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LuthAMF verses Joshpantera: informal debate

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The bible: Demonstably false or not? 

 

Genesis 1:1 Let's start there and slowly move forward after analyzing carefully every verse. 

 

@LuthAMF

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Genesis 1:1 New International Version (NIV)

The Beginning

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

 

@LuthAMF

 

Can you please explain how you interpret this verse? Thanks. 

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While you're Gathering thoughts, I'll just say that some like William Lane Craig use Genesis 1:1 as a pivotal arguing point. The word "beginning" is used:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalam_cosmological_argument

 

Craig looks at some dated cosmological theoretic's (I'm privy to newer theoretical thinking than that) about the BB and concludes that the bible says there was a fixed beginning, science says there was a fixed beginning, therefore the bible has it right. And then, based on the first set of assumptions, Craig then moves forward arguing that everything that has a fixed beginning needs a cause. And then automatically inserts that the cause (based on a whole line of previous assumptions) is not just a god, but YHWH of the biblical tradition. 

 

First of all, I'm wondering whether or not you agree with WLC about this. I don't know yet. I'd rather ask and find out then assume that you do. If you do not agree with Craig, and have some other interpretation of what's going on in Genesis 1:1, then I'd like to hear you out regardless. 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

While you're Gathering thoughts, I'll just say that some like William Lane Craig use Genesis 1:1 as a pivotal arguing point. The word "beginning" is used:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalam_cosmological_argument

 

Craig looks at some dated cosmological theoretic's (I'm privy to newer theoretical thinking than that) about the BB and concludes that the bible says there was a fixed beginning, science says there was a fixed beginning, therefore the bible has it right. And then, based on the first set of assumptions, Craig then moves forward arguing that everything that has a fixed beginning needs a cause. And then automatically inserts that the cause (based on a whole line of previous assumptions) is not just a god, but YHWH of the biblical tradition. 

 

First of all, I'm wondering whether or not you agree with WLC about this. I don't know yet. I'd rather ask and find out then assume that you do. If you do not agree with Craig, and have some other interpretation of what's going on in Genesis 1:1, then I'd like to hear you out regardless. 

 

 

I appreciate that. I think we both will be "hearing each other out" numerous times throughout. This is not exactly a shallow topic.

 

Dr.W L Craig openly states his approach is philosophical before being theological. 

 

My approach is unswervingly theological. Theology drives all else. That should be helpful. 

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18 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

The bible: Demonstably false or not? 

 

Genesis 1:1 Let's start there and slowly move forward after analyzing carefully every verse. 

 

@LuthAMF

 

Is anyone welcome to chime in?

 

If so please consider my responses, if not feel free to delete or let them go unremarked and I'll refrain from further engagement.

 

4 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

While you're Gathering thoughts, I'll just say that some like William Lane Craig use Genesis 1:1 as a pivotal arguing point. The word "beginning" is used:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalam_cosmological_argument

 

Craig looks at some dated cosmological theoretic's (I'm privy to newer theoretical thinking than that) about the BB and concludes that the bible says there was a fixed beginning, science says there was a fixed beginning, therefore the bible has it right. And then, based on the first set of assumptions, Craig then moves forward arguing that everything that has a fixed beginning needs a cause. And then automatically inserts that the cause (based on a whole line of previous assumptions) is not just a god, but YHWH of the biblical tradition. 

 

First of all, I'm wondering whether or not you agree with WLC about this. I don't know yet. I'd rather ask and find out then assume that you do. If you do not agree with Craig, and have some other interpretation of what's going on in Genesis 1:1, then I'd like to hear you out regardless. 

 

Notice "how" WLC is appealing to outside sources and their theories.

 

Why is this important to point out that WLC is appealing to a different standard?

 

Also, I'd like to point out Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

 

The above is a translation. Translation may include interpretation and I think it important to not just ignore the Hebrew from which a translation occurred.

 

1 hour ago, LuthAMF said:

Dr.W L Craig openly states his approach is philosophical before being theological. 

 

My approach is unswervingly theological. Theology drives all else. That should be helpful. 

 

The thing that intrigues me about WLC is he is appealing to outside theories made by an extra-biblical authority.

 

Then you too recognize that WLC has some wonderful arguments but he is horrible at theology.

 

If anyone wants to know my thoughts on Genesis 1:1 they are, "When" God in the beginning created that what before did not exist was now made.

 

I think John Calvin brings out wonderfully the point of timing in which God began, when at that moment, the Creator decided.

 

John Calvin "for he has not used the term יצר, (yatsar,) which signifies to frame or forms but ברא, (bara,) which signifies to create."

 

As far as WLC and his argument, I prefer to simply reference God revealing Himself as I am that I am. In consideration of Genesis 1:1, I offer, He who causes to become [I am that I am]. From that I can understand "how" WLC comes to God being the Uncaused first Cause.

 

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4 hours ago, Christforums said:

Is anyone welcome to chime in?

 

If so please consider my responses, if not feel free to delete or let them go unremarked and I'll refrain from further engagement.

 

I'll tell you what, William I'm interested in discussing with you both actually. But I'd prefer that the atheist gang stay back and allow me to go this alone - just in this one thread.

 

You guys can work together if you'd like. The variety of christian input will make the discussion more interesting I'm sure. And I'd like to give you two the opportunity to voice yourselves without any distractions that take us off in other directions. After I left my church family, I sincerely sought after scripture in order to decide what I think of it. Not what the denomination says about it, but what I think about it myself using my own better judgement. And I intend to share my thoughts with you two as we exchange. In a civil manner. 

 

4 hours ago, Christforums said:

The thing that intrigues me about WLC is he is appealing to outside theories made by an extra-biblical authority.

 

Then you too recognize that WLC has some wonderful arguments but he is horrible at theology.

