The Bible Thinks Genesis 1-3 is Historical

He’s probably paraphrasing problems with general relativity and quantum gravity.

Vinnie

I think the reason for collapsing humanity into one man is to contrast this man with Christ. The first time Paul told the Romans the story of sin entering the world, he did it without ever mentioning one man (Romans 1:20 and following). But now he recasts that story into one man’s disobedience. While chapter 1 retold the Eden–Babel story in general terms without any individual characters, this time he isolates one character from the Eden story and leaves out the others (Eve, the snake, and even God).

But it isn’t enough for his purposes to focus on Adam. He also needs to expand Adam into a character that can parallel Christ; an antitype for Christ. A long-dead ancestor isn’t enough for that. So Paul paints Adam as “one man” that everyone participates in. By sinning, we participate in the one man’s singular tresspass. By dying, we reveal how death reigns through that one.

This is not about heredity, something passed down from first parents to children. Our unity with the one man is much tighter. It has to be for the parallel with Christ to work. We aren’t rescued by being descended from Jesus, but by being identified with him. Paul leaves us with a choice between two humanities. We can either continue to identify with Adam and participate in his tresspass. Or we can identify with Christ and share in his grace. The old man leads to condemnation and death. The new man leads to righteousness and eternal life.

In this chapter, Adam grows into much more than one long-dead man. But he still grows out of the Adam character we encounter in Genesis 2–3. Because Jesus is the cornerstone of Paul’s faith, not Adam, he’s quite willing to bend Adam into a pretzel if it serves his purposes for proclaiming Christ. Since Paul’s use of this character is so free, I don’t think we can know his beliefs about Adam as the ancestral first man. Quite likely he did believe in such, but ancestry isn’t what fuels his imaginative thinking about Adam.

I think a spiritual/physical distinction is too simple, but we do need to see what Paul means by death. He doesn’t seem to have in mind a neutral force. It is the last enemy to be defeated. He personifies Death as much as he personifies Adam (though this comes out more in 1 Corinthians 15 and other parts of Romans). Treating death as just a biological process is, I think, as mistaken as treating his Adam as just the first human ancestor.

If Paul is taking the lead of Genesis, then death only comes to Adam because of Adam. It was in talking to Adam that God said not to eat one fruit “or you [singular] will surely die.” As you quoted, it is in talking to Adam that God says “dust you are, and to dust you will return.” This isn’t to Eve or any of their descendents. But if Adam represents humanity already in Genesis, then Paul is not pulling a fast one in Romans by generalizing the death. Because Adam is us, saying death comes to all is the same as saying death comes to Adam.

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Good point. @mitchellmckain raised a point about spiritual death as well. Adam certainly didn’t die on the day he ate the fruit so understanding it as physical death may be ruled out by the account itself unless it prevents God as a liar or being mistaking about something so simple.

I also don’t disagree really with any of your exegesis about Paul and Adam. I think Paul is doing exactly what you are saying but thought Adam was a real person. But in the end you are serving to show that ultimately it doesn’t really matter.

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I thought of that but what he said is so far from situation on that front, I dismissed it. It is not that there is a conflict but rather than the two don’t naturally and easily fit together in a single picture or equation for things. But this is hardly impossible because it has been done in the extention of Kaluza-Klien to supergravity and then as a formulation of string theory. We cannot get supersymmetry and string theory to work but it does show it is possible for the general relativity and quantum physics to be combined.

A better explanation for the comment might be a poor understanding of entanglement… however… (from Wikipedia)

In 1935; Einstein, Rosen, Podolsky published a paper concerning quantum entanglement of particles, questioning quantum nonlocality and the apparent violation of causality upheld in SR: particles can appear to interact instantaneously at arbitrary distances. This was a misconception since information is not and cannot be transferred in the entangled states; rather the information transmission is in the process of measurement by two observers (one observer has to send a signal to the other, which cannot exceed c). QM does not violate SR.

But just to show how much relativity is a part of quantum field theory, it is by incorporating relativity into quantum mechanics which produced the division of the wave equation into the one for bosons and the one for fermions – pretty fundamental. That is why the comment seemed a bit outrageous to me.

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I wanted to come back to your second point now and offer some thoughts.

