Which is worse: Tyrannosaurus Rex? or Satan?

Omar Johnson watched my brother Bryan’s video “From Missionary to Almost-Atheist to Present Day” and posted this great comment:

I found Bryan’s (anti?) testimony both engaging and moving. I also have rejected my fundamentalist upbringing, but I will give the Ken Hams of the world this:

“Inerrant” Bible Christian apologetics only needs to deal with 6,000 years of creation, not 14 billion.

They get to postulate while “fallen” now, the world/universe was once perfect.

The Evolution 2.0 model makes sense to me, even as it also makes me wonder what was behind this information-embedding Creator, who or what encoded the meta-programming that resulted in a God capable of jump-starting and micro-managing evolution with barely a Sistine Chapel finger extension? Off track.

What I wanted to point out is that 14 billion years of the universe evolving, whether jump-started and cleverly managed by unfolding layers of information or not, is a pretty amoral place.

Now we have to somehow come to grips with insanely surreal amounts of dying and death, of individuals, species, whole ecosystems, possibly on other worlds as well as our own.

Way before Eve, and the Fall, the great Novelist was killing off his darlings left and right. I think scientists have at least tentatively identified over ten hominid precursors to Homo Sapiens.

Fundamentalist Christianity posits Original Sin, and looks forward to the Second Coming, Redemption, etc. That’s all that’s on their plate.

It’s nuts, but it’s internally consistent.

MY REPLY:

Omar, you just

nailed the REAL reason many Christians don’t accept evolution.

It’s NOT fossils or genes or Chimpanzees or molecules-to-man. It’s that they can’t stomach the idea that an all-powerful, all-perfect creator would make a world so savage.

Which is the exact same reason most atheists don’t believe in God!It’s not fossils or genes or Chimpanzees or molecules to man for them either.

It’s the cruel world we watch on the Discovery Channel.

I say: Neither side has taken the Genesis story seriously enough!

In Genesis, an evil, vile, crafty, jealous serpent is prowling around from the word go. And God doesn’t even explicitly warn our fair couple!

Picture a sexual predator on the loose… and all the daycare director tells the kids is ‘don’t talk to strangers.’

If you stop and think about it, why should anyone be more horrified about sharks and bacteria and Tyrannosaurus Rex than we are about… Satan?

I don’t think most Christians have stopped and thought about this at all.

Conflict is baked into the universe from the very beginning. This is a naked fact. Not only in the real world, but in Genesis too.

So whether you think Genesis is literal history, allegory, epic saga or something in between, the writer doesn’t flinch from the fact that the deck is stacked against our innocent couple from the word go.

“Naive 18 year old kid heads to Las Vegas with his grandmother’s inheritance money and hands every dollar of it over to the casino.” A setup. 

It’s high time for Christians to put on their big-boy pants and face this.

But what is even more interesting is the Sermon on the Mount, which is THE Anti-Darwinian Manifesto. There is nothing about Jesus’ moral teaching that conforms to the usual survival of the fittest. It defies all of it. Turns the entire order on its head. A massive right-angle turn in the history of humanity.

People in the 21st century forget that in Jesus’ day, the whole world was “survival of the fittest.” Everybody accepted that as completely normal. Including tyrants conquering countries and beating their slaves and torturing anybody who disagreed… and kings trucking down the road in their chariots every spring to burn down the next village, rape the women and steal all the loot.

Modern people are so accustomed to the Jesus ethic that even Charles Darwin was horrified at the implications of his theory 150 years ago.

But what Jesus really was showing us is that what got us HERE won’t get us THERE. Because “human evolution” post-Jesus (=equality, affordable health care for as many as possible, human rights, agape love etc.) means something entirely, utterly different from what was ever meant by “Darwinian evolution.”

Evolution 1.0 is Neo-Darwinism. Evolution 2.0 is the ingenuity of cells. But Evolution 3.0 started 2000 years ago and it continues right up to the present day.

We yearn to eradicate natural selection… death… entirely. Obviously a work in progress.

The lion never did lie down with the lamb… nor do the scriptures say it did. What you should really ask yourself is: WHY do so many of us dream of a world where someday that will happen? Where did we even get that idea?

