If we’re going to have a meaningful discussion about the Old Testament we must first go over how to understand it. For instance, superficially reading it as a flat woodenly literal textbook will give us a wrong view of what is being said. It’s not the words of the Bible that are at issue; it’s the interpretation of those words that pose the challenge for us.
Our particular interpretative method (hermeneutic) will determine how compatible the Old Testament appears to be with science.
For example, there are three ways we can interpret the Genesis creation story, ranging in various degrees in compatibility with modern science. On the somewhat incompatible side, you would have someone like Ken Ham with Answers in Genesis. He’s a Young Earth Creationist. At the moderate level, there is Dr. Hugh Ross with Reasons to Believe. He’s an Old Earth Creationist. Both Ham and Ross represent traditional views on evolution. The most compatible view with science is probably that of Dr. Francis Collins, founder of The Biologos Foundation, who advocates both the old earth creationism and theistic evolution.
I bring this up because all three represent positions held by Christians who take a literal view of the Bible very seriously (for a better understanding of what “literal” actually means, watch this clip).
In the interest of full disclosure, my particular (non-dogmatic) view hovers somewhere between that of Dr. Ross and Dr. Collins. I prefer Dr. Ross’s particular “day-age” explanation of creation from an astrophysicist’s viewpoint; I prefer Biologos’s philosophical and theological position because it represents a more fully-orbed view from Bible scholars, physicists, and biologists.
With that out of the way, it would be good to start with this clip from Biologos about how we are to understand the Old Testament text. Please watch this before continuing on with the rest of the post.
Putting the right interpretative glasses on
The Old Testament must be anthropologically understood, as the ancient culture understood it, not through our 21st century culture and scientific standards. This is critically important, as Dr. John Walton, Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College said:
“We’re well aware that people have to translate the language for us; we forget that people have to translate the culture for us. And therefore if we want to get the best benefit from the communication, we need to try to enter their world, hear it as the audience would’ve heard it, as the author would’ve meant it, and to read it in those terms.” (emphasis added)
If we don’t get this, we may end up actually missing actually being communicated to us. As physicist and theologian, Dr. John Polkinghorne said about the ancient paradigm:
“The stories of the ancient world were not concerned with minute literal [scientific] accuracy as we are today. People wrote, not to give you a sort of factual journalistic account of what’s going on, but to tell you the significance to what was happening.”
Again, Dr. John Walton:
“The Bible wasn’t written to us. It wasn’t written in our language; it wasn’t written with our culture in mind or our culture in view….people come to Scripture thinking they need to integrate it with science, and so they want to either read science out of the Bible or they want to read science into the Bible. That’s not the way to do it because inevitably you end up making the text says things it never meant to the ancient audience.”
Understanding creation myths
I should mention here what is meant by creation stories or creation myths. A “myth” doesn’t necessarily mean that the story is total fiction. As N.T. Wright put it, “When anthropologists talk about myth, what they mean is not an untrue story. What they mean is a story that is full of power in how we understand ourselves…” (see the full comment here).
As Dr. Nancy Murphy, professor of Christian Philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary said in the video clip:
“We can understand what our own creation stories are saying better if we know what the creation myths were, that were known at the time those stories were written. For instance, to realize that a lot of the Genesis stories were written as a counter-measure against the other culture’s creation stories. That throws an immense amount of light on what parts of the story we’re supposed to be paying attention to.” (Emphasis added)
Old Testament scholar, Peter Enns said this:
“Genesis shares a theological vocabulary with the other stories, it just sort of turns it on its head….it’s a potent and counter-intuitive theological statement in the ancient world where people say, ‘that’s totally different from anything we’ve ever seen.'” (Emphasis added)
These creation stories were meant to confront the pagan creation myths that these people were deeply embedded in. Otherwise, as N.T. Wright said, it’s like seeing the notes of a Beethoven Symphony but not understanding what the work is actually about…“It doesn’t actually catch what’s going on.” In other words, to simply read it as textbook, analyzing the data like we do today, is to miss the proverbial forest for the trees.
I will finish with another quote from N.T. Wright:
“This world was made to be God’s abode, God’s home, God’s dwelling. He shared it with us and now He wants to rescue and redeem it. So we have to read Genesis for all it’s worth. And to say, either history or myth, is a way of saying, ‘I’m not going to study this text for what it’s worth. I’m just going to flatten it out so that it conforms to the cultural questions that my culture today is telling me to ask.’ And I think that’s a form of actually being unfaithful to the text itself.”
Next time we’ll look at the historical and dating issues with the Old Testament.
While I’m encouraged by your more-a-poem approach to the Creation narrative Christianity adopted from Judaism, the cosmogony detailed simply doesn’t cut it as even vaguely satisfactory.
It does not reflect in any shape or form the actual early universe, which, even under poetic license, could be articulated rather simply, and in such a manner that people today, with today’s knowledge, could genuinely marvel at.
Saying something like spheres within spheres circling spheres, circling spheres, circling spheres would have been thoroughly impressive. That, however, is not stated, rather a flat earth cosmogony is presented.
Dur is the word for ball.
Kadur is the word for sphere
The word used in the Creation narrative is khûg, meaning circle… a 2D object.
Self-evidently, there was no supernal inspiration behind this story.
As a theodicy it also fails, as the chronology of the events contradict the central theme of that theodiocy; that man is responsible for evil.
By the bibles own chronology of events, the angels were created before the earth, and the earth before man (Job 38:4-7). Evil, however, entered Creation before the earth, and therefore before man… an event witnessed in the fall of Yhwh’s most beautiful creation, Lucifer (Ezekiel 28, Isaiah 14). Creation, therefore, was diseased before the earth was even shaped, and the tumour Christianity blames on Adam was already growing before Yhwh fashioned man. The angels fell before man. Original sin does not lay at Adams feet, but the angels.
Therefore, by the story’s own chronology, Yhwh brought man into an already infected world, a diseased world, a failed world, a world that was already corrupted.
Simply put, there is simply so much wrong with the narrative that it can be filed as the imaginings of simple men. Precious, certianly. Human narratives are priceless artefacts, the stones upon which we have raised our many cultures.
Again, a creation myth does not mean there’s no facts behind the story. This is how the ancient people tried to describe their world. Nobody in the Hebrew ancient world thought the sun and moon was created on the fourth chronological 24-hour day! That’s ridiculous. It must be understood a different way. And if you cannot understand the narrative through the cultural lens, you will not understand what it being said. You cannot compare or test Genesis with 21st scientific literalism. You must compare it to the Egyptian and Sumerian creation stories and other surrounding cultures. You’re still trying to analyze the creation account like a science book, making it say something it was never meant to say.
As Peter Enns says:
And even the early church fathers did not read the creation story with scientific wooden literalism, so is not a knee-jerk reaction to modern science. For instance, in Peter Bouteneff’s book “Beginnings: Ancient Christian Readings of the Biblical Creation Narratives” he said this about Origen (ca.185-254):
The problem has never been with the Bible’s intent but with our interpretation of it. The inspiration of the Bible is not in its scientific accuracy. This is not even addressed, although as I said, it’s not complete fiction either. Its real inspiration to us in the 21st century is in what it’s saying about us.
I will talk about the history aspects of the OT stories next time, so I won’t comment here.
It claims to be true, Mel, and there is no editors note saying otherwise.
But I am curious, how do you determine what is true and what is poetry? What method do you use, and how did you arrive at this method?
What do you mean, it claims to be true? By whose standard? And what do you mean by “true.” It’s not saying there’s no beginning or creation. Taking a scientific wooden-literal interpretation is totally foreign to this ancient culture. If you don’t see this, you miss everything. And the Bible argues against that flat view internally.
I’m using the same methods these scholars I mentioned are using. I look to see if it has explanatory scope and power. A scientific wooden-literal view is untenable and not intended. The original audience would never have understood it this way.
I’m using the same methods these scholars I mentioned are using.
And what is that, Mel? Can you detail this method?
And can you give me an example of things this method tells you are true, and example of the things this method tells you are false.
They are anthropological methods as well as textual. Not only do we have to translate the language; we also have to translate the culture. You cannot divorce these stories from the culture they were written to.
There probably was a flood since it’s written about by several cultures. But they had no concept of “global” in the ancient world. It probably meant their known world.
Cain wasn’t one of the first four people on earth, since he was afraid of what other people would do to him when he was cast away from God’s protection. There probably was a real Cain, but the known world was already populated.
I could give you a lot more examples but they go outside the scope of this post. But the whole point of these stories I did mention is not in the scientific accuracy, but what they say to us about human nature and the need for redemption.
Ah, so men many, many, many hundreds of years later came up with this method to interpret “God breathed” scripture, which claims to be entirely true (Psalm 119:160).
You know, there’s a name for this method: That’s-Just-Too-Stupid-For-Me-To-Possibly-Defend-So-I’ll-Call-It-Metaphor-And-Wave-My-Hands-At-All-Enquiries
You see, Mel, if it hadn’t been for science, people, like you, would still be reading the bible as actual history.
That, of course, is no longer tenable. In response, you have shifted the goal posts.
Tildeb’s criticism is spot on.
I look forward to your next post.
Again, you are defining “God breathed” as scientifically accurate. That is not what it means, and it doesn’t mean it’s total fiction either. The inspiration is what it was telling them about themselves in THEIR culture, and what it still speaks to us. Why don’t you get this?
It’s no different than any other history of the time. We don’t know “actual history.” We interpret and interpolate the best we can based on what we have. And there’s no such thing as unbiased historicity.
And besides, your argument is not even true. Your wooden-literal take was not the view of the Ante-Nicene fathers, it was never the view of the Eastern church, the Orthodox. What we’re finally coming around to in the West is that the ancient culture cannot be understood through the scientific method or our cultural lens. It must be anthropologically understood as well as translating the language.
You say, “If it wasn’t for science…” well, think about this, John. If there was no design to the universe we could not even have science or theorems or natural laws. There would be no order to things. So, I could just as easily say, if it’s wasn’t for God we could not have science.
So, which part of the Creation story is true, Mel?
Mel, which part of the Creation narrative is true?
That God created the earth and said it was very good, and made us in His image as His representative to take care of it. This was in direct contradiction to the other pagan creation stories. The story is giving an existential answer not a scientific one, contrasting it with the other creation narratives.
Again, all cultures assumed the existence of God(s). That was not the point of the story. The point is the why He did it and the nature of creation.
So, you deny that humans evolved, rather we were created, as specified in the story?
The point is the why He did it and the nature of creation.
Yes, why did he do it?
What purpose does this artificial world serve?
What is the ‘nature’ of Creation?
He did it to share His life with us. To extend the Divine Circle, if you will, to open up the Trinitarian life of God that existed before creation. He did so because God is love and love wants to express itself in relationship. It is other-centered and self-giving. He did it so we can enjoy life in His good world and life with Him beyond this world.
And you know this how, precisely, Mel?
Because that was what the whole New Testament is about! What the writers are telling us, giving us the big picture. The mystery revealed. It’s what Jesus taught about His Father and why He would send the Holy Spirit for adoption.
You know that part of the bible is true because the bible says so.
But there’s a problem with that, as I have now demonstrated twice.
Your chronology of events contradicts you.
And appealing to chronology is exactly what this post stated is reading the ancient text in a way it was never intended to be understood. It’s still reading a Modern mindset into the ancient text, Again, for instance, no one ever thought the sun and the moon was literally created on the fourth chronological day! That’s ridiculous. It was saying something else to them and for us. You’re still not seeing the forest for the trees.
You’re questioning thye chronology of events?
no one ever thought the sun and the moon was literally created on the fourth chronological day! That’s ridiculous.
Really? So you’re saying no one ever believed that story?
No one… ever?
Mel, you haven’t answered my question.
You said no one ever thought the sun and the moon was literally created on the fourth chronological day! That’s ridiculous.
I said: Really? So you’re saying no one ever believed that story?
No one… ever?
And you also haven’t answered my question about whether or not you believe man evolved.
Obviously, I don’t literally mean “no one” ever believed it. That would be absurd. The point is that it was common sense to take it another way back then, as it would be today. The people in that ancient culture had no science knowledge but they weren’t stupid either. They would take the sun and moon created on the fourth day to mean something else. And the Hebrew language allows for that. Of course, from our view we know that it’s not possible for scientific reasons. So, it’s obviously not to be taken with wooden literalism.
I already addressed this with Ark. I don’t have a strong conviction one way or the other about evolution. I see that there’s undeniable truth about evolution, but that’s also a vast subject. But my theology, and I believe Christian theology, does not address the issue. Most Christians allow for micro-evolution (within species). What they usually reject is macro-evolution (cross species). But I think Dr. Collins work with the Human Genome Project makes a good case for macro-evolution. I will just say this. I don’t believe evolution is a threat to theology. Although it may threaten some Christian’s particular paradigm or doctrinal position. Again, the Bible doesn’t address it. I personally don’t think it’s a fight we need to make.
No Mel, you said, quite clearly, no one ever thought the sun and the moon was literally created on the fourth chronological day! That’s ridiculous.
So, you’re withdrawing that comment, I see.
It then raises the question: Why did (and do) people believe the story?
Because it is presented as fact, and only since science has proven otherwise, apologists have had to shift and twist and contort their positions…. accommodating.
For once, can you at least be honest? Are you even capable of that??
The people in that ancient culture had no science knowledge
Absolute nonsense. The first atomists were around before the Jews even went to Babylon.
And as I detailed earlier, even using poetic license, what would have been impressive is if the story said something like: spheres within spheres circling spheres, circling spheres, circling spheres would have been thoroughly impressive. That, however, is not stated, rather a flat earth cosmogony is presented.