From the beginning–I envision this as "in the beginning stories in the Torah during God’s creative week that opens the Bible. Nonetheless, I think the context of Jesus statement, given to Torah following Jews in Palestine in the first third of the first century would have been overly clear. He is actually to teachers of the Law in some accounts. I personally don’t see how Jesus is not intending to reference the creation accounts in Genesis 1-3 here. He is claiming that God originally made man and woman to be together as one. From the beginning means during God’s primary creative week. This is how it has always been since the first couple. After naming all the animals and not finding anyone compatible, God specifically made a woman, Eve, as a suitable helper for Adam (yes, the story comes from a misogynistic time period).

Obviously humans arriving 13.7 byo is not in the beginning. Jesus is simply showing signs of his pre-scientific times. None of this changes the fact that in God’s eyes, man and woman are meant to become one in marriage and frivolous divorce is not something God is a fan of. And that God’s creative activity is ongoing in some passages does not change the fact that Adam and Eve were made on day 6 of God’s first creative week.They come early on in the Biblical history of things. Of course, we could argue over the meaning of “days” but I think “from the beginning” is just a reference to Adam and Eve in early Genesis. It’s how his audience would have taken it.

The question I have is if Adam and Eve didn’t exist, then does the force of Jesus’ response lose its meaning? If you appeal to a non-existent set of humans, is your argument not fallacious? Or does it just matter that God designed men and women to be compatible? I suppose you can claim Jesus is simply engaged in the rhetorical argument ad absurdum.

Jesus and Paul’s thoughts fit in nicely with all the genealogical listings in the Bible tracing lineages back to Adam and Eve. How on earth are we going to reinterpret those to believe in a non-literal Adam. The simplest explanation is that both Jesus and Paul believed in a historical Adam.

That is the whole point. The first couple God created give us these parameters. This is the created order of God. Not a mere mythological narrative that just tells us what we already believe or want to be true. Jesus did not say “God desires this or I desire this” but that God made it this way in the beginning (when he made Adam and Eve).

The historicity of the individuals is not the point of the story. Treating people compassionate and out of love is. Not divorcing a women “for any reason,” which some Rabbis allowed, or for being barren and so forth is the point. Jesus says once you are married that is it. It is possible in the case of marital infidelity Jesus allows divorce but whether that tidbit is Matthew’s hand is another matter. It is not found in Mark (which Matthew copied) and Mark already seems to have extrapolated a teaching about Jesus on divorce to another context: Mark 10:12 "And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” I know there are a couple of tiny noted exceptions of people with power but the saying “and if a woman divorces her husband she commits adultery” doesn’t make sense to me in Galilee or Palestine in the first century. Women didn’t do that. When Paul added to Jesus’ rule on divorce at least he was careful to distinguish his words from the Lord’s.

Touché. Cain is not mentioned. Abel is mentioned with other people who were actual historical people. Is Zechariah not historical? Are the murdered prophets not historical? How much are we going to chop away to prevent a fully human Jesus, who lacks omniscience from not knowing modern science? Did Jesus think Moses was real or did he just mention him since his audience was Jewish?he culture tends to treat all these individuals as historical and this is the plainest and simplest way to read these. Jesus was a Jew who accepted the Old Testament as his sacred scripture. Obviously we have very sharp distinctions about myth and history that don’t really apply the same to people 2,000 years ago but there was absolutely no reason to deny its narratives and every reason to accept them. That is what ancient people did. There was no distinction between Abel and Moses. They were people that lived. Only modern eisegesis aimed at protecting a priori beliefs argues otherwise. Your interpretations are entirely consistent with historical individuals. I get a strong scent of harmonization here.

Vinnie

I wanted to come back to your second point now and offer some thoughts.

From the beginning–I envision this as "in the beginning stories in the Torah during God’s creative week that opens the Bible. Nonetheless, I think the context of Jesus statement, given to Torah following Jews in Palestine in the first third of the first century would have been overly clear. He is actually to teachers of the Law in some accounts. I personally don’t see how Jesus is not intending to reference the creation accounts in Genesis 1-3 here. He is claiming that God originally made man and woman to be together as one. From the beginning means during God’s primary creative week. This is how it has always been since the first couple. After naming all the animals and not finding anyone compatible, God specifically made a woman, Eve, as a suitable helper for Adam (yes, the story comes from a misogynistic time period).

