Is Genesis real history? (new Common Questions page)


(Mervin Bitikofer) #143

This seems to be a case where Occam’s razor makes a rather convincing argument against you. If our only reason to multiply universes is to explain those things we call “irregularities” (or even miracles), then you run up against the competing explanation that the “irregularity” is really a potential regularity that just operates over longer times such that (in the span of a human lifetime or even a human civilization we may only see one or even no occurrences of it). An example of that would be a major meteor impact. There is plentiful evidence that this is a regularity when considered on geological times scales, but fortunately it is an irregularity on human time scales. Miracles are God giving us signs for his purposes in this world, and so are probably a different category yet, though that assertion lies outside the reach of science. These all seem infinitely simpler than having to imagine separate universes as hosts for the numerous things we find hard to explain. Not that other dimensions don’t exist. Maybe they do, and maybe even do contribute toward influence of phenomena in ours – but even if so, I don’t think all apparent irregularities or “miracles” are banned from having real existence in our own universe here.


#144

Which means He could do so in this universe.

Which again He can bring about in this universe.

But it did leave an observable trace. Lazarus was alive for some period of time after he was raised from the dead. And I get the impression the people in Jerusalem had heard of this miracle and probably even spoke with Lazarus. The scoffers would only come into play after Lazarus and the eyewitnesses had passed away.

You are trying to make the Flood real and not real at the same time. Real in some alternate universe that leaves no physical trace in this universe and unreal in this universe because the evidence says it didn’t happen. But most of the miracles in the NT did leave physical traces in this universe. Why propose a different explanation for the flood if not to get around the evidence that it didn’t happen?


(Antoine Suarez) #145

These claims seem to imply that even now there could be humans that don’t bear the Image.

Hopefully you reject this implication, as I do.

If YES, then you are implicitly making the following assumption:

There is a moment T in history such that we can with certainty state: After T all creatures sharing a human body are Image Bearers.

Thanks in advance for clarifying.


(Antoine Suarez) #146

I explain my reasons in the following points, where to facilitate reading I past answers already posted in different threads:

  1. There is a moment in history when God creates a primeval community of Image Bearers, and one of them as the first one. God prepared the Creation of these primeval Image Bearers by producing a life form whose body was anatomically sharply distinct from that of all other extant life forms; this He did by guiding evolution through “natural deletion” of intermediate varieties. God then transformed some representatives of this life form into creatures in His Image. This moment, referred to in Genesis 1:27, 2:26, and 5:1-2, marks the beginning of Humanity both as community called to behave according moral rules and law and as well-defined biological species. The first human Image Bearer is called Adam (Genesis 5:3) and also “son of God” because he has no Image Bearers as parents (Luke 3:38, Genesis 5:1-3).

  2. Image Bearers multiplied through marriage (according to Genesis 1: 28), but also through creation directly by God like in case of Adam, that is, without intervention of other Image Bearers as parents (as referred to in Genesis 6:2-4). This way the population of Image Bearers increased to reach a number of hundreds of thousand people in Sumer the days before the Flood.

  3. Nonetheless spread all over the world outside Mesopotamia there was a large number of creatures sharing a body like humans who were not yet Image Bearers, that is, they were incapable to freely love God and thus incapable to reject Him and sin, and consequently remained unaffected by the Flood.

  4. I postulate that all creatures exhibiting a human body today are Image Bearers.
    So the crucial question is:
    At what time T in history all creatures referred to in the precedent point 3 were transformed by God into Image Bearers?

  5. My answer to this question is:
    Just at the end of the Flood.
    Indeed Genesis 9:3-7 reads:
    3 Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.
    4 “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. _
    5 And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.
    6 “Whoever sheds human blood,
    by humans shall their blood be shed;

    for in the image of God

    has God made mankind._
    7 As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”

As Gordon Wenham following Claus Westermann [Word Biblical Commentary I, Genesis 1-15, Word books: Dallas, 1987] claims, Genesis 9:3-7 explain “why human life is specially protected, but animal life is not”, and proclaim “the inviolability of human life” that follows from “the unique right of God over life and death”: “Every single violation of this limit, be it based on national, racial or ideological grounds is here condemned” [p. 251]. Indeed the remark in Genesis 9:3 concerning food indicates a degree of distinction between humanity and the animal kingdom that was lacking in the vegetarian diet of Genesis 1:29 [p. 263-264]; and in Genesis 9:5-7 appears for the first time the prohibition of killing any creature belonging to humanity because mankind is made in the image of God.