And again, the word for ball is Dur.
Kadur is the word for sphere
The word used in your Creation narrative is khûg, meaning circle… a 2D object.
I don’t have a strong conviction one way or the other about evolution.
And yet you claimed man (and the earth) were created.
So, which one is it Mel? Created, or evolved?
Show some intellectual courage… Own your beliefs.
And just to remind you, Mel, you said you know man (and the earth) were created.
Were you lying?
He did so because God is love and love wants to express itself in relationship.
And yet, by your own religion’s chronology, this is not true.
By the bibles own chronology of events, the angels were created before the earth, and the earth before man (Job 38:4-7). Evil, however, entered Creation before the earth, and therefore before man… an event witnessed in the fall of Yhwh’s most beautiful creation, Lucifer (Ezekiel 28, Isaiah 14). Creation, therefore, was diseased before the earth was even shaped, and the tumour Christianity blames on Adam was already growing before Yhwh fashioned man. The angels fell before man. Original sin does not lay at Adams feet, but the angels.
Therefore, by the story’s own chronology, Yhwh brought man into an already infected world, a diseased world, a failed world, a world that was already corrupted and on fire.
Does that speak to love?
(Despite this, I’d still like to hear how you know)
Yes, of course. Because love requires free will choice, otherwise it’s not love. All love is by choice. We know that from our human experience with love. By allowing for love God must allow for freedom, which means He risks the possibility that His creation will reject His overture of love and do evil. All you’re chronicling is that free choice in action (rejecting or accepting agape love).
The creation is corrupted as a result of God’s creatures living in alienation to walking in other-centered, self-giving love, not because of love. It’s the fruit of acting contrary to it on the earth. To the degree that this “evil” exists is the degree that the earth is corrupted and continues to be corrupted. I can infer this because when you understand the nature of God, that He is love, and the environment required for it to exist, everything else falls logically into place.
So, let me get this straight.
You are saying Yhwh casting man (whose participation in Creation was never solicited) into an already failed and diseased world, a world corrupted and on fire, was an act of love?
Very interesting, Mel.
I keep bumping up against this free-will-is-necessary-for-love notion and it makes no sense to me. Mel, when did you choose to love your children? What pros and cons did you go through before choosing to love your spouse?
I think this notion of choice required to love anything – including this idea of a god – is not true. At all. It seems to me that love happens in spite of and even contrary to any kind of choice being exercised.
Sure, there is an emotional and biological aspect of love, especially toward our children. And we can “fall” in love. But then we have to ask WHY do we have this impulse? Where did it comes from? And even a parent can be unloving, resentful, selfish, or abusive toward their children. What looks like “falling in love” can be for self-interest rather than love. And the love I’m talking about is not just emotional love, but other-centered, self-giving benevolence (Greek agape in the NT). There’s a choice involved to give this love, even at your own expense. That runs contrary to simple emotional impulse. It requires the will to overpower the need for self-preservation.
If love is not a choice, and can work without any freedom, then we’re just mindless animals responding to sexual stimuli. But that doesn’t explain why we contemplate love (or evil), or the genre of love songs, movies, poetry, art, and whole host of other ways we continually express it. It doesn’t explain giving your life for someone in spite of every instinct to protect yourself. Pure other-centered, self-giving love comes from God in a free environment. Evil (that’s not psychopathic) is done because of an unwillingness to walk in this other-centered, self-giving love. The person who murders decides to hate or seek revenge instead of love. There was a choice there.
This sense of love that involves a choice to offer benevolence sure looks a lot like a kind of self-serving negotiation: I will feel better about myself if I offer my benevolence to others. I wonder if your god offers His benevolence for such self-serving motivation or if He, like so many altruistic atheists, does so because He can, because it’s the right thing to do, because there are good reasons to improve the condition of the Other, including mutual benefit for doing so?
Oh right… unlike altruistic atheists, your god seems to love the , “Or else…” threat. It’s really too bad such a god can’t even live up to the same level of altruism, sympathy, empathy, and consideration for the welfare of others as that shown by any typical atheist. I wonder why?
Ah yes, sophisticated theology! Viewed the correct way, “Genesis is not intended to be an account of material origins.”
Sounds silky smooth, and so soothing, doesn’t it? Look how sophisticated the ‘interpretation’ is! See? No one needs to defend this idea of creationism because with the right interpretation, there is no account of material origins, donchaknow!
Well, not only will that little bit of apologetics be news to the vast majority of people who claim to be Christian and Jewish and Muslim – all of whom rely on Genesis to be a literal account of origins, it will stand contrary to the purely religious claim that humans really, really, really were created by a Creator. Pay no attention to the fact that both Collins and Enns – the creators of BioLogos used in this video – who tried to use this sophisticated approach to make Old Earth creationism and science about human origins compatible were then summarily driven out altogether of BioLogos by the Southern Baptists for such apostasy! If Genesis is really just a metaphorical means to allow us to interpret the deeper meaning in how we understand ourselves, then why would Christians be okay that a blood sacrifice named Jesus was needed to redeem our – apparently – metaphorical inheritance of a sinful nature?
Well, the answer is because this sophisticated theology is a load of crap. It’s the cream of apologetic nonsense.
Genesis is not understood and interpreted to be metaphorical at all. It is meant to be an account of our material origins and anyone who tries to tell you differently is putting lipstick on a pig and trying to tell you it’s not a pig… and the proof of that is that these sophisticated theologians never, ever try to paint Jesus’ sacrifice to be an equivalent interpretation of suffering and dying on behalf of a metaphor. Jesus, we are told, died for our sins, are we not Mel?
Genesis in religio-speak ain’t no metaphor, ain’t something subject to appropriate cultural interpretation in some beautiful and deep figurative language. That’s the lipstick of apologetics being garishly applied.
then why would Christians be okay that a blood sacrifice named Jesus was needed to redeem our – apparently – metaphorical inheritance of a sinful nature?
The whole idea of a necessitated blood sacrifice (atonement) is contradicted by Jesus himself when in Luke 7:48 Jesus demonstrates he can erase sin without being killed. ”Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven””… so even this opinion of sacrificial atonement is flawed.
Yes, sophisticated theology (hermeneutics) is the Mother Of All Shifting The Goal Posts.
Again, creation stories being myths is not always the same thing as being metaphorical. The Bible is not all metaphor. It has many genres and types of narrative. There are literal facts embedded within the stories but they are not necessarily scientifically chronological or date specific. For instance, we might think Cain is one of the first four people on earth from a plain reading, but when he is driven out, he’s afraid of being killed by other people, and it talks about cities. So, obviously, the Bible itself is telling us there were people on the earth. The Bible only focuses on the lineage of Jesus, not the whole population of the earth.
It’s not metaphorical at all. What you are talking about here is one particular theory of atonement held by Fundamentalists and many Western Evangelicals. There are several theories, and this particular one was not the theory held by the earliest church nor has it ever been the atonement theory for the Orthodox church. They would call that heresy. It was invented by Anselm in the eleventh century, then added on to by the Reformers. I’ve written extensively on the faulty Penal Substitutionary Atonement theory on this blog, so I won’t comment on it more here.
One last comment about the sin nature you mentioned. The Bible’s point is that we have one, and that reality is evidenced every day on planet earth. We weren’t born in sin as babies (a wrong interpretation of Romans 5:12 by Augustine who could not read Greek), Paul makes the point that we are sinners because we sin. That’s what it means by “sin nature.”
Far be it from me to disagree with you, Mel, but the Roman Catholic Church disagrees with you. No doubt in your mind the official version the Church – the same one that has brought Christianity into being a global religion – is wrong, too:
“This is a difficult point and many systems have been invented to explain it: it will suffice to give the theological explanation now commonly received. Original sin is the privation of sanctifying grace in consequence of the sin of Adam. This solution, which is that of St. Thomas, goes back to St. Anselm and even to the traditions of the early Church, as we see by the declaration of the Second Council of Orange (A.D. 529): one man has transmitted to the whole human race not only the death of the body, which is the punishment of sin, but even sin itself, which is the death of the soul [Denz., n. 175 (145)]. As death is the privation of the principle of life, the death of the soul is the privation of sanctifying grace which according to all theologians is the principle of supernatural life. Therefore, if original sin is “the death of the soul”, it is the privation of sanctifying grace.”
Yes, Mel, original sin is not metaphorically inherited but actually, historically, biologically inherited which is why Jesus’ blood sacrifice is necessary to offer us the opportunity to be redeemed. No exceptions. If you are human, according to the core belief that defines Christianity itself, you have inherited original sin not just in the flesh but in the soul. Not figuratively. Not metaphorically. The claim is is about right here, right now, and present in you. And me, of course.
Maybe you missed the whole need-for-redemption part in Bible school. After all, there seems to be no standardized and testable qualifications needed to teach Bible School so I’m willing to blame your lack of education. It’s happened with you before, I note.
Of course the Catholic Church disagrees with me. They invented it! I don’t think you understood my point. Satisfaction Theory was started by the Catholic Church (Anselm -11th century), later added onto and known as Penal Substitutionary Atonement with Reformer, Calvin. So, of course, they don’t agree with this. But neither do any of the Ante-Nicene fathers nor has the Orthodox Church ever believed that theory, or the Catholic version of “original sin.”
As I stated on what is referred to as “original sin,” that is a Catholic invention by Augustine in the fifth century. I could give you the whole history, but briefly, Augustine could not read Greek (admitted he disliked Greek in his writings so he never bothered to learn it), so his Bible was Jerome’s Latin Vulgate translation. And the Latin translates Romans 5:12 about Adam (“in whom all sin”). But this is a mistranslation of the Greek, which modern Bibles have corrected. It should read, “because all sin.” The difference is obvious. “In whom” would infer we were born into sin. “Because we sin” implies our actions prove that we do sin. Big difference. Babies are NOT born in sin. Again, the Orthodox Church would call that heresy.
So, his premise by which he built this whole Catholic doctrine is false. Most scholars only give this doctrine lip service because they know better.
As far as my lack of education on this, maybe so. But I’ve read all the Ante-Nicene fathers and do understand both the Latin (Catholic) and Orthodox (Greek) theology pretty well.
And this is not suggesting that we have no need for redemption. But neither the apostles, nor the early church ever argued for what the Catholics and Reformers argued for. They saw as a rescue mission to reconcile us back to God – 2 Cor.5:19 (not God to us). I’ve written a lot about this and may cover the subject again soon.
Well, theology advances just like science advances. And reading the Old Testament in a flat wooden-literal way is simply the wrong way to read it, totally foreign to the ancient culture it was written to. We MUST read it within the cultural context which it was written, not with scientific literalism, but with conceptual literalism. In fact, it argues against a flat literal view itself internally in the text. This superficial reading misses the whole point. And because we Moderns don’t understand the ancient genre of myth (we think “fiction”) we totally misunderstand what scholars mean when they say “creation myth.”
The Bible text itself doesn’t change, but our understanding of what it’s telling us must changes as our understanding advances (just like science with understanding nature). But it’s also not some adaptation because of Modern science. Early church fathers, like Origen in the second-third century did not take a literal six 24-hour day view of creation. They thought that was absurd! They understood what a creation story is. It was never meant to be read that way.
All you are doing is parroting a Fundamentalist paradigm so you can erect a straw man of the creation narrative that you can knock down with science. But is actually a fallacious argument in reality and doesn’t make it so.
Who are you talking to? None of this comment applies to me or anything I have raised. It’s a stock response to some ‘wooden’ literalism that is not at play here.
Why do you say this, Tildeb? What are you afraid of if we do pay attention to these theologians and scientists? The only thing you’re saying here is that Fundamentalists don’t agree with them. Well, that means nothing in the scheme of things. I’m not a Fundamentalist and they do not represent all of Christian theology. And Enns and Collins were just trying to make it “compatible?” These views not only line up better with the ancient culture they were written for, but also with the Ante-Nicene fathers and the Orthodox Church’s view. They didn’t have the scientific sophistication that we possess, but unlike us, they understood creation myths. A scientific wooden-literal view of these accounts is a Modern Western reading into the text.
And metaphor is not necessarily the same thing as a creation myth. But I’ve already explained that elsewhere.
The creation model does not line up at all! It is an incompatible model that directly conflicts with independent lines of compelling evidence, evidence that is then used to underlie explanatory models that make useful and applicable things that work for everyone everywhere all the time. That’s not ‘wooden’, Mel; that’s a pretty good indication of how reality actually operates. What’s ‘wooden’ here is your insistence that reality is the problem and not your beliefs about it.
It doesn’t line up at all with what? Modern science? What do you mean by incompatible model? Because that was my whole point. It was never intended to be a scientific model. You are reading into the text something it was not trying to say. It’s not addressing biology or science directly.
When I say ‘modeling’ what I mean is a way to explain something. Science is one way. Religion is another. Lego blocks is another. There are lots of ways to model. But we have a problem when different models don’t align with stuff from reality. Genesis models a creation story. But we know it’s not a literal rendering because of the style… In the beginning… There are different ways to set stories up that we know are not accurate depictions of an historical event: once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away…. and so on. These kinds of stories are set in an unknown places and times… like a ‘garden of Eden’. Stories like these it intentionally uses characters and events and forces that are supernatural. This is one of many signpost that we’re talking about something else. The next major signpost is anthropomorphizing supernatural critters… like a talking snake. Their bodies indicate a symbolic relationship with something in your life. And so on.
