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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. Mercury

    Mercury New Member

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    It is clear that Psalm 104 is poetry and Genesis 2-3 is prose (and Genesis 1 falls somewhere in between). But poetry can recount history, and prose can tell a non-historical story (Jesus' parables are all prose, for instance). When Psalm 104:14 says that "You cause the grass to grow for the livestock / and plants for man to cultivate", this is a statement written in poetry, but that's no reason to write it off or treat it less seriously than a description written in prose. Too often, "it's clearly poetic" is used as an excuse to not deal with a text, rather than as a first step in understanding what a text means.

    Genesis 1 describes God creating over six days. Genesis 2 describes the day of God's creation with a focus on humanity. Psalm 104 describes God's creation as still happening in the present. Some things are past (verses 5-9, 19, 26) but in the present God creates springs, provides drink and food to creatures, causes grass and other plants to grow, makes darkness, takes away the breath of life, and sends his Spirit to create creatures and renew the earth.

    What do you think Psalm 104:10-30 means in relation to God's present involvement in the world? It is clearly poetic, but does it mean something?

    From what I can tell, it is only by interpreting the first chapters of Genesis in a way that contradicts Psalm 104 that one can make a biblical case against modern science. Genesis 1:11-13, 2:8-9, and Psalm 104:14 all describe God creating plant life. Genesis 1 places this event in the third day of creation; Genesis 2 does not mention it's duration but has it happening after the creation of man; Psalm 104 describes it as a continual action that is still happening today. How do you fit those together? Do you treat Psalm 104 as mere poetry, Genesis 2 as non-sequential, and Genesis 1 as the absolute, historical truth?

    I think they're all true and they all describe the same thing different ways. Genesis 1 outlines the totality of God's creative work in a framework of six days. The work within it happened, is happening, and will continue to happen until God wraps up the universe. Stars continue to form in nebulae today, and living creatures are also made by God today. Genesis 2 narrows the scope and focuses more on relationships. All creatures and plants have a relationship with the ground from which they are taken. They are all formed and given life by the same Creator. Humans are shown to need different companionship between man and woman, and are also given a relationship with God himself. Psalm 104 proclaims that God's creative and sustaining work continues, and that creation remains good and God remains benevolent.

    Agreed, but do you also agree that it is a prayer that God answers, even if there's physical explanations for how our daily bread gets to us? God does provide our daily bread, even if we work for it. God did create all the beasts, even if their variety came about through natural processes. If natural processes are created and sustained by God, then they do not rule out God's involvement, but rather show partly how God worked.

    Because humans are the focus of the account? In any case, when God endowed his image in humans that was separate from making the beasts! Humans were created the same way, but separated by God for a different purpose. If you think that God breathing into man the breath of life is a difference between man and beast, then how do you think beasts received the breath of life?

    The account shows humans being separate but similar to the beasts. They are formed from the same material by the same Creator, but humans are set apart. A question for you: Isn't it misleading for God to make it sound like humans and beasts (and plants) are physically made of the same stuff if they are entirely separate?

    Nor would one expect him to if the account is not historical. You are expecting the text to reveal history and science; I expect it to reveal God and his relationship with creation and humanity.

    I'm sure that if God intended to reveal the historical details of the universe's creation, he could do so quite clearly. Similarly, if God intended to reveal the future details clearly, he could have done so in a method far different than the vision given to John recorded in Revelation. But, in neither case do I believe that was God's purpose.

    [ August 20, 2005, 03:41 AM: Message edited by: Mercury ]
     
  2. Marcia

    Marcia Active Member

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    I think it means that God provides for his creatures. But here's the difference between using that as an analogy with the Gen. account of creation:
    What Ps 104 is saying does not contradict anything we see or that I believe, whereas what you are proposing, that man came from beasts, is a contradiction to the Gen account.

    So it still does not hold up as an analogy at all. Animals having food to eat and water to drink is verified by what we see and by Ps. 104, but man coming from a beast is not what Genesis is telling us.

    I disagree that God is still creating in Ps. 104. I think it is a poetic description of how God provides through the growing of the plants, rain falling, etc. It does not mean God is creating the way he created the universe at the beginning. Some might see it as the way God holds the world together or something; I just see it as the effects of creation. I think Gen 1 and 2 are accounts of the same act but Gen 2 is telling it another way.

    Yes, God provides our bread if we work for it. But there is not a contradiction in how God provides for us and what scriptures say, but there is a contradiction in what you say and what the Gen. account tells us.

