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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Christian Literalist Question (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Christian Literalist Question
Darth_Mauve
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I am not a Christian Literalist.

I don't believe that every word in the Bible is true.

I was considering bits of it when I ran across this question:

Some background.

Genesis. The snake (not Satan. In Genesis its just the first snake that is to blame) convinces Eve to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. This was expressly forbidden by God. Eve convinces Adam to do the same. God is not happy with their choice and curses them.

They are kicked out of the Garden of Eden.
Death begins taking their tole.
They have to work for their bread.
And women have to give birth in pain.
This is the Original Sin.

Fast forward several good books in the Good Book.
Jesus dies on the cross as payment for our sins. If we believe in him, truly believe in him, then all our sins are forgiven.

Death is no longer haunting us since we will have eternal life.

All of our sins are forgiven.

So why do Christian Women still give birth in pain?

If their sin, this original sin is removed by their faith, why do they still suffer the curse? God took away death, but not the pain of child birth because....?

It can't be because Eve's sin was so much more than Adams, because Jesus's sacrifice removed all sin.

It can't be because the pain is a result of those actions (we are forgiven, but must still endure the results of our actions) because death is also a result of those actions.

There are certainly answers to be interpreted from the Bible to explain this--but that is Interpretation. Literalists don't believe in interpretation. They believe that the Bible is the fact and should be taken by itself without the need for interpretation.

So if you have an answer to this question, just put it in the form a Literalist would use.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Literalists don't believe in interpretation. They believe that the Bible is the fact and should be taken by itself without the need for interpretation.
I think this is problematic because even the people who say 'literally every word in the bible is literally true as the word of god' are necessarily engaging in a severe degree of interpretation. There's not just interpreting the meaning of passages in the bible, there's the significant degree of subjectively interpreting which statements in the bible are more important and which are less important, and whether it's more important to, say, keep gays from marrying or to stone people to death for wearing cotton/polyester blend clothing or whatever.

This is beyond the issue of figuring out which version of the bible is supposed to be literally true. Does it have to be the KJV or do others count or etc etc etc.

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Raymond Arnold
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Without speaking too much for the Biblical literalists, I will merely note that if we're taking the whole Bible at face value, the book of Revelation refers to the devil as "that ancient Serpent." As far as I know that's the only link between the devil and the serpent, but it's there.
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BlackBlade
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His remarks to Adam and Eve were a description of the sort of life they would now be living as a result of their new fallen natures.

Without getting into any arguments about the nature of grace, I will simply state that I do not believe we have all been saved from death in the way you are saying. While it is true that everybody will be resurrected, eternal life indicates that one lives with God and will never be severed from him again.

That deliverance does not come until the next life. So while one lives on earth, they must endure the travails of this planet including the actions of other fallen human beings.

I'm not talking about the Original Sin, I do not believe in that concept. Merely than men are by their natures carnal, sensual and devilish, to quote a scripture. So we live in a world that reflects that standard of living.

I suppose one might argue that if all human beings were living righteously, our very earth would become transformed (either by God's help, or by the altruistic intelligence that would fill everybody into accomplishing it) into the paradise Adam and Eve lived in.

TLDR version: Christ prepared a way to escape death, and our sins. That saving act isn't completely in effect right now, otherwise everybody who has died would already be living again.

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Stephan
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Does Jesus dying on the cross wipe out original sin? I think that is really the question. What you state is that he died for our individual sins, not necessarily that of Adam and Eve.
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Geraine
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Great topic. I know that in the translation to English the Bible has many words that were changed. I'd be interested to know if "curse" was translated incorrectly.

I seem to remember that in the Greek version some words can be strictly translated but can mean different things. The word "teleos" was translated as "perfect" but a more proper translation would be "complete" or "finished." When Christ taught his followers to be "perfect" the word used in the Greek version was "teleos."

The Bible can be interpreted many different ways. The very translation can cause people to interpret the Bible in various ways as well.

As far as "Original Sin" I don't believe that phrase is ever used in the Bible if I remember correctly. There are actually more verses that teach against the doctrine of Original Sin.

In Genesis God gives Adam and Eve instructions. He commands them to multiply and replenish the earth. He also tells them not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Earlier it states that Adam and Eve were as little children, and didn't even know they were naked.

They didn't know the difference between good and evil before they partook of the fruit. If you don't know the difference between good and evil, how can you sin? It wasn't exactly a sin, it was more a transgression.

Eve was actually the smart one. She knew that unless they ate the fruit, they wouldn't have the knowledge in order to multiply and replenish the earth, which was the first commandment they had received.

In essence, no fruit = no knowledge of good and evil = no point in Christ even coming or for us to even be here.

That and the the Bible doesn't even mention sin until Cain killed his brother. So I guess literally, that answers the question. [Smile]

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CaySedai
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(I could have replied first, but chickened out and saved my answer in Notepad.)

