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crawfish
Jul 12th 2008, 07:41 PM
What is written here really won't make a difference as to where you fall on the literal Genesis issue. Accepting that the verses are written in a poetic nature does not imply the factualness of the content.

I should point out my purpose. There is no question that Genesis 1-11 can be read literally. The question is: does it have to be? If scripture itself supports an alternative reading that precludes a literal reading, then could that not be God's plan? To give early man a tale in words that they could understand, and give man with more advanced knowledge the ability to see beyond that literalness? And in such a way where the key message of the text is not altered in any way! That is what I believe.

I was going to put much of this down myself...but as I re-read an article by Dr. Denis O. Lamoureaux (http://www.ualberta.ca/%7Edlamoure/3EvoCr.htm), I realized it was mostly written down already. Most of the remaining text comes from that article. I encourage you to read it in its entirety if you want an idea of what evolutionary creationists tend to believe.

We start with the creation week. It includes many powerful literary mechanisms; the seven days, the repeated motifs. It even includes what we regard today as a musical bridge, which tells us the main point of the story, as the same type of mechanism does in music we hear today:

Genesis 1:27 - So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

The most interesting thing is the structure. Verse two gives us "formless and void" - "tohu" and "bohu". Over the next six days, God will form the containers and then fill them. This chart shows that graphically:

http://www.ualberta.ca/%7Edlamoure/EvCr2.jpg

Thus, an alternate view suggests that this wasn't a literal description of what occurred each day, but a reference to God's creation of the three places of existence - the "universe" (for lack of a better word), the seas and skies, and the land. The description is topical, NOT chronological. This does not make it untrue; in fact, as a topical description of what God created it is absolutely true, by any man's science.

The article also mentions a second poetic text - this time, the flood account. Whether you think the flood is literal or not, this is pretty cool:

http://www.ualberta.ca/%7Edlamoure/EvCr3.jpg
This is a common poetic method of ancient literature. It aided one in memorization of the text.

The problem is, the text past Genesis 10 (starting with Abraham) does not employ the same poetic mechanisms. It's structure shares more in common with the historical accounts of the ancient world than the poetic accounts. The text itself tells us where the divide between poetic allegory and history is!

I'm leaving out a lot of the other verses, but even the names in the geneologies of Genesis 5 show poetic intent (I think it was daughter that pointed to an interesting website on this; although poeticizing scripture was not the site's intention).

Again, none of this indicates that the text is not poetically written but literal in content. I think, though, that it means that we should not be scared should we find that the accounts cannot be; the science of God's creation cannot undo Christianity even if it's not the science we expect.

Literalist-Luke
Jul 13th 2008, 01:49 AM
Excellent post. :thumbsup: And thanks for clarifying that you take Genesis literally. My apologies for misunderstanding you on that issue in the other thread. :blush:

Yankee Candle
Jul 13th 2008, 02:09 AM
Excellent post. :thumbsup: And thanks for clarifying that you take Genesis literally. My apologies for misunderstanding you on that issue in the other thread. :blush:

I think you read him wrong, fella. He does not believe that Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Enoch, etc. did the things that Moses says. He has made that clear.

No one denies that the scriptures are by divine design. That is plainly evident and I have taught it myself many times to different audiences. But to suggest that Genesis is less literal than the gospels in its historical significance is just downright dishonest.

"By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God." Hebrews 11:5

Where is there a hint that Enoch was an allegorical, non-historical character and that he did not do what Moses told us about?

"By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith." Hebrews 11:7

Again, where is there a hint anywhere in the New Testament that we should not believe that Noah or his family members were not real people who actually built a great ark and survived the flood?

Athanasius
Jul 13th 2008, 03:53 AM
I think this will be the subject of my undergrad dissertation... If they allow me.

crawfish
Jul 13th 2008, 02:44 PM
Excellent post. :thumbsup: And thanks for clarifying that you take Genesis literally. My apologies for misunderstanding you on that issue in the other thread. :blush:

Thanks, but I probably don't take it literally in the same way you do. I believe in literalness of intent (in the aforementioned chapters) and NOT the literalness of the account as a history. As I mentioned above, for instance, I believe Genesis 1 is not a chronological account but a topical one; it lists the "containers" God made, and then how He filled them, using the day motif as a literary mechanism.

My point was, taking Genesis 1-11 as poetry does not mean that they cannot be literally true. I was trying to diffuse a certain argument from this thread before it began. :)

Rest assured, I believe that the scriptures are the complete, infallible Word of God and represent His will for us.

ImmenseDisciple
Jul 13th 2008, 05:06 PM
There is a beautiful rhythm to the Genesis creation account, but I think the idea that it is presented as poetry so that with our understanding we'd see it can be dismissed as non-literal is a flawed one. It is not structured rigorously enough for me to think that this should be the case, not by a long way.

What's more, I don't really think that the "simple man" who you're suggesting we've developed from actually existed. I'd say that not understanding the complex nature of the world around them doesn't mean that the people of Moses' time needed a massively dumbed down story, they would have been able to deal with much more complex ideas than "God made it. Then filled it." - it simply happens that there is really little else to creation :lol: There is nothing complex about, for example, the idea of God creating the world gradually, over a great period of time. It makes sense, and is simple enough for a child to understand - but that is not what it says He did.

The second diagram there, though, is fascinating, it really is... I shall be thinking about that for some time, I'm sure.

apothanein kerdos
Jul 13th 2008, 05:19 PM
Just because something is poetic in the Bible does not mean it is not historical. In fact, in ancient days they wrote poetry as a method to teach a theological point about a historical happening. This doesn't mean everything in there is literal, but it does often mean that the characters involved and the events were quite literal.

Thus, the 6 days is an easy way to tie the poetry up and can be taken as allegorical. The Fall of man, the Garden, Adam and Eve, the existence of Noah, there being some sort of a flood that wiped out the existence of humans - all of this is historical. It's referred to throughout the rest of the Bible, referenced to as historical, and without these literal events the chain of the Gospel falls apart.

We must remember that just because something is poetry or poetic doesn't mean certain events didn't happen - we just need to be careful not to take all of it literally.

BroRog
Jul 13th 2008, 05:52 PM
Just because something is poetic in the Bible does not mean it is not historical. In fact, in ancient days they wrote poetry as a method to teach a theological point about a historical happening. This doesn't mean everything in there is literal, but it does often mean that the characters involved and the events were quite literal.

Thus, the 6 days is an easy way to tie the poetry up and can be taken as allegorical. The Fall of man, the Garden, Adam and Eve, the existence of Noah, there being some sort of a flood that wiped out the existence of humans - all of this is historical. It's referred to throughout the rest of the Bible, referenced to as historical, and without these literal events the chain of the Gospel falls apart.

We must remember that just because something is poetry or poetic doesn't mean certain events didn't happen - we just need to be careful not to take all of it literally.

All good points. I'm not sure many would agree that Genesis 1 is poetry but I have noticed a rhythmic structure to how the chapter is organized in which certain phrases are repeated for each day of the week.

For example, the text repeats the phrase

"And God said, "Let there be . . . x" in which 'x' is something God creates by speaking it into existence, followed by the phrase "and it was so."

The phrase "evening and morning" is repeated six times.

The phrase "and God saw that "x" was good" is repeated five times.

I believe the verbal patterns found here in Genesis are intended to reveal something about the relationship between God and his creation, ideas that would be more difficult to explain using narrative structure alone.

apothanein kerdos
Jul 13th 2008, 05:54 PM
All good points. I'm not sure many would agree that Genesis 1 is poetry but I have noticed a rhythmic structure to how the chapter is organized in which certain phrases are repeated for each day of the week.

For example, the text repeats the phrase

"And God said, "Let there be . . . x" in which 'x' is something God creates by speaking it into existence, followed by the phrase "and it was so."

The phrase "evening and morning" is repeated six times.

The phrase "and God saw that "x" was good" is repeated five times.

I believe the verbal patterns found here in Genesis are intended to reveal something about the relationship between God and his creation, ideas that would be more difficult to explain using narrative structure alone.


That and how would God explain to a biologically naive people who had just endured 400 years of slavery how He biologically created? Instead, it is easier to summarize the theological points (e.g. "God did it") and leave the science for later, as it's not important.

crawfish
Jul 13th 2008, 08:06 PM
There is a beautiful rhythm to the Genesis creation account, but I think the idea that it is presented as poetry so that with our understanding we'd see it can be dismissed as non-literal is a flawed one. It is not structured rigorously enough for me to think that this should be the case, not by a long way.

What's more, I don't really think that the "simple man" who you're suggesting we've developed from actually existed. I'd say that not understanding the complex nature of the world around them doesn't mean that the people of Moses' time needed a massively dumbed down story, they would have been able to deal with much more complex ideas than "God made it. Then filled it." - it simply happens that there is really little else to creation :lol: There is nothing complex about, for example, the idea of God creating the world gradually, over a great period of time. It makes sense, and is simple enough for a child to understand - but that is not what it says He did.

It's not that the ancient people were simple or stupid; they were, by all accounts, just as intelligent as we are; but they were working from a far smaller knowledge base than what we have today. For instance, a billions year account would have confused things (and encouraged the ancients to try and fill in those years). Assuming an evolutionary beginning, the ancients might have had trouble separating humans from other animals given the shared history. The point of the story was that God created everything, man was specially made, and man is put over all the rest of creation. To create a 100-page novel detailing the exact sequences and techniques would have only diluted that core message.

Again, I'm not saying the text cannot be taken literally even as a poetic account (I think this is the fifth time that's been stressed so far). I'm just saying that for those of us who do not hold that view, the text does provide clues that can possibly justify it without sacrificing the sanctity of the bible. In other words, we are really not guilty of a rote dismissal of scripture but rather a different interpretation (which is done in many other areas; Calvinism, OSAS, etc.)

Ryan R
Jul 16th 2009, 07:10 PM
Hi Crawfish,

These are very interesting observations and I would tend to agree with them, expect I don’t see how they indicate that these versus should be taken allegorically.

First, with the ‘empty’ and ‘void’ points that you noted, there’s no indication of sequential order and therefore no contradiction with the stated order in days that is confirmed with the note that it was “evening and morning” to demonstrate they were actually days.

