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Raf

Actual Errors in Genesis

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I tend to ignore silly explanations.

God's intervention is minimalistic? Note where we are in the story: God is blabbing away with everyone so far, EXCEPT the one who found favor with him.

Your answer is not an explanation; it is an excuse, and a pretty bad one at that. It's the kind of answer you would laugh at and reject if we were discussing the holy book of any other religion.

As for an author coming back later to explain something: this did no good for Cain, did it? 

Again, a ridiculous explanation you would reject if offered to support any other religion.

 

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On ‎9‎/‎16‎/‎2018 at 5:58 AM, Raf said:

...a ridiculous explanation you would reject if offered to support any other religion.

Actually, that's not true, as I tend to look quite carefully for the congruity in what someone else says they believe.  But, perhaps that's something that you don't care to do, and/or prefer to avoid dealing with.  

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That is not credible. I'm sorry, but it's just not.

But whatever.

Moving on...

Edited by Raf

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In Genesis 10, we the the repopulation of earth after the flood that never happened either globally or regionally. We know it wasn't global because there was not enough time for the population to have grown so massive that Nimrod's territory could encompass all it did by verse 12. And we know it wasn't regional because there was no flood in that region that would have been massive enough to carry the ark to "the mountains of Ararat." We've gone over this in previous posts; no need to rehash.

Then we get to chapter 11, where we learn that the whole world had one language and a common speech. 

This is simply not true. It has never been true. I mean, just read the previous chapter. The writer of that chapter didn't think everyone on earth had one language.

So these people decide to build a city. As though there weren't already more than a dozen of them as recorded in the previous chapter. With a tower that reaches all the way to heaven.

Bearing in mind that heaven just meant "sky," I will refrain from the usual trope that they wanted to reach God's habitat. It's not what the book says. But note their concern: If we don't build this really big building, we may end up scattered all over the earth. This, apparently, would be a bad thing. 

I could be wrong on this, but I don't think the author of Gen. 11 is the author of Gen. 10. Honestly, the author of Genesis 10 talks about a huge population of over multiple cities and even kingdoms. Gen. 11 has one group of people, all speaking one language, as if these are the only people on earth. 

I am aware of Bullinger's belief that the tower was not going to be remarkable for its height but for its content: it was supposed to depict the heavens, which would have been ... I don't know. I don't get why that would concern God. But I don't get why God was bothered by this building anyway. Nevertheless, He persisted. 

“If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them," God says, as if this were a bad thing. "Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

Would this be an inconvenient time to bring up the verse that says God is not the author of confusion? Because it seems here that he's taking credit for it.

Anyway, so God, instead of appearing in some form that says "don't construct this building: it is against my will," instead decides to have everyone speak different languages. Suddenly, no one understands each other. So the people who DO understand each other get together in groups and depart for other lands, where they can be with their own people. And that's how we got the different languages of the world.

Of all the cockamamie... Seriously? You know this didn't happen, right?

And let's be real clear: similar to the flood, this confusing of languages is not some localized event unnoticed by most of humanity. This IS most of humanity. Note the scripture:

"So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel -- because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth."

Not a local event.

And not a true one. Languages developed independently over a great deal of time. They didn't all suddenly pop up at one location in the middle east and scatter around the world from there.

This is a myth, not history. It never happened.

 

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4 hours ago, Raf said:

. . .

Bearing in mind that heaven just meant "sky," I will refrain from the usual trope that they wanted to reach God's habitat. It's not what the book says. But note their concern: If we don't build this really big building, we may end up scattered all over the earth. This, apparently, would be a bad thing

. . .

This is a myth, not history. It never happened.

 

It sounds like they were trying to build a Utopia.  Often when that's attempted it doesn't end well.

God kicked them out.  Like before with Eden.  Maybe a pattern starting?

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Perhaps.

Again, if we're going to discuss this as interpreting what the writers of a fictional story meant to convey, then "actual errors" is pointless because no one is asserting that the story actually happened. It's a whole different conversations.

This thread implicitly addresses the position that these events are asserted to have actually happened as described.

There's NOTHING wrong with looking at everything from a literary point of view.

It's just not the point of this thread. The moment the reader says "this story is just that: a story that never took place in real life," then we're not in any fundamental disagreement about that.

 

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These stories didn't happen, but they cleary did.  That is more difficult to describe. 

The stories came from somewhere, a long time ago.  Without the printing press, or an initial single writer, it seams.

And arguing,

"The sun didn't move for a day" . . "that's not scientifically valid" . . ."yeah but einstein if you cross your eyes" . . .  this could go on ad infinitum.  Is that the right tactic?

