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Why would a benevolent god condone slavery?

Discussion in 'Christian Apologetics' started by Brother Billy, Sep 30, 2018.

  1. Tom Farebrother

    Tom Farebrother Optimistic sceptic Supporter

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    • were Adam and Eve real people who lived in the Middle East? - I'm not sure, probably in some sense yes, as in there were initial humans who attained consciousness, at some point.
    • were they the first humans? - Yes in that the story relates to the beginning of the human race. Whether or not it means two specific people is unknown.
    • did God "create" humans using evolution? - Yes
    • how do modern humans compare to Adam and Eve before and after The fall? - Not sure if the fall represents one point in time or a process. To answer the question though, more homogeneous, Homo Sapiens won out over other human species. In terms of outlook after the fall very generally I would say we are more schizophrenic, in it's literal meaning, less in tune with the original intent and function of creation.
    • if Adam and Eve weren't real people, what is the meaning and significance of The Fall - It represents some other state in which mankind existed and related to God, which was changed perhaps through choices made by mankind, leading to a a break from that original state.
    The fundamental difference between modern and ancient interpretations of the text is in the underlying worldview. A person educated in the modern world automatically thinks of 'creation' as having to do with material creation - as in what is all this stuff, how does it work etc - whereas in the time of the writing of Genesis the underlying assumption was that what was important in thinking about creation were purpose and order, hence a reading of Genesis that fits in with the cosmogony and society of the time is not concerned with the process of creation, but with the information contained within the narrative that relates to function and purpose, i.e. God brought about creation and now 'rests' - meaning that he has taken his place as ruler over a completed universe - and within that creation mankind and animals have different roles (for example). For a more thorough understanding of what is meant by that I'd recommend John Walton's book ,as mentioned above.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2018
  2. Tom Farebrother

    Tom Farebrother Optimistic sceptic Supporter

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    The bible is primarily relational - how people relate to each other and to God. What that means in practice, i.e. the actual business of how people do that and what the results of that are, varies in some ways and stays the same in others over time.
     
  3. Brother Billy

    Brother Billy Member

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    Before I respond, can you clarify something:

    What do you mean "more homogenous" and "more schizophrenic"?
    How do you interpret:
    - "when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
    - "By the sweat of your brow, you will eat your food, until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." Is it referring to physical death, since Adam began as dust in the physical world and will return to dust when his body decomposes?
    - What did you mean earlier when you said "There is some ideal state, humans are vegetarian and function as stewards of the planet."? Why is our ideal state vegetarian? What about the diets of other animals?
     
  4. Tom Farebrother

    Tom Farebrother Optimistic sceptic Supporter

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    More homogeneous as in other human species no longer exist, except as part of our genome.

    Schizophrenic as in split - no longer integral, not in unity.

    Knowing good and evil - hard one, I can’t really get my head around what it would mean not to know that.

    Physical death and bodily decomposition, yes.

    According to the genesis account mankind and all animals were vegetarian prior to the fall - along the lines of ‘the lion will lie down with the lamb’ and so on, the bible puts forward an ideal state of a world without death or exploitation, positing compassionate and responsible stewardship as ideals over usage for gain and profit. That’s how I read it.
     
  5. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Life is lived in the shape of a "?" Supporter

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    In following what I stated above in my previous post, and going back again to address more of the contexts and the inherent axiological issues of just the first portion of your post in #341, I'm going to challenge what I see is the next problem. And that is: your imported assumption about what constitutes "justice." You say "it seems unjust that God would.....[X] . So, there are really at least two issues (although there's more, really) that I'm going to bring up here and those are:

    1) Your implied, but unspoken, unspecific, and undefined notion of "justice" can't just simply be brought into the discussion and bandied about unchallenged, without its own justification and without critique or applied deconstruction. No, as I've said elsewhere, "what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander," and this applies then not only to what we think is God's sense of justice as we find it in the O.T., but it applies to yours as well, the latter of which in this case hasn't been either yet established or demonstrated as supreme. No, if anything, your notion of justice is simply, "modern."

    2) To put this in simple terms, and without yet unpacking the literary context(s) which support the following biblical maxim, let me direct your attention to the following hard-hitting biblical "truth" that most of us today eschew and to which we automatically express a knee-jerk reaction, and that is: God judges not only individuals, but at times and under certain conditions, entire cultures that, in His view as Author of Life and Creator, have become increasingly dysfunctional and destitute of those moral structures that He would expect, at the least, for even the most headstrong and aloof of today's atheists to exhibit. The Canaanites in these passages are not the ancient (or innocent) 'brothers' of today's Liberally inclined political establishment.

    So, before we can move forward to even look at the hermeneutical implications and constructions of what we think we find at first glance in Deuteronomy 20:10-18, we have to first address the two points I've brought up above. The fact is, interpretation of the bible is a community activity, and no one, not me and not you gets to waltz into the biblical literary framework and non-chalantly begin to interpret the contents as we see fit and on our own terms. No, we're accountable for 'how' we each do it. So, this means that as we look at the passages that you think are problematic, both of our ethical, perceptual, and rational conceptions are to be challenged. No free lunch is offered here either for you or for me.

    :cool:
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2018
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  6. Brother Billy

    Brother Billy Member

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    If the Christian God really exists, I can accept the idea that the Bible isn't meant to be a scientific textbook and, as you say, more about how people relate to each other and to God. However where the Bible does give specific details about our origins, I would expect these to be consistent with science.

    It seems odd that the Bible would say we were created from dust in the middle east, 6000 years ago, when in reality we evolved in Africa from other primates +-250,000 years ago.