76 Responses

  1. Serge Grenier says:

    You say : « Do the different names really refer to different Gods? I like to think that all those different names actually refer to just one God. »

    I can agree that in the end, whatever name we give it, reality is reality. But people have been killing each other for centuries promoting their own definition of reality as being the only valid one. And the reality they describe is very different :

    http://www.religionfacts.com/big-religion-chart

    If humanity is to become adult at one point, it has to face that issue head on, not just hide the differences under the carpet. We have to come up with a common cosmology that will fit reality and the Bible just doesn’t cut it in my opinion.

    « I follow your 35mm film analogy, but I think you are trying to convince me that what really happens in real history is like the film. »

    I did not invent that analogy : here you have a much better explanation of what I meant :

    http://www.buddhistinformation.com/buddhism_and_the_illusion_of_time.htm

    « Thanks for explaining the source of the “matter = energy = consciousness” concept, but frankly, I still find the idea just as incredible as I did before. » and « This view is supposed to be scientific, but I have never heard a satisfactory explanation for the implied violations of the first and second laws of thermodynamics without a creative Designer. »

    How are the laws of thermodynamics compatible with Creation as explained in the Bible? Or did God first create the universe and then turn the laws of thermodynamic ON?

    If you accept some science (laws of thermodynamics), why not go all the way and accept also the laws of quantum mechanic? Matter as we normally accept it doesn’t exist. What exist are tiny pulsating energy fields. So reality is built from the Planck level up. At some point on that continuum, are human beings with consciousness. At what level does consciousness begin? Organs? Cells? Molecules? Atoms? I believe consciousness begins right from the smallest parts and builds up, layer by layer until here where we make sense of it all.

    I was born in Quebec where the Bible was forced down our collective throats until we couldn’t take it any more and rejected the whole shebang. Sorry!

  2. Tom Godfrey says:

    Jeff,

    Sorry I got so far behind in my responses to you. I think I counted three of your comments not yet answered. Two days ago this morning, my wife slipped on some ice, fell, and broke her arm, so I have been unusually busy taking care of her and picking up some slack around the house.

    You wanted to know whether I am “a YEC,” a popular label designed to cover people with beliefs similar to mine, but frankly, I don’t like it for two reasons. (1) In my view, nothing in all of creation is older than the earth, so if it is young, nothing can be old in comparison, and the terms become meaningless. (2) We ought to recognize a contrast between the terms new and young with old serving as an antonym for either one. A car or a suit can be new but not young, because something like this starts out in perfect condition and then gradually wears out. In my view, this is what is happening to the earth. If someone is young, then he is at an early stage in a process of maturing or growing up. I think evolutionists imagine that the earth started out as a cloud of dust and gas and gradually matured into what we observe today. If so, they are the ones who allege that the earth is young and that the universe itself is billions of years older.

    My main reason for doubting that death reigned for millions of years before Adam is my respect for the account of creation in the Bible. Adam is supposed to be the first man, created in the first week of the existence of the universe. This belief, which I actually accept by faith, is however further supported by physical evidence that suggests a history with no room for millions of years. It might be good to keep a fairly sharp focus and not go too deep into this angle right now, but let me point you to some articles just to show you what I mean.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faint_young_Sun_paradox
    http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/climate-puzzle-over-origins-of-life-on-earth/
    http://www.icr.org/article/6742/
    https://answersingenesis.org/dinosaurs/when-did-dinosaurs-live/solid-answers-soft-tissue/
    http://www.icr.org/article/10194/

    You also wanted to know whether I accept the story of Noah as factual, and as you evidently expected, my answer is indeed yes, I do. My preferred Flood model has changed since I first became a creationist, and you have probably not even heard about it. This might be yet another side issue, off topic for our present discussion, but I can point you to the website of Gerald E. Aardsma, who developed the Flood model that I now find the most interesting.
    http://www.biblicalchronologist.org/
    Notice in particular the rightmost two books in the top banner. The one on aging is available as a free PDF download, and believe it or not, it relates to the historicity of the Flood and the accuracy of the Genesis genealogies.

    I told Perry, “We agree on ‘the fact that a lot of people were around at the time’ (when Cain built a city). This much is not controversial, but jumping to the conclusion that Adam was not the first man is another story.” You insisted that it is controversial without providing me any good reason to withdraw my claim, assuming that Cain and his parents would not be enough people to justify building a city. Let’s look at your argument there a little more carefully.

