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Can the universe be accounted for without a creator?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Plain Old Bill, Jul 26, 2005.

  1. Marcia

    Marcia Active Member

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    By that standard, the creation of Adam wasn't creation, since according to a literal reading of Genesis 2 Adam was formed from dust, not nothing. The vegetation and animals also weren't creation, since the land was commanded to produce them rather than them springing from nothing.

    Basically, such an approach limits God's creation to an initial event, while Genesis 1 portrays everything on the six days as also being God's creation, even if they weren't created from nothing. Other parts of the Bible also give God credit for creating what is presently around us (or at least, what was around the authors at the time they wrote).
    </font>[/QUOTE]Okay, I do see your point here -- good point. In my hasty efforts to contrast adaptation and creation, I may have gone too far. You are helping me refine what I was trying to say, which is good. So thanks. [​IMG]

    I do believe God created the universe out of nothing - that there was only God and then there was the universe. That is what I was thinking of. So even though God created Adam out of the dust and Eve out of Adam, God was creating in a way that is different from adaptation. I don't think man coming out of dust is adaptation. I don't the animals and plants arising from the land are adaptation either.

    I would call this creation as opposed to adaptation. For example, I don't even think that the angels (including Satan) can create. Even when humans create, as in creating a painting or writing a poem, we are not materially creating in a supernatural way. The ideas come from the mind, but to put ideas into music or words is not the same as making a man from dust or getting animals to come up from the ground. Our creation in the arts is a dim reflection of God's ability to create, but also shows that we are made in his image. Animals, for example, do not create artistically unless they are shown (I am thinking of the apes or monkeys that are taught or that imitate humans).

    Maybe the term supernatural creation should be used? I am a creation of God but I don't think my parents created me.


    Well, there's two ways to incorporate the truth of creation. Suppose that from your youth you had also learned a lot about gravity, with narry a mention about God's hand in it. Once you realize that God claims to be the one to hold the universe together, you could either reject gravity as an atheistic theory, or accept that gravity merely describes a bit about how God does some of what he does. The same choice is available when it comes to biology.
    </font>[/QUOTE]But gravity and evolution are very different things. Gravity is a known law of the universe we can observe. We discovered gravity through observation. Evolution is not observable the way gravity is.

    I have nothing against biology; it's simply the study of living organisms, right? I don't think we can equate the theories of evolution with biology.

    My main point was that adaptation and creation are not the same thing, and that God's creation in Genesis is supernatural in nature and is nothing like adaptation. I think that is one reason God goes to the trouble of telling us how man was made in God's image -- we are not like the animals.
     
  2. Mercury

    Mercury New Member

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    Yes, me too. My only clarification would be that I think it's possible other spiritual beings such as angels were made before the universe (but they were still made and not co-eternal with God).

    Fair enough. A plain reading of those descriptions is neither ex nihilo creation nor adaptation.

    Neither is it the same as creating ground that has been endowed with the ability to obey a command to bring forth life. Or creating stars endowed with the ability to bring forth heavier elements. Or creating whatever there was at the moment of the Big Bang with the ability to bring forth stars, with all the physics and constants that are required for that. I think that God created the universe in such a way that it can bring forth what he wants, and so when it does so, it is truly God's creation, proclaiming God's glory.

    You may notice that my reasoning here is very similar to ID as it relates to astronomy. Even Lee Strobel's book The Case for a Creator goes into detail about how intricately designed our universe is. I believe that design is real and is a result of our benevolent Creator. This is in contradiction to the other half of the ID movement and the creationist movement which look for gaps in the design or flaws in the pattern where a Designer would need to intervene or overcome limitations in what he made.

    I think God made the universe in such a way that it was sufficient to accomplish what he purposed for it. God made a universe where gravity could function even before matter existed within that universe for gravity to act upon. I think he also in-built other properties into the universe that would not come to fruition until much later, such as natural selection that only works once there is a population of reproducing organisms.

    I agree.

    I wasn't implying that your parents created you, but rather that there are natural explanations for how you came about. That's why I wouldn't use the term "supernatural creation" -- it implies that God's creation is limited to what can't be described naturally, and as such, it cannot perceive God's power in a thunderstorm, his providence in the lilies of the field, or see God's handiwork in any other part of nature.

