May as well start at the beginning, right? Please read the above passages and let's have an open discussion on the themes presented. Genesis is a morality/creation story that's packed with rich mythology. Let's help each other to better understand the context and purpose to this epic tale!Below is a list of observations and questions geared at getting you to start thinking the DEEP questions. Let us know if we got your mind spinning! And if you come up with other questions based on this section of Scripture, ask! All attempts at an explanation are welcome, and new questions are encouraged. We wanna know what you think! And most importantly, we want YOU to know what you think. The more you ponder on your faith, the stronger it will become over time!
1) We know the garden was at Eden, but where was the Eden?Like many people, I cast my lot with the Fertile Crescent/Mesopotamia. 2) Why is the fruit of the Tree of Good and Evil commonly as an apple?I don't have a particularly good guess for this, but it was recently brought to my attention that apples originated in the Middle East more than 4000 years ago.--1) When was "the beginning"? Do you personally accept scientific evidence, such as the estimated age of the universe, based on the Big Bang Theory, or do you count back based on the given years stated in the Bible, such as adding the ages of the line of descent from Adam to Jesus and from his death until now?I don't know if I believe the Big Bang Theory per se but especially being a current Geology student I do believe that the evidence of the Earth being at least 4.6 billion years old is pretty irrefutable.4) Do you believe creation happened in six literal days, as a human experiences a day? Or do you believe God experiences time differently? If so, how long might the six "days" of Creation have taken?I have not completely formulated my opinion on this, but I have for awhile subscribed to the notion that God experiences time differently. 5) How do you personally reconcile the creation myth with current scientific data regarding the birth of the universe and Planet Earth? Is there any room for compromise? Are we reading the data wrong, or interpreting the Word wrong? Does one have to be wrong, or is there a way for both to be right?If you haven't already gathered, I'm not hugely religious but I do believe that science and religion can go hand-in-hand. Especially if you consider the "God experiences time differently" hypothesis and the fact that there are so many different translations of the Bible out there, it's very possible some things have just been lost in translation.6) Life is not specifically mentioned to have existed until the third day, when plants sprung up, and then again on the fifth day, when fish and fowl appeared. Do you believe this explicitly excludes the existence of microorganisms, like bacteria and plankton until that point, or could they have been there and simply not have been mentioned? And if mention was simply neglected, what could be the reason?I do not think this explicitly excludes microorganisms. They probably weren't mentioned. I think probably because the people who "wrote" the Bible did not really have a concept of microorganisms, esp. bacteria.8) On the sixth day, God makes Man and Woman, and tells them to "rule over" all living things that move upon the earth and fly in the sky and swim in the sea. HOWEVER, He only specifically states that "every plant yielding seed" and "every tree which has fruit yielding seed" shall be FOOD for man and woman, and that "every green plant" shall be food for the beasts of the earth, the birds of the sky, and every living thing that moves on earth (which may include man and woman). Do you think this might be evidence that man was originally intended to be vegetarian?Maybe, maybe not. You could make an argument for the basic food chain here. In addition to just man eats plant, there is man eats animal eats plant. Also our teeth (canines in addition to molars) and how we can biologically tolerate/crave protein, make it pretty unlikely that we were designed with strictly vegetarianism in mind.
#8: This is interesting if you consider our pre-homosapien forms, though, which WERE predominantly vegetarian (berries, etc with the occasional mollusk). Obviously, by the time of Cain and Abel, this idea of strictly-vegetarian man has been completely disregarded, but it does make me wonder. Or perhaps God created Adam and Eve with omnivorous traits KNOWING that they would fail at eventually be turned from Eden?
I have for a while subscribed to the notion that God experiences time differentlyThis, exactly. It bugs me that many scientific types try to refute religion by saying that the earth is as many billions of years old as you stated, so therefore the Bible is wrong and creation didn't happen the way it says. We don't know that. Okay, the earth itself is that old, but maybe what the Bible calls a day and a night is what we call a billion years. As for the vegetarian thing, I would postulate that initially, there was simply no need for man to consume meat because he had the whole garden available to him (and her), and it could very well be that there were plants there which supplied the protein we sometimes crave. Once we fell, and were turned out into the world beyond the garden, we lost that easy access to nutrients and had to change our diet.
*nod* I concur with the timescale argument, personally. Who's to say that God is limited to the sun rising and setting?And as for the plants providing adequate protein, this is also plausible. Plants contain amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. A vegetable, fruit, or grain by itself cannot contain a complete protein (only animals and certain legumes have those as part of their chemical make-up). However, the right COMBINATION of plants can make a complete protein. For example, rice + beans = a complete protein. Wheat (pasta) + tomatoes (sauce) = a complete protein.