Second, God just loves poetry and math and we see these poetic themes and devises carried throughout all of scripture. Just a couple top of mind examples include Matthew 1:17 “So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations”, the ‘types’ God sets up to precede Jesus in Jonah, the bronze snake, the tabernacle, as well as Jesus’ parables.

Now, pretty much any time a poetic prophesy is referred back to in a later part of scripture, or any time Jesus uses a parable, the meanings behind the metaphors are revealed. This never happens with Genesis. Why not? If it were an allegory, why would it be referred to as though they were actual events (Acts 17:26) with real individuals, seen in such passages as in Hebrews where Able, Enoch and Noah are equated with Abraham, Sarah and others. How can a metaphor be said to have faith or be equated with real individuals (Hebrews 11)?

Not only are these individuals referred to as though they were real people, but they are included in genealogies, including in the 11th Chapter of Genesis. Why include metaphors in a list of historical people and say they were begotten one of another? Where does the metaphor start and end? Whose dad was actually not the dad of the individual as presented in the genealogies and what indication is there to the reader to make the distinction? These genealogies are repeated throughout scripture, and even link Jesus to a man named Adam. Who is this Adam then?

Which brings me to the crucial point of the link between Jesus’ redemption of Adam’s sin: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). “For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Romans 5:19).

Jesus wasn’t called to die an allegorical death. He had to die for real. If Adam was a metaphor, why was Jesus called to die? The sacrifices under the law were a metaphoric payment for sin. They didn’t actually erase our sins, but symbolized Jesus’ coming gift of grace. If Adam didn’t literally introduce death, why did Jesus literally have to literally die?

If creation according to Genesis is literal, then God’s gift at creation was life, and we (humanity) literally brought the curse of death onto ourselves. Our division from God and our sinful nature, everything inherent in the curse, is our fault, directly and literally. Jesus’ amazing gift then is to beat the curse of death, literally, and completely and restore us to life everlasting. If the whole story is an allegory, then we aren’t really, literally responsible for introducing the curse of death on creation.

As an allegory, the alternative (evolution) doesn’t make literal or poetical sense. The Bible says God created a garden without death. Evolution requires death to create. Natural selection, by necessity, uses death to eliminate the weak, the feeble, the undesirable and by killing off everything but the best, eventually creates a new creature. The Bible says God created each creature after its kind (Genesis 1:21). Evolution says each kind of creatures morphed from a common source. The Bible says that the work of creation was complete from the beginning (Hebrews 4:3-4). Evolution says it is an ongoing process.

If this is an allegory then why would the metaphors stand for the opposite of what they state? If a human author was to say that someone was clothed in midnight, you couldn’t call that a metaphor for the purity of a white wedding gown of a beautiful, virgin bride. It would be an allegorical lie.

If God used evolution to bring man about, then we were fashioned by means of death through natural selection. We were born into a world were this is the natural order: flawed and broken universe. We didn’t ask to be born and we’re not even capable of living up to the glory of God. Sin and the curse of death, therefore, are not our fault because the fall, which tainted the perfection of creation, never really happened and this cursed universe is actually just the natural order as God created it. If we’re not directly responsible for death, then Jesus’ conquest over death isn’t a restoration for our error.

As much as we call death part of the natural order, it’s not. If you ever seen something big (like a sheep or a cow) die up close you can see how unnatural it is. It is sad, it is lonely and it is perverse. And it is our fault, directly, because you and I would have done the same thing as Adam.

As an allegory, I submit that you can not appreciate what how Christ’s sacrifice perfectly redeemed our fall, not just the nature that was handed to us.

teddyv
Jul 16th 2009, 08:10 PM
Thread zombie...:)

Just a couple points from your post:

Jesus wasn’t called to die an allegorical death. He had to die for real. If Adam was a metaphor, why was Jesus called to die? The sacrifices under the law were a metaphoric payment for sin. They didn’t actually erase our sins, but symbolized Jesus’ coming gift of grace. If Adam didn’t literally introduce death, why did Jesus literally have to literally die?

If creation according to Genesis is literal, then God’s gift at creation was life, and we (humanity) literally brought the curse of death onto ourselves. Our division from God and our sinful nature, everything inherent in the curse, is our fault, directly and literally. Jesus’ amazing gift then is to beat the curse of death, literally, and completely and restore us to life everlasting. If the whole story is an allegory, then we aren’t really, literally responsible for introducing the curse of death on creation.

As an allegory, the alternative (evolution) doesn’t make literal or poetical sense. The Bible says God created a garden without death.

Gen 2:8-9 and 15-17:
8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil...

...15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

I don't see anything that God created a garden without death, only the warning to Adam to not eat of the tree. What kind of death was being warned against? Physical or spiritual? Both?


Evolution requires death to create. Natural selection, by necessity, uses death to eliminate the weak, the feeble, the undesirable and by killing off everything but the best, eventually creates a new creature. The Bible says God created each creature after its kind (Genesis 1:21). Evolution says each kind of creatures morphed from a common source. The Bible says that the work of creation was complete from the beginning (Hebrews 4:3-4). Evolution says it is an ongoing process.If the creation was complete, then by that same token, we should see no changes in the universe, i.e. no stars being born or dying. Likewise, why do we see active changes in the earth's surface?


As much as we call death part of the natural order, it’s not. If you ever seen something big (like a sheep or a cow) die up close you can see how unnatural it is. It is sad, it is lonely and it is perverse. And it is our fault, directly, because you and I would have done the same thing as Adam.So were sharks originally created to eat algae and kelp?

Ryan R
Jul 16th 2009, 08:36 PM
Hi Teddyv,

You'll have to excuse me, but I'm not up on my lingo: What's a Thread Zombie?

Now, onto your points:
"I don't see anything that God created a garden without death, only the warning to Adam to not eat of the tree."

This is where I get it from, "Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin" (Romans 5:12).

And for "What kind of death was being warned against? Physical or spiritual? Both?"

Yes, both. I beleive that's clear both from the fact that Adam didn't physically die that day, although God said on that day he would surely die, so it was spiritual, but that he did physically die, not to mention the context outline in my previous post.

Regarding your question, "If the creation was complete, then by that same token, we should see no changes in the universe, i.e. no stars being born or dying. Likewise, why do we see active changes in the earth's surface?"

It's because of the fall. All change is essentially the universe is dying, since creation suffered from the fall. It's consistent with Entropy, and it's not completing anything it is destroying everything that was complete.

And for, "So were sharks originally created to eat algae and kelp?"

You betcha. Anything without blood. Just like how Isaiah says the lion will eat straw (11:7) and the wolf will graze with the lamb (65:25).

Think about it this way, Adam and Eve were only given fruit to eat in the garden, but you'd never know it if you've ever seen how viciously I attack and consume steak. The last time I was at a barbeque I think I swallowed a license plate.

teddyv
Jul 16th 2009, 10:22 PM
Hi Teddyv,

You'll have to excuse me, but I'm not up on my lingo: What's a Thread Zombie?

Hi Ryan. Sorry, just means an old thread brought back to life. Crawfish started this in June 2008.

Anyway, just to give some background so you know where I am coming from, my line of work is exploration geology and work under the mainstream scientific theories. I accept a very old earth along the lines of what the best evidence suggests. I have little practical experience in the biological side of evolution. I have studied some paleontology, but in the exploration side of the business, we don't deal with that too much and if we do it's in a practical way such as correlating strata.


I just want to readdress this point:

And for, "So were sharks originally created to eat algae and kelp?"

You betcha. Anything without blood. Just like how Isaiah says the lion will eat straw (11:7) and the wolf will graze with the lamb (65:25).

Think about it this way, Adam and Eve were only given fruit to eat in the garden, but you'd never know it if you've ever seen how viciously I attack and consume steak. The last time I was at a barbeque I think I swallowed a license plate.
You sound like a tiger shark:).

So a sharks mouth, jaw and teeth somehow morphed after the fall into an extremely efficient design for carnivorous activity? What about baleen whales? The baleen is expressly useful for straining krill and other small creatures. It looks pretty poor for siphoning algae or gnawing on kelp.

Philemon9
Jul 17th 2009, 04:16 AM
Hi Teddyv,

You'll have to excuse me, but I'm not up on my lingo: What's a Thread Zombie?

Now, onto your points:
"I don't see anything that God created a garden without death, only the warning to Adam to not eat of the tree."

This is where I get it from, "Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin" (Romans 5:12).

And for "What kind of death was being warned against? Physical or spiritual? Both?"

Yes, both. I beleive that's clear both from the fact that Adam didn't physically die that day, although God said on that day he would surely die, so it was spiritual, but that he did physically die, not to mention the context outline in my previous post.

Regarding your question, "If the creation was complete, then by that same token, we should see no changes in the universe, i.e. no stars being born or dying. Likewise, why do we see active changes in the earth's surface?"

It's because of the fall. All change is essentially the universe is dying, since creation suffered from the fall. It's consistent with Entropy, and it's not completing anything it is destroying everything that was complete.

And for, "So were sharks originally created to eat algae and kelp?"

You betcha. Anything without blood. Just like how Isaiah says the lion will eat straw (11:7) and the wolf will graze with the lamb (65:25).

Think about it this way, Adam and Eve were only given fruit to eat in the garden, but you'd never know it if you've ever seen how viciously I attack and consume steak. The last time I was at a barbeque I think I swallowed a license plate.

This all would be oh so easy for me to believe as you do, if I had never opened a science book or observed reality.

Ryan R
Jul 17th 2009, 04:40 PM
Well Teddyv,

That sounds like interesting work. I can't get enough of nature and natural processes, myself, so your jobs sounds like one that's not hard to get out of bed for.

I work with data correlation myself. I do analysis, statistical testing, correlations, reporting... basically anything to do with data collection and analysis.

So, for your point about sharks being designed to be predators, all I can say is that God plans ahead. I know that a lot of animlas just fit the predator bill. Spiders are, in my opinion, the ultimate predator. No one could design a better killing machine. But, a lion's a prime example as well, and God says it will graze, so it'll graze.

That being said, I have cats that will eat grass and frozen vegetables. Why? I dunno. They just do. It's hard for them because of their teeth, but they power through it.

And have you ever seen a male llama's fighting teeth? Any predator would be proud of those. For all I know they were a candidate for predator before the fall. Who can say?