 

A point of agreement. He's towing the line of very liberal christianity. So I realize that you two may not want to be associated with his specific interpretations or ideas about what Genesis is saying. I have disagreements with his assertions that may not pertain to either of you at all. But I have disagreements with several different approaches that I've encountered, ranging from conservative and literal to liberal and symbolic. You may offer something I haven't considered yet.

 

4 hours ago, Christforums said:

If anyone wants to know my thoughts on Genesis 1:1 they are, "When" God in the beginning created that what before did not exist was now made.

 

I think John Calvin brings out wonderfully the point of timing in which God began, when at that moment, the Creator decided.

 

John Calvin "for he has not used the term יצר, (yatsar,) which signifies to frame or forms but ברא, (bara,) which signifies to create."

 

I have some exposure to "bara" and "asah." Different words used in the creation account. No doubt this will come up again between day 1 and day 4 (spoiler alert).

 

4 hours ago, Christforums said:

As far as WLC and his argument, I prefer to simply reference God revealing Himself as I am that I am. In consideration of Genesis 1:1, I offer, He who causes to become [I am that I am]. From that I can understand "how" WLC comes to God being the Uncaused first Cause.

 

Of course my view has changed a lot over the years. From one perspective, I think that you guys are picking up on something valid with the uncaused, cause thing. But as to what that would be is where we would diverge now. If it comes down to atheists saying that there is no uncaused, cause, there is only absolute nothing and then spontaneously a universe - I understand why you two would resist such an assertion. And it's because of the something from nothing issue. I don't buy into that myself. But then again, neither do a lot of scientists and atheists either. In fact, that's not what the choices here boil down to at all.

 

See 5:18 forward for a point of reference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANtpsunRYIs&t=6s

 

 

The real issue seems to be the question of what exactly is that 'something', which 'everything' arose from? 

 

And the truth as I see it, is that we don't know for sure at this time. We have ideas and speculation, but not hard evidence nor absolute truth. To suggest that it's a supernatural being - let's face it - is one of many speculations. That may not be something that either of you are willing to agree with, but I'm putting it out there. That's a very anthropomorphic way of trying to answer a hard question. We're beings, so this ultimate reality and uncaused, cause, is visualized as similar to ourselves only greater. A supreme being in comparison. 

 

Another speculation coming from theoretical science is that space is not finite and confined only our universe. But instead ranges out beyond without end. Like a god minus the anthropomorphic visualizations. Not a being, just the totality of existence itself ranging out forever and ever. Where a finite universe like our own, for instance, could be a bubble expanding in size so to speak. Surrounding it, or rather "transcendent" of the universe, up to an infinite amount of bubbles readily coming and going all the time. Space ranging throughout. The question of what came before, what are we expanding out into, and similar questions being summed up in this infinite and eternal, non-anthropomorphized conceptualization of reality. 

 

The greater reality (just like god) would have no beginning or end to speak of. It would be the infinite and eternal. The higher power. All of that. But it's existence itself as the totality, not literally a being like us but greater. 

 

Two different ways of trying to speculate about reality and existence. One from the bronze age and one contemporary. Both lead to infinite and eternal conclusions. But the contemporary doesn't bother trying to present it in a personified, or anthromorphized type of way. Both being speculation and not necessarily hard fact. But certainly one very dated in comparison to the other. 

 

Are either of you willing to agree that the three of us (and anyone else for that matter) can only offer speculation? 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

If it comes down to atheists saying that there is no uncaused, cause, there is only absolute nothing and then spontaneously a universe - I understand why you two would resist such an assertion. And it's because of the something from nothing issue. I don't buy into that myself. But then again, neither do a lot of scientists and atheists either. In fact, that's not what the choices here boil down to at all.

 

G'evening Josh! Been a while!

 

Just pointing out the obvious as to a source outside Scripture. Don't get me wrong, I'm not rejecting or ignoring what you post but all I care about is what the author meant to convey. Does an unbelieving scientist or atheist have weight in my quest to understand the author of Scripture? Granted, sometimes to understand the author, extra-biblical sources for language, history, etc might help us understand a little more but I do believe the very best interpreter of Scripture is Scripture.

 

4 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

The real issue seems to be the question of what exactly is that 'something', which 'everything' arose from? 

 

And the truth as I see it, is that we don't know for sure at this time. We have ideas and speculation, but not hard evidence nor absolute truth. To suggest that it's a supernatural being - let's face it - is one of many speculations. That may not be something that either of you are willing to agree with, but I'm putting it out there. That's a very anthropomorphic way of trying to answer a hard question. We're beings, so this ultimate reality and uncaused, cause, is visualized as similar to ourselves only greater. A supreme being in comparison. 

 

Another speculation coming from theoretical science is that space is not finite and confined only our universe. But instead ranges out beyond without end. Like a god minus the anthropomorphic visualizations. Not a being, just the totality of existence itself ranging out forever and ever. Where a finite universe like our own, for instance, could be a bubble expanding in size so to speak. Surrounding it, or rather "transcendent" of the universe, up to an infinite amount of bubbles readily coming and going all the time. Space ranging throughout. The question of what came before, what are we expanding out into, and similar questions being summed up in this infinite and eternal, non-anthropomorphized conceptualization of reality. 

 

The greater reality (just like god) would have no beginning or end to speak of. It would be the infinite and eternal. The higher power. All of that. But it's existence itself as the totality, not literally a being like us but greater. 

 

Two different ways of trying to speculate about reality and existence. One from the bronze age and one contemporary. Both lead to infinite and eternal conclusions. But the contemporary doesn't bother trying to present it in a personified, or anthromorphized type of way. Both being speculation and not necessarily hard fact. But certainly one very dated in comparison to the other. 

 

Are either of you willing to agree that the three of us (and anyone else for that matter) can only offer speculation? 

