Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

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Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby JasonPratt » Wed Jun 17, 2009 5:28 am

JD Walters, a Princeton student and fellow Cadrist, has begun posting a promising series analyzing and critiquing conflict in science and theology.

His fine first entry can be found here. I hope he'll be able to continue the series. (If so, I'll add updated links as posts.)


The topic has nothing to do with universalism per se. It was just a good article and I wanted to promote him a bit. :)

Here are the first few paragraphs:

JD Walters wrote:When I first came to college I was sure I wanted to be a theoretical physicist. I took the most advanced introductory classes in mechanics and electromagnetism along with multivariable calculus, linear algebra and differential equations and was on my way to classical and quantum mechanics when I realized that I was more interested in the 'big' questions traditionally addressed by philosophy and theology: why is the world the way it is, what makes science possible, what is the place of human beings in the Universe? I decided to major in religion, but my interest in science did not abate, and I continued to explore my interests in neuroscience, computer science and philosophy of mind. The goal that drove my investigations was to achieve an integration of the best science and the best theology in an intellectually rigorous yet spiritually satisfying worldview. That goal still animates me, as it does some of the greatest scientists alive today (not coincidentally also those who have actually wrestled with philosophy and theology instead of just dismissing them as 'metaphysical hand-waving').

That commitment implies eschewing simplistic construals of the interaction of science and theology. Both are hugely complex social and intellectual phenomena with a rich and varied history of conflict, tension, cooperation and mutual support. This much is well established by historical investigation. The steady retreat of theology before the relentless advance of materialistic science is a myth, part of the story that early modern philosophes told in order to advance their socio-political agendas. It is easy to understand from a psychological point of view why adherents of a particular worldview would like to claim the prestige of being 'scientific', given science's enormous instrumental success and its connotations of being objective, universal and (relatively) certain knowledge. But despite atheist materialism's rhetoric the truth is that this materialism did not gain any further legitimacy due to the advance of science than it already had, and too many failed metaphysics (such as Comte's 'religion of humanity', eugenics, Marxism, etc.) have claimed the title of 'scientific' for that boast to be taken seriously, at least without a lot of detailed historical and philosophical argumentation.

But this commitment also implies eschewing the simplistic, evasive and/or triumphalist rhetoric of some believers. History shows that while conflict between science and religion was not inevitable, nevertheless it did break out on occasion. Whenever believers of any traditional affiliation make empirical claims (for example, by predicting the exact date when Christ will return to Earth or arguing that the Universe is only 6,000 years old) they expose themselves to the possibility of being proven wrong. The advance of empirical science CAN make certain worldviews seem increasingly implausible. It's no wonder that ancient Greek religion, for example, with its insistence that the gods lived on Mount Olympus is no longer a live option, because anyone can go up to the summit and see that there is no temple, no dwelling place of the immortals (arguably this is not an instance of empirical science per se rendering such beliefs implausible, because it is simply a matter of observation; this only shows how difficult it is to demarcate science from other human intellectual activity, as we will see).
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Re: Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby JeffA » Wed Jun 17, 2009 11:52 pm

Thanks for that Jason it looks very interesting. It is refreshing to hear the view that both scientific AND philosophical/theological positions are complex and not understood at the drop of a hat. I realise as I get older (in my second half-century now :D ) that I am constantly swayed by both sides of the argument because the refutations of each side toward the other (I'm talking about those with a depth of knowledge on both sides - not bickering by partisan bystanders) always seem very plausible when people like these are stating their case.

I struggle constantly with my belief system because my life experience hasn't ever included anything that could be remotely described as - beyond the natural (probably a poor phrase) - therefore I only have my intellect with which to decide these things and theology is perhaps less about intellect (though not entirely so) than the scientific approach (not that I place logic and evidence above everything).

