I’d like to burn some very typical straw men. Hopefully, in the debate over Christianity, these unnecessary issues can be avoided.
Creation - Neither Genesis nor any of the scriptures demands that the earth and universe is only 6- to 10- thousand years old. The Hebrew word for “day” (yom) could mean long periods of time. The words “there was morning and there was evening, the first day” could be translated “there was beginning and ending, the first (yom)”.
(BTW, the narrative moves to the surface of the earth in Genesis 1:2. While stars were certainly already in existence, their light was not visible on the surface of the earth until the opaque early atmosphere cleared).
Adam and Eve – While scripture does indicate they were specially created, there are gaps in the biblical genealogies that could place Adam and Eve back 60- to 90-thousand years. This would also predict increasing discovery of a common DNA originating between east Africa and the Mesopotamia.
(BTW, the word for “rib” means “side”. The story of Eve’s creation could mean God created her from Adam for symbolic purposes. I speculate a biopsy, of sorts, from the side, with a few million variations to the DNA producing a female. )
Talking Snakes - A boa constrictor with vocal cords is not in view here. That image comes largely from medieval art. The “serpent” in the garden was intelligent and used for evil. One can only speculate what sort of being it was (perhaps one no longer extant).
The Flood – The fact that a great flood is found in various cultures indicates that it happened. Two questions emerge: which account is most accurate and whether the flood was global or local.
I’m of the opinion that the flood was regional rather than global for several reasons. First, while the flood was universal in effect, it was only regional in extent due to human’s not having moved much beyond the Mesopotamia at the time. A global flood was unnecessary.
Secondly, language like “under all the heavens”, “all the earth”, etc. are most likely from the perspective of the observer, i.e. a flood from horizon to horizon. “Mountains” could be translated “hills” with rain and water “covering” (or running over) them rather than submerging them.
Thirdly, this would mean there were not polar bears and penguins, etc. on the ark, but only animals indigenous to the region and of special relation to man.
Fourthly, a global flood would have torn the ark to pieces, no matter how well built. And it certainly would not have landed anywhere near its original location.
Fifthly, the scripture itself said a “large wind” was used in the evaporation process. Such a wind would have virtually no effect in a global flood.
Finally, if the flood were only regional why not just have Noah, his family, and whatever animals needed, hike out of the area and be safe? Why a big specifically-built ark? I think because God often operates via symbols teaching important truths or significance, i.e. salvation in Christ or deliverance through troubled waters (trials).
Use of Metaphor – The scriptures use metaphor and other literary devices. One need only utilize common exegetical analysis and context to determine what any author meant as literal or metaphorical (and on a case-by-case basis).
Inerrancy – If there are consequential or factual errors in the Bible that does not mean Christianity is false. However, I find it remarkable how well the Bible holds up to scrutiny and that there are plausible answers to discrepancies. Personally, I hold to the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy.
Hell – is not a place of torture (external) but of torment (internal). There are many descriptions of hell in the scriptures. The “fire” is most likely not the chemical combustion we’re familiar with. It, combined with all the other descriptions, reduces to separation from God and the judgment of God.
This does not make hell more tolerable (that’s not possible). But it does dispel hillbilly theology that has poor souls swatting flames for eternity! Christ depicted conversation taking place “in the flames”. No person could have a conversation while on fire! On our familiar planet, one is in mindless torture if burning.
It is, however, a profound tragedy to be eternally separated from God. It is a “spiritual chaos” one enters when the intact “self” survives the physical body. There are indications that some kind of body could exist in hell.
Heaven – is a remarkably physical place. It is not ethereal or immaterial. It is a combination of a “new heaven and new earth”. We will live on earth in physical bodies that are “spiritual” which nonetheless have access to one another and continued exploration of the universe without many of the limits of current bodies affected by entropy, etc. Christ’s resurrected body could be touched and he ate food, etc. This describes the redeemed, resurrected body.
This is not to be confused with an intermediary state which is not physical. At death, one goes either into the very presence of God to await the resurrection of the body, or in a state of chaos to await final judgment.
“God will not allow anything to happen in your life that you can’t handle” – False! Scripturally, there are plenty of things that happen that one cannot handle! Devastating things! The accurate teaching is that nothing will happen that God’s grace will not get one through.
“You must become like children” - Christ said to “humble yourself like a little child”. It does not mean to be naïve, ignorant, gullible, or irrational.
Pascal’s Wager – This is not an argument for God nor necessarily addressed to atheists. Pascal used a popular gambling motif to shake the French laity out of spiritual complacency and to at least move them in the direction of God.