    How do you think evolutionary theory came about, if not through observation? I think everyone here accepts that the basics of evolution are observable, otherwise we wouldn't be in agreement about the reality of adaptation. The dispute is over how capable evolution is -- to use ID terminology, how well-designed this mechanism is to bring about variety.

    Have you noticed that among the young-earth creationists it is those who are most knowledgeable about these topics who seem to accept the greatest degree of adaptation? In other threads Helen has suggested that all cats, large and small, may share a common ancestor. A while back Scott J suggested that whales may share an ancestor with some land mammals. I doubt that these individuals make such claims because they are trying to compromise with atheism. Certainly it cannot be because of any bias they hold. Being young-earthers, they don't even accept the time differential necessary for such transitions to be remotely plausible according to scientific theory. But, there really is good evidence for commonality between cats, between whales and land mammals, and also between various apes. The more one studies, the more likely one is to accept more of this.

    Spiritually, no. Physically, yes. Even the author of Ecclesiastes recognized this. When he "devoted himself to study and to explore by wisdom", he came to the conclusion that humans are like animals: both come from dust, both have the same breath, both have the same fate, and humans have no advantage (Ecclesiastes 3:18-20). It was only by faith that he was able to perceive a crucial difference (Ecclesiastes 3:21).

    [ August 02, 2005, 09:04 PM: Message edited by: Mercury ]
     
  3. Marcia

    Marcia Active Member

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    Mercury, thanks for your thoughts. Are you saying that the creation of the universe was supernatural at all or was it all natural? Don't you think that at least the initial creation of the universe was supernatural? How about the creation of man -- did man evolve from a lower life form or was he created directly by God?


    I am not sure evolutionary theory came about through observation. It may have come about through assumptions that the creation has a natural explanation. How can anyone observe the creation of the universe?


    Marcia said: I think that is one reason God goes to the trouble of telling us how man was made in God's image -- we are not like the animals.

    Since Eccl. is at least partly a poetic meditation on the brevity of life, I take some of this as hyperbole. Humans do have an advantage -- their mind, language, being made in the image of God, having the ability to commune with and know God, having the ability to worship God - none of these things are possible for animals. The physical similarities are totally drowned out by the mental and spiritual dissimilarities.
     
  4. Mercury

    Mercury New Member

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    Yes. The source of the natural could not itself be natural unless nature was eternal, and I don't believe that it is. (Even quantum filaments can't pop from nothing unless the fundamentals that quantum mechanics describe are already operational.)

    After that ex nihilo beginning, I have no idea which bits were natural and which were supernatural. As far as creation goes, my guess is that it is cohesive so that we cannot detect any seams. It all fits together perfectly, and so I don't expect those who are attempting to detect supernatural design infusions at certain moments will be successful.

    Of course, some will say that it's obvious which bits were supernatural because they are the bits itemized in Genesis 1. However, that doesn't work because it again assumes that God only works through supernatural means. Was God not involved in punishing Israel just because foreign armies were used? Isn't it possible to say both that Babylon carried off Israelites into exile and that God sent them into captivity? So too, I think it's possible that God commanded the earth to bring forth life and he's given us the ability to investigate a bit about how the earth obeyed. I just don't accept the logic that whenever we see natural methods it must mean that God isn't working. Obviously, such an approach leads to either rejecting God or rejecting a lot of natural methods, but I believe that is a false dichotomy. God did create everything Genesis 1 itemizes along with much more that isn't itemized (seaweed, angels, bacteria, planets, etc.).

    Also, do you consider providence to be supernatural? If God causes something to happen that is unthinkably unlikely but not flat-out impossible, is that still a natural act or a supernatural act? That's one thing I grappled with back when I thought abiogenesis and even evolution were hopelessly unlikely. I still had to admit that if God wanted it to happen, the odds weren't going to be an impediment. As such, the odds argument didn't seem like a good reason to dispute evolution as long as God was sustaining it, and most of the other reasons for disputing it I had already been forced to deal with when I came to accept the age of the earth and the universe.

    If God did intervene to jump-start life, or to alter life at any other juncture, that wouldn't bother me. But, I expect that it wasn't necessary for God to do so due to the way he designed the universe. When scientists study our universe, everything seems to be tweaked just right so that life is possible. I think that's God's doing. God made this place suitable for us and continues to sustain it, and I think this is one of the most compelling evidences of his benevolence. Certainly there are other miracles where God intervened in nature for other purposes, but I'm just referring to creation -- how the world we see came to be.