Baiscally, I can speculate why some animals are such effiecient killing machines despite their origin, but I really don't know.

And you want tiger shark? I know a guy who has two rows of teeth. Hard not to stare while he talks, let me tell ya.

CoffeeCat
Jul 17th 2009, 05:22 PM
Hey guys, if you want to keep this thread open, let's talk about the poetic nature of Genesis. But since it's a year old or so, just know that the original people may not be around/may not be interested in the conversation. :)

Ryan R
Jul 17th 2009, 07:30 PM
This all would be oh so easy for me to believe as you do, if I had never opened a science book or observed reality.

Philemon9, make me laugh. You’re like an evolutionist super villain. Just a quick, patronizing quip and then you vanish into the shadows. I particularly like the insinuation both that I’ve never read a textbook, and that I’m out of touch with reality. Cover those bases.

I see what you’re up to here. Try to bait me into an argument with insinuation that there’s no legitimacy behind my position, and then leave when someone else steps in to do the heavy lifting for you.

Not interested, guy. I’ve asked you before to define your problem if you’ve got one, otherwise I’ll consider your post to be an example of what you consider an objective, evidence-based argument and dismiss it accordingly.

I forgive you, but these comments take the fun out of it for the rest of us.

Ryan R
Jul 17th 2009, 07:33 PM
Hey guys, if you want to keep this thread open, let's talk about the poetic nature of Genesis. But since it's a year old or so, just know that the original people may not be around/may not be interested in the conversation. :)

Hey CoffeCat,

Sorry, I started writing my last post and left my computer for a while. I didn't see your warning in the interm. I hope my last post wasn't out of line, because Crawfish invited my to respond to him here.

If my response to Philemon9 was a stray can you slash it and leave the thread open by any chance, or is it OK the way it is?

Thanks.

Itinerant Lurker
Jul 17th 2009, 08:15 PM
Hi Teddyv,
Regarding your question, "If the creation was complete, then by that same token, we should see no changes in the universe, i.e. no stars being born or dying. Likewise, why do we see active changes in the earth's surface?"

It's because of the fall. All change is essentially the universe is dying, since creation suffered from the fall. It's consistent with Entropy, and it's not completing anything it is destroying everything that was complete.


So. . .if there was no fall there would be no mountains?

markedward
Jul 17th 2009, 08:48 PM
This is a common poetic method of ancient literature. It aided one in memorization of the text.The book of Daniel is written with a chiastic structure, by chapters.

crawfish
Jul 18th 2009, 01:58 AM
Hey guys, if you want to keep this thread open, let's talk about the poetic nature of Genesis. But since it's a year old or so, just know that the original people may not be around/may not be interested in the conversation. :)

Hey Coffeecat,

I invited Ryan R. to further discussion in this thread. Of course, I then immediately disappeared for a week. :)

I do invite all talk of the poetic nature of Genesis and its ramifications.

Thanks!

CoffeeCat
Jul 18th 2009, 02:45 AM
Hey Coffeecat,

I invited Ryan R. to further discussion in this thread. Of course, I then immediately disappeared for a week. :)

I do invite all talk of the poetic nature of Genesis and its ramifications.

Thanks!

:lol: When you disappeared for a week, I was afraid a raccoon had captured you and had you for dinner. ;)

Have fun with your conversation here.

Nobody kill each other. :hug:

Itinerant Lurker
Jul 18th 2009, 03:13 AM
That being said, I have cats that will eat grass and frozen vegetables. Why? I dunno. They just do. It's hard for them because of their teeth, but they power through it. Your cat is probably eating grass to make itself throw up because it's having some sort of stomach problem. All felids (including house cats) are obligate carnivores which means that their digestive systems can't break down vegetable matter and extract the nutrients they need to survive. You can do a somewhat grisly experiment to test this (though I don't suggest it) by feeding your cat nothing but grass and frozen vegetables which will result in your cat starving to death.

crawfish
Jul 18th 2009, 03:23 AM
Ryan, I just spent about thirty minutes in a reply, hit the wrong key and lost the whole thing. I'm a bit frustrated right now. :) I'll respond to your post later this week, after I'm finally home.

decrumpit
Jul 18th 2009, 04:51 AM
Ryan, I just spent about thirty minutes in a reply, hit the wrong key and lost the whole thing. I'm a bit frustrated right now. :) I'll respond to your post later this week, after I'm finally home.

The book of Daniel is written with a chiastic structure, by chapters.

Where do you guys learn all this stuff? It's fascinating and my Sunday school teachers didn't say a thing about it!

crawfish
Jul 18th 2009, 08:57 PM
Where do you guys learn all this stuff? It's fascinating and my Sunday school teachers didn't say a thing about it!

I'm sure the comment you quoted from me is in there by accident. :)

A lot of the obscure stuff I learn comes from various academia. Even if you don't necessarily agree with their conclusions, you can learn a lot of interesting facts along the way.

Scruffy Kid
Jul 18th 2009, 11:33 PM
Hey guys, if you want to keep this thread open, let's talk about the poetic nature of Genesis. But since it's a year old or so, just know that the original people may not be around/may not be interested in the conversation. :)Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

A couple comments for a starter.


Are the early chapters of Genesis of any importance to our faith?

They are, I hold, of crucial importance!
Note that Paul, presenting the gospel to the men of Athens on the Areopagus (Mars Hill) as recounted in Acts 17, begins his substantive exposition by restating the major themes of God's creation of the world:
For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, "to an unknown God". Therefore I am declaring to you the one whom you you worship without knowledge! This is God who made the world and all things in it, and seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, he does not dwell in temples made with hands and also isn't worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing -- for we observe that he gives life, and breath, and all things to all! And He has made of one blood all nations of men who dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined the times before appointed, and the boundaries of where they live. This He has done that they should seek the Lord, and perhaps if they feel around for him, find Him! Actually, though, He is not far from any one of us, "for in Him we live, and move, and have our being", as certain also of your own poets have said, "for we are also his offspring." Since we are God's children, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like gold, or silver, or stone, etched and shaped art and human skills. All this in previous times of ignorance God winked at; but now He commands all people everywhere to repent: ... (Acts 17:23-30) Before beginning to set out the gospel of Jesus Christ, Paul finds it necessary to set out the background -- the picture of the world given to us in the Jewish faith, the Hebrew Scriptures, of God as He who creates and sustains all things in being, and has given a common ancestry to humanity, and, in creating us, is, in a sense our progenitor, our Father (for, Paul says, "we are his children" (cf. Luke 3:38b) The implications of the fact that these chapters are foundational for the Christian faith, it seems to me, is that we must study them to try to discern their message for us. Paul's summary in Acts 17 is inspired, sure; but certainly that doesn't mean that we can let it go at that level of generalization, or summary. If the account of the early chapters of Genesis is that all important, it is vital to earnestly study them , so we may be "workers who have no need to be ashamed" of our learning what God has given us to learn from in Scripture, because we've equipped ourselves to be "rightly dividing the word of truth" (II Tim. 2:15)

What do we have to do to study these texts fruitfully?

Discuss them, in detail, looking for God's message (aka the theological substance of the texts) and trying to understand what the main points are of what He is saying to us! The texts are complex and multilayered. They involve a great deal of imagery and figurative language. A good understanding requires that we pay attention to the actual language, including the (Hebrew) vocabulary, the structure, the repeated and contrasted words, the larger context of individual passages as well as of individual verses to see what the essential purport, the main points and implications, of the texts are.

The NT does not do this for us in detail. It's busy proclaiming the message of the crucified and risen Lord Jesus, and doesn't have time to instruct us how to read carefully in detail; it's rather assumed that we can do that ourselves, or learn how. What it does do is give us a few crucial pointers as to central meanings of the text, which serve as directional signs and boundary markers. The one I've just given, from Acts 17 is an example. The one cited before, Romans 5:12, "sin entered the world through one man" is another important such marker. These are, IMO, theological markers: they are not endeavoring to define the exact way in which the texts reflect human history, and don't do that. (They have more important jobs to do.) While making use of the overall message of the Bible, and of the NT, our task, instead, is to try to understand the message of Genesis 1-12 in its full (theological) precision and accuracy.


You're being your usual obscure and wordy self, Scruff! :lol:
Could you please give an example of what you mean?

I plead guilty to being both recondite and long-winded!! :rofl:
Sure! Here's a recent example!

Recently, in a discussion of whether our human nature is fallen, in another thread, titled "People are not born sinful", after considering NT, and a few OT, texts, I reverted primarily to Genesis 3-4 (and following), because I think this contains the clearest doctrine of the Fall.

...the Church, historically and unanimously has Understood the Scriptures as saying that Human Nature was somehow wrecked by the Fall


Various Individual Scriptures give some support to this, and historically have been taken this way by Christians ...
a lot of Scriptures including some of the ones listed on this thread. ...


The account of the Fall in Genesis Seems to Teach This Doctrine
However, the Scriptures that I find most convincing on this point have not even been mentioned -- those of the early chapters of Genesis.

(1) God warns humanity that if we "eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil" than "in that day" we "shall die." Clearly physical death is not what God warns of, for the guilty pair live for hundreds of years thereafter. Thus, presumably what must be meant is "spiritual death".

(2) After the Fall we see the rapid deterioration of the man and woman -- hiding from God and one another, blaming others, and so on.

(3) God tells humanity, tells Adam, that "the ground (Adamah) is cursed because of you" and will bring forth good fruits only with great effort and "the sweat of" man's "brow", now, but "thorns and thistles" naturally. That is, God is saying the very elements of human nature, the ground from which humanity is derived, has been corrupted by the fall. (And IMO the "sweat of the brow" and "thorns" prefigure Jesus' passion, BTW.)

(4) The subsequent chapters of Genesis are devoted to showing -- starting with Cain, that the corruption of human nature does not stop with Adam and Eve, but rather leads to further and progressive deterioration in their descendents. This theme is continued in the account of Cain's descendents, the earth at the time of Noah, the troubles of Noah's family, and the Babel account, it seems to me. Even the people God claims as specially His own -- Abraham and his descendents, Moses, and so on -- are profoundly sinful, corrupted, and wounded people, despite the fact that they are, in a sense, righteous, and faithful to God.


