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Problems In Genesis


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So, last night I was into some deep thought about something I had been wondering about a few weeks ago:

 

Cain killed Abel and God placed a mark on his head so that no one will kill him as vengeance.

 

Genesis 4:

 

"8 Now Cain talked with Abel his brother;[a] and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?”

He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

10 And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. 11 So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.”

13 And Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear! 14 Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.”

15 And the Lord said to him, “Therefore,[b] whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him." (Quote from Bible gateway NKJV Version)

 

So after thinking about this and reading through the text, an interesting question is raised. Who are the people who would kill Cain? From reading the Bible, the only people who would kill him are his parents. As far as that goes, why would his parents kill him if he is their only offspring? Something to seriously consider.

 

Secondly if you go to the next verse (verse 16), It states the following:

"16 Then Cain went out from the presence of the Lord and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden. 17 And Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch. And he built a city, and called the name of the city after the name of his son—Enoch."

 

So we see that in such a short time, Cain goes from being only one of three people on earth to having a wife and bearing a son. This raises other more serious questions:

Where did his wife come from?

If God made other humans to populate the earth, then he made them with the sin curse as well. Why? Why not just start over right here and make new humans without sin?

 

Later in the same chapter, verse 25 indicates that Adam and Eve had another son, Seth. But by this time, the bible seems to indicate that the earth was populated with many people at this point. Which raises the same questions, where did these people come from.

 

AS I have thought about this, I see that it can only be logically concluded that this creation story is meant to be an allegory and is not a true story. It just has too many problems for it to be literal. Adam and Eve would have to be popping out babies at an extremely high rate in order to have any sizeable means to achieve populating the earth, then you run into genetic problems and, when you really start to add it up, it just doesn't make any sense.

 

How can Christians read this and not see how this creates problems for their interpretation of the creation account and populating of the earth? It sure looks more and more like they really aren't reading it.

 

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The creationist explaination I grew up with was that since the original creation was good/perfect, inbreeding didn't cause genetic issues. So it was totally fine for siblings to marry at that point, and people lived for more than 120 years since God hadn't changed that yet, so there was plenty of time for Eve to make lots of babies. It was just after several generations of the taint of sin, and especially once the ice canopy melted to cause the flood (yes, there was a serious idea floating around that the earth used to be encased in an ice bubble that made the entire world have a pleasantly mild climate and blocked out harmful UV radiation) and all the extra solar radiation started damaging DNA that incest became a problem.

 

It's amazing what people will come up with to try to make sense of the bible.

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I've been told that any rabbi will say that the early chapters of Genesis are allegory.

 

Based on much of what I have been reading regarding Jews and their interpretation of the Old Testament, I would say that this is a true statement.

 

 

The creationist explaination I grew up with was that since the original creation was good/perfect, inbreeding didn't cause genetic issues. So it was totally fine for siblings to marry at that point, and people lived for more than 120 years since God hadn't changed that yet, so there was plenty of time for Eve to make lots of babies. It was just after several generations of the taint of sin, and especially once the ice canopy melted to cause the flood (yes, there was a serious idea floating around that the earth used to be encased in an ice bubble that made the entire world have a pleasantly mild climate and blocked out harmful UV radiation) and all the extra solar radiation started damaging DNA that incest became a problem.

 

It's amazing what people will come up with to try to make sense of the bible.

 

The only logical thing I can figure out is that, since women were considered "nothing" in biblical times, that Adam and Eve had daughters that were never mentioned. However, even if Eve had popped out 50 kids, I still don't see how it would have created the population explosion that seems to be insinuated by the writer of Genesis. It appears to me that the bible indicates that cities worth of populations existed by the time Seth was born. I just do see how that can be true.

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These mysteries are exactly the reason why I don't believe Yahweh is a cosmic deity. Inexplicable people appearing in inexplicable places who shouldn't be there. He's a local deity, nothing less, nothing more. That is, if he even exists and he's got his own propaganda machine running. Or he is truly a demiurge.

 

Somehow these people came into being from nothing and I presume these are the people who initially started worshipping false gods. Talk about leaving kids alone with a stove.

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Most educated Orthodox Christian (and I imagine Catholic) theologians discard literalism as a Protestant invention.

 

I suspect they believe this because literalism severely limits broad interpretation and the crafting of doctrines.

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Most educated Orthodox Christian (and I imagine Catholic) theologians discard literalism as a Protestant invention.

 

 

I suspect they believe this because literalism severely limits broad interpretation and the crafting of doctrines.

They've basically had to adapt to the scrutiny of the modern historical-critical method. Earlier, this was never an issue, since people more or less took the literal truth of the Old Testament for granted. You will see some Early Church Fathers, like St John Chrysostom, discussing an allegorical exegetical method (Origen in particular was a renowned allegorist) but by and large, contemporary analysis of these early writings are situated in the framework of the contemporary debate.

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These issues are left over from the story's older form.  Genesis plagiarized the story from some other, older religion.  In that other religion the world had a full population.  This wasn't about the origin of mankind - just a story about two brothers.