    I don't know how beasts received the breath of life because God doesn't tell us. God could have given them life the same way he gave life to plants. However, I find it very significant that the statement that God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life" is said only about man and not animals, despite the fact that other passages in the Bible say all flesh has "the breath of life." I think it is more than just an emphasis on man, but shows a gulf between man and animals, meaning that man could not have come from an animal.

    No, because Gen. 1 makes it clear that the creation of man is special and separate from animals. Even if Gen. 2 has man and animals made "from the ground," Gen. 1 has God making a statement about man in verse 26 that sets man apart from the creation of other creatures.

    I don't think it's a matter of details, but rather a matter of reading the text for what it plainly says.
     
  3. Mercury

    Mercury New Member

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    I think it does hold up. It is not verified by what we see that animals receive food directly from God's hand. Neither is it verified by what we see that beasts were formed directly from the ground. Both are descriptions that show God's involvement in physical processes.

    I'm surprised that we disagree on this. God is obviously creating in Psalm 104. The early verses describe setting the earth on its foundations, covering it with the deep (something that even Genesis 1 doesn't describe the creation of -- it already exists by Genesis 1:2), making springs, vegetation, creatures. It says that God planted the cedars of Lebanon, just as Genesis 2 says God planted the garden of Eden. Overall, it reaffirms God's hand in creating nearly everything Genesis 1 describes, but unlike Genesis 1, it doesn't set creation within a framework of six days.

    Yes, that's what I think too. Psalm 104 tells it yet another way.

    The contradiction only appears if you force Genesis 2 to be more literal than a phrase like "give us our daily bread". By your standard for Genesis 2, the Lord's Prayer is incorrect. By your standard for the Lord's Prayer, Genesis 2 is not inconsistent with modern science.

    Is it also significant that it's said about Adam and not about Eve? I think you're making too much of what the text doesn't repeat. This detail isn't mentioned again because more detail is given about Adam's formation than about the formation of the beasts. What details are provided in both cases are identical.

    Why would the gulf between man and beasts be in God breathing into us something (the breath of life) that beasts also have? I don't follow your reasoning here.

    Since we agree that humans are set apart, I'm not sure what your disagreement is. This does not rule out shared ancestry. After all, we both agree that both share an "ancestry" with the ground, so the question is only whether there's a further biological ancestry.

    Would you agree that Genesis 2 plainly says that God made man at a time before plants and shrubs of the field were in the earth, and that after the creation of man, God planted a garden and made all kinds of trees, and after that God made all the beasts of the field and birds of the air, and after that God made Eve?

    If not, then I don't think you're reading Genesis 2 plainly.
     
  4. Marcia

    Marcia Active Member

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    Mercury, as I said, I think you fail to show a valid analogy between a narrative account of creation, the poetry of Ps 104 and a prayer. They are not even in the same category, imo.

    Ps 104 does not contradict the Gen account of creation; it is a poetic praise of God as creator and sustainer. It differs vastly from Gen.

    To bring the Lord's prayer into it just does not make sense to me. It is literal that God provides my daily bread -- there is nothing not literal about it. He just provides it indirectly. How you can use this to say Gen 2 is metaphor, I don't understand.

    As for breathing the breath of life into the nostrils of man and not into beast, the significance is that this is said about man and not about beasts. I don't think that is just a mere detail.

    I think Gen. 2 is a non-chronological summary of creation with the focus on man and God's commandment about the tree they were not supposed to eat from. It does not include the creation of several things, such as the heavenly bodies, that Gen. 1 does. I think it's written to make a point about man since the account centers around man. Some of the gospels are not chronological either.

    I still see no reading of Gen 1 or 2 that even gives a hint that man comes from animals. It's neither a conclusion nor inference -- it has to be imposed on the text.
     
  5. Mercury

    Mercury New Member

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    I realize you put them in different categories. According to genre, they are indeed different. What they share is that they all relate God's involvement in matters that have a different natural explanation.

    Again, I think you are using "poetic" to disregard this Psalm, rather than to help understand it. From what I can tell, you read "And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed" (Genesis 2:8) and take that to refer to God supernaturally creating this garden. You read "The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted" (Psalm 104:16) and you treat this as "poetic praise" that does not in any way indicate that God supernaturally planted these trees. To me, this is inconsistent.

    There are many similarities between Psalm 104 and the first chapters of Genesis, and I don't think it works to ignore them all because Psalm 104 is written in Hebrew couplets.