This line of interpretation seems to be strongly supported by the NT, and especially by Paul's references to the Fall, to death, to Adam's sin affecting all of us, and subjecting the Creation to death ...


Summary
Human nature, I think the Bible is telling us, has been radically wrecked by the Fall, apart from the further sins that individual people commit. Indeed Paul sees the fall -- whether the fall of humanity only, or Lucifer's previous fall as well -- as subjecting the entire creation to futililty. (Romans 8) ... I will try to return to some of these points later, as we discuss Genesis (if I can get anyone to do so)!


Why bother with all of that in discussing this thread and its future?

I think it's vital to consider what careful detailed study of Genesis 1-12 would be like, (in effect, to discuss method and hermaneutics) because otherwise the thread will either:
i) get derailed into a pointless duplication of past discussions of the historicity of the text and, worse, of evolution, etc. (This, I think, is what Coffee Cat very rightly cautioned us to avoid), or:
ii) die out for lack of interest, or:
iii) crumple over discussion of "allegory" and "poetry" and the utterly meaningless, deceptive, useless and evil word "literal"

These excited words are here not just because I'm an excitable guy who rarely can contain his enthusiasms and ires, but more because I have vast past experience with threads discussing these chapters.

Is there anyone -- ANYONE -- at Bibleforums who thinks Genesis 1-12 is an important passage?

My faith in, love of, and respect for the many admirable posters and fine Christians here compels me to say,
"Surely there must be a lot of people at Bibleforums who think Genesis 1-12 is important."
[furious rant] My rather extensive experience with trying to start conversation about these chapters here, if taken as a basis for prediction, and for drawing conclusions about whether it's possible to develop a conversation about Genesis 1-12, would lead me to say, pretty definitively,
"No, evidence suggests that no one here thinks Genesis 1-12 important enough to discuss in detail! [/furious rant]


About the accursed words "poetic", "allegory", and "literal"

A preliminary: The text of Genesis 1-11 is, IMO, perspicuous (clear); we must work to understand its message (that is true of all of Scripture, including parts we know very well and understand well, because it is inspired by God, whose thoughts are deeper than our thoughts, and because it deliberately challenges us, giving us ideas that require our sustained attention and rethinking of our own lives, year after year, decade after decade), but anyone -- ANYONE -- can, IMO, access the text and contribute powerfully to discussion, with hard work and dialogue with other Christians, because it is written to all of us, and for us, and practically and vitally addresses our real lives and concrete human situations!

The word "allegory".
The word "allegory" is often used, of poetic texts like Genesis, as a kind of way of expressing that accessing the meaning there requires understanding, reading, the language there as symbolic language, and seeking to understand what it is saying to us. Unfortunately, the use of "allegory" to express that thought has two big problems with it.
..........One problem is that that is not what the word "allegory" means. "Allegory" refers to one very specialized type of figurative language -- one in which one item in a story stands for, or often is a personification of, some more abstract concept. (The classic example in English literature is Spenser's The Faery Queen.) (A classic, somewhat notorious, example in Christian history is Augustine's interpretation of the parable of the Good Samaritan.) That sense tends to dominate many people's sense of how symbolic language works, even in contexts where symbolic language works very differently than that, even where the word "allegory" is not used; the word "allegory", though, tends to reinforce that way of thinking about the figurative or symbolic elements in Scripture, both for those familiar with the actual use of the word in literature and interpretation, and for those not familiar with it, in my experience.
..........A second problem with the use of the word "allegory" is that it often tends to mean -- both in the minds of those who want to say that Genesis 1-11 is allegorical and in the minds of those who want to say that it is not allegorical -- is that it tends to suggest to them, and others, that one is changing or denying the central meaning of the text. But proper attention to the symbolism, poetic form, and diction (incl. Hebrew diction) of the text is for the purpose of ascertaining, and affirming, the message of the text, not for the purpose of getting away from it.
..........The upshot: The word "allegory" tends to distract and mislead us in discussing Biblical texts whose message is strongly symbolic.

The words "poetic", "poem", etc.
(This must be continued in the next post, because I'm running over the 18,000 character limit)

Scruffy Kid
Jul 18th 2009, 11:34 PM
Second post in a series: Continued from the previous post, because of running out of space there!

The words "poetic", "poem", etc.
No real problem with the word "poetic" (although I prefer the word "figurative" as being more generic, and making less assumptions about the way that figurative language enters into the text). Especially where, as in the OP of this thread, and its immediate sequellae (follow-ups) by the poster, "poetic" is specifically referring to formal elements of the text: rhyme, pun, repetition and multiple layers of repetition, parallelism, chiasm (that's the balanced structure which the OP's account of the Noah sequence of Gen. 5-8 was discerning there), meter or rhythm, and so on. These really are the kinds of formal devices which characterize poetry as such; and thus direct our attention to these formal elements and what they are doing in conveying the meaning of the text.
..........That can extend all the way to themes with strong symbolic coherence, even where these don't constitute formal elements as such. For instance, in the first chapter of Jonah (only the second chapter of Jonah is in a poetic form, strictly speaking, I think), a series of actions -- Jonah goes the opposite direction from where THE LORD tells him to go, the text tells us he is fleeing from THE LORD, he goes into the innards of the ship (picked up by the great fish in cap. 2), he falls asleep there in the midst of the storm, he later tells the sailors that he is fleeing from THE LORD -- all indicate dimensions of Jonah's running from what he finds distressing in THE LORD's command, and from THE LORD Himself. Similarly, throughout the book's four chapters, the repetition of the theme of the heathen (the gentiles, the nations, the goyim) coming to repentence, acting righteously, coming to faith in and to adoration of the Holy One of Israel, THE LORD, forms a consistent message which emphasizes the major theme -- encapsulated in God's mandate to Jonah to preach to (the worst of) the gentiles, the Ninevites (1:1), the conflict between Jonah and God over His forgiveness to the repentant (cap. 4), and the final verse of the book -- namely, the call, though Israel, to the nations to repent and turn to THE LORD, the God of Israel.
..........The real potential problem I see with the word "poetic" is that it can to some suggest that what's poetic is to be opposed to the real substance and strong God-given message of the text. That's common enough both among those who advocate the idea that the text is centrally poetic and among those who oppose that idea. (I'm not for avoiding the word "poetic": I think this problem can be overcome, though it must be guarded against. It's just a potential problem.) (This problem is far less when we're discussing the formal elements of the text.) A secondary problem is that some people can think of the "poetic" elements as mere decoration, rather than as things central to the core messages of the text, and thus something that's optional to understanding.
..........About the essential character of figurative, symbolic elements of the text. What's crucial here is that the poetic, figurative, and symbolic character of many Biblical texts -- like many philosophical texts (and so far as that goes scientific concepts) -- is essential to the meaning and accuracy and power and importance of what is being said. Why? Speech that is simply exact description of an exactly describable phenomenon is good in its own way; however the highest thinking is not like that, IMO. It's not because exact representation and description is often insufficient to as full as possible an understanding of very deep matters. Lots of deep matters can be understood well only by the use of "metaphorical" -- better "symbolic", best "figurative" -- language, because these matters pass exact human comprehension, or perhaps exact comprehension by any creature, ever, or all of us together. (But God fully comprehends everything!) (Something of this is suggested by the account of the white stone -- itself highly symbolic in character, I'd say -- given to each of the redeemed in Rev. 2:17.)
..........Two non-Biblical examples of this are found in classical philosophy, and in modern physics.
..........One While lots of philosophy -- from Xeno's paradoxes to Rawl's "original position" (and "social contract" theories in general) -- illustrates this, I'll take as a well-known example the illustration of "the Cave" in Plato's Republic. When Plato's Socrates is doing most of his work, he proceeds by means of reasoning, and illustrations and examples, and so on. But for the largest and most important concepts (how humanity must struggle to attain to truth, to real knowledge which is his image of the Cave, for instance) Plato reverts to images, myths, or figures of speech. He does this because these are capable of getting at truth in a more fundamental way, of presenting more fundamental concepts and truths, than mere discursive reason can do. The same is true of the whole concept of the Republic, of the process of eternal judgment (before Rhadamantes, I think) in the Gorgias, of the doctrine of anamnesis, and many other central concepts. Others, such as the profession of fundamental ignorance by Socrates is, similarly, though differently, illustrated in the lived-out structure of the manner of Socrates's dialogic method, going into the marketplace and talking with all who will. (Cf. Wisdom in Proverbs.)
..........TwoMany concepts in modern physics, especially, are fundamentally grounded in images, pictures, of how we understand things to work, many of these mutually incompatible pictures. In some cases -- not all -- we could instead rely upon extremely abstract mathematical formulations; but these don't really convey -- even to mathematically inclined physicists -- exactly what's going on. We could find great examples from the work of John Feynman at the end of the 20th century, or from the electromagnetic field concepts of Clark-Maxwell (in a sense the seminal figure of modern physics) in the latter half of the 19th century. However, I'll concentrate on the better known and more easily popularisable idea of "elementary particles" (electrons, protons, photons, bosons, etc., etc., in Quantum Physics, as being both "waves" and "particles". Actually (in some sense, of "actually") these little wavicles -- electrons, photons, etc. -- do not really have the form either of waves or of particles. We use the terms "wave" and "particle" to describe them, because these are concepts which refer to phenomena we generally understand, and have intuition for. The actual electrons, photons, and so on are wave-like or particle-like, and using these concepts to describe those "elementary particles" gives us intuition for what's going on which we could get in no other way. The mathematical descriptions, even to those who easily use and think in terms of (very) advanced mathematics, and computer modelling of mathematics, can't give that kind of intuition, and thus how to use the mathematics or even formulate it originally, or how to modify it to account for new theory or new observations, depends upon having a kind of intuition for what's going on. Thus "wave" and "particle" are not dispensible, second-best, faut de mieux (lack of anything better) explanations for laymen -- they are essential and best descriptions, indispensible for mathy professionals as for science laity; however, they are not exact representations or concepts but ones which are used in something like a metaphorical way.
..........The point: both in physics and in philosophy -- two of the most exacting fields which feature accurate and logical description which catches the essential character of the important matters being talked about -- often the most fundamental, accurate, and advanced insight that's attainable takes the form of key, carefully selected images and stories, which get at the things being spoken of by somewhat poetic or metaphorical approaches.

