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Author Topic: Literal Genesis - Why?  (Read 3287 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: December 14, 2010, 06:46:36 AM »

This is more geared to the Protestants, but Orthodox are of course free to comment

I've been having discussions with a good friend of mine who I believe to be (more or less by his own admission) a "Young Earth creationist". This puzzles me quite a bit since he, like me, has a very logical and scientific way of thinking. He values rational thinking. We are the sort of friends that know what the other is thinking before they say it, and sometimes even think it. I say that to emphasize how well we know each other, and how similar we are. I am therefore left very confused how a mind similar in every way to my own can believe the Christian Deluge story from a literal, Young Earth, anti-evolution perspective.

The key thing about that which I don't understand is why those adhering to that belief felt compelled to take Genesis literally in the first place. I suspect there is some way to pick and choose the right verses from the New Testament to form an argument for taking it literally, but, he was unable to articulate that argument or those verses for me. I can't blame him for that, he's not a Biblical scholar with instant command of every argument...since he is overall a rational thinker I trust he must have heard a compelling (to him) argument somewhere. I've tried searching for that argument online but I must be using the wrong terms, or nobody has really written about it here yet, because I haven't found much.

So, can someone here explain the argument that Genesis must absolutely be taken literally?

It seems like Christians are shifting more toward that opinion today than in recent history. Just a decade or so ago I seem to recall my mom (a Christian) saying "a day for God isn't necessarily a day as we think of it". But now she, too, is waxing literal/fundamentalist. Why the shift?

I am currently re-reading Genesis, a bit at a time (Oh I know the heresy of an atheist!). I made a pretty crude argument when talking to this friend... I said, "God says the serpent will eat dirt forever...we know serpents don't eat dirt...so obviously God was speaking figuratively, right, not literally?" He told me that is viewed to be Messianic prophecy. If that is the case, I wondered where the guide is that states which verses in Genesis are to be taken literally, and which are to be taken figuratively as Messianic prophecy or some other prophecy, but our conversation did not go that route. Can anyone explain this?

Any insight into these matters would be much appreciated!
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« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2010, 12:15:33 PM »

Personally, I believe the story is metaphoral and it is best explained by Saint Paul at the beginning of Romans:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Of course, I may be wrong.
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« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2010, 12:17:00 PM »

Obviously, I meant "metaphorical".
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« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2010, 12:49:51 PM »



So, can someone here explain the argument that Genesis must absolutely be taken literally?
One reason is that Jesus talked about Genesis, implying that Jesus himself interpreted Genesis literally.

When asked by the Pharisees if divorce was allowed, Jesus replied in the negative, referring to the events in the early history of the world. Mark 10: 6-9: “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

In Luke 11:51, Jesus mentions Abel, the son of Adam and Eve, implying that Adam and Eve were literal persons, and that Genesis overall should be interpreted literally.
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« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2010, 01:12:16 PM »

I think the real reason for biblical literalism is insecurity. People who aren't really secure in their faith look for "THE Book" that would be absolutely inerrant and completely factual in every single word it contains. When they as much as hear that still something in THE Book does not quite correspond to reality, they say something like this: "if SOMETHING in the Word of God is not true, then how am I supposed to know that it's not like EVERYTHING there is not true?"

Personally, I could care less about factuality, historicity etc. of the Biblical account of Creation, Fall, Deluge, etc. My source of Truth is not THE Book but my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Who teaches me through my Church. The Church never made the literal understanding of Genesis a dogmat endorsed by Her Ecumenical Councils. Many wonderful men of God, bishops of this Church (like Metropolitan +KALLISTOS (Ware), for one) have made statements that they do not take Genesis as literal history and they do not advise their flock to take it literally. So I know that I am not in any kind of error in this regard.
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« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2010, 03:38:09 PM »

Because it has always been believed that way. Orthodoxy is not about believing new theories over what has always been believed since the beginning of the world.
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« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2010, 04:12:03 PM »

whether you interpret it literally or allegorically, we're all looking to the Bible to be a guidebook for us (with the Church, of course), so the claim that literalists are insecure is just absurd. we're all Orthodox because we need a guide.

the Church has always, unanimously interpreted Genesis both literally and allegorically. for the Fathers, the various levels of interpretation are not mutually exclusive. for one example -- St. Macarius the Great says that in each human soul we have been expelled from Paradise, but yet there was also literally an angel with a flaming sword guarding the door to Paradise. both are true, and the Fathers never doubted the historicity of Genesis. hermeneutically speaking, the Fathers never used allegory to develop dogma though - our understanding of man and the world is derived from the literal story of Genesis.
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« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2010, 04:31:20 PM »

You can see that there are two views in Orthodoxy.  Some seem to take a literalistic viewpoint, and therefore anything they find in common with the Church fathers is a view that they should take on the Biblical stories.

Others try to find what effects their faith directly including the correct dogmas of the Church.  With this, they may or may not take the passages literally.  This view is not new.  It's also an old view as well.  It may not be as widely held, but we can see that there were views that were widely held that were later discarded.  Therefore, these people have no problem is accept scientific theories and maintaining their own fidelity to the Bible and Church tradition.

You can see these views more clearly expressed in the "Creationism, Evolution, and Orthodoxy" thread.  There's no need to repeat them here.