We know Genesis IS an explanatory model in the form of a myth. And, as long as we keep everything in it as mythological, we can translate its meaning into enriching our own lives. It is this meaning that is useful, that is practical, that is true. What is not true is this idea that reality required a Creator, as in an intentional agency with supernatural power. As soon as you encounter the supernatural, you know you’re no longer talking about anything literal, anything historical, anything factual; you’re talking symbolically. But religious folk forget this rule and start to engage in magical thinking, about magicians who can supposedly POOF! things into existence. That’s crossing the boundary between metaphor and literal, between figurative and factual.
So this religious idea of creationism is not spoken of in metaphorical terms when it used as a literal, historical, factual event. When it is used this way, it stands contrary to how we know reality operates: things are not POOF!ed into existence but are altered and developed by cause and effect under the arrow of time with constant forces during interactions with physical and chemical properties of matter. You simply cannot defy gravity or wish away cell death. Those who believe one can by power of some hidden magician with supernatural powers is incompatible with how we know reality to operate.
So when I say creationism is incompatible with how we know reality operates, it means the explanatory model of stuff being POOF!ed into existence is not demonstrated by anything we find in reality that would and should indicate this typical starting point if the model had any merit, any explanatory power we could then harness. There could be billions of such examples if the model were adduced from reality but there are… exactly none. What we find every time everywhere we look is an ongoing evolving process of change over time bringing forward the building blocks from the past. Nowhere do we find a starting point, a point of some organizing agency of creation that POOF!s into being new building blocks. Ever. The closest we have is this idea of a Big Bang, but that’s conflating energy that then evolves over time and entropy into all kinds of manifestations of matter. There certainly is no evidence for some organizing agency; there is nothing but evidence of randomness, and quantum mechanics captures this probability with amazing accuracy.
So it’ not me reading into the text this idea that it must be a scientific model; it’s me understanding that it is an explanatory model using myth to represent ourselves. This is the sense the religious have tried to destroy. This is the sense that the religious co-opt mythology and try to repackage it as a religious model that really, really, really does indicate supernatural agencies POOF!ing stuff into existence and creating a La La Land of a ‘new’ life after death. It’s so obviously childish it’s remarkable any adult can take it seriously as an explanatory model of reality. But that is EXACTLY what you’re trying to justify: magical thinking.
Tildeb, I was following you until you made this conclusion. That is a conclusion based on your naturalist worldview. It doesn’t actually address whether there’s a creator or not. All worldviews in the ancient world assumed a creator(s). It’s more a modern “POOFism” to think that this universe came from nothing. It’s totally irrational and illogical, but we’ve already been down that road. The point is, that would NOT be a question the people of the ancient world would even have.
And here’s the irony. If there were no creator or intricate design to the universe, then you could not even have science! Science depends on the settled order of the natural world. Without predictable laws of nature, you have no science. So, your argument doesn’t hold water, neither does the creation story even address this issue. Again, it was assumed there was a creator. That was never their question.
I agree that without the consistency of properties and the forces that arise from them, we could not successfully predict their continuity over time. That’s what science is dependent on. But you supplant the cause for these properties to be ‘god’. That’s an assumption without merit.In fact, it is in contradiction to all the evidence we do have. Furthermore, you then assign to this ‘god’ an agency that really, really, really can POOF!< stuff into existence. That's what 'create' means (bring stuff into existence, cause). If this true, then we should have compelling evidence for it. And we don't. We find only the consistency or properties and the forces that arise from them over time! That's why assuming a Creator, assuming a moment in time for a creation event, is nothing but pure conjecture without any link to this reality to the hear and now. It's just magical thinking, believing in a Magician, believing the consistency of properties and the forces that arise from them is arbitrary should this Creator god decide to suspend them! For this conjecture, you have zero evidence except belief incompatible with the reality we share.
How is this a contradiction? I infer “God” from the evidence of design, yes. And I infer that Jesus Christ represented God because He raised Him from the dead. It provides explanatory scope and power and plausibility as long as you’re not prejudiced by a naturalist worldview. It’s only in contradiction with a naturalist worldview that limits all reality to natural laws. But, again, that is circular reasoning. It doesn’t address the evidence with the best explanation.
We do! It’s called the natural world. It’s inferred in this world by many things: the universe has a beginning, by fine tuning, moral conscience, and a host of other things that cannot be answered by science. This is why Romans 1:20 nails your myopic worldview to a tee.
No, magic is an illusion, a sleight of hand, etc. That is a manipulation of our perception. It has nothing to do with my argument. We are talking about worldviews. It’s not magic, it’s saying we can infer a reality beyond natural laws. And the only reason why it’s not consistent with you is because it violates natural laws. But IF there were a creator, the contradiction goes away. IF He created the natural order in the first place, as the creator, He would have control over them (just like an inventor would over his creation). So, it’s not illogical for God to prove that He exists by bringing Jesus into the natural world and raising Him from the dead by supernatural means. It just violates YOUR limited worldview.
Again, what kind of evidence are you suggesting, other than what I gave you? We’re back to the Hamlet-Shakespeare question. What would evidence look like for an invisible God who exists in an entirely different realm? (Actually, outside of all realms). You certainly cannot give physical evidence. This was the point of sending Jesus. To use the analogy, God wrote Himself into the play in order to bring us back into relationship with Him.
Mel, you’re not responding to the meat of my comment. You’re just recycling.
If things were created, then there should be, ought to be, evidence for this. What might this evidence look like? Well, unique designs inside and out. There should be different building blocks to separate ‘kinds’ and not shared blocks inherited from very long chains of ancestors that were also ‘designed’… to look today exactly like inheritance. That you’re genetically linked to a carrot should give you pause about a design that shared so much. You are related to worms, birds, trees, and fish. Why? If a creator wanted to create, why import Chromosome 2 to look exactly like the Great Apes Chromosome 2 AND 3 of their 24 rather than our 23 chromosomes? And include a damaged section from an ancient simian virus. Why the laryngeal nerve and the weird positioning of the prostate around the seminal duct just like fish? It makes no design sense.
In engineering terms – an undertaking that requires design – what we have now in our genetic makeup is like a jet plane, complete with propellers and a system of inoperative pistons, empty gas tanks for a different kind of fuel than jet fuel, another set of wing made out of fabric, navigation operating electronics but housing all the necessary components for turbo, propeller, and steam, and water wheels. It’s such a terrible design that these jets break down all the time and have back troubles bearing the weight on landing, a ‘modern’ design that requires an unbelievable amount of fuel and maintenance for these useless and cumbersome additions from it aerodynamic past. It has skis, chariot and bicycle wheels, storage for harnesses and saddles, and so on. It’s ridiculous. If you were the designer and submitted plans with any ‘modern’ engineering firm, you’d be fired for incompetence!
So waving at ‘nature’ and claiming this to be evidence for design is, upon examination, evidence against it.
But what you’re arguing does not argue against design. In fact, according to biologists like Dr. Collins, it argues for it! It shows a definite pattern that follows an order of change, mutation, etc.. And that order has a wide range of variables. All of this can still be explained by intentional design and purpose.
And evolution still cannot explain where it came from. What started the process? You cannot sidestep that issue with evolutionary process. You’re still stuck with the causal problem. It changes nothing with the argument for a designer.
Collins is a proponent of Old Earth creationism, where he believes evolution and creationism can coexist as long as the two are somewhere in very deep time where a Creator loads up a few building chemical blocks and then POOF!s them into a ‘guided’ action to eventually – billions of years later – bring about human life and all life in its current forms as we know it. It’s the kind of creationism that is compatible with science because it is so far back in time that it is purely speculative. It’s like deism – so nebulous an idea that it doesn’t compete with any other explanatory model. Collin’s kind of compatibility of creationism with evolution is a replacement model equivalent in all ways to “I don’t know but I’m going to pretend this is a reasonable explanation.” Sure, that works. But it doesn’t aid us in any way gaining new knowledge. Just So stories like this have no impact whatsoever.
As for abiogenesis, Creationists use this gap in our knowledge to insert their god. That doesn’t fill in the gap with anything other than a made up, make believe Just So story. Just So stories are not an alternative to “I don’t know”; they just dress up our ignorance in a more entertaining way.
So what first POOFed your model, Tildeb? Did nature just POOF itself? All your mockery does is show your willful ignorance. It’s not even coherent. You say that Creationists like Collins (who happens to be a brilliant biologist, one of the former Directors of the Human Genome Project) don’t fill in the gaps. Well, I’m sorry but your worldview has huge gaping holes. There’s no bigger gap than where did it all come from. It like a child covering their eyes with their hand thinking no one sees them. I think Collins fills that, more important, gap beautifully.
Yes, he’s done a marvelous job filling in the gap with a story. But the gap is still there, Mel. That’s my point. What Collins or you or anyone else who substitutes a Just So story for a gap in our knowledge is NOT doing is coming up with a adduced or inferred explanation from reality as you continue to misrepresent your preferred Just So story to be.
And, again and again, you presume a beginning for our universe that is POOF!ed into existence – if not by your god than by some other POOF!ing mechanism – and then try to make fun of those of us who recognize a gap in our knowledge by calling it a gap in our knowledge. But we also have the intellectual integrity, honesty, and courage to admit what you will not: “I don’t know.” That’s the only true answer one has when one doesn’t know, when one doesn’t have the required knowledge from reality to inform what can be adduced, what can be inferred. And this state of ignorance is shared by those who pretend otherwise! I’m talking about you, Mel, and Collins, and anyone else who pretends their Just So creation story is an alternative ‘explanation’ derived from rather than imposed on reality. That’s the lie you keep peddling; the truth is you don’t know, either. You just imagine you do. And even a smart guy like Collins can fool themselves just as easily as you. None of us are immune but some of us try harder than others.
Then, how did the universe come into being? You say my claim is a POOFish lie; then you must produce evidence for your counterclaim that has a better explanation, otherwise you have no grounds to mock my view. To say you don’t know does is just an ignorant dismissal. The burden of proof is on you to make a counterclaim, otherwise your opinion has no value in the conversation.
You could just as easily be fooling yourself. Sorry, but I could fly a commercial jet through your gaping hole.
Good grief, Mel… I’ll type this slowly so you can read it equally slowly, and carefully:
The “Burden of Proof” rests with the person making the positive claim.
That is you.
And that is fallacious argument, John. Here’s what Dr. D.H. Fischer said (who is not a Christian):
Always on the one making the claim.
No one is making an opposing claim, you idiot.
…or have you somehow misinterpreted the meaning of “I don’t know”?
You keep rolling out this apologetic nonsense, this dismissal of what is true, that if we don’t have any information to work from, then creating a Just So story is an explanation worthy of claiming knowledge merit. No! You’re wrong.
Furthermore, you never address the fact or admit that such a substitution is completely imported by faith in the Just So story and not inferred in any related and demonstrable way from the reality it purports to describe. That direction of what informs what matters because anyone can import any belief, which is fine even if it is utterly worthless in knowledge content. What isn’t fine – and this is the point you evade time after time – is misrepresenting this imported Just So story as if reality rather than someone’s preferred faith-based beliefs supplied the content. This is deceitful. This is what defines a lie from the truth: the intention to deceive.
That’s what you’re doing.
It’s not knowledge independent from your faith-based beliefs that informs a Just So story and so the honest answer about this gap in knowledge about origins really is a perfectly justifiable “I don’t know.’ That’s a perfectly good, perfectly accurate description, perfectly honest admission about a state of ignorance.
But you won’t admit this fact, admit this truth, admit this state of ignorance about origins independent of your imported faith-based belief, admit that neither of us has any information to go by. What you do is then import vague hand waving references like our moral sense as if this in some way overcomes or produces or connects us to a lack of information about unknown origins and magically fills it in… and you reliably pull this dishonest stunt without even connecting the one to the other except by the Just So story!
You continue to misrepresent an honest and legitimate “I don’t know” as if it means one cannot comment on an imported Just So belief being intentionally misrepresented as adduced from this lack of knowledge, that a Just So story has knowledge merit when it still possesses none. You keep doing this and then dismissing the “I don’t know” as if it is irrelevant. It’s not irrelevant because the “I don’t know” also includes you and your state of knowledge about origins. You don’t know, either, Mel! And that’s an honest and legitimate description of your state of knowledge, no matter how much confidence you wish to inform your Just So story with.
This is fallacious argumentation, Tildeb. If you had said, “I don’t know” and left it at that, you would have a case. I would agree with your point. But you don’t leave it there. You say you don’t know, then go on to say our claim is superstitious nonsense, POOFism. etc. That is NOT an argument. That is an opinion. To say that it is an argument is fallacious. I quote to you what I said to John Z:
I am making a claim. The evidence in this world is what I listed before, both for design and for the resurrection of Christ. From that natural evidence, I infer a supernatural creator is the best explanation. You are rebutting that claim by denying it and saying we’re ignorant or wrong. Well then, the burden of proof is on you to make a better argument if you say we’re wrong. Otherwise, you should say “I don’t know” and leave it at that. You have forfeited your position in the argument, and you cannot rightly say we’re wrong (other than that’s your opinion). This is how logical argumentation works. What you’re doing is fallacious argumentation. You have not addressed the claim.
And since you say you don’t know, then it is a faith statement to say that the natural world is all there is. It’s just not a religious faith statement. You can dress it up all you want with your many words, your whole argument is still bogus.
Furthermore, your “Just So story” is that the natural world is all there is, yet you cannot address the evidence that contradicts that notion.
“(Y)our “Just So story” is that the natural world is all there is, yet you cannot address the evidence that contradicts that notion.”
