Today, the latest edition to this series is from a reader who puts the whole thing very simply:
I believe that the problems you and your readers are "debating" have much more to do with disagreement over mode of inquiry than with any real attempt to answer important questions of our origin, the problem of suffering, our ultimate end, etc. In other words, some of your readers (myself included) take issue with otherwise intelligent people who propagate the acknowledged myths of Christianity because we do not believe that, as Marcus Borg might say, the fact that a particular myth did not take place in history does not make it untrue. We insist that the only proper and intellectually honest answer to the questions religion attempts to answer is simply "I do not know."The believer who believes things to be truth despite their having no basis in empirical truth (i.e., a biblical literalist) renders any honest discussion of religion impossible. The story of creation is a perfect example. Literalists take every word of Genesis as factually true: that God created the entire material universe out of nothing in six earth days and rested on the seventh. It actually never occurs to them that, perhaps, this story was written by men based on oral histories during a time when people believed that the earth was the center of the universe. It also canonizes a belief, at least as I see it, that time and matter cannot be eternal, because before God created the universe out of nothing, then there was no time and no matter before Creation. If that's true, then biblical literacy denies the eternity of God.
In Jewish thought, the question of Creation is an evolving one. Check out this passage on Creation in the Jewish Encyclopedia. It looks at the subject from so many different angles, and in the end the question is still unsolved. It supports the reader's suggestion that we simply do not know. I don't think we can know. This is the only intellectually honest argument; despite centuries of attempts to slice or dice this question in an attempt to answer it, at the end of the day we still don't know. Our freedom to believe as we wish gives us the ability to accept however narrow of view of this subject we want.