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Origins

This blog post is backwards. I’m not going to say much, but instead I’m asking YOU to to do most of the talking.

This Sunday at The Meeting House we begin a new series called “ORIGINS: The Story of Everything That Matters” which will focus on the first four chapters of Genesis. This will also be a blog series, so stay tuned here too – and subscribe for email alerts!

In “ORIGINS” we will cover topics like…
1. The Origin of Earth
2. The Origin of Us
3. The Origin of Ethics
4. The Origin of Evil
5. The Origin of Religion (I’m really looking forward to this one)

And now I’m interested in hearing from you…

What questions do you have or are you often asked by your family or friends about the beginning of the Bible?

Please comment below! Just scroll to the bottom and “LEAVE A REPLY”. And thank you in advance for posting your questions and thoughts! The Adventure begins THIS SUNDAY!

Peace,

Tags : AdamAdam and EveCreationEveGenesisImage of God

109 Comments

  1. If the creation accounts are not litteral, is the whole of Genesis not literal? If not when does it start being historical?

    1. How do we know when scripture is literal and when it is not? First of all, we take note of the many linguistic devices that are “figurative” in some sense.

      Myth (a) a traditional story, esp. one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or
      social phenomenon; (b) a widely held but false belief or idea; (c) a misrepresentation of the truth

      Legend a traditional story sometimes popularly regarded as historical but not authenticated (King Arthur)

      Fable a short story conveying a moral; often incorporating elements of myth and legend

      Story an account of imaginary or real people; a particular person’s representation of the facts of the matter

      Allegory a story, poem or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning

      Metaphor a word or phrase applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable (trapdoor of
      depression)

      Analogy a comparison between two things (one well known) for the purpose of explanation or clarification (the Lord
      is my shepherd)

      Simile a comparison of one thing with another of a different kind, used to make a description more vivid (brave
      as a lion)

      Image a representation of the external form; a mental idea; the general impression that is presented to public; a
      person or thing that closely resembles another; a simile or metaphor

      Symbol a thing that represents; esp. a material object that represents an abstract concept (limousine = power)

      Sign an object, quality or event whose presence indicates the probable presence (or occurrence) of something
      else

      Interpretation explain the meaning of

      If one of these devices is being employed then the language is not to be taken literally. This is true of any text, not just scripture.

      Other than that, we have to fall back on (a) context, (b) other references, (c) the ‘fit’ with what we know from other sources, and (d) our own experience of reading and thinking within texts that employ a mix of literal and figurative language.

      Accordingly, it is not uncommon for Christians to accept the verdict of science and, in these cases, treat the language as figurative in some sense.

      Perhaps a more important issue than that of the Genesis account of creation is how we are to take descriptions of God’s nature.

      In scripture there are a number of physical descriptions of God. He is a rock, a door, a high tower, etc. No one takes these descriptions literally.

      In addition in scripture there are a number of descriptions of the mental or emotional life of God. He “repents,” He gets angry, He expresses disappointment, etc. Usually, Christians have not taken these descriptions literally either.

      However, to me, the most difficult task (and the most significant) is whether or not to take the descriptions of God’s mental or emotional life as literal descriptions.

      Is He impassive, or is He an emotional person who regrets, suffers, enjoys, and so on? If he is not impassive, then it seems pretty clear that he changes. Typically, Christians believe that He does not change, but they seem to believe this without a decent consideration of literal/figurative language. Does He change?

      This is an important issue decided by whether the descriptions are literal or figurative.

  2. In brief: How can you believe something that is so against what science has proven? That is the question I get asked.

  3. Where is the cross over between the Adam and Eve account and progression of mankind? At what point does it “kick in” so to speak? If people were always dying , how does that fit with death not being a part of mans experience in genesis account? If Adam and Eve Edgar original first people it works but if not?

  4. It’s weired to believe that we all decended from Adam and Eve, because it was either insanely incestuous for many many decades, or not all of us are from Adam and Eve, some of us are 2.0 models…

    1. Genealogies in the Bible are generally taken to be literal, historically accurate accounts. Given that Adam is cited as first in a genealogical line (Luke 3:38), it seems as a matter of logic that the first children must have practiced incest.

      Even if you believe that homo sapiens evolved, then incest had to play a role in that beginning as well. Geneticists today claim that unless there were at least 5,000 breeding couples in a group’s beginning, they would have had to practice incest/endogamy in order to populate the earth.

      Consequently, I think this issue must devolve to the question of whether incest was always considered a sin by God, or whether the later explicit prohibition of incest (e.g. Lev. 18: 8-18) made it a sin then, and not before.

  5. In the Q&A session at the end of the message last Sunday, pastor Cavey suggested that the universe was so incredibly large because God was a joyful creator – He could and would create so much just because He thought it beautiful. The stage is large because He is large in His love, including a love of creating. The immense size of the universe did not need to have any other purpose or point.