Obviously humans arriving 13.7 byo is not in the beginning. Jesus is simply showing signs of his pre-scientific times. None of this changes the fact that in God’s eyes, man and woman are meant to become one in marriage and frivolous divorce is not something God is a fan of. And that God’s creative activity is ongoing in some passages does not change the fact that Adam and Eve were made on day 6 of God’s first creative week.They come early on in the Biblical history of things. Of course, we could argue over the meaning of “days” but I think “from the beginning” is just a reference to Adam and Eve in early Genesis. It’s how his audience would have taken it.

The question I have is if Adam and Eve didn’t exist, then does the force of Jesus’ response lose its meaning? If you appeal to a non-existent set of humans, is your argument not fallacious? Or does it just matter that God designed men and women to be compatible? I suppose you can claim Jesus is simply engaged in the rhetorical argument ad absurdum.

Jesus and Paul’s thoughts fit in nicely with all the genealogical listings in the Bible tracing lineages back to Adam and Eve.

I suppose if you deny original sin nothing. But on the flip side if you refer to individuals in an argument as an example and they aren’t real, I have to think the argument or point loses some of its force.

I agree but did Paul really have any reason to distinguish between figures such Cain, Moses, Abel, Adam, David, Abraham, Noah, etc. on historical grounds? They were his ancestors. Same with Jesus. Because we now know some probably didn’t and we want to salvage inerrancy (in whatever form we believe), we are going to pluck Jesus and Paul out of their rightful historical context. The historian Flavius Josephus wrote a whole history of the Jewish people late in the first century (Antiquities of the Jews). Adam and Eve were considered real by Josephus as far as I can tell in book 1. See the link below.

https://penelope.uchicago.edu/josephus/ant-1.html

Of course, we can certainly look at the allegorical interpretations of Philo, an Alexandrian Jew who tried to merge Greek and Jewish thought. But he was a syncretist. We don’t see such attempts by Jesus to merge Plato and Moses together. Josephus was also born in Jerusalem whereas Philo was a hellenized Jew of the diaspora.

In first century Palestine, unless there was good reason from the account itself (a perceived absurdity?), then the figures throughout the Old Testament would have been perceived as historical individuals. Josephus even retells the story of Jonah and he was clearly educated (Antiquities 9.205–9.227)

https://lexundria.com/j_aj/9.205-9.227/wst

I think there were different schools of thought at the time on divorce. Some Rabbis only allowed divorce in limited situations (e.g. adultery) while others permitted a man to divorce his wife for whatever reason he deemed necessary (he was bored of her, found someone younger and more attractive, whatever). They tried to test Jesus on this since the Mosaic Law regulates the process of divorce as normative and allows a man to divorce his wife for merely not pleasing him (Duet 21:1. Jesus dumped it all on its head and what is did is vastly more profound than most of us realize. Jesus prohibits what God in the Old Testament, through Moses, allowed and regulated. In fact, there is good evidence what was merely “regulated” and allowed in this case were considered “commands” as well (based on Jesus and Josephus). John Meier wrote,

“By completely forbidding divorce, Jesus dares to forbid what the Law allows–and not in some minor, obscure halakic observance but in one of the most important legal institutions in society. He dares to say that a man who duly follows the Law in properly divorcing his wife and marrying another woman is in effect committing adultery. When one stops to think what this involves, Jesus’ prohibition of divorce is nothing short of astounding. Jesus presumes to teach that what the Law permits and regulates is actually the sin of adultery. That is, precisely by conscientiously following the Torah’s rules for divorce and remarriage, a Jewish man commits a serious sin against one of the commandments of the Decalogue, the commandment against adultery (Exod 20:14; Deut 5:18) This is no small matter; it is, at least according to the Pentateuch, a capital offense.”

Vinnie

Yes, of course. :slight_smile:

Even if Jesus had referred to Adam and Eve, I don’t think that would be the case. But isn’t it interesting that he doesn’t?

First he says, “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ” This changes a reference to a past time, “in the beginning,” to something that is ongoing, “from the beginning.” Neither in Genesis 1 nor in Jesus’ paraphrase is this a reference to only two people (day 6 refers to the generic adam that means people). Jesus’ change makes it even more clear that all people are in view, not just the first.