No on both accounts.
Either you will not learn, Mel, and you lie. I have explained over and over and over – I don’t know HOW many times – that all we CAN know is by means of the natural world. That’s where we exist, Mel. That’s where we can utilize evidence from reality. That’s where we can gain information. It from the natural world where we can collect information and put together explanatory models and then test them against what the natural world has to say about them. That’s our reality. You can fantasize all you want about the supernatural. That’s fine. But you can’t pretend you have any KNOWLEDGE about it. If you do that – and you DO that consistently – then you’re being dishonest.
See the difference?
Let me spell it out again.
I am not saying the natural world is all there is. I’m saying it’s all we can know about.
I am not saying the natural world is all there is. I’m saying it’s all we can know about.
See the difference?
Again, I am not saying what it is you think I am saying.
I am not saying what you think I am saying, Mel.
I’m not saying it now, and I haven’t said it before.
You keep telling me this is what I’m saying. You keep telling me I say something I am not saying. You keep doing this. Over and over and over.
I keep telling you you’re wrong.
Again, you are wrong. You either do not understand what it is I DO say or you do understand and then lie about what I say.
You can only pick one.
I go with liar because nobody can be this obtuse, this insistent to be factually wrong, this persistent and dedicated to being factually wrong in spite of repeated explanations. Nobody who isn’t a liar can be corrected so many times and STILL trundles out this lie about someone else in spite of their protestations time after time after time.
Tildeb, you’re just explaining your naturalist worldview to me again. You don’t have to keep explaining this. I know you believe that the natural world is the only place we exist. Just maybe you will listen to me for once.
You are saying that the only way we can discover anything is in the natural world. But then you go on to say that we’re stupid (or liars) and we just believe superstitious nonsense and the like for believing there is more. THAT is a prejudicial view because you said you don’t know. You imply that the natural world is all there is by saying we can only accept evidence in the natural world. This is a tacit dismissal of anything beyond the natural world. Don’t you get this?
First, science could never prove or disprove a supernatural realm, even if there is one. So your argument can never address the question.
BUT, even in the natural realm you are wrong. We can logically infer that there is something beyond the natural world by real observation within the natural world that I’ve already stated. (We could also argue the personal experiences of millions of people but I’m not doing that here.)
So, again, “I don’t know” is your opinion, which is fine. But to say we are wrong (or I’m too dumb to learn) is an unsubstantiated counterclaim. You must show why we’re wrong with a better counterclaim, otherwise it’s just a faith-based dismissal on your part since you say you don’t know. The only argument you can make against it is that there is no such thing as a supernatural realm, which is circular, and actually proves the point you say I cannot make.
So, please apply that to yourself when you talk about being obtuse. Again, you can’t seem to see the forest for the trees here.
“When anthropologists talk about myth, what they mean is not an untrue story. What they mean is a story that is full of power in how we understand ourselves…”
I really enjoyed that definition of “myth.” In the modern world, we’ve gotten too literal, so “myth” means false, and “fiction” means a “lie.” It’s a bit silly, like viewing art and declaring that’s not a photographic depiction of pear, therefore the artist is lying and trying to deceive us about the nature of pears.
Hey, something we can finally agree on! This may be an indication of End of Days…
I sincerely wish people could read the Genesis myths as myths and not through the bizarre filter of the Christian interpretation. It really is an excellent myth and really does contain a path to greater self understanding.
We actually do agree on that, Tildeb. As long we understand that a myth can include factual information. It’s the ancient culture’s way of telling the big story (like an epic movie).
As I said to IB with her pear analogy, It’s like an impressionist painting versus a digital photograph. Both are depicting something real, but with very different intent. To simply analyze the accuracy of the pear shape in the impressionist painting is to totally miss the point. The Hebrew creation stories were written as a polemic against other pagan creation myths in their culture. The point was never how many literal days or when it happened.
That’s a good comparison, IB. It would be like impressionism artistic genre and a high resolution digital photograph. Both depict a real concrete object but with very different intent. To use your example, to only examine the accuracy of the pear in the painting is to totally miss the point.
This aspect of the Bible narrative has been the biggest problem for both Christians and atheists in the Modern world. We’ve been trying to make these ancient texts say something it never meant to say. We read OUR cultural expectations into it, and understand things like “myth” from our 21st cultural lens, and totally miss what the narrative is about. It’s simply big language (like an epic movie today) to explain our origins (or an impressionist’s painting to depict something real). It contains factual data within the story but that isn’t why it’s written.
The creation stories were originally written as a polemic against the pagan creation myths, like the Babylonian creation account that the world was created with violence. The Hebrew Bible declares that God is good and everything He created is very good. And that He made man in His image. This testimony stands in stark contrast to other creation myths in the ancient world. This is how must read the account.
But the method used for the Christian interpretation is exactly backwards. It tries to use a later historical event to then ‘interpret’ the myth correctly. That’s not how myths work. (They stand alone and independent throughout all time, all cultures, all languages, all religions.) That’s how myths are stolen by religions and abused to try to justify theological assertions. And that’s certainly the case with the myths of Genesis.
The Bible’s creation story was meant as a polemic counterclaim to the pagan creation myths in their ancient culture. You cannot rightly separate the Bible’s creation story from its cultural setting. That’s taking it out of context and reading our cultural expectations into the text.
The creation story predates Jesus by over a thousand years. Don’t tell me about reading our cultural expectation into it; that’s EXACTLY what defines the Christian approach, namely, to read into this myth a later historical event to make ‘sense’ of it.
This is backwards.
It’s backwards because the myth was transmitted for more than a millennium just fine, thank you very much. Christian interpretation is a much later addition. And that recognition has absolutely nothing to do with me and my cultural readings, other than to recognize that the insight of the myth and its meaning and its lasting over dozens of generations because of its value in wisdom has absolutely and unequivocally nothing whatsoever to do with Christianity!
But you don’t read it that way, do you? You’re the one importing a pre-made interpretation, a factory-authorized version favourable to Christianity – that just so happens to elevate the importance Christianity, fancy that – and simply applying it to the myths of Genesis just as you’ve been indoctrinated to do. No thinking is necessary. Do as your told, pass it on to the next generation as if pious, don;t think. Be a good little soldier.
But you lose out on what the myth can provide when you do this: a teaching tool of wisdom. You are simply parroting an absurdity and then calling it divinely inspired. No arrogance in play here.
Why is it so very difficult for you to be honest enough to admit that Genesis is simply fiction?
Because fiction is not the same thing as a creation myth, Ark. I explained that already in the post, and I’ve also discussed it further in other comments here.
I reiterate: as we know many of the central elements of the Genesis account are objectively false. Do you think that the Muslim or Hindu origin stories also deserve the label “myth”?
Again, you are making this claim based on a scientific wooden-literal reading, which is misreading the text. That’s the whole point here. And this interpretative method does not disprove the creation itself.
Not in the least. If you are prepared to acknowledge that there is most definitely falsehood concerning much of the central elements of Genesis, – I presume you are, yes? So, are you prepared to extend the term myth to the Hindu origin stories. And we might as well extend this Islam as well, as they derive their holey book from a similar source with most of the same characters.
And while was are at it, perhaps you would tell me which parts of the Genesis story are fact?
You keep using the word “falsehoods” or “fiction.” What do you mean by this? Because you imply an intent to deceive or just make up fantasies, or take the meaning like the way we think of “myth” today. That is NOT how the creation stories are written. It still misses the whole point of the text. To call it a “falsehood” is to erect a straw man instead of actually understanding what the text is saying to us.
You really need to hear N.T. Wright’s explanation of what is meant by “literal” to better understand my position.
The term Creation Myth somewhat presupposes there is an element of truth to the story. These isn’t.
Ancient people would have had no notion of evolution so naturally they would assume some god made.
As there is no truth to thus then we are dealing with fiction. So the story of Adam and Eve for example is utter nonsense as I am sure you will agree yes?
Re: your link.
For what it’s worth I’m actually fed up listening to the theologians you continually recommend. Maybe you could tone it down on the religious bias and find a secular historian for me to listen to for a change?
First, you are making a false assumption about creation stories. They do not even address evolution. Again, you are reading your 21st century culture into the text. Of course, they had no notion of evolution! Neither did anyone else in the ancient world. You can only rightly compare the Bible’s creation stories to other creation stories in THEIR culture. You cannot derive modern science or biology from the text. It’s written from THEIR perspective. They were not omniscient beings. What makes the text “inspired” is what it says about the nature of God and about us. It represented a totally different perspective that other pagan stories. This was the beginning of God setting a people on a trajectory of deconstruction of these pagan ideas about what He is like, culminating with Jesus Christ, who was the “exact expression” of God.
Where did I even allude to ”modern science or biology from the text. ”
My point was that the only likely option for primitive peoples was to assume some sort of god.
When you write ‘God’ you mean Yahweh yes?
Oh, and to be clear, you don’t actually believe that anyone called ”Moses” actually wrote the Pentateuch do you?
Oh, and to be clear, you don’t actually believe that anyone called ”Moses” actually wrote the Pentateuch do you?
I have no reason not to believe there was a person named Moses. He obviously didn’t write the whole Pentateuch because it includes his death. It was likely written by several authors, all the way up to post-exile period. I will talk more about that when we start talking about Bible history.
Almost the entire (genuine) academic world now recognizes that the Exodus and Conquest is a foundational myth and that Moses and the Patriarchs are likely fictional characters.
You cannot be serious that you actually believe that someone called Moses actually wrote any of the Pentateuch.
Please tell me I am misreading your last comment?
You are overstating the case, Ark. I know what scholarship says and how they carefully word it. They cannot prove or disprove a “Moses” outside of the Hebrew texts (at the current time). When they nuance their statements with “likely” or “probably” they are also allowing for the possibility that there’s elements of truth, even if there’s mythic status given to it. Again, I will address it directly when we talk about history.
John Z has already offered you confirmed qualified statements as to the archaeological, scholarly and majority view of Rabbis.
There is no truth to the biblical tale.
Your position regarding Mosaic authorship in any shape or form is utterly ridiculous.
What? Base on archeological evidence and disbelieving Rabbis? How does that disprove what I’m saying?
The fact is, there’s absolutely no archeological evidence for a LOT of people in history, including my wife’s great-grandfather! We have no evidence whatsoever for him. We know he lived in Sicily because her grandfather came from Sicily, but we wouldn’t even know where to look. Her grandfather never knew him. When he came to America he made up his last name because he didn’t know his real name. Yet, obviously the great-grandfather existed because of the generations that followed and could be verified, and there’s family oral tradition. The point is, that was only 150 years ago, but we’re talking many thousands of years ago, buried under many civilizations. Archeology cannot prove or disprove Moses, just like they can’t prove a whole lot of other people in history. All they can say is that it’s “unlikely” because there’s no hard collaborating evidence, which is NOT the same thing as saying there’s “no truth to the tale.”
I have already raised the issue of the Internal Settlement Pattern. This is the evidence that refutes the Captivity, Exodus and Conquest.
Therefore, as The Exodus etc is simply made up, please explain how the character Moses could possibly be real in relation to the biblical tale?
Ark, we’ll have to address the “Internal Settlement Pattern” issue when we talk about history. We’re getting further off track here. I’m just trying to establish how to understand the text right now.
Okay. But just to make it clear in my mind.
1) You accept the evidence of the Internal Settlement Pattern.
2) As the biblical tale of the Exodus etc is fictional I need clarification on how you believe Moses could have possibly written the Pentateuch.
1.) point me in a direction so I can understand what you mean by “Internal Settlement Pattern.”
There was no conquest of Canaan and the Israelites emerged from within the existing Canaanite population.
I am almost sure I have previously posted a video?
This position is the consensus.
John Z pointed this out in the last post I think, and even included several quotes from Sherman Wine, Wolpe and Herzog.
Did you forget?
And the clarification concerning Moses, please?
Thanks. I will look it up.
I said I understood you needed a reason. I will do that when I talk about that time period.
What? Base on archeological evidence and disbelieving Rabbis
Mel, consider these next words very, very carefully. Rabbi’s have more invested in their origin narrative being true than you could ever hope to have in 10,000 lifetimes. These are learned men and women who have dedicated their lives to studying and understanding the Tanakh. They are not going to accept, and publically admit, that the Jewish origin tale, as recounted in the Pentateuch, is historical fiction unless the evidence to do so is overwhelming.
As Conservative Rabbi David Wolpe said:
John, we will need to look at this when I talk about history. As I told Ark, we’re getting off track here and I only have so much time to answer everyone’s comments. I will look at what you’re saying when I get a chance.
Haha…that’s rather hypocritical of you. Since you like to tell me that it’s not YOUR position but that of all these “proper” scientists and scholars. Well, this is NOT based on my unqualified opinion either. So it works both ways, Ark. So, if you don’t like the heat then stay out of the kitchen. 🙂
And history is history. All history is evaluated on the same basis. And there is no such thing as unbiased history. I will get into that in my next post.
Not hypocritical at all, as all theologians approach this topic with presuppositional beliefs. Although they very carefully couch their terms, have you noticed?
You are still punting a theological agenda, and are not being in the least honest in the way you present yourself.
You deny Ken Ham’s beliefs, as you do with Collins’s, yet offer nothing to enhance your own credibility.
All evidence refutes the Genesis tale, and if they are not to be taken as written then why should we afford any credibility to the rest of the text of your own personal interpretation.
After all Jesus the Nazarene believed Moses was a real person, didn’t he?
And, oh, boy was he wrong!