 

 

 

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The more I study the Old Testament the more I realize that it is mostly allegory including Genesis. For years I assumed that the animals described in Isaiah 11 are   literal animals until I realized that they are actually symbolic of 2 groups of people. Same thing with Genesis although Genesis is not my thing. In some Jewish circles the Tree of Life represents this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_of_life_(Kabbalah) whatever that means.Alluding to Raf's statement about the literary point of view, here is an interesting article about Genesis as allegory:https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/genesis-as-allegory/  The author states that Genesis was never meant to be read literally or to be scientifically accurate etc.

Edited by Infoabsorption
goofs as usual

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15 hours ago, Bolshevik said:

These stories didn't happen, but they cleary did.  That is more difficult to describe. 

The stories came from somewhere, a long time ago.  Without the printing press, or an initial single writer, it seams.

And arguing,

"The sun didn't move for a day" . . "that's not scientifically valid" . . ."yeah but einstein if you cross your eyes" . . .  this could go on ad infinitum.  Is that the right tactic?

 

Do you have a point?
I have made it very clear why this thread exists and what viewpoint it addresses. The existence of other viewpoints does not invalidate the purpose of this thread. They exist independently.

If you don't think this is "the right tactic" (the right tactic for what?) then GTFO of this conversation. This thread is for people interested in this subject. Clearly you are not, and that is ok.

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Thanks, IA. 

4 hours ago, Infoabsorption said:

The more I study the Old Testament the more I realize that it is mostly allegory including Genesis. For years I assumed that the animals described in Isaiah 11 are   literal animals until I realized that they are actually symbolic of 2 groups of people. Same thing with Genesis although Genesis is not my thing. In some Jewish circles the Tree of Life represents this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_of_life_(Kabbalah) whatever that means.Alluding to Raf's statement about the literary point of view, here is an interesting article about Genesis as allegory:https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/genesis-as-allegory/  The author states that Genesis was never meant to be read literally or to be scientifically accurate etc.

I think what's interesting about "ok, it was never meant to be taken literally" are the implications.

If Genesis was not meant to be taken literally, why did the writers of Matthew and Luke seek to trace Jesus' lineage to Abraham (a fictional character) and Adam (a fictional character)? Personally, I believe the notion that it was never meant to be taken as literally true is a retcon... But I would yield to the historian on that point. A lot of people thought it was literally true for a long time, until the fact of their literal untruth became undeniable. Then they became true in a whole other sense... true without being historical. Tall tales, meant to impart a lesson, not o teach about what really happened.

Fine. What's the lesson? Because some of these lessons are pretty ... what's the word... not smart. 

In my opinion.

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On 7/18/2014 at 6:53 PM, Raf said:

This is more of a placeholder than anything else for the moment. It is spawned from a discussion in About the Way about their being no rain before Noah's flood. The consensus on that thread was that TWI got it wrong, that there was rain before the Flood. But other issues were brought up -- for example the teaching by Earl Burton that the universe is encapsulated in a gigantic bubble with water on the other side of it. No, seriously. And when reading Genesis, it is not hard to see where he got this idea. Genesis speaks of a firmament (a solid structure) separating the waters above (in the sky) from the waters beneath.

Looking at it from the primeval point of view of Genesis, when they didn't have the slightest inkling what the sky was made of, it's easy to see what's being described here: a flat earth covered by a large dome holding back a wall of water. The sun, moon and stars are IN that dome. Birds fly UNDER it. The firmament is NOT synonymous with what we think of as the sky. If visions of Stephen King dance in your head, you're on the right track, for that is precisely what the Bible describes.

Were the authors of Genesis being literal? Or were they being poetic? I don't know for sure. I haven't read all the scholarship on the matter. But I am sure of this: the Bible offers no indication whatsoever that they are NOT being literal. So I'll be describing what the Bible actually says, but I'll keep a very open mind about what it all means -- with an eye on what it meant to those living at the time Genesis was first written.

For those not keeping track, let me be clear at the outset of this thread: I no longer consider myself Christian, and I no longer believe in God. But you need not hold the same view to recognize what many -- Christians and atheists alike -- have realized for a very long time: There are actual errors in the Bible. Not errors of interpretation. Real, documentable, tangible blunders that show Genesis does not pass PFAL's criteria for what it means to be God-breathed.