Then Jesus quotes from Genesis 2, but he doesn’t quote any of the story. He completely skips over the account of Adam and Eve! Instead, he draws out a narrative aside that is spoken to later readers: “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” The man and wife spoken of is not Adam and Eve, but everyman and everywife.

So while Jesus quotes from both Genesis 1 and 2, he doesn’t mention Adam or Eve! He seemingly goes out of his way to draw from these stories in ways that universalize their message rather than tie it to two individuals. And in so doing, I think Jesus was reading Genesis well. Already in Genesis, Adam is not just one man, and when Eve appears, she is not just one woman. The universal message is already there.

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I disagree. People use allusions to known literary figures all the time to make rhetorical points. The argument only loses it’s force if the historicity of the figure your are alluding to is somehow part of one of your premises. I don’t think it is in these cases. In these cases the rhetorical impact just depends on people’s shared common ground in knowing the narratives the allusions are drawn from and accepting the general truths the narratives assert, which I would say are not truths about history but about humanity and theology.

I have done a lot of study of cross-cultural communication and it is common in many cultures of the world to have much more squishy categories when it comes to the truth and historicity of an origin story. It is actually very common for people to assert that of course myths are true and at the same time of course they aren’t “factual” in some strict sense like a modern history book. The fact/fiction binary is something we assume is natural and normative for people everywhere, but it really isn’t. Stories of ancestors can be considered authoritative and true and historical even when people know full well they aren’t “factual.” It’s hard from our cultural perspective to wrap our minds around this, because we are conditioned to see the world differently. Of course there is no way to get inside the head of Paul or his Jewish audience and know what was obvious to them and what they would think are stupid questions.

But the better argument (in my view) is that Jesus wasn’t completely forbidding divorce, he was forbidding the kind of divorce you mentioned, where husbands discarded women based on their whims or selfish desires for someone more pleasing. He was equating that kind of misogyny with a major sin, adultery.

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Context is everything. People frequently alluding to known literary figures and people referencing their sacred scripture that comes from God are not comparable. Though the former happens, I tend to doubt it was what Paul or Jesus did. I just feel if the scientific evidence showed Genesis 1-3 was historical, we would naturally read Paul and Jesus this way. But when it doesn’t we don’t want to force a literal view on them ultimately for most, to protect them from error. This is not an interpretive principle I can stand behind. Your point about people not being binary and having different understandings of their origin stories I can accept.

I don’t think that is quite right. I may have mixed this up myself but Meier doesn’t think Jesus categorically forbid divorce. Jesus forbids divorce and remarriage. The issue is two-pronged. Jesus’ teaching is not merely about divorce, but also includes remarriage which leads to the adultery. You cannot get divorced and remarry. A complete ban on divorce and remarriage is difficult and rejecting it is as the proper interpretation is certainly more palatable to modern sensibilities. But on the flip-side, Jesus had a thing for hard sayings (let the dead bury the dead). Would Jesus be against absolutely all remarriage? I’m not sure but I think he always emphasized compassion. If a woman came out of an entirely abusive relationship and found someone to love and spend her life with later on, would this cohere with what Jesus taught? I greatly desire to say yes but I’m not certain. Jesus didn’t seem to put blind allegiance to rules or laws over being compassionate and sensible.

As for the second half, yes, we all agree on that. As Meier writes,
“In light of the almost universal tendency on the part of exegetes to explain Mark 10:2–12 (as well as any teaching on divorce attributed to the historical Jesus) by appealing to the debate between the House of Hillel and the House of Shammai, it is important to emphasize a point made earlier in this chapter. Almost all the pre-70 Jewish texts known to us reflect a Judaism in which a man could divorce his wife for practically any reason. There is no hint of a debate over the precise grounds for divorce, let alone the specific debate over ʿerwat dābār (“shame of a thing” in Deut 24:1) between the House of Hillel and the House of Shammai, as reported in the mishnaic tractate Giṭṭin.”

Clearly the abusive practice towards women is the context for this. I don’t think it was always even considered adultery for some married Jewish man to sleep with an unmarried women. The problem was when you slept with someone else wife, you violated his property. Maybe if you likewise violated a father’s property it could have been an issue.