 

If you notice it goes on to say Cain takes a wife (what, his sister?) and then builds a city.  How do you build a city when it's population is just you, your wife and your kids?  That is a house, not a city.  So in the original story Cain was just one guy out of a population of thousands.  He built a city that people from other areas joined.  The gods gave Cain a special mark so that people wouldn't kill him because Cain had many enemies.

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So, Has anyone ever heard a theory to describe where the other people came from? and if so, Any theories as to why God created them with a sinful nature instead of perfection? or if they were perfect, how they lost their perfect state?

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If you notice it goes on to say Cain takes a wife (what, his sister?) and then builds a city.  How do you build a city when it's population is just you, your wife and your kids?  That is a house, not a city.

     Cain took a sheep as his wife.  It was allowed since there was no law against it yet.  Xians teach that things were just fine until god outlawed them.  This is why people tend to think that there was incest at this time and have no problem with it.  But that was going on in the other camp.  Cain had a sheep wife and, like other animals of this time, she could talk...and suck dick.

 

          mwc

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Genesis is complete non-sense, even by extremely bizarre fiction standards.

This. And the rest of the bible is utter drivel.

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So, Has anyone ever heard a theory to describe where the other people came from? and if so, Any theories as to why God created them with a sinful nature instead of perfection? or if they were perfect, how they lost their perfect state?

 

I read one Greek Orthodox blog talking about how they accept evolution, and that Adam and Eve were simply a pair of homo sapiens that God picked out as the first ones to have the "breath of god"/a spirit. And when Adam tells Eve that she's the mother of the human race, that just means that because of them, all new kids born to the entire species would have a spirit. The author thought the two creation stories (which he did point out were contradictory if one was reading them as history) were variations on the local polytheistic creation stories, subverting them to make a monotheistic point and never intended to be literally true. But Cain and Abel were history, and those Protestants are crazy because if you take the creation stories literally, where'd Cain get his wife?

 

I'd always thought the Greek Orthodox would be pretty out there, what with all the ikon kissing and stuff, but I was surprised to find that they value the good in the material creation much more than the protestant fundies I was raised with do. (I'm sure they have other issues, I was just kinda impressed that they weren't the flavor of crazy I was expecting.)

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So, Has anyone ever heard a theory to describe where the other people came from? and if so, Any theories as to why God created them with a sinful nature instead of perfection? or if they were perfect, how they lost their perfect state?

 

 

I read one Greek Orthodox blog talking about how they accept evolution, and that Adam and Eve were simply a pair of homo sapiens that God picked out as the first ones to have the "breath of god"/a spirit. And when Adam tells Eve that she's the mother of the human race, that just means that because of them, all new kids born to the entire species would have a spirit. The author thought the two creation stories (which he did point out were contradictory if one was reading them as history) were variations on the local polytheistic creation stories, subverting them to make a monotheistic point and never intended to be literally true. But Cain and Abel were history, and those Protestants are crazy because if you take the creation stories literally, where'd Cain get his wife?

 

I'd always thought the Greek Orthodox would be pretty out there, what with all the ikon kissing and stuff, but I was surprised to find that they value the good in the material creation much more than the protestant fundies I was raised with do. (I'm sure they have other issues, I was just kinda impressed that they weren't the flavor of crazy I was expecting.)

The Orthodox have been ironing out their doctrines for far longer than anyone else, much less the Protestants. Regular people literally killed each other on the streets of Byzantine Constantinople over the tiniest theological disagreements. So yeah, it is quite the mistake to dismiss them. :)

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To elaborate on the Orthodox position on evolution-

 

There are lots of Orthodox, especially in monastic communities, who cling to creationism. Even in post-Soviet Russia. This is slightly less the case among the Greeks. For myself, I refused to convert until I found Orthodox theologians who accepted evolution as scientific fact and Genesis as allegory. However, this creates a bit of a conundrum, as the Orthodox insist on the validity of patristic consensus, and the vast majority of patristic writers took Genesis as literal truth.

 

The best way I ever heard it described was that Adam and Eve were allegorical for Homo sapiens as a species, and were not real historical figures. This creates another dilemma because the Church commonly represents Adam and Eve as literal people in its services. Another dilemma is created by the question of whether animals died before the "Fall" of the human race. If the Fall introduced death and sin into the world, this obviously creates a contradiction with evolution.

 

In short, lots of dilemmas and very few logical answers.

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To elaborate on the Orthodox position on evolution-

 

There are lots of Orthodox, especially in monastic communities, who cling to creationism. Even in post-Soviet Russia. This is slightly less the case among the Greeks. For myself, I refused to convert until I found Orthodox theologians who accepted evolution as scientific fact and Genesis as allegory. However, this creates a bit of a conundrum, as the Orthodox insist on the validity of patristic consensus, and the vast majority of patristic writers took Genesis as literal truth.

 

The best way I ever heard it described was that Adam and Eve were allegorical for Homo sapiens as a species, and were not real historical figures. This creates another dilemma because the Church commonly represents Adam and Eve as literal people in its services. Another dilemma is created by the question of whether animals died before the "Fall" of the human race. If the Fall introduced death and sin into the world, this obviously creates a contradiction with evolution.