    I thought this was a strikingly good answer. It reminded of a passage in the book, The Divine Conspiracy, by Dallas Willard, to wit,

    “We should, to begin with, think that God leads a very interesting life, and that he is full of joy. Undoubtedly he is the most joyous being in the universe. The abundance of his love and generosity is inseparable from his infinite joy. All of the good and beautiful things from which we occasionally drink tiny droplets of soul-exhilarating joy, God continuously experiences in all their breadth and depth and richness……

    A short while ago the Hubble Space Telescope gave us pictures of the Eagle Nebula, showing clouds of gas and microscopic dust reaching six trillion miles from top to bottom. Hundreds of stars were emerging here and there in it, hotter and larger than our sun. As I looked at these pictures, and through them at the past and ongoing development of the cosmos, I could not help but think of Jesus’ words before he left his little band of students: ‘In my father’s house there are many places to live. I go to get some ready for you.’

    Human beings can lose themselves in card games of electric trains and think they are fortunate. But to God there is available …. Towering clouds of gas trillions of miles high, backlit by nuclear fires in newly forming stars, galaxies cartwheeling into collision and sending explosive shock waves boiling through millions of light-years of time and space. These things are all before him, along with numberless unfolding rosebuds, souls, and songs – and immeasurably more of which we know nothing.”

    This is his life. We have been invited to share it.

    Brian Sayers

  6. Prior to the message of Oct 6, a quotation appeared on the screen that claimed we are all biased and we should try to discover the best bias to hold. (n.b. To be fair – and unbiased – this quote was not presented as “true.” It was just presented as a thought to consider.)

    However, bias is a negative term. It connotes that someone is unfair or unwarranted in thought or action. It makes little sense to urge Christians to select the best unfair or unwarranted beliefs.

    Perspective, point of view, interpretation; these are not the same as bias.

    I have been a college professor. In that classroom role, my perspective was that of a teacher. In the same classroom there were others who had the perspective of a student. Some of us also held the perspective of a parent. Some of us initially learned about the world in English and so had that perspective.

    Thus, we all have a perspective, in fact we have lots of perspectives (perspective: from the Latin, to “see through” as in see through a lens))

    And, we all interpret the information that we possess. My mother once held dear a photograph of all her children. One morning she discovered that everyone in the photograph had suddenly sprouted a mustache – everyone that is except one of my younger brothers. My mother interpreted this information as his guilt and spanked him. He interpreted it as unfair punishment (after all, no one had seen him do it) and so left a note saying, “I have runned away.”

    But possessing a perspective or engaging in interpretation does not mean that we are biased. It certainly does not entail that we should acknowledge that everyone is biased and that our task is to find out which bias (biases?) is better or best.

    Instead, our task is to avoid bias, stay as open-minded as we can, acknowledge what is faith and what is evidence.

    If you are a Christian, you might be biased, or you might not. Likewise if you are an atheist.

    My advice to students on this issue was to consider together as many of their perspectives as they could. Then, ascertain whether they were compatible with one another.

    This might reveal whether or not they were biased.

    In short, eliminate bias from your life. Develop a Christian perspective that is scriptural.

    1. Thanks Brian. I’m from Manitoba but appreciate your pastor’s honest frank openness. To walk without any bias is super hard but I’m trying. My main objective (born into evangelical- literalist- fundamentalism) is to be without dogma. Drop dogma and seek God in awe and wonder. Do I have , or need, all the answers!? Not anymore.
      Rod

  7. Question: Two to start, Adam and Eve. How does one bridge this to the incredible physical diversity of the peoples of the world? Size, Shape, facial features, etc. (and of course colour/color). This is not a trite question – it calls into question the genesis account in the absence of a substantiative bridging idea or explanation.

  8. Where does the idea of original sin fit in with being made in the image of God? There is tension there if not outright conflict…

    1. I have some doubts about the doctrine of original sin. Jesus did not mention it. The early church did not teach it. In Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History (3rd century) it is not mentioned. The first formulation of which we know comes from Augustine in the 4th century.

      There are many passages that testify to what we might call the universal reach of sin. It is, I think, mostly from these verses that the “theological construct” of original sin was formulated.

      Perhaps the scripture most called upon to show that original sin is scriptural, is Paul’s letter to the Romans, especially chapters 5-7, and most especially,

      “Just as through one human being sin came into the world, and death came through sin … so also grace will rule through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (5:12, 21).

      However, I think that the best translation of the crux of these verses is found in the NRS.

      Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned– (notice the word “spread”)

      Perhaps we would think more carefully about original sin if we took note of its corollary, namely; universal salvation (“grace will rule”).

      I confess, I am unsure about these ruminations, and offer them only as thoughts for consideration.

      Brian Sayers

      1. Hi Brian – thank you for your insightful and helpful thoughts, and I provide these quotes from Charles Darwin and King David to support and progress the discussion:

        Darwin commented ‘False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often endure long; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for everyone takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness; and when this is done, one path towards error is closed and the road to truth is often at the same time opened. Charles Darwin

        When reading Origin of Species it became clear to me that this is one man’s view, and he leaves it to the reader to accept or reject his conclusions. Darwin makes broad, sweeping statements that are largely unsupported by science, or the fossil record. And based on advances in modern science and geological mapping, I conclude that there are good reasons to reexamine and reconsider his assertions.