In sum, it's a mistake -- a mistake about the nature of knowledge -- to suppose that complex phenomena can be exactly captured in completely precise language. (Indeed it's been shown -- in Kurt Goedel's 1939(?) proofs of the Hilbert-unprovability and incompleteness of any mathematics complex enough to be of much interest -- that that's not possible even in the most precise formulations of mathematics.) If that's true of the less comprehensive, and more accessible-to-experience, fields of quantum physics and philosophic discussion of the nature of knowledge, how much more must this be true of something like the creation of the world, the purposes of God, and the character and workings of God's making human beings his children, and their fall from grace, and His redemption of us. It's inconceivable, IMO, that such things ever could be captured with comprehensive and detailed accuracy: it's necessary that the exposition of them must use language which makes use of allusion and suggestion and pattern and things suggested but not spelled out in detail, in order to give us the fullest possible and most insightful possible and most accurate possible understanding of the vital matters that are to be described for us.

Poetic language is not some kind of decoration, or option, or emotional froth, or substitute for giving us the truth as fully as possible. Exactly the contrary. Poetic language is the kind of language most capable of carrying balanced, accurate, insight and information about the nature of these things, because it's the kind of language which can go deepest into describing the ineffable, the essentially-undescribable.

We cannot expect to see things as God sees them altogether: God is God, and we are little critters of very limited capacity and experience -- and fallen to boot. Rather, the essential character of God's communication to us is the character of revealing, revelation: God knows how best to put things so that what He says to us and gives us to ponder -- ponder! -- will, as we work with it, as His people, over the years and centuries, continue to give us the fresh insight and continuing truth we need, generation after generation.

This post, and the previous one, are continued in the next post -- again because I ran over the 18,000 character limit trying to combine them!

Scruffy Kid
Jul 18th 2009, 11:36 PM
The notion of a "literal" approach
The word "literal" is derived from the word "letter" -- a "letter of the law" reading could be described with an adjective as a "literal" (like "letter-al") approach. (Of course, the origin or derivation of a word is not necessarily something that helps get at the core of its meaning: you don't understand the word "butterfly" better by thinking about butter and flies, or the word the word "automobile" better by knowing it means self-moving -- that's true of helicopters and motorboats and trains too -- or know more about the holly-like plant called "oregon grape" by going to Oregon and eating grapes.)
.......... Common use of "literal" number one. One main problem with the word "literal" as a word is that it is most commonly used to mean "really" or "truely", and especially in contexts where what's said to be "literal" is actually precisely non-literal!! :lol: We say things like "I was floored by what she said -- literally floored" or "I literally wanted to sink through the floor". What we mean is not that I was actually knocked to the floor, but something like "It was really as surprising as something that might have made me pass out" or "I really felt so bad that I wished I was somewhere else". We don't mean that we actually wished we would melt into the concrete and be buried under it! I say "He really rattled my cage!" My friend says: "Literally?" (meaning -- "Were you really that rattled, that discombobulated at what he did?") I reply: "Yes!" (meaning I was all shook up -- but everyone realizes that I wasn't in a cage that got rattled, nor was I physically shaken) The word "literally" means "real and important" in such contexts even when the words used are most emphatically NOT literal in the supposedly underlying sense of being a non-metaphorical description!
.......... Common usess of "literal" number two. A second major way we use the word is to excuse "white lies" by explaining that something we stated strongly was "not literally meant": we may say "I have documentary proof that this is what happened", and then when called on it say "well, not literally documentary proof, but something just as good." That is we use "not literal" to mean, "an excusable exageration", or often, to be blunt, to mean "not really true, but don't blame me for saying so." Only rather rarely, in my experience (which could be atypical) do we use "literal" to mean what people often think of as the core meaning -- a precise and complete, and non-figurative, non-symbolic, non-poetic, account of what went on.

The problems with the word "literal" are compounded by several other factors
.......... We live in an increasingly technical age, in which exact technical descriptions and precise measurements and mechanical drawings and so on are increasingly important, and of course for the purposes for which they're used they are often superior to anything vaguer. From this, people often walk away with the (utterly false) idea that exact technical descriptions are somehow a higher and more deeply true kind of description than descriptions of phenomena not so precisely describable.
.......... Also, there's been a good deal of verbal arrogance and bullying on the part of those who regard science (quite incorrectly) both as antithetical to religion, and who regard even minor technological achievements, as well as science, as somehow a higher and more sophisticated enterprise than any other. This (in an utterly illogical and unsupported way) tends to convince both those who think "science" trumps other knowledge -- such as Biblical Christianity -- and those who think the reverse that being precisely technical -- which could be called "literal" -- in description is the best, truest, and highest form of description. It's not.
.......... (This is related to the misunderstood and generally not believed point that poetic description is often the most accurate, true, and insightful form of communication about many sorts of deep phenomena, and especially as regards things of the spirit!)
.......... Lots of believers in Christ -- and especially conservative, traditional, Biblically faithful and orthodox believers such as myself -- tend to feel under attack, and particularly as if both (i) the outright opponents of Christianity and (ii) people who define themselves as Christian but seem to be continually denying and watering-down and bolixing up the faith are involved in casting doubt on God's power, and miracles, and the basic truths -- including narrative truths -- which define the Christian faith. Accordingly, a natural defensive reaction is to want to fight any suggestion that there are parts of the faith whose description necessarily involves the use of figurative language. It comes so close to seeming like someone is, indirectly, watering down the faith, or taking part of it away.
All these things combine to give us a kind of wariness about recognizing that many doctrines and narratives involve the use of poetic language, and description that involves analogical or metaphorical or symbolic or figurative description.

Nevertheless, I think the word "literal" (or "not literal") is almost incoherent as a way of categorizing Biblical texts other than things which are descriptions of things that everyone saw, or could have seen, with their eyes, or heard with their ears, publically, in historically accessible times.

When someone asks if Jesus being nailed to the cross and dying is "literally" true I know just what is being asked. Similarly, if someone asks if he "literally" rose from the dead, I know just what is being asked. It's being asked whether his heart stopped beating, his blood coagulated, and so on. The answer is yes, and those very things were observed and recorded. It's being asked whether his body started working again like a body, whether he now breathed again, whether he could eat, or prepare dinner, or break bread which after he left) was actually broken. Not like a vision, or apparition, or inner impression, but just like any other body of any other person. Again the answer is yes! Yes, and those very things were observed and recorded -- and obviously recorded because they give a Yes answer to the question, which is crucial. Paul, in setting out the core basics of the faith in I Cor. 15 emphasizes not only that these things happened, but that "they were seen by" many witnesses, and Paul also attests that many witnesses are still alive. I know exactly the kind of things that the visual and other sense impressions left by Jesus's appearing would have been, and that the text is saying that people had just those sense experiences.

In accounts like the Genesis account, the word "literally" just confuses our reading of the text, IMO.
..........But when Genesis tells us that "humanity (Adam) "heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the Garden" I have no idea how to translate that into sense experiences -- and I don't believe that the text intends anything like that. God doesn't speak. Voices don't walk. God doesn't have a body and doesn't walk. Again "Adam hid" and God said "Where are you?" We know that God knows all things, and that we cannot hide from him. Therefore the language of hiding and seeking and seeing and covering is being used -- just as in the middle verses of Psalm 27; and just as we use these terms in describing human interactions and relationships today -- to convey an interpersonal interaction, not a physical hiding and seeking. Thus, the description is not "literal" in the sense people often regard as the basic sense just as it's not "literal" hiding when I "hide my feelings" from myself or from someone else.
..........Yet the answer "that didn't literally happen" would naturally mean that "it didn't really happen" -- and that, in my view, is not true. When Genesis tells us of these things, it's speaking truly, and importantly, and as accurately as it's possible to speak to us of these things, and in a way of representing things which is the perfect way that God (in whom all truth and full communication resides: He is the Word) forms to give us the best possible understanding. It's not that an interaction between Adam, or humanity, in which we disobeyed God, and tried to cover it up, and perceived God seeking for us, and so on didn't happen. It did happen -- but there's lots I don't know about what exactly is being referred to. The range of possible reference in the text is there and is deliberate, IMO. And the text is not crying out for us to figure those things out. The text is crying out for us to heed the essential lessons for the human heart, and the wreckedness and imago Dei which are part of each of us and part of the whole human family. Thus, I think that the use of the word "literal" makes nothing clearer. In so far as there are disagreements about how to read the text, the use of the word "literal" -- I think -- obscures rather than clarifies what the disputes are about.
..........Thus I think the word "literal" a recipe for confusion, which leads us down unfruitful and misleading paths of discussion, and I refuse to use it -- I don't know what it means! I can't use it! -- and I advise others not to also.

Besides all that, if I were to use the word "literal" concerning the Genesis text I'd use it in something like the sense of "paying attention to the actual words, diction, sentence structure, and the very letters of the text. Why does the Bible choose to use the word adam, or "ha Adam", "the adam" for humanity, and the word "adamah" for the ground out of which -- the text emphasizes -- humanity, adam, was formed. Why, in a text that emphasizes blood and the shedding of blood, are these words which are derived from the Hebrew word for blood. Interest in the exact letters, words, and form of the text is what poetic analysis is about. So in a sense I think attention to the poetry and poetic forms of the text are the most "literal" reading. But of course I don't want to use the word "literal" that way either, because I'm the only person I know of who uses it that way, and using it that way would thus be utterly confusing to others.

Having finished these preliminaries, in this and the previous two posts, I now want to turn to the question of what a careful reading -- and a poetic reading -- of Genesis (especially Genesis 1-12 or 1-11) would be like and ask that people get to the purpose of the thread, which is a careful reading which heeds the poetic forms of the text, and in doing so tries to get at its essential meanings!

(Getting back to posting this might take a little while, since I've spent more hours than I intended to trying to examine the methodological issues involved in conducting an examination of Genesis (Gen. 1-11) poetically.

Peace and blessing to all!
Scruff

Ryan R
Jul 19th 2009, 02:21 AM
So. . .if there was no fall there would be no mountains?

First, stick to the topic. If you've got an off topic question, then start another thread. I'm not going to be invovled in killing another one if I can help it.

