Origins of the Genesis stories

Someone obsessed with power would indeed assume that God would never relinquish the slightest bit of power or control over anything. They simply cannot imagine that anything could be more valuable. But the God I believe certainly does value some things more than power… things like love, freedom, life, and relationship.

When you value love more than power and control then you are willing to give up some of the control even over your own life to make a life with another in a relationship founded on trust and cooperation – on faith. When you do that you don’t feel a need to dictate every moment of their life and their choices. And when you value love a little bit more then you are willing to give up even more control over your life as a parent to children, and when you do that based on love then I guarantee it will be a very humbling experience. These are not small things to me but the biggest things and so believe God is big in this way too.

And where to do I find evidence God is like this in the Bible? That would be passages like Matthew 20:26, 23:11, Mark 9:35, 10:43, and Phillippians 2:6-7, where it is clear that God does not see greatness in power but rather in love and service to others. So what do you think? Is God a hypocrite who cannot even conform to His own idea of greatness?

Neither do I.

But I do believe in a God who creates a world that operates according to fixed rules because this is a basic necessity of life itself. It is the difference between reality and a dream. Indeed I think that a god of power who has to be in control of everything would only indulge in dreams where he would remain in control of everything. Only a God of love would relinquish control enough to create something real, let alone something with life, free will, and choices of its own.

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God relinquished control when Adam was given the choice to allow both good and bad to happen. The control you are referring to is a sociopath god.

I do not think it wise to claim on our own cognitive ability what is good or bad. That is in step with a universe that runs on rules. Rules that when broken have consequences. I assume before Adam and sin, the sons of God were not bound by the results of braking a rule. This includes ethics as God did not demand Cain to die for killing his brother with full intent of the act. Nor did God indicate that Cain had broken any rules. If there were no consequences to the deed, anything Cain could have done to Abel, would not have resulted in death. God then turns around and said whoever kills Cain will be punished 7 times more than the punishment Cain received.

But the claim about God is that God has no right to claim control that we deem “wrong”. That to me is creating a God in the image that we deem correct.

God relinquished control when He created life and free will. That is when He chose love and freedom over power and control.

No. A control freak and a sociopath are two entirely different things. To be sure many a parent has been something of a control freak and I do not think it is correct to say they were incapable of love or feeling, only that their drive to manipulate and control was stronger than their love. After all there is a proper place for manipulation in the parental role especially when the child is younger. It is just that you cannot properly keep doing that as they grow all the way to adulthood. You have to eventually let them make their own decisions and manage their own life.

It is not wise to judge other people because you cannot possibly know either their intentions or the circumstances of their choices. But I think it is either irresponsible or sociopathic to make no claim on what is good or bad, for otherwise you would not be able to guide your own behavior.

I don’t believe there were any sons of God before Adam. There is certainly nothing in the Bible to support such an idea.

That is completely incorrect. It does not agree with the Bible. And I don’t even know what to think of you for saying such a thing. God warned Cain that “sin was at the door” and thus that Cain was being tempted to do wrong. And afterwards God said that Cain was cursed from the ground, so he most certainly was saying that Cain did wrong and punished him, just as much as he said Adam and Eve did wrong and punished them. Furthermore, Cain knew quite well that God had punished him for doing wrong, for Cain said so. The most you can say is that God has not instituted or endorsed corporal punishment for the act of murder or fratricide at this point.

We not only have the right to decide what sort of god we are willing to worship and obey, but we must do so. It is the choice between God and the devil. And it is absurd to make your choice only based on the name that people choose to label them. After all did not the religious leaders declare that Jesus was acting by the power of the devil (Beelzebub)? So I shall most certainly examine any description people make of their god and when it sounds more like the devil to me, you can be sure that their god will have no worship or obedience from me.

Dear Tom,
So how do you literally accept that Adam was 930 years old when he died?

Though, I do agree that you can literally accept that Jacob took the ladder to Heaven (after Esau killed him). This explains the 400 year generational gap that exists from Abraham to Joseph. It also explains that Jacob (Israel) was a new man.
Best Wishes, Shawn

The Bible is neither science or history is should not be taken as either. I believe that creation was revealed to an individual, either Moses or kept alive through through oral tradition until it was documented by Moses. I thought Sailhamer’s book The Meaning of the Pentatuech gave a very strong argument for how the Bible was created.

It is a very slippery slope taking what is not described as a metaphor and making it into a metaphor. You either beige in miracles through the intersession of God or you do not. Did God really pert the Red (or Reed) Sea? Was Jonah swallowed by a large sea animal? Did Balam’s donkey speak? Did Jesus rise from the dead or is Bart Ehrman correct in that the disciples made Him god after He died?

This being said, there is common sense that needs to be applied. There are many anthropomorphic terms that are used in scripture to describe God’s actions. For example, God is a spirit and does not have “a right hand” at which to sit. You need to argue in terms of the complete scripture. Paul’s writing make it clear to me that through one man, Adam, all have sinned and have death, and through one man, Jesus, all have life. You can use these writings to clarify that they are talking about spiritual death and spiritual life as there were people alive before the incarnation of Jesus.