I'm not a scholar, and don't think I'm a literalist, but here's my opinion:

It wasn't a curse, it was a consequence. When my kids were small, I would tell them not to touch the hot stove because they would get hurt. If they then touched the stove and got burned, it wasn't me cursing them, it was a consequence of their actions.

Because of Adam and Eve's actions, they had to leave the Garden of Eden and work to survive. They would experience pain and suffering and love and joy and death. And their descendents would, too.

On the other hand, had Adam and Eve not eaten the fruit, ever, they would still be there and we wouldn't be here.

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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
They didn't know the difference between good and evil before they partook of the fruit. If you don't know the difference between good and evil, how can you sin? It wasn't exactly a sin, it was more a transgression.

Eve was actually the smart one. She knew that unless they ate the fruit, they wouldn't have the knowledge in order to multiply and replenish the earth, which was the first commandment they had received.

This has always seemed kinda obvious to me.

From my very first reading of the passage, it seemed clear that the Tree of Knowledge was a test we were set up deliberately to fail (fail being perhaps not even the right word) as a means of teaching us a lesson and setting in motion a world that was deeper and more meaningful than Eden was.

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shadowland
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quote:
Originally posted by Darth_Mauve:
Death is no longer haunting us since we will have eternal life.

All of our sins are forgiven.

So why do Christian Women still give birth in pain?

If their sin, this original sin is removed by their faith, why do they still suffer the curse? God took away death, but not the pain of child birth because....?

Perhaps I'm missing something here, but you still have to die before you gain eternal life, no? From a completely literal perspective, if all sins are forgiven, why would a person need to die at all? But since everyone does still die, it would seem to make sense that the other effects would still also be felt, that is, at least until death.
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Ron Lambert
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There are some problems with the way you frame your questions, Darth--one of them being your definition of what it means to be a "Biblical literalist." Another is that if you are a Biblical literalist, then there is no room for "interpretation." Another is your equating Biblical literalism with thinking that every word in the Bible is true.

Since anyone can see the Bible makes extensive use of metaphor, analogy, simile, symbolism, and typology, it would be impossible to understand the Bible if you construe every word as being literally true. The real dividing point needs to be using objective scholarly methods to interpret what the Bible says, as opposed to jumping to conclusions based on sheer imagination that produce what the Apostle Peter condemns as a "private interpretation." (See 2 Peter 1:20.)

I believe that the Bible is the Word of God. This is not the same thing as saying that every word is to be taken literally. God Himself uses metaphor, analogy, simile, symbolism, and typology.

There is also an important division of viewpoint here among those who believe the Bible is the Word of God:

Some say the Bible is divinely inspired and is inerrant "word-for-word," at least in the original languages. Others, probably a larger number, object that the human writers of the Bible were God's penmen, not His pen. In other words, they were not robots, but rather were inspired with messages from God, even guided by Him in the manner of setting them forth, and yet allowed to write what they wrote in their own words, using human language and human approximations. As God cautioned us:
quote:
"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways," declares the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8, 9; NASB)
For instance, the Bible talks about God being angry, or God hating someone. These are human manners of speaking. God is not on trial in these human expressions. These are human attempts to communicate as well as the writer is able to.

But it also must be noted that none of this means that the Bible can be construed to mean anything and everything. Comparing Bible passage with Bible passage, taking things in textual and cultural context (necessary to understand idiomatic expressions common to the period), and observing basic principles of reasonable, objective determination of the meaning of the text, can reliably allow you to be sure in the vast majority of cases what is actually the message God intends for us to come away with.

There are a few cases where the orginal language is unclear to translators, and they make the best guesses they can. But for every passage that might seem unclear, there are dozens more on the same topic that are crystal clear.

Let me note one more point before addressing your questions directly. The serpent in Eden was an actual snake, but was being used or possessed by Satan. The Bible notes that in Eden, snakes were "more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made." (Gen. 3:1; NKJV) It is also widely believed (based on prophetic visions) that the serpents of Eden were very beautiful creatures, that had wings. It was only after the Fall that serpents were condemned to "go" on their "belly" and "eat dust." (Gen. 3:14)

Satan used a serpent as a means for deceiving Eve. The serpent was very impressive, and commanded Eve's respect--especially when it started talking to her! Had Satan appeared in his true form, as a fallen angel kicked out of Heaven, Eve would have instantly have been on her guard. But the serpent could lead Eve to the conclusion that the forbidden fruit would not cause death as God had said, but was responsible for the Serpent's ability to speak, as if eating the fruit exalted the eater into a higher plane of existence. Which was the lie he told to Eve.

