Origins of the Genesis stories

(Shawn T Murphy) #21

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

(Tom Larkin) #22

This part of my response was a failed attempt at humor

(Christy Hemphill) #23

:grin: You need more emojis. :smiley:

(Mervin Bitikofer) #24

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:

(Tom Larkin) #25

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)

(Mitchell W McKain) #26

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.

(Shawn T Murphy) #27

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.

(Shawn T Murphy) #28

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.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #29

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]

(Mitchell W McKain) #30


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.

(Tom Larkin) #31

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!

(Mervin Bitikofer) #32

“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.

(Shawn T Murphy) #34

Dear Tom,
This is one reason why I point to the Ancient Greeks, the founders of science and philosophy, is because they had a clear answers to these type of questions. Have a look at how they depicted Poseidon.

Poseidon was known to them as the persona of the “Ruler of the Bitter Sea.” Notice two important symbols in their depiction of him - the trident and the fish at his feet. Here is the answer to your question. Jonah was under the reign of Poseidon or Satan, the ruler of the sea of fallen souls, for three of the days of creation.

Then, when Jesus conquered Death (Satan) of Good Friday, He descended in Spirit into his realm and defeated him. He then passed final judgement on Satan and rose victorious on the third day, Easter Sunday.

The Greeks used the used the same imagery for Aphrodite in the classic depiction of her emersion from the bitter sea.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #35

Perhaps this question should be returned to you on the other side: Do you then insist that Jesus was literally in the center of our planet for three days? Is that in fact where hell is then (that we could in principle dig down to it)? If not, then why not? Wouldn’t those who demean metaphor as some sort of compromise against truth need to consistently insist that Jesus teaching must be emptied of its truth unless we take it as physically literal? Jesus had a few rebuking words for his own disciples when they lapsed back into such literalism. As Christy has indicated elsewhere, human speech is not easily (or cannot be) disentangled from metaphor. So regardless of how one’s convictions on the Jonah story, you can’t escape the need to look deeper.

(Shawn T Murphy) #36

Dear Mervin,
My basic thesis is this: There is one Creator who has a Plan for His creation. There is an adversary to this plan, who attempts to hinder the Plan. So, for me, everything thing in this world comes tother from the Creator or from the Adversary. Anything that we can find that is in-line with the Creator and the rest belongs to the Adversary.

This means to me that not all of the prophets sent by the Creator have survived the onslaught of the Adversary. the Bible represents a surviving portion of the Creator’s prophets, solidified in medieval times. Jesus promised that the Father would continue to send the spirit of truth to keep His Word alive, and this did not stop because a group of medieval men declared what books are allowed in the Bible and what are not.
Best Wishes, Shawn

(Tom Larkin) #37

It would not be in the human genome if it were not passed down after Noah, when lifespans decreased dramatically as God commanded in Genesis 6:3. I could speculate that God chose to remove any “longevity” sequences rather than inactivate them as we would not be that far away from discovering them and reactivating them now.

(Tom Larkin) #38

I have not heard your Poseidon argument before, but you have laid it out in a logical fashion. Do you have any scripture to back up you quote above?

In general, I find it difficult to under how you or others on this forum understand was it a metaphor and what is not? I have stated that dreams, visions, parables and anthropomorphic descriptions of God are clearly not meant to be taken as literal and are consistent with scripture in it entirety. I do not understand how you can state that miracles in the Old Testament are metaphors and miracles in the New Testament really occurred. This is completely illogical to me and I find no basis in the arguments this forum has provided. Can you help me understand the logical basis for your argument?

(Tom Larkin) #39

I have asked you a simple question and you refused to answer. Despite, your refusal, I will answer your question. Any reasonable human would understand that Jesus was taking about being in the grave for three days because this view is consistent with the rest of scripture. The rest of your line of questions are either rhetorical or condescending, I do not know which.

You have set yourself up as the ultimate source of Biblical knowledge on what is literal and what is not, so without any logical method to backup your claims, I can only resort to either consulting with you or being incorrect in your eyes.

My logical method is as follows:

  1. All scripture must be interpreted in the context of all remaining scripture.
  2. Dreams, parables and visions are clearly identified and should be taken as such. There are also clear similes, such as Satan is like a lion, seeking whom he may devour.
  3. There are anthropomorphic terms used to describe God to help us understand Him better, but God is a spirit and doesn’t have human features such as hands or eyes.
  4. All other text must be interpreted per rule 1.

I don’t think you will provide additional clarity for me, so I will end it here. The most important aspect we can take away is that we are both brothers in Christ and I wish you the best my brother!

(Shawn T Murphy) #40

I prescribe the following logic when looking at biblical texts:

  • Does it have a literal meaning, if so what is it?
  • Does it have a moral to teach, if so what is it?
  • Does it have a spiritual meaning, if so what is it?

Then, we compare to other similar situations in the text to insure consistency of meaning. For the items with literal meaning, then we are able to use standard historical methods to corroborating evidence from independent sources.

When it comes to understanding the spiritual meaning of the text, this is where the tools created by Socrates comes in. The underlying assumption is that God is who He is, but without know that, we can only assume He is consistent and not chaotic. Where there is consistency there is clarity, but when God looks chaotic, this is a misunderstanding on our part. This method was used by Origen of Alexandria, who was a major founder of the church.