One may wonder why this distinction and this prohibition were omitted in Genesis 1:26-29, as the “image of God” is mentioned for the first time. And even more astonishing is that the prohibition was omitted in Genesis 4:15, where to protect Cain God does not proclaim that he shares human blood and belongs to mankind but “put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.” A reasonable explanation for such an “omission” in divinely inspired Scripture is that a sharp distinction between human and animal life would not fit with the ontological status of pre-diluvian Creation; such a distinction is appropriate only once all human-like animals on the earth were transformed into Image Bearers. Since this allegedly happened after the Flood, only then (Genesis 9:5-7) God categorically proclaims that the right to life, foundation of the personal rights, is defined by the belonging to humanity. Thereby God proclaims that the status of Image Bearer established in the past applies now to all creatures exhibiting an anatomical human body.

This explanation fits with John Walton’s view of the Genesis Flood as Recreation narrative. And we meet also to some extent the interpretation of Hendel, R. S.: The Flood narrative with its introductory pericope of the “sons of God” ends ordering “the human cosmos” [Of Demigods and the Deluge: Toward an Interpretation of Genesis 6:1-4, Journal of Biblical Literature, Vol. 106, No. 1 (1987), pp. 13-26, and References therein]. The “Recreation” consists mainly in the transformation of all human-like creatures into Image Bearers, and the “Ordering” happens mainly by means of an explicit formulation of the foundation of rights and law.

This number is a guestimate on the basis of the data reported in [1], [2], [3], and References therein. They are based on methods used in Urban Population Estimation as described in [3]. As far as I know these data are not confirmed by genetic studies so far. If someone knows such studies I will be thankful for references.

According to my explanation the first Image Bearers were created by God about 3500 BC, at the time writing appears. On the basis of genealogy accounts (10 generations from Adam to Noah, according to Genesis 5) and history of the first city-states in Mesopotamia the Flood could have happened ca 3200-3000 BC, that is, 300-500 years after the creation of the first Image Bearers.

Same References as before, in particular [1].

As said, these 14 million became Image Bearers only at the end of the Flood, when God solemnly proclaims the prohibition of Homicide.

The Flood was global in the sense that all Image Bearers existing at the beginning of the Flood were affected by the event, and all except eight perished. After the Flood the earth was repopulated by Noah’s family together with the descendants of new “sons of God” all over the earth.

Here you seem to overlook that we cannot establish a sharp beginning of taxa by biological means. In particular: “It is biologically impossible to establish when the species Homo sapiens begins with anything other than arbitrary criteria.” (see Essay). This means that the only coherent way for defining when Humanity begins is invoking God’s act to make creatures in His Image.

In order an Image Bearer can observably and sharply ascertain other Image Bearers God guided evolution to produce a big gap between creatures exhibiting the body He destined to become His Image and thereby Humanity, and all other living forms. This happened through elimination of intermediate varieties. It is this gap that allows us to define Humanity as a well-defined living form or biological species, and thereafter to apply the concept of species to the other extant living forms. This is why I say that it is more accurate to speak about “the origin of the species by means of natural deletion” instead of “natural selection”.

Accordingly before a creature became Image Bearer it was not capable to freely love God and consequently to freely reject this gift and sin. Selfish evolutionary tendencies (lust, greed, trickery) as such are not sinful although after the first sin they can induce Image Bearers to further sins.

As explained before, the episode of the “sons of God” (Genesis 6:2-4) refers to God transforming ‘non-image bearers’ into Image Bearers the same way as He made the first humans in His Image. Before the Flood the communities of ‘non-image-bearers’ and Image Bearers were separated from each other, and as soon as a ‘non-image-bearer’ met an Image Bearer the former became an Image Bearer as well.