    Incorrect. When I ask God to provide my daily bread, I am asking for much more than literal bread. (I eat more than bread, and I think this petition is about more than food.)

    Is it also significant that only Adam and not Eve is breathed into by God? Of course they both have the breath of life, but then so do the beasts.

    Genesis 2 doesn't work as a non-chronological summary. The order is based on purpose. When there is no man to work the ground for the plants, what does God do? He forms the man. Then, he plants a garden and makes all the trees. There is a logical order to these events. It would not be logical if the order of these events was mixed up to match Genesis 1.

    The same thing occurs with the creation of Eve. God says it isn't good for the man to be alone so he will make a helper (verse 18). God forms all the beasts and birds and brings them to Adam to name (verse 19 -- keep in mind that in Hebrew culture naming something indicates its purpose or function). Adam names the beasts, but doesn't give any of them a name that indicates they are fit for him (verse 20). So God puts Adam in a sleep, takes some of his bone and flesh and forms the woman (verses 21-22). Adam says that the woman is suitable (verse 23).

    If you make this non-chronological, it guts the account of its logical structure. I cannot see why you would be willing to dismiss the very clear chronology present in this account, except for the reason of forcing Genesis 1's order onto it. If it was God's purpose to have two accounts that showed the same chronological order, do you really think his inspired author(s) would get it so wrong in the space of two back-to-back chapters of Scripture? Why would we have to do a whole bunch of exegetical gymnastics to fit them together? The plainly evident differences in order are a neon sign that the purpose here is not to reveal historical details.

    I'm not looking for hints that man comes from animals in Genesis 2. Neither am I looking for hints that the earth is round, that the stars are massive, or that the earth rotates the sun in Genesis 1. Do you agree that these things are not present in Genesis 1? If so, why do you look for other scientific details in Genesis 2?
     
  6. Marcia

    Marcia Active Member

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    Mercury,
    I agree that Ps 104 talks about creation, but I do not think the purpose of it is to give an account of creation the way that it is given in Genesis. After all, Genesis was given to Moses (as I believe) and was the first account of creation God's people had. Ps 104 celebrates God as creator. While it has some similarities to the Gen. account, it has noticeable differences, such as no account of the creation of man, no account of the tree of life, etc. As a former Lit major, I find them startingly different in the way they are written, the way the subject matter is presented, and some of the noticeable differences in subject matter.

    When I talked about getting our daily bread, I was assuming bread to mean food, which I think was the idea behind the word. I still see it as literal in the sense that God does provides the bread, however indirectly. I thought we were talking about God's provision of food here, and not the bread. But now we've gone far beyond your original analogy to Gen. 1 and 2, which I still fail to see.

    Eve was created out of Adam and so the properties of Adam would be Eve's. She apparently did not need the breath of life breathed into her the way Adam did. I think this continues for children who are born as well. It still remains a fact that God tells us he breathes life into Adam and does not say this about the animals, which I maintain is significant.

    I disagree with you about Gen. 2. I still see it as a summary/overview of Gen. 1 with added details about the tree and other things. It is clearly a set-up for the action in Gen. 3.

    As far as your last statement:
    The earth being round, the stars being massive, and the earth rotating the sun do not conflict with anything in Gen. 1; however, saying man comes from animals does conflict with Gen. 1 (and Gen 2). So it's not a matter of looking for scientific details, but having evidence to back up an incredible claim (man coming from animals) that not only conflicts with Genesis, but is also compatible with many non-Christian views of man.

    I realize the latter point is not a refutation of the view that man comes from animals, but I am familiar with Neopaganism which makes nature (and animals) the model for man, and Satanism which teaches that man is merely a 4 legged animal (though the enlightened few become gods by making themselves the sole authority). Both of these views denigrate man and thus, the image of God, which I believe is the agenda behind those beliefs. I think God created man separately from animals and I think Genesis backs me up on that.
     
