The topic of whether we should take Genesis 1 to be literal or allegorical can be traced back for centuries. Some like to interject that recent scientific discoveries in geology, cosmology, and biology have forced Christians to change their interpretation in order to find harmony with science. But, is this true? Some of the most well-known Rabi’s and church fathers throughout history have written about this allegorical interpretation– namely, 4th century Saint Augustine, 1st century Philo, and 3rd century Origen of Alexandria.
Let’s set aside any other issues with taking Genesis 1 literally that don’t have to deal with scripture itself. There are numerous reasons why we should doubt Genesis 1 is a historical narrative. It’s not that we are reading an allegorical interpretation into the text (via eisegesis), we are reading the text and coming away believing it’s allegorical because that’s the only way it could internally make sense.
First off, let’s look at the internal contradictions of chapter 1 if we take it to be a historical narrative. You have a supposed account of six ’24 hour days’ yet the sun was not created until the 3rd day which would make the first 2 days impossible or, at best, very improbable. Some people at this point would interject that all you need for a day is to have “light” and “darkness” which were made in the first day, but this goes against the very definition of what a day is: “the interval of light between two successive nights; the time between sunrise and sunset” via http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/day. So, these first two days are either impossible or not 24 hour days.