There were NO anatomical changes: The transformation of adult human-like animals into Image-Bearers is a purely spiritual transformation and happens without any observable genetic or anatomical change. The signs of such a transformation are rather achievements of Humanity demonstrating sense of law and accountability as we found at the dawn of civilizations. This is the reason why I set the creation of the first Image Bearers at the time when writing appears.

Similarly the emergence of a human being in God’s image at the moment of fertilization or equivalent process does not involve any physical change other than the usual growth through cell cleavage and metabolism.

An important point in this respect is that Humanity as community of Image-Bearers is called to live according to moral rules and law, mainly the “Golden Rule”. And at the moment of implement this rule and assign rights the “observable Golden Basis” is the specific human body, the sign for belonging to Humanity. A human individual shares the status of a person, and personhood is inseparably united to Humanity. This principle means that the fundamental rights of a person cannot be established by belonging to a subgroup of humankind, be it by race, religion, stage of development, nation, or political class. Neither can one reduce the rights of humankind to the rights of the present-day generation. [see M&M, 16-1 (2013) 85]

I thank you so much for these thoughtful questions, which allow me to better formulate things. I will be pleased receiving further comments like these!


#147

Let me see if I have everything you have said put together correctly.

  1. Homo Sapiens evolved as normally understood.
  2. Image Bearers came into being with A&E
  3. This group of Image Bearers remained apart from the non-IB.
  4. For Noah, him and his family were whisked off to another universe where they experienced a year long global flood complete with whatever miracles were necessary to keep the animals and people alive on a wooden ship for a year.
  5. After the flood they returned to this universe and all of the living non-IB were transformed into IBs.

Is that about right?

A few questions.

Did Cain marry another IB or a non-IB?

Did the IBs not included with Noah die in this universe or the alternate universe?

Is there any archaeological evidence that the population in Sumer was suddenly replaced by a different population about 3500 years ago? Given the replacements came from outside Sumer I would assume there would be cultural differences that should be apparent in the archaeological evidence.

I will say your solution is, in the words of an old ad, two, two floods in one. You get the effect of a regional flood and the experience of a global flood. Both of which leave absolutely no trace that they actually happened.


A.Suarez's Treatment on a Pope's Formulation for Original Sin's Transmission!
(Antoine Suarez) #148

If I understand well you are proposing the following explanation:
The Flood was a geographically local ordinary (non-miraculous) event that “wiped the globe of all image bearers at the time (minus Noah’s group)”, and in this sense it was global.

This was exactly the first explanation I proposed in the thread “My theory about the Flood”.

So why did I withdraw from it?

Because there is no geological evidence of a local flood that had been capable of flooding the first city-states in Sumer all together and destroying a population of hundreds of thousands Image Bearers. Additionally, as @george rightly claims, there are many features of the Genesis’ Flood which do not fit with any ordinary local flood.

Therefore it seems to me necessary to invoke a miraculous event which we believe as we believe the main miracles in the New Testament: On the basis of trustworthy witnesses, and not because there are materially preserved traces.

This is a very good point!

I also think that “spreading word of this purpose/function of mankind” was the primeval vocation of the first Image Bearers, or in the beautiful words from N.T. Wright quoted by @Kathryn_Applegate in her article:

“This pair (call them Adam and Eve if you like) were to be the representatives of the whole human race, the ones in whom God’s purpose to make the whole world a place of delight and joy and order, eventually colonizing the whole creation, was to be taken forward.”

In this sense we can say Adam and Eve and each Image Bearer shared sort of universal Priesthood.

Nonetheless subsequently to the state of generalized corruption and violence before the Flood apparently God considered it more convenient to proceed as follows:

  • At the end of the Flood He Himself directly transformed all the creatures sharing a human body on earth into Image Bearers, the same way as He created Adam and Eve and others (Genesis 1:27, 2:24, 5:1-2, 6:2-4]); it is the moment referred to in Genesis 9:6.

  • He entrusted Noah and his family to spread His Revelation, mainly: 1) God made mankind in His Image (“into a special covenantal relationship with himself”) and commanded them male and female to keep the sanctity of marriage (“called…Adam and Eve…into a one-flesh unity with each other”). 2) He is capable of removing sinners from earth (Flood as demonstration). 3) Nonetheless He is merciful and lets them on earth so they have time to atone and reach eternal life (Rainbow as sign).
    It is the content of the covenant in Genesis 9:8-17.