    I think humanity's physical body evolved, and it was God's purpose for this to happen. I think God made the universe in such a way that something like us would come about, and I think God somehow raised those bodies into beings that reflect God's image (which I don't think is a physical image). As for the details, I don't expect to know this side of eternity.

    But this side tangent was discussing evolutionary theory which is not about the creation of the universe. I know some people like to combine all bits of science they dispute and label it "evolution", but when I was using the word, I was specifically referring to biological evolution. It is about how life adapts and speciates -- something that, if the dates are correct, didn't start happening until billions of years after the creation of the universe. This we can observe. Darwin's finches are just the most well-known of many observations that led to the theory.

    I mainly agree. (I'm not sure that animals are entirely incapable of communion with God, but it is not the same type of communion we are capable of. Perhaps when "God is all in all" their communion will become more apparent.)

    We are unlike any other animal. However, from a purely physical standpoint, we are still an animal -- a mammal to be slightly more precise. I don't see why that should be objectionable. Certainly it's not more objectionable than being dust, which is also true.

    Anyone who uses such a fact as an excuse to act as no more than an animal is obviously rejecting the other side of the equation: we are also sons and daughters of God. That's one thing I really like about the first two chapters of Genesis: in the first we are made in God's image to be his regent to govern the earth, while in the second we are made from dust to work and take care of the earth. We're kings and gardeners, gods and dust. I believe both descriptions are true, and the only problem comes when we become too enamoured with one half of the image while losing sight of the other.

    No more than Jesus' deity drowned out his humanity. Our animal heritage remains -- animal testing works, after all.
     
  5. yeshua4me2

    yeshua4me2 New Member

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    merc still cant see where gen 1-3 is figurative, it is written in historic narrative(same as all Moses's books), by saying that it's figurative, leaves all of scriptural interp open to being figurative, if i think it's wrong, just make it figurative, and i can make it mean anything. the Gen account is a very poor figurative account for TE, as the order of creation is completely wrong.

    again the baleen whale found off the coast of california shows rapid geological (and yes i know how it's positioned, but the problem still remains for evolutionists, as it is still polystrate) formation of tiny dead marine animals, that supposedly took 100000 years to form.

    Evolution and it's varients are completely credulous, it took no time (searching tech lit, not creationist websites) to show that it is completely impossible for anything to EVOLVE (that is gain new highly specified information), all "proof" of evolution is the result of loss or reshuffeling of genetic info. RNAi is another good example of cells having machinery to prevent the very evolution you claim.

    what about bees? when did they evolve? according to the national acadamy of sciences 80 million years ago, but oops they're wrong again.

    http://gears.tucson.ars.ag.gov/nx/fossils/fossils.html

    check this out
     
  6. Mercury

    Mercury New Member

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    Yeshua4me2, I don't want to derail this thread any further than I've already done. In response to your first paragraph, I explained why I don't take the early chapters of Genesis as historic narrative in the thread [The New Testament and Genesis 1-11]. For even more detail about Genesis 1, check out [The genre of Genesis 1]. Perhaps we could discuss that further in one of those threads.

    As for the baleen whale and bees, you'll probably get a better response to such questions in the [Science] forum. I've purposely avoided trying to support my view on science in this thread and instead have focused on the theology. I welcome comments and critiques about what I've said in that regard.

    I think it's quite possible to confirm any presumption as long as one takes "no time" to research it. The fact remains that those who devote serious amounts of time to the study are virtually unanimous in their disagreement with your view.
     
  7. Marcia

    Marcia Active Member

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    When you say "evolve" what do you mean? You really didn't answer my question, which was, do you think man arose from or evolved from animals or was man created directly and fully in human form by God?
     
  8. Mercury

    Mercury New Member

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    By "evolve" I mean that humans share ancestry with other life. Man's physical body evolved. I don't think it is the shape or nature of our physical body that mirrors God's image.
     
  9. Marcia

    Marcia Active Member

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    I agree it is not our body that mirror's God's image since He is spirit.