 

See, all this is for you to decide for yourself. All I care about is understanding what the author meant to convey. The struggle for me is to properly apply certain best methods and principles of interpretation to help understand with respect to the author's intent. So no, I don't agree that all I can offer is speculation, I have a text in front of me and I care about what the author meant to convey. However, I don't expect everyone to understand the text including myself. After all many misunderstood Jesus Christ so why would I think anyone might understand me all the time? But I think it is a stretch to suggest that whenever I say something all anyone else can do is to speculate as to what I mean.

 

For example, Genesis 1:1 in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

 

Could you possibly exegete any of what you wrote from that verse? To suggest the verse meant any possible theory is eisegesis, that is, reading what the reader has in mind into the text. This is nothing more than putting words in someone's mouth. I'm sure you'd be quite upset at me if I kept saying what you didn't mean as your intended message when it was the furthest from the truth. I think we both agree that this would be a dishonest practice. Tis' why I think we should be compelled to seek the truth in what is meant not what we want or have in mind. Now I don't want to mislead you and make myself appear to know the biblical languages such as Hebrew and Greek, but I do find it necessary often to reference the Hebrew and Greek to better understand any meaning that may of been lost in translation. 

 

Can we simply agree as to what the author meant to convey? For example, " "When" God in the beginning created that what before did not exist was now made. In Genesis 1:1 what before did not exist and was now created is conveyed through a merism or figure of speech through "the heavens and the earth". Does that offer any help in understanding what the something that was not before that is now?

 

I offer three camps in which Genesis 1:1 is usually interpreted to consider. (1) According to the first, traditional interpretation, Gen 1:1 describes the initial event among God’s acts of creation. Verse 2 then gives circumstantial information about the state of the earth at an early point. (2) According to the second interpretation, Gen 1:1 functions as a temporal subordinate clause: “In the beginning, when God created the heaven and the earth, the earth was without form....” (3) According to the third interpretation, Gen 1:1 is a summary of the entire sequence of divine acts described in vv. 2–31. It does not describe the very first event that led to the creation of the earth and its unformed state in v. 2. Rather, the first act of making things starts with v. 3, and Gen 1 offers no comment on how the unformed earth of v. 2 came into being.

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7 hours ago, Christforums said:

Can we simply agree as to what the author meant to convey? For example, " "When" God in the beginning created that what before did not exist was now made. In Genesis 1:1 what before did not exist and was now created is conveyed through a merism or figure of speech through "the heavens and the earth". Does that offer any help in understanding what the something that was not before that is now?

 

I actually agree with your sentiment. What I meant about speculation wasn't so much speculation directed at what the author meant to convey. I was just leading into the discussion with a point about what I think we're all dealing with in terms of asserting certainty about the origins of the universe, planet, and so on. Just for the sake of putting it out there. I see the author as a speculator when he writes Genesis 1:1 (and a borrower, to some degree). And for any of us to come behind that initial speculation, I think that we necessarily have no firmer ground to stand on as far as that goes. 

 

But you're right about scripture. On a different level there is the issue of properly trying to understand what has been written (and we can look at the three primary interpretations as we go along). There seems to be a lot of obvious and some not so obvious mistakes that go around concerning what scripture itself says in various places.

 

Even if in the end we're merely trying to correctly understand what someone speculating about the origins of our existence or creative writing in the distant past was trying to convey through their writing. So I suppose an ongoing question here will be by what method do we fact check the claims of ancient writers once we've hammered down the specifics of what their claims actually were - to the best of our ability today to understand the language and meaning of what they wrote back then? 

 

It appears that the writer did mean to convey "creation ex nihilo" by the looks of it.

 

But this isn't a something from nothing assertion, though, as Aron Ra was jabbing at the christian about. He was turning around the accusation on the christian for the sake of showing that a lot of atheists don't really believe that something came from nothing either. So what the bible is saying is that already existing god(s) (technically this is plural, and we'll have to address "the gods" / Elohim as we go through all of this). It's properly read that in the beginning the gods created what didn't already exist, which is the heaven and earth basically.

 

We're now progressing through this to the next issue of the claim that the writer is making, theologically, in scripture. I do mean to keep analyzing the claims as they unfold. But of course I realize that the two of you will want to have words about the 'plurality' of the claim before moving beyond it. 

 

Genesis 1:1 Names of God Bible (NOG)

The Creation

In the beginning Elohim created heaven and earth.

 

 

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8 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

I actually agree with your sentiment. What I meant about speculation wasn't so much speculation directed at what the author meant to convey. I was just leading into the discussion with a point about what I think we're all dealing with in terms of asserting certainty about the origins of the universe, planet, and so on.

 

So if the author states a direct "cause" then the issue comes down to whether He is more believable or unbelievable over "all these other speculations"?

 

8 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

But this isn't a something from nothing assertion, though, as Aron Ra was jabbing at the christian about. He was turning around the accusation on the christian for the sake of showing that a lot of atheists don't really believe that something came from nothing either. So what the bible is saying is that already existing god(s) (technically this is plural, and we'll have to address "the gods" / Elohim as we go through all of this). It's properly read that in the beginning the gods created what didn't already exist, which is the heaven and earth basically.

 

We're now progressing through this to the next issue of the claim that the writer is making, theologically, in scripture. I do mean to keep analyzing the claims as they unfold. But of course I realize that the two of you will want to have words about the 'plurality' of the claim before moving beyond it. 

 

Let's proceed. Genesis 1:1 precedes 1:2 and from it we glean that God created everything in a preexisting state (without form and void). Going back to Genesis 1:1 you bring up the plurality of God Elohim as a plural noun of a plural number. Now while there are various camps or schools of thought which attempt to interpret this as a celestial court or even the Trinity I do not necessarily think Elohim refers to the Three Persons of the Trinity here because in the following verses Elohim had spoken, and the Spirit of Elohim rested upon the waters. If we suppose Three Persons directed here then there'd be no distinction between them. So instead I offer the plurality is the sum of powers of the Godhead. Those powers in which God exercised while creating in His eternal essence.