The sin was doubting God, especialy doubting the goodness of God, and entertaining the thought that God might be trying to keep something good from Eve and her husband. These doubts, when acted upon, led to disobedience of God's specific command not to eat of this one forbidden tree. There was of course nothing wrong with the fruit. It was the test of Eve's relationship to God that led to the death sentence. Eating the fruit of this one tree was the one and only thing in all the world that God had forbidden to Adam and Eve. This was the only access to Adam and Eve that God allowed Satan to have.

What has happened here on earth must be understood in the context of the larger controversy between God and Satan. God wants the universe He created to be governed by love. But love requires free will, the ability to freely choose to love, to have faith--or not. So God had to allow the possibility of rebellion and doubt of His good intentions. The angel Lucifer came along, and questioned the goodness of God. He suggested that God was selfishly keeping some higher, greater experience from His creatures. Lucifer accused God of showing no self-sacrifice on behalf of His creatures, even while He required them to be self-sacrificing in their love for others and for Him.

God could have destroyed Lucifer. But then all the other angels, all the other intelligent people on other worlds, would thereafter serve God out of fear, suspecting that perhaps Lucifer had been right.

So God allowed Himself, along with Lucifer, to be placed on trial before all His creatures.

Lucifer (now called Satan, the enemy), was allowed the time and freedom to develop the principles of his philosophy, so all could see clearly manifested the real nature and result of the kind of selfish striving and self-exaltation that Lucifer advocated. We see this demonstrated in nature, which is now "red in tooth and claw." We see this in all the cruelty and misery that sinful humans have visited upon each other.

God did something that seemed really risky. He went ahead with His plan for the creation of Mankind, and announced that His purpose in creating Man was to refute Satan and prove that it is truly God Who is right and good. Mankind was going to justify God, and provide the final answer to all of Satan's criticisms and charges against God.

When Satan induced Eve to sin, and then Adam chose diliberately to join her in rebellion (his sin was also to doubt the goodness of God, by supposing that unless he joined with Eve in sin, God would not spare Eve from the death sentence), the human race fell. They had embraced doubt of God's goodness, and had followed Satan's lead. Now Satan claimed that he had usurped man's position as prince or steward of the earth, and was the victor in his controversy with God.

But God did not obliterate Adam and Eve. There were dire consequences of their sin, reflected in nature, even in their own bodies. They began to die, cut off from the Source of continuing life. But still God sustained them for many years, and gave them the promise that He would provide a way for them to be reconciled to Him, and eventually be fully restored to eternal life in Paradise.

The principles of Satan's kingdom needed to be fully worked out, for all the universe to see, so that finally all would be satisfied that Satan's way is wrong and evil. Thus it would be ensured that never again would sin arise. All questions would be settled.

Included in the questions that would be settled, is whether God is willing to sacrifice Himself for His creatures.

By taking responsibility for Mankind, His fallen, erring creatures, and by giving them time to come to repentance and of their own free will choose to respond to the subtle influence of His Spirit, offered to them to enable them to repent and change their behavior--God demonstrated a profound humbling of Himself. Man's sin was not God's fault, but He accepted responsibility for it, so that He could continue to sustain our lives and give us the time we needed to come back to Him.

God went even further. He joined Himself to human nature, and was born as a human. This way He could take the position of Head of the Human race, as a New Adam, and in Himself create a new sinless heritage for all people who turn to Him in faith and trust.

The exact nature of the relation between those we call God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, is not spelled out in the Bible. We are presented with the paradox that they are Three Persons, and yet remain truly One God.

On Calvary the full responsbility for all the sins of the human race--past, present, and future--was imputed to Christ. In Himself, Christ executed the sentence of divine justice against sin. Sinful human nature was punished with death.

For creatures, this would have been the end, since God is the Source of all life, and to be cut off from God is to be cut off from life, from existence itself. But because Christ is Himself God, and Has life unborrowed and underived in Himself, He could survive when the Father turned away His face from His Son.

The risk to Christ and to God was real. Had Christ failed in any regard during His life to live a life of perfect righteousness, had there been any flaw in His Sacrifice, then Christ might have had to remain unconscious for eternity. Alive, but asleep.

At Calvary, when the Father turned His face away from His Son, and allowed Christ to sink into unconsciousness, He showed that He Himself absolutely will not ever choose to embrace sin, no matter what the cost to Himself. All creation thus has been reassured that God will remain truly righteous and good. After all, God has freedom of choice too. On Calvary He made known to us His choice for all time.

When Christ rose from the tomb, when the assurance came that His sacrifice and His righteous life were fully acceptable, Christ was allowed to restore Himself to fully conscious life. When He arose, he was still the Head of the Human race, just as when He died on the Cross. So in Him was established a new human race, one at peace with God, one fully righteous and joined to God in perfect faith.

Thus Christ has already saved every human being, forgiven and washed away all their sins. The good news of the gospel is that salvation and restoration of man--even more, the exaltation of man to sit on the throne of Christ (for wherever He is, humanity is)--are a finished work.