    Mercury, I hate to keep asking but you won't give specific answers. What do you mean by "other life?" Do you think that man evolved from (non-human) animals? If so, then how did God create man in his image?
     
  10. Travelsong

    Travelsong Guest

    Read your first sentence, you answered your own question.
     
  11. Mercury

    Mercury New Member

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    Marcia, I'm really not sure how I can be more clear. By other life I mean all other living things on our planet. I think that plants, animals and humans share common descent if you go far enough back.

    As for your last question, as Travelsong said, you answered it in your first sentence. If we agree that God's image has to do with spirit, then differences in how we view the origins of human bodies will not affect that. Since you believe God can give a spirit to dust and a rib, why do you balk at the suggestion that God could give spirits to some primates?

    Also, while I've tried to answer every question you've asked, I've noticed that recently you've ignored most of mine. I find these discussions more useful when the participants both ask and answer, rather than a one-sided inquisition.

    [ August 04, 2005, 09:19 PM: Message edited by: Mercury ]
     
  12. David Ekstrom

    David Ekstrom New Member

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    I disagree with yeshua in his claim that Gen 1 is written in the genre of historic narrative. The tight symmetry, repetition and structure all betray a very high prose, if not poetry (and where does one draw the line between the two). Nahum Sarna in the JPS Genesis commentary points out that a literalistic interpretation of Gen 1 just doesn't work from a literary perspective. The form of Gen 1 by itself suggests a metaphorical interpretation.
     
  13. Marcia

    Marcia Active Member

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    Mercury, I'm unaware of questions you've asked that I did not answer. I do recall one question that I thought was more rhetorical and was a way of making your point so I did not respond to it. I've been really busy on 2 major projects with deadlines and have been mostly coming to the BB late at night to post here and there. So if I've missed a question, I'm sorry. I was not ignoring any question on purpose.

    I was trying to find out if you believe that man descended from animals -- apes or other animals. I guess you do. Even though being made in the image of God is not a matter of the body, I do not think that man can gradually descend from an animal and be in the image of God at the same time since animals are not in the image of God. I believe that man is made entirely separately from animals.

    I understand now why you don't like to make too big a distinction between man and animals. I, however, think there is a huge one. Although there are some common things physically (and since man and the higher animals are living organisms with minds, of course there are similarities) between man and animals, I think the difference is a huge gulf that cannot be bridged at all.

    It makes no sense to me that man is created in God's image and at the same "evolved" from an animal. And by animal, I mean an animal -- like a horse, ape, wolf, etc.
     
  14. David Ekstrom

    David Ekstrom New Member

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    Sure, if you want to speak of a description of a human beings physical body, it can be classified as a mammal. That is a description of what it is now. It says nothing of its origin.
    I agree that Gen 1 and 2 are metaphorical but they are metaphorical of something. To say that they are metaphorical does not mean that they are devoid of meaning.
    Moses goes out of his way in Gen 2 to depict man's creation as independent of the creation of the animals. In fact, that, and the marriage to Eve, seems to me to be the whole point of retelling the creation event again.
    While I find much of what Mercury says to be fascinating, I don't see how the Bible can be harmonized with the evolution of man from lower forms of life. I don't believe in blind faith. But, at least as far as my understanding of Scripture is at present, I have to take my stand that Adam and Eve were created independently of lower life forms.
    I wouldn't call Mercury's position heretical. If I understand him, he's saying that at a point in time, God did a special creative work and granted a human soul to two animals which became our forebears. He is advocating a literal Adam and Eve. To deny a literal Adam and Eve would be serious error. Our sin nature is attributed to Adam's fall. The basis of Christ as our Federal Head presupposes Adam as our Federal Head. The sanctity of marriage and the sanctity of life are posited upon a literal Adam and Eve. These are essential doctrines. Jesus endorsed a literal Adam and Eve.
     
  15. Marcia

    Marcia Active Member

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    David, I'm not sure whom you are addressing, but if it's me, I want to clarify that I never called Mercury's position heretical, so I don't know why you say that.

    From Mercury's postings, I do not think he is advocating a literal Adam and Eve, yet you say he is. It would be nice to hear from him on that.
     
  16. Mercury

    Mercury New Member

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    I was wondering about whether you considered God's providential acts to be "supernatural". But, it's not a big deal if you're busy.

