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Featured It is not possible to take all of the creation account in Genesis literally.

Discussion in 'Creation & Theistic Evolution' started by Chadrho, Sep 9, 2019.

  1. Jonaitis

    Jonaitis Soli Deo Gloria

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    Reject it, doesn't change anything Chadrho.
     
  2. Chadrho

    Chadrho Active Member Supporter

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    I changed my mind due to a careful look at the texts in question, prayerfully considered. I continue to grow in the faith. My faith nor my beliefs are static. The only thing that doesn't change is the One in whom I have faith. Nonetheless, what I understand about our Lord and the scriptures is not quite what it was when I first began. How could it be? I keep learning, just as I assume you do, too. Mind you, this is not to say that my understanding is better than those who take a literal approach to all of the scriptures. It's just where I am, at this moment. I am open to correction. But, don't assume simply because someone says I'm wrong I'm going to change, my understanding.

    Again, I appreciate your concern. My main two points were: 1) we should admit a metaphor when we see it (and I gather you disagree and that's fine), and 2) we should be careful not to assume that a literal interpretation guarantees we have grasped the spiritual point.

    I find it interesting that this is considered tantamount to rejecting God's word. As I have already pointed out, we equivocate on the way we use the word "word." And we don't always consider the distinctions between our various uses.
     
  3. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things" Supporter

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    Have you read the wonderful Isaiah chapter 55 in recent years? It's so amazing, and we learn additionally some wonderful things there, and more than one reason for great hope. One of the reasons to hope is because God's thoughts are so much higher than ours.
     
  4. Jonaitis

    Jonaitis Soli Deo Gloria

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    Do you take Isaiah as metaphorical?
     
  5. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things" Supporter

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    Isaiah is full of truth about actual situations and events, and chock full of metaphors (see below).

    Consider in just the first chapter:

    13 Bring no more vain offerings;
    incense is an abomination to me.
    New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—
    I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.
    14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts
    my soul hates;
    they have become a burden to me;
    I am weary of bearing them.
    15 When you spread out your hands,
    I will hide my eyes from you;
    even though you make many prayers,
    I will not listen;
    your hands are full of blood.
    16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
    remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
    cease to do evil,
    17 learn to do good;
    seek justice,
    correct oppression;
    bring justice to the fatherless,
    plead the widow’s cause.

    18 “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD:
    though your sins are like scarlet,
    they shall be as white as snow;
    though they are red like crimson,
    they shall become like wool.
    19 If you are willing and obedient,
    you shall eat the good of the land;
    20 but if you refuse and rebel,
    you shall be eaten by the sword;
    for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

    -----------
    Of course this is about an actual, literal situation, a moment in time, for Israel, and additionally in the wording many metaphors and similes are being used, yes? For instance, it will not be that swords literally eat human flesh, as if the sword could eat and hold food in its stomach, but metaphorically it would be, instead. An accurate metaphor that is truth. Sorry here for telling you what you already know, but trying to answer your question precisely. Truth about real situations, written with plenty of metaphors.

    The metaphors are wonderful, perfect, and total Truth (with a capital T, meaning of the kind that is ultimate truth, the kind from God).

    I'm just lately reading Isaiah again for what is the third time I think, but the first time in a long while.

    Have you read the wonderful chapter 55 in recent years?

    It's one of the most wonderful in all the Old Testament.
    Isaiah 55 ESV
     
  6. Chadrho

    Chadrho Active Member Supporter

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    I still find it very difficult to believe that anyone can take it all, notice the word "all," literally. Maybe that is stated too strongly. It is an honest statement. But in the OP I make clear what I mean by that. I mean that there are figures and images in the account of which we cannot form a conception. I have no idea what a literal fruit of the "tree of knowledge of good and evil" is. How can I take it literally what I cannot form a literal concept of it? That is part of my point. Does taking it literally mean, I just believe it's true? So what, if I do believe it's true? That was my second point. Simply believing something is true does us no good, in and of itself. The demons believe...

    Several people have pointed out that I may be mistaken in that 1st premise. Maybe we can take something literal without being able to form a literal conception of it. And, I am taking that possibility into serious consideration.

    Keep in mind, I'm not putting any of this forward as dogma. Yes, the title was overstated, but I said that in the OP. Maybe I should have come up with a less direct title.
     
  7. miamited

    miamited Ted Supporter

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    Hi halbhh,

    Thanks for your response. You wrote:
    I'm not sure what it would be and certainly can't find any Scriptural justification that it was. According to the first two chapter of Genesis, God created Adam by forming him from the dust of the ground and breathed the breath of life into his lungs. Then we're told that Adam got to name some or all of the animals and that no suitable helper was found for him and so God put him to sleep and made Eve. Then we read an account of a life in which Adam and Eve lived together and walked with God until the Serpent tempted Eve in the garden. Your position is that this likely took some time. Because that is your position, not from Scriptural facts of any kind, then you must make the claim that the account given of Adam's years, has to be only after the fall.