As for your question for Protestants, you will find Protestants who are very similar in diversity as Orthodox when it comes to Genesis.  There will be Protestants, like the Dr. Francis Collins, who abandoned atheism, who takes Genesis allegorically.  Other Protestants take Genesis literally, and these are the famous Creationists.  In either case, both groups are also similar to the Orthodox by taking their support if not from Church fathers, from immediate influential preachers of the past.  Dr. Francis Collins have gotten his influence clearly from CS Lewis as he writes in his book.  Many others have attempted a compromise, like Old Earth Creationism (accepting death before Fall, but rejecting evolution), Old Earth Evolutionism except Man (accepting death, evolving creatures, but man completely separate), and Theistic Evolution within Biblical teachings (i.e. the Bible teaches evolution), all of which exist in the Protestant tradition, somewhat in the Orthodox.
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« Reply #8 on: December 14, 2010, 04:32:06 PM »

The word "allegory" has been used more than a few times in the past couple of days here, as I have been checking in and out (the "real" persons thread). It should be noted that allegorical hermeneutics seems to be absent and argued against in the early Church patristics in favor of a typological hermeneutic.

And often the "literal" meaning not addressed or seen as a problem. "Literalism" is a primarily a modernist problem or answer.

For a primer on this difference, I highly recommend:

Scripture in Tradition: The Bible and Its Interpretation in the Orthodox Church

http://www.amazon.com/Scripture-Tradition-Interpretation-Orthodox-Church/dp/0881412260

The main critique I have, and it is not an important one save for those who might have a strong background in hermeneutics, is that Fr. Breck doesn't either acknowledge or is unaware of the primary 20th century work in hermeneutics on which some of his secondary references rely and are really footnotes to. Read: Heidegger and his most important students.

FWIW.

 



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« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2010, 04:37:06 PM »

The word "allegory" has been used more than a few times in the past couple of days here, as I have been checking in and out (the "real" persons thread). It should be noted that allegorical hermeneutics seems to be absent and argued against in the early Church patristics in favor of a typological hermeneutic.

And often the "literal" meaning not addressed or seen as a problem. "Literalism" is a primarily a modernist problem or answer.

For a primer on this difference, I highly recommend:

Scripture in Tradition: The Bible and Its Interpretation in the Orthodox Church

http://www.amazon.com/Scripture-Tradition-Interpretation-Orthodox-Church/dp/0881412260

The main critique I have, and it is not an important one save for those who might have a strong background in hermeneutics, is that Fr. Breck doesn't either acknowledge or is unaware of the primary 20th century work in hermeneutics on which some of his secondary references rely and are really footnotes to. Read: Heidegger and his most important students.

FWIW.


TtC,

The above was not directed at you as a reading list to answer your questions, but it is great reading if you are interested in hermeneutics whether Biblical or otherwise. Very approachable for the "lay" reader and yet not so simple as to seem overly simplistic for someone who has studied hermeneutics explicitly, especially outside the Orthodox tradition, even for Orthodox, I think the text would commendable, if only for making explicit and presenting in a relatively systematic outline the history of patristic method.
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« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2010, 04:41:03 PM »

I tend to see the major views of interpreting the Bible in history that continue today as Alexandrian vs. Antiochian:
If one takes Alexandrian exegesis, it's the belief that all things in Scripture is allegory, but not all is not typology (double negative on purpose).
If one takes Antiochian exegesis, it's the belief that all things in Scripture is literal, but not all is typology.
Anything in between also occurs, but these are the extremes.
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« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2010, 04:45:21 PM »

whether you interpret it literally or allegorically, we're all looking to the Bible to be a guidebook for us (with the Church, of course), so the claim that literalists are insecure is just absurd. we're all Orthodox because we need a guide.

the Church has always, unanimously interpreted Genesis both literally and allegorically. for the Fathers, the various levels of interpretation are not mutually exclusive. for one example -- St. Macarius the Great says that in each human soul we have been expelled from Paradise, but yet there was also literally an angel with a flaming sword guarding the door to Paradise. both are true, and the Fathers never doubted the historicity of Genesis. hermeneutically speaking, the Fathers never used allegory to develop dogma though - our understanding of man and the world is derived from the literal story of Genesis.

This is controversial and seemingly incorrect statement from what I have read, albeit little. I think it is hard for the (post /hyper)modernist to appreciate the degree to which historicity and literalism was not much of a question for the folks before modernity or at least understood very differently, while also not reducing text to "mere" symbolism.

This is a snare many interpreters against " (post / hyper)modern" interpretation get caught in. By rallying against what they see to be modernist elements of understanding text (non-literally, allergically, historical-critical, genre-analysis, etc. ), they fall into the other side modernism: literalism. See: Fr. Seraphim of Patina.
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« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2010, 04:48:31 PM »

I tend to see the major views of interpreting the Bible in history that continue today as Alexandrian vs. Antiochian:
If one takes Alexandrian exegesis, it's the belief that all things in Scripture is allegory, but not all is not typology (double negative on purpose).
If one takes Antiochian exegesis, it's the belief that all things in Scripture is literal, but not all is typology.
Anything in between also occurs, but these are the extremes.

The latter approach raises the question though: what is meant by literalism before modernity?

That is a very complicated question.

Would it be fair to say (setting the question of literalism aside) though that on the whole that the general approach to Biblical hermeneutics within the patristic tradition has swayed more toward the latter approach than the former?
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« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2010, 05:09:59 PM »

I tend to see the major views of interpreting the Bible in history that continue today as Alexandrian vs. Antiochian:
If one takes Alexandrian exegesis, it's the belief that all things in Scripture is allegory, but not all is not typology (double negative on purpose).
If one takes Antiochian exegesis, it's the belief that all things in Scripture is literal, but not all is typology.
Anything in between also occurs, but these are the extremes.