Vinnie

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Two things. One, I think you may be exaggerating Jesus skipping over a specific mention of Adam and Eve. That is probably background knowledge as soon as Jesus references Genesis 1 and 2 to Pharisees in the 1st century. Plus as I mentioned, Abel is referenced later on and Jesus treats him as a murdered prophet (were they not historical?). There is no need for Jesus to specifically mention Adam and Eve either way in his exegesis here. Their absence is an argument from silence and can be entirely consistent with a Jesus who does and doesn’t accept Adam and Eve as literal.

The second thing, I fully agree with your point about Jesus using the created order expressed in Genesis 1-2 and applying it universally. I just don’t think it can be demonstrated he is “going out of his way” to avoid referencing Adam and Eve. That is a bridge built too far. I do agree though based on your understanding of it that historicity is unimportant. What truly matters is Genesis being correct on the created order.

I came across this from Meier when reading on divorce today.

“He [Moses] wrote you this commandment with a view to your hardness of heart”—perhaps in the sense that Moses both knew their hardness of heart and wished to expose it by giving a commandment that would bear witness against them. “Hardness of heart” refers here not to a primitive level of culture or social institutions but rather to a stubborn refusal at the core of one’s being to hear and obey God’s word, in this case, his will expressed in the Torah. At first glance, this seems a strange accusation, since the Pharisees have just paraphrased a passage of the Torah, Deut 24:1–4.

In vv 6–8, Jesus provides the exegetical basis for his accusation that the Pharisees, for all their claims of zeal for the Law, are actually in rebellion against God’s will as revealed in the Torah. Jesus locates and defines the primordial will of God in the Torah by moving back from Deuteronomy to the creation story in Genesis 1–2. At the very beginning of the Torah, at the very beginning of creation, God is said to create the human species as male and female (Gen 1:27), a duality that, according to Gen 2:24, is meant to merge into a unity that is the basis of human society. “For this reason [namely, the fact that the human species is created as a duality], a man (anthrōpos) shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two [implicitly, only two] shall become one flesh”—that is, one human reality, one human being. Jesus hammers home this oneness, which he sees as indissoluble, by repeating the final phrase of Gen 2:24: “Consequently, they are no longer two but one flesh.”

Jesus’ rapid exegesis contains an implied hermeneutic: Genesis trumps Deuteronomy. But this is not just a question of the relative order and authority of two books within the Pentateuch. The deeper point being made is that the order of creation, revealed in Genesis 1–2, trumps the positive law of divorce in the Pentateuchal law code, promulgated in Deuteronomy."

Vinnie

Its doesn’t mean they did originate from historical people either. It is just as easy to imagine a primitive people thinking there must have been two humans who started the human race, as it is to suppose this tradition is actually historical. Basic chicken or the egg. Why on earth would people close to Adam and Eve think of them as the first humans and pass this tradition down? Clearly other people would be existing at the same time as them.

If two people named Adam and Eve did live 6000 years ago (that number again!), there are absolutely no known reputable lines of transmission extending thousands of years until Genesis 1 was actually written. Any stories or potential information about them is historically worthless. We are dealing with a time when there is just a scarcity of any written materials. This is pre-bronze age, its pre Egyptian hieroglyphs. How on earth could any of it ever be trusted even if what you are saying is true?

You think most is, to be honest, silly when taken literally/historically. The only reason to suppose any historical core exists is because it is in scripture. Was this story orally handed down for 3500 years before being written down ca 6th and 5th century BC (not by Moses!)? How many changes would be made? How many embellishments? Or did God tell the author of Genesis 1-3 about this with a vision or something? If so, this runs into the problem of why God gave a vision with so much myth and so little history. Even if we get around that dilemma, we are left with the insolvable problem of coming up with a hermeneutic that distinguishes the history from the myth here. Whatever you don’t find objectionable or silly is historical is hardly a proper hermeneutic for dealing with a creation myth.

Not all myths have a historical basis. Some creation myths are completely non-historical yet may still contain profound truths for their listeners or hearers. I remember reading about (I think it was) the Caribou people in a world mythology book. They believed the first two people climbed out of a large vagina in the ground. There are lots of creation myths:

And there are absolutely no plausible lines of transmission for the Genesis narratives. They shouldn’t be included in the same breath as history.

In addition, we have to have plausible historical evidence for thinking Santa evolved out of a historical situation. Don’t we actually have written document in far closer proximity to Saint Nicholas? And sober ones about him giving away all his wealth that evolved later on? Where is the earlier document about Adam or the sober one missing all the silly elements you rightfully reject? Not to mention Santa is not a creation myth and comes with a trail of bread crumbs. This is not a good comparison.