  • He called Abraham to become founding father of a chosen people with mission to keep God’s Revelation alive till the Incarnation of His Son (God’s authentic Image) “Jesus Christ, the ultimate source of blessing to all the nations.” (Genesis 11: 31, 12).


#149

“At the End of the Flood God made all human-like creatures on earth to Image Bearers.”

I know you didn’t write this, but I’m wondering if you found this a tad racist. You know, dividing humans into two groups: the humans, and the not-quite-humans. It’s been done many times before.


(George Brooks) #150

@beaglelady

Doesn’t this depend on whether or not there is anyone OTHER than the survivors?

The sentence you quote seems to be saying two groups have been merged into ONE group…

at the very most, this is reverse racism, yes? I don’t know ANY many White Supremacists
who argue for “population MIXING”…


#151

Not at all racists or bad, IF you treat non IBs as potential IBs. If nothing else, they are better than us IBs, because we have been given awareness/knowledge of God and His purpose of being an IB, and we failed. At least the non IBs haven’t failed yet.

If you treat non IBs as less valuable than humans, obviously history has showed us bad things happens then. But people misread/misuse scripture all the time to harm others in the ‘name of god’. If they follow the rest of scripture and the overarching theme, they would love their non IB brethren like themselves.

Things can, and are factually different, it’s ok to acknowledge that. It doesn’t automatically everything, sexism and racism and whatever-ism (or the negative connotations that go with it) bad to recognize/celebrate/embrace a difference.

To clarify, I am not saying IB and non IB is a fact, that is more of a theory/interpretation.


(Matthew Pevarnik) #152

I think it certainly can be- as in these two people have the image and other humans alive don’t.

I think it depends how one tries to argue this part- as in ‘such and such’ didn’t get the image until they got a paternal/maternal genetic link to the ones who can pass down image bearing. Given that most models put the image starting in the ANE, maybe 6,000 years ago-it took a long time for some people to get the image of God if they are waiting on it to come to them.


#153

But with this kind of thinking you have a sub-class of humans. Doesn’t that bother you at all?


#154

Which really meant that Australian aborigines were last to get it (if they got it at all). I wish I could find Gordon Glover’s excellent video series where he explains this.


#155

Only if you think of them as a “sub-class”, which sounds bad, as something with the “sub” prefix is generally used as “less” than.

But I am not al all thinking of them as negative or less at all. Are those “sub-college-degree” have less worth than those with? I am simply stating a difference between people. Some have been made aware they are IB, some have not.

Though I actually said the opposite of “sub-human”. I even said they are better off than IBs, who have failed to bear His image. They (probably won’t), but have yet to fail this task. Like a kid who has already failed and keeps failing, versus a kid who hasn’t begun, you want them to succeed, and are seen as more valuable. So if anyone is “sub-human” it is me. And no that doesn’t bother me either, thanks to a loving and merciful Creator, who accepts us as failures, yet still loves us and wants to reconcile us as His eventual perfect IBs.

Animals, are “sub-human”, they are not, or can ever be an IB. Non IBs, are precious, chosen, so those at conception, I consider precious, those who are brain dead are precious, those who have a 4 year old mental state are precious. I have faith that God can heal at any time in this life or the next and that potential IB can be a perfect IB are have a purpose.

I would even say there are possibly non IBs walking this earth now. If only we treated all mankind as non IBs, and to be the one who showed them who God is and His true love for them, and not just a mean guy in a book of beliefs and rules, and we are His enforcers of these rules with aggression.

The only verse that refutes this is Rom 1:19-20. This seems to make all people IBs from even befor Adam? Or that Adam and Eve were the only “people” on earth and all people came from them, which the genome and our DNA refutes. So maybe we aren’t interpreting that correctly?