The latter approach raises the question though: what is meant by literalism before modernity?

That is a very complicated question.

Would it be fair to say (setting the question of literalism aside) though that on the whole that the general approach to Biblical hermeneutics within the patristic tradition has swayed more toward the latter approach than the former?

Not necessarily.  Take for instance the Nephilim story.  It wasn't until the fourth century where Church fathers started to reject the idea that the Nephilim were sons of fallen angels, which in the context of the writings of Enoch seemed to have been taken literally before in a unanimous fashion.

I think the litmus test is the faith.  Everyone agrees on the important points of faith and moral understanding that never changes.  The Alexandrian and Antiochian approaches were just extremes of looking for consistent ways to interpret Scripture.  I think in reality, a mixture of the two has been used.  That is, all things in Scripture are not alway literal, not always allegory, not always typology, but there are parts in Scripture that will always be literal, parts in Scripture that will always be typology, and parts that will be both.
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« Reply #14 on: December 14, 2010, 05:52:07 PM »

So, can someone here explain the argument that Genesis must absolutely be taken literally?
Lets try it this way. Can anyone explain why a Christian wouldn't take Genesis literally?

 If I believe creation took six days with a day off, what does it really matter? Will it affect my credit rating? Is it going to be a question on a job application? Will I have to change to the long form for my taxes? Is somebody going to bankroll my mad scientist experiment to try to replicate the creation of the universe? No.

So then what does it really affect on this world?

Pride.

If I don't respond correctly to that question in certain circles, the cool kids will laugh and point.  The atheists.

What then have I just done? I have just allowed someone else with no concern for eternity effect my relationship with the one who does, and has a lot to do with it. I am now allowing idiots to determine my hereafter.

What else am I willing to prostitute for approval? That's a slippery slope with a bad ending.

Six days with a day off. Nuff said. Grin
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« Reply #15 on: December 14, 2010, 05:53:54 PM »

Clearly there is an acceptable spectrum of belief within Orthodoxy regarding OT historicity.

It is important to note that when a portion of scripture is interpreted allegorically, it does not mean that it is less true than a literal reading. On the contrary, I would argue that an allegorical reading can oftentimes be more 'true' than a strict reading of the letter of scripture.
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« Reply #16 on: December 14, 2010, 06:00:18 PM »

So, can someone here explain the argument that Genesis must absolutely be taken literally?
Lets try it this way. Can anyone explain why a Christian wouldn't take Genesis literally?

 If I believe creation took six days with a day off, what does it really matter? Will it affect my credit rating? Is it going to be a question on a job application? Will I have to change to the long form for my taxes? Is somebody going to bankroll my mad scientist experiment to try to replicate the creation of the universe? No.

So then what does it really affect on this world?

Pride.

If I don't respond correctly to that question in certain circles, the cool kids will laugh and point.  The atheists.

What then have I just done? I have just allowed someone else with no concern for eternity effect my relationship with the one who does, and has a lot to do with it. I am now allowing idiots to determine my hereafter.

What else am I willing to prostitute for approval? That's a slippery slope with a bad ending.

Six days with a day off. Nuff said. Grin

To pit faith contrary to modern science I believe is a mistake. I think that science and theology can work together in truth to bring fresh meaning to scripture and our faith. All truth is of God, whether that be of a scientific or a theological nature, and the pursuit of this truth is a noble cause indeed.
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« Reply #17 on: December 14, 2010, 06:07:24 PM »

So, can someone here explain the argument that Genesis must absolutely be taken literally?
Lets try it this way. Can anyone explain why a Christian wouldn't take Genesis literally?

 If I believe creation took six days with a day off, what does it really matter? Will it affect my credit rating? Is it going to be a question on a job application? Will I have to change to the long form for my taxes? Is somebody going to bankroll my mad scientist experiment to try to replicate the creation of the universe? No.

So then what does it really affect on this world?

Pride.

If I don't respond correctly to that question in certain circles, the cool kids will laugh and point.  The atheists.

What then have I just done? I have just allowed someone else with no concern for eternity effect my relationship with the one who does, and has a lot to do with it. I am now allowing idiots to determine my hereafter.

What else am I willing to prostitute for approval? That's a slippery slope with a bad ending.

Six days with a day off. Nuff said. Grin
So you're saying that the purpose of the 6-day creation narrative is psycho-spiritual: to eliminate the passion of pride?
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« Reply #18 on: December 14, 2010, 06:14:31 PM »

So, can someone here explain the argument that Genesis must absolutely be taken literally?
Lets try it this way. Can anyone explain why a Christian wouldn't take Genesis literally?

 If I believe creation took six days with a day off, what does it really matter? Will it affect my credit rating? Is it going to be a question on a job application? Will I have to change to the long form for my taxes? Is somebody going to bankroll my mad scientist experiment to try to replicate the creation of the universe? No.

So then what does it really affect on this world?

Pride.

If I don't respond correctly to that question in certain circles, the cool kids will laugh and point.  The atheists.

What then have I just done? I have just allowed someone else with no concern for eternity effect my relationship with the one who does, and has a lot to do with it. I am now allowing idiots to determine my hereafter.

What else am I willing to prostitute for approval? That's a slippery slope with a bad ending.

Six days with a day off. Nuff said. Grin

To pit faith contrary to modern science I believe is a mistake. I think that science and theology can work together in truth to bring fresh meaning to scripture and our faith. All truth is of God, whether that be of a scientific or a theological nature, and the pursuit of this truth is a noble cause indeed.

I simply believe what I believe. If someone wants to throw rocks at my faith using science that's OK. If it wasn't science it would be something else. God either is or he isn't. He is everything or he is nothing.