    You said, “There are only three people after Cain murdered Abel,” but how do you know this to be true? I think you may be committing the logical fallacy of argument from ignorance. Notice that Adam is said to have had daughters (Gen. 5:4), but not one of them is named, nor are we told how old Adam was when any of his children were born except for Seth, who must have been born after Cain and Abel (Gen. 4:25). Gen. 4:16-24 is a concise history of Cain and some of his descendants. I believe that the last two verses in that chapter are a flashback to an earlier time, long before the time of Lamech, Adah, and Zillah, a time much closer to the time of the murder of Abel. Since Seth was born when Adam was already 130 years old (Gen. 5:3), many of those other children and even some later generations of descendants could have been born before Cain found his wife. If you see a problem here, please explain it to me without making unreasonable assumptions.

    Okay, I have come to your comment dated January 9, and I agree that focus is good. Your choice of topic is fine with me too. You can read those articles I posted earlier at your leisure, and we can come back around to them whenever you see fit. I agree that “there is a difference between whether a text has remained consistent over time and whether it is factually accurate in what it describes,” and I also reject the premise “that if the text has not changed, [we should necessarily] accept the story as accurate.”

    You said, “… the scientific evidence is that there never was an Adam,” probably without realizing how difficult it is to prove a negative. Let’s avoid arguments from ignorance. Would you say the scientific evidence is that the events described in Genesis 29 never took place, just because no archaeological study or secular history has yet been found to corroborate it? Please say no. I think the same logic ought to apply when you consider the Flood narrative. You may be convinced that “all the scientific evidence says this [Flood story] not only did not happen but is impossible for it to occur,” but that is actually quite a stretch. You suppose that science has proved two more negatives. I don’t agree. I think if you consider Aardsma’s Flood model, you may be inclined to conclude that the Flood actually did happen around 3520 B.C. and that it happened in a way consistent with a reasonable interpretation of the biblical account.

    It is probably too late for me to expatiate on this right now. It is bedtime here, and I need to see whether we are good so far. Moderation of our comments tends to throttle the pace of our discussion, and life goes on outside of this blog, so please be patient and take your time.

  3. Tom Godfrey says:

    Serge,

    Thanks for another interesting comment.

    We agree that there is a wide diversity of religions — “very different” as you said — and they have been used to justify all kinds of terrible inhumanity toward people who disagree. We are on the same page with this much. I don’t think any differences are being hidden “under the carpet” though, at least not in most cases. I think almost all religious organizations publish their positions on plenty of issues with great enthusiasm. Will humanity ever “come up with a common cosmology that will fit reality”? Jer. 31:34 gives me hope that such a day is coming, but it may have nothing to do with human efforts to persuade. Anyone who kills “infidels” or exerts any other physical means to promote his own religion may as well announce to the world that no rational argument is considered sufficiently persuasive.

    I am much more interested in your own conclusion that “the Bible just doesn’t cut it.” I assume that no other holy book cuts it either, in your opinion. This is a huge topic, too big to manage in a blog like this, so we need to focus on just one issue of interest. Can you pick out one to discuss, hopefully one that justifies your skepticism and one that you can present with confidence that I will not quickly resolve it in a reasonable way? It may help to use Google to verify that a candidate issue fits the bill.

    Thanks for trying to clarify the Buddhist idea that what really happens in real history is like a film. According to the article, “Right now, as you sit here reading these words, the whole world is completely motionless, completely new, and completely silent. Nothing is changing. Nothing is moving. Nothing is happening at all. In fact, nothing has EVER happened! Not now, and therefore not ever. The world is totally silent, and everything is at peace.”

    As the writer (Tom Huston?) admits in the next paragraph, this does seem absurd, and it still does, even after I read his long explanation and P.S. designed “[to] clear up any lingering confusion,” which also seem absurd to me. I think he went into inordinate detail to complicate what should be obvious and quite easy to understand, perhaps ultimately to confuse the issue for whatever reason. I wondered how his teaching applies to the useful and practical notion of cause and effect, so I searched for a mention of it in the article but did not find even one. Maybe we should not get bogged down in a discussion of this and focus on something else.

    I accept all of the laws of nature as currently observed, including those related to quantum mechanics, but I realize that our understanding of them may need to be adjusted or updated as more is learned. There may also be more laws of nature not yet discovered. For how long have scientists understood the laws regarding the weak and strong nuclear forces, for example? How can we possibly know that every law that exists has already been discovered and perfectly understood? We can’t, right? You mentioned consciousness in particular, and I think we still have a lot to discover about its nature, for example. You may “believe consciousness begins right from the smallest parts and builds up, layer by layer until here where we make sense of it all” — you can have faith that this is correct — but how can you possibly know? What repeatable experiment could be run to demonstrate this?

