Over at Science and the Sacred, N.T. Wright discusses Genesis 1-3, myth, and the American Culture. It is simply worth watching to see Wright’s face as he says “the question of Genesis–history of myth?” (1:15). I could nearly quote the whole 5 minute video, but here is a particularly poignant bit:
When anthropologists talk about myth, what they mean is not ‘an untrue story.’ What they mean is, ‘A story which is full of power for how we understand ourselves individually, for how we understand ourselves as a community, for how we understand what the human project is all about, and some of its paradoxes, tradgedies, and so on.
The mythological element, however, has got misunderstood to be, ‘If it’s myth, therefore it isn’t history’ and vice versa. We need to lighten up about these words, and maybe find some other words.
I am coming to agree more and more with saying we need to find “some other words.” Calling Genesis (particularly 1-11) myth in America is simply an exercise in futility. We are shooting ourselves in the foot if we expect American culture to embrace a myth as a medium for truth.
Additionally, Wright goes on to endorse the the understanding of Genesis 1 articulated by John Walton in his Lost World of Genesis One. The clip is excellent; I commend it to you.