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Old 09-13-2001, 12:46 PM   #31
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Is it sane to conclude that God created Adam if the bible clearly says that God created Man in his image?

Is it sane to conclude that God created Eve if not even woman was created by God but was in fact taken from man and therefore remains a derivative from man to be the [universal] womb of man?

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Old 09-13-2001, 01:28 PM   #32
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Quote:
Originally posted by JohnClay:

What about in Genesis 7:21-23 where it says that every living thing on the earth died... does that mean the whole world, or just the world as it was known at the time.
So when Habakkuk tells us:

Habakkuk 1:6 I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling places not their own.

we must believe that he was talking about the entire earth? Why is that? Is hyperbole only aloud in modern literature, and we are not permitted to use our own powers of discernment?

How about:

1 Kings 10:24 And the whole earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind.

So every single person showed up at Solomon's doorstep listen to him? Do you honestly believe that the writer of 1 Kings wanted you to think this? (serious question BTW, since I am trying to find out if the sceptics on this thread are being serious here).

Quote:
If it is only the known world, what if Jesus saving the world only meant the area of the world that was known at the time?
No. Again, we are allowed to use our powers of discernment and see that God is talking about the whole world quite literally, when He tells us that He has saved all of us from our sins for His Son’s sake.

Quote:
In Genesis 9:11-15 said that God would never destroy the earth in a flood again. If it was only a local flood, then he has broken his promise since we've had more local floods.
Um... huh? I guess you have never heard of poetry, and how its images can be used to give us a sense of meaning as we seek to understand our relationship to God, and how He makes promises to us.

Quote:
In Genesis 11 it says that the people of the whole world had one language and lived in one place and then almost built a tower that reached the sky and frightened/angered God.
Frightened God?

Can I get a literal verse that says this please? After all, it would be inconsistent to claim Christians are reading into passages things that are not plainly written, then turn around and do the exact same thing.

Where is God afraid?

As for the whole world thing, see my reference to 1 Kings and Habakkuk above.

Quote:
Is that an objective fact? Or is it a parable? - perhaps it means that global cooperation is bad and so is reaching the sky. (I guess God forgot to stop the space program.)
Actually, it is probably a polemic against the arrogance and pride of the Babylonians who are known to have been building ziggurats at this time (c. 1000BC).

As for the story serving as a means of explaining how the world acquired different languages, it strikes me as good poetry. I seriously doubt that the people of that time were excessively concerned with the literalistic (in)sensibilities of some 21st Century Western minds.

Just curious, but do you read everything literally? Do you never use your powers of discernment to actually try to understand the more important message of what is being taught? If you do not, then most of what is written must be a great sea of confusion for you.

Quote:
Well Eve had only existed a short time, and knew of voices in the sky, and that Adam talked, but didn't have the life experience to know that snakes don't usually talk.
How old was Eve at the time of the Fall? Does the Bible say? If so, where?

On a more serious note, I think that Adam and Eve were real people, and the story of the Fall is relayed to us in metaphor and allegory. The Fall is our disobedience to God through sinful pride. We wish to be as God, and thus we learn both evil and shame. Look at Genesis 3:5-6 to see how Satan tempts Adam and Eve (remember, Adam is there too, just being rather cowardly and quiet). They will be like God, and acquire His wisdom and knowledge. That is very tempting indeed, and it is a sin we are all guilty of committing. After all, who never wishes to be his or her own master? Had we never succumbed to that temptation, then we would have never known evil, and we would have no reason to be ashamed of anything. One need not be excessively concerned with how much of the story is literal, and how much is allegory. The message is clear. To be good, we are to obey God, and to fail to obey Him is to fall into sin and evil. Luckily, we are able to feel shame when we do wrong. This is what we call conscience, it through it we can come to repentance, apologizing and making restitution for our sins, both to God and to one another.

Nomad

The one principle of hell is- "I am my own."
George MacDonald


[ September 13, 2001: Message edited by: Nomad ]
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Old 09-13-2001, 01:35 PM   #33
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Nomad - once you allow that some parts of the Bible are hyperbole or metaphor, where do you stop? I think that the character of Jesus in the Gospels is so improbable, so full of contradictions, that he must be as much of a metaphor as the talking snake. What can you say to that?
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Old 09-13-2001, 04:22 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally posted by Toto:

Nomad - once you allow that some parts of the Bible are hyperbole or metaphor, where do you stop?
First, to answer your question:

Augustine wrote in his book On Christian Doctrine: Book III:

CHAP. 10.--HOW WE ARE TO DISCERN WHETHER A PHRASE IS FIGURATIVE.