 

Just putting this out there in that I am not interested in learning about nor exploring all these other speculations which in order to harmonize with Scripture the Scriptures must first be interpreted in such way as to allow for them eisegesis. Again, my main focus is understanding what the author had in mind and meant to convey. How that fits into a contrary worldview is up to that person.

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3 hours ago, Christforums said:

in the beginning the gods created what didn't already exist, which is the heaven and earth basically.

 

As stated the best method of interpreting Scripture is allowing Scripture to interpret itself.

 

Where you're using "gods" God has revealed Himself in Three Persons. Genesis 1:2 has the Holy Spirit resting upon the waters. And John 1:1-5 states the Logos. There is no good reason to reject these other verses which reveal the nature of God in the Three Persons.

 

I do however, realize, Jehovah's Witnesses teach and mistranslate the bible in John 1:1 to suggest Jesus was "a god". That heresy has long been refuted.

 

Heresy: Arianism The belief that Jesus and the Holy Spirit were lesser, created beings and not persons of the Godhead.

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On 5/23/2019 at 2:40 PM, Christforums said:

Let's proceed. Genesis 1:1 precedes 1:2 and from it we glean that God created everything in a preexisting state (without form and void). Going back to Genesis 1:1 you bring up the plurality of God Elohim as a plural noun of a plural number. Now while there are various camps or schools of thought which attempt to interpret this as a celestial court or even the Trinity I do not necessarily think Elohim refers to the Three Persons of the Trinity here because in the following verses Elohim had spoken, and the Spirit of Elohim rested upon the waters. If we suppose Three Persons directed here then there'd be no distinction between them. So instead I offer the plurality is the sum of powers of the Godhead. Those powers in which God exercised while creating in His eternal essence.

 

Yeah, I suppose we can move on. @LuthAMF is falling behind but he can jump in here whenever he'd like. 

 

The mormon thing tends to shed light on some of the issues surrounding the Elohims (gods) of Genesis. It is clearly plural, and as we proceed we'll find that the writer had a plural intention with, "let us" do such and such. We will catch up to all of that soon enough. And there are a variety of ways that theologians and biblical scholars have interpreted that. Mormons tried making sense of it by suggesting that there are all these gods off on other planets. It seems to be a creative way of trying to play off of the plurality of scripture in the creation account. And you mention the trinity. Again, some reject trinitarianism as a pagan heresy. Swear it's unbiblical. The trinity could be a way of trying to account for the plurality of the "gods" of creation, along with other issues.

 

So what do reading viewers know about how many non-believers and secular oriented scholars see this? Some know exactly what I'm going to expose here. But perhaps some do not. We of the ex christian community here are quite savvy to the understanding that ancient judaism was polytheistic, became monolatrous over time, and then later changed into a monotheistic frame work.

 

Some introductory information on this scholarly perspective can be found here: 

 

A ) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hn85M6sVapQ 

 

B ) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZY2eeozdo8

 

I'll leave it up to the interested to pursue the polytheism in ancient judaism further if they'd like. But ultimately, it's a very sensible and simple view that reveals what scholars have discovered about ancient Israel and it's origins. The writer of Genesis 1 was apparently of the Elohist priestly class, and so used the plural rendition of the gods. And the idea is that these were literally gods of a mythological pantheon, no different than any other of the near eastern pantheons of many gods.

 

It makes the most sense to me, personally having grown up trinitarian and then moving on to textual criticism and biblical archaeology outside of the lens of a believer persepctive. The idea is that over time and religious and political changes in Israel, the early polytheistic pantheon of the gods was condensed into a Yahwistic framework. But scraps and tid bits of the old polytheism still remain and can be found from Genesis into the Psalms, at least.

 

Psalm 82 being a primary example often outlined by Robert Price. John blatantly misquotes Psalm 82 out of it's original context, BTW. Because the reference is not to the people of Israel as "gods," the reference was to the "Elohim" pantheon of "gods" who were being consigned to sheol (place of the dead) where there stumbling would cause earth quakes and where they (the gods) would die like mortal men. Go read Psalms 82 for yourselves with the above links about "the gods" in mind. 

 

Let, "scripture interpret scripture." 

 

I realize that trinitarian's are not likely to accept the above, obviously. Because it alleges that trinitarianism arose at least in part as some type of after the fact apologetic's by monotheist's long after the old polytheism had already changed. This may be one of the points that we all end up having to agree to disagree on. And I don't want that to stop us from proceeding forward, either. It's fine by me that we likely won't find agreement about the "gods" of Genesis. But I at least want readers to understand all of the available options on the table. And the secular scholarship option is one of them. 

 

 

 

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Genesis 1:1-2 Names of God Bible (NOG)

The Creation

In the beginning Elohim created heaven and earth.

The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep water. The Ruach Elohim was hovering over the water.

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

I use the NOG translation in order to keep track of where the names of god are being used. Anyone having followed my links in the last post can at least understand the perspective that I'm looking at here concerning the Elohim / gods. And also how a trinitarian is the reading the same content by way of Williams input so far.

 

I don't mean to get too hung up on the differences between the secular scholarship and believer trinitarian interpretations, I just mean to allow them to both be noted as we study the bible, basically. I'm all for giving each their equal exposure. 

 

So, this is going to be something like the 12 days of christmas as we go along. 

 

On the first day of creation, the gods: 

 

1) Created from pre-existing conditions, that which didn't already exist. Heaven and Earth. 

2) The spirit, breath, or wind of the gods hovered over the waters.

 

Some citation for Ruach Elohim: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genesis_1:2

 

I'm basically looking at the spirit, breath, or wind of the gods hovering over the primordial waters of the unformed earth, basically. Very simply put. I'll stop there for now and allow our christian members to chime in and discuss or debate points. 