        When I studied the Earth’s history at university the theory of evolution was presented as fact. Although, it was fascinating because the creation accounts, including one where an upper firmament of water vapour was present that contributed to the deluge and Noah’s flood, were also presented.

        Darwin looked up at the stars, the geological record, and into the microscope with his own bias, based on his admission: ‘The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an agnostic.’ Charles Darwin

        David, whom I believe to be in the direct lineage of Jesus Christ, looked into the sky and asserted:

        ‘The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.’ King David

        Our biases in a large part lead us to gravitate towards one of two poles: viewing everything we see and ascribing glory to God as our Creator, or seeking explanations that tend to refute His authorship and detract from His magnificence.

  9. Hey Bruxy, thank you for this new series. It’s so refreshing to be able to say,” I don’t know the answer to that, but I trust the one the bible reveals. My biggest headscratcher in Genesis is Gen 4:14. If God started with just Adam, then Eve, then who are these people who Cain fears would kill him? I don’t want to even think about asking the origin of Cain’s wife…

  10. This is a bit off the wall, but if God is infinite and I, I presume, a creator God, who’s to say he hasn’t created prior to the creation of our universe? After all, if he has lived in eternity, which has no time, isn’t it conceivable he has created other universes and beings long before ours was created? I would presume, those beings would have been given a chance to exercise freewill since love demands free will. Other universes? With their own sense of time? I could see a God who is eternal doing that. But then, why would he if he is fully satisfied with himself? Seems to me, love would demand eternal creation. Just doing some headspins on this.

  11. Advise the lady who asked why the universe is so huge to read Hugh Ross’ why the Universe is the Way it is.

    1. I was going to jump in and suggest something similar as I have followed the ministry of Reasons to Believe for some time now! Most of the questions being asked here are dealt with in their material. Check them out folks!
      Reasons.org/home

  12. Genesis begins with a statement that God created the earth and then it says that He said “Let there be light” and there was. But on the 4th day He created the sun and moon. What was the light created on the 1st day? The last chapter of Revelation says that God Himself will be the light in the new Jerusalem. Is there any relation to the light on the 1st day in Genesis?

  13. So this is my biggest question: I’m willing to accept that the creation account is “myth”, in that it reveals spiritual and relational truths, rather than literal scientific or historical truths.

    (According to the little research I’ve done, this does seem to be an honest way to read the text, according to its genre, and it presents no problems in reconciling scripture with science, which also reveals Gods truth)

    My biggest problem comes around the story of Adam & Eve and the temptation and fall. If Adam and Eve were not historic people, then how did the fall occur? Was there ever a moment of choice for humanity, or an opportunity for us to have gone another way?

    I don’t see any evidence in archeological record of any period of human history/evolution where people were innocent and without sin. Even primates practice tribal warfare, and it seems likely that humans did also, since the very beginning.

    There do seem to be profound theological implications if this story is not “true” in some historical sense: How did sin come into the earth if humans did not choose to reject God? Why are humans under the curse if sin was an evolved reality, rather than a rejection of an original innocence?

    For the curse – there is much evidence in history.
    For original innocence and the opportunity to make a choice – there is none.

    1. Hi Bruxy,

      How might I respond to someone who says that “they don’t need a book to tell them what is right and wrong”? I believe they don’t acknowledge at least some of their creation in the image of God to have this sense about them, but I also don’t think they hold the same standards that a Christian would.

      Also on the origin of ethics, since the Spirit came after Jesus died, were people (besides prophets) absent of any “gut feelings” that would indicate to them that something is wrong? I often wonder if this is one way the Spirit works within us, and guides us on our choices. And perhaps this is why the law was so badly needed before people were ready for Jesus?

      Brittany

  14. I remember many years ago (probably 50++) hearing a sermon on creation. It was a sermon that explained things to my satisfaction in view of the fact that evolution was being taught to the exclusion of my upbringing belief in a 6 day creation.
    The speaker said two things that in my memory went something like: there was a period of chaos where a lot could have happened and could God not have created lots of artifacts and skeletons that supported the scientific approach for scientists to have research to do as they matured.
    The other thing that brought pause was a visit to the grand canyon when I was very young that should the eras of creation in the rock levels.

  15. About the creation of fossil artifacts to make it “look like” the earth was old seems like an odd thing for God to deceive us about ,,, There doesn’t seem to be anything in scripture that would indicate God wanted to make it look like the earth was older than it was. I like the concept that “day” can refer to an indeterminate time or an era of time.

  16. My question is this, if Christ died for our sins, past, present, and future, and we rest in this belief, why do we still call sin as being present now. As far as the east is from the west so far has he removed our sins from us. So, if I am to believe I am free indeed, why does one say we still sin? Isn’t it gone now?

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