14. But in addition to the foregoing rule, which guards us against taking a metaphorical form of speech as if it were literal, we must also pay heed to that which tells us not to take a literal form of speech as if it were figurative. In the first place, then, we must show the way to find out whether a phrase is literal or figurative. And the way is certainly as follows: Whatever there is in the word of God that cannot, when taken literally, be referred either to purity of life or soundness of doctrine, you may set down as figurative. Purity of life has reference to the love of God and one's neighbor; soundness of doctrine to the knowledge of God and one's neighbor. Every man, moreover, has hope in his own conscience, so far as he perceives that he has attained to the love and knowledge of God and his neighbor. Now all these matters have been spoken of in the first book.


This strikes me as a good rule to follow. Some may use it and treat far more of the Bible as figurative than I would, and others might do less. But the basic rule of treating those things which are essential for salvation as being literal, and all else may be viewed as figurative seems reasonable.

Thus, the death and Resurrection of our Lord is to be taken literally. It is the foundation of our hope and faith as Christians. The Fall certainly happened as well, or the Atonement would not have been necessary. But as to HOW the Fall happened, this is less critical than understanding that it DID happen. So even if the story of Adam and Eve is figurative, the message remains the same. Man sinned through his pride, and tried to become as God. God then came to us and saved us from our own sin, redeeming us for His own sake. He did this through the cross, and by His own Resurrection from the dead. This part must have actually have happened, or it did not happen at all. The Fall clearly happened, we need only look at ourselves to see that this is true. After all, which one of us is pure and without sin?

Looking again at Augustine, I think he helps explain why so many of us have so much trouble in understanding Scripture. From On Christian Doctrine: Book II:

CHAP. 6.--USE OF THE OBSCURITIES IN SCRIPTURE WHICH ARISE FROM ITS FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE.

7. But hasty and careless readers are led astray by many and manifold obscurities and ambiguities, substituting one meaning for another; and in some places they cannot hit upon even a fair interpretation. Some of the expressions are so obscure as to shroud the meaning in the thickest darkness. And I do not doubt that all this was divinely arranged for the purpose of subduing pride by toil, and of preventing a feeling of satiety in the intellect, which generally holds in small esteem what is discovered without difficulty.


To me, it is self evident that great wisdom comes from hard reading and study, humility, and a willingness to not rely only upon one's own resources, but to draw upon the collective wisdom of those who are greater and wiser than I am. Here Augustine's warning is well made. From On Christian Doctrine: Book 1:

There are some, then, likely to object to this work of mine, because they have failed to understand the rules here laid down. Others, again, will think that I have spent my labor to no purpose, because, though they understand the rules, yet in their attempts to apply them and to interpret Scripture by them, they have failed to clear up the point they wish cleared up; and these, because they have received no assistance from this work themselves, will give it as their opinion that it can be of no use to anybody. There is a third class of objectors who either really do understand Scripture well, or think they do, and who, because they know (or imagine) that they have attained a certain power of interpreting the sacred books without reading any directions of the kind that I propose to lay down here, will cry out that such rules are not necessary for any one, but that everything rightly done towards clearing up the obscurities of Scripture could be better done by the unassisted grace of God.

To those who do not understand what is here set down, my answer is, that I am not to be blamed for their want of understanding. It is just as if they were anxious to see the new or the old moon, or some very obscure star, and I should point it out with my finger: if they had not sight enough to see even my finger, they would surely have no right to fly into a passion with me on that account. As for those who, even though they know and understand my directions, fail to penetrate the meaning of obscure passages in Scripture, they may stand for those who, in the case I have imagined, are just able to see my finger, but cannot see the stars at which it is pointed. And so both these classes had better give up blaming me, and pray instead that God would grant them the sight of their eyes. For though I can move my finger to point out an object, it is out of my power to open men's eyes that they may see either the fact that I am pointing, or the object at which I point.


Now, if I may, why must interpretation always be a black and white all or nothing thing for literalists (both Christian and sceptic)? The Church, following the lead of Augustine and others, has always recognized that parts of the Bible are literal, others are figurative, and much of it is a mix of the two. Do you deny the ability to discern things completely? If so, why?

Finally, will you (or any other sceptic) please answer my questions in this and my previous post?