But God still believes in freedom of choice, because He desires for His universe to be ruled by love. So salvation is not forced upon every human. They must choose it. They must choose to agree that Jesus Christ is the New Adam, the Head of Humanity--He is for each one of us, our Saviour, and the Lord of our life.

Because we still need to make this choice, the consequences and pain of sin remain with us. This should keep before our minds the reality of the true evil nature of sin, of selfish striving, of self-exaltation--so we will have every possible motivation to make a full break with Satan's kingdom, let go of all the things of this world we may fondly cling to that keep us from surrendering completely to the Spirit of God, who convicts us of the Salvation we need, and have in Christ.

When everyone on earth has made his or her final decision for or against turning to God, then the end will come, and Christ will return to glorify His people and deliver them from this world, until it also can be made new, and Eden is restored.

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Godric 2.0
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I misread the title of this thread as 'Christian Liberalist Question' and got excited. Then, I realized my mistake.
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Geraine
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quote:
Originally posted by Ron Lambert:
It is also widely believed (based on prophetic visions) that the serpents of Eden were very beautiful creatures, that had wings. It was only after the Fall that serpents were condemned to "go" on their "belly" and "eat dust." (Gen. 3:14)

So...Satan was an evil talking dragon? Interesting....

(Liked your post by the way)

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Geoffrey Card
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I'm not a Bible Literalist by any means, and I don't even accept the classic concept of Original Sin, but ... it seems that forgiving a sin doesn't mean wiping away all of its effects. We still die, and a lot of non-Eden-y things still happen to us. There are just new, compensating benefits from Christ's sacrifice and our receipt of forgiveness, which balance out those negative effects.
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BlackBlade
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Nice to see you again Geoffrey. [Smile]
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Foust
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quote:
It is also widely believed (based on prophetic visions) that the serpents of Eden were very beautiful creatures
I think I'm fairly familiar with the evangelical prophetic scene, at least for an outsider... I've never heard of this idea. How "widely believed" is it?
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Ron Lambert
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Two Bible texts, Isaiah 14:26; 30:6, speak of a "fiery flying serpent." As previously noted, Gen. 3:14 says that the curse God pronounced upon the serpent was that in the future the serpent would "go" on its "belly," and "eat dust." This implies that before this, the serpent had some other means of getting around. Legs would seem unlikely. That leaves wings. I cannot say how many people have noticed these texts, and drawn the logical conclusions about the serpents of Eden.

There are traditions in ancient cultures where beautiful serpents with wings are depicted in their religious art. Even today, some snakes are brilliantly colored, such as the coral snake.

The National Geographic website notes: "There are five species of flying snakes, all of the genus Chrysopelea." These snakes do not have actual wings, but can flatten and undulate their bodies enabling them to glide through the air. Link: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/08/0807_020807_flyingsnake.html

I cannot speak concerning all people who may have ever been given visions of the serpents of Eden. As a Seventh-day Adventist, I am acquainted with the writings of Ellen G. White, who said she was given visions of much of the Bible history she wrote about. Most of our church believes she passed all the Bible tests for a genuine prophet. She described the beauty of the winged snakes of Eden: "The serpent was then one of the wisest and most beautiful creatures on the earth. It had wings, and while flying through the air presented an appearance of dazzling brightness, having the color and brilliancy of burnished gold." (Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets, Review and Herald Publishing Association, ©1890, p. 53.

The world membership of the Seventh-day Adventist church is about 16 million. Many people besides Adventists have read her four-book "Conflict of the Ages" series, of which PP is the first. (The other books in the Conflict series are Prophets and Kings, The Desire of Ages, and The Great Controversy.)

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Ron Lambert:
Legs would seem unlikely.

Why? Snakes with legs would be something like lizards, to whom they are related.
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DDDaysh
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Considering that we've lived for ages with two genesis stories that seam to contradict each other about the order of creation, alot of this stuff seems a little too deep if you're just trying to debunk a word for word literalism.
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AvidReader
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quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
quote:
They didn't know the difference between good and evil before they partook of the fruit. If you don't know the difference between good and evil, how can you sin? It wasn't exactly a sin, it was more a transgression.

Eve was actually the smart one. She knew that unless they ate the fruit, they wouldn't have the knowledge in order to multiply and replenish the earth, which was the first commandment they had received.

This has always seemed kinda obvious to me.

From my very first reading of the passage, it seemed clear that the Tree of Knowledge was a test we were set up deliberately to fail (fail being perhaps not even the right word) as a means of teaching us a lesson and setting in motion a world that was deeper and more meaningful than Eden was.

See, I go the opposite way with the Tree. The only way it makes sense for God to give Adam and Eve a rule is if He knew they could obey it. That, to me, implies that they already had knowledge of good and evil - making the serpent one slick salesman. He got them kicked out for stealing something they already had. [Smile]
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Ron Lambert
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rivka, yes, as you said--a snake with legs would be more like a lizard. It wouldn't be a snake.