1) God blessed the seventh (Sabbath) day as a day of rest. Technically, the seventh day of the week is SATURDAY (according to the calendar). Those of Jewish faith continue to use Saturday as their Holy Day. So why do Christians rest on Sunday?This is a good question and one that I'd frankly like to know the answer to. The only thing I can think of is the whole discrepency about when the week starts. Some calendars say Sunday is the first day of the week, others Monday. I guess it depends on how orthodox your thinking is, and whether or not you count Christians resting on Sunday as symbolically valid via the Monday-as-the-first-day calendar.7) What do you think of the Blame Game Adam and Eve play in Gen. 3:12-13, Adam accusing Eve and Eve accusing the serpent? Does it seem that anybody was taking due responsibility for their actions?No. And it makes me wonder if anything would have turned out differently had they each owned up to their wrongs.8) In Gen 3:22, when deciding to cast man out of Eden, God says,"Behold, the man has become like one of Us".... Who is "Us"?!... This question breaks my brain in the same way that "where did Seth's wife come from?" does.
#1: One possible interpretation for this I've heard is that Christians were trying to distinguish their faith's customs from the Jews'. I don't know if this is correct or not, but it sounds viable, especially given the unfortunate history of discrimination against them -- it would be very easy to know what faith your neighbor practices based on which day the use for resting. If someone can confirm or deny, I'd much appreciate it.#8: That one made me double-take and re-read SEVERAL times. The only two possible explanations I can think of -- provided it's not simply a GROSS mistranslation carried across at least two Bible editions that I've seen -- is that A)he's speaking to the angels and other heavenly host (which also hurts my brain, because the creation of the angels isn't mentioned anywhere in the creation myth, which is evidence of a pre-earth time frame where, for all we know, ANYTHING could have happened, including what scientists have labeled "The Big Bang"). or B) ... anybody else notice how God frequently mentions to observe and worship no god before Himself, yet (and please correct me if I'm wrong here -- I could be misremembering or failing to find the correct passage -- He never outright states that other deities do not exist? In fact, the implication seems to be that some, at least, DO exist, but are weaker/less worthy than the God Jehovah (I believe the original name was El, if I'm correctly remembering the Discovery Channel special on searching for the Arc of the Covenant). Again, this hurts my brain.
I think it's pretty obvious that there was a pre-earth timeline, because God had to exist at some point in order to start making everything else. (Which also makes my head hurt.) It could very well be that the author(s) of Genesis wrote nothing about the creation of angels because they simply could not conceive of it. They may have passed it off as something we were never meant to understand, which I can buy. It sure saves on Excedrin! ;)
"Time before Time". Which makes sense. I know we're not at this point yet, but later on, Jesus says something much to this effect, that in the very beginning, he was there with God, and then came the angels, and then came the world. And really, God and his heavenly host being immortal and, in God's case, omniscient and omnipresent, can it really be said that God has a concept of time, in the sense that humans do? And before the creation of matter, there was only empty void, presumably. If there's no activity, and nobody to perceive time, does time even happen?
First of all, let me ...start off by saying that I'm not a very religious person. I wasn't raised that way, so I really...don't understand a lot about the Bible, or any of the various faiths out there. What I hope to gain from reading this blog is a little perspective (and maybe some new insights!). I'd really like to learn– I apologize beforehand if my comments sound a little 'definite' or 'to the point'. This is not the way that I would like to come off at all and I will try to not give into my usual ways of speaking.(These are great questions, by the way. A lot of them made me think, even when I didn't understand the scripture/know exactly where it came from.)------1) When was "the beginning"? Do you personally accept scientific evidence, such as the estimated age of the universe, based on the Big Bang Theory, or do you count back based on the given years stated in the Bible, such as adding the ages of the line of descent from Adam to Jesus and from his death until now?I do accept scientific evidence, mostly because I personally find it rather compelling.On that note, the science isn't as simple as it seems (as simple as metaphysics can be, anyways XP)- it, like the Bible's interpretation of how the world/universe was created- can be rather complicated. There are several theories that expand beyond the Big Bang, but the one that I'm most familiar with is the 'Incredible Bulk' theory. This theory is sort of an expansion upon the Big Bang... in reality, it's actually sort of a 'background' for the theory. In the interest of sharing my belief, I'll explain it below as I understand it. The Incredible Bulk: This theory is based upon scientists' refusal to believe that the universe just 'popped' into existence with the Big Bang. The IB is a string theory that essentially details that the Universe is made up of several different dimensions and planes. The collisions of these planes create energy which gives rise to the universe that we know of. This created universe then begins to expand- but when it has expanded too far and too much empty space has been created, the 'planes' of the created universes then begin to draw back together again until a new collision occurs. This new collision starts the whole process over again. Supposedly, each collision is stretched out over several trillion years. I would go into more depth, but I honestly... don't understand a lot of the quantum metaphysics behind the entire theory. Interesting though, right? :-P5) How do you personally reconcile the creation myth with current scientific data regarding the birth of the universe and Planet Earth? Is there any room for compromise? Are we reading the data wrong, or interpreting the Word wrong? Does one have to be wrong, or is there a way for both to be right?