BTW, on the young earth thing; The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu (Taoism) determined the earth to be about 7000 years old. Looks like science is the outlier here too.
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« Reply #19 on: December 14, 2010, 06:22:53 PM »

So, can someone here explain the argument that Genesis must absolutely be taken literally?
Lets try it this way. Can anyone explain why a Christian wouldn't take Genesis literally?

 If I believe creation took six days with a day off, what does it really matter? Will it affect my credit rating? Is it going to be a question on a job application? Will I have to change to the long form for my taxes? Is somebody going to bankroll my mad scientist experiment to try to replicate the creation of the universe? No.

So then what does it really affect on this world?

Pride.

If I don't respond correctly to that question in certain circles, the cool kids will laugh and point.  The atheists.

What then have I just done? I have just allowed someone else with no concern for eternity effect my relationship with the one who does, and has a lot to do with it. I am now allowing idiots to determine my hereafter.

What else am I willing to prostitute for approval? That's a slippery slope with a bad ending.

Six days with a day off. Nuff said. Grin
So you're saying that the purpose of the 6-day creation narrative is psycho-spiritual: to eliminate the passion of pride?
No, I'm saying it took six days because the bible says it took six days and really doesn't hint toward that being an allegory other than the audacity of the accomplishment.

Pride comes in when someone points out the audacity of that claim and challenges my intelligence for believing it. I am shamed into deferring to the current socially acceptable explination of creation in order to fit in socially.
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« Reply #20 on: December 14, 2010, 10:55:04 PM »

So, can someone here explain the argument that Genesis must absolutely be taken literally?
Lets try it this way. Can anyone explain why a Christian wouldn't take Genesis literally?

 If I believe creation took six days with a day off, what does it really matter? Will it affect my credit rating? Is it going to be a question on a job application? Will I have to change to the long form for my taxes? Is somebody going to bankroll my mad scientist experiment to try to replicate the creation of the universe? No.

So then what does it really affect on this world?

Pride.

If I don't respond correctly to that question in certain circles, the cool kids will laugh and point.  The atheists.

What then have I just done? I have just allowed someone else with no concern for eternity effect my relationship with the one who does, and has a lot to do with it. I am now allowing idiots to determine my hereafter.

What else am I willing to prostitute for approval? That's a slippery slope with a bad ending.

Six days with a day off. Nuff said. Grin
So you're saying that the purpose of the 6-day creation narrative is psycho-spiritual: to eliminate the passion of pride?
No, I'm saying it took six days because the bible says it took six days and really doesn't hint toward that being an allegory other than the audacity of the accomplishment.

Pride comes in when someone points out the audacity of that claim and challenges my intelligence for believing it. I am shamed into deferring to the current socially acceptable explination of creation in order to fit in socially.

exactly!
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« Reply #21 on: December 14, 2010, 11:02:12 PM »

So, can someone here explain the argument that Genesis must absolutely be taken literally?
Lets try it this way. Can anyone explain why a Christian wouldn't take Genesis literally?

 If I believe creation took six days with a day off, what does it really matter? Will it affect my credit rating? Is it going to be a question on a job application? Will I have to change to the long form for my taxes? Is somebody going to bankroll my mad scientist experiment to try to replicate the creation of the universe? No.

So then what does it really affect on this world?

Pride.

If I don't respond correctly to that question in certain circles, the cool kids will laugh and point.  The atheists.

What then have I just done? I have just allowed someone else with no concern for eternity effect my relationship with the one who does, and has a lot to do with it. I am now allowing idiots to determine my hereafter.

What else am I willing to prostitute for approval? That's a slippery slope with a bad ending.

Six days with a day off. Nuff said. Grin
So you're saying that the purpose of the 6-day creation narrative is psycho-spiritual: to eliminate the passion of pride?
No, I'm saying it took six days because the bible says it took six days and really doesn't hint toward that being an allegory other than the audacity of the accomplishment.

Pride comes in when someone points out the audacity of that claim and challenges my intelligence for believing it. I am shamed into deferring to the current socially acceptable explination of creation in order to fit in socially.

I don't personally appreciate when someone tells me that I'm trying to fit in socially.  I pray and I also studied the evidence.  So I'm convinced the by the truth of an old earth evolutionary theory, but I am also convinced of the truth of Christianity.

If you don't want to accept the evidence, that's fine by me.  It only tells me that you haven't studied the evidence, but it doesn't tell me you're not intelligent.  At the same time, I'm not one who tries to fit in socially.  I'm very sincere in what I see and understand, and I don't care what anyone else around me thinks.
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« Reply #22 on: December 15, 2010, 12:10:17 AM »

So, can someone here explain the argument that Genesis must absolutely be taken literally?
Lets try it this way. Can anyone explain why a Christian wouldn't take Genesis literally?

 If I believe creation took six days with a day off, what does it really matter? Will it affect my credit rating? Is it going to be a question on a job application? Will I have to change to the long form for my taxes? Is somebody going to bankroll my mad scientist experiment to try to replicate the creation of the universe? No.

So then what does it really affect on this world?

Pride.

If I don't respond correctly to that question in certain circles, the cool kids will laugh and point.  The atheists.

What then have I just done? I have just allowed someone else with no concern for eternity effect my relationship with the one who does, and has a lot to do with it. I am now allowing idiots to determine my hereafter.

What else am I willing to prostitute for approval? That's a slippery slope with a bad ending.