    Yes, I thought that was clear from my first answer when I said that humanity's physical body evolved. ;) I think humans and other species of apes share a common ancestor in the past (as do other animals if you go further back).

    I don't follow your reasoning. If the image of God is not a matter of the body, then why would gradual changes in the body affect it?

    I believe humans are separate from animals. Humans share God's image while animals don't. That is a crucial difference. And, once again, this is not a physical image. Physically, we are very similar -- even taking Genesis 2 literally reveals that both were formed by God from the ground (Genesis 2:7,19).

    It has been my experience on this board that I make a far larger distinction between humans and animals than most YECs do. For instance, I do not believe that when Paul talks about death starting with Adam he is referring to animals as well as humans. In general, I've noticed that YECs often like to lump together animals and humans as nephesh chayyah creatures that are separate from plants and lower animals. They use this to claim that Adam's sin brought death to all nephesh chayyah (but not plants or simple animals) rather than Adam's sin bringing death to "all men" as Paul says.

    I agree with you that the bigger biblical distinction is between humans and all other life, not between nephesh chayyah and all other life. Humans have God's image and are morally accountable agents in a way that animals -- even other mammals -- are not. Anyway, you can see an example of this difference in the thread [Is animal death inherently evil].

    And on this we mainly agree. The only differences are that I believe the physical similarities are due to common descent, and the bridge to spiritual beings was accomplished by God, for whom nothing is impossible.

    I still don't understand why you see this as a logical problem. If God can raise dust to a being that shares his image, why is it impossible that there could be intermediate steps between dust and human?

    Obviously the dust didn't have God's image, and it still didn't have it after God sculpted the dust. I think the image came when God metaphorically "breathed into" Adam. I think the in-spiration (inbreathing) of Adam is metaphorical in the same way that Scripture's inspiration is: neither is about God having literal breath and transferring air, but rather God endowing his image, his spirit, or his word, into another vessel. I just don't see why that action should seem less possible to a purposely-created group of primates than to an inanimate sculpted mound of dust.
     
  17. Mercury

    Mercury New Member

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    You're right. This is another topic I was trying to steer clear of out of deference to the original topic, but I suppose I should explain in detail.

    Absolutely. Among other things, they speak to the creation of the universe, the relationships between God, humans and the rest of creation, and the goodness and orderliness of creation.

    I wouldn't go that far. The author goes out of his way to say that both humans and beasts were formed from the ground by God -- that's a huge similarity. When no helper is found for Adam, God first forms all the beasts, and it is only when no suitable companion is found that God forms Eve. There is both physical sameness and relational and spiritual difference between humans and animals.

    As for why creation is retold, I think the purpose is to reveal more details than are possible than in a single, literal story. Jesus used many stories to describe the kingdom of heaven. In Genesis, we have two stories about the creation of earth. The second reveals God's benevolence in creating in response to needs, while the first stresses God's transcendence and power. The second also shows God as imminent, even walking in the garden, while in the first God speaks creation into being from above. The second puts humans in their place as creatures of dust made to tend a garden, while the first explains how we are made in God's image to rule creation.

    Both pictures reveal the truth, but the truth is too big and occasionally too paradoxical to fit into a single literal, historical account.

    I don't think evolution really needs to have much to do with it. It is true that my interpretation does not conflict with science, but neither does it require all of science to be true or accepted. Many who hold the framework view on the Genesis creation accounts do not accept evolution. The kernel of the view goes back to Augustine who certainly had other reasons for holding to it than evolutionary theory.

    Let me be even more clear: even if I returned to my earlier opinion that the universe is 6,000 years old and all kinds of animals were separately created, I would still hold this interpretation, and it would not contradict with it. My view on Genesis does not require evolution or even old ages, although it is compatible with both.

    No. While I'm open to the possibility that Adam and Eve were literal individuals, I do not think it is the most likely possibility. I think we mainly agree on how we interpret Genesis 1, so I'm going to focus on Genesis 2:4-3:24.

    I think that Genesis 2-3 recounts the beginning of humanity in a way that focuses on theology and not history. For a more historical treatment, I'd suggest reading Romans 1:20-32 which gives a broad-brush overview of human history from creation to Fall to the present.