When I hear others here (and elsewhere) relaying stories of their encounters with 'something beyond the physical' one part of me is quite jealous. Lately I have portrayed my stance as more atheist than agnostic (mainly because of the way certain threads have developed). The reality is still that I am the Agnostic Universalist - I have great difficulty with the existance of the supernatural (for the want of a better phrase) but if I were granted one wish it would be that Christian Universalism be true.
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Re: Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby Robert » Sun Nov 27, 2016 10:34 pm

Hi @jasonpratt Just came across this post. I wondered if you could provide a few links or give some examples of evidences for theistic evolution?? It looks like the science area has been removed from the forum as well as controversial topics. I have a friend who is a strict literalist as well as claims science disproves evolution and any attempt to accept common ancestry is a lie and junk science. If anyonr else has any links to share or thoughts to provide please do. Thanks so much :)

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Re: Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby JasonPratt » Mon Nov 28, 2016 6:04 am

The science category hasn't been removed; it's just in members-only because the discussions aren't necessarily relevant to the main topic of the board.

viewforum.php?f=63

Biologos may be the premier Christian theistic evolution site.

They frankly don't understand intelligent design very well, however. Their description of ID paints it as "scientific... reasons to give up on pursuing natural explanations for how God governs natural phenomena." That's a quite cheating way to describe ID, which is primarily a scientific forensic study, although one which, due to the character of the current scientific paradigm, is highly critical of neo-Darwinian gradualism as an entirely undirected method of producing species development. Theistic evolutionists themselves vary on whether God directs a process that would otherwise be tantamount to neo-Dar-grad, and if so how far God directs it (or sublets that direction out to various created entities). ID and Theo-Ev can overlap without necessary problems.

Of course, some ID proponents are more critical of neo-Dar-grad theory than others; the general thrust from ID has been that there are too many scientific details that neo-Darwinian gradualism cannot account for, and that it has intrinsic principle problems in any case, so we should look for adjustments to a new scientific theory -- there are scientists proposing this who aren't intelligent design advocates either. Still, someone could decide neo-Darwinian gradualism works just fine and also that there is scientific (forensic) evidence that the process was set up by an intelligent designer. That would still be ID, and still be theistic evolutionism. None of that amounts to "giving up on pursuing natural explanations for how God governs natural phenomena". :roll: :roll: :roll:
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Re: Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby JasonPratt » Mon Nov 28, 2016 6:12 am

Robert wrote:Hi @jasonpratt Just came across this post.


Meanwhile: in order to make the tag function work, you just type the forum name (not sure if you have to include appropriate capitals but I do it anyway to be safe), drag-select it with the mouse, and then left-click on the "tag" button at the upper right immediately above the post-composition window. Don't include the ampersand; the system does that by itself.

The result will look like this in your text, except with square brackets not fancy ones: {tag}JasonPratt{/tag}. You can also type it out manually, as I just did (but use square brackets). I prefer to type it out because if you drag-select a little too far you could pick up punctuation by accident and that will ruin the tag function.

Thus I'll demonstrate by tagging you, @Robert. If I drag select a little too much, @Robert, and try the same thing it won't work. However, the function knows to get rid of extra spaces if you drag-select them by accident. (You can "quote" reply to me and see the BBCode directly that I used.)
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Re: Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby Paidion » Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:39 pm

JD Walters wrote:Whenever believers of any traditional affiliation make empirical claims (for example, by predicting the exact date when Christ will return to Earth or arguing that the Universe is only 6,000 years old) they expose themselves to the possibility of being proven wrong.


Whether or not those who "argue that the Universe is only 6,000 years old expose themselves to the possibility of being proven wrong," if the genealogies given in the Bible from Adam on are correct, then the time from Adam to the present is about 6000 years.

Also, Moses in Genesis affirms that man ("adam" means "man") was created on the sixth day of creation (Gen 1:24-31). I know many want to think of these "days" (with their evenings and mornings) as long ages of time, but in my opinion such an interpretation is a stretch, and would surprise Moses if he had known that people would some day regard the six days of creation in that way.
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Re: Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby JasonPratt » Mon Nov 28, 2016 5:22 pm

Moses might have been surprised to learn that someday people would regard the blue firmament over his head as not actually a firmament holding water above it either, and the sun as not actually rising and setting around the world. Perspective language is as perspective language does. ;)

(Also, I'm pretty sure I've read that the way the day announcements work, mankind was actually created on "Day 5". The evening and morning afterward start "day 6". Day 7 hasn't come yet. Creation starts before "Day 1". This is connected to why the Jews regarded the new day as starting at sundown. This is aside from how the two separate creation sequences in Genesis are supposed to be regarded -- mankind is reckoned as being created earlier in the second account.)
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Re: Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby Paidion » Mon Nov 28, 2016 6:43 pm

Man was created on the fifth day?