Six days with a day off. Nuff said. Grin
So you're saying that the purpose of the 6-day creation narrative is psycho-spiritual: to eliminate the passion of pride?
No, I'm saying it took six days because the bible says it took six days and really doesn't hint toward that being an allegory other than the audacity of the accomplishment.

Pride comes in when someone points out the audacity of that claim and challenges my intelligence for believing it. I am shamed into deferring to the current socially acceptable explination of creation in order to fit in socially.

I don't personally appreciate when someone tells me that I'm trying to fit in socially.  I pray and I also studied the evidence.  So I'm convinced the by the truth of an old earth evolutionary theory, but I am also convinced of the truth of Christianity.

If you don't want to accept the evidence, that's fine by me.  It only tells me that you haven't studied the evidence, but it doesn't tell me you're not intelligent.  At the same time, I'm not one who tries to fit in socially.  I'm very sincere in what I see and understand, and I don't care what anyone else around me thinks.
We all try to fit in socially. We're human and that's part of the package. Being aware of and accepting this predisposition makes it a little easier to know how and when to draw the line and be that one lemming that didn't follow the herd off the cliff.
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« Reply #23 on: December 15, 2010, 01:35:54 AM »

So, can someone here explain the argument that Genesis must absolutely be taken literally?
Lets try it this way. Can anyone explain why a Christian wouldn't take Genesis literally?

 If I believe creation took six days with a day off, what does it really matter? Will it affect my credit rating? Is it going to be a question on a job application? Will I have to change to the long form for my taxes? Is somebody going to bankroll my mad scientist experiment to try to replicate the creation of the universe? No.

So then what does it really affect on this world?

Pride.

If I don't respond correctly to that question in certain circles, the cool kids will laugh and point.  The atheists.

What then have I just done? I have just allowed someone else with no concern for eternity effect my relationship with the one who does, and has a lot to do with it. I am now allowing idiots to determine my hereafter.

What else am I willing to prostitute for approval? That's a slippery slope with a bad ending.

Six days with a day off. Nuff said. Grin
So you're saying that the purpose of the 6-day creation narrative is psycho-spiritual: to eliminate the passion of pride?
No, I'm saying it took six days because the bible says it took six days and really doesn't hint toward that being an allegory other than the audacity of the accomplishment.

Pride comes in when someone points out the audacity of that claim and challenges my intelligence for believing it. I am shamed into deferring to the current socially acceptable explination of creation in order to fit in socially.

I don't personally appreciate when someone tells me that I'm trying to fit in socially.  I pray and I also studied the evidence.  So I'm convinced the by the truth of an old earth evolutionary theory, but I am also convinced of the truth of Christianity.

If you don't want to accept the evidence, that's fine by me.  It only tells me that you haven't studied the evidence, but it doesn't tell me you're not intelligent.  At the same time, I'm not one who tries to fit in socially.  I'm very sincere in what I see and understand, and I don't care what anyone else around me thinks.
We all try to fit in socially. We're human and that's part of the package. Being aware of and accepting this predisposition makes it a little easier to know how and when to draw the line and be that one lemming that didn't follow the herd off the cliff.

If the ToE manifested itself in such a way that it provided a tangible benefit for you (such as the pc sitting in front of you) rather than being an abstract concept, then you might not be so hesitant to embrace it; nevertheless, the same basic framework which allows us to determine human origins and the age of the earth (i.e. the scientific method) also allows you the luxury of communicating your defiance of it via the "internets".
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« Reply #24 on: December 15, 2010, 02:16:10 AM »

So is the OP just sitting back and enjoying this?  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #25 on: December 15, 2010, 12:31:56 PM »

So, can someone here explain the argument that Genesis must absolutely be taken literally?
Lets try it this way. Can anyone explain why a Christian wouldn't take Genesis literally?

 If I believe creation took six days with a day off, what does it really matter? Will it affect my credit rating? Is it going to be a question on a job application? Will I have to change to the long form for my taxes? Is somebody going to bankroll my mad scientist experiment to try to replicate the creation of the universe? No.

So then what does it really affect on this world?

Pride.

If I don't respond correctly to that question in certain circles, the cool kids will laugh and point.  The atheists.

What then have I just done? I have just allowed someone else with no concern for eternity effect my relationship with the one who does, and has a lot to do with it. I am now allowing idiots to determine my hereafter.

What else am I willing to prostitute for approval? That's a slippery slope with a bad ending.

Six days with a day off. Nuff said. Grin
So you're saying that the purpose of the 6-day creation narrative is psycho-spiritual: to eliminate the passion of pride?
No, I'm saying it took six days because the bible says it took six days and really doesn't hint toward that being an allegory other than the audacity of the accomplishment.

Pride comes in when someone points out the audacity of that claim and challenges my intelligence for believing it. I am shamed into deferring to the current socially acceptable explination of creation in order to fit in socially.

I don't personally appreciate when someone tells me that I'm trying to fit in socially.  I pray and I also studied the evidence.  So I'm convinced the by the truth of an old earth evolutionary theory, but I am also convinced of the truth of Christianity.

If you don't want to accept the evidence, that's fine by me.  It only tells me that you haven't studied the evidence, but it doesn't tell me you're not intelligent.  At the same time, I'm not one who tries to fit in socially.  I'm very sincere in what I see and understand, and I don't care what anyone else around me thinks.
We all try to fit in socially. We're human and that's part of the package. Being aware of and accepting this predisposition makes it a little easier to know how and when to draw the line and be that one lemming that didn't follow the herd off the cliff.