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2 hours ago, Joshpantera said:

 

Yeah, I suppose we can move on. @LuthAMF is falling behind but he can jump in here whenever he'd like. 

 

The mormon thing tends to shed light on some of the issues surrounding the Elohims (gods) of Genesis. It is clearly plural, and as we proceed we'll find that the writer had a plural intention with, "let us" do such and such. We will catch up to all of that soon enough. And there are a variety of ways that theologians and biblical scholars have interpreted that. Mormons tried making sense of it by suggesting that there are all these gods off on other planets. It seems to be a creative way of trying to play off of the plurality of scripture in the creation account. And you mention the trinity. Again, some reject trinitarianism as a pagan heresy. Swear it's unbiblical. The trinity could be a way of trying to account for the plurality of the "gods" of creation, along with other issues.

 

So what do reading viewers know about how many non-believers and secular oriented scholars see this? Some know exactly what I'm going to expose here. But perhaps some do not. We of the ex christian community here are quite savvy to the understanding that ancient judaism was polytheistic, became monolatrous over time, and then later changed into a monotheistic frame work.

 

Some introductory information on this scholarly perspective can be found here: 

 

A ) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hn85M6sVapQ 

 

B ) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZY2eeozdo8

 

I'll leave it up to the interested to pursue the polytheism in ancient judaism further if they'd like. But ultimately, it's a very sensible and simple view that reveals what scholars have discovered about ancient Israel and it's origins. The writer of Genesis 1 was apparently of the Elohist priestly class, and so used the plural rendition of the gods. And the idea is that these were literally gods of a mythological pantheon, no different than any other of the near eastern pantheons of many gods.

 

It makes the most sense to me, personally having grown up trinitarian and then moving on to textual criticism and biblical archaeology outside of the lens of a believer persepctive. The idea is that over time and religious and political changes in Israel, the early polytheistic pantheon of the gods was condensed into a Yahwistic framework. But scraps and tid bits of the old polytheism still remain and can be found from Genesis into the Psalms, at least. Psalm 82 being a primary example often outlined by Robert Price. 

 

I realize that trinitarian's are not likely to accept the above, obviously. Because it alleges that trinitarianism arose at least in part as some type of after the fact apologetic's by monotheist's long after the old polytheism had already changed. This may be one of the points that we all end up having to agree to disagree on. And I don't want that to stop us from proceeding forward, either. It's fine by me that we likely won't find agreement about the "gods" of Genesis. But I at least want readers to understand all of the available options on the table. And the secular scholarship option is one of them. 

 

 

 

 

To make it clear, you're rejecting the very Scripture which interprets Scripture. And then you point to a known Cult.

 

I realize you have to hold on to all these cultist ideologies and poor translations because otherwise the "gods" arguments crumble.

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On 5/23/2019 at 9:37 PM, Christforums said:

To make it clear, you're rejecting the very Scripture which interprets Scripture. And then you point to a known Cult.

 

I realize you have to hold on to all these cultist ideologies and poor translations because otherwise the "gods" arguments crumble.

 

This may need some more clarification. Which scripture am I rejecting? What cultist ideologies am I holding to, as a non-believer? You mentioned Jehovah's Witnesses and I mentioned mormons as an aside, to point their beliefs out. But I don't see how that could have been understood as either of us holding on to or believing these cult ideologies. There are a lot of reasons in this discussion to cross reference what these cults are and how they operate in comparison to christianity. Please explain your accusation. 

 

The only "gods" / "Elohim" argument that I am aligned with, are the scholarly one's outlined in the two video links. I do think that scholarship pretty much has this figured out correctly. Ancient Israel as polytheistic and evolving through very well known phases into an eventual monotheism, around the 6th century BCE. But none of this has to do with believing any religious cults, or religious cults beliefs or anything like that on my end. Again, I'm looking at this from a lack of religious belief, and lack of religious cult perspective myself. 

 

Maybe you can clarify before we proceed. 

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FOR ALL VIEWING THIS IN EAGER ANTICIPATION (Of my impending doom, I'm sure) 🙂
A very interesting and, in my mind, a very necessary thing has just taken place. A preamble of sorts has been offered. Were I  the one to suggest or implement such, the charge of stalling would likely have been leveled against me by ones with whom I have previously engaged. But even though Joshpantera  (May I call you Josh? No dishonor to Pantera. Rock On.) dove right in with 
"Genesis 1:1
Can you please explain how you interpret this verse? Thanks."
 
it wasn't long before he, while allowing me to "gather thoughts", gave some relevant introductory words concerning his sources and how he has come to frame some of his questions and arguments. He then added, "After I left my church family, I sincerely sought after scripture in order to decide what I think of it. Not what the denomination says about it, but what I think about it myself using my own better judgement. And I intend to share my thoughts with you two as we exchange. In a civil manner." and "I have disagreements with several different approaches that I've encountered, ranging from conservative and literal to liberal and symbolic. You may offer something I haven't considered yet."
 
This is the kind of information that can greatly assist us as, before anything, we should seek to understand one another. The recognized delay in my own posting is because I have been hoping it is OK to take an opportunity for my own "introduction" which I have not yet done on this site yet.
 
But another interesting occurrence: To my surprise, Christforums enters. I am so delighted that he, "William" (familiar enough with Josh to be on a first name basis!) and "Josh" are still amiable. 
I was under the impression that Christians who dared venture into the forums were long gone and still viewed with contempt although some were somewhat respected for their attempts, Christforums being one of them.
 
Christforums (or William if you will allow) made this point:
"G'evening Josh! Been a while!
 
Just pointing out the obvious as to a source outside Scripture. Don't get me wrong, I'm not rejecting or ignoring what you post but all I care about is what the author meant to convey. Does an unbelieving scientist or atheist have weight in my quest to understand the author of Scripture? Granted, sometimes to understand the author, extra-biblical sources for language, history, etc might help us understand a little more but I do believe the very best interpreter of Scripture is Scripture."
 
