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Religion and Spirituality, Science and Philosophy Use this forum to discuss what you believe in. This is a place where everyone may share their views freely.

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Non-Literal Interpretation of Genesis, how do you explain genealogies? - May 11th 2015, 09:18 PM

I recently got in a discussion with some liberal Christian's about the idea of Genesis being non-literal. While there are many reasons I dissent with, the conversation was enlightening. Within the confides of our discussion he showed me that, in fact, many Early Church Fathers (ECFs) did not believe Genesis to be literal. Rather, many of them believed it was foolish to give Genesis a literal interpretation.

I did some further research and it seems many Christians divide Genesis 1-11 as being figurative, and a foreshadowing of the Christ, while the latter chapters differentiate in that they are to be taken relatively literal. But that they don't believe these sections to be infallible.

This seems very intellectually honest to me and admirable. It also leaves room for an Old Earth interpretation, as well as theistic evolution. Both of which I found rather repulsive and dishonest with oneself. I could see deistic evolution, but could never reconcile theism with it.

Anyways, my question for anyone, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or otherwise, if you do not take Genesis to be literal, how do you explain the genealogies? What are their purpose?

If you can support your answer within the history and tradition of Christianity, more points to you.

Thanks.

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Re: Non-Literal Interpretation of Genesis, how do you explain genealogies? - May 23rd 2015, 12:49 AM

I always took it literally, there's so much evidence saying it is true, and frankly, nothing else could be true. I would have no idea how anyone could say it wasn't true if they are a Christian and had done their research about it properly.


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Re: Non-Literal Interpretation of Genesis, how do you explain genealogies? - May 23rd 2015, 03:32 AM

Then I guess Augustine, Origen, Martin Luther, John Calvin, a lot of the Reformers, and C.S. Lewis weren't Christian, didn't study it properly, or simply just hadn't done research on it. Most of Christian history hasn't taken Genesis to be literal, I'm just wondering about a specific parts relation with evolution. I suggest you check out BioLogos.
   
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Re: Non-Literal Interpretation of Genesis, how do you explain genealogies? - May 23rd 2015, 05:17 AM

Well actually I know for a fact that C.S. Lewis took it literally because he says so in several of his books that we own. If your so sure that it shouldn't be taken literally, why did you bother asking us? To see who else you can annoy?


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Re: Non-Literal Interpretation of Genesis, how do you explain genealogies? - May 23rd 2015, 05:23 AM

There is just a tiny little flaw found in biologos's page. There is evidence that scientists agree on that humans did not evolve from chimpanzees. Its called scientific evidence. Here's a link that suggests Genesis is true, and this one actually gives evidence instead of guessing like biologos does.


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Re: Non-Literal Interpretation of Genesis, how do you explain genealogies? - May 23rd 2015, 05:29 AM

Here's the page you should read. It covers everything you need to know if you read till the end of the page. Like, all of it.


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Re: Non-Literal Interpretation of Genesis, how do you explain genealogies? - May 23rd 2015, 03:16 PM

The Bible including Genesis is not a science book. It does not have to go into detail on how earth and the Universe were made. God made the world in seven days. Seven days may be a metaphor for a billion years but there is no need for the Bible to go into detail on this. There are many stories in the old testament that teach valuable lessons and morals. Some Christians take these literally and others think they are told to teach people a lesson just like Jesus told parables in the New Testament. I personally take these stories literally in the Old Testament but I respect anyone that believes that they are not to be taken literally!

Science explains the how, The Bible explains the why

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Re: Non-Literal Interpretation of Genesis, how do you explain genealogies? - May 23rd 2015, 04:09 PM

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Originally Posted by Little Miss View Post
Well actually I know for a fact that C.S. Lewis took it literally because he says so in several of his books that we own. If your so sure that it shouldn't be taken literally, why did you bother asking us? To see who else you can annoy?
He didn't. He suggested theistic evolution in most of his writings. Never creationism. Haven't you heard of a little thing called "Darwin in the Dock"? Unless you care to provide examples of Lewis saying he believes the a literal 6 day account of creation with absolutely no theistic evolution occurring, I'm not just going to take your word for it because so much proves contrary to Lewis's thought. In fact, Lewis believed Genesis to be stolen from other Pagan Religions.

I have therefore no difficulty in accepting, say, the view of those scholars who tell us that the account of Creation in Genesis is derived from earlier Semitic stories which were Pagan and mythical. -C.S. Lewis

http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1996/PSCF3-96Ferngren.html
http://www.oldearth.org/lewis.htm

It's the same with John Calvin, Luther, Augustine, and Origen. All 4 of which were pre-darwinian thought and believed that Genesis was a symbol of Christ and was not meant to be taken literal. C.S. Lewis published an entire book on being a proponent of theistic evolution, and never once said that Genesis should be taken literal.