    You asked, “How are the laws of thermodynamics compatible with Creation as explained in the Bible? Or did God first create the universe and then turn the laws of thermodynamic ON?” I did not find any mention of thermodynamics in the Bible. We may speculate about anything, of course, even the proper order of law creation and universe creation, but in a perfect vacuum (no universe), I think the two laws in question would be meaningless abstractions that would not apply to anything.

    I understand the first law to mean that energy can be transformed from one form to another, but it can be neither created nor destroyed through any natural process. Stated this way, it would not apply to the supernatural creation that is required, assuming the universe is not eternal, in order for the law to be meaningful. Atheists reject the concept of supernatural creation, so they face the dilemma of finding a natural substitute to meet the requirement without violating the law. That’s a toughie.

    The second law is also held to be quite reliable, but evolutionists evidently need to believe in a violation of it too. The Bible teaches that the universe was very good upon creation in the beginning (Gen. 1:31), but it is currently in bondage to decay (Rom. 8:19-23). The earth in particular is growing old like a garment (Is. 51:6). This strikes me as entirely consistent with the second law. What do you think?

    Contrast this with the history of the universe and of life on earth that evolutionists believe. Within one second of the start of the Big Bang, I think they allege that the universe was totally chaotic or certainly a far cry from the measure of order that is current observed. The earth is alleged to have started out as a cloud of gas and dust, but look at it now. Evolutionists may complain that creationists invoke the second law but fail to meet the requirement for a closed system. This approach to solving their second law problem ignores the closed nature of the universe as a whole and the observation that even an open system will not naturally tend to become more useful and complex without special requirements being met. Can you explain the apparent violation away yourself better than they have?

    Thanks for closing with a brief testimonial. You certainly have no need to apologize to me, but you did raise another question in the process. You said the Bible was forced down your throat, implying that it was an unpleasant experience. I dare say food and beverage were not forced down your throat, because you sensed that they were pleasant and maybe even necessary. You accepted them gladly, but what was it about the Bible that made it so unpleasant, leading you eventually to reject “the whole shebang”? I was also exposed to the Bible from infancy, but I do not recall anything unpleasant about it, so I am depending on you to explain your own surprising reaction.

  4. Ken Koskinen says:

    Who was the first sinner in the Bible?

    Christian salvation is based on Paul’s teaching as he expressed it in Romans 5:12-21. It implies that sin entered into the world via one man, Adam and death through sin. The solution is God’s grace that reigns through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ who died for our sins. It is based on the premise that sin entered into the world via the first man Adam and salvation came via the last Adam, Jesus (1 Cor. 15:45-49).

    When you exam the story about Adam & Eve in Genesis (Gen. 2:4 – 3:24) it says that it was really Eve who firstly disobeyed god and ate the forbidden fruit. Yes, she gave some to Adam but Eve sinned firstly. Paul gets that rightly in 1Timothy 2:14 but it contradicts his other statements. However even Eve wasn’t the first sinner. It was god who told the first lie to Adam when he said he would die on the day he ate the forbidden fruit. He ate it and he didn’t die on that day. Instead their eyes were opened to the knowledge of good & evil just like the talking serpent said.

    Many people claim the serpent is Satan but the text depicts him as a wise beast of the field and Satan is supposed to be spirit being. In any case after the primal couple ate the forbidden fruit God punished the serpent but he only told the truth. This was unjust and therefore god’s second sin. In any case, it was god who really introduced sin in the world.

    Since the salvation doctrine is based on the premise that sin came into the world via Adam it cannot be true. God also predicted that Cain, after he killed Abel, would be a wondering vagabond or fugitive who couldn’t grow food. However Cain must have stopped wandering since he built a city and named it after his son Enoch. This is the first failed prophecy in the Bible. God as depicted in Genesis is a liar and the one who introduced sin in the world. This destroys the salvation doctrine and Christianity is a flawed religion.

  5. Tom Godfrey says:

    I accept Ken’s general challenge to solve issues that led him to four conclusions. I encourage Bible-believing Christians to reject all four of them: “[1] God as depicted in Genesis is a liar and [2] the one who introduced sin in the world. [3] This destroys the salvation doctrine and [4] Christianity is a flawed religion.” The arguments that got him there were not so simple, so unraveling them may not be simple either, unless one simply ignores Ken’s claims and goes on trusting God’s Word by faith in its trustworthiness. Honest and reasonable skeptics may dare to afford some time to consider whether Ken was really onto something or only fooled himself into believing that he was.