Yes, you are because I could say I’m just as tired of hearing you prop up all your “experts” to prove your point. And all historians do exactly the same thing; they have to make assumptions. Again, there is no such thing as unbiased historicity. All documentation we have from the ancient world is biased with a particular agenda in mind. They never made our kind of arguments. That is anachronistic thinking. Science cannot prove or disprove history. It can only lend evidence with rocks, pottery, bones, etc. But that doesn’t address what is actually going on in the culture. Much of what we know must be interpreted or interpolated by archeologists and historians.
You can say whatever you want about the “Genesis tale,” it doesn’t make it so. And you clearly are ignoring the points I’m making. The scientific argument doesn’t refute the stories because the stories were never making that case in the first place.
So the stories are trying to convey the evolution of humankind in a manner that these ancient peoples would have understood?
[NOTE: I deleted your other comment since it was the same question corrected.]
They are giving us an anthropological story of how mankind experienced God. They are not meant to be a source of scientific data. That idea would be totally foreign to them. They had no concept of science as we know it.
Whatever is true about evolution is not addressed by these stories. I think that’s the point that Collins and the others with Biologos makes.
Just to correct you here Mel, if I may … how the self-proclaimed Chosen People experienced their god, Yahweh.
I know it might seem to be nit-picking but we have to keep the text and dialogue as honest as possible, I am sure you would agree?
Sorry, Mel, another point. Although evolution is not addressed by these posts, you are aware that it is fact, of course, yes?
You are denying actual science I’m sure.
No, I am not denying science, and neither do the Bible scholars I quoted here. I have no reason to deny evolution. I’m not a biologist, however, there are Christian biologists, like those at Biologos, who do embrace both theology and evolution. They don’t see an incompatibility.
How am I denying Collins’s position? I’m saying there’s a lot to what he and the other theologians and physicists are saying that provides a better explanation than Ham’s for what the Bible is saying and what it’s not saying to us.
So you accept the findings of the Human Genome Project then, yes?
(That flatly refutes any notion of a single human couple as progenitors of the human race)
I presume that you also accept that the story of Noah was adapted from earlier flood stories, likely the Sumerian tale ( or earlier) and probably refers to a regional event.) and applied to their own version of god belief.
This is what you mean, isn’t it?
Probably. I say this because I’m not a biologist and have no personal conviction about it, but since Dr. Francis Collins was a Director of the Human Genome Project (and founder of The Biologos Foundation), and he believe what I’m saying here, I have no reason to think it conflicts with theology as I understand it. Again, Adam and Eve can simply be human representatives of the story of redemption. That’s how the ancient culture talked about this kind of stuff. And again, the Bible itself infers other people on the earth, even the possible presence of cities, when Cain is driven out. So, I don’t think the Bible is even making an argument against the claims of the Human Genome Project. Dr. Collins obviously doesn’t think so.
If we are to consider Genesis to be myth then are you prepared to extend the same to the Hindu story of creation?
The Hindu creation claim must be evaluated the same way. They have some major problems with their story but I’m not going to get into it here.
But consider this.
There are several flood “myth” stories recorded in the ancient world besides the Bible’s version. What we should take away from that is that there was actually some kind of flood, not inspect the story under a scientific microscope with 21st century cultural expectations. So, a myth is NOT the same thing as complete fiction. The purpose is express something that actually happened in an epic way in order to say something about us. If we miss this about the Bible’s Flood account, we miss the whole point.
You do not actually believe in any story that depicts a global flood, now do you?
If you actually read what I said, or bothered to understand it, many cultures reported a flood. So, there probably was a major flood of some sort. And “global” in the ancient culture can simply meant the known world. They had no concept of “global” the way we understand it. It could’ve been regional from our perspective.
Whether the story is a scientifically accurate depiction is another story, and not the intent of the text, either for the culture it was written to, or for us today.
I am aware of this. So to be absolutely clear, you do not actually believe in a global flood as per the Noah’s ark tale then? ( As Ken Ham understand s it for example)
I do not agree with Ken Ham. That is correct. Not that he hasn’t found some things of value (all position have valid points), but he, like most moderns, are looking at it through the wrong interpretative “lens.”
So how do you interpret the story of Noah’s Ark?
What is its purpose?
Do you even consider there was someone called Noah?
There are lots of interesting academic papers written this by scholars on this, but I don’t have the time to dig them out now. But the point is, the only meaning that this story has to me in the 21st century is that it’s a story of redemption. God saving man from collapsing into utter evil and destroying ourselves from the face of the earth. I don’t have time to unpack that, and it’s beyond the point of this post. But that’s it in a nutshell. Trying to make a scientific claim with this story is trying to defend something the Bible was never intended to say to us.
“The purpose (of myths) is (to) express something that actually happened in an epic way.”
No, that’s not the purpose of myths. It’s a teaching method that uses archetypes and symbolic language (the public dream language) to reveal to the reader or listener through their own personal application of meaning to the symbols (the private dream language) something fundamental to being human AND learning how to live fully, how to live authentically, how to stop parroting other people’s beliefs and own your own.
“So, you deny that humans evolved, rather we were created, as specified in the story?”
I’ve yet to meet an evolved human, so of it’s not too much trouble Zande, could you get you right on that? Evolve already, please. So far all I’ve ever seen is a random bit of biological goo, forever contemplating the nature of his own non-existence.
Could you give a detailed breakdown of the contradictory evidence, please?
Sure, I can give it again…
The universe has a beginning, by its fine tuning (which allows science to actually work), moral realism, consciousness, etc. There are also the existential questions that it doesn’t answer. All of these things contradict the idea that the natural world is all there is.
1. Fine-tuning is refuted by most cosmologists, I understand., But many /most (?) who believe the fine-tuning argument, are adherents of a faith based religion, like yourself.
Evolution explains morality.
As far as I know, consciousness still resides in the ”We don’t know” pile. Your god is not an honest, viable alternative unless you can provide evidence to demonstrate this and show it could not possibly be any other god .
”etc” …. What etc are you referring to?
Nice dismissals. Those answers are very arguable. And, yes, of course atheists won’t agree with them!
You did not address that the universe has a beginning, which implies a causal agent. And this causal agent must exist outside of time and space since time and space began with the Big Bang. And infinite regress or multiverse answer have pretty much been debunked. And, even there, what caused those?
Who says this universe had a beginning, Mel?
It appears you really don’t know your cosmology.
You “claim” to know, but that is simply a lie.
The correct answer is: We just don’t know.
Okay, even if we go with this irrational argument, where did it come from? Why the universe at all, John? To say, “eternal” only means outside of space and time. It doesn’t address cause and, besides, it totally violates the laws of physics, which your naturalist worldview depends on.
It would be nice if you and Tildeb would tone it down a little bit, calling anyone who disagrees with you liars. We are INFERING the possibility of design, or creator, from this evidence. No one is saying that this proves God.
It’s nice to see you’re all singing the same tune. The correct NON-answer is that we just don’t know. It doesn’t address the question. I wish you would see this.
Ah, so now it’s irrational, is it? Saying “I don’t know” is irrational?
And yet, there you were claiming you knew something.
Do you know Mel, or was that a lie?
Here’s some advice: if you don’t want people to call you out for your lies, then don’t lie.
Now, let me guess, you’re going to say the universe had a beginning is intuitively obvious?
Well, it is intuitively obvious that the sun and the planets revolve around the earth.
Are you even aware that the Big Bang is still only a hypothesis, not a theory? There is an hypothesis which is gaining traction today that says (and the math supports it) that our universe evolved from the black hole of a collapsed 4-D star.
The facts, as we know them today, are these: 1) Inflation of the early universe began. 2) What happened before Inflation, we don’t know.
Inflation wipes out any information that existed about the Universe before inflation. Without a completely new type of physics, we simply cannot know what was happening before… therefore, the only correct answer is: I don’t know.
We are INFERING the possibility of design
Seriously, how were you inferring design?
I’m assuming by your statement that you know the laws of interactions present in at least one other universe.
Can you please show me this universe so I can make my own inferences from that data…?
Wait a minute. Now you are the one making claims about an endless universe. So what is the initial cause of these interactions. Otherwise, you are implying some infinite regress which is an incoherent conclusion and it still doesn’t deal with the causal question.
My inference to the possibility of design was based on the points I made. Now, you tell me how we can have an uncaused universe and still keep within the laws of physics (an uncaused cause)?
Am I? Am I making a claim?
Lie much, Mel?
My inference to the possibility of design was based on the points I made.
No, your inference is based on nothing. And if you wish to posit design, then explain to me why this universe is infinitely better designed to produce black holes.
Was black hole production Yhwh’s purpose for creating?
Of course, if you can show me another universe against which I can compare this one, then we can both start making actualinferences on the nature of this one.
Until then, you are Douglas Adams’ Puddle:
Now, you tell me how we can have an uncaused universe and still keep within the laws of physics (an uncaused cause)?
What? Did you not see the part where I wrote above that all physics breaks down at Inflation?
Hence the answer: I don’t know. We don’t know. YOU don’t know.
You want to talk about causality. Fine. You are saying there can be no breakage in the rules of causality. Your entire thesis rests on this statement… and yet you contradict yourself immediately by positing an uncaused agent. So, if you’re willing to give an exemption to this supposedly unbreakable rule to your particular god, why then not also grant this same exemption to the universe itself?
Why one and not the other?
You’re making the positive claim… Defend it with corroborating evidence
My entire thesis doesn’t rest on it, but “causality” is foundational to natural science. You, Ark, and Tildeb have a naturalist worldview, so your worldview must obey natural laws of physics. Causality is the relationship between causes and effects and considered to be fundamental to all natural science, especially physics. It means that an effect cannot occur without a prior cause. So, to give an uncaused effect as your answer is to violate your own worldview.
My answer is simple. Since a creator, by definition, would be super-natural (existing outside the natural world and its natural laws), it is not bound cause and effect. It is the uncaused agent because it created cause and effect to begin with. Only if I were asserting a natural god existing within the natural world would my argument be contradictory.
must obey natural laws of physics
Which break down at inflation.
Let me know how many times you want me to repeat this, so I can copy and paste those words over and over and over now, and we can get it all over and done with here.
Causality is the relationship between causes and effects and considered to be fundamental to all natural science, especially physics
Wrong. Physics does not follow those rules. I’ve already shown you this quote, so you’ve either ignored it, or you’re lying in that statement.
It is the uncaused agent because it created cause and effect to begin with.
That doesn’t explain why you won’t grant the same exemption to the universe itself.
Tell me, Mel, what are the laws of interaction in a four-dimensional universe?
Only if I were asserting a natural god existing within the natural world would my argument be contradictory.
Oh, but you are asserting that. The god of scripture is quite active in this world, intervening in space and time. He even does tricks on demand.
Just to be clear, an uncaused cause is an untrue truth used by nonbelieving believers to establish the necessary nonfoundational foundations for a supernatural nature to be created. Metaphysics at its finest!
Now that’s sophisticated antiapologetics apologetics!
Funny…what I meant to say was uncaused effect.
No, you’re not inferring. You are importing. The source is you. The source is your a priori religious beliefs. Reality – including any potential realms out side of the one we have access to – does not provide you with any evidence whatsoever from which to ‘infer’.
That’s not my opinion. That’s a fact you keep demonstrating.
This is why I asked repeatedly for you to CONNECT your examples like morality to a causal agency you call god. That’s what evidence means: a means to demonstrate the link you claim, a connection, a relationship that can be DEMONSTRATED. You don’t have the means, any more than Hamlet has the independent means to demonstrate therefore Shakespeare. Hamlet cannot demonstrate Shakespeare and more than you can demonstrate a god. But it’s not Hamlet we’re arguing with and it’s not Shakespeare we’re trying to prove exists. It’s Mel and his assertion, his assumption, his attribution he calls god. You have no means to demonstrate what is required to be inferred, namely evidence.
It’s this claim to infer I take issue with because it’s not true. It is an empty claim. It is deserving of zero confidence unless and until you can link fine tuning , link origins, link design, link morality to this hidden causal agency. But that’s what you cannot do and so you deny what iit is you’re really doing and then pretending anyone who points out this truth out is somehow at fault for not understanding your claims.
Butterflies and rainbows. Therefore god. Ebola and birth defects. Therefore god. Matter and energy. Therefore god. There is no end to the litany of empty claims of causation for anything you want to ‘infer’… in your case, god. This is a problem of methodology because there’s no link. It looks logical and it can be logical as long as it fits the form. But that doesn’t make the premises by fiat evidence for the accuracy of the conclusion nor a justification for the accuracy of the conclusion because it has premises. .
We’ve been over this, which is why I continue to tell you that you don’t have any links, no evidence, no justification for your ‘inference’, for your belief in your divine casual claim. You have assertion. You have assumption. You have attribution. All you have is what YOU import. And that’s why I continue to argue without successful rebuttal from you that you do not infer god but import it into a method guaranteed not to produce knowledge. And this broken method does not, has not, and never shall produce one jot or tittle of knowledge because it is divorced from evidence and severed by the method from ever accurately describing reality.
You start with the conclusion you want – god – and then rationalize it using the best apologetics available. Not what’s true. Not what’s knowable. Not what’s factual. Just whatever PRATT is available (hence the recycled shopping list of apologetics… fine tuning, design, origins, morality, all long debunked to no avail to those dedicated by imported faith alone to their a priori conclusion). And all of that’s before trying to then rationalize therefore Jesus but not Zeus.
Your argument has no truth merit.
And if you want to talk about fine tuning, then this universe in far better designed for the production of black holes, not life-capable planets.
So, if the intention was black hole production, then great, job well done!