    One of the most important questions to most Christians is why do we humans have the inclination to commit sin? Did God make us this way or is this the result of something humanity did? Evolution suggests the former because of the similarities between humans and other great apes. The basic building blocks of moral behavior (i.e. the capacity for empathy and the concept of fairness) are present in chimps which means they were also present in our common ancestor and therefore pre-Fall humans).

    The idea that God would create humans in a way that made it impossible for anyone to live up to his expectations and therefore be dammed to hell unless they accepted Christ seems morally abhorrent. Its like someone poisoning you and then selling you the antidote. Also after God created humans, God saw all that he had made, and it was very good (Genesis 1:31) - how could God think humanity was a good creation if they had the inclination to sin?

    The idea that physical death first entered the world after the Fall and that all animals were vegetarian are all incompatible with evolution. Without death, how does natural selection work? And how do vegetarian animals suddenly get anatomical and physiological features that turn them into carnivores?

    Other reasons that evolution seems to be inconsistent with Genesis:
    • According to evolution there was no first human just like there was no first English speaking individual. In other words there is no clear distinction between humans and animals, which is in direct opposition to what the bible teaches. I think I have difficulty imagining that there existed a primate in our lineage that had all the physical, intellectual and emotional traits of a modern human (and was therefore also in the image of god), but was without a soul. Imagine explaining to those people that this particular person has a soul and so has the potential to spend eternity in heaven but his father or wife has no soul and so their existence ends when their lives do.
    • Evolution is an undirected process with no goals and the fact that humans exist today is just down to chance and the environment in which life evolved. This seems inconsistent with the bible where humans were the goal of creation?
    • Genesis says that humans were created in God’s image, which implies that we are the pinnacle of evolution. However Evolution will never end and humans will eventually evolve into another (better?) species - again this seems inconsistent with the bible?

     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2018
  7. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid Life is lived in the shape of a "?" Supporter

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    It's interesting how a thread that is supposed to focus upon 'Slavery in the Bible' ends up drifting off onto other tangents and thus miring down the existing conversation. I'm not going to speak for @Tom Farebrother in response to this post of yours Billy, in fact in a more immediate sense, I'm not even going to come right out with it and speak for myself on this Genesis/Evolution tangent you've hopped on over to.

    No, I think I'll just let April Maskiewicz [Cordero] set the stage for how I would come at this Evolution/Genesis kind of thing. Of course, I'd throw in sources to other academics, some still living, who likewise have contributed to this discourse and to whom I submit my own leanings.

    She embraced the E Word as she contemplated the F Word....!
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2018
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  8. Tom Farebrother

    Tom Farebrother Optimistic sceptic Supporter

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    Billy what you are arguing against are ideas about the bible, ideas from philosophy, theology etc., not ideas that are ‘in’ the bible. More recent ideas - partly rooted in a better understanding of thinking and beliefs in the ancient world from the relatively recent discovery and ongoing translation of cuneiform tablets, partly in the also still developing application of literary theory to biblical narratives - provide a better fit (i.e one more in alignment with the original methods) for deciphering meaning to layers of theological thought based on ideas already put between the text and reality, in an ongoing state of revision due to the essentially bad fit of that approach in some fairly fundamental ways. To address a couple of points, the bible doesn’t teach that creation is 6,000 yrs old. As with other genealogical texts from other ancient cultures, the idea of strictly chronological, comprehensive and anything other than representative for means important to them genealogies was a completely alien concept to the writers of genesis. The majority of problems with interpreting genesis are to do with the imposition of modern ideas on an ancient text. Once you start looking into it from an ancient perspective it begins to have meaning - but ideas like evolution or just any sense of the physical functioning of the universe as we currently see it are completely irrelevant. The people who wrote the bible were not only completely unaware of how people would understand the universe several thousand years later but also had priorities and a whole way of thinking that were comprehensively and utterly different in a way that can only be pieced together from the text itself in relation to other texts from the time. Evolution - and any other science based, material creation way of thinking has nothing whatsoever to do with interpreting biblical narratives - these things had nothing to do with how the texts were put together, and so have nothing to do with how they are to be understood.
    Note that my answers about genesis are couched in the idea that the text is narrative, allegory or something of that sort that is intended to convey a meaning, not scientific data. Ideas like animals being vegetarian and so on are not descriptions of the physical world but representations of an ideal, put into terms that can be understood as such by anyone, at any time.
    Within theology freewill as a concept is, as best as I can understand it, extrapolated from parts of the bible rather than taught ‘by the bible’ as such. To my understanding what ‘free will’ means is a limited capacity to learn and to have our thoughts, decisions and behaviour influenced by that learning. There’s more but I’ve got some other stuff to do so I can either write more later/tomorrow if you want to continue the discussion or I can recommend some books, if you want to know more about other approaches to understanding biblical texts.
     
  9. Tom Farebrother

    Tom Farebrother Optimistic sceptic Supporter

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    This is a very interesting question and I think the answer lies in how God intends us to live, and how different modern society is to that ideal. But I’ll have to answer tomorrow or later.
     
  10. Grumman Tomcat

    Grumman Tomcat The LORD is my Pilot Staff Member Supervisor Supporter

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    MOD HAT ON
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    Only Christian members (see our faith groups list) may answer questions about the Christian faith or defend the Christian faith against arguments and opposing viewpoints from non-Christian members.
    If you are not a Christian, do not post in this thread answering the questions posed by the OP.

    MOD HAT OFF
     
  11. Theo102

    Theo102 Active Member

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    "Today we recognize that slavery is immoral because slavery, by its very nature, is a violation of a person’s liberty"

    Persons don't have liberty, freemen do.
     
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