Actually... contrary to what most evolutionary scientists believe, I really don't think that accepting one theory means you have to completely disbelieve the other. Like skullduggery said, I don't think that reconcile is impossible. After all, science is pretty much the explanation of all we can see. I think it's a little naive to believe that there isn't anything that exists beyond what can be immediately observed and tested. The "science" of Psychology is good evidence of this– while there are "treatments" for mental illnesses, scientists don't have hardcore, direct evidence for why these treatments work as well as they do. To me, it makes it seem like there must be some unseen, unknown element going on below. And that is why I think the ideas inspired by faith cannot be discounted, and are not eliminated by the theories put forth by scientists.3)Consider the implications of Gen. 2:24-25:For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.Do you believe this is an indication that sexuality for human beings was intended to be a natural and open part of life? How did sex come to be associated with dirtiness, degradation, and sin? Why does this negative idea persist? Do you believe that Adam and Eve's sudden shame in their own nakedness is also a reflection of a change in their approach to sex and how they relate to each other?The Nietzsche buff in me tends to agree with the assertion that sexuality is a part of human life, and should not, does not, deserve to be condemned. Nietzsche makes the argument that the repression and condemning of sexuality began with Aristotle's theory of forms and beliefs that one should live "with their mind" as opposed to "through the body". The reason for this was because Aristotle (don't quote me on this if the explanation isn't 100% correct) doesn't believe in appearances – or rather, that he finds the evidence for things other than the mind existing "in the real reality" to be very weak. Aristotle's ideas, Nietzsche believes, spread to the various religions and eventually sexuality came to be believed to be as wrong and shameful as it is occasionally considered, today. The negative idea persists, probably, because it's...widely accepted. Lots of time people are born into cultures where these conceptions already exist, and so going against then is not only hard, but almost impossible. Humans usually prefer to go with the grain, rather than against it. That's one theory, at least.
Don't worry about being raised religious or not. I was made to wear a cross, own a Bible, and go to Sunday school in order to do my Communion, yet my religious education at home was severely lacking -- more a show than any actual belief. As a result, I shied away from Christianity for about half of my current lifespan. Without much detail, I had an experience that changed my mind about it, and so it's only been in the last year or so that I've truly considered myself religious. That's part of the reason this comm was begun: because I'm so far behind, I want to learn what I've been missing. So, anyone with a curious spirit is more than welcome here.As for the multiple theories on the universe as a singularity that then expanded, I wish to point out something a Muslim once told me which is incredibly interesting: apparently, in the Koran (which the Muslims consider to be the third book to what the Judeo-Christian tradition began), it says (and I'm paraphrasing, because I don't own a Koran) that in the beginning, God held all things in his hand, closed in a tight fist, and when he opened his hand, all the things that would be spread worth to fill the void. I find that passage incredibly enigmatic.
That's good... I am really curious.God held all things in his hand, closed in a tight fist, and when he opened his hand, all the things that would be spread worth to fill the void. I find that passage incredibly enigmatic.That is pretty interesting, actually. I'll have to find that passage for myself... or at least some kind of translation somewhere. I'd never heard that before now.