I think Christforums introduces this issue that will be key as we proceed, but to me it is not the main issue. The main issue that I encounter no matter where I tread is the issue of Inspiration and Authority of Scripture.
 
I DO NOT want this to be perceived as an opening rant, but I must keep in mind where I am. This is Ex Christian.net. It may not be unanimously atheistic but that is the prevailing sentiment. As former Christians, you cite things in general volleys that I find intriguing:
1) The claim is made that you "understand scripture" better than we, having read it cover to cover.
2) The notion that 30,000+ denominations and disagreement denotes a breach in clarity of scripture thus leading to your rejection of scripture.
3) Given that alleged number, how are we to grasp what "ExChristian" even means or what you all possibly claim to have believed? It is observed that heresy has become the "norm" in much of American Evangelicalism. If what has been rejected here can be shown as faulty teaching, it is still what you taught others or were yourselves taught as opposed to the truth.
4) Having already abandoned scripture and disallowing its use to "prove" something, what is a Christian left to work with?
 
There are more questions within that scope, but the issue remains the Inspiration and Authority of Scripture.
So, before delving into scripture itself which has already been rejected, would it not seem reasonable to discuss what is meant by these terms and why the Church historically has held them as such?
 
Joshpantera has already admitted as much in his previous post from Jan 24 "Divine Inspiration...A Failed Hypothesis":
"Logic leaping to a starting point that assumes, apriori, that the bible is correct and true seem quite unwarranted, at best. That the bible even is true and correct has to be established before citing  bible verses can have any meaningful value. And without first establishing the bibles truth, quoting the bible at someone is rendered completely meaningless as far as truth claims are concerned."
He has also stated,
"The greater issue here is that the bible merely exists as one of a great many other human productions, all of which are subject to varying levels of errancy. How do we know? By locating the errors involved. So this isn't a topic that takes down the bible as errant in order to uphold something else as inerrant. This is a topic that outlines errors and allows that it's entirely possible that everything is errant, the bible not withstanding."
 
So, again, not to disrupt the premise of this debate The bible: Demonstrably false or not? but I don't see how we can jump into Gen 1:1.
 
Joshpantera, does this make sense? I will abide by what you determine. Thank you.
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On 5/24/2019 at 12:32 AM, LuthAMF said:
Christforums (or William if you will allow) made this point:
"G'evening Josh! Been a while!
 
Just pointing out the obvious as to a source outside Scripture. Don't get me wrong, I'm not rejecting or ignoring what you post but all I care about is what the author meant to convey. Does an unbelieving scientist or atheist have weight in my quest to understand the author of Scripture? Granted, sometimes to understand the author, extra-biblical sources for language, history, etc might help us understand a little more but I do believe the very best interpreter of Scripture is Scripture."

 

It was brought to my attention and worthy of note here, that taking this position would exclude John Calvin, which, is not scriptural. He is a believer, and yet non scriptural. The point being that I think it's best that you two recognize that understanding scripture by cross referencing scripture is one thing, and has it's use and place. A point of agreement that I will concede. But just take a look at where that can lead: 

 

 http://stevendimattei.com/topics/does-the-bible-support-the-claims-of-creationists/

 

Scripture interpreting scripture can do more damage than good to the creationist debate. Be careful what you wish for, basically. And you guys may not even be aware of some of these points. But they make a lot of sense. They show the writer operating in his own contemporary period utilizing references from that period, and the extent of knowledge at that time. All of that is gleaned from "scripture interpreting scripture." 

 

I encourage everyone to go ahead, click the link, and read what can be gleaned about the writers intent from cross referencing scripture. 

 

On 5/24/2019 at 12:32 AM, LuthAMF said:

A very interesting and, in my mind, a very necessary thing has just taken place. A preamble of sorts has been offered. Were I  the one to suggest or implement such, the charge of stalling would likely have been leveled against me by ones with whom I have previously engaged.

 

Agreed. Like I told you, no tricks or dirty fighting. I want you to be able to breathe, think and have a fair shake. You and William both. 

 

On 5/24/2019 at 12:32 AM, LuthAMF said:

This is the kind of information that can greatly assist us as, before anything, we should seek to understand one another. The recognized delay in my own posting is because I have been hoping it is OK to take an opportunity for my own "introduction" which I have not yet done on this site yet.

 

I have been looking forward to it. I heard you mention that perhaps we don't understand you and I'm all ears. I'd like to understand. 

 

On 5/24/2019 at 12:32 AM, LuthAMF said:
I DO NOT want this to be perceived as an opening rant, but I must keep in mind where I am. This is Ex Christian.net. It may not be unanimously atheistic but that is the prevailing sentiment. As former Christians, you cite things in general volleys that I find intriguing:
1) The claim is made that you "understand scripture" better than we, having read it cover to cover.
2) The notion that 30,000+ denominations and disagreement denotes a breach in clarity of scripture thus leading to your rejection of scripture.
3) Given that alleged number, how are we to grasp what "ExChristian" even means or what you all possibly claim to have believed? It is observed that heresy has become the "norm" in much of American Evangelicalism. If what has been rejected here can be shown as faulty teaching, it is still what you taught others or were yourselves taught as opposed to the truth.
4) Having already abandoned scripture and disallowing its use to "prove" something, what is a Christian left to work with?

 

Yes, these are sentiments often voiced here. But the position I've laid out doesn't rely on the denomination issue. I'm just looking at the scriptures and willing to interpret them according to scripture, as I've linked above, literally and symbolically, conservative or liberal, any which way you two choose to look at scripture in order to get to where we can find the "truth" involved with the claims. I'm also willing to zoom out and look at scripture in it's mythological context and not as if it arose in a vacuum (which it clearly did not). I'm willing to look at John Calvin and all other NON-BIBLICAL commentaries and I have no problem conducting myself with complete open mindedness to all claims, basically. 

