Just found BioLogos and have questions

I have just found BioLogos after reading THE book! I am a trained Scientist and Christian (both) and find in discussions in this area that most Christians seem to have a problem with Faith. We cannot and will not know in this age all there is to know but we have to use the “Faith Gift” that God has given us. Eph 2:8. To go to my point. Adam was a man. Jesus is called the second Adam. The Creation of Eve from Adam is described in Genesis 2:21… She must have been an adult as was Adam and there is literalnesses about the account. This is essential in order to understand the fall and its consequences, as well as creation. So Eve must have “appeared” with age when first given to Adam when he awoke from the sleep induced by God. This concept of the appearance of age is then critical in understanding what happened. So why should it not also apply to other aspects of Creation? In Isaiah we read of that “I am the Lord, who accomplishes all things, who alone stretched out the heavens and established the earth.” So the size of the universe and the stars were in my understanding stretched out rapidly and thus creating the appearance of size and age. Our interpretation of what we see now of what happened may be wrong. The latest images we have seen of the universe indicate this. This becomes the crunch step of being able to accept the way we interpret and live with the Holy Scriptures. No easy answers.

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Welcome to the Forum! I am going to split your message here into a new thread so people can welcome you and talk about your questions here.

What kind of science do you do?

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Welcome.

Asking questions is always a good place to start. Different people have different views. For me personally I don’t believe there is a literal context to genesis 1-11. I think it’s a myth. I’m pretty comfortable with Adam just being a literary device, but I mean more towards thinking Adam was a man or a group of people. Since it’s a myth, I don’t try to make it fit what actually happened and instead treat it like a do revelation with sea monsters, dragons and horsemen. I think it’s symbolism.

So what do I think is the symbolism of Adam and Eve? I think it’s the same story we see interwoven throughout the Bible.

We see Yahweh calling a person or group of people his chosen people and he leads them towards a promise land. Despite being called by a god to a promised land the people rebel and instead of honoring our god they decide to ignore his commands and try to do it on their own resulting in them being exiled from it.

I also notice several times in the Bible where a man comes across a woman, or a woman comes across a man, and they fall for earth other. Like the girl at the well who watered the animals and was asked to come back and meet their boss. Like Esther met Xerxes ( a romantic fictional tale ) or how Ruth met Boaz. It’s even in encounters that are not romantic like Jesus and his 12. So I ruining these two people found one another and became one as in a couple. I even think it’s possible Adam woke up from a gruesome vision of being pulled or cut in half and the other half becoming his partner. The deep sleep is connected by some to visions.

But whatever historical speculation is not that important to me as much as realizing it’s fiction conveying truth and not a historical tale with scientific facts.

So I don’t have the issue of their age, and I don’t have the issue of god trying to be tricky and cause the world and universe to look older than it.

Because I know it’s mythology, I know it’s not actually undermining reality which means it’s not dictating how I interpret science.

Welcome to the forum! Indeed, there are no easy answers to many of these problems.
As I read your post, it seems that a lot of your conclusions are based on your interpretation of “the fall.” That is shifting sand, in my opinion, as it is subject to a lot different ways of looking at Paul’s writings. If it is such a foundational doctrine, we are also left with dealing with the paucity of scripture addressing it. It may even be that Augustine based his original ideas on it off of a faulty translation. In any case, it may be interesting to read how others have approached this problem, and you can get a lot of good information from searching the main page. One nice place to start might be this podcast: https://biologos.org/podcast-episodes/loren-haarsma-four-approaches-to-original-sin

In any case, take heart and know that seeking understanding is something God has blessed and encouraged throughout scripture, and blessings on your journey.

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I used to be in medical practice and also ran a small independent independent holiness church having done some theological studies along the way. I became very troubled at that point with the ever changing nature the church with new groups, leaders and even denominations starting up. Individual interpretations of the Scriptures seemed to be the very big problem. I wanted to go back to what the church should have been rather than with what we had. My search led me to the Eastern Orthodox Church that historically has been in continuous existence since Pentecost. This led to the early Church Fathers and those who were the ones who decided what writings were to become the Canon of the New Testament, only in the late third century.
I took on studies and to cut it short made my move and ended up eventually being ordained first Deacon and a few years later as a Priest.
I was a young Earth creationist for many years and drifted away from this as time went by and let go a lot of that but still troubled by discarding it all as you will pick up from my post.
Jesus, Paul and others refer to Adam and Creation and see it as a fact.
Early Church writers like St Basil impress me. I have let it ride for a number of years and hence my emphasis on the need for faith in the matter and not pure empirical science!

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What an interesting journey of faith. It is good to have your perspective on these things. The Eastern Orthodox Church is mystical and mysterious to most of us who grew up in evangelical circles, but I have learned a lot from others here who are part of that fellowship, and have a lot of respect for Orthodox theologians.
I can go either way on the literalness of Adam and Eve, though I tend to lean strongly to the metaphorical and archetypical view, feeling that Jesus and Paul in the New Testament were accommodating to the commonly held view of the day to make their points.
I look forward to hearing your views not only on this but on other topics.