For those who remain Christian, the challenge is simple: Deny the evidence and conclude Genesis DOES pass PFAL's criteria, or reject PFAL's criteria. Maybe God-breathed means something else entirely. If the second solution satisfies you, far be it from me to take that away from you. I'm not looking to persuade anyone that there is no God. If it's at all possible, I ask you to separate that proposition from the point I am making, which I will reiterate: There are actual errors in Genesis. What to do with them is up to you. Let's examine them. I probably won't be right about every point I make. But I will be right about many of them, and I suspect if you are honest with yourself, you will agree with that statement (even if you loathe where it has led me).

Let us begin...

Four years after starting this thread, I thought it might be handy for me to re-read the opening post, to make sure I was living up to my own original intent.

Some formatting is added here for emphasis in future references.

I would say if I made a blunder here, it was in saying I'll try to have an eye for what it meant to those living at the time Genesis was first written.

That is because in order for me to do that, we would have to come to an agreement as to when Genesis was first written.

Based on certain anachronisms and political references (the existence, for example, of kingdoms that did not exist until well after the character of Moses would have been dead, a lot of scholars believe Genesis was written by multiple writers as late as the Babylonian exile. 

If that is true, it would lend lots of credence to the notion that none of this was originally intended to be taken literally. That doesn't change the fact that it most certainly was taken literally, and for a very long time.

In fact, I think Paul took Genesis literally, and I think the gospel message about Christ depends on it. Without a literal Adam, after all, how do we account for an original fall? What did Christ's sacrifice accomplish? It obviously didn't undo what Adam did if there was no Adam.

Now, smarter people than I have reconciled this matter for themselves. They do believe in the redemptive sacrifice of Christ without believing the Adam and Eve story actually took place. 

A matter for another thread, and I only bring it up to examine the question of why this all matters: who cares if Genesis is literally true or allegorically true or metaphorically true? Well, lots of people, actually. If you're not one of those people, FINE.

 

The PFAL definition of God-breathed (I would have been more accurate to say PFAL's criteria for characteristics of the God-breathed word) contends that if there is an error or contradiction, then it "all falls apart" and is not God-breathed. That's not to say PFAL is right. It's just our only common frame of reference. So, are there really errors? Yes. Are there really contradictions? Yes.

What about plot holes? Well, if they're glaring enough, a plot hole would fall in the category of an error. For example, if Genesis is talking about Satan and not a literal snake, then why does God punish snakes? Technically, Genesis does not say a word about the serpent being a spiritual being. It talks about a snake. We get that it was Satan from extrapolating later scriptures. Revelation calls Satan "that old serpent." No, it does not say he was present at Eden, but the word choice seems intentional.

So why did God punish snakes? That's why I listed it. Why didn't God talk to Abel when he talked to literally everyone else mentioned in the Bible to that point? ["Because" is not an answer. "Why would he?" is not an answer. It's an evasion. He would talk to Abel to save Abel's life. That's a blasted good reason right there]. 

My point: I think we need a place for plot holes when discussing errors.

I guess. 

Edited by Raf

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Adam was God-breathed.  He fell apart.  The Word is God-breathed, too.

(I'm hoping this counts as an error or plot hole)

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Might strike you as rather odd, but personally, I'm inclined towards thinking that the first three chapters of Genesis might be some of the most misunderstood scriptures in the Bible, and I have probably spent as much (perhaps more) time pondering their meaning than I have nearly any other section of scripture.  Although the way I view it now is far different than it was years ago (when closer to the doctrines and teaching of twi), and is still some distance away from being perfect or as complete as it might be for others, it does give me a certain perspective on it that I find extraordinarily difficult at times to convey in terms that can be quickly or easily understood.

God is a spirit (according to scripture.) Man is not. And that which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Between spirit and flesh is... what, exactly? What is the divide, and/or what is the bridge between these two?  How and or why did it start, or get to be this way? And once separated, how does (or is) anything that is spiritual in nature communicate with (or get communicated to) that which is by nature, flesh... that sees/hears/thinks ONLY in terms that are "fleshly"?

Hence, when something is referred to as being "literally true"... does that axiomatically restrict it to something that is (or can be) only known to the flesh?

Why can't something be "literally true" if or when specifically intended to refer to a spiritual reality? Ah, well... the difficulty falls back onto our expression and communication of it.

So, Genesis begins the task of communicating the whys and wherefores of certain spiritually realities to a fleshly mind.  An impossibility, perhaps? Or, perhaps not. As, it can (and often does) entail the usage of words and phrases with dual meanings.  Confuse, mix up, and/or otherwise exchange the two, and it positively looks like certain errors. 

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it appears gsc will be shutting down at the end of November.

As such, I will cease and desist from this and all other discussions.

It has been an honor. 

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