Well, ”Nice dismissals” doesn’t not sound as if you agree with the replies.
1. Why not expand on your answer instead of simply being snotty?
2.Evolution does explain morality.
3. My response to consciousness is as honest as I can think. Demonstrate a viable alternative with evidence.
4.The fine tuning argument has been refuted by the most respected cosmologists, as far as I am aware.
Could you indicate a cosmologist that can demonstrate your claim? ( one that is not a theist)
Which scientists have debunked the multiverse theory? (again, not theists)
1. Well, if my answers seemed “snotty” it’s only because you make sweeping claims without any substantiation.
2. Evolution would not explain morality. It only explain how we came to understand moral facts and duties. It would not explain what they are or their foundation. Only how we came to learn about them.
3. No comment since you said you didn’t know. Fair enough.
4. I don’t see how you can make a coherent argument for self fine-tuning but I suppose there are atheists who try.
On the multiverse theory, I will have to dig it up again. I had heard a scientist say this but I don’t recall where because it wasn’t the subject matter. I will see if I can find it for you. Btw, I really don’t care about the multiverse theory one way or the other, and it still doesn’t answer the causal question.
Evolution does indeed explain with mounting evidence what we call our sense of morality.
I disagree. No amount of mounting evidence changes the problem. Again, evolution can only explain how we came to understand moral facts and duties. It would not explain what they are or their foundation. Only how we came to learn about them.
I don’t have the time to go over this. Here’s a short video explaining the moral argument better than I can, and why evolution cannot explain objective morality. Again, we’re not saying that this proves God, but that it must be based on something objective (outside of our subjective experience), which infers something beyond ourselves.
Show me a moral fact.
If you’re going to use it as a noun, as a ‘thing’, then show me its properties. Don’t assume it exists independent of the brain that uses the term to mean a subjective statement that is perceived to currently have broad agreement among humans. That’s a category mistake.
It is very important to define terms, and morality is one of those wishy-washy terms to describe the gross benefit or costs to the consequences of actions. The spectrum used is book-ended by other nebulous terms like good and evil. Again, lots of people like to claim these are ‘things’ that ‘exist’ independent of the brains that consider and inform the meaning used but they’re not.. I can now more produce a ‘good’ than I can produce a ‘moral’. These are descriptors and not things and are wholly dependent on using a scale of comparison. These terms are comparative values of consequences in the same way numbers don’t exist as things but are used as comparative values of quantity. The mistake you are making if you agree with this video is that moral facts and duties exist. You cannot demonstrate this independent existence; all you can do is try to show comparative values on some introduced scale.
So, rather than ask a question based on a misunderstanding as if morals were things and had independent existence (Where do morals come from?), ask a better question: where does a moral sense come from? Is this a better question? Yes. It produces knowledge because it uses biology that accurately informs explanatory models within the evolutionary framework.
Morality – our sense of moral values – unquestionably arises from our biology because the biological evidence for this is overwhelming. I’m not going to lay out a degree’s worth of evidence for it other than to say this pursuit will enrich your understanding of life itself, how life changes over time, and what emergent properties it produces. From microbiology to neurology, from differentiated neurons and specialized circuitry to various chemical cascades, our astounding biology produces the darnedest things that we can both understand and learn to appreciate anew. Our moral sense comes from our biology and all the metaphysics in the world will not alter that brute fact no matter how much effort religious people invest in trying to switch its source to some outside agency that supposedly bequeaths it to us in the right proportion in exchange for the right prayers and burnt offerings and financial gifting to the local shamans.
Show me a moral fact.
Five beautiful words.
A moral fact would be true even if no human believed them. For instance, if the entire world had adopted eugenics in the early 20th century, it still be morally wrong to murder the mentally handicapped. It would be morally wrong regardless of what everyone thought.
What’s interesting about this moral fact is that it’s counter-intuitive to the idea of “survival of the fittest.” That would be more likened to Hitler’s morals than true morality.
We can see that moral values are objectively true (Moral realism). Moral realism is not objective as we would think of in a science experiment. This gets into the field of ethics. But like science, we can objectively show that there’s a real world beyond our senses that we can discover and look for. Beyond our cognition there are actual moral facts we are discovering and learning about. We can tap into this through a cognitive sense. We can use these moral facts to better operate in reality.
Russ Shafer-Landau said,
Andrew Fisher said,
Nathan Nobis said,
Mel, saying moral facts are real doesn’t make them so. Go reread what I wrote and produce a moral fact that exists independently from thee and me. Your examples are not facts; they are comparative values.
You write, “What interesting about this moral fact is that it’s counter-intuitive to the idea of “survival of the fittest.” That would be more likened to Hitler’s morals than true morality.”
Now let me educate you once again because it’s necessary and you seem unwilling to do it on your own: fitness means reproductive success. It does not mean survival by strength and violence and brutality. It means robust adaptability by natural, unguided, physiological and chemical processes over time. Those who promote religious apologetics use this misunderstanding you have embraced all the time. Its ongoing use in spite of being debunked for over a hundred years demonstrates the reliance on a lasting ignorance in apologetics, a necessary pillar it seems to maintaining belief in religious apologetics. Tiny and weak things that grow in population in spite of changing conditions are fit, meaning they are able to thrive to the second reproductive generation.
In addition, the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ was created by Huxley arguing against – got that? AGAINST – the gross misunderstanding of trying to use evolution as the justification for growing human populations by selective breeding… what we call eugenics. The eugenic movement was strenuously criticized by those people who understood what evolution meant, understood what fitness meant, understood the importance of adaptation to the health and robustness of a population. But – Lo and Behold! – look who pulls out this phrase, misrepresents it yet again to support exactly that which it argued against, and holds up the intentional misrepresentation as if it were a demonstration of knowledge when in fact it is unquestionably a demonstration of persistent ignorance, as if this misrepresentation contained a legitimate rebuttal against those who would question the religious insistence that morals were independent of people! Well, it does have effectiveness to those who are listening and are equivalently willing to remain ignorant. That’s the audience for this kind of deceit and lies.
Yup, once again, we see ignorance as the central pillar by which religious apologetics operates. And we see that those who promote it have absolutely no interest in either what is true or what is based on knowledge. Bot of these are hindrances to effective religious apologetics.
Thank you for your education on evolution and eugenics, Tildeb. That was not my point. You should actually try to understand the point I’m making instead of reacting to a sentence and showing how much smarter you are than me. It gets old. The point of mentioning “survival of the fittest” was to criticize the notion (just like Huxley). I wasn’t criticizing evolution itself. I was making the point that moral realism is not an “evolution” of responses to stimuli. It has an objectivity that can be studied LIKE science, but science itself cannot fully explain it, just like science cannot answer existential questions. With moral realism, it’s an issue of ethics.
A moral fact would be true even if no human believed it. I used the example of slaughtering handicapped people is always wrong, even if everyone in a particular culture thought it was the right thing to do. The very reason it was criticized is BECAUSE it’s objectively wrong to do. You don’t have to be taught that. It is an objective fact.
You are basically trying to prove this with biology or science. But there are other ways to prove something is objective than by scientific method. The reality is, these things cannot be explained away by objective scientific experimentation, as if we’re just instinctively coming up with these morals in response to stimuli. Just like with other-centered, self-giving love, moral facts can be counter-intuitive to our natural instincts.
I used the example of slaughtering handicapped people is always wrong
I can think of any number of instances where this is demonstably false.
A mercy killing, for example, to save the child from even greater suffering negates your statement. Indeed, ending the child’s life, and saving them from suffering, would be the moral thing to do.
That is not the point. Eugenics was not an argument made based in showing mercy. It was based on the idea of selective breeding.
Yes, it was the point.
You were trying to demonstrate a moral fact.
So, selective breeding is sometimes moral?
Sure, if it reduces suffering.
According to who? Josef Megele?
I hope you realize that you are now making an argument for selective breeding.
So, for example, bringing a Zika foetus to full term, to be born into poverty, in a town with no medical facility, where it will suffer incredibly for a number of months before dying a horrible death by choking in its own fluids is moral?
Genetic manipulation. Is it moral or amoral to erase the gene for drug dependence, or Type-2 diabetes. in a foetus?
So, Mel, waiting for you to answer Tildeb’s question: show a moral fact.
Oh yes, criticizing a misrepresentation you use is all my fault and demonstrates a character flaw on my part. Gotcha. Don’t learn, whatever you do, and for your god’s sake, never, ever question the validity of really poorly reasoned apologetics. You need it because reality can’t do the job.
I understand your argument. Moral realism is a trhing and it exists and science can’t explain it, and so it must have come form an outside agency, and we can infer this agency to be a god. But this argument is wrong at every step.
I also understand why it’s wrong. I understand it doesn’t do what you think it does. I understand that this argument fails to connect morals with a god. I understand why you then accuse me of all kinds of negative traits for confronting you with this understanding. I say stating something doesn’t make it true. Now I get to add to that by saying restating it doesn’t make it any more true. Show ma a moral. Don’t show me a comparative value; show me a moral.
You say in this latest non-rebuttal that you were “making the point that moral realism is not an “evolution” of responses to stimuli. It has an objectivity that can be studied LIKE science, but science itself cannot fully explain it, just like science cannot answer existential questions. With moral realism, it’s an issue of ethics.”
That is deeply amusing. I’ve been waiting for this bait-and-switch from morals to ethics. It’s standard apologetics in action and you don’t disappoint. It’s called moving the goal posts. I know others will disagree but I think you’re pretty good at it, Mel, or at least you’re getting lots of practice.
Even granting that moral realism is a thing and independent of us (neither of which is true, by the way) then if it didn’t ‘evolve’ how can you explain the very large shift in our moral sensibilities from ancient times to today – even in the last 100 years! – by your own tribe of believers? Did your god one day issue a factory recall on, say, the moral issue of slavery or ownership of daughters and reissue a new set of morals for indentured service and personhood? I know I missed this divine memo. I mean, seriously such a point you raise is laughable. Moral sensibilities are constantly in flux. To then state that ‘science’ cannot fully explain ‘it’ and so you can fill in whatever you want is like asking someone to fully explain how their cell phone works and then telling them it is rational and reasonable to infer it is really a fish… interpreted correctly, of course, and inferred using metaphysics in a logical form, metaphorically speaking.
We find moral sensibilities in all mammals. We find moral sensibilities displayed in ratio to the extent of mirror neurons. We can demonstrate affecting moral sensibilities by impairing the function of mirror neurons. We can demonstrate communication techniques to alter moral considerations and increase and decrease moral concern by chemical interference and communicative processes. That our moral sense can be manipulated and altered demonstrates that moral realism is a descriptive term for an immediate moral framing for comparison but that the framing changes all the time due to all kinds of changing factors and influences. Switching away from morals to avoid this growing body of research about our biologically produced moral sense – demonstrable in infants, no less – to ethics is a switch not of content but of comparison; rather than use such nebulous terms as ‘good’ and ‘evil’ to book-end the spectrum,. we switch to ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ to book-end the comparative spectrum. This switch in terminology does not improve the point you are trying to support, that moral realism is not subject to a change because of stimuli. The evidence does not support this claim you are making whether you wish to use morals or ethics. Both are entirely subject to having meaning only in the comparative sense of an imported means to judge. Ethics no more exists independently than do morals, and indeed science has a lot to say about this. Not being able to explain absolutely everything at this time does not make moral realism an objective independent thing any more than your failure to full explain how your cell phone works means it’s just as likely a fish. You can believe it. You can say it. You can restate it. But none of that makes it true.
Yes, Tildeb, you are continually arrogant and condescending. I am neither a scientist nor a formal apologist. I assume you’re neither also, otherwise you have me at a disadvantage. So, your condescending rhetoric gets old. Try talking with respect instead of talking down to people. You might be taken more seriously then.
I really don’t care how seriously people take me; I care about having reasons taken seriously, having reality taken seriously, having respect for what’s true and knowable taken seriously. To people who exercise this seriousness, I have the greatest of respect. For those who use these words but act contrary to them like you do, I have no reason to respect them. You are trying to sell a lie through misrepresentation in the name of piety. I take issue with that motivation and I certainly take issue with the tactics. So I use words to try to explain how you’re not taking reasons seriously, you’re not taking reality seriously, you have no respect for what’s true or knowable. I sometimes think you actually don’t know you’re doing this. That’s one of the pernicious and very common results from religious thinking.
If I am to blamed for anything, it’s for taking you seriously enough because I think and hope you can change all of these deficits if you can summon the integrity and courage to do so, to live an authentic and principled life. That’s what I have found all deconvertees have in common: an unusual amount of courage and fortitude to face being wrong, to face the consequences of pulling misplaced confidence in their religious beliefs from misguided and cruel family and friends, and facing a new way of thinking that really does respect reason, respects reality, respects what true and knowable.
Learning how to find this courage and and then implementing it – leaving the artificial world of Eden and the comforts and safety it contains – is what Genesis is all about. That’s the wisdom inherent in it for those who want to live an authentic and meaningful life, one where principles and morals and ethics are owned rather than borrowed, those who are willing to enter and face the world not as we wish it to be but on its terms. Your piety blocks you from doing exactly this and, in fact, turns you into a deceiver and calls it a virtue.
Tildeb, could you please tone it down a little bit? Not everything people say that disagrees with you or doesn’t meet your lofty standard is lying and devious. Let’s talk like two human beings trying to have a conversation.
That is a naturist assumption. You are making a conclusion based on your preconceived assumption about reality. How can you prove that biology was not just the chemical response and not the cause? That it wasn’t a response to something outside of biology? Biological evidence does not necessarily mean that it’s source is biological. The only thing you can honestly say is that it looks like it does.