This is perhaps a minor point--but understanding it this way does make it clearer why Eve was so fascinated by the serpent, and was readily deceived that eating the forbidden fruit would grant her a more exalted state, like it apparently had for the talking snake.

AvidReader, it is one thing to know about evil in theory. It is another to know it by experience, from the inside you might say. Notice that Bible phrasing in Genesis uses the word "know" to refer to having sexual relations. So the word had a complexity of meanings.

God had an experiential knowledge of good and evil, because He was sustaining the lives of the angels who sinned, and thus knew them inside an out. As Paul said of all of us human creatures, "In Him we live, and move, and have our being." (Acts 17:28) This is also true of the angels, whom God also made, and of whose lives He is also the Source. Satan and his fellow devils are fallen angels.

Since God is pure and holy, this intimate awareness of the sin of sinners must be a continual heavy burden for Him, from which His nature recoils. This was exemplified at Calvary. Ellen White made an interesting, and I think very profound comment about this: "The cross is a revelation to our dull senses of the pain that, from its very inception, sin has brought to the heart of God." (EGW, Education, ©1903, p. 263.)

[ January 05, 2011, 11:26 AM: Message edited by: Ron Lambert ]

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Ron Lambert:
rivka, yes, as you said--a snake with legs would be more like a lizard. It wouldn't be a snake.

It is no more or less a snake than a snake with wings would be. Moreover, the current skeletal structure of modern-day snakes supports them having had legs; it rather definitely does not support them having had wings.
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Ron Lambert
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rivka, how do you differentiate between a skeletal structure that allows legs, and a skeletal structure that allows wings? Bats have wings that are also structurally legs (or arms)--they even have little claws coming from part of their wings.

If they were lizards, the Bible narrative would have called them lizards. The word did exist in the Hebrew of the Pentateuch. (See Lev. 11:30.)

Note the statement from National Geographic about five known species of modern flying snakes, of the genus Chrysopelea. They can glide from tree to tree by flattening and undulating their bodies. Perhaps the serpents of Eden had some specialized scales or a scaley membrane that they could spread out.

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rivka
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A snake with legs is not a lizard, just similar to one. And modern flying snakes most assuredly do not have wings, any more than gliding (aka flying) squirrels do.

But you are certain that you are right, so little things like well-understood skeletal mechanisms aren't going to sway you.

Have fun.

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Stephan
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Well, in a world that does not have millions of years of evolution behind it that Ron believes in, I don't see wings any more illogical then legs. Especially when only the family that boas and pythons belong to have the skeletal structure rivka brings up (according to Wiki).
For that matter, who says it didn't swim up to Eve?

But in such a world, why were all types of snakes punished when it was just the one? It would be like condemning a blue jay for the actions of a hawk.

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Flying Fish
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If you get R Crumb's illustrated Book of Genesis, you'll see that he illustrates the tempter as a humanoid reptile, not unlike the extraterrestrials who keep abducting hillbillies out of my neighborhood.
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steven
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quote:
Originally posted by Stephan:

But in such a world, why were all types of snakes punished when it was just the one? It would be like condemning a blue jay for the actions of a hawk.

That's just how the God of the OT rolled. Punish the children unto the 7th generation, kill some children for making fun of someone's baldness, you know, the usual "do I have to come down from Heaven and choke a believer?" pimpin' style the gods of the time and place tended to favor.
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iglee
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I suppose this as good a place as any to take the plunge and start participating in this forum.

Flying Fish, your post made me almost fall out of my chair. [ROFL]

I have a couple of questions.

How many of you believe that Adam and Eve would never have had children if they had not fallen - indeed, were physically incapable of it before the fall?

Or to put it another way. If they had never fallen we all would have eventually been born but would now live in a state of Edenic paradise? (is “Edenic” even a word?)

The reason I ask this is because I think the answer to it may be a big factor in the way one views what went on in Eden and why.

And my second question is: How many of you believe that we all lived as spirits with our own individual identities and personalities before we were born into mortality?

The reason I ask this is because I think my Church may be the only one which believes in that concept but I could be wrong about that and I am kind of curious to see if others believe it too.

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steven
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quote:
Originally posted by iglee:

And my second question is: How many of you believe that we all lived as spirits with our own individual identities and personalities before we were born into mortality?


You mean like Buddhists/Hindus/Taoists? Yeah, I'm pretty sure that most people in the world believe in some form of reincarnation. This may be a Christian/Mormon-heavy forum, but it's not really representative of the human race as a whole, religiously-speaking.

OTOH, if you're talking about souls existing and having identity/personality prior to ANY incarnation, I don't know about that. That would be a very minute point of doctrine in most of those religions, I would guess. You'd probably get different answers on that from different Buddhists/HIndus/Taoists, I would think.