Second, I've already told you that I'm done arguing with you. If you want to know what I have to say about something I'll gladly go on at length about any topic if you acknowlegde the difference between misinterpreting scripture and your disagreement with interpreting it literally.

Until then, all I'll give you is Bible quotes I think you should read. Enjoy:
"for we were born only yesterday and know nothing" (Job 8:9).

fishbowlsoul
Jul 19th 2009, 03:56 AM
First, stick to the topic. If you've got an off topic question, then start another thread. I'm not going to be invovled in killing another one if I can help it.

Second, I've already told you that I'm done arguing with you. If you want to know what I have to say about something I'll gladly go on at length about any topic if you acknowlegde the difference between misinterpreting scripture and your disagreement with interpreting it literally.

Ryan R did you get Itinerant Lurker mixed up with Philemon?

Also this idea that there was no physical death before the Fall has always been problematic if taken literally. First what verse states that at the Fall, the physiology of animals changed so lions and sharks switched from herbivore to carnivore? And also the dynamics of the earth and universe changed also? Second there is the problem of the death of plants before the fall if all the animals were herbivorous. Plants are living things which died physically before the Fall. How does this fit in the literalist framework? And does not taking this position of all herbivorous animals concept cause you to abandon in this case at least a literalist perspective?

God bless

GrainofWheat
Jul 19th 2009, 12:05 PM
I believe that Moses used literal, symbolic, and figurative speech in his writings including Genesis.
It appears to me that he uses these 3 types of expressions to describe actual events that happened with the Adam-Noah accounts.

Itinerant Lurker
Jul 19th 2009, 02:00 PM
First, stick to the topic. If you've got an off topic question, then start another thread. I'm not going to be invovled in killing another one if I can help it.


The question isn't off topic at all; we are talking about the nature of Genesis. You, taking the literal view, stated that,



The Bible says that the work of creation was complete from the beginning (Hebrews 4:3-4).

If we take this to mean that all change in creation is a result of the fall then, following Teddyv's reasoning, there shouldn't be any mountains. Mountains are formed by the constant movement of tectonic plates, islands are constantly being formed by volcanic activity and worn away by erosion and weathering over the course of millions of years, rocks are eroded into sediment, deposited, buried, compressed into sedimentary rock, warped into metamorphic rock, and then melted and cool into igneous rock in a constant cycle. Does all this geologic change contradict the literal view of a "complete" creation or is this merely the result of the fall? Or perhaps is this constant cycle of change which we find mirrored in biology the actual creation as God built it?




Second, I've already told you that I'm done arguing with you. If you want to know what I have to say about something I'll gladly go on at length about any topic if you acknowlegde the difference between misinterpreting scripture and your disagreement with interpreting it literally.


So. . .you'll only engage if I say that I'm wrong and you're right? Talk about your pre-emptive strikes.



Until then, all I'll give you is Bible quotes I think you should read. Enjoy:
"for we were born only yesterday and know nothing" (Job 8:9).


"Thou dost appoint darkness and it becomes night, In which all the beasts of the forest prowel about. The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their food from God." (Psalms 104:20-21)

Ryan R
Jul 20th 2009, 05:55 PM
Ryan R did you get Itinerant Lurker mixed up with Philemon?

Also this idea that there was no physical death before the Fall has always been problematic if taken literally. First what verse states that at the Fall, the physiology of animals changed so lions and sharks switched from herbivore to carnivore? And also the dynamics of the earth and universe changed also? Second there is the problem of the death of plants before the fall if all the animals were herbivorous. Plants are living things which died physically before the Fall. How does this fit in the literalist framework? And does not taking this position of all herbivorous animals concept cause you to abandon in this case at least a literalist perspective?

God bless


Hi fishbowlsoul,

No, I didn't get Itinerant Lurker mixed up with Philemon9 this time, but thanks for the accountability check because I have made that mistake before.

Good questions and I see what you're saying, but there’s no problem with taking the Fall literally.

The verse in Romans I mentioned before says that Adam’s sin introduced death, for which there is no indication to take it other than at face value (as I mentioned before, metaphors are revealed when referred back to in later parts of scripture). So, no death equals no carnivores. Also, as I mentioned before, we see in Isaiah that when God comes to redeem the earth physically the carnivores are turned into herbivores. It follows then that they are being turned back into herbivores if paradise earth had no death and God is coming to set things back to their natural order.

We can see the Fall did change the earth in Genesis Chapter 3:

“17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb (http://www.christiananswers.net/dictionary/herb.html) of the field;
19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground”

As for plant death, plants don’t have life blood. This seems to be the distinguishing factor between what constitutes what is ‘alive’ by this standard, as seen in Leviticus “For the life of a creature is in the blood” (17:11). Sap, by contrast, was still on the menu.

teddyv
Jul 20th 2009, 07:33 PM
The notion of a "literal" approach
The word "literal" is derived from the word "letter" -- a "letter of the law" reading could be described with an adjective as a "literal" (like "letter-al") approach. (Of course, the origin or derivation of a word is not necessarily something that helps get at the core of its meaning: you don't understand the word "butterfly" better by thinking about butter and flies, or the word the word "automobile" better by knowing it means self-moving -- that's true of helicopters and motorboats and trains too -- or know more about the holly-like plant called "oregon grape" by going to Oregon and eating grapes.)
....etc....etc.


Scruff, I don't know how manage these posts time after time.:)

Anyway after wading through that tome, I like what you are saying an agree with much of your points on the importance of recognizing what words we use in these contexts. Looking forward to the next chapters.

Philemon9
Jul 22nd 2009, 12:18 AM
Hi fishbowlsoul,

No, I didn't get Itinerant Lurker mixed up with Philemon9 this time, but thanks for the accountability check because I have made that mistake before.

Good questions and I see what you're saying, but there’s no problem with taking the Fall literally.

The verse in Romans I mentioned before says that Adam’s sin introduced death, for which there is no indication to take it other than at face value (as I mentioned before, metaphors are revealed when referred back to in later parts of scripture). So, no death equals no carnivores. Also, as I mentioned before, we see in Isaiah that when God comes to redeem the earth physically the carnivores are turned into herbivores. It follows then that they are being turned back into herbivores if paradise earth had no death and God is coming to set things back to their natural order.

We can see the Fall did change the earth in Genesis Chapter 3:

“17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb (http://www.christiananswers.net/dictionary/herb.html) of the field;
19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground”

As for plant death, plants don’t have life blood. This seems to be the distinguishing factor between what constitutes what is ‘alive’ by this standard, as seen in Leviticus “For the life of a creature is in the blood” (17:11). Sap, by contrast, was still on the menu.




This is reconciled with our observations of the physical world correct?

Ryan R
Jul 22nd 2009, 04:40 PM
This is reconciled with our observations of the physical world correct?

What do you mean? How could this be reconciled with anything? I am talking about history. It was in the past. We can only observe now. How can we reconcile observations with what we cannot gauge? Extrapolating observations into the past supposes that variables are constant. This is an unverifiable assumption and therefore extends beyond the reach of science, which is concerned with the observable and repeatable. Nothing that extends beyond the observable and repeatable is within the reach of scientific rigor. It is ultimately natural history.

The topic of this thread is the poetic nature of Genesis. In Genesis we are told that 6,000 years ago there was a paradise garden called Eden, that God created man from dust and woman from his rib. That they, and the very ground, were cursed when they rebelled by eating forbidden fruit, instituting the changes to the physical world that shape the properties that we observe today. That is the text. How do you propose that we reconcile these things with our current observations of the physical world, when the events of this account set the physical properties in question? And how would you reconciled Jesus walking on water or any of his other miracles with our observations of the physical world?

The whole point I see in this thread here is that the text says 6-day Creation, Garden of Eden, Fall, Flood. If you can argue that the sub-text demonstrates the text should not be interpreted literally, then please, I'd love to read it and I anticipate an interesting and well developed arguement to follow the ones that Crawfish has already presented. But, if you can't show how the subtext of Genesis shows that it should be interpreted metaphorically then I think you're off topic.

Can you please clarify for me what constructive purpose this question has? What were you trying to learn from it, or teach by it, and what relevance does it have to the topic of this thread? Maybe if you can clarify this for me I can give you a more complete answer.

Thank you.

Ryan R
Jul 22nd 2009, 04:43 PM
Ryan, I just spent about thirty minutes in a reply, hit the wrong key and lost the whole thing. I'm a bit frustrated right now. :) I'll respond to your post later this week, after I'm finally home.

Sorry to hear that my friend. I appreciate the effort and look forward to the post whenever you get a chance to redo it.

I hope it wasn't one of those times where you had the perfect wording and just can't recapture it in the re-write - that's happened to me before. Hopefully the first was just a warm up, hey?

Talk to you soon.

Ryan R
Jul 22nd 2009, 04:50 PM
The question isn't off topic at all; we are talking about the nature of Genesis. You, taking the literal view, stated that,
If we take this to mean that all change in creation is a result of the fall then, following Teddyv's reasoning, there shouldn't be any mountains. Mountains are formed by the constant movement of tectonic plates, islands are constantly being formed by volcanic activity and worn away by erosion and weathering over the course of millions of years, rocks are eroded into sediment, deposited, buried, compressed into sedimentary rock, warped into metamorphic rock, and then melted and cool into igneous rock in a constant cycle. Does all this geologic change contradict the literal view of a "complete" creation or is this merely the result of the fall? Or perhaps is this constant cycle of change which we find mirrored in biology the actual creation as God built it?



So. . .you'll only engage if I say that I'm wrong and you're right? Talk about your pre-emptive strikes.



"Thou dost appoint darkness and it becomes night, In which all the beasts of the forest prowel about. The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their food from God." (Psalms 104:20-21)

"Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?" (Isaiah 2:22)

Philemon9
Jul 23rd 2009, 01:55 AM
What do you mean? How could this be reconciled with anything? I am talking about history. It was in the past. We can only observe now. How can we reconcile observations with what we cannot gauge? Extrapolating observations into the past supposes that variables are constant. This is an unverifiable assumption and therefore extends beyond the reach of science, which is concerned with the observable and repeatable. Nothing that extends beyond the observable and repeatable is within the reach of scientific rigor. It is ultimately natural history.