I honestly don’t know what that means. I thought I was reading @Klax for a second. But I must admit, it sounds nice and clever. I think my block is not fully grasping what self-organizing means and if I would consider it significant. Its definitely an interesting take on Creation.

Vinnie

Welcome’ Yes, I do believe it is a bedrock fact of history that some of Jesus’ closest followers thought he rose from the dead and appeared to them. As a Christian I believe in the resurrection. It was a demonstration of God’s power, a decisive victory over death and it gives us hope for the future. There is no other meaningful explanation for preaching a crucified messiah in that Jewish cultural milieu.

You seem to be mixing up two issues from my perspective. The resurrection of Jesus and (apparently) the inerrancy of scripture (otherwise, why just accept problematic passages). Because I believe in the resurrection of Jesus does not mean I believe everything written in the Bible is true. There are not only scripture passages that confuse me, there are countless I find revolting and morally abhorrent. I’m not of the ilk of “it’s in the Bible so no matter what it says I have to trust it and have faith.” The Bible is my sacred scripture and I believe it to be inspired but I don’t think God chose the very words or that every detail in there is a message from up on high. The Bible, overall, serves the purpose for which God intended it. I’m in good company. As our discussion in this thread shows, Jesus used the created order to prohibit divorce and remain rage and flatly rejected something clearly permitted, regulated and in his own words, commanded in case of the divorce certificate, in the Old Testament.

I understand that I must trust in God, humble myself and have faith, but for me this is not about accepting problematic statements as true. I do it in the case of the problem of natural evil. I trust God and that there is a reason I can’t understand. That single issue some is all I have on that front. It more or less exhausts my ability to accept things I find difficult.

I think God speaks to me more when I read the Gospels and the words of Jesus than anywhere else. To be honest, at times I love Paul and at others I feel “meh.” It was meeting Jesus in the the Gospels that ultimately saved me. I don’t think Jesus did as many things as the Gospel accounts record like I used to, but it’s always been the sayings that do it for me.

Vinnie

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Lewis wrote words to the effect that animals really do become like humans to us. If outsiders ever heard me talking to my cat about his plans for the day and whether or not he intended to be good, they would believe Lewis was right.

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I know what you mean. I love to read certain passages while others, not so much. I don’t believe that you must trust him, and you must humble yourself and you must have faith per se. Even though I feel exactly the same way, when I read you say those things I’m struck once again with the idea that what I really “must” learn simply is to be me with all my humanity, with Him.
Tozer wrote that the difference between good friends and best friends is one of comfort. Around our very best friends, we can be ourselves. We can be quiet, completely silent, and not be concerned about a thing. With others we must keep the conversation going. God likes us for who and what we are.
The point he tried to make is that as we find in God a reliable, intimate friend, we can let go and rest in his presence. I think that is cool. I love how Jesus emphasized at the end of his life that the disciples were his true friends.
The criminal crucified with Christ who appreciated that Jesus had done nothing to deserve what he and the other criminal received, in his own way acknowledged that he had screwed up, but Christ hadn’t. “This day” you and I will hang out together in paradise—not in three days (another mystery.) He didn’t have the N.T. He wasn’t baptized in water. His humility wasn’t forced. He, for a brief moment at least, saw himself for what he was and in his heart he felt bad, or that’s how I imagine that exchange. And Christ and that guy were close friends right then.

Religion is certainly subjective. But I don’t see that as a reason to dismiss it. Trying to live your life objectively is just delusional. So this is just one of the many choices of preference we make in life and rationality demands accepting that diversity is an unavoidable part of it.

What seems to be the difficulty?

Well… Perhaps I can say that part of this is making the distinction between life and mere existence. Life requires self-organizing processes like growth and learning. Therefore when we say that we can find eternal life in a relationship with God, it is not just about some magical reward of extended existence from a powerful sorcerer, but the fact that only God has the substance/meaning to make it possible to learn and grow without end.

