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The Creation Story: Literal, or Figurative?

Discussion in 'Controversial Christian Theology' started by Saint Steven, Apr 22, 2021.

  1. myst33

    myst33 Well-Known Member

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    Bible had human authors. They wrote in the style they liked and which was trendy in their times.
     
  2. Saint Steven

    Saint Steven You can call me Steve Supporter

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    Interesting comment.

    In Genesis we see the threat of consequences for the transgression. (you shall surely die) We see the transgression. (Eve ate and shared with her husband) God showed up to question them. (what is this that you have done?) Then God gave consequences and expelled them from the garden. (the consequences addressed the far-reaching affects and solution)

    How does this differ from the "concept of original sin as it developed in the Church"?
     
  3. Saint Steven

    Saint Steven You can call me Steve Supporter

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    Wow. That's very interesting. However...
    You have to sweep a lot of detail aside to distill it down to that. There must be more to it. Can you elaborate? I want to understand where you are coming from. Thanks.
     
  4. Saint Steven

    Saint Steven You can call me Steve Supporter

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    When I wrote 24 hours, I was making a distinction between the day/age theory and the text. Unless the age theory allows for a single sunrise and sunset. This is the measure of a single day right there in the text. I agree that there are problems with BOTH views.

    And yes, snakes do eat dust. And so do you if I speed away ahead of you. "Eat my dust!" - lol

    But yes, there is symbolism built into the text. The serpent (representing Satan) will bite Eve's offspring's heel. (the crucifixion) But the offspring will crush the serpent's head. (Jesus will defeat Satan) We have to wonder what all this meant to Moses and the Israelites when he wrote it and they heard it. Wow.
     
  5. Bobber

    Bobber Well-Known Member

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    Nope can't see it. Right from Day 1, not starting from Day 4 but Day 1 we read at the end of each Day 1-3 "And the evening and the morning were the first day"

    That clearly means a Day as we think of a DAY cycle.....evening, morning...if there wasn't day/morning he wouldn't have said so.

    And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. Gen 1:3
     
  6. Bobber

    Bobber Well-Known Member

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    So maybe in a 5 thousand years people will recall our times and wonder how people in our day could buy into anti-Creationism beliefs. They'll say well they were human thinkers and they wrote in a style they liked and which was trendy in their times.
     
  7. Saint Steven

    Saint Steven You can call me Steve Supporter

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    So, what is the story from that perspective?

    - Where did the earth come from, or how was it created?
    - Where did humanity come from, or how were we created?
    - If there were humans before Adam, were they sinless?
    - If so, how do you reconcile this with the New Testament writings?
     
  8. Saint Steven

    Saint Steven You can call me Steve Supporter

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    There are two views of this subject. I was raised to believe the literal view. I want to understand the figurative view. And I want to see discussion from both sides. I agree that is BOTH figurative and literal. and that there are problems with both views.

    And it does matter if important theology is being swept aside to make way for science and philosophy.

    - Does it matter to you if God didn't create the world?
    - Does it matter to you if there was no original sin?
    - Does it matter to you if Adam and Eve were not the first humans?
    - What does matter to you? Smelling the roses?
     
  9. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    The original story shows that the first humans sinned, and as a result they and the rest of us were ejected from Eden, and live in the current imperfect world. But there are lots of ideas associated with this that are not in the story:

    * That they were perfect before the sin, and as a result human nature was changed. The story could more plausibly be understood as showing that humans are inherently unable to completely avoid sin.

    * That all humans are guilty of their sin. Since all humans are unable to avoid sin, they would be guilty on their own.

    * That Christianity is inherently dependent upon that specific act, such that if there wasn’t a single Adam and Eve, there would be no need for Christ.

    The last only makes sense if you assume that some humans would have avoided the sin. If human are inherently subject to sin, then it makes no difference if there was one pair or 1000. Indeed Gen 2 could reasonably be understood as the story of one representative human, showing what human nature in general is like.

    A reasonable non-literal exegesis would be that the story is a parable, asserting that even if put in ideal circumstances, humans would sin. The imperfect world we are in now is, in part, a protection against the consequences of imperfect humans having access to powers that we could not responsibly use (symbolized by the trees). This doesn't require that the Garden or the trees ever actually existed. (The magic trees are so obviously features of folklore that I think it pretty likely that the editor of Genesis understood the story as non literal.)

    A lot of the traditional discussion seems to be about avoiding God being the author of sin. But I don’t see any way you can avoid the concept that humanity as created by God — whether by special creation of evolution — was unable to avoid rejecting the first significant temptation it experienced. That doesn’t make God the source of sin, but it does mean he created a world in which sin would inevitably arise. Unless Satan is a separate and equal power, independent of God, involving him doesn’t change things. Presumably God expects us to live in dependence on him. That doesn’t eliminate sin, but it limits its scope, and makes sure that we repent and forgive each other, and thus avoid many of the most serious consequences.

    It seems evident to me that humans evolved as extremely flexible beings, able to adapt to just about anything, and learn in surprising ways. We do this, in part, by trial and error. Thus our nature is both a strength and a weakness, the weakness being that we often do things that are wrong, sometimes significantly wrong. But God intends that we live in humility and communion with him. That would minimize the damage done by our weakness.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2021
  10. Cis.jd

    Cis.jd Well-Known Member

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    I'm not arguing against you, don't get me wrong. I am just transferring some of the points i made in that link for the purpose of making a general post in this thread.
     