It also isn’t a “slippery slope” either, because we can’t tell who is or isn’t or will or will not become an IB either. We should look at the people of this world as fragile seeds that need proper nutrients, sun, and water to bear fruit. But we don’t know what’s in them (is it an ‘empty’ seed, or a fruit tree?) only God knows, and it has no effect on how we treat them, water, sun, nutrients is all we are called to do and all of that comes from the Spirit inside us, the Spirit of the only true and perfect IB, Jesus.

Have you explained algebra to a 3 year old? Does he understand or have knowledge of algebra know it, just because you told him or showed him? There might be many on this earth who don’t know the One True God, or their purpose to bear His image, because everyone has failed to show them in a way they understand. Can one bear the image of a One they don’t understand or know? Does Jesus not say to the Pharisees that they do not know the Father. That is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, rejecting the Holy Spirit to bear His image inside us, that is unforgivable, not our actions or deeds that fail that purpose, but rejecting that purpose. And even that, I believe is only unforgivable while currently rejecting, but who can always be humbled, and confess, and be forgiven. Isa 45:23 does say that “every knee will bow”.

But I guess that is kind of an inclusivist doctrine that all don’t believe in.


#156

Yes, it sounds bad. But changing the name to something that sounds nicer doesn’t solve the problem. What makes us human, theologically speaking?

It’s not as as simple as that.


(Matthew Pevarnik) #157

Are you saying that those with mental handicaps are not image bearers?

what do you mean by this?


#158

In 2006 I went to a panel discussion on religion and science at the museum. All of the panelists were professors of science or philosophy and all were believers. There was a Roman Catholic, a Jew, a Protestant, and a Hindu. (And no, they didn’t all walk into a bar, at least that I know of!) They agreed that the jury was still out on exactly what the imago dei means. How wise they were!


#159

No, I am not stating any facts, rather offering questions for you to decide on the answer, or to trust that God knows the answers, not us, and it is up to us to treat all of God’s creation (but especially biological humans) with great reverence, respect, and love.

How can one bear an image of something they haven’t seen or known?

It’s more theological/philosophical questions I don’t have an answer to. However playing devil’s advocate to those who would dare to treat any human (IB or not) with less value.

I am not changing a fact to make it sound nice, I am changing your way you are presenting an opinion.

Fact, those who know God’s purpose, are different than those who don’t. Neither are sub-human, just like a HS graduate that doesn’t know what career they want to peruse is not worth any less than the motivated doctor wannabe.

I will state this as my opinion, but I don’t know or claim the absolute truth (though that should be unnecessary to say)…

A human is a biological being with human DNA, whatever science says that is.

Humans (and not animals) were given the purpose/ability to bear God’s image. Some have realized this and failed, others might not have realized this yet. Jesus was the only true and perfect IB, and His Spirit allows us to become the perfect IB we were meant to be, which was Him living in us all along, we could never do it ourselves, we weren’t created to be able to.

We were created as lamps to shine light, and lamps only work when electricity is provided. Shining light or not, a lamp is still a lamp.

All biological humans are lamps. If you consider a lamp not producing light (but with that potential to do so) as a “sub-lamp”, that is on you. I do not. But there is a difference between a lamp producing light and one not. If I was a judge to judge how well one illuminates, then the one not producing light would be a sub-lamp. But I am not, I am just a lamp, doing my best to allow God to shine in me, and to hope others see that light and want that electricity too.

Thankfully, our God who is judge of such things is loving and merciful, and despite our failure to illuminate anything, He still wants us to be fixed so we can, even at the expense of sending His Son from a perfect place of bliss to be mocked and rejected by us, to save us, and show us how to shine.


(Randy) #160

“They agreed that the jury was still out”–

Reminds me of Psalm 139 (sorry for the length)–too lofty for me to understand

1You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

7Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17How precious to me are your thoughts,a God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.


#161

So you have to realize this purpose before you can truly bear God’s image? And even if you realize it, you might fail to bear God’s image anyway!

I thought we were made in the image of God.


#162

I guess that depends on your beliefs. Are you YEC, did God create Adam an adult IB from dust. Or was Adam born of a man, and was later given this IB knowledge/function/purpose from God?

More accurately stated… not might fail anyway, you will fail to bear His image if it is not coming from His Spirit inside us.

As much as a lamp is created to shine light, yes. Though a lamp still needs electricity to do that, right?