I asked because I'm interested. Just because you cannot provide legitimate evidence to support your claims, doesn't mean I'm purposefully annoying you. Not to mention, my question wasn't for Creationist. It was for people who accept an non-literal interpretation of Genesis. So perhaps you should use your judgment before responding to something that isn't asking for your input.

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Here's the page you should read. It covers everything you need to know if you read till the end of the page. Like, all of it.
I already know about Creationism. I'm not interested in it. I know evolution to be fact the same way you know gravity to be fact. I have no doubts about either. Standard proponents of Creationism twist the meaning of science, and distort the theory of evolution (and even the meaning of theory -- gravity is also a theory) through ignorance or outright lies about the topic.

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Re: Non-Literal Interpretation of Genesis, how do you explain genealogies? - May 23rd 2015, 04:17 PM

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Originally Posted by Dan11 View Post
The Bible including Genesis is not a science book. It does not have to go into detail on how earth and the Universe were made. God made the world in sevem days. Seven days may be a metaphor for a billion years but there is no need for the Bible to go into detail on this. There are many stories in the old testamemt that teach valuable lessons and morals. Some Christiams take these literally and others think they are told to teach people a lesson just like Jesus told parables in the New Testament. I personally take these stories literally in the Old Testament but I respect anyone that believes that they are not to be taken literally!

Science explains the how, The Bible explains the why
Thanks Dan. How would you, or do you, treat the genealogies in Genesis?
   
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Re: Non-Literal Interpretation of Genesis, how do you explain genealogies? - May 23rd 2015, 06:21 PM

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Thanks Dan. How would you, or do you, treat the genealogies in Genesis?
Ive never really thought about it. What about you?
   
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Re: Non-Literal Interpretation of Genesis, how do you explain genealogies? - May 23rd 2015, 10:11 PM

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Ive never really thought about it. What about you?
I'm not sure. It's kind of my primary question and purpose of this thread.

If I were to accept the Bible, and say that it was non-literal, I would interpret them being genealogies of Adam and Eve, not the first man and woman.

That is, most people who accept a literal interpretation of Genesis 2 to be a continuation or more in depth view of the creation of humans in Genesis 1. I wouldn't take it that way. Meaning, I don't believe Adam and Eve are necessarily the first people, according to the Bible. Why?

In Genesis 4, Caine rises up and kills Abel. God, then, punishes Caine and says he is going to make him a wanderer of the Earth. Caine responds to God in Genesis 4:14 saying that "whoever finds him" will kill him (Caine). Then God places a seal on Caine so this doesn't happen.

What's the importance of this? Well, according to the genealogies, at this point in time only Adam, Eve, Caine, and Abel were alive. So, if Caine killed Abel, only Adam and Eve should be alive. But, God is removing him from Adam and Eve, and yet Caine is worried that someone will kill him, implying more people were already in existence.

Therefore, it seems logical to conclude that Adam and Eve are not necessarily the first people.

The other observation I'd have is that in the New Testament, all the writers ignore Adam and Eve in their genealogies and that they start with Abraham. So, it kind of disregards Adam and Eve as being not all that important. Almost like they didn't REALLY exist.

In fact, in Genesis, Adam is not used as a specific name until Chapter 4. The rest of the verses refer to Adam in a very broad use for "man."

But, I'm not too convinced on all this, hence the thread.
   
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Re: Non-Literal Interpretation of Genesis, how do you explain genealogies? - May 23rd 2015, 10:41 PM

You propose a brilliant argument, you really are an awesome speaker! In Matthew Ch:1 it lists the descendants and does not mention Adam yet Jesus mentions Adam when he talks about how Adam doomed mankind and Jesus came to save it. It's an interesting topic I believe it is meant to be taken literally but its interesting to think about
   
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Re: Non-Literal Interpretation of Genesis, how do you explain genealogies? - May 23rd 2015, 11:12 PM

How is gravity a theory? The guy who thought of gravity was a Christian and there have been so many tests to prove it is true. But I gave you my opinion. You don't need to go be rude about my opinion thank you very much.


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Re: Non-Literal Interpretation of Genesis, how do you explain genealogies? - May 24th 2015, 03:02 AM

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You propose a brilliant argument, you really are an awesome speaker! In Matthew Ch:1 it lists the descendants and does not mention Adam yet Jesus mentions Adam when he talks about how Adam doomed mankind and Jesus came to save it. It's an interesting topic I believe it is meant to be taken literally but its interesting to think about
This is true, and so does Paul. But, my argument would be that in Genesis 1-3 the word Adam in the ancient text literally means mankind. It isn't used as a singular noun for the name of a person until chapter 4 (I'm not just saying this, it's actually true). Nonetheless, we get a genealogy of Adam in chapter 4 as a literal person. Therefore, I'd say that Adam could very well be responsible for sin, but this does not mean he was the first person, rather just the first to sin.
   