    1. Paul claimed that God cannot lie (Titus 1:1-2, see also 1Sam. 15:27-29), but according to Ken’s analysis, God did lie with regard to the timing of the death that Adam would experience if he disobeyed the command recorded in Gen. 2:16-17. This can be resolved by concluding that Paul was wrong and Ken’s analysis is correct, or vice versa (Paul was right and Ken’s analysis is wrong). This does not exhaust the possibilities, of course. Logically, Paul and Ken might both be wrong, but if Ken’s analysis is flawed or not necessarily correct, then he has not given us a good reason to be sure that Paul’s claim must be wrong.

    Ken reasoned, “It was god who told the first lie to Adam when he said he would die on the day he ate the forbidden fruit. He ate it and he didn’t die on that day.” Much depends on the proper interpretation of the verb in the command given to Adam only, before Eve was created from a part of his own body. Ken picked the simple translation “die” instead of “surely die,” a phrase that could be translated more literally as “dying thou shalt die.” The same Hebrew construction appears with a different verb in Gen. 2:16 — “eating thou shalt eat,” meaning that Adam had permission to eat not only at the time of the command but also in the future. I conclude from this that the proper interpretation of mot tamut is God’s warning to Adam that a violation of the command would initiate a period of his dying that could extend into the future, just like the eating. Adam did disobey God’s command, and I see no reason to doubt that Adam’s period of dying did indeed commence that very day when God told him that the ground from which he had been taken would be cursed and that he would at some future time return to dust (Gen. 3:17-19). The process of dying is easily understood to be possibly prolonged. In Adam’s case, it went on for hundreds of years, but a final day of dying did come to pass as warned (Gen. 5:5), so I conclude that God told the truth.
    http://lukehistorians.com/?p=179

    Ken brought up a possibly related issue with regard to Gen. 4:12, where God told Cain, “When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you” (NIV), adding that Cain would be “a restless wanderer” (NIV) or “a fugitive and a vagabond” (KJV). Ken called this “the first failed prophecy in the Bible.” Notice that God did not tell Cain that he would wander forever, and we have no record that Cain later farmed successfully. The only support Ken offered for his failed prophecy claim is the biblical record that Cain eventually married, had a son, and built a city without any report that he ever wandered. This might imply that Cain eventually became wealthy, but we are by no means obligated to assume that his wealth had to have been acquired through farming. He could have prospered in a construction business, for instance. Negatives are notoriously difficult to prove, but unless Ken can document that Cain never was “a restless wanderer” or “a fugitive and a vagabond” at any time after God spoke to him, this part of Ken’s claim appears to be an example of the logical fallacy known as argumentum ad ignorantiam.

    In my opinion, the believer is well advised to follow Paul’s exhortation in Rom. 3-3-4.

    2. Ken accused God of sinning first (before Adam and Eve sinned) by lying to Adam, but as explained above, God did not really lie to Adam. Ken also accused God of sinning by unjustly punishing the serpent, who allegedly “only told the truth” when he contradicted what God had said. Of course, if God told the truth instead (I still believe he did), then the serpent was actually the guilty party, assuming he knew that God told the truth. Ken gave us no good reason to conclude that any curse or sentence pronounced by God was unjust. Both of Ken’s accusations may well be false, provided his first conclusion is wrong. I maintain that he failed to make his case.

    There is another angle that ought to be considered in this regard. If there is no law, how can there be sin (Rom. 5:13)? If God is a sinner, then what law did he break? Laws apply to specific people. For example, a law against speeding does not apply to people driving an emergency vehicle or to officials who enforce those laws against speeding. By the same token, if God is a sinner, he must have broken some law that applies to him, one imposed by some higher authority. So for example, if God (appearing in human form) had eaten the forbidden fruit, would it have been a sin even for him to do this? The same question can be applied to an animal (Gen. 1:30). I conclude that it would be impossible for God to sin, since he is the highest authority there is (Rom. 13:1; Eph. 1:19b-23; Col. 2:10). God can do whatever he pleases—without sinning. He just will not do anything inconsistent with his holy character.
    https://carm.org/questions/about-god/can-god-do-everything-including-sin

    3. and 4. If neither one of Ken’s first two claims are true, then what else can he present to support his last two claims? I found nothing else in his recent comment.