  7. David Ekstrom

    David Ekstrom New Member

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    Mercury, you're more than good enough to handle two of us, so I don't mind joining in the fray again.
    First, my bad. "Mere metaphor" was a poor thing to say. I find it unfair when people try to dismiss my interpretations that way, and then I did it to you. Sorry.
    I agree with much of what Marcia says. The "breath of life" specifically and solely mentioned of the creation of man seems to be significant. I also agree that the text seems to go out of its way to portray the creation of man as a distinct act. This does not seem to be consistent with your view. The text would be misleading, metaphorical or not.
    I also agree with Marcia that Gen. 2 is ahistorical. I think the text uses flashback.
    I agree with you that "science" shouldn't be expected in the text. Truth is truth is truth, whether it be scientific truth or biblically revealed truth. I agree with you that the text doesn't give a hoot or a holler about "science." It is a sacred text portraying the truth that we owe our existence to God. Therefore, a metaphorical account of our creation would serve quite well. I've already stated that I believe Gen 1 to be entirely metaphorical.
    I don't reject your view because I hold an antiscience bias. On the contrary, I think your view is commendable because it can incorporate some pretty impressive evidence about Early Man. I reject your view because I'm convinced that important theological conclusions are made in the rest of the Bible that are inconsistent with your view. Original Sin is one of them.
    I still want to hold your feet to the fire re: Bill Jones. Jones' being a sinner is contingent upon his free will choice of sinning. He has no fallen nature and therefore, there is nothing that compels him to sin. He is not born in sin. Adam's sin is not imputed to him. While you say in actuality, he probably will succumb to the environment, there is nothing in your argument that guarantees that he will. Using Christ as an example of someone who by His own human nature did not sin is off the mark. You seem to concede by this that Bill Jones just might pull it off; after all, Christ did.
    Christ is the Eternal Word Who became Man through the virgin birth. Millard Erickson points out that Christ was more truly Man than we are because we are so badly damaged by the Fall. Sin is not an essential attribute of Humanity. It is rather an acquired attribute to those born by natural generation. For Christ to become Man, He did not need to inherit sin. In fact, had He done so, He would be, like us, severly damaged Man. He is said to be the Second Adam, not a child of Adam. In other words, He replaces Adam.
     
  8. Mercury

    Mercury New Member

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    I don't know for sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if what you believe is the purpose of Psalm 104 is also what I believe is the purpose of Genesis 1-2. I am glad we agree that a portion of inspired Scripture can talk about creation without its purpose necessarily being to reveal historical details.

    We have reached different conclusions both about Moses' role (I do not think he wrote the Genesis accounts from scratch) and about the number of creation accounts in Genesis (I believe that Genesis 2:4 divides two different creation accounts). No doubt our conclusions on these matters colour our interpretation of the account(s) as well.

    As a former Lit major, don't you also see a startling difference between Genesis 1:1-2:3 and Genesis 2:4-25? Aside from the differing sequences of events, they describe the creation of humans differently, and one has no account of the creation of special trees. There are differences in the way these two accounts are written, the way the subject matter is presented, and some noticeable differences in the subject matter.

    I think you're contradicting yourself here. Earlier, you thought it was significant that even though beasts and Adam both have the breath of life, in the case of Adam the account specifically says that God breathed into Adam the breath of life. I pointed out that it doesn't say that about Eve. Now you're suggesting that Eve's breath is derived from what God breathed into Adam. But, the whole point was not whether Eve had the breath of life (after all, the account says beasts have it to!) but whether or not the account specifically states that God breathed into her. It doesn't, just as it doesn't state that about the beasts. So, I don't think your argument from silences in the text is going to get you where you want to go.

    The same silence exists for the beasts and for Eve, but it is also obvious that Adam, Eve and the beasts all have the breath of life. The problem is that you are trying to make the breath of life mean something more than what makes a creature alive in Adam's case, and the text doesn't support that idea.

    I think we're getting somewhere here. From your perspective, would you also say that the electromagnetic explanation of lightning contradicts Jeremiah 10:13? (The context is speaking of lightning in general, not just special lightning that signifies God's presence.) To someone unfamiliar with modern science, it would indeed be an incredible claim to say that lightning was made by a natural process and not by God or a god's power. And, the Bible does say that lightning is made by God, and it does not in any way mention electromagnetism (just as Genesis 2 speaks of how man was made by God without mentioning common descent with the beasts). The only reason to accept electromagnetism over the literal biblical explanation for lightning is due to studying creation itself. The only reason to accept common descent over one of the literal biblical explanations for human origins is due to studying creation itself. And, just as common descent is compatible with many non-Christian views of man, electromagnetism is also compatible with many non-Christian views of lightning.

    Since neither of those beliefs teach that humans were set apart by God and endowed with his image, I don't see how that applies to what I've been suggesting. For a few pages now I've gone on about how man is not just a beast any more than he is just dirt, and how the image of God is not about the physical characteristics of the human body. You've frequently agreed with this and then posted something (like the above quote) that does not seem to jibe with your agreement.
     