And we all can be delusional sometimes.  We can be idiots, and that's just part of the delusion.  Being unaware and in denial of reality makes it a little easier to know how and when to draw the line, and be that one idiot who likes to point fingers at things that don't actually happen.
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« Reply #26 on: December 17, 2010, 10:55:34 AM »

I think the real reason for biblical literalism is insecurity. People who aren't really secure in their faith look for "THE Book" that would be absolutely inerrant

Two comments:

1) The thread has bifurcated into two discussions: (a) Is Genesis 1-11 literally, factually, historically true - a record of actual events? (b) Why do some Protestants see it as so vitally and fundamentally important to believe that Genesis 1-11 is a literal historical record?

I make no comment one way or the other on (a). On (b):

2) I think there is a good deal of perceptivity in what Heorhij writes. Orthodox have an inerrant church; Catholics an infallible pope; we have nothing like that, but human nature cries out for a visible external authority (rightly or wrongly - that is a different matter). So we have an inerrant book, a literal record of historical events with no mistakes in the 'original autographs'.

I think that many Protestants believe this is an important belief, because two developments happened more or less synchronously: (1) Darwin's theorising and so-called 'higher criticism' of the Bible arose in the second half of the 19th century; and (2) many previously Evangelical churches lost their faith in the Gospel, and became lukewarm and uncertain, "double-minded... unstable in all their ways". Consequently, as theologians and preachers look back to the late 19th century and early 20th century, and yearn to reclaim the lost faith, vigour and zeal of pre-Darwin, pre-Higher-Criticism days, they conclude it is necessary to return to a literal view of Genesis and to shore up faith in an inerrant Book. They may be right, they may be wrong: as I say, I make no comment on that. But I believe that is why they conclude that a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11 is essential to maintaining a strong grasp of the Gospel of Christ. They see a causal link between the theories of modern science and loss of faith.

Personally I think our faith should be fixed and centred on the Person and work of Christ - not a Book, Church or Pope, however important and indeed right any of those might be. Our security should be in Him.This doesn't in itself mean that the Book, or the Church, or the Pope, isn't inerrant: but that is not the question I understand the thread to have begun with, and is a different discussion. I understand this question as being (whether or not the Book is inerrant): why is the matter seen as so important in some circles?
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« Reply #27 on: December 17, 2010, 11:13:26 AM »

Personally I think our faith should be fixed and centred on the Person and work of Christ - not a Book, Church or Pope, however important and indeed right any of those might be. Our security should be in Him.
So, how does one learn about Christ, if not through the Church, the Church's Book, and the Church's servants?

Or, are you suggesting that Christ is available independently of the Church, the Book, and the servants?
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« Reply #28 on: December 17, 2010, 01:19:50 PM »

are you suggesting that Christ is available independently of the Church, the Book, and the servants?

Not independently of the message of the Book - though I suppose even then we could get into a discussion of the well-known fact of Moslems who become Christians initially because God meets them in a dream or vision. Presumably, such would not consider reading the Book or or attending a church, and God can (and does) find exceptional means. However, discussion of exceptional events is probably not what you are asking me about.

No - there is a big difference between saying the Bible is the final and sufficient authority, given to us by God, for faith and practice, and saying that its first eleven chapters must be taken literally. Whether Gen. 1-11 is historical or not, the soteriology of the Bible sets before us the way of salvation. That, all Evangelicals believe.
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« Reply #29 on: December 17, 2010, 01:25:42 PM »

are you suggesting that Christ is available independently of the Church, the Book, and the servants?

Not independently of the message of the Book - though I suppose even then we could get into a discussion of the well-known fact of Moslems who become Christians initially because God meets them in a dream or vision. Presumably, such would not consider reading the Book or or attending a church, and God can (and does) find exceptional means. However, discussion of exceptional events is probably not what you are asking me about.

No - there is a big difference between saying the Bible is the final and sufficient authority, given to us by God, for faith and practice, and saying that its first eleven chapters must be taken literally. Whether Gen. 1-11 is historical or not, the soteriology of the Bible sets before us the way of salvation. That, all Evangelicals believe.

I think it's safe to assume this is something Orthodoxy and Catholicism essentially agrees with as well.  Smiley
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« Reply #30 on: December 17, 2010, 03:05:26 PM »

So, can someone here explain the argument that Genesis must absolutely be taken literally?
Lets try it this way. Can anyone explain why a Christian wouldn't take Genesis literally?

 If I believe creation took six days with a day off, what does it really matter? Will it affect my credit rating? Is it going to be a question on a job application? Will I have to change to the long form for my taxes? Is somebody going to bankroll my mad scientist experiment to try to replicate the creation of the universe? No.

So then what does it really affect on this world?

Pride.

If I don't respond correctly to that question in certain circles, the cool kids will laugh and point.  The atheists.

What then have I just done? I have just allowed someone else with no concern for eternity effect my relationship with the one who does, and has a lot to do with it. I am now allowing idiots to determine my hereafter.

What else am I willing to prostitute for approval? That's a slippery slope with a bad ending.

Six days with a day off. Nuff said. Grin

To pit faith contrary to modern science I believe is a mistake. I think that science and theology can work together in truth to bring fresh meaning to scripture and our faith. All truth is of God, whether that be of a scientific or a theological nature, and the pursuit of this truth is a noble cause indeed.

I simply believe what I believe. If someone wants to throw rocks at my faith using science that's OK. If it wasn't science it would be something else. God either is or he isn't. He is everything or he is nothing.

BTW, on the young earth thing; The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu (Taoism) determined the earth to be about 7000 years old. Looks like science is the outlier here too.