    In Genesis 2-3, there are a number of symbols that represent more than what they are. Perhaps the most obvious is the serpent. Traditionally, the serpent has been interpreted as a beast possessed by Satan. I think the serpent represents Satan, our accuser. Treating the serpent as representing Satan rather than being possessed by Satan allows for a plainer reading of the narrative.

    For instance, Genesis 3:1 says that the serpent was "more crafty than any other beast of the field". Why would that be relevant if the serpent was possessed by Satan? In that case, it would be Satan's craftiness that was at work in his dealings with Eve, not the serpent's. However, the representative view solves this. The serpent was crafty, which means that our adversary, the devil, is crafty.

    The second portion of the text that cannot be properly explained with the possession view is God's judgement. Notice that the buck stops with the serpent. Adam blames Eve who blames the serpent. The serpent doesn't blame its actions on Satan, nor does God perceive that the serpent was not personally nor fully guilty of deceiving Eve. The serpent itself is punished, and no punishment is meted out on any agent that possessed the serpent. Now, in the representative view, this is as it should be, because the serpent represents Satan, and so the serpent's punishment is really Satan's punishment, including the prophecy that some day the woman's seed will bruise his head. With the possession interpretation, Satan manages to pull off a con that even fools God, and the serpent becomes the witless scapegoat for what he did (perhaps due to Satan leaving the beast dumb before it could defend itself).

    There are other representations too. The tree of life represents God's sustaining power. It is not just a magical tree that God made. If that were the case, there would be no need to banish Adam and Eve from the garden to prevent them from eating from the tree. Surely God could remove the magic from the tree so that it no longer imparted immortality, or even destroy the tree. But, if the tree represents God's sustaining power, this makes sense. Being cast out of the garden and not being able to eat of the tree means being cut off from the fullest expression of God's sustaining power (although, of course, even our present lives still require God's sustenance in a more limited form).

    Similarly, I think the tree of the knowledge of good and evil represents experiential knowledge of good and evil. When humans decided to spurn God and serve their own desires, they "ate" from this tree -- the effects are graphically described in Romans 1:21-23 and following. And finally, I believe Adam and Eve represent the first humans, how ever many there were.

    Now, on to the usual objections.

    Why would God cloak the historical reality in this way?
    The same reason God has cloaked the physical details of heaven and hell, or all the details Jesus revealed to John in Revelation. Note how both Revelation and Genesis 1-3 share many similarities: they are the only places in the Bible where the tree of life is mentioned (not just a tree of life), and Revelation is the only book to connect Satan with the serpent. Revelation uses seven seals, seven trumpets and seven vials as a framework for revealing how God's decrees affect earth in the same way Genesis 1 uses the seven days (and in all, the seventh item is set off as special).

    Perhaps a better question is, What purpose would a detailed historical account of creation and early humanity serve? Everything we need to know is revealed for us, and God has given us the ability and the mandate to explore more about creation ourselves. God doesn't need to reveal these details any more than he needed to reveal the immense size of stars and the universe, the way the earth rotates the sun, the shape of the earth, the nature of DNA, or any other mystery that humans would one day unlock on their own (using their God-given abilities, of course).

    Doesn't this view do away with the Fall?
    No, but it makes the Fall something that happened to a community, not an individual or couple. Those familiar with the Old Testament will see how this is not at all uncommon in how God deals with people. The sins of the individual can influence the group. For instance, when Israel had a bad king, the whole country typically went bad.

    What about Original Sin?
    When humanity was able to know God (and this would be at the beginning of humanity, since I would say this is a characteristic of being human and sharing God's image), they instead chose to reject God. The result was all sorts of sinfulness that not only corrupted them, but also the world that has been subjected to their rule by God (Genesis 1:26-28; Romans 8:19-22).

    These original sins led to a corrupted environment for all future humans. In the story, Abel and Cain grew up in a much different environment than they would have if their parents hadn't sinned. The same holds true if Adam and Eve represent the first population of humans, and it holds true today as well. None of us are raised by perfect parents and we all see terrible actions around us, and probably many of our sins are due to imitating what we see or learning to accept it as natural. So, I don't think Original Sin is something we inherit (such as through genes), but rather its effects continue to be all around us.

    Jesus was affected by Original Sin the same way we are, since he too had its affects all around him. As such, we can truthfully say that he "had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people" (Hebrews 2:14-18). We "do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are -- yet was without sin" (Hebrews 4:15).

