First, on the subject of buying a bible. Which one of the 3,395 versions does a person pick up? This reminds me of a quote from a book my Dad and I really loved while I was growing up called "Touch The Earth". The quote:
So, after some research and reading reviews, I picked up The King James Study Bible: King James Version (KJV), hardcover by Thomas Nelson Inc ISBN-13: 9780785211631. (CHECK.)
"Brother, you say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit. If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it? Why not all agreed, as you can all read the Book?" (Red Jacket)
Wow. What a mistake!
This version of the bible has about two-thirds more footnotes than actual bible content, and that wouldn't be a bad thing if it wasn't so heavy-handed and overt in trying to hammer home the points in the bible that contradict (and therefore prove wrong) the theory of evolution. Yep, much of the "help" they give you is not about trying to sort out translation issues and context of the age when the book was written, but is instead helping you translate it in a way that makes their case against science. This is turning me off of this book and translation really fast. What translations did they stretch and/or massage (doctor) in the actual text to make their case? I don't trust it.
So, now what? Well, it's not as convenient as having it in paper, but there is biblegateway.com -I think I'm going to start reading it there instead. The upside to reading it this way is that I can look at several different translations side-by-side to help me decide what was meant by a certain part of the text. The downside is the loss of the footnotes that did point out important translational nuances, the context in relation to the time it was written, etc. But I guess I have the rest of the internet for that.
Which brings me to the point of this post. Genesis 1. I already don't quite know what to make of this first story. Apparently god made a dome over the earth with water (on the earth) below it and above it (???). Not to mention the fact a number of lesser scientific issues that the chapter contains: the moon being a "light", there being days and nights before the sun was created, the sun and stars being affixed to the "dome in the sky". Although, writing this, I suppose it could be suggested that the universe and everything we can see beyond it could still be inside the big dome in the sky... But, I've heard that coming up in future stories is the fact that it rains when god opens up the windows of that dome, which wouldn't really work if the dome was so far away... but that's for a future time when I actually read that part I guess.
Anyway, the way I see it, if it's literal it makes no sense given our scientific knowledge of the day, and taken as a parable, well I don't see the point. So, I decided to rely on Google for more info. I chose "genesis 1" as my search terms soas not to inject bias into the search. Results 1-5 were just online versions of the bible.
Result 6 was: http://www.christiananswers.net/bible/gen1.html Which contained the bible text along with the question "Does God expect us to read Genesis 1-11 as a record of authentic historical fact, or is this simply a collection of parable-like stories?" in the margin. The answer in one word is yes, it's meant to be taken literally.
The 7th result was: http://www.asa3.org/ASA/topics/Bible-Science/6-02Watts.html which dives deeply into the text and how exactly it's reasoned out, but comes to the conclusion that no, the text is not meant to be taken literally and that the purpose of this chapter was just to say that the earth was "fine-tuned with human existence in view" (quote from link above).
The 8th result: http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v19/i1/days.asp attempts to answer whether the days described were 24hour days or if they may have been longer. The answer, defended by the Hebrew word chosen for "day" among other contextual clues is that the earth was in fact created in six 24-hour days.
The 9th result is the skeptic's bible, which is hilarious, but not really helpful or authoritative in trying to interpret the story.
And the 10th result was just another site with the text of the bible. So, as it sits now we have no idea if this story is to be taken literally or figuratively, but I'm moving on anyway. Maybe this story will become clearer later on?