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.
30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.
31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.


Does not Moses say that the events described above occurred on the sixth day? If he had meant that man was created on the fifth day and then pronounced the beginning of the sixth day in verse 31, tell me what happened on the sixth day?

The above account is followed by these two verses in chapter 2:

1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.


Doesn't verse 1 summarize all of the creative acts that preceded it, culminating with the creation of man on day 6?
Doesn't verse 2 indicate that the following day—day 7, God had finished creating?

Thus if He had created man on the 5th day, He must have finished his creating on that day, and did nothing NEITHER on the 6th or 7th day.
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Re: Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby JasonPratt » Tue Nov 29, 2016 6:46 am

Creation is brought to completion on the 6th day (e.g. polishing and tweaking and adjusting), God rests on the 7th.

The way English grammar works, combined with our tradition of the day starting with sunrise (or maybe at midnight), we naturally think of the sentence reading as though mankind is created on the 6th day: there was evening and morning following creation of mankind and that was the sixth day. The ancient Jews didn't think that way, though: the new day started at sunset, so evening and morning Day Six starts day six. Typologically, the finishing of the heavens and the earth and the masses of them (the armies? the groups?) on the sixth day, corresponds also to human and natural history after creation before the coming Day of YHWH. (I mean even if there was literally a sixth day after the creation of mankind on a fifth day.)

I was surprised to learn about this, too, several years ago -- but once I did, several oddities in the scriptures clicked into place, including why Jewish culture would ever regard sunset (of all things) as the start of the new day: because that's how their creation account runs. (I suppose one could chicken and egg that: which came first, the idea that sunset starts the new day which thus got put into how they described creation, or seeing a revelation of creational processes which led them to regard sunset as the start of the new day somehow? Eh, no idea yet. :) )

Days, as a distinction, can only get going once there is light and darkness, too (setting aside whether a distinct sun has to be created yet for that, or whether this is an impression from someone being given a vision of the separation of gasses, liquids, and solids, upon the surface of the earth, since the sun and moon wouldn't be visible at first). So once there's an evening and a morning, Day One can start: creation of the heavens and the earth happens before Day One.

If you've ever heard theories about an unknown amount of cosmic history happening before Day One, this distinction is sometimes behind those theories. :ugeek:
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Re: Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby Paidion » Tue Nov 29, 2016 4:04 pm

Yes, Jason. I have been aware for many years that the Hebrew day begins at sunset and ends at the sunset of the next day.
However, I don't see how that fact implies that man was created on the fifth day.

However if we want to think of the fifth day in the sense of midnight to midnight as we presently do in United States and Canada, then it is possible that man was created on the fifth midnight-to-midnight day, if he had been created, say at 9 P.M. But if he had been created at say, 3 A.M., it would still have been on the sixth day even in the midnight-to-midnight system.
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Re: Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby JasonPratt » Wed Nov 30, 2016 5:53 am

Paidion wrote:Yes, Jason. I have been aware for many years that the Hebrew day begins at sunset and ends at the sunset of the next day.
However, I don't see how that fact implies that man was created on the fifth day.


"And it/he was evening and it/he was morning day of-six" means Day Six has started at sundown (and the subsequent morning -- evening and morning both being masculine in grammar so getting a masculine pronoun for the neuter). Not that Day Six has ended at sundown (and the subsequent morning). Mankind and the other animals are created the day before day of-six starts at sundown, specifically after "it was evening and it was morning day of-five" meaning after Day Five started at sundown.

Once the day-starts-at-sundown factor is factored in, that fact implies that mankind (and the animals) are created on the day that started with the evening and the morning of day five. Thus, created on day five. If they had been created on day six, they would have been listed as being created after the sundown-and-morning start of day six instead of after the sundown-and-morning start of day five.

Sundown or morning either one could be considered the start of the day for technical or practical purposes, respectively; but either way, the day number is reckoned as starting then. Not ENDING then. The whole point to including morning along with the evening would be to clarify that the count, day six for example, is being reckoned forward as the start of the next day (day six starts), not the ending of the previous day (not day six ends).
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Re: Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby Geoffrey » Wed Nov 30, 2016 9:24 am

Paidion wrote:I know many want to think of these "days" (with their evenings and mornings) as long ages of time, but in my opinion such an interpretation is a stretch, and would surprise Moses if he had known that people would some day regard the six days of creation in that way.