If you "simply believe what (you) believe," is this not an indication of pride? Let me explain. If you believe that God is the creator, you must believe in natural law. Indeed, you must also believe in the ability of our God-given brain to comprehend and respect God's laws or natural law. Thus,, there cannot be an opposition between faith and science per se. Now, let's look at Genesis 1:1-31. What we see is an order of creation that corresponds to what we have scientifically found to have happened--in that order. One does not have to accept interpretations of the facts that are in variance with our faith or the Biblical account. But, we are not entitled to our own facts. The only sticking point that I see is the use of the word "day" in the Genesis account. It seems to me that we are so hung up on imposing our own understanding of this word--that is 24 human, earthly hours, that we fight against any other definition. This is not only unscientific but also is not a humble way to approach the power and majesty of God. Therefore, I suspect that without intending to do so, you may ultimately be reducing God's work to your (our) limited understanding.
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« Reply #31 on: December 17, 2010, 03:41:43 PM »

Thus,, there cannot be an opposition between faith and science per se. Now, let's look at Genesis 1:1-31. What we see is an order of creation that corresponds to what we have scientifically found to have happened--in that order.
Aren't you presuming that Genesis is a scientific text book? Why should Genesis match what modern scientific theories propose?
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« Reply #32 on: December 17, 2010, 04:01:16 PM »


Personally I think our faith should be fixed and centred on the Person and work of Christ - not a Book, Church or Pope, however important and indeed right any of those might be. Our security should be in Him.This doesn't in itself mean that the Book, or the Church, or the Pope, isn't inerrant: but that is not the question I understand the thread to have begun with, and is a different discussion. I understand this question as being (whether or not the Book is inerrant): why is the matter seen as so important in some circles?


This sounds good in theory, but putting it into practice is another matter. How are we to find out who this Jesus is, exactly? Further, how are we to interpret some of his sayings found in the Gospels which even his Apostles found difficult or were unable to understand?
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« Reply #33 on: December 17, 2010, 04:07:32 PM »

Let me explain. If you believe that God is the creator, you must believe in natural law. Indeed, you must also believe in the ability of our God-given brain to comprehend and respect God's laws or natural law. Thus,, there cannot be an opposition between faith and science per se.
You want to rethink that? I can see two ways to perceive that statement; Either I must have the same faith in God that I do science, or science= God.   
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« Reply #34 on: December 17, 2010, 04:20:58 PM »

Thus,, there cannot be an opposition between faith and science per se. Now, let's look at Genesis 1:1-31. What we see is an order of creation that corresponds to what we have scientifically found to have happened--in that order.
Aren't you presuming that Genesis is a scientific text book? Why should Genesis match what modern scientific theories propose?

I believe Genesis 1:1-31 is an account of what happened. The fact that modern scientific theories are in general agreement with the Genesis account is as it should be. God created not only the entire creation but also the laws that govern the interactions between the various parts of His creation.
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« Reply #35 on: December 17, 2010, 04:27:23 PM »

Let me explain. If you believe that God is the creator, you must believe in natural law. Indeed, you must also believe in the ability of our God-given brain to comprehend and respect God's laws or natural law. Thus,, there cannot be an opposition between faith and science per se.
You want to rethink that? I can see two ways to perceive that statement; Either I must have the same faith in God that I do science, or science= God.   

Science is man's understanding of God's laws or natural law. Science is only as good as it is able to explain God's laws. So, you do not have to equate science with either God or His laws. Indeed, we must we careful not to equate God with His laws either. That is, as the Creator, God can and has made exceptions to his natural law--they are usually called miracles. We cannot in any way constrain God's power and freedom. That said, it is obviously not a given proposition that science and God are opposed.
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« Reply #36 on: December 17, 2010, 05:39:18 PM »

So is the OP just sitting back and enjoying this?  Roll Eyes

If the OP didn't exist, this board would have had to invent him.
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« Reply #37 on: December 17, 2010, 05:59:33 PM »

So is the OP just sitting back and enjoying this?  Roll Eyes

If the OP didn't exist, this board would have had to invent him.

Well we did invent this particular incarnation of him at least, and fleshed it out rather thoroughly I must say:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,4959.0.html

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« Reply #38 on: December 17, 2010, 06:26:11 PM »

This is more geared to the Protestants, but Orthodox are of course free to comment

I've been having discussions with a good friend of mine who I believe to be (more or less by his own admission) a "Young Earth creationist". This puzzles me quite a bit since he, like me, has a very logical and scientific way of thinking. He values rational thinking. We are the sort of friends that know what the other is thinking before they say it, and sometimes even think it. I say that to emphasize how well we know each other, and how similar we are. I am therefore left very confused how a mind similar in every way to my own can believe the Christian Deluge story from a literal, Young Earth, anti-evolution perspective.

The key thing about that which I don't understand is why those adhering to that belief felt compelled to take Genesis literally in the first place. I suspect there is some way to pick and choose the right verses from the New Testament to form an argument for taking it literally, but, he was unable to articulate that argument or those verses for me. I can't blame him for that, he's not a Biblical scholar with instant command of every argument...since he is overall a rational thinker I trust he must have heard a compelling (to him) argument somewhere. I've tried searching for that argument online but I must be using the wrong terms, or nobody has really written about it here yet, because I haven't found much.

So, can someone here explain the argument that Genesis must absolutely be taken literally?

It seems like Christians are shifting more toward that opinion today than in recent history. Just a decade or so ago I seem to recall my mom (a Christian) saying "a day for God isn't necessarily a day as we think of it". But now she, too, is waxing literal/fundamentalist. Why the shift?

