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.

Tags: Pascal's, Wager, adam, and, creation, eve, flood, heaven, hell, inerrancy, More…the

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Replies to This Discussion

If you want to talk about irrational thinking, Johny-boy, let's look no further than your blithering scrawls in your absolute morality posting where you complained endlessly that the only language you speak is critically flawed in expressing the ideas you have.  Moving on...

Now although you've adorned Mr. Heine with all sorts of accolades, his biography is not remarkably public at all.  I see some of his books listed on Amazon, but let's not pretend his name shakes the roof around here.

You didn't initially name the person under whom you studied, nor did you defer to his opinion on the matter, but seemed, rather, that we here should more than fearfully acquiesce to your expertise on this matter.  You grossly overstepped any credibility you have here - especially after that absolute morality nonsense - and that was very clear to many of us.  I just happen to be the one outspoken enough to declare it.

You seem to be a bit slow with this one Heather.  The claim I made is I studied under someone highly qualified who taught me what it means.  That is an informal citation, and seeing as this isn't college, it is fine.

As for the morality issue,  what anyone other than you had a problem with were things you agreed with me on.  You had a problem with the transition from physical to conceptual. 

What is the point of the fancy degrees, published papers and accolades if anyone you happen to have taught in the last 30 years can usurp a claim to your expertise in a subject just by saying they once took a class from you?

At the time you claimed to have taken a class from a highly venerated scholar, you didn't name him, nor did you even suggest that he shared your opinion - you simply declared yourself to be the authority, which you are not.

The morality thread was embarrassing for most of us and I just jumped in to try to stop you from being so ridiculous.

Heather, I am not sure you have heard of this, but common knowledge doesn't need to be cited.  A record of who introduced it remains there.

If it had have been a point that was his to cite, I would have cited it.  Thanks for playing.

And once again you agreed to everything everyone else was arguing against in the morality thread.  You had your own unique objection.

Oh and Heather, by the way, when I discuss the Old Testament and Archaeology, I am referencing information taught to me by Christopher Rollston, who like Heine is incredibly accomplished in his field as not everyone gets called to testify about the validity of artifacts before the Israeli Antiquities Authority or gets their articles published in the NEA journal or serves on the editorial board of BASOR  Both are the top journals for Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology. Glad we can clear that all up.  

Now you are dropping some interesting names and credentials that can be verified.  Again, however, you have not established yourself as an authority on their works, you are not published, and your opinion on the matter is of no more value than anyone who can cite their works - if and when those works are cited.

Nor does this matter as I wasn't claiming to be an authority I claimed to have studied under one.

Do you have anything relevant to say?

Nah, I think this little exchange illustrates everything for which I had hoped and more.  Thank you.

I am glad you are leaving.  You were just trying to stir up trouble and failed because none of your points had any actual substance.

If you say so.

Yeah, I do.  Good day ma'am.  And seriously, quit trying to argue with me.  I will respond with the tone I used any time you try it in the future.

Of course you will.

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