My gut instinct is precisely the opposite. When I first read the Genesis account at age 10, it was obvious to me that these six days lasted much longer than 24 hours each. It never even crossed my mind that anyone would think otherwise until I ran into my first Young Earth Creationist when I was 16 or 17 years old. I think Moses would be astounded at some of his readers thinking these days each lasted 24 hours.

Is there a way that doesn't feel artificial to regard Adam being created and instructed by God, naming all the birds of the air and the beasts of the field, getting to feeling lonely, having surgery, and getting married--all within 24 hours? And surely Adam took time for meals and for sleep, further reducing his work time to a mere 14 hours or so? Cramming all of that within 14 or even 24 hours would have Adam hustling and bustling as though it were Christmas Eve and he just started buying presents for 82 relatives. If nothing else, surely Eden was paradisial and not filled with hurry!hurry!hurry!

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Re: Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby JasonPratt » Thu Dec 01, 2016 6:30 am

And that's before accounting for the different creation order in the second creation story (where Adam specifically shows up, names the animals as they're being created, etc.) ;)

I know there's a YEC way around that, sort of, by going with two literal weeks of creation, with the second week only being the creation of Eden and the garden, but it still starts running into problems. (Though it does kind of solve the who-did-Cain-marry-later problem: he married from the people God created on the first week before creating Adam and Eve and Eden. They had been busy going about their own business and... um... weren't part of the fall? ...opps. :mrgreen: )
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Re: Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby Paidion » Thu Dec 01, 2016 9:08 pm

Geoffrey wrote:Is there a way that doesn't feel artificial to regard Adam being created and instructed by God, naming all the birds of the air and the beasts of the field, getting to feeling lonely, having surgery, and getting married--all within 24 hours? And surely Adam took time for meals and for sleep, further reducing his work time to a mere 14 hours or so? Cramming all of that within 14 or even 24 hours would have Adam hustling and bustling as though it were Christmas Eve and he just started buying presents for 82 relatives.


I've known dozens of believers in a young earth, and have never met one who even hinted at what you are suggesting in the paragraph above.

The seven days are concluded in Genesis 2:3
So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

Man was created on day 6, but those events you are describing are recorded AFTER the reference to day 7 in Genesis 2:3, and so I, personally, have always understood that they occurred after day 7.
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Re: Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby Geoffrey » Fri Dec 02, 2016 6:23 am

But Paidion, please consider the following verses:

"So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (Genesis 1:27)

"So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him." (Genesis 2:20)

"Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man." (Genesis 2:22)

We see from Genesis 1:27 that God created both Adam and Eve on day six. We see from Genesis 2:20 that Adam named the animals before God created Eve. Since Eve was created on day 6, therefore the naming of the animals necessarily took place on day 6.

"All cattle, the birds of the air, and every beast of the field" is a lot of animals to name within a 24-hour span of time. I do not see how it could all be accomplished within 24 hours.
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Re: Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby DaveB » Fri Dec 02, 2016 8:12 am

Uh-oh :o :shock:
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Re: Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby Paidion » Sun Dec 04, 2016 5:06 pm

Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:3 is a different account for that of the events described in Genesis 2:4 onward. Notice that the creator is merely called "God" in the first account, and the events on each of the seven days are given. But from Genesis 2:4 on, He is called "Yahweh God" in nearly every instance.

I still say that the account of the 7-day creation in Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:3 gives the basics of creation, but not the details, and that those events described in the second account took place AFTER day 7.
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Re: Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby Paidion » Sun Dec 04, 2016 5:12 pm

A number of years ago (I'm not sure how many—maybe 20 or more), a pagan posted his views in another forum. He believed that Genesis 1 and 2 were descriptions of two different creations and several different creators (in Genesis 1). He believed that he, himself, was a descendant of those from the first creation described in Genesis 1, prior to Adam and Eve, and that others are descendants of Adam and Eve, who were created by the god, Yahweh, as recorded in Genesis 2. He called himself one of "the other people." I posted this once before; I can't remember whether it was in this forum or not.

