labeled poetic or non-historical? The text of early Genesis doesn’t read or sound like poetry, so this idea comes from outside the Bible. The book of Psalms shows what the Bible’s poetry looks like. Historical psalms like Psalm 78 also show that even poetic passages can convey real history! …

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image credit: Education World