I'm trying to figure out how a soul would gain individual/personal qualities without having life experience. Does your religion believe that souls have a pre-life, where they have a life and have experiences as a soul before incarnating?

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Ron Lambert
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rivka, I think I am probably right about the serpent in Eden being able to fly, based on the textual and other evidence I presented to you. You can disagree if you wish, but why be so snarky about it?

Stephen, let me repeat: God is not on trial in the human language expressions of the Bible. When the Bible says God punishes "unto the third and fourth generation," this means that the natural consequences of sin follow to the third and fourth generation; for parents who hate God will encourage the same disposition in their children.

God does not hate anyone, or anything (except sin). The actual truth of God's justice is set forth explicitly in this: "The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself." (Ezekiel 18:20; NKJV)

(This also, by the way, is the reason that Christ could not just step in and say "Punish me in mankind's place." Many people may say it this way, but it is an over-simplification. In order to bear the responsibility for the sins of all mankind, God had to join Himself to humanity in Christ, and become the whole human race, as the New Adam.)

As for the "curse" on the serpent, remember that an animal that is not a free moral agent cannot be condemned. God did not decree death for serpentkind. But in acknowledgment--as a remembrance--of the role the serpent played, God changed the living conditions of serpents. That was for our sakes, as an object lesson to us.

God also cursed the ground, for man's sake (because of sin), so it would bring forth thorns and thistles. That did not mean the ground was being punished. Actually it was nature in general--the DNA of plants and animals--that was involved. Not only thorns and thistles came forth, but also the animals produced fangs and claws, and predatory behavior. As the Apostle Paul said: "For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." (Romans 8:20, 21.)

The animals, so often now characterized as "red in tooth and claw," serve to demonstrate to us the true nature of sin's selfish striving, and where self-exaltation ultimately leads. Thus they are an object lesson God has given to us to encourage us to see through Satan's sophistries and return to God in our loyalties.

Even the thorns are an object lesson. When Jesus Christ was crucified, He wore a crown of thorns. Though meant to mock Him, it served to symbolize the fact that for us, Christ even bore the curse on the ground, so the ground could still yield to us its strength. Otherwise our race would have perished in Eden.

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iglee
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About snakes.

I’ve enjoyed everyone’s posts on this thread and Ron’s and Cay’s especially grabbed my interest. Cay, I suspect we share a common theology. Ron, I enjoyed your post too. There are several points in there that differ from my views on the subject but that’s OK. Your post was thoughtful and well stated. I especially liked what you said about the flying snake thing. I’m aware of Isaiah reference to fiery flying serpents but I never made the kind of connection you mentioned. It is worth thinking about.

I happen to really like snakes so this my be just my own prejudice speaking, but I personally think snakes have gotten a bad rap in this whole thing. In one of the four books we use as scripture (specifically The Pearl of Great Price: Moses 4:7) it says that Satan “spake by the mouth of the serpent” to entice Eve to eat the fruit. Then in every scriptural account we have, the story goes on to say that God cursed the snake so that he and all snakes from then on would have to crawl on their bellies.

I have a problem accepting this as literal. I’m not sure if there is a standard doctrine about this in my Church which states that it is literal, so I will play it safe and just say that this is my own personal view. I think “serpent” was used as a symbol for Satan in this instance. I don’t think actual snakes were involved in this at all. My reasoning goes something like this:

We believe that it was a necessary part of God’s plan for His children that Adam and Eve eat that fruit, become mortal and start having babies so that we, God’s children, could be born into mortality, which was the next step in our progression. God did not “curse” Adam and Eve nor us in the sense that “curse” is thought of as a punishment. Why would He punish us for something that had to be done and which we had all agreed we wanted to do in order to help bring about that which is God’s own work and glory, namely to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”?

The reason God did not force Adam and Eve to become mortal but set it up so that they had to make that decision themselves, has something to do with the principle of Freedom of Choice, also sometimes called free agency or free will. I don’t fully understand it but I do know that it had to be their choice and that we will forever revere and honor them for making it.

We don’t believe in Original Sin. We teach that every person will be punished for their own sins and not for what Adam and Eve did. So although this mortal life here on Earth can be punishing at times, it is not a punishment. (PUNishness intended. Sorry.) [Big Grin]

So:
We believe that we are children of God, that we have intelligence and free will, and therefore are capable of sin.
We believe that God is not punishing nor cursing the descendants of Adam and Eve for the Fall of Adam and Eve.
We believe that animals are innocent, without free will, and free from sin; that they do what God has programmed them to do.