In any case, I thought you might be interested in this pagan's understanding of Genesis 1 and 2—far out from a Jewish or Christian point of view, but rather interesting notwithstanding:


The Book of Genesis was translated from ancient Hebrew stories. For the ancient Hebrews "divinities (elohim) dwelt in nature and in the sky. Different tribes each had particular deities who were especially concerned with their affairs. Elohim is a plural word, including male and female, and should properly be translated "Gods" or "Pantheon." (Genesis 1:26) The Elohim said, "Let us make humanity in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves, and let them be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all the wild beasts and all the reptiles that crawl upon the earth." (Genesis 1: 27) The Gods created humanity in the image of themselves, in the image of the Gods they created them, Male and female they created them.(Genesis 1:28) The Gods blessed them, saying to them, "Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and conquer it. Be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven and all living animals on the earth."Now clearly, here we are talking about the original creation of the human species: male and female. All the animals, plants, etc. have all been created in previous verses. This is before the Garden of Eden, and Yahweh is not mentioned as the creator of these people.

The next chapter talks about how Yahweh, an individual member of the Pantheon, goes about assembling his own special little botanical and zoological Garden in Eden, and making his own little man to inhabit it:(Genesis 2:7) Yahweh fashioned a man of dust from the soil. Then he breathed into his nostrils a breath of life, and thus the man became a living being.(Genesis 2:8) Yahweh planted a garden in Eden, which is in the east, and there he put the man he had fashioned. (Genesis 2:9) Yahweh caused to spring up from the soil every kind of tree, enticing to look at and good to eat, with the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the middle of the garden. (Genesis 2:15) Yahweh took the man and settled him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and take care of it.Now this next is crucial: note Yahweh's precise words: (Genesis 2:16) Then Yahweh gave the man this admonition, "You may eat indeed of all the trees in the garden. (Genesis 2:17) Nevertheless of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you are not to eat, for on the day you eat of it you shall most surely die." Fateful words, those! We will refer back to this admonition later. Then Yahweh decides to make a woman to go with the man. Now, don't forget that the Pantheon had earlier created a whole population of people, "male and female," who are presumably doing just fine somewhere outside the gates of Eden. But this set-up in Eden is Yahweh's own little experiment, and will unfold to its own separate destiny. (Genesis 2:21) So Yahweh made the man fall into a deep sleep. And while he slept, he took one of his ribs and enclosed it in flesh.(Genesis 2:22) Yahweh built the rib he had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man. Right. Man gives birth to woman. Sure he does. But that's the way the story is told here. (Genesis 2:25)