  9. David Ekstrom

    David Ekstrom New Member

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    BTW, I do concede that my view is very problematic with respect to some very impressive evidence re: Early Man. I can't see how to coincide my view with what seems to be evidence of the biological evolution of humans. This is a serious flaw with my view. The heavens declare God's glory. By examining creation, we should see consistent evidence with the accounts in the Bible. We shouldn't expect a holy book like the Bible to be a science book, but there should be congruency. Mercury is to be commended in that he is trying to find that congruency.
     
  10. Mercury

    Mercury New Member

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    Well thanks, and I'm glad you're back in the fray. [​IMG]

    I guess it's two against one on that count, and as I pointed out earlier, it used to be three against nil, since this is something I changed my view on due to the course of this thread. Now, I can't see it any other way. It's clearly stated that Adam, Eve, the beasts and the birds all have the breath of life. It's obvious that they got this from God, even though it's only emphatically stated for Adam. I don't see why we should make the breath of life into anything more than the breath of life, since it's something shared between humans and beasts. Based on this, why attribute special significance to the fact that we are only told how Adam receives this breath?

    If we agree that the focus of Genesis 2 is on the creation of humanity, then why is it surprising that it gives more detail to the creation of Adam than to the creation of the beasts? That's why, to me, it isn't compelling to point out that man's creation gets a detailed verse while the creation of all the other beasts and birds are lumped together in a single verse with less detail. It's a matter of priorities within the account, not of revealing a scientific demarcation.

    I don't think Marcia would say it's ahistorical, but rather that it's not sequential. She may agree that it is a flashback; indeed that would make more sense coming from her than from you. What is it flashing back to, since you (like me) don't hold that Genesis 1 is historical? Could you explain a bit more about your take on Genesis 2? I don't see why you are so willing to dismiss its order but so unwilling to treat other details as metaphorical. Why is the order given in Genesis 2 problematic to you?

    I appreciate that, but let me clarify that my view on Genesis does not determine my view on science. I believe Genesis 2 is ahistorical and also that common descent describes life's variety. Even if I became convinced that common descent was wrong and that humans have no physical connection with other living things, I would not need to change my view on Genesis 2. It is fully compatible with that, too. I don't see common descent in the text, but rather feel that the text, properly interpreted, does not rule out common descent any more than texts that speak of God releasing snow and hail from storehouses rule out modern meteorology, or Genesis 30 rules out modern genetics. What my view on Genesis 2 does is allow me to examine creation itself to determine the physical details about how things happened.

    As you may have heard me say before, I don't think God's purpose in inspiring Scripture is to reveal things we have the God-given ability to eventually discover on our own. I don't think the Bible reveals the shape of the earth, the orbit of the earth, the size of the stars, the existence of the brain, the natural source of lightning and precipitation, the existence of the genetic code, the smallest seed, the process of germination (hint: the seed doesn't die), the number of legs on certain insects, or myriad other issues. In these matters, inspired authors spoke using the science they were familiar with. I do not consider it an error that they did so, or even that Jesus did so. God could have revealed that we think with our brain and not with our heart or kidneys, but what purpose would that serve? God knows all these mysteries and many more, and I think he's reveling in watching us discover the answers to some of them. He never intended to ruin the surprise! ;)

    If I understand you correctly, your view is that we sin because we are sinners, and we are sinners even before we sin. So, it is possible for fetuses or babies to die before they personally sin, yet they remain sinners due to the defect they inherit from Adam.

    So, let's compare the hypothetical Bill Jones living under my view to a hypothetical, um, Bob Jones living under your view. Do you think that Bob will immediately sin when he is conceived? Do you think Bob will be compelled to sin at every opportunity he has to sin (for example, if he is presented with an opportunity to murder someone, he will not be able to restrain himself from committing the murder)? If not, then couldn't he also theoretically live for a while before he sinned his first sin, just as Bill could? And if a little while, then couldn't it theoretically be an even longer while?

    So, how is your scenario any different than mine regarding the plausibility of someone living for a while without sin? We both believe that every person but Jesus will eventually sin on their own, because that's what the Bible says (though perhaps we should limit that to those who live long enough to be accountable for their actions). Am I missing something here?