Nomad

[ September 13, 2001: Message edited by: Nomad ]
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Old 09-13-2001, 06:22 PM   #35
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Nomad:
I've read the NIV notes and it seems reasonable to interpret the Flood as being global - from the perspective of the authors. It says that Peter (in 2 Peter 3:6) assumes that the flood is universal though, but they say that perhaps it meant that it killed all the inhabitants, not necessarily covering the whole earth.
So perhaps the people involved believed that the entire world was flooded, with no dry land. God just let them go along with that belief - although it was mistaken I guess it makes him appear more impressive that way.
In Genesis 6:15 it says that the ark would be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. Two of every animal was collected, and they stayed in the ark for about 11 months and it rained for forty days and forty nights, and all of the people drowned (no-one even made a boat and survived). All the mountains were covered to a depth of more than 20 feet (Genesis 7:20).
So Nomad (and Tercel), is all of this fact? Or perhaps "the basic rule of treating those things which are essential for salvation as being literal, and all else may be viewed as figurative seems reasonable." So salvation is just about a literal fall and redemption, and the details of this aren't crucial to that, so perhaps all the details (the dimension of the boat, etc) are figurative.

"Um... huh? I guess you have never heard of poetry, and how its images can be used to give us a sense of meaning as we seek to understand our relationship to God, and how He makes promises to us."
I think it is pretty plain when for about 5 verses, God says that he wouldn't destroy all life on the face of the earth with water again. So what does that "poetry" mean then? That God will never punish evil again?

"Frightened God?

Can I get a literal verse that says this please? After all, it would be inconsistent to claim Christians are reading into passages things that are not plainly written, then turn around and do the exact same thing.

Where is God afraid?"
Ok, perhaps I mean he feels threatened or is jealous or something.

"Actually, it is probably a polemic against the arrogance and pride of the Babylonians who are known to have been building ziggurats at this time (c. 1000BC)."
Well actually in Genesis 11:4, the people say "let us build ourselves a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."
It is God that says "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them."
So God is the one who proclaimed that nothing would be impossible for them - the people never said that. They did want to make a name for themselves and feel proud, but I don't think that can be interpreted as arrogance. Also, the people did it partly out of fear so they don't get scattered over the face of the earth. (But in verse 9, their nightmare come true)
True arrogance is about not having fear, and since they were partly motivated by fear, this isn't about pure arrogance.

"As for the story serving as a means of explaining how the world acquired different languages, it strikes me as good poetry."
Ok, so it explains something as tangible as the origin of the different languages. If the Bible can't be literally trusted in cases like that, how can it be trusted when it talks about things like "the kingdom of Heaven"? Gnostics/mystics believe that it is just figurative - it is a state of mind - how can you be sure that Heaven is literal?
I guess you only care about eternal bliss in Heaven and not the other Bible stories, so you insist that Heaven is true while not committing yourself to believing that the rest is factual.

"Just curious, but do you read everything literally? Do you never use your powers of discernment to actually try to understand the more important message of what is being taught? If you do not, then most of what is written must be a great sea of confusion for you."
I can see when things are obviously metaphors, but my point is that I don't think these things are obviously metaphors. If they are, how come later in the narrative of Genesis, people say that the stories about Abraham *are* literal? Well I guess it could be possible, but it sure is inconsistent for this to happen within one book of the Bible.

"How old was Eve at the time of the Fall? Does the Bible say? If so, where?"
It doesn't matter how old she was at the time. My points about her naiveness and her exposure to weird things like God's voice could explain why the Bible didn't say that she was surprised by the talking snake.

"The Fall is our disobedience to God through sinful pride."
They just wanted equality (with their "master") and knowledge. So I guess that means that life in the Dark Ages where God ruled, as well as nobles, and people were superstitious is preferable to the present where people have equal rights and value scientific knowledge.

"We wish to be as God, and thus we learn both evil and shame."
It's about equality and knowledge, as I said.

"Look at Genesis 3:5-6 to see how Satan tempts Adam and Eve"
So how do you think it *really* happened? Was there a physical person who tempted them? Or was it just their thoughts that tempted them? Was Satan the source of these evil thoughts? Or perhaps "Satan" is a metaphor for disobedience to God, and he isn't a literal being at all. After all, the existence of Satan isn't really crucial for the fall and redemption stories. (Although Jesus seems to believe in a literal Satan) What do you think?

"To be good, we are to obey God, and to fail to obey Him is to fall into sin and evil."
So it apppears that a literal Satan isn't necessary, just a literal God.