Now both of them were naked, the man and his wife, but they felt no shame in front of each other. Well, of course not! Why should they? But take careful note of those words, as they also will prove to be significant...Now this next part is where it starts to get interesting. Enter the Serpent: (Genesis 3:1).The serpent was the most subtle of all the wild beasts that Yahweh God had made. It asked the woman, "Did Yahweh really say you were not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?" (Genesis 3:2) The woman answered the serpent; "We may eat the fruit of the trees in the garden. (Genesis 3:3) "But of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden”” God said, ““You must not eat it, nor touch it, under pain of death."(Genesis 3:4) Then the serpent said to the woman, "No! You will not die!” (Genesis 3:5) Yahweh knows in fact that on the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil." What a remarkable statement! "Your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil." The Serpent directly contradicts Yahweh. Obviously, one of them has to be lying. Which one, do you suppose? And, if the serpent speaks true, wouldn't you wish to eat of the magic fruit? Wouldn't it be a good thing, to become "like gods, knowing good and evil"? Or is it preferable to remain in ignorance? (Genesis 3:6) The woman saw that the tree was good to eat and pleasing to the eye, and that it was desirable for the knowledge that it could give. So she took some of its fruit and ate it. She gave some also to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:7) Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized that they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together to make themselves loincloths. The author makes an interesting assumption here: that if you realize you are naked you will automatically want to cover yourself. Further implications will unfold shortly.(Genesis 3:8) The man and his wife heard the sound of Yahweh walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from Yahweh among the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:9) But Yahweh called to the man. "Where are you?" he asked. (Genesis 3:10) "I heard the sound of you in the garden," he replied. "I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid."(Genesis 3:11) "Who told you that you were naked?" he asked. "Have you been eating of the tree I forbade you to eat?" And so the sign of the Fall becomes modesty. Take note of this. The descendants of Adam and Eve will be distinguished throughout history from virtually all other peoples by their obsessive modesty taboos, wherein they will feel ashamed of being naked. It follows that those who feel no shame in being naked are, by definition, not carriers of this spiritual disease of original sin!(Gen. 3:12) The man replied, “It was the woman you put with me; she gave me the fruit, and I ate it." Right. Blame the woman. What a turkey! (Genesis 3:13) Then Yahweh asked the woman, "What is this you have done?"The woman replied, "The serpent tempted me and I ate.”” So of course she blames the serpent. But just what did the serpent do that was so evil? Why, he called Yahweh a liar! Was he wrong? Let's see... (Genesis 3:21) Yahweh God made clothes out of skins for the man and his wife, and they put them on. Out of skins? This means that Yahweh had to kill some innocent animals to pander to Adam and Eve's new obsession with modesty! And now we come to the crux of the Fall. Yahweh had said back there in Chapter (2:17), regarding the fruit of the tree of knowledge, "On the day you eat of it you shall most surely die." The Serpent, on the other hand, had contradicted Yahweh in chapter (3:4-5): "No! You will not die! God knows in fact that on the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil." So what actually happened? Who lied and who told the truth about this remarkable fruit? The answer is given in the next verse: (Genesis 3:22) Then Yahweh said, "See, the man has become like one of us, with his knowledge of good and evil. He must not be allowed to stretch his hand out next and pick from the tree of life also, and eat some and live forever." Get that? Yahweh himself admits that he had lied! In fact, and in Yahweh's own words, the Serpent spoke the absolute truth! And moreover, Yahweh tells the rest of the Pantheon that he intends to evict Adam (and presumably Eve as well) to keep them from gaining immortality to go with their newly- acquired divine knowledge. To prevent them, in other words, from truly becoming gods! So who, in this story, comes off as a benefactor of humanity, and who comes off as a tyrant? THE SERPENT NEVER LIED!

This story, to digress slightly, bears a remarkable resemblance to a contemporary tale from ancient Greece. In that version, the Serpent (later identified as Lucifer, the Light-Bearer) may be equated with the heroic titan Prometheus, who championed humanity against the tyranny of Zeus, who wished for people to be mere slaves of the gods. Prometheus, whose name means "forethought," gave people wisdom, intelligence, and fire stolen from Olympus. Moreover, he ordained the portions of animal sacrifice so that humans got the best parts (the meat and hides) while the portion that was burned to the gods was the bones and fat. In punishment for this defiance of his divine authority, Zeus condemned Prometheus to a terrible punishment for an immortal: to be chained to a mountain in the Caucasus, where Zeus' gryphon/eagle (actually a Lammergier) would devour his liver each day. It would grow back each night. Zeus promised to relent if Prometheus would reveal his great secret knowledge: Who would succeed Zeus as supreme god? Prometheus refused to tell, but history has revealed the answer...The interesting thing about all this is that the Greeks properly regarded Prometheus as a noble hero in his defiance of unjust tyranny. One may wonder why the Serpent is not so well regarded.

On the contrary, snakes are loathed throughout Christendom. (3:23) So Yahweh God expelled him from the garden of Eden, to till the soil from which he had been taken. (3:24) He banished the man, and in front of the Garden of Eden he posted the cherubs, and the flame of a flashing sword, to guard the way to the tree of life. So that's it for the Fall.But the story of Adam and Eve doesn't end there. (Gen 4:1) The man had intercourse with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain... (4:2) She gave birth to a second child, Abel, the brother of Cain. Now Abel became a shepherd and kept flocks, while Cain tilled the soil. (4:3) Time passed and Cain brought some of the produce of the soil as an offering for Yahweh, (4:4) while Abel, for his part, brought the first-born of his flock and some of their fat as well. Yahweh looked with favor on Abel and his offering. But he did not look with favor on Cain and his offering, and Cain was very angry and downcast. Well, why shouldn't he be? Both brothers had brought forth their first fruits as offerings, but Yahweh rejected the vegetables and only accepted the blood sacrifice. This was to set a gruesome precedent: (4:8) Cain said to his brother Abel, "Let us go out;" and while they were in the open country, Cain set on his brother Abel and killed him. Accursed and marked for fratricide, (4:16) Cain left the presence of Yahweh and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. We can assume that the phrase "left the presence of Yahweh" implies that Yahweh is a local deity, and not omnipresent.