The topic of this thread is the poetic nature of Genesis. In Genesis we are told that 6,000 years ago there was a paradise garden called Eden, that God created man from dust and woman from his rib. That they, and the very ground, were cursed when they rebelled by eating forbidden fruit, instituting the changes to the physical world that shape the properties that we observe today. That is the text. How do you propose that we reconcile these things with our current observations of the physical world, when the events of this account set the physical properties in question? And how would you reconciled Jesus walking on water or any of his other miracles with our observations of the physical world?

The whole point I see in this thread here is that the text says 6-day Creation, Garden of Eden, Fall, Flood. If you can argue that the sub-text demonstrates the text should not be interpreted literally, then please, I'd love to read it and I anticipate an interesting and well developed arguement to follow the ones that Crawfish has already presented. But, if you can't show how the subtext of Genesis shows that it should be interpreted metaphorically then I think you're off topic.

Can you please clarify for me what constructive purpose this question has? What were you trying to learn from it, or teach by it, and what relevance does it have to the topic of this thread? Maybe if you can clarify this for me I can give you a more complete answer.

Thank you.

My apologies, simple question: Without knowledge of the Bible, would we reach the same conclusions through natural observation?

RollTide21
Jul 23rd 2009, 04:24 PM
What do you mean? How could this be reconciled with anything? I am talking about history. It was in the past. We can only observe now. How can we reconcile observations with what we cannot gauge? Extrapolating observations into the past supposes that variables are constant. This is an unverifiable assumption and therefore extends beyond the reach of science, which is concerned with the observable and repeatable. Nothing that extends beyond the observable and repeatable is within the reach of scientific rigor. It is ultimately natural history.
I am admittedly not an expert in archaeology or paleontology, but are you suggesting that science cannot truly give an accurate account of aging? Are you saying that, because of different variables that we cannot fathom, the scientific processes (whatever they are, currently) that we use for dating are unreliable?

Or...do you subscribe to the interpretation that the World WAS without form and void PRIOR to creation...meaning the physical world was indeed there before the creation account and that it was essentially RE-formed in Genesis...and that this would explain the science stating that the Earth is billions of years old?

Forgive me if I am misunderstanding what you are saying. These questions about the age of our physical Earth might be off-topic. I am just referring to what I interpreted from the above paragraph along with your assertion that the Earth is 6000 years old.

Ryan R
Jul 23rd 2009, 04:29 PM
My apologies, simple question: Without knowledge of the Bible, would we reach the same conclusions through natural observation?

No problem and thanks so much for clarifying.

Yes, I believe that it is true that people do understand what they need to about the Genesis account from nature. Virtually every culture across the globe has a mythology that includes divine creation, the fall of man from paradise, and a catastrophic flood. Not every culture believed all of these things, but they are such frequently recurring themes that they seem to be apparent from observation, or are hang-ups from cultural memory.

Across the globe and throughout history again, it seems that people recognize that the trials and toils of this world are curses. Whenever there are outbreaks of diseases, pests, invasive herbs, or in times of drought or natural disaster the first things people blame are witches, demons, imps, goblins, ghost and all manner of other dark spirits, because it is apparent that our fleshly troubles are rooted in curse.

As for things only being considered alive if they have life blood, even vegans and eastern mystics who ascribe to ahimsa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahimsa_in_Jainism), glorify the notion of non-violence towards living creatures, eat vegetables with a clear conscious. Humans seem to have a universal comprehension of the distinction between eating animals and plants.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me: All of the above stated are examples of things that are NOT typically used to glorify God. Mostly, they give rise to superstitions, but this is not because the truth was not apparent to people, just that God gave people over to their tendency to exalt and glorify creation over the creator, as we seen in Romans 1:

19Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
25Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

I hope this answers your question. Please let me know if there is anything you would like me to expand on.

Thanks.

Ryan R
Jul 23rd 2009, 05:13 PM
I am admittedly not an expert in archaeology or paleontology, but are you suggesting that science cannot truly give an accurate account of aging? Are you saying that, because of different variables that we cannot fathom, the scientific processes (whatever they are, currently) that we use for dating are unreliable?


Or...do you subscribe to the interpretation that the World WAS without form and void PRIOR to creation...meaning the physical world was indeed there before the creation account and that it was essentially RE-formed in Genesis...and that this would explain the science stating that the Earth is billions of years old?

Forgive me if I am misunderstanding what you are saying. These questions about the age of our physical Earth might be off-topic. I am just referring to what I interpreted from the above paragraph along with your assertion that the Earth is 6000 years old.

Hi RollTide21,

Thanks for the request for clarification. I don't want to get too far off topic here, so I'll try to relate it to the poetic nature of Genesis, and if my answer seems incomplete please feel free to start a thread posing your specific question and invite me to contribute. I'd be happy to expand.

Genesis is written poetically, but so is much of the rest of the Bible. For this reason and others I’ve previously listed, I don’t see sufficient indication in the subtext to imply that we should override the stated sequence of events in the text. I have faith in the Bible, and it holds up historically in every case we can verify, so unless the subtext (poetically devises used) demonstrates how and why we should interpret the stated sequence of events as metaphoric, then I will hold the exact words in Genesis to the same literal interpretation and standard of faith that I hold Jesus’ miracles. The Bible is reliable, man’s calculations are not, “Stop trusting in man, who has but a breath in his nostrils. Of what account is he?” (Isaiah 2:22).

What Genesis tells us is that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was [a (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=1&chapter=1&version=31#fen-NIV-2a#fen-NIV-2a)] formless and empty,” (Gen 1:1,2), so no, it was created, not re-formed.

And no, I’m not saying we can’t fathom the scientific process to properly date the earth, I am saying it is not in the realm of science to do so. There is no way in which science can possibly verify natural history. It is impossible to verify or discount the Genesis account. Science deals with the observable and repeatable. Creation falls into neither category. All of our calculations can look good to us, but if they cannot be observed to be reliably repeated then they do not validate any assumptions. They may support assumptions, and the fewer contradictions with other assumptions the stronger the support, but they can never validate the assumptions. Ultimately it is a matter of faith, and the God is the only thing worth of that.

I was once convinced that the world was very old and I did not accept otherwise until someone showed me that the physical evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of a recent creation. Now I believe the poems in the Bible to me more accurate then any scientific inquiry we could devise. So, if the subtext says Genesis is a metaphor, then that’s what I will believe. I am, however, convinced that this is not the case, but we’ll have to see what Crawfish presents here to see if he can change my mind. It wouldn’t be the first time.

I love to talk about this stuff and I would be happy to go into the specifics of why, no matter how good the calculations may look, the assumptions in our dating methods are insupportable.

crawfish
Jul 24th 2009, 04:17 PM
I finally have some time to get back to this argument. Sorry I lost my earlier thoughts, but many of the things I said were addressed later by others, so I'll address the more unique points here.

First, I do understand that just because something is poetic or allegorical does not mean that it is not presenting some literal truth. What I do believe, though, is that it opens the door to a purely allegorical interpretation if other evidence supports it. The same as how we reject any apparent interpretation of scripture that implies a flat earth or geocentricism, we can reject the literal view and still keep the integrity of the text. And, unlike you (from the post above), I see the evidence towards and ancient earth, common descent and a different order of creation to be overwhelming. And from what I see, a pure young-earth Creationist view forces not only rejection of very solid theory but enough strong evidence to falsify it.

At first, this seems like a contradictory statement - how can I believe Genesis is poetic and allegorical while I see poetry and allegory elsewhere in scripture that I believe tells a literally true story? For instance, look at Mark 2:1-12; the story of a paraplegic who was lowered from the roof to Jesus. When viewed in the light of Herod's temple, where the High Priest was lowered by elevator into the holy of holies to pray for the sins of all of Israel, we see some obvious allegory: the paraplegic represented the priest, being lowered to the holy of holies of the temple who is Jesus, who then forgives his sins. Obvious allegory, but I believe it really happened.

Why? One one hand, you have accounts written by eyewitnesses or through secondhand accounts in the generation of the event or in a generation following, but while eyewitnesses still lived. This is true of every book of the bible - EXCEPT Genesis. Genesis was written from moral stories (ch1-11) and oral histories (12+), provided through the inspiration of God to illustrate a point using the cosmology understood by the people of the time. God didn't simplify His creation by performing it in a way easily understood by these ancient peoples; HOW things are made hardly matters. What matters is that there is only one God responsible for the creation of all things including man, man is put at the head of creation, and man is fallen and must exercise his free will to choose God or not.

Ryan R
Jul 27th 2009, 07:55 PM
Hi Crawfish,

There is a fundamental misunderstanding behind the comparison of the misinterpretation of scripture that lead to geocentrism and a literal interpretation of scripture, and with the frequency with which this argument is used, I’m starting to think that the geocentrism argument is boring the pilot hole for the evolutionist plug. Allow me to elaborate.

Geocentrism is not, in any way, supported by scripture. That the world is referred to as a ‘circle’ (Isaiah 40:22) does not in any way mean that it is flat. I have heard that the Hebrew word for ‘sphere’ was developed after the Bible was written. I haven’t bothered to look into this because, although it may shed some light on the choice of wording in the scripture, it doesn’t fundamentally matter.

What matters is that a sphere is literally a circle. It is a 3D circle. You can no more suggest that this is an error than to suggest that someone is wrong for saying a box is square, and this is a commonly accepted verbal choice.

The statement that the world is a circle is true in the purest sense. When the Bible says that God hung the earth from nothing (Job 26:7), the circle imagery that is given to us in Isaiah wouldn’t fit if the earth was flat, or dome-shaped, as only a sphere is round from every angle.

Now, this isn’t to say that this verse rules out the possibility of the earth being a flat circle. By itself it doesn’t and it is quite possible that no one would ever reach the conclusion that the earth was a sphere based off of scripture. This point is irrelevant, however, as the Bible never seeks to do so. The important point is that while scripture may not rule out that the earth is flat, it does not (and must not) rule out that it is round. If it did, it would be wrong, and scripture would not be inerrant.

In an earlier conversation you and I had, you mentioned that the Old Testament writers seemed to be using the flat or dome shaped models accepted by contemporary cultures. I cannot understand what about God’s character could lead to the acceptance of a theory that His Divinely Inspired Word could ever incorporate the erroneous superstitions of heathen nations. God tells us how things are, and His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). We are only able to understand His Word through the Holy Spirit. How could He teach us pure truth by means of misinformation?