"Thus, the death and Resurrection of our Lord is to be taken literally."
In fact, the salvation message, more generally, is just about surrendering to God. It could be argued that the physical death and ressurection of Jesus is just a *metaphor* for God's love for us. And maybe God is a metaphor for the goodness within the universe, and the message of the bible is that we sometimes turn away from goodness, and we need to come back to it - to be truly good mostly leads to a happy life ("Heaven") and to be truly evil mostly leads to a miserable/unsatisfactory life ("hell").

"But as to HOW the Fall happened, this is less critical than understanding that it DID happen."
In the same way, perhaps HOW God saved us is less critical than the fact that he did save us. Or perhaps it isn't so important HOW goodness has literally acted in the world, but it is more important that concepts like goodness (and evil) do exist.

"He did this through the cross, and by His own Resurrection from the dead. This part must have actually have happened, or it did not happen at all."
Well a lot of people believe that this part *must* be literal, but gnostics might believe that this would be figurative. If you believe in generalized goodness rather than a literal event it is much more universal. Instead of having a religion separating you from many other people, you can just have universal love. BTW, what about universalists(?)/unitarians? They'd believe that it is all just a metaphor. I think Quakers do too. The good thing is that they can appreciate other religions where stronger Christians would think of other religions as being lies. (Well Jesus himself said that there were false teachers who told lies)

"The Fall clearly happened, we need only look at ourselves to see that this is true. After all, which one of us is pure and without sin?"
In fact, many believe that naturally, in a primitive child-like state, we're "perfect", but it's just our upbringing that can make us bad. Also, I don't think there is much evidence to suggest that learnt behaviours (like "sin") are genetically inherited although they could definitely be learnt.
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Old 09-13-2001, 11:40 PM   #36
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JohnClay,

Quote:
What about in Genesis 7:21-23 where it says that every living thing on the earth died... does that mean the whole world, or just the world as it was known at the time.
I suggest you have a read of The Genesis Flood - Why the Bible Says It Must be Local.

Quote:
What about in Genesis 7:21-23 where it says that every living thing on the earth died... does that mean the whole world, or just the world as it was known at the time.
I think it is just a point of view thing. Because our modern technology allows us to see the entire earth at once, whenever we see something saying "the entire earth" we assume that it is literal. Yet this expression is clearly metaphorical to any ancient writer - all they knew of the earth was what was within their own experience. If they write "the entire earth" they are meaning that part of the earth in which they live. The flood narrative is told entirely from Noah's point of view and thus when it says that the flood covered all the mountains and all life was killed, common sense tells us that Noah could see water in every direction and see no living thing. Whether or not the flood was covering all the other mountains on earth and killing all the life in other parts is simply not a part of the story. It is clearly a POV story and should be treated as such.

Quote:
In Genesis 9:11-15 said that God would never destroy the earth in a flood again. If it was only a local flood, then he has broken his promise since we've had more local floods.
But we've had no MAJOR floods. We are probably with Noah talking about the flooding of a good part of a continent, with water rising above the mountains. Even the biggest floods we have covers only a comparatively small area around rivers or the sea and is normally no more than a couple of metres deep at most.

Quote:
In Genesis 6:15 it says that the ark would be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. Two of every animal was collected, and they stayed in the ark for about 11 months and it rained for forty days and forty nights, and all of the people drowned (no-one even made a boat and survived). All the mountains were covered to a depth of more than 20 feet (Genesis 7:20).
So Nomad (and Tercel), is all of this fact?
I think that Noah built a big boat and saved his family and many animals from a large flood because God warned him it was coming. The tale may have grown in the telling, or had additions. I don't know whether the depth of water on the mountains was 20 feet or 100 feet or whether the ark was 450 feet long or 100. My default position is that the measurements given in the bible are probably true, but if you were to prove that the ark really was twice as long then it wouldn't cause me even a second's worry. It doesn't pertain to salvation, and is little more that a question of minimal historical interest, so I don't really care.

Quote:
perhaps all the details (the dimension of the boat, etc) are figurative.
So you think that because it has details it makes it fact?
I thought you didn't believe in the truth of the Bible, yet here you are wanting to take one of the more unproven stories as literal truth, what gives?