  11. Jamsie

    Jamsie Well-Known Member Supporter

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    As noted if one considers that "day one", first day", etc. relates to the command or fiat on a specific day then why not an indeterminate time frame involved for the completion of each day? Is it not reasonable that a "single sunrise and sunset" applies to the spoken command? Further, it is clear from the text that many commands involve agency or mediate creation which would lend such to an extended time frame.
     
  12. myst33

    myst33 Well-Known Member

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    Its not written by God. Its written by people, in their language, in their culture, in their style.
     
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  13. myst33

    myst33 Well-Known Member

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    Its hard to guess what will people think in the future, but we know what they thought in the past.
     
  14. Saint Steven

    Saint Steven You can call me Steve Supporter

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    Thanks for your detailed response. This is a great discussion. (finally) I'll add some thoughts below.

    At every stage in the creation account, each day, the text says that God reviewed the work and found it to be good. (whatever that means) I assume he found his work to be acceptable. Which would infer perfect work, rather than shoddy work. The creation of humankind was part of that perfect work.

    And something terrible happened when they ate the fruit. (which I don't think had anything to do with the fruit itself, but with what it represented spiritually) They got the knowledge of good and evil that they wanted.

    From my my perspective, this act opened their minds to the voice of the enemy, something they had only heard from the serpent up to this point. We see them suddenly scurrying around in obedience to this shaming voice. At the end of previous chapter we see them naked and unashamed. Now we see them scrambling to cover themselves. I love the unanswered question from God. "Who told you that you were naked?" Who indeed?

    Don't we see this inferred in the consequences? The far-reaching effects? I agree with you that is wasn't clearly announced. But seems to have been well understood in the later writings. Especially the NT.

    Same answer as above. It is there, but not "decoded" until the advent of Christ.

    I think it is important that it happened to the first pair. There needs to be a point of initiation. I have wondered on occasion what would have happened if Adam had refused to eat after Eve did. Would his headship have protected the rest of humanity? Or how would that play out?

    If it was 1,000, there would still be an original sin. Who was first? Essentially this is what happened anyway. But if only two in the 1,000 sinned initially, might there be some who refused, seeing first hand the results of the transgression? Then what? A split in humanity? Or a story of the battle with sin that was eventually lost? Or a battle that continues to rage with a split in humanity between the fallen and the sinless. Similar to the angels, I suppose.

    That's an interesting analysis. But again, it doesn't play out in the NT. Do you see any NT support for this idea? The figurative view seems to depend on ignoring the rest of the Bible. You are very knowledgeable about the whole book. Does this view hold up in the NT from your perspective?

    I think we were set-up. This offends a lot of folks, but how can they not see it? You don't put a tree in the middle of the garden where it CANNOT be avoided and then attach consequences that are incomprehensible to those who might transgress, and then expect nothing to happen. The fact they had to be tricked into it is the part of the story that amazes me. They were obviously setup for failure, part of a far-reaching plan of redemption from my perspective.

    I mostly agree with this statement. Sometimes I wonder if God is amazed at us. Then I remember, "Oh wait, he's God. We can't really amaze him." - lol
     
  15. myst33

    myst33 Well-Known Member

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    Wrong questions, because these were not their questions, these are very modern, scientific questions you are used to today, but they would not understand them.

    Their question was "what is our place in this world, how it serves us and who is behind it, who protects us against the chaos".

    And the answer was:
    Order came from chaos (land from waters) by the act of God. God established land for people to live on, lights in the sky for people to live by, animals, plants and finally people to rule/subdue the creation and to spread the order and protect it against chaos (represented by waters, snake etc).

    Bible does not say.

    What is there to reconcile?
     
  16. daydreameranastasia

    daydreameranastasia Just a library lady

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    I’m sorry if I offended you.
     
  17. Saint Steven

    Saint Steven You can call me Steve Supporter

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    That is certainly possible, but not how the writers of the Bible understood it. Moses (the writer of Genesis) has this to say.

    Exodus 20:11 NIV
    For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

    COMPARE:

    Genesis 2:1-3 NIV
    Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
    2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.
    3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
     
  18. daydreameranastasia

    daydreameranastasia Just a library lady

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    It can be grey which is a combination of both black and white.
     
  19. Saint Steven

    Saint Steven You can call me Steve Supporter

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    Original sin is a standard doctrine. The situation our original parents put us in. Denying that makes salvation meaningless, it seems to me.

    Romans 5:18-19
    Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people,
    so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.
    19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners,
    so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

    Saint Steven said:
    - If there were humans before Adam, were they sinless?

    If so, how do you reconcile this with the New Testament writings?
     
  20. Saint Steven

    Saint Steven You can call me Steve Supporter

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    I'm not offended. It was a valid question that deserved a complete answer. Did I convince you that it matters? Perhaps your church environment discourages such discussion?

    Saint Steven said:
    There are two views of this subject. I was raised to believe the literal view. I want to understand the figurative view. And I want to see discussion from both sides. I agree that is BOTH figurative and literal. and that there are problems with both views.

    And it does matter if important theology is being swept aside to make way for science and philosophy.

    - Does it matter to you if God didn't create the world?
    - Does it matter to you if there was no original sin?
    - Does it matter to you if Adam and Eve were not the first humans?
    - What does matter to you? Smelling the roses?
     
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