It is a documented phenomenon… You can read about it in a book called “The Self-organizing Universe” by Erich Jantsch. It is a combination of a number of non-linear phenomenon (see chaotic dynamics). First of all, it is a process/action/system (i.e. organism) which is doing things in a self-perpetuating way – doing things at least in part because of what it has been doing and not just because of environmental conditions. Secondly, there are points of instability called bifurcation points where possible behaviors diverge and thus it has to choose from these possibilities in a way which is impossible to predict because it depends on initial (previous) conditions to an infinite degree of precision. We can see self-organizing phenomena in weather formations and chemical reactions, and it can be largely simulated in things like the so called “game of life.” We can call it self-organizing because the reasons for what it does comes at least partially from within – reacting to the environment rather than controlled by the environment.

If this sounds like life it is because it is indeed a large step in that direction – the development of life from non-life. Another important step in that direction is a way of storing information so that it can essentially employ a learning algorithm like evolution.

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This brings up something that I always thought was interesting. We are often told that a prophecy came from a vision, dream, or God spoke to me. And yet I haven’t found any history that also claims to come from God. Yes it is in Scripture and therefore has to be inspired by God and correct for His purpose, but are you aware of anyplace where history is also credited with coming directly from God? Also we are told that prophets should be judged by the accuracy of their predictions with no mention made of the accuracy of their history. As many have said I don’t think the ancient people held history to the same standards of accuracy that modern readers do.

Really good questions. For me, it seems reasonable to start thinking of Genesis as a metaphorical story when you get to the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil (never mind the serpent). It is really difficult to imagine these as biological trees (though perhaps not impossible), but because they function so beautifully as metaphors of spiritual truths. I like to think that Genesis is encoded in the same style as the book of Revelation. Regarding the historicity of Adam and Eve, a scientist from my old church wrote a paper on this: https://biologos.org/series/book-review-the-genealogical-adam-and-eve/articles/theological-response-to-joshua-swamidass-the-geneological-adam-and-eve

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Yes, Genesis looks clearly like myth and metaphor today. People with a high view of scripture in a prescientific time without access to as many other other creation myths didn’t know any better. They thought it was literal history and there was nothing to challenge this.

Re: the historicity of Adam nd Eve in the link you mentioned, this is the overview in the link:

“Computational biologist Joshua Swamidass’s recent book, The Genealogical Adam and Eve: The Surprising Science of Universal Ancestry , challenges these premature claims. Swamidass argues that when we think about ancestry genealogically rather than genetically, it is possible that all humans existing by the time of Jesus are descended from a pair existing only a few thousand years before. He also makes the case that this couple could have been created de novo and have descendants interbreeding with the surrounding population. Swamidass argues that this new approach allows us to retain many elements of the “traditional Christian view” concerning Adam.”

After retreating so far from what the story actually says, a person should just finally surrender. This is such a defeated position. It is that never-ending hill apologists retreat up using mental gymnastics and hypothetical “what ifs” based on clearly incorrect a priori beliefs. This is why critical scholarship really can’t mix with evangelical scholarship on matters of history. The latter is guided by an a priori and can’t often engage in high standards of research. It is always skewed towards what is written in the Bible is literally true as is. When a good 90% of the narrative in Genesis 1-3 is clearly problematic, not to mention seemingly contradictory with itself between what many scholars view as two separate creation accounts put together centuries apart, and when as a story it falls in line with hundreds of other creation myths— maybe we should finally treat it as such? Are we so broken by modern science we need to try to maintain that the leftovers, the scraps of the story are history? When most of it isn’t what real hermeneutic is there for deciding between what is historical and what is just story? We should stop looking for historical characters and instead focus on the theological truths. None of the specifics of any chapter in Genesis seems to have any real historical corroboration and chapters 1-11 are more problematic than the rest. As far as how real history is done, these stories are evidence for what the authors who wrote them believed, – thousands of years after the events are purported to have occurred. They have next to nothing to do with the actual events that occurred. If they even did they are thousands of years old and beyond corroberation.

The question we always need to ask is why is this story in the Bible? Why is Genesis in there? Did God want to give us historical and scientific facts? Could some events have actually occurred? Yes. Must they have all occurred just as the Bible says for it to be inspired? If the answer to this question is yes then I would say Bible is not inspired in that manner.

Vinnie

The historical and scientific perspective of the Genesis era bears no resemblance to those of the 21 century.
For me the Genesis creation narrative can be summed up in the first four words of the Bible
“In the beginning GOD “

“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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