    What about Adam's headship?
    Adam represents the first humans, so we are still all in Adam. This also explains why Paul could sometimes refer to just Adam as a shorthand for referring to Adam and Eve. If they were literal individuals, this would be problematic, especially where it gets Eve off the hook for her involvement.

    Why did Jesus refer to Adam by name?
    The same reason he's referred to by name in Genesis. The same reason I still refer to Adam even though I don't believe he's a historical individual. If Adam represents the first humans, then it makes perfect sense to refer to the first humans by saying "Adam".

    What about the sanctity of marriage?
    I don't see how this affects it. Genesis 2 still outlines God's template for human relationships, even if it isn't a historical account of an actual couple. The historicity of the good Samaritan doesn't determine whether or not we should follow his example, and the same is true when it comes to the example of marriage.

    What about the sanctity of life?
    I don't see how this affects it. All of creation is still God's creation, and humans are still unique in our physical world in that they share the image of God.
     
  18. Marcia

    Marcia Active Member

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    I was wondering about whether you considered God's providential acts to be "supernatural". But, it's not a big deal if you're busy.
    </font>[/QUOTE]So it's just that one question I didn't answer? I thought you meant more. That was the question that seemed sort of rhetorical to me, but also, I was pondering it. I am not sure what you mean by "providential acts." If you tell me that, I will try to answer this. I like terms defined when they are terms that can be interpreted differently by different people. [​IMG]

    I don't follow your reasoning. If the image of God is not a matter of the body, then why would gradual changes in the body affect it?
    [/QUOTE]

    How can man gradually take on the image of God? I'm thinking of this in very practical terms. At what point did the man-evolving-from-an-animal take on that image of God? No matter what the answer is, it also means God did not form man in one act as indicated in the Bible.


    Just fyi, I've never identified myself with YECs nor made an argument for YEC.
    ;)


    I still don't understand why you see this as a logical problem. If God can raise dust to a being that shares his image, why is it impossible that there could be intermediate steps between dust and human?

    Obviously the dust didn't have God's image, and it still didn't have it after God sculpted the dust. I think the image came when God metaphorically "breathed into" Adam. I think the in-spiration (inbreathing) of Adam is metaphorical in the same way that Scripture's inspiration is: neither is about God having literal breath and transferring air, but rather God endowing his image, his spirit, or his word, into another vessel. I just don't see why that action should seem less possible to a purposely-created group of primates than to an inanimate sculpted mound of dust.
    </font>[/QUOTE]The main problem with the view of man gradually evolving is God's crystal clear account of God creating Adam and Eve as fully formed humans from the dust and from Adam's rib. I read it the way the text presents it (and yes, I've debated on the BB the various views of Gen. being metaphor, Near Eastern stylisitic tales, etc, all of which I reject for several reason I will not go into here [​IMG] ). Just as Christ atoned for sin "once and for all" in one act, I believe that God created man in one act and woman in one act. Why I am linking these I don't know, but as I type, I keep thinking of scripture on Christ being sacrificed once for all, then stitting down at the right hand of God (showing his act was complete). Somehow, I am seeing God's creation of Adam and Eve along the same lines of other God created crucial events in our history.

    And if God can create man from dust, why can't He create him fully developed as a human?
     
  19. Marcia

    Marcia Active Member

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    Mercury, I just read your latest post. Thanks for laying out your views so clearly. I actually agree with many things you say, and find them interesting. I also disagree with some things. For example, I agree with a lot of your interpretations of what happened in the Garden (I wrote a paper on the symbology of the serpent in the OT, btw, which is on my site) but I also believe the Garden, Adam and Eve, and trees were literal.

    I think that Paul mentions Adam as the one who sinned because of Adam's headship over Eve. It is not a denial of Eve's sin, but it's interesting that the NT also speaks of Eve being deceived and sinning (1 Tim 2.14) but Adam's sin bringing the fall (Rom. 5). I think this is because, based on the text, Adam had God's orders about the tree directly from God while Eve got them from Adam.

    Just an observation - while God reprimanded and punished the serpent, Adam, and Eve for what they did, God did not demand an accounting from the serpent, only from Adam and Eve.

    Anyway, thanks for your comments.
     