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I like the position of the EO on a few doctrinal issues and I agree that the EO church is the closest to the early church. I just don’t think such an unchanging church is necessarily such a good thing, so I go to the opposite end of the spectrum as a liberal evangelical.

People resolve these issues in a number of different ways. I see no reason not to believe in an historical Adam and Eve but I also see no reason to take the account literally because the Bible doesn’t even do so. Having started with the scientific worldview I have read the Bible with that as my conceptual filter and see no justification in making the Bible contrary to science than I would see using the Bible to justify genocide, slavery, misogyny, human sacrifice, and racism.

My resolution is as follows: When Genesis says Gen2:7 then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being, the meaning I see is that God created life from the stuff of the earth (obviously we are NOT made of dust, and matter or stardust is the best interpretation of the word if you want to be at all reasonable), and spoke to Adam to inspire the beginning of the human mind (obviously there is no stuff added to matter which makes it alive and “divine breath” is the very meaning of the word “inspiration”). Adam’s family had agriculture and we know the earth was filled with people long before that, and in Genesis 4 we read that Cain is afraid of all the people which filled the earth. And the children of God (descendants of Adam and Eve) took their wives from the daughters of those other people Gen 6, so there is no need to invent daughters of Adam and have them indulging in incest. Those two trees do not sound like two species of angiosperm, and are treated symbolically in other parts of the Bible. The serpent is not taken literally by the rest of the Bible as a talking snake either.

So Jesus as the second Adam? Yep. In Jesus we have the renewal of the inheritance of the mind we had from God through Adam – and thus a restoration of what made us the children of God.

All the data sent to us by God from the Earth and sky tells us that the universe is about 13.8 billion years old and the Earth is 4.5 billion years old. New data only adds more significant figures to these calculations thus confirming that our understanding of the data MUST be correct.

Diversity is the sign of life and uniformity has never been a guarantee of truth - quite the contrary.

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Thanks for all the responses. Two comments and I will respond tomorrow. I am in the U.K.

  1. When one forms an opinion from a let’s say a Protestant view, then is it your opinion or that of the group or denomination you come from. I am told there are ± 40000 different groups. So which one is right. It is a cerebral choice. Of course smaller groups do exist.
    In the Eastern Orthodox Church (EOC) you align yourself with the teaching of the combined Church of the ages and it is less cerebral but rather aligning yourself with the mind/mindset or the phronema (φρόνημα in Greek) This is as it says in Orthodoxwiki: “The attaining of phronema in this sense is a matter of practicing the correct faith (orthodoxia) in the correct manner (orthopraxis). Attaining phronema is regarded as the first step toward theosis.”, the state of glorification or sanctification. This is also becoming a partaker of the divine nature. (2 Peter 1:4)
    A very different approach. There is little dogmatic theology in the EOC but more living theology. This may be hard to understand, but worth spending some worthwhile time studying.
  2. When coming to matters as to when things happen and the time, I ask at what point does the point start or end. So if we chose to believe the creation narrative, then at which verse In Genesis does the myth end and the event become history? One can create points all along through reading of the book and say this is myth and this is where myth ends. In the replies received there are many different cutoff points.

Some of those are all-but identical (for instance, Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and Presbyterian Church in America which essentially only differ on whether women can be official deacons and in some details of church government), others mainly differ in liturgy, others have secondary theological issues they differ on, and yes, it is quite confusing. Someone in one of those groups can generally agree quite well on the vast majority of issues with those in a few dozen similar groups.

For me there is only one question. Was Jesus God incarnate? If so, then God is proven. The first fifty years of Greek writings about Him, overwhelmingly by the Hellenized Jewish Roman Apostles of the Church, demonstrate that a remarkably healthy infant cult, conceived in Second Temple Judaism many centuries before, had been born and was growing under the surface of the Roman Empire so robustly that it subverted it in less than three hundred years. All of that is naturally, historically explicable, with goodwill. I’d love it to be so. And even if it is, the Jewish myths are not. Neither is any Bible believing theology beyond the constraints (cultural, historical; epistemological) of that incarnation: it’s best to keep things simple when asking questions. Or it becomes a rabbit warren.

More importantly is who gave us the acceptable books that were incorporated as the New Testament Canon. All the other writings were discarded as unacceptable of mystical mythical writings.
Irenaeus of Lyons wrote his Against Heresies in the second century and affirmed the four Gospels.
The Church eventually accepted all the books that gave us the Canon and was there before the New Testament as such existed.

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More importantly than what? The process was a rational, fair, common sense, scholarly, honest, forensic, long and thorough one. The meaning of the end result is importance upon importance.

Indeed! A few here seem hostile to taking anything from Genesis seriously. Others like myself see good reason to take things as historical as the scientific evidence allows – but finding good reasons in the Bible itself for going with the scientifically compatible understanding.

And there is also the question of what you mean by “myth.” I don’t equate this with “fiction” but with stories passed down in oral traditions from a time which made no distinction between science, philosophy, sermon, bed-time stories, law, history, and entertainment. Such stories fulfill multiple purposes and use symbolism to transmit ideas on multiple levels to different people.