So why would God punish all future generations of snakes for something some snake did in the Garden when He, God, is not punishing all future generations of man for something Adam and Eve did? It just does not make sense to me in light of our teachings which I have stated above. Furthermore, we, as well as other religions have used snakes as a symbol for both good and evil, depending on the context. Nope, I just can’t wrap my mind around the “bad snake” idea. The only thing that makes sense to me is that the serpent in the garden is not literal but allegorical and symbolic of something else. Like Satan and Evil for instance.

Hopefully I will find out someday if I’m right or not. Fortunately it is not something that is totally essential for me to understand right now.

The subject of women suffering in childbirth was mentioned. Well, I for one would do away with women’s suffrage if I could but somebody forgot to put me in charge of the universe so it will have to stand. [Wink]

Seriously though, since I don’t believe that we are being punished because of the Fall, it follows that this pain women endure is a natural consequence, part of the human condition, a reality of mortality, if you will. So it is not an individual sin nor a punishment for some supposed original sin and therefore does not need any forgiveness. The only connection between Christ’s atonement and the pain of childbirth would be that He suffered all the pains and sicknesses of mankind and therefore knows what women go through and can give solace and serenity where needed.

Fathers don’t get off the hook, though. I was privileged to be at every one of the births of our several children. And I also suffered every time. Granted, it wasn’t nearly as bad as the pain my wife suffered but, aside from her nearly crushing my hand during transition that one time, I had the pain of the anguish of worrying that she and the babies would be OK. But then the pains of having and rearing children are often as exquisite as the joys.

I stand in awe of my wife and other women that they are willing to endure this process again and again. If it had been me giving birth we would have been lucky to have just one child. There certainly would not have been a second. Because I’m a pansy.

I think there is a school of thought in some religions that women are meant to suffer - the more suffering the better. I hope this philosophy is rare. But I believe that it is right for us to do what we can to ameliorate whatever suffering we can for everyone. There is no point in deliberately seeking suffering like some do as a religious rite to mortify the ‘evil’ physical body. We are going to get plenty of suffering as just part of the mortal condition without seeking it.

Isaac Asimov wrote an interesting article about how technological innovation has never hurt sensible religions. In it he mentioned how advances in anesthesia methods led to the ability of doctors to help ease the pain of childbirth. But then many of the ministers of the day (mostly men of course) immediately started to thunder from their pulpits how the pain of childbirth was the will of God and that it was a sin to try to do anything to thwart these judgment of God. This nonsense was pretty much put to rest by Queen Victoria who basically told the ministers that they could go jump in the lake, SHE was going to have anesthesia.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Ron Lambert:
but why be so snarky about it?

[ROFL]

Ron, do you own a mirror?

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by iglee:
Well, I for one would do away with women’s suffrage if I could

Um, suffrage does not mean what you think it does. [Wink]

And welcome to Hatrack. [Smile]

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steven
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quote:
Originally posted by Ron Lambert:


Stephen, let me repeat: God is not on trial in the human language expressions of the Bible. When the Bible says God punishes "unto the third and fourth generation," this means that the natural consequences of sin follow to the third and fourth generation; for parents who hate God will encourage the same disposition in their children. God does not hate anyone, or anything (except sin).


So, for "Do I have to choke a believer?", I can't even get a chuckle out of you?

Clearly, Ron, you need to watch more of Dave Chappelle's show. Take a quick look at this short clip from Dave Chappelle's show here. Start watching around 2:20.

On another note, don't you believe that Jesus' sacrifice took away the need to punish until the 4th generation (or whichever generation it is)? I assume you do, but your explanation doesn't exactly cover wny you think the "bad parenting" excuse for punishing great-grandkids doesn't still apply.

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advice for robots
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And yes, rivka is the official welcoming committee.
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rivka
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[Eek!] [Angst]

When the heck did THAT happen?

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kmbboots
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Ron, I am curious about why, if you know that often Scripture is meant to be understood metaphorically, do you think that the Creation myth is meant to be literal?

ETA: Yes. I know that I will regret asking.

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Ron Lambert
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rivka, perhaps you cannot see past your own reflection in the mirror, when you ascribe things to me. I wouldn't say this, except you are joining with that caviling pack who do this habitually.

It is true, as the Scripture says: "Just as water reflects the face, so one human heart reflects another." (Proverbs 27:19; NRSV)

But there is also the New Testament writing that says: "For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." (2 Corinthians 10:12)

You may be imputing things to me that you see in your own heart. What you impute to me may not be real.

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advice for robots
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
[Eek!] [Angst]

When the heck did THAT happen?

Oh, you missed the meeting?
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iglee
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Steven, thanks for your response. I guess I could have been more clear but yes, that question was aimed at the Jewish and Christian people since the thread is about Adam and Eve and the Bible and that is our creation story. Although, now you have me curious about those other groups you mentioned. I know a little about some of their ideas. I think I might read up on that.