    Ken led off with a question (“Who was the first sinner in the Bible?”), the answer to which appears to be irrelevant to any of his summary claims, unless the answer was supposed to be God. Anyone could easily find answers to his question, which, like the other issues that Ken found problematic, have evidently not troubled believers significantly through thousands of years of faith in God. I like the answers given in these articles.
    https://carm.org/who-sinned-first-adam-or-eve
    https://carm.org/who-sinned-first-angels-or-man

  6. Ken Koskinen says:

    Tom I studied biblical languages in college and it is well known that appealing to change the meaning of a few words or a string of characters from a source language produces the weakest arguments. This is especially so when so many translations are in good agreement. Correct translating doesn’t go to linearly translating one word at a time since the translation has to capture the full meaning of the text in context.

    Everything I wrote is supported by text and your analysis of the Hebrew as to “dying thou shall die” shows you’ve merely really tried to twist the translation to suit your religious beliefs. There are dozens of learned scholars who translated this text in numerous versions of the Bible in very like manner. Here are three translations: “you shall surely die” (NEB); “you shall certainly die” (NIV); “in that day that you eat of it you shall surely die? (NRSV). There are many more.

    After the primal couple ate the fruit, the Lord God was concerned they would eat from the tree of life and live forever. He therefore drove them out of the garden and placed a cherubim and flaming sword to guard the way to the tree of life. This mysterious tree only pops up at the end of the myth and wasn’t mentioned when god told Adam not to eat the fruit of the knowledge of good & evil. In fact god told Adam he could eat of EVERY OTHER tree in the garden. Later we are told god didn’t want the couple to eat off the tree of life. This is suspicious as now there really are two forbidden trees (Gen. 3:22-24) and I think the last part of the story could have been glossed into the text by a later editor.

    The story tells us that Adam & Eve were created as mortals and there isn’t any reason to accept that Adam’s dying process started on the day he ate the forbidden fruit. He was supposed to die on that very day! In a sense the march to death begins on your day of birth but in the mythical case of Adam & Eve it starts on their creation day. This is so, since death is inevitable for mortals.

    I think it is really faith that screws people up when they read many biblical texts. It causes what is known as eisegesis or reading things into the text that simply aren’t there. Often when there is something in a text that goes against the true believer’s ideas it is simply glossed over or twisted out context. A major goal in reading any text is to understand what the writer is conveying. This requires that we read in context; it’s called exegesis. I can support everything I wrote by the text. Those who resort to eisegesis are fooling themselves and others. This is one of the reasons why Christianity is the most diverse religion in the world. Of course everyone can’t be right about everything since contradictions in stretched misinterpretations abound. That’s what happens when people do eisegesis.

    What I wrote about Cain is sound. God told Cain the ground would NO LONGER yield its strength to you. This means he could NEVER successfully farm or till the land again! It is in this context that god said Cain would be a fugitive and a vagabond (Gen. 4:11-12). This follows since it implies that hunting, fishing and gathering are the only means for Cain to survive. Then out of the blue we are told he builds a city where people SETTLE. Cain the vagabond became Cain the city dweller? That’s failed prophecy!

    The text is clear that the god depicted in Genesis introduced lying into the world. There’s ample evidence in the Pentateuch that the Israelis god was also incredibly cruel. He commanded the genocide of the Amorites, stoning of rebellious youths, allowed the slavery of foreigners & even periods of servitude among fellow Israelis, etc. One doesn’t always need a written law to know good & evil. In fact the myth says that Adam & Eve came to know good & evil and this was long before the Law of Moses. I think Paul also got that, when he wrote: “for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,” (Rom. 2:4).

  7. Tom Godfrey says:

    Ken,

    Thanks for your response. Let’s stay focused on one issue at a time, please. Otherwise, the length of our comment tends to grow and become unsuitable for a blog like this. We can discuss a cruelty or slavery issue after we finish with the one we are already discussing.