I go for what maximizes the meaning of the text for me. Accordingly, I never saw good reason to read chapter one of Genesis as a science text or with any kind of concordism. For that chapter the most meaning I get is understanding that each of these things talked about is not God but something God created. For chapter 2, the most meaning I get from the story is not from a story about magical fruit and golems of necromancy but a story of God’s first communication with chosen human beings where the fruit and the snake represent central elements of human life and Christianity. Thus we are created from the stuff of the earth, given a mind by communication with God, the tree of life is a relationship with God in which we have eternal life, the tree of knowledge is that which confers authority without wisdom (premature parenthood), and the snake is an angel who became our adversary because we chose to blame him for our own mistake. For the flood there is no reason in science or the Bible to take this as a global event but is rather about our first civilization destroyed. Then God supporting the multiplicity of human language and culture before founding the nation of Israel.

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To add to what I have written I need to add a resource that I found to be very useful from a well known and well studied Orthodox Priest Fr James Bernstein who came out from the Jews for Jesus.

There are some important points expressed here.
We actually must look at Church history. There were five centres of the Church in the first millennium, Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria. They were essentially in unity of faith and doctrine and only in the late first millennium did the Western Church or Rome split away under political influence and the original Nicene Creed was changed. The Pope of Rome wanted to head the Church. That is where the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) came from. In 1517 Martin Luther rebelled against the RCC and the Protestant reformation began. The Eastern Churches continued unchanged. Simply put that is Church history and fact undisputed.
See: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/9c/68/bb/9c68bb7ff6e4ebd7940e2b54694eb21c.png
This from a non-Church and unbiased viewpoint. Similar ones are available on EOC sites, but then you might say there is bias. This is simple history.

You have some good points here.

Indeed! What the Roman church did was a contemptible power play and the lust for power was a corrupting influence in the Roman church until it got so bad that Christians became fed up with it and rebelled in the Protestant reformation. On the other hand, I see a dynamism of faith which infused new life into Christianity in both the Roman church (especially after the counter-reformation corrected its errors) and in Protestantism – taken even further in the “second reformation” of the evangelical movement.

But if you want the historical roots of Christianity. It is hard t see how you can go wrong with the sector of the Christianity which is still ruled by the ecumenical councils which created both the creed and the Bible. :+1:

Another big factor in this which is too often underestimated is the barbarian conquest of western Europe (understandable because we are those barbarians). The effects of this were probably both good and bad (from a divine perspective) - some distortions of Christianity and some new life and dynamism as well.

What I find interesting is how the original Church of the East just got lost. Most Western people just think of it in terms of a nationality, Russian, Greek, Bulgarian etc. Central to the distinction is a very different way of viewing Christianity. The Western view is more cerebral whereas the Eastern view is about the “heart.” This is why there is very little dogmatic theology, found only recently. The repetition of the Jesus Prayer is said frequently. (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.)
The understanding of the Sacraments, or Mysteries, is very different. The Holy Scriptures are held in very high esteem and great care is taken about interpreting them. Western scholars are far more open to many different views and hundreds or even thousands of commentaries exist, al with different opinions. I find great safety in the theology of the EOC. Less drift from time to time or place.

Well one part of this is that the church of the east did not escape barbarian invasion entirely. The fourth crusade (conquest by western barbarians) being a part of it, then by the Turks from the east. Expansion to the northeast in the Russian orthodox was a quite a coup in that context.

The introduction of Greek rationality to the western barbarians was probably as big a revelation (maybe even bigger) to them as Christianity.

Both are a testimony to the power of ideas. Christianity and Greek rationality conquering the barbarians even as they conquered Europe. The Chinese saw the same thing happening there as their culture conquered barbarians invading them also, culminating in the Mongol invasion of the 13th century.

Trying to divide Genesis into history and myth is, to some degree, imposing modern categories on an ancient text. We need to understand the original intent of a passage, the stylistic conventions of writing in the day, and the like. Many of the scientifically unsound approaches to biblical interpretation reflect the assumption that, for the Bible to be true, it has to be modernistic-style “just the facts” history. But in reality, the Bible is not history of that sort. Much of the Bible uses selected examples from history to illustrate theological points, but the overall genre is theology, not history. That does not mean that the Bible is historically inaccurate, but it does mean that it is free to use figures of speech, fables, symbolism, and other ways of being more interesting reading than a recital of statistics. It also means that the historical information is patchy, including the information that served the author’s purpose but not all the information that a modern historian might wish to know. Similarly, the purpose of the Bible is not to miraculously reveal modern scientific ideas, which would have been largely useless to earlier readers and redundant for modern readers. Information is not technical and precise, but it is accurate on its own terms. For example, the plants, animals, geology, and the like of the Bible are clearly those of the ancient Near East. The classification is not what a modern biologist would want, but is perfectly reasonable as pragmatic categorization by ancient herders and farmers.

What parts of Genesis are intended as more literal versus more figurative details? For that, the context in each passage, the evidence from what we know based on our knowledge of the world, and what evidence we have from other writing in the region provide our guidance.

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Well said, David. I hope RalphH sees the value of your comments in support of his original questions.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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