  20. Mercury

    Mercury New Member

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    Thanks Marcia. I am enjoying this discussion. If I come across as adversarial, it is only because I am trying to communicate clearly, not because I don't respect you or value your comments.

    Back to your earlier post:

    That's the one I most wanted an answer to. I also asked some questions about your opinion about God's involvement in Israel's punishment.

    From my post where I asked this question:
    By providential acts, I mean acts that are not flat-out impossible according to nature, but are unlikely. On the lower end, this would include things like God answering a prayer for rain or sun or healthy crops; on the higher end, it would include a highly improbable recovery from a serious illness, or arranging for a person to meet someone who tells them exactly what they need to hear. Can God work in ways that do not defy natural laws, no matter how closely the incident is analyzed, and is that working still supernatural?

    As to your last sentence, yes, it means God did not form man in one act. I think I've been clear on my view of that, and I'll give more detail below on how I line that up with the Bible. However, I thought you were objecting to my view on practical or logical grounds, not just because you disagree with my interpretation. Would you agree that, regardless of what you think of the validity of my interpretation, it is at least logically consistent?

    The reason I ask is that that your earlier questions, such as "How can man gradually take on the image of God?" seem to miss what I am saying. Neither of us believes that God's image is something physical that evolved, so there is no reason why my view would say it came about gradually. Humans received God's image when God gave it to them. I think the image is something both spiritual and relational. It came about when God initiated relationship with humans and allowed them to relate to him. That has nothing to do with how their physical bodies evolved, or if it has any connection, it is that God ensured they had a certain type of physical body before God endowed those bodies with his image. God's image is not physical. In a way that surpasses any mere human, Jesus is "the image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15). This is not a visible image, and neither is the image of God in humans generally.

    Neither have I called you a YEC. ;)

    I think we're getting somewhere now. This is the interpretational issue that I think was the unstated presumption at the heart of your other critiques of my view of the image of God.

    Anyway, I could also say that Genesis 1 is crystal clear that the first humans were created together by God's word with no mention of dust or ribs being used in the process. Genesis 2 is crystal clear that the serpent's distinction was that it was clever, not that it was possessed by Satan. You are assuming that the text is entirely literal history, and that it does not skip over or compress any details. If so, it would probably be the only time in the Bible that such an approach is used to speak of events that are not witnessed by humans who recorded them. We don't have that level of detail about Jesus' temptation (we don't even know the order), or about heaven or hell, or about the last days, Jesus' second coming, and the various judgements.

    The same way I claim that the clever serpent represents our conniving adversary, I also claim that Adam and Eve represent the first humans. Their formation from dust indicates their kinship with animals (who are also formed from dust) while the account also clearly sets them apart from the others when Adam finds no companion among them. Basically, the same approach you probably use with Genesis 3:15 is what I use with the entire account: I think it represents and compresses in story form events that are bigger than the plain, literal meaning.

    I like that linkage. I think it works quite well. The Bible also describes Christ's atonement in different ways. In Hebrews, Jesus is pictured as both High Priest and sacrifice -- contradictory images if taken literally, but they are still both true when understood as representations. In Revelation, Jesus' work is summarized as having obtained the keys of Death and Hades (Revelation 1:18). I treat those keys much the same way I treat the dust and the rib in Genesis 2. They are parts of metaphorical pictures of very real events. Also real but non-literal is the picture of Jesus as a slain Lamb (Revelation 5:6). When human witnesses describe Jesus' death, the result is a historical account, as each of the gospels shows. When Jesus himself describes it in a vision to John, he uses more evocative language. I think the style of writing in Genesis 2-3 has more in common with Revelation than with Luke.

    Here's another example. I don't think Death is an individual person any more than I think Adam is, but I acknowledge that Death and Adam are both treated as persons in certain places in the Bible (Hosea 13:14; 1 Corinthians 15:26,54-55; James 1:15). In Revelation, Death rides a pale horse followed by Hades (Revelation 6:8), but both are ultimately thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14) to be tormented along with all its other inhabitants. I think focusing on Adam's creation from dust as needing to be literal is mistaken just as focusing on Death as riding a literal pale horse is missing the point. Just as the power of death can be personified as Death, so too the first humans can be represented by Adam. This doesn't make Genesis 2-3 untrue any more than it makes Revelation untrue.
     
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