    Again, what you are saying is that Jesus became like Adam, and not like us. I am saying that Jesus became like Adam and like us, because I do not see a significant difference between the two when it comes to our nature. The difference is that we live in a world corrupted by sin while Adam's world was pristine. I'd like to hear your response to these passages that I've mentioned a few times:

    "Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." (Hebrews 2:14-18)

    "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews 4:15)

    Now, according to your view, we sin because we are sinners. In that case, how could Jesus sympathize with our weaknesses if what causes us to sin is that we are sinners, something Jesus didn't share? How could Jesus suffer and be tempted like we are, if it is our sin nature that makes us unable to resist temptation?

    Imagine a plastic container that wants to know what it's like to be a tin can. In particular, it wants to understand the pull of magnetism. So, the plastic container makes itself like a tin can in every way -- in shape, in size, even in what's written on its label -- but it still remains plastic. Would this plastic container really know what it's like to be a tin can that feels the pull of magnetism? No, of course not! It's the same thing with a Saviour who is made like us in every way, except for the thing that compels us to sin. How could such a Saviour be our merciful and faithful high priest?
     
  11. ituttut

    ituttut New Member

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    The most interesting an authoritative book I have ever read on the subject is "B", by HS.
     
  12. Plain Old Bill

    Plain Old Bill New Member

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    I agree with you on that. the Bible is the final authority.I believe it word for word. The point of referencing the book by Lee Stroebel"The Case for a Creator", was to point out that many very highly regarded scientist don't think we are just an accident and reject dawinial thought.
     
  13. Marcia

    Marcia Active Member

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    Well, Mercury, I was going to post something to the effect that I need to stop this late night BB posting on this thread! [​IMG] But I want to respond to just a few points, heh-heh. :D

    The differences in Gen 1 and 2 do not disturb me because I do not see them as a conflict. Also, I think Gen. 2 differes in that it is cleary a setup for the action in Gen. 3.

    But Eve was made from man who had been given the breath of life. The animals were not made from man; they have no connection to the breath of life given to Adam the way Eve does, or even that I do. I have it because I am a descendant of Adam. The breath of life for Adam was given directly by God. The fact that that is told to us and that no similar statement is made about the animals is significant.

    First of all, I do not think there is any substantive evidence that man comes from animals. So that is not the same as the evidence we have for the properties of lightning. The Gen. account of God's creation of man directly from the ground and not from animals would be wrong if man comes from animals.

    Since neither of those beliefs teach that humans were set apart by God and endowed with his image, I don't see how that applies to what I've been suggesting. For a few pages now I've gone on about how man is not just a beast any more than he is just dirt, and how the image of God is not about the physical characteristics of the human body. You've frequently agreed with this and then posted something (like the above quote) that does not seem to jibe with your agreement. </font>[/QUOTE]But the theory that man comes form animals does, imo, put man in the same category that Pagans and Satanists do. I think man being created apart from animals is highly significant. Even though the human body is not the image of God since God does not have a body, I think the human body is vastly different from the bodies of animals and I think God created it that way. I also think that they way the human body functions is perhaps a reflection of the image of God - not in the way it looks but in its function and connection to the brain. But I have not given this too much thought - only since this discussion began.
     
  14. Mercury

    Mercury New Member

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    I agree that Genesis 2:4ff is setting the scene for Genesis 3. In fact, I think they together form a single unit. And, the differences between Genesis 1 and 2 don't disturb me either, since they are the signal that showed me that my former way of reading the accounts -- literally so that they conflict -- was incorrect. If the plain reading of both accounts easily harmonized as literal history, I probably would have never looked deeper into them.

    A similar statement is made about animals. Psalm 104:29-30 explicitly says what is also implicit in Genesis 2: God provides and takes away the breath of life (called "breath" and "Spirit" in these verses) to all his creatures, not just humans.

    Only by taking one idea out of context can you make such an inflammatory claim. By the same measure, one could say that your belief in the theory that man comes from dirt puts man in a worse category than Pagans and Satanists do. Of course, what both this spurious claim and your own claim purposely overlook is that we believe that man is not merely a beast nor merely dirt, but a creature endowed with the image of God. Because of that, neither of our perspectives puts humans in at all the same category that Pagans and Satanists do.

    In that case, do you object to animal testing which is based on the assumption that one can study human bodies by studying beasts? Perhaps you could say that the Creator used parts of the same blueprint for both beasts and humans, but in that case you are suggesting an even greater similarity between beasts and humans than I, since it would mean that beasts have some human parts and humans have some "beastly" parts.

    Could you explain which human body functions you suppose are unique to humans?
     