Quote:
"The Fall clearly happened, we need only look at ourselves to see that this is true. After all, which one of us is pure and without sin?"
In fact, many believe that naturally, in a primitive child-like state, we're "perfect", but it's just our upbringing that can make us bad. Also, I don't think there is much evidence to suggest that learnt behaviours (like "sin") are genetically inherited although they could definitely be learnt.
Unfortunately the human race has learnt repeatedly to its loss that this is not the case.
"Utopias seem very much more realizable than we had formerly supposed. Now we find ourselves facing a question which is painful in a new kind of way: how to avoid their actual realization." - Nikolai Berdyaer
No matter how you organise society, and in the last hundred years many ways have been tried, the nature of humanity has shown through. And that nature is sin. History is full of utopias which have failed because they ignored that basic axiom.

Tercel
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Old 09-14-2001, 01:44 AM   #37
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Tercel:
I think Genesis 8:9 "there was water all over the surface of the earth" means that that the ground was really muddy, though the tops of mountains were *visible*.
That was one of the main things that was supposed to prove that the flood was local.
I think that all that link shows is that the Bible really could have been talking about a local flood, but I don't think it rules out the global flood interpretation.
BTW, I think that the stories in Genesis often come from myths from other cultures which would be based partly on fact. e.g. people would have witnessed floods, but not necessarily have taken many animals on boats, etc.

"So you think that because it has details it makes it fact?"
Well think about poetry and metaphorical tales. They are typically like Revelations, where the numbers are very poetic. e.g. in Revelations 21, the city is a cube with sides 12,000 stadia each. This combines the favourite numbers 12 and 1000. The walls are 144 cubits thick (65 metres) and this is 12 x 12. There are 144,000 chosen people = 12 x 12 x 1000.
But the dimensions of the ark (according to creationists) are perfectly proportioned like typical freighters (oil tankers, etc). It is a very long and wider than it is high. Apparently the Babylonion flood legend has a cubic Ark.

"I thought you didn't believe in the truth of the Bible, yet here you are wanting to take one of the more unproven stories as literal truth, what gives?"
Well I'm talking about what the authors mean. It seems they were referring to a "real" (though mythical) event. I thought the believing reader would be interested in what these "inspired" writers believed, and disregard what godless scientists have to say.
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Old 09-14-2001, 01:47 AM   #38
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tercel:
<STRONG>No matter how you organise society, and in the last hundred years many ways have been tried, the nature of humanity has shown through. And that nature is sin. History is full of utopias which have failed because they ignored that basic axiom.</STRONG>
Ok, so people don't fit very naturally into societies. But this isn't very surprising since for the last 2 million years we have been stone age hunter-gatherers and only invented culture/civilization several thousand years ago.
But this doesn't prove that people were originally "sinless" and perfect.
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Old 09-14-2001, 07:30 AM   #39
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Quote:
Originally posted by Nomad:
<STRONG>Now, if I may, why must interpretation always be a black and white all or nothing thing for literalists (both Christian and sceptic)? The Church, following the lead of Augustine and others, has always recognized that parts of the Bible are literal, others are figurative, and much of it is a mix of the two. Do you deny the ability to discern things completely? If so, why?</STRONG>
Who is to be the final authority on what is literal and what is figurative? And who confers that authority?

One of the big problems with your position is justifying your own particular interpretations. The justification goes no further than your alleged ability of discernment... discerning myths from what you think "really happened." My own ability of discernment tells me that all the supernatural elements of the Bible are "made up," or make-believe. I simply don't find any of that stuff credible.

[ September 14, 2001: Message edited by: Wyrdsmyth ]
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Old 09-14-2001, 07:59 AM   #40
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The whole idea of the Fall, Original Sin, and the Tempting Serpent is to give people a story, with "reasons" why the world is the way it is. People want to know where we come from, why there is "evil" in the world, or why snakes don't have legs, and so forth. And so, these kinds of stories used to pop up.

And often, they are wonderfully told. But, just as with Greek Mythology, the stories of the Bible are full of supernatural elements and primitive thinking, that show little understanding of the natural world. We should treasure these old stories as relics. But the idea of trying to shoehorn or forcibly fit this old stuff into our modern ways of thinking, to try to make it all mesh, is to me just silly.

I love old myths and legends. And I have an abiding interest in religion. But I treat such things the way I treat literature and art. Just as I like the Nordic stories of dwarfs, giants and dragons, or the Greek stories of gods, monsters and heroes, I also enjoy the stories in the Bible. But to me, they are all the same sort of thing. It's wonderful stuff, to be sure, but it's imaginary.
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