The argument seems to me to suggest that God is either restricted in his capability of communicating something accurately because of us (even though He is God can do all things – why not just state that the world is a sphere, he is God and He says so and we’d better get used to it), or that the human authors who penned the scriptures have more to do with scripture than the Divine Author who inspired it. In any case, it restricts God’s ability to convey simple truth by suggesting the Bible is taught by means of contemporary misconception, despite the fact that it does not state that the world is flat or dome-shaped.

So, there is no applicability in the comparison of the belief in geocentrism (which is a misinterpretation of what scripture actually says) with a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11 (which is represented perfectly by what scripture actually says, i.e. it is the text, regardless of what the subtext may indicate about any metaphoric meaning).

The Bible does say, 6 Day Creation, Paradise Garden, Fall, Flood, Bable. It does not say the world is flat or dome-shaped. You might just as well say that if the Bible tells us there was a world wide flood then it also told the Jews who made their offerings to kill puppies “He who sacrifices a lamb is like the one who breaks a dog's neck” (Isaiah 66:3). No matter how people may have interpreted it, it’s not what the Bible actually says.

Now, since I believe that the Bible tells us how the real world was, is and will be with perfect accuracy, my bias is to be as absolutely dogmatic as I possibly can about everything I find in scripture and not at all about anything I don’t. The Bible doesn’t say the world is flat, dome-shaped or round in specific, so I’ll trust in people, as far as it goes, to dictate which option is the correct one, based on calculations and observations. The Bible says what is says in Genesis, and I don’t see any reason to take it metaphorically, so I believe it. I go to the Bible for truth and then I see how the world reflects it, and it always does.

It seems to me that your approach is that you go to the Bible and where there is a conflict between what the Bible says about the physical world and how you believe the physical world operates, you check the world for truth and then see how the Bible should be interpreted for the best explanation (please let me know if there is anything about this description that is unfair as it’s not my objective to make assumptions of your position, I’m just trying to clarify how I understand your position).

If this description is correct on any level, then I submit to you that your bias is tainted by the devil. Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t suggest in any way that you are an agent of Satan – only that he is very crafty and he will deceive us wherever he can (he gets me by playing off of my carnal selfishness and tries to convince me to live for myself and make this world my home, instead of looking towards my heavenly home).

However, this world belongs to Satan and his native language is lies. I believe he is so much smarter than we are that we couldn’t even imagine and he’s looking for any opportunity he can get to dupe us. If your filter for truth involves screening the Bible through what the world tells you is true, then you are straining the Inspired Word of God through human observations (complete with misconceptions and agendas) mingled with Satan’s lies. What comes out the other end cannot possibly be pure.

So again, if the devises used in Genesis point towards interpreting it as an allegory, then that is what we should do. If not, however, then we cannot trust the world to fill in the gaps. If it isn’t literal, how will our observations of natural history ever explain the key points that we all agree are so fundamental, e.g. What does the fall actually mean? From what did we fall? Why was the garden described as a paradise, while nature is cruel?

The allegory doesn’t seem to fit with the text, and if it did how would we know? Where is the key to decipher to code? Because it surely cannot be found in this present darkness.

crawfish
Jul 27th 2009, 10:45 PM
Ryan,

Thanks for your reply. I think you hit on some good points that need to be expanded upon. I obviously do not agree with your conclusions, and I hope I can express clearly why I disagree.

First, my point isn't that the bible teaches geocentricism or a flat earth, only that it uses imagery that more easily fits into the geocentric or flat earth worldview than the actual truth. You can argue that circle means sphere all you want; but the truth is that the verse is undoubtedly ambiguous about the nature of the circle, and in truth isn't making a comment about the shape of the earth but presenting imagery to explain the majesty of God. It is our rationalistic, 21st-century mindset that requires that we reinterpret this to have some natural truth in order to satisfy our need for God's word to be "true" in light of modern science. It is a misuse of scripture.

Now, it is without doubt that scripture can be interpreted in a way that lent support to ancient cosmologies. We have to ask ourselves, why would God do this? Why would He use language and imagery that would seem on the surface to confirm an untruth? The reason is fairly simple: God is using a known meme in which to explain a spiritual truth. The problem is not in God's ability to communicate to us; it is in our ability to understand.

I think the crux of the argument is in how we view the nature of divine inspiration. One extreme believes that the author is truly a mindless vessel, into which God places the exact words, phrases, sentences and ideas. Thus, the words written are strictly God-defined and unlimited by the knowledge or worldview of the author. The other extreme believes that God inspired by working with faithful men who write from their own personal experience using their worldview and level of knowledge, and those works are considered inspired because of the effects they have in subsequent generations. I could go into some detail on why I lean far to the latter opinion. When you accept the latter, it is only obvious that we should reject the attempt to reconcile the worldview of an author who lived thousands of years ago, and instead attempt to study and apply the spiritual message that is intended. God is not providing some supernatural insight into the true workings of the natural world; when we make the attempt we only end up obscuring the true meaning and forming a basis of faith on what God does not intend.

My opinion isn't that God's word changes because of scientific discovery and advancement; instead, I feel that such discovery allows us to filter out what God's word does not mean. In light of so much evidence, it is clear that the six days of creation is simply a framework for expaining God's involvement in creation; one day at a time to address elements that pagan cultures attributed to polytheistic divine forces, and instead attribute them to the singular hand of God. The same way we can now discount verses that seem to indicate geocentricism without sacrificing the inerrancy of scripture, we can also discount a literal six days. The language allows us to do so with no fear of inconsistency.

As for Satan's influence on this subject, I will not speculate. I will suggest that you exercise caution in that accusation. I might similarly express that modern biblical literalism and Young-Earth Creationism is an attempt by Satan to force people into a false stance between science and scripture, to stunt our ability to reach the lost by forcing them to choose between Christ or their own eyes. I certainly don't think Satan is beyond misusing scripture for his purposes - many evil men have twisted scripture to evil purposes in order to manipulate people into very un-Christlike behavior. In the end, what defines using or misusing scripture? It is the presence of the Holy Spirit when reading it. I know you feel the Spirit in you when you take Genesis 1-11 literally. I know I feel the Spirit in me when I take it allegorically. Either one of us is wrong, both of us are wrong, or we are both right. I am convinced the latter is true, but perhaps the reason why is the subject for another thread. :)

Finally, I'll answer this:


What does the fall actually mean? From what did we fall? Why was the garden described as a paradise, while nature is cruel?

The fall means what it always has. It wasn't some small act of disobedience by picking a fruit from a forbidden tree; it is the act of "adam" (literally, humanity) to accept free will to sin over an eternal life of innocence. It represents our state of unworthiness before God and our need for His grace.

From what did we fall? From innocence.

Why is the garden described as a paradise while nature is cruel? I suggest you look to the bible alone for what Eden was, and not make assumptions based on tradition. I was shocked at how different my view of this was afterwards. We are undoubtedly strongly influenced in our views of heaven and hell by Milton, Dante and others; and while I love their stories, they all go beyond what scripture says and into speculation.

Ryan R
Jul 28th 2009, 04:58 PM
Hello Crawfish,

Well my friend, I can see that there’s nothing about my position that I can write that you that you won’t already have read somewhere else, expressed much better than I would put it. I believe we are just about at the fork of this argument where we take our separate paths. It has been a pleasure conversing with you on this topic and I thank you very much for all of your time and perspectives, and for inviting me to reply to your thread.

I have a few closing comments and I’ll check back here in a little while to see if you wanted to conclude anything else, but I think we’ve pretty much said our piece and so if either one of us is to change our minds it will be the work of the Holy Spirit, as you pointed out.

I agree with your point that the scripture isn’t setting out to prove itself as scientifically accurate. It clearly isn’t the focus and it is important not to lose the meaning of the verses.

I also agree that the crux of the argument is the nature of divine inspiration. I believe that while God did not directly intend to provide a lot of supernatural insight into the natural world He incidentally does in many cases, and that if scripture cannot contradict physical truth. However, I think I’ve already gone down that road so I’ll leave it with this verse in mind, “Every Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) which bespeaks of God breathing the same personal and creative life into the scriptures as he breathed into Adam (an argument that may presuppose my position to have the desired impact, so again, I’ll leave it at that).

I would like to challenge a statement you made in an earlier post that there were no eye-witnesses to the Genesis account. I submit that Jesus was there (John 1:3) and that he refers to it: “at the beginning the Creator made them male and female” (Matthew 19:4), but, I recognize that your interpretation is that He is teaching about a moral truth instead of an event (which I see as simultaneous, like your decent of Herod example).

I would like to assure you that I mean no personal offense or disrespect when I said that if you operate under the assumption that we can check scripture against the world, then your bias is susceptible to satanic influence. I find myself constantly grappling with how the world (i.e. the devil) is tainting my interpretation of scripture.

However, I don’t believe that I can use this accusation carelessly, because “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world” (Ephesians 6:12). We would not be cautioned against such attacks if they weren’t a constant and real threat. So again, this isn’t directed at you personally, but a worldview that accepts anything that comes from the world falls into the realm of “this dark world” over which Satan is allowed measures of authority and he sees more clearly in the dark than we do. This isn’t speculation, it’s what we’ve been warned about.

I’m not really sure how you’d just as easily demonstrate such a warning to me from scripture. Maybe you could, and if it would be edifying for me then please do so. If that’s not something you want to post here you could just click on my profile and post it there, or private message me. I’ve tried to enable this feature and I’d be interested to see if I can receive messages in any case.

I appreciate your caution not to take a literal interpretation from the world instead of from scripture. You are completely right that we cannot be influenced by the works of fiction when interpreting God’s Word, and this is an easy pitfall. I try to interpret scripture according to Isaiah 28: 9,10:
“Whom shall he teach acknowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk (http://scriptures.lds.org/en/isa/28/9c), and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept (http://scriptures.lds.org/en/isa/28/10a) upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little”

God bless you my friend. I praise God that, while we differ on this point and I believe it to be a very important one, you love Him, serve Him and have a passion to teach on His Word. I invite you to join my prayer that we’ll both see His Truth more clearly, and I look forward to talking to you again.

Ninna
Jul 28th 2009, 05:55 PM
As this thread has run it's course, it is closed.