  15. Mercury

    Mercury New Member

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    Indeed, and one of those scientists is Robin Collins, whom Strobel interviewed for the chapter on the finely-tuned nature of the universe. Collins is a theistic evolutionist, by the way, but Strobel is careful to not reveal that fact. He has to be careful since earlier in his book he agreed with an atheist that it is impossible to be an intellectually honest Christian evolutionist. How would it look if people knew that one of his key experts to reveal the "case for a Creator" was someone who atheists (and Strobel, apparently) feel couldn't possibly be intellectually honest?

    But don't just take my word for this; check it out. If you have the book, you can find Strobel agreeing with the atheist Provine about there not being "an intellectually honest Christian evolutionist position" on page 24. Robin Collins, whom he interviewed in the chapter "The Evidence of Physics: The Cosmos on a Razor's Edge", also contributed a chapter to Perspectives on an Evolving Creation called "Evolution and Original Sin". In it, he argues for a non-literal Adam "representing the first self-aware hominids" and an Original Sin concept very similar to what I've presented in this thread.

    [ August 23, 2005, 05:02 PM: Message edited by: Mercury ]
     
  16. Marcia

    Marcia Active Member

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    Yes, but that is not in the creation account. Nor does it get as specific as Gen. 2.7 where it says that God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life." I know you see Ps 104 as another creation account, but I do not, and it certainly was not the one given to Moses. I think the events in Gen 1 and 2 differ in style, format and meaning from Ps 104.

    Here is a note on Gen 2.7 regarding breathing life into the nostrils of man:
    I did not mean to be inflammatory, but I consider the view that man came from the body and mind of an animal to be in the same category as these pagan views. To endow an animal with the image of God so it becomes man is not what the text is saying. It is saying that God created man separately from animals. This is so clear from the text. I think being created apart and separately from animals is significant.

    I can just imagine a conversation with a Pagan: "I think man did descend from animals but God gave man his image at that point and so the animal became a man." If the Pagan knew the Gen. account (and a lot of them do because they have "Christian" backgrounds) they might ask me why would I believe this if it is clear in the account that man was created separately. I just can't go against that.

    It's funny to be answering this because I was an ardent animal rights activist for years and actually participated in demonstrations against all animal testing. I am still against it unless it's absolutely necessary. I think a lot of animal testing is unnecessary, but that's another issue. My understanding is that testing on animals does not always guarantee the same results for humans. But there is a certain similar chemical, biological component common to all life that makes the testing productive, apparently. Animals have organs like hearts, stomachs, brains, that may function in ways similar to humans, but this does not mean that men have beastly parts or vice-versa. I do not see how this similiarity means that man came from animals.

    This is what I've been thinking about (in between other things). One thing that comes to mind is the fine motor skills. I doubt any animal could make a watch or fix a computer's innards, or do electrial wiring or brain surgery or any surgery, even if you showed them how.

    I think physical love and intimacy between humans is different as well and involves physical touching in more complex ways than animals engage in.

    I will keep thinking. This is all I have now. But sorry, human bodies do not in any way look like animals to me - even the chimps and apes only resemble us physically in gross (by this, I mean in very general) ways. And they are the ones closest to us in appearance.
     
  17. Mercury

    Mercury New Member

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    It is in a creation account. Where in the Bible does it say that any creation account was given to Moses in a way different from how a psalmist was given the inspiration to write a psalm? You seem to be trying to set the early chapters of Genesis on a higher level than other parts of Scripture, and that is not warranted. You can argue that Psalm 104 uses more poetic language than other creation accounts, but it is still a creation account, and an inspired one at that.

    In fact, when it comes to showing how creatures become alive, it uses language that is less figurative than Genesis 2! Genesis 2 speaks of God breathing into the nostrils of a lump of ground. Either this is anthropomorphizing God who is spirit as a physical creature who breathes, or it is describing God taking on creaturely form prior to creating Adam. Even if the second is the case (which I think is highly unlikely), literal breath alone would have no life-giving effect on dirt. At best it would move the dirt around a bit. Something else beyond breathing took place here. And, Psalm 104 states what that is more directly: "When you send forth your Spirit, they are created". It is God's Spirit that gives life, not air currents from literal breath. And God's Spirit gives life to the earliest creatures as well as the creatures alive today.

    Genesis 1, Genesis 2 and Psalm 104 all differ in style, format and meaning.