 

I represent a type of agnostic atheist position taking in this debate / discussion. And I recognize that I do not know or have knowledge if any gods exist. But my better judgment leads me to the opinion that they do not. That makes me both agnostic when it comes to knowledge of gods existence, and atheist when it comes to belief in the existence of gods. And I will be expressing myself and letting people know what goes into my own better judgement, as I welcome you and William to do the same. Let people know where you're coming from and why. Nothing wrong with that

 

As far as I can tell, a christian at the end of the day has nothing at their disposal to "prove" anything. A christian has FAITH, period.

 

And faith doesn't very well have anything to do with proof and evidence as far as I can tell. So it boils down to your faith in the bibles claims, not so much the bible proving the claims of the bible or any such sentiment. Or scripture proving the claims of other scripture for that matter. And we can strip that down bare and look at it again and again as we do this bible study. I often wonder why is it that few christians seem content with faith and faith alone? That doesn't seem good enough for many of you. You want more. And I can't help but suspect it's because deep down, at least subconsciously, you guys are insecure about these beliefs and know to some degree that they are untenable. So people try and muster up elaborate apologetic's like WLC, straying from faith alone because they know that faith alone is insufficient to convince people of anything. And also insufficient towards proving anything in order to justify one's personal, faith based beliefs. I may be wrong, but the above is a sneaking suspicion of mine. 

 

On 5/24/2019 at 12:32 AM, LuthAMF said:
Joshpantera has already admitted as much in his previous post from Jan 24 "Divine Inspiration...A Failed Hypothesis":
"Logic leaping to a starting point that assumes, apriori, that the bible is correct and true seem quite unwarranted, at best. That the bible even is true and correct has to be established before citing  bible verses can have any meaningful value. And without first establishing the bibles truth, quoting the bible at someone is rendered completely meaningless as far as truth claims are concerned."
He has also stated,
"The greater issue here is that the bible merely exists as one of a great many other human productions, all of which are subject to varying levels of errancy. How do we know? By locating the errors involved. So this isn't a topic that takes down the bible as errant in order to uphold something else as inerrant. This is a topic that outlines errors and allows that it's entirely possible that everything is errant, the bible not withstanding."
 
So, again, not to disrupt the premise of this debate The bible: Demonstrably false or not? but I don't see how we can jump into Gen 1:1.
 
Joshpantera, does this make sense? I will abide by what you determine. Thank you.

 

This debate / discussion is merely to start analyzing the bible for it's truth content. To try and get to square one. How do we know it's true? We've started studying the bible together for everyone's sake in order to see what we can find out that's demonstrably true or false about it.

 

So we jump in at Genesis 1:1 and start studying with believers and a non-believer analyzing it's content together, each in our own respective ways. Fair handed. Everyone's voice free to express itself. Whether purely faith based, evidence based on scholarship or otherwise. I'm going to speed up the pace now and start studying the bible in terms of the entire "days" of creation, not just one verse at a time. 

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Genesis 1:1-5 Names of God Bible (NOG)

The Creation

In the beginning Elohim created heaven and earth.

The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep water. The Ruach Elohim was hovering over the water.

Then Elohim said, “Let there be light!” So there was light. Elohim saw the light was good. So Elohim separated the light from the darkness. Elohim named the light day, and the darkness he named night. There was evening, then morning—the first day.

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

So you guys know what these verses look like to me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZY2eeozdo8

 

 

To recap, the mythological, polytheistic pantheon gods of ancient, pre-monotheistic judaism, referred to as "Elohim" or "gods," create heaven and earth. The wind, or breathe or spirit of the "gods" was hovering over the waters of the unformed earth. Then the "gods" say, "Let there be light!" And light comes into existence where presumably light had not previously existed. And the scriptures are saying that light was created, separated from darkness, and there was an evening and morning, being one day. 

 

You two see the "gods" differently as noted. You are welcome to interpret for us all how you interpret the first day of creation in your own opinions. 

 

As far as locating truth goes, it looks pretty hard to say this is true. If we are expecting that what we're reading is giving us something like live news coverage of the 'literal creation of the universe and earth', what would we then compare the claim to in order to check and see if the claim is correct or not? At what point is it necessary to cross reference science and all relevant scholarship and what has been discovered between when this Jewish scripture was written in antiquity and now, in order to try 'fact check' what we're reading for truth value? Or even plausibility value for that matter?

 

Is it saying that gods (trinity or otherwise) spoke light into existence, so now light exists and now literal evenings and mornings are taking place when they were not taking place previously. Let's hammer down what is being claimed here and how we can check into the claims being made to find out how true or false they seem to be

 

Please let me know what you two think. 

 

I'm going to leave it there for now. At this point I just want to give you both time to respond. Then I'll keep moving through each "day" of creation. And we can slowly analyze, discuss and debate as needed.  

 

 

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On 5/22/2019 at 12:49 AM, Joshpantera said:

Genesis 1:1 New International Version (NIV)

The Beginning

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

 

@LuthAMF

 

Can you please explain how you interpret this verse? Thanks. 

Yes.

"In the beginning..."

The beginning of marked finite time.

"...God..."

God

"...created..."

Created, fashioned, made

"...the Heavens and the earth."

The known observable physical world.

 

Admittedly I'm behind and that was surely anticlimactic.  

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1 hour ago, LuthAMF said:

Yes.

"In the beginning..."

The beginning of marked finite time.

"...God..."

God

"...created..."

Created, fashioned, made

"...the Heavens and the earth."

The known observable physical world.

 

Admittedly I'm behind and that was surely anticlimactic.  

 

Ok, so let's just fast forward. How is someone supposed to decide whether or not they believe the bible is true? Let's pretend that we have someone who grew up in a vacuum and has no idea what the bible is. We present them with the bible to start reading. You tell them that it's literally true, this is how the observable physical and objective world was created. A god or rather, "Elohim" (gods) spoke it into existence. 

