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.
So....you're of the more mystical and esoteric stripe, that's cool. I like that you are introducing people to the understanding of that approach. My contention comes from God as first cause, to have a being without form and with intellect defies physics and all behavior on this planet follows the repeatable behavior of matter. That is the fundament of logic itself, if there were no pattern then nothing else could even be. I can't concede that this pattern for the universe was created, there is no evidence. I do like that you've gotten into the language and context, this is a good post!
Thanks, Donovan! I'm not sure I'm mystical or esoteric, i.e. I don't try to establish metaphor unless the context calls for it (e.g. "hand of God", "under God's wings", etc.). I just think the scriptures were written to cover broad eras, people groups, and individuals. It therefore does not fill in all the details (like how cellular mitosis works, etc. We can discover that as we go).
God's being an unembodied mind does bring up mind/body dualism. Many philosophers hold that there exists "mental substance" apart from physical embodiment, but which can interact with matter (e.g. the brain). And, I think it makes much more sense that something of the order of mind is ontologically ultimate. Matter just does not have the characteristics of being ontologically ultimate. Time, space, matter/energy is contingent.
RE: "Many philosophers hold that there exists 'mental substance' apart from physical embodiment, but which can interact with matter...."
Who would those be Kevin, Uri Gellar notwithstanding --?
It's not hard to find names. Start with Decartes. And Nobel Prize Winning Neurologist John Eccles has a similar view.
Do you mean the Descarte who believed he had a "vision" in which he was visited by "The Angel Of Truth"? Who had "strange dreams" through which he believed he had gained "supernatural insight" that confirmed his already deepening conviction that mathematics was the key to understanding nature? That Descarte? I'll buy the mathematics, but pass on the rest.
Last I heard from Descarte, he was asked by his bartender if he'd like a second beer - he replied, "I think not --" and ceased to exist.
And your Dr. Eccles didn't receive his Nobel for his spirituality, but rather for his work on chemical synaptic transmission. Uncle Al Einstein was rather accomplished as well, but if he had told us he got E=MC squared from a big pink rabbit, I would still value his work, but not necessarily all of his opinions.
It's the idealists who believe that mind is a kind of substance. But the word "substance" in philosophy is jargon and doesn't really relate to what we mean by substance in everyday life. They hold that everything is mental, that reality is composed of ideas. There are different stripes of idealists, so any broad generalization we'll be more accurate for some than others. The main thing is to learn that they aren't idealists because they have ideals.
Their opposition is the materialists who believe that everything is either matter or some matter-related phenomenon or epiphenomenon. I happen to be a materialist.
Strangely, one might view Einstein in believing in a weird kind of substance. In a way, space/time behaves like a substance as we understand substance in everyday life, because it can be compressed or stretched under the influence of mass, rather like taffy.
Unseen: You can be seen instead of being understood for changes when you are doing what is interesting that you know how to do not requiring any assistance from someone else to do it at an experience that is peace. From there you are participating in the knowledge process provided according to what you are caused to see and experience available at your living environment.
Everything is a substance with some substance not appearing that way due to the amount of nervous system information which is somewhat understandable to research and lay life as gravity. When all of that is removed you have either 1) the substance of liquid hydrogen doing something different (fission purposeful for decaying life) or 2) liquid hydrogen that is caused still purposeful for strategic removal of useless hardened substance some call resistance or plaques or masses or 3) liquid helium or 4) whole hydrogen which is the lines (some might say strings from within M theory and quantum understandings) of liquid hydrogen caused to unite as one substance. This unity of liquid hydrogen together with interesting nervous system life removed from pressure and caused to a non audible communication that is understandable as circumlocutio is how knowledge is placed to a lot of life at the same moment according to appreciated sights having the same meaning across existence areas. It is interesting and you can use yourself within it in a way that is never about Unseen "do something different."
So, whole sight is circumventing disaster.
Yes, and while that is true all of that last sentence is not interesting said that way.
That's easy for YOU to say --
UNSEEEEN! I told you it was for you --!
I am not sure what you are talking about, but it is fun to read what you write. I especially like "quantum understandings." I feel like what I've got going on is quantum misunderstandings, but maybe that's because it's Wednesday. Strange things happen on Wednesdays
Neurologist John Eccles - His "three world view" or as he calls this view trialist interactionist is relatively simple to understand and it does not propose that there exists 'mental substance' apart from physical embodiment.
Christians tend to latch onto his use of the words "The Self - The Soul" under Pure Ego in his world two definition. He however defines Pure Ego - "Finally, at the core of World 2 there is the self or pure ego, which is the basis of our unity as an experiencing being throughout our whole lifetime."
Note: Pure Ego is for our lifetime.
Eccles was a theist, and an off-again, on-again Catholic, but nothing of the sort devotion Kevin is proposing.
Personally, I prefer a 3-bean salad.
Kevin, Hell can't be separation from God if you are using those biblical accounts of it!
Yeah there are parables that talk about that, but the "casting outside" parables fit the imagery of the parables used to describe them. They were parables, not detailed accounts of what this place/state of being was supposed to be like.
"he[the beast] also will drink the wine of God's wrath,poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name." Rev 14:10-11
If anything it seems like the main show for eternity's entertainment schedule.