 

In short, lots of dilemmas and very few logical answers.

 

In reading the New Testament, and in particular, Paul, I got the general idea that they took Adam and Eve to be literal people. If they are just fictional characters, then the entire premise of the redemptive work of Jesus' death on the cross becomes moot. So, in agreement with your last statement, it does indeed create dilemmas and not much in the way of logical answers.

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I get the impression that the early Christians really believed Genesis to be true. They really thought these stories were thousands of years old and this was the actual origin and history of the human race. 

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I had a Sunday school teacher tell me once that it took a long time after the "fall" for Adam and Eve's perfection to wear off.  As a result, all of their bodily functions were incredibly efficient.  This is why they were able to make so many children in such a short period of time.

 

Makes about as much sense as a football bat.

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I had a Sunday school teacher tell me once that it took a long time after the "fall" for Adam and Eve's perfection to wear off.  As a result, all of their bodily functions were incredibly efficient.  This is why they were able to make so many children in such a short period of time.

 

Makes about as much sense as a football bat.

 

Maybe back then Eve was having litters of kids like a dog would?  Maybe those kids grew to sexual maturity in 5 years instead of 12 to 14?  

 

Anything is possible with god!  

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I had a Sunday school teacher tell me once that it took a long time after the "fall" for Adam and Eve's perfection to wear off.  As a result, all of their bodily functions were incredibly efficient.  This is why they were able to make so many children in such a short period of time.

 

Makes about as much sense as a football bat.

 

Maybe back then Eve was having litters of kids like a dog would?  Maybe those kids grew to sexual maturity in 5 years instead of 12 to 14?  

 

Anything is possible with god!  

 

If I remember right, the "perfection" of Adam and Eve was also passed down to their offspring for several generations; so, both of the scenarios you present would be in keeping with the overall thought the Sunday school teacher presented.

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  • 4 weeks later...

 

The only logical thing I can figure out is that, since women were considered "nothing" in biblical times, that Adam and Eve had daughters that were never mentioned.

 

 

Actually, Adam's genealogy does say that he had daughters (Genesis 5:4). From there, literal creationists conclude that Cain must have married his sister. I'm not defending that position, but I do think it's worth noting that it is an error to assert that the Bible never mentions Adam and Eve having daughters.

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I don't know how well this is substantiated, but I've read theories that Adam/Eve, Cain/Abel, etc. are Hebrew adaptations of earlier myths and they are all about the conflict between agricultural, city building societies (represented by Cain the farmer) and nomadic herders (represented by Abel).  So for Cain to kill Abel, it has much to do with land disputes.. the urbanized, agriculturalists seizing land from the herders to build their cities.

 

So that's a theory.. again I dont' know how well substantiated it is but it makes sense to me.

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I don't know how well this is substantiated, but I've read theories that Adam/Eve, Cain/Abel, etc. are Hebrew adaptations of earlier myths and they are all about the conflict between agricultural, city building societies (represented by Cain the farmer) and nomadic herders (represented by Abel).  So for Cain to kill Abel, it has much to do with land disputes.. the urbanized, agriculturalists seizing land from the herders to build their cities.

 

So that's a theory.. again I dont' know how well substantiated it is but it makes sense to me.

Interesting theory. I wonder if there was indeed an audience for people to make such political statements at that time in history when this was written. I fully admit I am naïve when it comes to such things as politics. Anyone care to weigh in on this?

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I've been told that any rabbi will say that the early chapters of Genesis are allegory.

 

Based on much of what I have been reading regarding Jews and their interpretation of the Old Testament, I would say that this is a true statement.

 

 

The creationist explaination I grew up with was that since the original creation was good/perfect, inbreeding didn't cause genetic issues. So it was totally fine for siblings to marry at that point, and people lived for more than 120 years since God hadn't changed that yet, so there was plenty of time for Eve to make lots of babies. It was just after several generations of the taint of sin, and especially once the ice canopy melted to cause the flood (yes, there was a serious idea floating around that the earth used to be encased in an ice bubble that made the entire world have a pleasantly mild climate and blocked out harmful UV radiation) and all the extra solar radiation started damaging DNA that incest became a problem.

 

It's amazing what people will come up with to try to make sense of the bible.

 

The only logical thing I can figure out is that, since women were considered "nothing" in biblical times, that Adam and Eve had daughters that were never mentioned. However, even if Eve had popped out 50 kids, I still don't see how it would have created the population explosion that seems to be insinuated by the writer of Genesis. It appears to me that the bible indicates that cities worth of populations existed by the time Seth was born. I just do see how that can be true.

 

 

The book of genisis is like a marvel comic. It just isn't as entertaining and the super hero is boring.

 

Even if she squeezed out 100 kids there is not enough diversity in the genetic material to breed a viable race at that point period. it would take what like at least I think 30-60 couples not related directly by one step to breed a viable new gene pool. less just yields failure at genetic level over time.

 

Genisis would make a good cartoon series if you skip the religious part and just make it sci-fi.

 

it can't be true because that would make the world we live in sort of magical which there is no proof of and not scientific which there are literally rooms full of proof for.

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