 

At what point does it become reasonable for this hypothetical person to fact check the claim? 

 

And if you think they shouldn't fact check the claim, but just take you at your word, why do you think that anyone should just take someone at their word? Should we take a Hindu at their word? A Mormon? How smart is it to simply take someone at their word when it comes down to big questions like where did the universe and earth come from? 

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43 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

Ok, so let's just fast forward.

No, that is rewinding. Recall I stated "So, again, not to disrupt the premise of this debate The bible: Demonstrably false or not? but I don't see how we can jump into Gen 1:1."

47 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

Let's pretend that we have someone who grew up in a vacuum and has no idea what the bible is.

Such person does not exist. He may indeed have "no idea" concerning the bible but devoid of influence in a "vacuum"? No.

 

50 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

At what point does it become reasonable for this hypothetical person to fact check the claim? 

Immediately. So we continue reading.

 

51 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

And if you think they shouldn't fact check the claim, but just take you at your word

It's not my word we're concerned with. I didn't write it.

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1 minute ago, LuthAMF said:
54 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

Let's pretend that we have someone who grew up in a vacuum and has no idea what the bible is.

Such person does not exist. He may indeed have "no idea" concerning the bible but devoid of influence in a "vacuum"? No.

 

I meant that as a hypothetical, they may not literally exist. We're pretending for the sake of understanding how we go from not knowing anything, to reading the bible, to evaluating what it is we're reading as we read the bible. Asking others, like pastors, friends, scholars, and even scientists will probably factor into this evalution, correct? 

 

4 minutes ago, LuthAMF said:
56 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

At what point does it become reasonable for this hypothetical person to fact check the claim? 

Immediately. So we continue reading.

 

Agreed. 

 

4 minutes ago, LuthAMF said:
56 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

And if you think they shouldn't fact check the claim, but just take you at your word

It's not my word we're concerned with. I didn't write it.

 

Great answer! Very honest. You're only suggesting that you believe that it's true, correct? And you'll no doubt have some type of reasons for believing that the bibles true. You'll likely only be suggesting that someone else reads it because you believe that the bible is true, and you believe that telling others about the bible is the right thing to do. It all hinges around believing it's true and trying to do the right thing, correct? 

 

So back to the first day of creation according to the bible: 

 

On 5/24/2019 at 7:12 PM, Joshpantera said:

Genesis 1:1-5 Names of God Bible (NOG)

The Creation

In the beginning Elohim created heaven and earth.

The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep water. The Ruach Elohim was hovering over the water.

Then Elohim said, “Let there be light!” So there was light. Elohim saw the light was good. So Elohim separated the light from the darkness. Elohim named the light day, and the darkness he named night. There was evening, then morning—the first day.

 

 

Could you walk me and the hypothetical person (HP) through what you believe is true, or false (if any of it is false to you)? 

 

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14 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

Could you walk me and the hypothetical person (HP) through what you believe is true, or false (if any of it is false to you)? 

At this point, what reason is there to make either assumption? The statement stands on its own just as it reads.

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50 minutes ago, LuthAMF said:

At this point, what reason is there to make either assumption? The statement stands on its own just as it reads.

 

As it reads, a god (Elohim) created the physical universe and the earth. And in this universe there existed the earth, void and formless. and in darkness. First of all, have you fact checked this claim? And if so, where is the evidence to back up the claim that the universe once only had within it a 'void and formless earth at the beginning, which was in darkness?'

 

If I google "what existed in the beginning of the universe," I find contrary information: https://www.space.com/13347-big-bang-origins-universe-birth.html

 

 

This graphic shows a timeline of the universe based on the Big Bang theory and inflation models.

 

But what also pops up are a lot of links questioning whether or not there ever even was a fixed, or absolute beginning of the universe at all: https://www.space.com/38982-no-big-bang-bouncing-cosmology-theory.html

 

Universe over time art
This artist's illustration shows the evolution of the universe over time, starting with the Big Bang (left).
(Image: © NASA)
 
There's actually nothing in the observable universe that suggests that either (1) the earth existed as a formless, void, dark planet right at the beginning of the universe or (2) that there even is anything that we know at this point as a literal or fixed, absolute "beginning" of the universe for that matter. The jury's still out on that one. All "beginnings" are figurative as far as I can tell. And either way, the earth came much later. After the formation and development of generations of stars. 
 
So far, not so good in terms of the bible telling me or the HP what's true about the universe we live in.
 
It's actually quite a ways out of line with what we observe in the literal, objective universe. The earth doesn't show any signs of existing BEFORE the "development of galaxies, planets, etc." And pressing on, what's more, is that the bible is claiming that a "day" took place, on an unformed earth, by way of an "evening and morning" going by. 
 
How did this happen? What is an evening and what is a morning? Please explain before we leave the first day. 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Joshpantera said:

 

Could you walk me and the hypothetical person (HP) through what you believe is true, or false (if any of it is false to you)? 

Excuse me, but I am expected to dump complex cosmology on this poor ignorant vacuum-encased person? The text says what it says so far. Can Vacuum Man Google? 

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7 minutes ago, LuthAMF said:

Excuse me, but I am expected to dump complex cosmology on this poor ignorant vacuum-encased person? The text says what it says so far. Can Vacuum Man Google? 

 

I don't know, so I took the liberty of googling for us both to try and fact check the claims being made. That we may weigh out the possibilities and try and see if some make more sense than others. According to Jewish scripture alone, below is the earth and universe described in Genesis. 

 

 

image.jpeg
 

Our concern here is truth. And whether this image of the early universe and earth (literally taken from scripture) is more true than what has been observed. I think it's worthy of note, that the image of the earth and universe taken from Jewish scripture isn't observed at all while observing the earth and universe. HP take note please. 

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