    We agree that “linearly translating one word at a time” would not be correct if your goal is dynamic or functional equivalence in your translation, but I think this must be beside the point you wanted to make when you said, “… your analysis of the Hebrew as to ‘dying thou shall die’ shows you’ve merely really tried to twist the translation to suit your religious beliefs.” I actually have an interlinear translation of the Hebrew text, which is designed for deeper study, not for ordinary devotional Bible reading, and the infinitive absolute phrases of interest are rendered “to-eat you-may-eat” (Gen. 2:16) and “to-die you-will-die” (Gen. 2:17), unfortunately obscuring the fact that the Hebrew forms are second person singular. The “eating thou shalt eat” and “dying thou shalt die” renderings (unambiguously singular) are not my own inventions designed to “to twist the translation” to suit my own beliefs. They have been available to lay readers of the KJV for generations. I found them in the center reference column of my great-great-grandfather’s Bible, for example.

    You should know that a text in one language might be translated multiple ways into another language, but translators normally pick only one alternative to feature in their finished product, sometimes providing one or more other alternatives in a footnote. Even if no translation is involved, a given text might be understood in more than one way. If your goal is to argue that God lied or introduced sin, based on your interpretation of a cherry-picked alternative translation, you may expect people of like mind to agree. If you hope to convince others to change their mind, I think you need to show that every alternative translation or interpretation presented to avoid your conclusion is unreasonable. Simply telling me that a literal translation “produces the weakest arguments” won’t cut it. I believe the interpretation I explained earlier is reasonable and stands without any serious challenge from you so far.

    To strengthen what I said earlier, consider the context. When Adam and Eve sinned, they immediately realized that they were naked and went to work to hide their shame, but not even their fig leaf solution seemed adequate, so they also hid themselves among the trees for good measure. Does this look like fear that they had just fatally poisoned themselves? If you think so, please explain. When God confronted them, did either Adam or Eve accuse God of lying or express any surprise that they had not died yet? Did it look as though they felt that they were about to die that day? Our text does not support any of this. When God pronounced the curses, he told Adam that he would return to dust in the future, after having eaten food raised by the sweat of his brow. Readers for generations have read this story and assumed that God never meant that the original warning referred to immediate physical death to be executed necessarily on the very same day. I see no basis for concluding that your claims are based on the only reasonable interpretations available. Dying is a process that can be prolonged for a long time, and people understand this.

    You still insist, “The story tells us that Adam & Eve were created as mortals.” If you reject or dismiss all reasons to believe the contrary, of course you are left without a reason to accept that “Adam’s dying process started on the day he ate the forbidden fruit,” and you can easily believe that “[Adam] was supposed to die on that very day!” You did not cite a biblical reference for your claim that Adam and Eve were “created as mortals.” Could it be because there isn’t any? If this were true, it would imply that they would have died eventually regardless of whether they ever sinned. Consequently, death would not really be the wages of sin but rather an intrinsic part of the created order. Is your claim an example of eisegesis or exegesis? You tell me. It is not very helpful to claim, “I can support everything I wrote by the text,” if you do not actually do this. Maybe you can, and maybe you only imagine that you can.

    The meaning that “[Cain] could NEVER successfully farm or till the land again!” is not controversial. Neither is it problematic, because we have no good reason to suspect that he ever was successful in this kind of enterprise after God sentenced him. The part of the punishment about being a fugitive and a vagabond is indeed in the same context, but can you find any translation stating that the first part of the punishment is necessarily a natural consequence of the second part? That is, does the text say that he will never farm successfully again, specifically just because he will always be wandering? Where is any prophecy that he would wander for the rest of his life? You provided a very short list of alternative careers as “the only means for Cain to survive,” but it certainly looks far from exhaustive to me. Nevertheless, this is really beside the point. He obviously did survive somehow, and not necessarily by personally tilling the ground. He could have bought or stolen food, or worked or begged for it. Who knows? Out text does not say.

    Is your claim about Cain an example of eisegesis or exegesis? Go ahead and try to persuade, but simply claiming, “What I wrote about Cain is sound,” leaves me wondering why anyone should believe you. When you tell yourself, “The text is clear that the god depicted in Genesis introduced lying into the world,” you may be fooling yourself and others of like mind, but not everyone is in this category. Count me out of it.

  8. Tom Godfrey says:

    Jeff, your January 21, 11:37 pm, comment just passed moderation this morning, and I do not know whether you meant to address it to Perry or to me. If you thought I have been ignoring you, I wonder whether you ever saw my January 11, 9:44 pm, comment addressed to you. It probably went onto another page. See the navigation link at the bottom of each page. I have found the arrangement of comments here a bit confusing myself.

Leave a Reply

You must use your real first and last name. Anonymity is not allowed.
Your email address will not be published.
Required fields are marked *