Now Eden, according to (Gen. 2:14-15), was situated at the source of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, apparently right where Lake Van is now, in Turkey. "East of Eden," therefore, would probably be along the shores of the Caspian Sea, right in the Indo-European heartland. Cain settled in there, among the people of Nod, and married one of the women of that country. Here, for the first time, is specifically mentioned the "other people" who are not of the lineage of Adam and Eve. i.e.: the Pagans. So let's look at this story from another viewpoint: There we were, around six thousand years ago, living in our little farming communities around the Caspian Sea, in the land of Nod, when this dude with a terrible scar comes stumbling in out of the sunset. He tells us this bizarre story, about how his mother and father had been created by some god named Yahweh, and put in charge of a beautiful garden somewhere out west, and how they had gotten thrown out for disobedience after eating some of the landlord's forbidden magic fruit of enlightenment. He tells us of murdering his brother, as the god of his parents would only accept blood sacrifice, and of receiving that scar as a mark so that all would know him as a fratricide. The poor guy is really a mess psychologically, obsessed with guilt. He is also obsessively modest, insisting on wearing clothes even in the hottest summer, and he has a hard time with our penchant for skinny-dipping in the warm inland sea. He seems to believe that he is tainted by the "sin" of his parent's disobedience; that it is in his blood, somehow, and will continue to contaminate his children and his children's children. One of our healing women takes pity on the poor sucker, and marries him...

(4:17) Cain had intercourse with his wife, and she conceived and gave birth to Enoch. He became the builder of a town, and he gave the town the name of his son Enoch. With both of their first sons not turning out very well, Adam and Eve decided to try again: (4:25) Adam had intercourse with his wife, and she gave birth to a son whom she named Seth... (4:26) A son was also born to Seth, and he named him Enoch. This man was the first to invoke the name of Yahweh. Now it doesn't mention here where Seth's wife came from. Another woman from Nod, possibly, or maybe someone from another Neolithic community downstream in the Tigris-Euphrates valley. But her folks also, cannot be of the lineage of Adam and Eve, and must also be counted among "the other people." But whatever happened to Adam? After all, way back there in chapter Gen. 2:17, warning Adam about the magic fruit of knowledge, Yahweh had told him that "on the day you eat of it you shall most surely die." So, when did Adam die? (Gen. 5:4) Adam lived for eight hundred years after the birth of Seth and he became the father of sons and daughters. (5:5) In all, Adam lived for nine hundred and thirty years; then he died. Hey, that's pretty good! Nine hundred and some odd years isn't bad for a man who's been told he's going to die the next day! Well, the story goes on, but suffice it to say that those of us who are not of Semitic descent (i.e., not of the lineage of Adam and Eve) cannot share in the Original Sin that comes with that lineage.

Being that the Bible is the story of that lineage, of Adam and Eve's descendants and their special relationship with their particular god, Yahweh, it follows that this is not the story of the rest of us. We may have been Cain's wife's people, or Seth's wife's people, or some other people over the hill and far away, but whichever people the rest of us are, as far as the Bible is concerned, we are the Other People, and so we are continually referred to throughout. Later books of the Bible are filled with admonitions to the followers of Yahweh to "learn not the ways of the Pagans..." (Jer 10:2) with detailed descriptions of exactly what it is we do, such as erect standing stones and sacred poles, worship in sacred groves and practice divination and magic. And worship the sun, moon, stars and the "Queen of Heaven." "You must not behave as they do in Egypt where once you lived; you must not behave as they do in Canaan where I am taking you. You must not follow their laws." (Lev 18:3) For Yahweh, as he so clearly emphasizes, is not the god of the Pagans.