That is a naturist assumption. You are making a conclusion based on your preconceived assumption about reality
Mel, honest question: have ever read a single paper on animal behavioural studies; studies about fair play, empathy, morality?
Mel, could you answer my question, please?
Have you ever read a paper on animal behavioural studies; studies about fair play, empathy, morality?
Are you even aware of this field of study?
I ask simply because you’re making some rather defintiive statements to Tildeb regarding evolution/biology/morality which do not refelct, in any way, a person knowledgeable in that field.
I might be wrong. So, Have you ever read a paper on animal behavioural studies; studies about fair play, empathy, morality?
2. Yes, evolution is the best explanation how we became moral creatures. And there is plenty of evidence to demonstrate this.
Foundation? What does this even mean?
We evolved, and morality evolved along with our evolution.
3. So you will concur that you do not know either?
4. What does self fine-tuning mean? I have never heard the term before.
Fine-tuning( of the universe) as in an intelligent agent is responsible has not been demonstrated and all evidence so far suggests this is simply not the case.
So you state that is has been debunked yet have not a single scientist on hand to even offer evidence for you claim?
Nice! Way to go.
What causal question? Who made the multiverse? Is this what you are alluding to?
And if you can demonstrate an answer with evidence then please tell us.
And I disagree, and you have never substantiated any of these assertions. I included a short video to answer Tildeb about this that explains it better than I can.
“Self fine-tuning” meaning no causal agent. It just fine-tuned itself. You keep talking about all this evidence against intelligent design. So then, why is the universe so intricately fine-tuned if there is no designer?
I don’t know what you’re talking about here? Fine tuning was my argument.
The multiverse is not my claim. That’s an argument used by skeptics to avoid a designer or causal agent for our universe. I personally don’t care one way or the other. The only question that matters, even if it’s true, is what caused the multiverse?
It featured Lane Craig. He is a disgusting individual who supports Divine Command Theory and claims animals do not suffer in the way humans do.
He has nothing worthwhile to say on morality that does not involve his god.
I no longer watch anything from this person. And that is aside that all his argument s have been refuted time and again.
If I present a video demonstrating that evolution explains morality and certainly explains it better than your god is responsible will you watch it and take the time to consider the implications to your faith?
Let me know.
It isn’t fine-tuned. That seems to be the logical answer and all evidence point to this.
Where do you get the impression that it IS fine tuned? From what evidence?
Hence my response of …
”So you state that is has been debunked yet have not a single scientist on hand to even offer evidence for you claim?”
So …. which scientists have debunked the multiverse hypothesis?
I have absolutely no idea.
And if so, please provide evidence to support any such claim.
There you go with yet another irrelevant ad hominem dismissal. First, this video is not from William Lane Craig! It’s not about him, Ark. He was quoted once from a debate. So, congratulations, you just totally hand-waved the whole argument away. You’re like the silly person who won’t accept a convincing argument because some words were misspelled. Please give a non-fallacious response or I will take it as a non-answer.
I told you I had heard it when I was looking for something else so I would have to dig it up again. But why should I go to the trouble since I don’t care one way or the other about the multiverse argument. Even if it’s true it still doesn’t answer the causal question.
The causal question is relevant because foundational to natural science is that an effect must have a cause. You, John, and Tildeb are stuck in your naturalist worldview, so your position must obey natural laws of physics. Causality is considered to be fundamental to all natural science, especially physics. So, when you cannot give me a cause for your answer you are refuting your own position. If you say, “I don’t know” we’re back to a non-answer. It’s not a better explanation.
It isn’t a good argument and seeing Craig simply confirmed this, so I switched it off.
I have heard numerous similar god based arguments and they are all more or less the same. And they are wrong.
It would help tremendously if you read one of several studies done involving chimps and bonobos and toddlers. This will help explain how morality evolved in primates.
At least it will give you a basic grounding of something that even Darwin was aware of.
Furthermore, until you can demonstrate that such arguments are fallacious then your theological claims pertaining to morality are vacuous, I am afraid.
The causal question:
I cannot speak for John or Tildeb but I am most certainly NOT ”stuck in (my) a naturalist worldview”, as I have been at pains to stress over and over and over again.
All I ask for is evidence . The evidence you claim to possess, yet to date have not produced.
So, I am not refuting my own position at all, as you have not demonstrated the cause behind your own worldview.
I have no evidence therefore I say:
”I don’t know”
That is the only honest position to take.
It is humble, lacks hubris and is fully open to any, and all evidence that will change an ”I do not know” answer to one that allows me to be as emphatic as you are. based on no evidence, or at best the bad evidence you keep toting.
Yet with unbelievable arrogance you are happy to emphatically state:
”My god, Jesus the Nazarene did it,”
And the Muslim says:
”My god, Allah did it”
And the Jew says:
”My god Yahweh did it”
And the Aztec said:
‘My god Coatlicue did it.”
And the Hindu says:
”My god Brahma did it.”
And son on and so forth ….
I think you have to present an argument that refutes these others first and I am sure they are/were equally as sincere in their belief as you apparently are.
When you have sorted out who is the real god responsible, and if it turns out to be yours, then I will presume you have done so using evidence, and I will be more than willing to listen to what you say.
That is an open invitation for you to demonstrate your bona fides and those of your god.
Any time you are ready, Mel ….
Right, based on what counter-argument? What logic are you using as the basis of your argument? Sounds like more hand-waving to me.
Haha…you are a piece of work. WHAT do you mean by evidence, Ark? What would evidence look like to you that would explain something existing outside the natural world? YOU still have not given me an answer. We’re back to the Hamlet-Shakespeare question. PLEASE stop going in circles.
The circular argument is the theistic one.
And it is coming across as dishonest as well.
Evolution explains human morality.
Did you read through a chimp/toddler study so quickly?
How do you answer the claimants of other gods, Mel?
Surely you have evidence that completely refutes their pathetic claims?
If it worked on them then I am pretty sure it will work on me.
Let’s hear how you convinced the Muslim for example.
I have told you that I will gladly answer your Hamlet question the moment you explain why Jesus the Nazarene was unaware that Moses was a fictional character. I gave you my word, remember?
And that still stands.
The fact that you keep asking these questions shows that you’re not listening to what I’m saying or what’s in the posts. No evolution study answers the ontological and epistemological points that the video makes.
And if you actually understood the point of this post, you would never ask the question about Jesus and Moses. Even if Moses is just a story (which I don’t believe he is), it doesn’t change Jesus’ teachings. He seamlessly used parables and stories all the time without ever commenting on whether they were historically accurate or not, That is irrelevant to what is being taught. What we are supposed to get from the teaching. This is why historical criticism is bankrupt. This is where you miss the whole forest for the trees.
I fully understand what you are alluding to.
So I ask you , therefore, to present the evidence for your theological claims concerning morality.
Jesus claims the biblical character Moses was a real person. He was not, and this is the overwhelming scholarly and archaeological view based upon evidence.
This is the starting point.
And this is the position you are obliged to view the bible if you are in fact in pursuit of truth rather than a convenient
answer tyo your own insecurities.
First, I will talk about this when I get to history and, later, with archeology. So, I’m not going to go more into it here. But even if you are right (which I am not conceding), you are assuming that Jesus must have believed that Moses was a real person. He could’ve simply been referring to a cultural story of Moses to make His point. Jesus never actually says what you say He believed. You are reading that into His teachings. Again, He seamlessly weaves parables, stories, and real history together without ever stating which was actual history and which was just a story. That was not how the ancient people taught. They didn’t care about the scientific data. They were only interested in what the story was saying to them.
So, who was Jesus the Nazarene speaking to at the transfiguration then?
It says that Moses and Elijah appeared to them (Peter, James, and John). While I believe Moses and Elijah were real people, this verse doesn’t say anything about what Jesus believed about them.
Six days later, Jesus took Peter, James, and John, the brother of James, up on a high mountain by themselves. 2 While they watched, Jesus’ appearance was changed; his face became bright like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 Then Moses and Elijah[a] appeared to them, talking with Jesus.
So as it quite clearly states that Jesus was talking to Moses how could he not believe in him?
Well, if He’s talking to them then they were real.
And yet we know from evidence that the biblical character, Moses was most certainly not real, don’t we?
So would you consider that theses particular verses are a work of fiction, or was Jesus the Nazarene simply delusional?
I am curious, do you actually read the bible or do you simply make shit up as you along to suit your own personal agenda?
First, it was Peter, James and John who saw the vision, not Jesus. He was in the vision. Second, you are now saying they had a group hallucination, which is very unlikely since it’s extremely rare and doesn’t fit the normal conditions. Third, your constant assertion that Moses did not exist is overstating the evidence. Most honest historians or archeologists would say it’s unlikely, at most. They have no way to absolutely proving he did not exist.
3. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.
Copied directly from my KJV.
So, Jesus was talking with Moses yes or no?
You want quotes from the top archaeologists as well?
So … he was a fictional character, at best a composite as Martin Noth asserted, but this is no longer seen as a consensus view.
Again, you miss the point. Who thought Jesus was talking to Moses and Elijah? In other word, who is “them” here?
And, btw, please stop with “scholarly consensus” quotes. These kinds of statements have no real meaning. Almost half of all biblical scholars aren’t even Christian; many of the Christian scholars have a very skeptical view for political reasons (their University politics, etc.). They have an agenda, which is why Walter Wink stated over 40 years ago that historical criticism, as we know it, is bankrupt. And he was part of the Jesus Seminar group, so he’s not some evangelical conservative. So, of course, they would be inclined to take that position.
1. Re: the transfiguration:
So, you are now asserting that Jesus was not talking to Moses and it was simply a delusional experience?
Is this your personal view or is it the consensus view of biblical scholars?
I am not only referring to historical criticism but archaeological evidence. Are you still struggling with this term?
The Israelites were never in Egypt as the bible describes. There was no Captivity, no Exodus and no Conquest.
Are you perfectly clear on this point?
This is the scholarly consensus and has been for several generations.
I hope there will be no further misunderstanding as I cannot think of any other way of explaining it to you, and don’t want to start to think you are being disingenuous over this issue.
However, if you are going to insist that Moses was a real person please explain exactly what role he played in the biblical narrative and also the history of the Israelites?
No, Ark, I’m asking WHO was saying this? It was Peter, James, and John who is the “them” here. Your point about Jesus is irrelevant.
Archeology cannot disprove the existence of a historical figure. As I said before, using your argument, my wife’s great-grandfather was never in Sicily and did not exist. And that was only 150 years ago. That doesn’t disprove his existence.
Fair enough. So irrespective WHO was saying this, do you think Jesus was talking to Moses, yes or no?
Thank you for the lesson. Once again please pay close attention.
Archaeology has flatly refuted the biblical tale of the Captivity , the Exodus and the Conquest and demonstrated through evidence that the Israelite settlement was internal, and relatively peaceful. Ostensibly the Israelites emerged from within the Canaanite population.
I hope this is finally clear?
Therefore, as the character Moses features in two of the biblical tales, Captivity and Exodus how is it possible that he was an historical character as depicted in the bible?
Please will you explain?
I believe the text says He was talking to Moses. I would have to look at your facts more carefully before I comment on them.
But my point make that irrelevant, one way of the other., Jesus mentioning Moses in a Jewish cultural context He was in does not necessarily mean that He believed Moses actually existed. He was using Moses to make a point. To try to prove or disprove Moses is missing the forest for the trees. You’re missing what is actually being conveyed.
You seem to be continually hedging here, Mel, unless I am misreading your comments. It is as if you are afraid to offer a truly honest answer.
So let’s start again.
The archaeological evidence has flatly refuted the Captivity, Exodus and Conquest.
The implications regarding the biblical character Moses are obvious and need not be spelled out.
Both John and I have offered quotes, names and links for you to independently verify the evidence and yet you now say you will have to look at the facts more carefully?
Before we carry on can you explain what you mean by this statement as it suggests you have not even bothered to look up the evidence we have both offered you on numerous occasions.
I’m not hedging. I’m saying that historical criticism and archeology cannot conclusively disprove a biblical character. It can only raise doubts. This is why this method of historical criticism is bankrupt for many reasons, which I will talk about in the next post.
Fine. Now please explain the part Moses plays in the biblical tale now that is has been established that the Captivity Exodus and Conquest did not happen.
What was Moses’ role, Mel?
I’m not conceding that these events didn’t happen, or at least have truth in them. But even if they were just stories, the point is that Moses represents a deliverer who would come and save His people from their captivity (“Egypt” represents the world construct in alienation from God). Not a deliverance from Rome in the first century but from bondage, sin, and death. In this sense, Jesus was the literal fulfillment of a type and shadow that the story represents, which is how the NT writers taught them.
So may I ask on what expert grounds – qualifications you must therefore posses – allows you to deny almost the entirety of the archaeological and scholarly world that has flatly refute any claims of Captivity , Exodus and Conquest?
Please for once offer a straightforward honest answer.
And there is STILL a comment in moderation regarding the verse that tells you to make answer.
ave you remembered which one yet?
I don’t know what you’re referring to. I have not seen a comment from you that states that verse. If you did, which verse is it?
I did not offer the verse as I had presumed you know which verse I am talking about. And of course you still have not admitted which verse it is.
And this is the comment I am talking about:
Nope … I think you are being disingenuous and an ass. Actually, you know damn well which verse I am talking about, don’t you, Mel?
What verse! You have not presented any verse yet. I want you to show me what YOU mean by giving me the verse IN context.