General Questions:1) We know the garden was at Eden, but where was the Eden?I saw a historical documentary mentioning it was somewhere near the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, which puts it somewhere around where Iraq is today. Sounds fair enough. ;)2) Why is the fruit of the Tree of Good and Evil commonly as an apple?I always guessed that someone started that idea, and everyone else just ran with it. I don't personally know if it based on anything solid.Genesis 1: "The Creation":1) When was "the beginning"? Do you personally accept scientific evidence, such as the estimated age of the universe, based on the Big Bang Theory, or do you count back based on the given years stated in the Bible, such as adding the ages of the line of descent from Adam to Jesus and from his death until now?I've never felt that science and the bible were in conflict with each other because I don't take a literal interpretation of the creation account. I'm much more inclined to believe the earth is very old, as science says. Counting down the ages from Jesus to Adam assumes all generations were the same length, people always lived roughly the same amount of years, and that the length of a day in creation is the same as days now.2) What existed before God created the world as we know it? The Bible implicitly states God created the Heavens and the earth, which had water but was formless and dark, and then He created light and separated night and day, all in the first day. However, He did not create the sun, moon, or stars until the fourth day. Therefore, what lit the primordial world? According to this passage, could there have been stars, planets, moons, galaxies, the universe, etc before the earth was made?It is possible there are different types of light beyond the sun. Today we have light bulbs that don't operate the same way the sun does. If Moses (who we are told wrote Genesis) were to have to explain the lights we have in houses today, I wonder how he'd do it. Anyway, the point I'm making is some people feel light existing and the sun being created after is a conflict. I don't feel it is even though I don't fully understand what the original "light" was. Also, was this original light only needed until the sun was created and then ceased to be afterwards? I never thought of there being other stars, suns and planets before creation. Not to say it is impossible, but there hasn't been enough written for me to be inclined to believe it in the Christian context.3) Does the exclusion of stars and other planets from the passage until the fourth day mean they didn't exist until after the earth, or could their creation have preceded or even been simultaneous to the earth's, and simply not have had an affect upon the earth until the fourth day? For example, let's say that the light of the stars not reached here until the fourth day, or the sky have been clouded, making the sun and stars indiscernible until that point in time. Does that seem plausible? Does a non-literal interpretation make you uncomfortable, or does it strengthen your faith?A non-literal interpretation doesn't make me uncomfortable but I wish there was stronger scriptural grounding for concepts like this since it seems like conjecture otherwise. Creation is a very hard thing to explain in a fully satisfying way in all religions and the beginning of the universe is just as hard to explain (in a satisfying way) in the scientific realm, IMHO. I guess I personally think about it up to a point, and then settle with the belief that we just don't have enough information to really know.(Getting close to the post limit... I'll have to finish the rest later)
4) Do you believe creation happened in six literal days, as a human experiences a day? Or do you believe God experiences time differently? If so, how long might the six "days" of Creation have taken?I consider days like an act in a play, or a chapter in a book. An undetermined amount of time where each "day" is not necessarily even the same amount of time as another day. Since God is outside of time I believe he experiences it very differently and in a way that is probably really hard for us to even conceive in our heads. Another interesting thought: a day as we define it is based on the earth rotating on its access one turn, and the sun shining on the earth giving us daylight and evening. So if the sun was created on the 4th day, we didn't even have a major component of what we use to determine "days" now. So how could a creation day be a 24-hour period?5) How do you personally reconcile the creation myth with current scientific data regarding the birth of the universe and Planet Earth? Is there any room for compromise? Are we reading the data wrong, or interpreting the Word wrong? Does one have to be wrong, or is there a way for both to be right?I think both can be right. There are a lot of scientists that are also Christian, or theist and say, "God got the ball rolling".6) Life is not specifically mentioned to have existed until the third day, when plants sprung up, and then again on the fifth day, when fish and fowl appeared. Do you believe this explicitly excludes the existence of microorganisms, like bacteria and plankton until that point, or could they have been there and simply not have been mentioned? And if mention was simply neglected, what could be the reason?I think even for those that believe the bible is inspired (essentially authored) by God, it was written down/orally passed down by humans and their limited understanding. So I take the belief that the human authors wouldn't have been able to put the concept of microorganisms into words. Also, I wonder if every detail is essential to broader understanding. And would it be possible to write down every detail of creation, or every detail in regards to God and human life for that matter?7) When it is said God made man in his own image, what does this mean? Is it strictly in reference to physicality? Can it refer to something OTHER than appearance? Can it refer to mentality? Spirituality? Creativity? Power? Will? Ability to affect change? What do YOU believe that comparison actually means?This is an interesting one. I always figured physicality but never really sat down and thought much about the rest. It also makes me think then how we might be different from other creations like angels. No guesses or theories at this point but definitely something to ponder!8) On the sixth day, God makes Man and Woman, and tells them to "rule over" all living things that move upon the earth and fly in the sky and swim in the sea. HOWEVER, He only specifically states that "every plant yielding seed" and "every tree which has fruit yielding seed" shall be FOOD for man and woman, and that "every green plant" shall be food for the beasts of the earth, the birds of the sky, and every living thing that moves on earth (which may include man and woman). Do you think this might be evidence that man was originally intended to be vegetarian?I've heard lots of ideas on this. My dad personally loves this idea because he's vegetarian. ;) If before the fall people (and their digestive systems) were perfect, and food was perfect then it would be very possible to get all the nutrition needed so the fall changed the whole picture. I would stretch to say that yes, man was originally intended to be vegetarian because to eat animals would mean killing and death which wasn't in the picture at that point (however this gets into the sticky issue of what would have happened if Adam and Eve, and the animals procreated before death was there to curb population.) Also, the issues brought up about the human body being capable for the digestion of meat. Did that only happen after the fall? Did the human body change? Ah, Genesis. For every answer there are a handful more questions.