    My position is that Adam and Eve, as to their physical bodies and living days upon the earth, was the same before and after the fall. The fall, however, separated them from God and therefore they began to die. But my position is also that the fall was likely relatively soon after the creation. As I've said, we know that Satan is the one who tempted Eve and caused her to rebel against the authority of God. We know that Satan directly tied God's very words to her act of rebellion. Questioning whether or not God had actually said what she believed He said. I honestly can't find any Scriptural support that there was some otherwise idyllic life that Adam and Eve lived that wasn't accounted in their years of life reported after the fall. That they had lived, as I said, possibly hundred or thousands or millions of years before God accounted to them in His words to us, that Adam lived 930 years.

    As I say, the only thing that I know that I know to be true are the words that God has caused His prophets to write down for me to know today. Everything else, including some of my own understanding, is merely the work of a broken and corrupt mind that may or may not know the truth. Question: Have you taken this to the Spirit and asked for confirmation that what you believe is the truth of the matter?

    I certainly don't mean to be argumentative, but I am fairly firm on allowing only what I know that I know to be the truth, what God's word has told me is the truth. Everything else is hypothetical thinking.

    God bless,
    In Christ, ted
     
  8. miamited

    miamited Ted Supporter

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    Hi chadrho,

    Thanks for your response. You wrote:
    That's not true of what I've written. I have never denied or disagreed that we should admit a metaphor when we see it. What I've asked of you is your understanding in this account of the creation of a metaphor. If it's there, I have no problem accepting it and believing that God wrote us a metaphor. I just don't see any construct that would allude to any of the account of creation to being metaphorical in structure. So, I asked you to respond with what words you found in the creation account that were metaphorical. So far, you've only made a false claim as to what I believe and offered up not a single evidence of anything that you see as a metaphorical construct in the creation account.

    If you'd merely answer my question, then I'd address your ideas about it.

    You also wrote:
    I'm honestly not even sure what that means to convey.

    God bless,
    In Christ, ted
     
  9. Chadrho

    Chadrho Active Member Supporter

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    I offer two (possible) metaphors in the OP: The tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the light and dark (Day and Night) of the 1st day. I am saying those are metaphors. I am pretty clear at this point that you do not see those as metaphors.

    I apologize if I have mischaracterized anything you have said. I am saying those are metaphors and you are saying they are not. Apparently, we disagree about what a metaphor is. I am open to correction on this point.
     
  10. Halbhh

    Halbhh The wonder and awe of "all things" Supporter

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    Ok, let me introject here and suggest it's a so much more wonderful to read it fresh, and fully, really listening, to hear it new. Taking your time, and really absorbing all that is there, which is a lot. :) There's no hurry! It's a deep and timeless story, and far more subtle and wonderful than we usually hear it summarized.
    Genesis 2 ESV
     
  11. Anthony2019

    Anthony2019 "Only Me!" Supporter

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    I don't take the creation account literally and I don't really understand why people feel they need to do so. It seems a little arrogant on our part to presume we can fathom out every mystery about God and exactly how the Earth and universe was created. As Isaiah 55:8-9 states: "“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
     
  12. miamited

    miamited Ted Supporter

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    Hi chadrho,

    Well, let's be honest. Your offering that these two pieces as possible metaphors would deny that there is any construct of the writing that actually makes them metaphors. Do you know the definition of a metaphor and how one is presented in basic prose or discussion.

    In Song of Solomon we read: Dark am I, yet lovely, daughters of Jerusalem, dark like the tents of Kedar, like the tent curtains of Solomon.

    'dark 'like the tents of Kedar' and 'like the tent curtains of Solomon' are metaphors. They are a comparison of Solomon's complexion. That his complexion is dark, like one would see if they saw the tents of Kedar of the tent curtains of Solomon. Metaphors are always used as a comparison.

    What is the comparative that you find in the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? What is God comparing the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to? Same question for dark and light. What is God comparing the dark/light or day/night to?

    In Genesis 27 we read of an encounter between Isaac and Jacob. Jacob leans over to Isaac and Isaac gets a whiff of Jacobs odor and he says to him, "Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the LORD has blessed." That's a metaphor. He is comparing the smell of Jacob to the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed. The word 'like' is what clues us to the metaphorical construct of comparative analysis.

    Now, if God's word says that the dark of the night was like the black ink of a frightened squid, then we'd have a metaphorical construct. However, and you may ask any basic language or English teacher, the two issues that you bring up, as they are presented in the Scriptures, are not metaphorical in any way.

    It's fine if you don't believe the account of God as it is given. There are billions of people who do that. But it's not quite so fine to give, as your reason for not believing the account as written, some false testimony that it's presented as a metaphor. And, if that is the reason to support your understanding, then you need to know that it isn't the truth that these two issues are presented by God as metaphorical dialogue in the Scriptures. Please don't believe me. Go and study for yourself what a metaphor is. Find out, what makes a piece of writing metaphorical in its understanding.