I am currently re-reading Genesis, a bit at a time (Oh I know the heresy of an atheist!). I made a pretty crude argument when talking to this friend... I said, "God says the serpent will eat dirt forever...we know serpents don't eat dirt...so obviously God was speaking figuratively, right, not literally?" He told me that is viewed to be Messianic prophecy. If that is the case, I wondered where the guide is that states which verses in Genesis are to be taken literally, and which are to be taken figuratively as Messianic prophecy or some other prophecy,
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« Reply #39 on: December 17, 2010, 06:56:36 PM »

Thus,, there cannot be an opposition between faith and science per se. Now, let's look at Genesis 1:1-31. What we see is an order of creation that corresponds to what we have scientifically found to have happened--in that order.
Aren't you presuming that Genesis is a scientific text book? Why should Genesis match what modern scientific theories propose?

I believe Genesis 1:1-31 is an account of what happened. The fact that modern scientific theories are in general agreement with the Genesis account is as it should be. God created not only the entire creation but also the laws that govern the interactions between the various parts of His creation.

"science" is only in accordance with Genesis if you choose to ignore everything the Church has to say about Genesis and interpret it for yourself, with the findings of "science" already in mind. 
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« Reply #40 on: December 17, 2010, 07:29:38 PM »

C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, 68-71:

"If by saying that man rose from brutality you mean simply that man is physically descended from animals, I have no objections....For long centuries God perfected the animal form which was to become the vehicle of humanity and the image of Himself....The creature may have existed for ages in this state before it became man....Then, in the fullness of time, God caused to descend upon this organism, both on its psychology and physiology, a new kind of consciousness which could say 'I' and 'me,' which could look upon itself as an object, which knew God, which could make judgments of truth, beauty and goodness....We do not know how many of these creatures God made, nor how long they continued in the Paradisal state. But sooner or later they fell."
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« Reply #41 on: December 17, 2010, 07:44:19 PM »

C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, 68-71:

"Then, in the fullness of time, God caused to descend upon this organism, both on its psychology and physiology, a new kind of consciousness which could say 'I' and 'me,' which could look upon itself as an object, which knew God, which could make judgments............ "
First Genesis is just an allegory, now the "allegory" of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil has been disgarded. Slippery, slippery slope.
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« Reply #42 on: December 18, 2010, 02:11:01 AM »

C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, 68-71:

"Then, in the fullness of time, God caused to descend upon this organism, both on its psychology and physiology, a new kind of consciousness which could say 'I' and 'me,' which could look upon itself as an object, which knew God, which could make judgments............ "
First Genesis is just an allegory, now the "allegory" of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil has been disgarded. Slippery, slippery slope.

You realize the "slippery slope argument" is nearly always a fallacy?
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« Reply #43 on: December 18, 2010, 02:11:26 AM »

Good to see you back David!
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« Reply #44 on: December 18, 2010, 03:06:06 AM »

This is more geared to the Protestants, but Orthodox are of course free to comment

I've been having discussions with a good friend of mine who I believe to be (more or less by his own admission) a "Young Earth creationist". This puzzles me quite a bit since he, like me, has a very logical and scientific way of thinking. He values rational thinking. We are the sort of friends that know what the other is thinking before they say it, and sometimes even think it. I say that to emphasize how well we know each other, and how similar we are. I am therefore left very confused how a mind similar in every way to my own can believe the Christian Deluge story from a literal, Young Earth, anti-evolution perspective.

The key thing about that which I don't understand is why those adhering to that belief felt compelled to take Genesis literally in the first place. I suspect there is some way to pick and choose the right verses from the New Testament to form an argument for taking it literally, but, he was unable to articulate that argument or those verses for me. I can't blame him for that, he's not a Biblical scholar with instant command of every argument...since he is overall a rational thinker I trust he must have heard a compelling (to him) argument somewhere. I've tried searching for that argument online but I must be using the wrong terms, or nobody has really written about it here yet, because I haven't found much.

So, can someone here explain the argument that Genesis must absolutely be taken literally?

It seems like Christians are shifting more toward that opinion today than in recent history. Just a decade or so ago I seem to recall my mom (a Christian) saying "a day for God isn't necessarily a day as we think of it". But now she, too, is waxing literal/fundamentalist. Why the shift?

I am currently re-reading Genesis, a bit at a time (Oh I know the heresy of an atheist!). I made a pretty crude argument when talking to this friend... I said, "God says the serpent will eat dirt forever...we know serpents don't eat dirt...so obviously God was speaking figuratively, right, not literally?" He told me that is viewed to be Messianic prophecy. If that is the case, I wondered where the guide is that states which verses in Genesis are to be taken literally, and which are to be taken figuratively as Messianic prophecy or some other prophecy, but our conversation did not go that route. Can anyone explain this?

Any insight into these matters would be much appreciated!

Why should you care if your friend understands it literally? What does that have to do with you? Is it gonna cause your world to fall apart? Is it gonna stop your car from running? Is it gonna cause your house to collapse?

Are you saying that Young Earth Creationists can't build TV's, Cars, Rocketships, space stations, radios, .....etc. because of their belief? Are you saying that they can't build homes, bridges, and big buildings? They can function just fine! There are alot of YEC's running around in all kinds of professions. Besides the whole idea of time is relative and so it really doesn't matter.....nor should it matter.


Ancient Jews, as well as Ancient Christians believed that Scripture had multiple senses (I think 3 or 4). Multiple layers. And so the literal is just one layer......one sense.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2010, 03:10:01 AM by jnorm888 » Logged

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