You have to remember, there was no McDonalds, Taco Bell or cigarettes at this time.

I believe Genesis 1 and 2 are sequential (see recent posts for details) and that Adam and Eve were directly created by God, kind of a crazy notion because that is what it says in Genesis 2:7. God could have made Adam to live for any length of time. I feel that this was intentional is that longevity would be a genetic competitive advantage over man created in Genesis 1.

Also not that God limits the lifespan of man to 120 years in Gen. 6:3 Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”

How old would he have to have lived for you to believe it? We are just arguing about a number.

In areas of the world where people live as hunter gatherers or subsistence farmers, the average life span far is lower than in the developed world. You have to do a lot more than posit an absence of junk food to account for 900 year life spans. From Wikipedia

Researchers Gurven and Kaplan have estimated that around 57% of hunter-gatherers reach the age of 15. Of those that reach 15 years of age, 64% continue to live to or past the age of 45. This places the life expectancy between 21 and 37 years. They further estimate that 70% of deaths are due to diseases of some kind, 20% of deaths come from violence or accidents and 10% are due to degenerative diseases.

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Dear Tom, Since this BioLogos, I specifically ask this question because there is not biological evidence that a human in the past 200,000 years ever lived over 120. So, if you are taking the biblical ages listed the Genesis 5 literally, how do your reconcile this with biology and genetics? Especially since Noah living to 950 years happened in the last 13,000 years.

My comment comes to the text of the Bible saying: “And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.” If you do not take it literally, then you can see that they lived many lives totaling 930, not living to be 930 years old.
Best Wishes, Shawn

This part of my response was a failed attempt at humor

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:grin: You need more emojis. :smiley:

So if I understand you correctly, reincarnation is your explanation for the long lives of the patriarchs. But then what happened to Adam after his 930 years worth of lives were over? Was he finally reincarnated as a horse, a dolphin or a dog? (I’m basing that speculation on part of what you wrote in another thread, pasted below.)

Shawn: The final stage of animal spiritual evolution is dog, horse or dolphin. These are the three that can demonstrate selflessness, and are willing to risk their life for humans.

I’m not asking this for the purpose of mockery (at least not entirely). I certainly don’t agree with any of it, and haven’t seen any scriptural evidence to ground it. Call it morbid curiosity, I guess. You might also consider working mice into that triumvirate. I think it can be found in Douglass Adams’ holy writ that the mice are the highest intelligence species on earth (even ahead of dolphins I believe). :mouse:

There is an important scientific principle here, a lack of evidence cannot prove non-existence. There was a time when there was no archaeological evidence for King David, and scholars lumped him in with King Author as a mythical embodiment of several kings of Isreal. This idea was abandoned when archaeological evidence was discovered. We are talking about a select number of individuals over the history of mankind from a select family. What is the percentage of fossilized remains from a total population?

He would be highly improbable to discover the remains of this select family.

This is especially true of Enoch :grinning: (hope the emoji helps)

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Exactly! The oldest stories come from a time before any such modern specialization of human activities in such things as history, law, science, religion, philosophy, or entertainment. It is the mythical character of Genesis 1-11 common to all the oldest stories which validates it as a story passed down from prehistory through oral traditions.

Ah yes the VERY poor excuse of extremists everywhere. It is only a slippery slope when you buy into the deception of the extremists that one side is so much worse than the other. But it is more often the reality that both extremes are just as bad and then sanity is a matter of finding the balance in-between.

It depends on whether you want an understanding of reality meaningful to our lives or you want a comic book. It is just like Walt Disney productions of Robin Hood and Sword in the Stone. The talking animals in those stories do not mean that there never was a Robin Hood or a King Arthur, let alone that there is nothing of value or even historical in these stories. But if you insist on the talking animals then entertainment for children is all they are good for.

Well if you insist on refusing to accept the explanation of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 then I can see how this would be problem for you. But in that case you do have a choice of whether put the resurrection of Jesus in the category of talking animals or put it in the category of a God who created a universe ruled by natural law. I can certainly agree that many so called Xtian theologies fit better with the Walt Disney version, though in most of them the god they teach is in the role of arch-villain.

God is spirit. Yes indeed. The greater reality is spiritual.

Indeed. When the objective evidence and logic guides your reading of the Bible, there is no need to alter the text to make it fit creationism, because you know that the homo sapiens species did not begin with one man and woman. But even if there are symbols and metaphors employed in the story, such as the talking snake representing an angelic being, there is no reason to make everything metaphorical with no basis in real people or historical events.

Yep. On the day Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they died spiritually not physically.

Dear Tom,
We do not have dig up every body to discover this. It is written into the human genome. If this elite family are the ancestors of even a portion of the world’s population, the evidence would be in their genes and it is not.

Dear Mervin,
I have published the existing biblical foundation in my paper The Gift of Reincarnation. This is based on the remnants of the original early Christian theory of the apokatastasis.