Further, the Wager, as it is commonly used, is not allowed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. He said if Christ was not risen, then the jig is up! Christianity is false! He did not say believe it anyway “just in case” or because it provides a positive way of life.
I hope these internal considerations provide food for thought.
A boa constrictor with vocal cords is not in view here. That image comes largely from medieval art. The “serpent” in the garden was intelligent and used for evil. One can only speculate what sort of being it was (perhaps one no longer extant).
What "evil" did the snake do? Tell two ignorant people (literally ignorant) that eating a fabled fruit will make them smarter and develop sentience?
I guess that makes all my University professors and all educators "Evil". Haha!
How were they to know that disobeying any command from God is wrong if they hadn't eaten from the Fruit of the Tree to even understand so?
This is a question that is seldom brought up, and I wish that more people would ask it. If they did not yet know good from evil, how were they to know that disobeying was wrong? It may well have been right!
How is it inconsistent that they were informed by God not to eat of a certain fruit? Also, their reaction afterward shows they knew they had violated not only their own consciences but God's command.
One thing the narrative shows is that moral development and maturity does not develop in an isolated paradise. There is no "shortcut".
Going by the narrative, they knew after the fact because they had just obtained the ability to have that knowledge. Before hand the knowledge wasn't there. Their creator basically set them up to fail and then punished them for it. Seems rather sadistic to me.
@Mike - think what he did with the Adam's brothers - he told them to eat only grass and herbs of the field, then rewarded only the one who killed and barbequed a lamb!
It is inconsistent because although they knew they were told not to eat the fruit and told not to disobey God, they didn't have the capacity to understand why it was any better or worse to obey God or not to obey God.
As Mike said, the passage is clear that their shame only came after they ate from the fruit. Even the narrative doesn't make sense because it indicates that Adam and Eve had the knowledge of good and evil. People who really did not know the difference would be a lot more ambivalent, because good wouldn't be any better than evil.
There is a disorder where individuals trust everyone they ever meet. It is a terrible disorder, although the people who have it are unbelievably nice. They get taken advantage of, however, when bad people realize these people are easily manipulable. Someone without the knowledge of good and evil wouldn't have the capacity to factor in "well we were told not to" any more than they would factor in "well we should do that". The knowledge of right from wrong is what enables you to do either of those things. It is not a very well thought out etiology.
Oddly, I find a lot of appealing metaphor in Adam, Eve, and the apple. It's as though in the earliest versions of that fable that some early philosophers realized we had 'lowly' origins; that there was a time when our ancestors knew not the difference between good and bad. Further, it seems that there was an understanding that our increased mental capacity brought with it emotional anguish that we would not otherwise know.
Spoonheim and Adam and Eve: This is an excellent interest area and some would call your communication here astute or a student of what is true.
Related to this interest it is also interesting to look around for examples of:
1) Circles that go back or counter clockwise because this life is participating in relflection which is the opposite force to gravity or pressure which is not the same at all places of activity in your body or in the world around you.
2) Life that is going down and into areas to understand (give, take) something unto itself at an experience that is "I need to relax from pressure" are doing something that is not provided a continuous awareness and sometimes they are not existing at all able to be seen when it is not necessary to place change to another area of life through their existence verbal and non verbal utterances.
3) The truth about what some call memory and how awareness exists once you are moved to what is a perpetual experience that is only about NOW together with a continuous orientation to the reality of how you are existing with the life around you.
4) How the mind and the circulatory circumstances can understand as one entity together so that anguish is not happening. When the mind (this is really consciousness) and the brain are understanding something not the same as the life of your circulation circumstance there is emotional discomfort and pieces of information coming from other human being areas not seen together according to your continuable interest instead of knowledge.
Have you ever thought of doing an infomercial with Miss Cleo AND Dr. Ho?
Relating to Cleo and Ho: Paralysis and masturbation are not able to be had together. This means they are not interesting while they can be necessary toward coming together around a continuable interest. There is nothing you can cause someone to understand and you are existing with life that is misunderstanding that with you. You are interested with life that is doing what they know how to do with you doing the same. Peace to every area of your personal elevator shafts is able to be had. An elevator shaft is something you can visualize. What happens in there? Up and down with back and forth compartments that open due to pressure and close using the life of separation. This is not either still or circling with or counter the clock is never allowed to be provided emotion that is continuous and appreciated or knowledge that is complete.
You can do something interesting perpetually at this activity place never speaking while understanding nothing to you relating to integration with what human being say sitting down in division. You can play the keyboard fluidly just like a piano at an experience that is perfect for your whole continuable existence to be provided together.
To take is passive acceptance of horse manure while to understand is active participation with life that celebrates knowledge again and again.
You do not know how you know me, however, we will use ourselves together perpetually.