Anyway, you said, “I'm trying to figure out how a soul would gain individual/personal qualities without having life experience. Does your religion believe that souls have a pre-life, where they have a life and have experiences as a soul before incarnating? “

Yes, that is what we believe. And that belief shapes how we view the creation of the world, why it was created, and what happened in Eden and why. Basically we believe that we each had different personalities, talents, and interests there and that we had progress as far as we could. The next step, then, would be mortality.

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Ron Lambert
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kmboots, no need to regret asking an honest question sincerely.

I take the creation accounts in Scripture literally because they are presented as literal, and all the Bible writers who refer to them take them literally. The fourth commandment, written by God's own finger, takes the creation account of Genesis literally. (See Exodus 20:8-11.) Jesus Christ takes the creation accounts literally. (See Matthew 19:4-6.) The Apostle Paul takes the creation accounts literally. (See Romans 8:20, 21; 1 Corinthians 15:21, 45.)

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iglee
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Thanks for the welcome, rivka.

I may have been Mrs. Malaprop in a previous life. There is this other entity that forces me to type puns and stuff. It's not my fault.

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Ron Lambert
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steven, my point was that God does not "punish" unto the third and fourth generation. Consequences may last that long.

Let me give this example of the way the Bible sometimes attributes things to God that are not literally true. In 1 Chronicles 10:14, we are told that the Lord slew King Saul. Earlier in that chapter, you will find that the Philistines are credited with killing Saul. The actual narrative shows that King Saul fell on his own sword and killed himself, after being mortally wounded by an arrow, rather than fall into the hands of the Philistines to finish him off.

What is happening here is attribution and responsibility. The literal truth is that Saul killed himself. The attribution is that the Philistines killed him, since they forced him into it. The responsibility is that God takes responsibility for allowing Saul to die, because by disobeying God grievously in seeking the counsel of the Witch of Endor, Saul had finally forfeited God's special protection.

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kmbboots
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Thanks for answering. I disagree that the passages you noted are arguments for literalism. They seem to me to be simply referencing a known mythology.
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CT
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
Nice to see you again Geoffrey. [Smile]

Oh, yes. [Smile]
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CT
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Hi, iglee, and welcome to Hatrack. Please feel free to start an introductory thread and tell us a bit about yourself if you like. It's always interesting to learn how someone made his or her way here.

quote:
Originally posted by iglee:
There is this other entity that forces me to type puns and stuff. It's not my fault.

Oh, dear, then you'll never fit in around here.

---

<.<
>.>

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0Megabyte
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Ron, I need you to sit down and understand something. That is, the reason so many, even people like rivka, react to you the way they do.

You are a smart guy, and so it shouldn't be too hard for you to understand, once it's explained. Human beings really aren't that hard to figure out.

Let me put it this way. Have you ever in your life met the kind of person who, for example, tells their group of friends an urban legend they've heard, and once someone in that group points out the factual impossibility of that urban legend, or that it's been debunked or whatever, the person fights it, refusing to admit they were wrong, and disputing the actual world itself if that's what it takes?

I'm sure you have. Or at least, I'm sure you can understand how embarrassing and infuriating that is.

I'd like you to think on this for a moment, and recognize that when rivka of all people doubts you'd care about the actual facts known about the way bones work, it might mean something not on her, but on you. Act with humility. Instead of throwing things back on others, try to see your own faults and work on them.

Because, if you were shown a course on bone morphology, and you were actually shown the difference, and it did not fit your theory that snakes originally flew with wings, would you give up that theory, or just state that the ones who have spent collectively thousands of years in man-hours studying these things are wrong, because your theory has to be correct?

If there are people who don't believe you would, who believe you'd act like the kind of person who would stick to their guns even when shown they're wrong out of pride (a cardinal sin in the religion I was brought up in, btw) then maybe you should think on what that means.

And by that, I don't mean talk about how it speaks badly of them, as though by some sort of defensive reflex. You keep talking about projection... but to quote someone famous, "the lady doth protest too much, methinks."

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by iglee:
I may have been Mrs. Malaprop in a previous life.

Muh....muh...Ms. Malanthrop?

*eye twitches*

Sorry you probably aren't sure what I am talking about, but others are.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by CT:
quote:
Originally posted by iglee:
There is this other entity that forces me to type puns and stuff. It's not my fault.

Oh, dear, then you'll never fit in around here.

---

<.<
>.>

CT could be lying. [Big Grin]
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The Rabbit
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quote:
I'm trying to figure out how a soul would gain individual/personal qualities without having life experience. Does your religion believe that souls have a pre-life, where they have a life and have experiences as a soul before incarnating?
Newborn babies very often have distinctive personalities, which they retain through out their lives. How do you suppose they gain those personalities, having no life experience?
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
quote:
Originally posted by iglee:
I may have been Mrs. Malaprop in a previous life.

Muh....muh...Ms. Malanthrop?

*eye twitches*

I was about to make the joke 'hey, that's better than being miss malanthrop!'
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