In closing, I would like to add that my interest in Origen arises not from any desire to start an Origenist movement in the Orthodox Church, or anything of the sort, rather, my goal is to urge Christians of an intellectual bent to examine, philosophically, doctrines of the Church that are harmful to the noble ideal of absolute human freedom, and also to call for compassion for sinners. No doctrine, in my view, shows more compassion for sinners than apokatastasis - a product of an intellect so inflamed with love for his fellow creatures that he could not even admit that the devil is damned forever. Edward Moore, Evagrius Ponticus and the Condemnation of Origen

I fully agree with Edward’s sentiments at the closing of his paper, as I share this goal.

It seems we may have that one central goal in common: Christ himself. And from Christ even learn of God’s infinitely sufficient grace and mercies even in new and fresh ways that may indeed suffer some obscurity and denial as a result of wayward doctrines. This is a precious core of commonality to have. So what a tragedy it is, [wouldn’t you agree?], if we bundle in with that purest goal dubiously supported conjectures (at best) or (at worst) outright falsehoods?

So you need to know that the promotion of reincarnation [among other things you push as well] is simply a non-starter here on a Christian site that takes mainstream science and scholarly theology seriously. It is nothing but another stumbling block for the many here who are seeking to cultivate a closer relationship with Christ that doesn’t compel them to thrust aside realities about Christ’s creation. We’ve got a lot of experts here good at exposing YEC stumbling blocks to the faith; so why would we want anybody to introduce [promote] a whole new set of fringe-science?! Not on my watch - or at least not unchallenged. That’s why I (and I hope others here) will continue to relentlessly call this stuff out for what it is - and hopefully help you part ways from falsehood so that you can more faithfully embrace the singular truth that you so rightly and centrally prize. I would expect no less to be done for me. But I won’t be reading any papers or books promoting the fringe ideas that you push here. I have no need of such things, especially when they will be barriers against faith for so many as frequent this forum looking for reassurance that reputable science and reputable faith are not enemies. In short, this forum is not here to be a distribution center for your more heterodox agenda.

[with added edits]

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@Shawn_Murphy

I was searching for where you do this and couldn’t find it… I don’t know if “heterodox” covers it. The word I would use is “non-Christian.” Not apokastasis – that is in the spectrum of Christian beliefs even though I don’t agree with it, but reincarnation is a non-Christian belief. I don’t have a problem with non-Christian beliefs and along with atheism, belief in faeries, and healing with crystals put this in the same subjective category as Christianity itself. They are all on the same footing with regards to the objective evidence – pretty much nowhere. We just have to choose what we believe about such things. But reincarnation is not and never will be on the table for me. I personally (and subjectively, to be sure) find the whole idea of the spirits of old sinners controlling children to be downright disgusting and demonic. I also don’t like the whole pagan idea of pre-existent souls being inserted into infants either.

Please answer this one question: Was Jonah literally swallowed by the “great fish” and after three days and then “vomited onto dry land”? This seems to fit all your criteria for Disney redacted scripture, in fact this story was repeated in the Disney movie Pinocchio with a few modifications.

In Matthew 12:38-42 and Mark 8:12 Jesus said:
39 But he replied to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves a sign. Yet no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah, 40 because just as Jonah was in the stomach of the sea creature for three days and three nights,[b] so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment and condemn the people living today,[c] because they repented at the preaching of Jonah.

It sounds to me as if Jesus is describing real events that will soon be replayed in His life. If the Jonah narrative is Disney redacted scripture, how is Jesus death and resurrection any different. If Jonah narrative is real, how can you reject the other Disney redacted scripture?

Make sure you’re holding onto the hand rail!

“Relentless” was an exaggeration on my part - “occasional” would be the more literally accurate though I won’t chase down the instances. And again - by “calling this stuff out”, I don’t mean that I’m actually researching it or reading the books/papers that Shawn has written. I agree with you that it is beyond the pale and there is no warrant for pursuing that any farther. -Except for the “apokastasis” bit (I agree with you there too). The only reason I don’t enthusiastically trumpet such a label with you, @Shawn_Murphy, is that I shudder to think what all you may be bundling in with the notion. That’s what comes of mixing truth with reincarnation, archangel intrigue, soliciting the spirits of the dead, equating [or even comparing] a Greek sage, no matter how admirable, with Christ himself, etc. Around here you have a choice to make. Are you committed to promoting that of Christ which can actually have some scriptural defense? Or are you going purchase tickets to send it all packing on the Titanic?

There is perhaps a crucial question over the way Jesus quoted OT stories in reference to Himself and whether by quoting them He was validating belief in them as actual historical events. I think He can quote them in the sense of parable without quoting them as reliable history.

I think it is a matter of the view of Jesus actual knowledge of things as both God and Man. Jesus perhaps subject to limited knowledge as human being and greater knowledge from the Word that is also part of Him. Was Jesus limited in His knowledge of things? I suspect that views on this will be divided.

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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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