    I get the feeling that you aren't really thinking through what I'm saying before you disagree with it. Consider your argument above. You're saying through this quote that when things are animated by God's breath, it leads to more than what applies to animals. What do you think would be the result when things are animated by God's Spirit? Don't you see how this argument cuts against your position? Why would you want to suggest that God's Spirit animates both human and beast, but God's breath is reserved for the first man and a few other special cases? Do you really think God's breath is more significant that God's Spirit?

    If you did a word study of these words, you'd see that they are often used interchangeably. As you know, Hebrew poetry is often made up of couplets that repeat the same thought using slightly different wording. In some cases, one line uses "spirit"/"Spirit" while the second line uses "breath", including the first of the two verses cited in your quote. You are trying to create a distinction that does not exist.

    As a rule of thumb, when you bring Satanists into an otherwise polite conversation, you are being inflammatory. Anyway, what do you mean by mind? Do you mean the biblical usage, or just a synonym for brain? Earlier we were talking about the physical body which includes the brain; this is the first you've mentioned the mind in this context.

    Yes, it was separate! We've always agreed on that! In Genesis 2 God is also described as making Eve separately from Adam. But, just as Adam is made of the same stuff as the beasts (the ground), so too Eve is made of the same stuff as Adam (his flesh and bone).

    Similarly you'd have trouble convincing a Catholic that the Lord's Supper is just symbolic of Jesus' body when it is clear to them from the gospels that the bread actually is Jesus' body. They just can't go against that, and can't fathom a symbolic reading of those passages, no matter how detailed your explanation. And, they often think that by refusing to see anything but a hyperliteral reading, they're being more spiritual and taking Scripture more seriously. It can be very difficult to get through to such people. ;)

    No it does not. For one thing, not just any animal will do. The best results come from animals very close to humans according to common descent, even if they aren't animals that externally seem the most similar to humans.

    What is interesting is how the similarities line up in a pattern that matches the predictions of common descent. If there were no common descent, the similarities could be quite random. Perhaps whales could have some organs exactly like what sharks have, and others exactly like what hippos have. Instead, every organ and virtually every biological characteristic of a whale is more similar to a hippo than to a shark. The similarities between organisms follow a distinct pattern that can be roughly described as a tree.

    Personally, when I watch a bee in a flower, it seems to have far finer motor skills than any person I know. Certainly we have far superior minds driving our motor skills, but that's a different issue.

    I'm not even going to touch that one. [​IMG]

    Not in any way? Obviously you don't mean that literally. [​IMG] If there is no similarity, why is it that even young-earth creationists can't decide which fossilized skeletons and skulls come from apes and which come from humans? Most of them draw an arbitrary line somewhere, but what is amusing is that they often [draw it in different places]!
     
  18. Mercury

    Mercury New Member

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    Marcia and David, have you noticed a little irony in our discussion about the breath of life? You two, who take Genesis 2 fairly literally (aside from the order of events), are arguing for a metaphorical or symbolic interpretation of God breathing into Adam. You think it means more than the explicitly stated result of the man becoming a living creature.

    I, on the other hand, am arguing that while the whole account is an ahistorical view of creation, within the account God giving Adam breath is just God giving Adam breath. Its total result is exactly what is stated: man becomes a living creature.

    I think this shows that our approach to the text isn't quite as different as we may all claim. We're all reading symbolism and metaphor into the account, and we all think the historical details go beyond what is stated in certain places. You both think there is more significance in Adam being inbreathed by God than is stated, and I think there's more significance in all creatures being made from the same material than is stated.

    Anyway, I thought the reversal of roles in this segment of the discussion was humorous and worth noting. [​IMG]
     
  19. Marcia

    Marcia Active Member

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    Mercury, we are never going to agree this side of heaven. ;)

    The reason I think it is significant for Adam to receive the breath of God is because the text makes it that way -- it does not say this about other creatures in the Gen. account. And even when you include the statements in Ps 104, it is different in the way it states it --- breathing into the nostrils of man the breath of life is only in Gen. I am going by where it is stated and how it is stated, and I still believe this is significant.

    I think that animals are the way they are because of how God created them. If a whale is more like a hippo, then that's because God made them that way. I don't draw evolutionary conclusions from that.

    No matter about all the breathing stuff and how much animals are like humans, the text still does not give any indication that man came from an animal.

    Thanks for the discussion. I will watch if you and David continue, but for now, I need to take a vacation from this thread! [​IMG]
     
  20. ituttut

    ituttut New Member

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    This does give validity to those that hold science high, and infallible. Christian faith, ituttut
     
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