    God bless,
    In Christ, ted
     
  13. Chadrho

    Chadrho Active Member Supporter

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    I am using metaphor as "a thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else" (see link below). In the Genesis account there is tree whose "fruit" is knowledge of good and evil. And, there is another tree whose "fruit" is life. I am taking "fruit" as a metaphor in the sense that it represents something else, i.e. knowledge of good and evil and/or life.

    metaphor | Definition of metaphor by Lexico

    So, you are right, I am not treating metaphor as synonymous with simile; although, I would agree that a simile is a metaphor.

    I say "possible" only because I know there are those who disagree, so I don't want to act like it's obvious to everyone.
     
  14. Bible Highlighter

    Bible Highlighter Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. Supporter

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    There is no suggestion in Genesis 1 that is metaphorical.
    We also have to realize that the Lord our God is a God of miracles.
    What may seem impossible to do by our own understanding is not impossible for God.
    Also, most have a hard time letting go of secular scientists way of thinking, as well.
    We are told not to love the world, and neither the things in the world.
    Secular scientists are not always thinking clearly because they are basing their conclusions off of a world without God. If you were to read Genesis 1 plainly like a child, it simply means what it says.
    It is only when we are presented with outside ideas that makes us want to change what the Bible says. Yes, I get that this appears to be the case with our world being a sphere and stuff, whereas the Bible sometimes loosely suggests a flat earth (Which is not the case), but we have to look at the whole of Scripture and reality.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. miamited

    miamited Ted Supporter

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    Hi chadrho,

    That's why we often need to define terms. Here's the definition of metaphor by 'literarydevices.net': A Metaphor is a figure of speech that makes an implicit, implied, or hidden comparison between two things that are unrelated, but which share some common characteristics. In other words, a resemblance of two contradictory or different objects is made based on a single or some common characteristics.

    Notice that in this definition it's all about some comparison of things unrelated that have some shared common characteristic. Your definition does not make allowance for any kind of comparative value. So, I can agree that we are using somewhat different understandings of what a metaphor actually is.

    Your Lexico defines metaphor thusly: 1. A thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else.

    So, I will ask, what is the tree of life or the tree of the knowledge of good and evil representative of?

    God bless,
    In Christ, ted
     
  16. Chadrho

    Chadrho Active Member Supporter

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    Not trying to be rude, but metaphors don't usually come out and say they're metaphors.

    Also, there were those in antiquity who, prior to the theory of evolution, thought the Genesis account could be read spiritually and not literally. Augustine mentions this possibility. The discussion we are having is not predicated on modern science or evolution. The only mention I make of science in the OP is that science cannot communicate to us the spiritual truths communicated in Genesis.



     
  17. Chadrho

    Chadrho Active Member Supporter

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    I am saying the fruit if the trees is the metaphor. The fruit represents either knowledge of good and evil or life, depending on the tree. If I try to take it literally then I imagine Adam and Eve walking up, grabbing a handful of "knowledge of good and evil" and that is where the metaphor creeps in. What does that fruit look like? How do you eat knowledge? How do you eat life? How is this not a symbol, a representation, a metaphor?
     
  18. Maria Billingsley

    Maria Billingsley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Sure! You can take it all literally. We know that Children make up the Kingdom of God. Don't feel marginalized as the humble, innocent and pure have the Kingdom. They are not versed in debate.
    Blessings
     
  19. GingerBeer

    GingerBeer Cool and refreshing with a kick!

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    I do too mainly because there are at least two creation stories in the first few chapters of Genesis and they differ in significant ways.
     
  20. Chadrho

    Chadrho Active Member Supporter

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    I just got a chance to look at the Augustine link.

    "The angels in heaven are "that light which was called day and whose unity Scripture signalizes by calling that day, not the 'first day,' but 'one day.' These angels, having been illumined by the Light that created them, have themselves become light and day "in participation of that unchangeable Light and Day which is the Word of God." (from the Villanova link)

    Augustine, at least at this point, seems to be interpreting the Light and Day on the 1st Day as the Word of God. He never seemed quite sure where to put the creation of the angels. Or better, the "formation of angelic minds in the light of the Beatific Vision." I love that interpretation, by the way. But, would one call that a literal interpretation? I think Augustine considered a "literal" interpretation to be the one that the writer (Moses presumably) intended. I doubt Moses could have intended the interpretation Augustine is making. And even Augustine questions if we can really know what the writer intended.

    All that aside, any allegorical interpretation is not a literal translation. And, the ancients loved to make an allegorical interpretation. I think there's room for the multivalence of scripture. Even Jesus interpreted Moses's raising up the serpent as a metaphor for his death. (I am not saying that Moses did not literally lift up the snake, but only that Jesus seems to approve of the use of metaphor and the spiritual truths they communicate).
     
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