So you do know the verse I am referring to then, and for you it is simply a matter of context, is it?
Is this like the context of slavery and the context of the role of Moses?
I’ll wager I could call a hundred ex-Christians and they would have no trouble whatsoever identifying the verse and would not behaviour in such a disgusting disingenuous manner either.
What’s funny is YOU can’t seem to name it. That’s what I was wondering about, and I’m also wondering if you even know its context. Taking a verse out of context is to use it falsely.
So, if you’re just going hurl these ridiculous accusations, try knowing what you’re talking about first.
You know I know the verse, Mel, so please stop trying to be clever.
Simply make answer as you are instructed to.
Prove what? That you are lying?
That you know the verse.
Are you saying you do not know the verse?
No, I’m asking if you know the verse. See, this is what I mean. You play these adolescent games. Please answer or go away.
But I have told you I do know the verse and as I have told you numerous times before, and have shown evidence, that I do not lie and have no need to either.
So, do you know the verse that instructs you to make answer? Yes or No?
Yeah, that’s not evasive! Just like you said you have an answer to the Hamlet/Shakespeare question. Now, you say you know this one. Well, prove it by giving me the verse. Put up or shut up. You love to throw out accusations but you don’t back them up with facts.
So, yes, I know what you think you’re referring to, but, no, it doesn’t mean what you think it means, so there is no verse in the Bible that commands me to answer every question an atheist will ask.
Here’s a couple of other verses in the Bible. See if you can figure them out:
Excellent! A bit of truth for a change. Like a breath of fresh air!
So there is no need for me to tell you the verse, now is there?
And, yes, it does mean you are instructed to make answer.
I wholeheartedly agree! There are a lot of gods aren’t there?
Doesn’t mean any of them are real, Mel.
Finally, what? That’s what I meant from the beginning. And you still don’t answer my question. Which verse were YOU referring to? I would love to see you exegete that verse for me to prove your point (if you know it).
And, no, that isn’t even close to what Psalm 14 means. No wonder you’re an atheist! 🙂
But we both know to which verse we are referring, don’t we, and I would wager that you knew all along, but claimed not to, so were you lying, Mel?
I do not lie so we can take it as a given that we are both referring to the same verse.
If you are still not sure feel free to say which verse you think it is is, Mel?
Of course this is what it means! There are multiple gods even in the bible.
And if we consider all the gods throughout history there must be hundreds of thousands if not millions.
Do you beleive Thor is real, Mel?
Oh, and I am still waiting for a truthful answer regarding the Exodus and Slavery, Mel. You have released my last comment n the matter what are you now having difficulty with?
Okay, another baseless accusation. When did I claim not to know the verse?
And do you know the verse or do you just make accusation about something you know nothing about? I think we’re done here.
So you DON’T know the verse then?
Yes, but apparently you don’t.
And where’s the honest answer regarding the Exodus and Slavery?
You are acting like a child now. Good-bye.
Oh, I thought you wanted to play this game?
Now, will you please explain, with evidence, why you reject the archaeological and scholarly consensus that the Captivity, Exodus and Conquest did not happen?
And will you also explain why you believe Yahweh did not include a simple explicit prohibition against slavery, either in the Commandments or in other laws.
As this all falls under ‘apology'( defense of your faith) I believe it is safe to say, yes you ought to make answer as instructed.
I see you have been busy today 🙂
Your post makes a great point about understanding the culture in the time the Bible was written. When we are ignorant of certain customs it diminishes our understanding of just how powerful the Word really is and what a revolutionary Jesus was by even speaking with the woman at the well or being able to put in proper context the relationship between the Jews and Samaritans. I’m forcing myself to spend more time in the Old Testament because I do tend to gravitate to the NT. I look forward to future posts.
Perhaps you would be able to explain Divine Command Theory and why both the Old and the New Testament sanctioned slavery, Lilka?
Ark, by your question to Lilka about slavery shows that you’ve missed the whole point of the post about understanding the text in context with the culture it was written to. You are reading it anachronistically, out of context. It was not written to you or me in the 21st century. It’s not making a moral argument for slavery, just like you cannot use Paul’s statements about women in the church out of context with the culture, and a whole host of other cultural norms. Those are fallacious assumptions.
This is especially true in the New Testament. It’s saying to treat slaves (which was a normal reality in their culture) like everyone else. In fact, a lot of the early church were slaves themselves. The point is, we are all equal in the eyes of God. To say that God condones slavery totally contradicts the whole point of why Jesus came, which was for our freedom.
I am not denying slavery was part and parcel of ancient culture.
Now, please pay close attention , Mel and simply answer the question:
Why didn’t Yahweh include a prohibition regarding slavery in the Commandments he gave to Moses.
Because the Bible is written anthropocentrically (not theocentrically). It’s not a rule book either. It’s a book written about how a people experienced God and how we can learn from that experience. It’s a written testimony of God meeting them where THEY were at, what they had a mental grid for and could accept in their cultural paradigm, and then progressively deconstructing their pagan worldview from that point forward over the course of a couple thousand years. In a sense, we are still having that mindset deconstructed as society advances.
For instance, God also allowed animal sacrifice, which the prophets later said in many different places that He never wanted. He allowed having many wives and writing a divorce for no good reason, even though later He said He hated it and Jesus flatly renounced it. If we don’t understand this internal debate going on within the narrative, we will not rightly understand the Old Testament.
And besides, you might as well ask why God didn’t give us advanced medical knowledge to overcome all diseases, or space travel, or clean energy alternatives. He left these things up to us to work through in our cultural setting as we progress as human beings.
And again, the Ten Commandments, properly understood, expresses God’s heart, which is expressed in other-centered, self-giving love. This clearly go against the whole notion of enslaving another person, along with a whole host of other things God put up with in history. Slavery does does not express His character or intent, only ours.
Thank you. Now please explain why, if Yahweh was mindful to include Commandments regarding adultery and murder he was unable to include a prohibition regarding human slavery.
It is a simply straightforward question.
Please, no more hand-waving.
Just for once I would appreciate an honest answer free of apologetics, Mel if you don’t mind.
We’re going in circles. I told you already, Figure it out.
No, you really are not being terribly honest here, Mel, I’m sorry to say.
I am aware of you interpretation regarding the love angle of the Ten Commandments, and bearing this in mind a forthright ban on human slavery would seem by any standard of human decency and compassion to be an excellent expression of love toward one’s fellow man/woman.
According to your faith, your god is omniscient.
He saw fit to include prohibitions regarding murder and adultery, to name two, so please explain why did he not simply include a prohibition about human slavery?
Let’s be honest, how difficult would that have been for an omniscient being?
You are being very selective here in your editorial of what God should do. There were a lot of things that were repugnant that God did not address directly.
No, I am not stating what your god should or would not do. I am asking you WHY, as an omniscient deity, he did not simply include a prohibition against slavery.
This is the only question I am asking and you are refusing to answer it in an honest fashuion.
Ark, I have been answering your question very directly. I told you how God works with humankind through history. Apparently, you are either ignoring the answer or you don’t like it. Either way, I can’t help you out here.
I am not ignoring any answer you have offered.
I am asking why an omniscient deity was unable to include a simple prohibition against slavery?
Can you please answer the question
with a direct straightforward non hand waving honest answer.
I TOLD you how the Bible was written and why every single issue was not addressed specifically. Sheesh! Go back and read the comment. Your constant niggling gets annoying. Stop wasting my time.
I am not wasting your time, I am simply baffled why you refuse to offer an honest straightforward answer to the question as to why your omniscient god, Yahweh, did not include a simple prohibition against slavery in the ten commandments.
Can you please make answer as you are instructed to in your bible.
Yes, you ARE wasting my time. You ask 50 questions, which I have to stop and look at each one of them, and even though I answer them, you keep on asking it again. And then you don’t answer one single question yourself! You just call me names and pretend I’m avoiding you. You are being ridiculous. And you wonder why you get moderated and banned from people’s sites. Either read my comments or go away.
I have read every single comment you have ever written to me. And in the main you only ever offer Apologetic answers.
So let’s see if you can be honest just for once without relying on theological two step.
1. Why do you think Yahweh did not include a simple straightforward and explicit prohibition against slavery among the Commandments ( or other laws) he gave Moses and the Israelites?
2. On what grounds do you deny the evidence accepted by the overwhelming consensus of archaeologists and biblical scholars that has flatly refuted the Captivity, Exodus and Conquest as described in the bible?
I’m no Biblical scholar so I can’t help you with that one Arkenaten. I am very well aware of my limitations. However, I wish you the best in your pursuit. You never know where that may lead you… 🙂
Thank you for replying Lilka. I too am no biblical scholar. Not by a long chalk! 🙂 But like you, I read the bible,.
What reason can you think of why a loving god would order the Israelites to commit genocide?
And why would the same loving god sanction slavery when he could have simply informed the Israelites that it was morally wrong to own fellow humans?
He is omniscient after all, isn’t he?
What is your take on these things?
I have learned there are some things I will never fully comprehend or understand. My lack of understanding doesn’t negate the existence.
God is omnipotent but man is flawed.
I’m okay knowing I don’t have and never will have all the answers. I can’t speak for others but can only attest to my personal experiences when it comes to God.
My thought is each person receives his or her own revelation as God reveals it. A true relationship with God It isn’t something that one man can force on another man. You can have casual knowledge about someone without a relationship with that person. The same can be said of God. An invitation as unique as each individual, whenever it comes, is accepted or declined. Some people run from God and decline a relationship with Him for decades. Others decline outright and have no interest at all.
At this point in my life I can barely explain me let alone Higher matters yet all I can say is my faith has sustained me and kept me sane through my ups and downs. I hope that answers your question to some degree. 🙂
Thanks again for continuing the dialogue.
I was not doubting your personal beliefs and while these topics are two of the most difficult that many Christians struggle with I am simply interested in how you manage to harmonize claims of an omnipotent, loving god with one that sanctions human slavery and commands genocide.
As you have obviously opened your heart and have embarked on a relationship with Yahweh/Jesus the Nazarene I am simply wanting to understand how one such as yourself is able to accept that the god you so love is responsible for some of the most horrific and vile acts of barbarism humanity has ever encountered.
Can you please explain how you cope with these facts, Lilka?
Thanks Lilka. Good thoughts here. 🙂
You have a fundamental misunderstanding of how God operates in the world. He does not legislate secular laws from on high. God was not in charge of the Roman Empire. He was not the one creating slaves! He was addressing how to treat slaves in their culture.
The early church did not condone slavery. Again, many Christians in the early church were slaves themselves. The point was to show Christ-like love and care within the culture they were living in, no matter what their cultural position.
True Christian philosophy, shown by the abolitionists, the Quakers, and William Wilberforce, were instrumental in ending slavery in the US and England. The argument they used was based in Christ’s teachings, from that arguing that enslaving another human being was evil and unacceptable. That’s how God works His will in government and society.
You believe your god issued the Ten Commandments.
If he could issue the sixth one that said:
6. Thou shall not kill.
Please offer a moral explanation as to why your god did not add an eleventh that said:
11. Thou shalt not practice slavery.
You might as well add, don’t kidnap, don’t cheat on your taxes, don’t mistreat your employees, don’t ignore the homeless, and on and on.
Implicit in all the commandments is other-centered, self-giving love. The first ones speak of loving God, the second group speaks of loving your neighbor as yourself. Jesus said all the commandments are summed up in this (Matt.22:37-40). To do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matt.7:12). To enslave another human being would be a violation of other-centered love for your neighbor.
Yeah, why not?
There were injunctions against shellfish.
So slavery seems a pretty big deal in comparison, would you not agree, Mel?
So, again, why did Yahweh not include a ban on slavery in the Commandments or simply tell Moses?
Haha…the OT ritual laws wee something totally different. I’ve already addressed that on my blog. Will address it again when we talk about why the laws.
You know, you laughing doesn’t make you look in any way more Christian, it just makes you look like a bit of an ass to be honest.
And according to your own holy book you are commanded make answer.
So, why did Yahweh simply not include an injunction against slavery along with the other commandments?
I was laughing because, typically, skeptics eventually bring these ritual laws up to find some loophole to denigrate God’s character. And now it’s also funny that you of all people would talk to me about looking “a bit like an ass.” I already told you, several times now, I would talk about this when appropriate.
And, btw, where is the verse that commands me to answer you?
Good grief, and you a pastor as well!
Yes, I’m a pastor. Where is the verse, Ark? You made the accusation. I want to see this verse used in context with what we’re talking about here.
Ah … context now is it!
Lol … if you do not know the verse I am referring then you have no right to preach.
Nice dodge. Who is being the “ass” now? You cannot use the Bible out of context, Ark. That is fundamental to preaching.
And now you accuse me of having no right to preach. So, enough with your judgmental accusations. Where is the verse? You can teach me something since you say I’m so incompetent.
Oh, and there is a comment to Lilka in moderation.
I approved all your comments to Lilka that I can see.
Yes, I see it came out of moderation. Thanks.
Why do you continue to moderate only my comments for by the way?
There are others are moderated but don’t comment very often. I had moderated you for two reasons. First, you make many times more comments than all the others combined. Second, your comments are often belligerent and border on vulgar sometimes. I don’t know how far you will take that tendency, especially with other people who come on my site.
If you would be more respectful and let things go after a few comments, instead of just changing the subject and continuing on, I will unmoderated you and see how it goes.
Btw, I have three of you guys regularly firing comments away and it’s just me to answer them. I have very little time to do this, so I will probably have to ignore many of them.
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