We have our own lineage and our own heritage, and our tale is not told in the Bible. We were not "made" like clay figurines by a male deity out of "dust from the soil." We were born of our Mother the Earth, and have evolved over eons in Her nurturing embrace. All of us, in our many and diverse tribes, have creation myths and legends of our origins and history; some of these tales may even be actually true. Like the descendants of Adam and Eve, many of us also have stories of great floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other cataclysms that wiped out whole communities of our people. Where in "I alone survived to tell the tale." Nearly all of our ancestral tribes (and especially those of us who today are reclaiming our own Pagan heritage) lack that peculiar obsessive body modesty that seems to be a hallmark of the original sin alluded to in the story of the Fall. We can be naked and unashamed! Why, our Goddess even tells us, "as a sign that you are truly free, you shall be naked in your rites." Not being born into sin, we have no need of salvation, and no need of a Messiah to redeem our sinful souls. Neither heaven nor hell is our destination in the afterlife; we have our own various arrangements with our own various deities. The Bible is not our story; we have our own stories to tell, and they are many and diverse. In a long life, you may get to hear many of them... May you live long and prosper!
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Re: Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby Geoffrey » Sun Dec 04, 2016 6:10 pm

Paidion wrote:Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:3 is a different account for that of the events described in Genesis 2:4 onward. Notice that the creator is merely called "God" in the first account, and the events on each of the seven days are given. But from Genesis 2:4 on, He is called "Yahweh God" in nearly every instance.

I still say that the account of the 7-day creation in Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:3 gives the basics of creation, but not the details, and that those events described in the second account took place AFTER day 7.


Paidion, I am puzzled as to how that could be so. Consider:

On day 6 "God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them" (Genesis 1:27).

In Genesis 2:7-21 God created man: a male and a female. Therefore the events of these fifteen verses took place on day 6. In verses 19-20 of that passage Adam named all the animals. This naming therefore took place on day 6.
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Re: Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby Paidion » Sun Dec 04, 2016 8:02 pm

Yes, Gen 2:4-7 gives a short account of God's creation (or should I say a brief reference to God's creation?).

I should have said that the events described from Gen 2:8 onward, occurred after day 7.
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Re: Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby Geoffrey » Sun Dec 04, 2016 8:29 pm

Paidion wrote:I should have said that the events described from Gen 2:8 onward, occurred after day 7.


Is the woman whom God created on day 6 (Genesis 1:27) the same woman whom God created in Genesis 2:22?
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Re: Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby JasonPratt » Wed Dec 07, 2016 1:16 pm

Lilith, nooooo! :mrgreen: :twisted:
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Re: Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby Cindy Skillman » Wed Dec 07, 2016 5:49 pm

I have thought otherwise (as Jason and Paidion know), but I've come to the place where I really believe the creation story is a part of the sacred myth of the Jewish people. I think Moses would be amused and astonished that we try to take it literally and, while many of us do arrive at the same truths by more circuitous routes, we entirely miss the lessons of the creation story. I think he would be ROFL at our attempts to squeeze it into scientific pants that are completely the wrong size and shape for it.
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Re: Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby davo » Wed Dec 07, 2016 6:10 pm

Cindy Skillman wrote:I have thought otherwise (as Jason and Paidion know), but I've come to the place where I really believe the creation story is a part of the sacred myth of the Jewish people. I think Moses would be amused and astonished that we try to take it literally and, while many of us do arrive at the same truths by more circuitous routes, we entirely miss the lessons of the creation story. I think he would be ROFL at our attempts to squeeze it into scientific pants that are completely the wrong size and shape for it.

    Absolutely :!:
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Re: Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby DaveB » Wed Dec 07, 2016 6:15 pm

"Scientific Pants"? You are a goddess!!!!
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Re: Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby Cindy Skillman » Wed Dec 07, 2016 6:21 pm

:lol: :lol: :lol: The Holy Spirit said that to me--no really! ;)
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Re: Conflict In Science And Theology (by JD Walters)

Postby Geoffrey » Wed Dec 07, 2016 7:56 pm

JasonPratt wrote:Lilith, nooooo! :mrgreen: :twisted:


Quite. The only way around the fact that Adam named the animals on day 6 would be to suppose that the woman whom God created in Genesis 1:27 wasn't Eve. So we have Lilith. Then the question, "What happened to Lilith?" And before you know it, contemporary Christians have re-created the Talmudic Lilith.

Obviously, though, the woman created in Genesis 1:27 was Eve (whose creation is described in more detail in chapter 2). Therefore Adam named the animals on day 6. Therefore the days of Genesis 1 lasted longer than 24 hours each.
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