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Re: Non-Literal Interpretation of Genesis, how do you explain genealogies? - May 24th 2015, 03:18 AM

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How is gravity a theory? The guy who thought of gravity was a Christian and there have been so many tests to prove it is true. But I gave you my opinion. You don't need to go be rude about my opinion thank you very much.
Look up the definition of a scientific theory. Not one from a creationist who warp the meaning, but from a credible source of someone who actually works in the field. So, let me use a pretty credible source: National Center for Science Education.

They define a theory as follows:
Theory: In science, a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses.


Thus, a theory in science is different than the word theory that we typically hear in speech.

Essentially a theory is something that has A LOT of evidence to support the idea of something based on known facts. In other words, a theory is something that can have so much evidence that it is hard to reject it, so much so that it can almost become a law. However, in science, nothing is ever technically "proven" as you say. There is evidence to support an idea, and that idea can be accepted, or there is lack of evidence and an idea can be rejected. There is no proof.

Proof is subjective. For example, I can provide you with evidence of gravity. But, you're still free to reject it because perhaps my evidence hasn't convinced you, and thus hasn't been PROVEN to you. This does not mean that there isn't evidence to support the idea of gravity. Rather, there is, but this doesn't mean it's proven.

This is how I view evolution. There is so much evidence to support it, that it's absolutely ridiculous to even consider rejecting it. Anyone with an honest mind who researches it will see that evolution is as just a grounded of a theory as gravity. Thus, in essence, when you reject evolution, you are rejecting a near fundamental law of biology, and rejecting something with nearly as much evidence as gravity. So, to you, in the way you word it, I could tell you evolution has already been proven (though I wouldn't chose those words).

I will also tell you, while Isaac Newton was religious, so was Charles Darwin at a point in his life. However, it doesn't matter what a persons religious views are in science, so long as they contribute to knowledge and growth of the field. Hats off to Darwin and Newton alike. Both brilliant. I don't care about either of their philosophical views of religion.

The reason we say that nothing in science is ever proven, just supported, is because unlike a religious text, it is always evolving to what we discover and know. Therefore, new discoveries could erase and destroy the theory of gravity, and give rise to a new explanation, the same way something could erase and destroy the theory of evolution and give a new explanation for the diversity of life. That's the beauty of science. In fact, a great majority of science is about trying to destroy current scientific knowledge. It's not afraid of being "disproven" (for lack of a better word), like creationism. Rather, it WANTS to be disproven because that's what makes science exciting!

I would also like to point out that what you said about gravity: "There are so many tests that prove it's true," is exactly what a theory is. I would just re-word it and say that there are many test which provide evidence for it, and therefore, strongly suggest the theory to be true. The details in the words are more important.

The idea is this: While gravity exists, we don't doubt this. We jump up, we fall down, the paramount question is HOW does it work? And this is why it's a theory. It isn't about whether we fall down when we jump. It's about how. So, while you may drop a pencil to the ground and say, "Proof of gravity," it's not really because it doesn't explain how. Sure the force could be defined, but not the how.

Please read this before responding with arguments that I think will arise from my post:

http://www.godofevolution.com/the-to...lution-at-all/

Lastly, I wasn't rude, and even if I was it was warranted. I didn't ask for your opinion about creationism anywhere in this thread. I asked for people who accept a non-literal version of Genesis. So, if you prefer people not to respond rudely, perhaps you should be slow to speak, as the Bible says. Especially when this topic clearly doesn't involve your viewpoint, and so I don't really care to hear your opinion because it wasn't the purpose of this thread. Sometimes it's best to keep your opinion to yourself, particularly when someone isn't asking for it. Thank you very much.
   
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Re: Non-Literal Interpretation of Genesis, how do you explain genealogies? - May 24th 2015, 03:54 AM

I don't believe in the genealogy at all because the first 50 or so people mentioned in the Bible apparently lived until they were 500 years old. Anythings possible with God, but I don't see why He would change his mind on the lifespan of human beings. Just my two cents. Plus, dinosaur bones millions of years old.
I'm not someone who puts a lot of stock in the Bible. I'm Catholic, and the way I see it, as long as you try to live like Jesus and love your neighbor, you'll be fine. Off topic, but one of the things I like about the Catholic Church is that they've shown an ability (sometimes) to adapt their teachings of the Bible according to strong scientific evidence; They're open to the theory of evolution, and as far as I know, they look at the first 11 chapters of Genesis as most likely a cultural interpretation of that time period.
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