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Re: What the Bible "teaches"

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  • Todd S. Greene
    ... Hi, Cassondra. Not really. I dismiss the story because it contains extraordinary claims regarding reality AND there s absolutely zero evidence of any such
    Message 1 of 17 , Mar 14, 2005
      --- In Maury_and_Baty, Cassondra wrote (post #5746):
      > Todd Greene writes:
      >> Exactly! Cherubims! A perfect example of the fact that the story
      >> is a myth. Where are these cherubims to be found? If the Garden
      >> of Eden was a real place, and the cherubim guards were real,
      >> we'd know exactly where this place was, even if no one was able
      >> to get in!
      >
      > Dear Todd,
      >
      > I hate to give the impression that I'm jumping in here on MM's
      > side, because as much as I like the fellow, I can't always follow
      > his logic. However, in this case, I don't follow yours either. In
      > this post, you seem to dismiss the story because it contains
      > supernatural elements - a flaming sword, cherubims.

      Hi, Cassondra.

      Not really. I dismiss the story because it contains extraordinary
      claims regarding reality AND there's absolutely zero evidence of any
      such thing.

      > However, any discussion of God will involve such supernatural
      > elements.

      Young earth creationism involves discussion of God. Does that make
      it true? What is the evidence for it? Against it? Claims about what
      may or may not exist in the real world stand or fall on the real
      world evidence.

      > What man, in
      > his blunted perception, calls magic, is merely power beyond his
      > own.

      I have no problems with this concept. To a man in Egypt 4,000 years
      ago a commercial jetliner would seem as a flying monster with great
      roars. Today at least some of try to be a little more skeptical and
      dig into details of things to see if even the claims are correct,
      and then to dig into further details of what is observed to see
      what's going on. If done in some relatively formal manner we usually
      refer to this as "science".

      > And I don't see that even if the tree of life remains here on
      > earth, we would see it or know where it is.

      Sounds like the Fountain of Youth to me. The fact remains that there
      is no evidence of any such thing. There is no evidence of any
      Cherubim guards, nor is there any evidence of any Flaming Sword
      thwarting people from entering any Gate to any Garden of Eden, where
      such a Tree might be located. The reason we can't find the River
      Styx is because it is a story element in a myth.

      > I'm sure you're familiar with the story of Balaam
      > (Numbers 22.) He could not see the angel with a drawn sword
      > standing before him, but his beast could and therefore balked
      > in the pass.

      Uh... You cannot justify one myth by citing another one! <grin>

      > The cherubim, theoretically,
      > could still be standing guard over thre tree of life and
      > preventing us from reaching it, even if we did not comprehend
      > their presence or the tree's.

      Right. They're really there even though they are completely and
      totally invisible to all comprehension of any kind. That sounds to
      me like the very same thing as "there is no evidence for such a
      thing." Hmmm... As a comparative example, the most popular argument
      with young earth creationists today is the apparent age argument,
      which argues that even though there's no evidence of the Earth and
      Universe popping into existence only 6,000 years ago (indeed, even
      though all the physical evidence shows otherwise), the 6,000-year
      youth of the Universe and the Earth is "invisible" because God
      created the Universe and the Earth to appear as if they had been
      around for billions of years. Sounds pretty fishy to me! <grin>

      > While I can
      > sympathize (but don't think I agree) with those who read the
      > early chapters of Genesis more as analogies than as fact, it is
      > plain that the story of Balaam could not be read as such. But
      > to you, both are equally mythological. So what's the point?

      Why not?

      I will concede that there are distinctions between "myth"
      and "legend," but they are alike in containing elements that are not
      actual events. I have read that the story of the apple falling on
      Newton's head and inspiring him to understand gravity is a legend.
      This doesn't mean that Isaac Newton didn't exist but simply means
      that the particulars of that particular story may not really be
      true, even while they may have some significant meaning to impart to
      us (such as in the Newton legend telling us something about the
      character of Newton).

      >
      > Honestly, Todd, I find these discussions a little difficult with
      > you, because we don't seem to have a common ground from which to
      > discuss.

      We have common ground in reality. We are both human beings. We both
      live on Earth. We both have to deal with physical reality. And so
      on. The physical processes that exist in the Universe that allow for
      a microwave oven to work - or a television - or a computer - are the
      same for you as they are for me.

      > I'm *not* trying
      > to be dismissive or disparaging; please understand.

      You sure? <evil grin>

      > You make it
      > plain that you do not believe the Bible, period. You do not
      > believe in the God of the Bible. So on what basis can you judge
      > what elements of it are to be accepted as fact and what can only
      > be figurative?

      On the basis of the real world evidence.

      > If God created
      > the universe, a flaming sword is neither unusual nor
      > preposterous.

      I would have no problems whatsoever with a Flaming Sword thwarting
      people from entering the Gate to the Garden of Eden if any of those
      things existed. The fact is simply that these things do not exist.
      If they did exist you would be telling me where they are located and
      that anyone could go and look for themselves. But they aren't
      located anywhere. This is the point. So no one can go look.

      Regards,
      Todd Greene
      http://www.geocities.com/greeneto

      > If Jesus conquered
      > death and offers that gift to us, a tree of life can hardly be
      > mocked. If he did not, the why are you so involved in discussions
      > of God? I'm glad you are, but I don't understand.
    • w_w_c_l
      Now, in light of what I ve said, does the story of Cain and Abel begin to make sense to you? After The Fall, when we abandoned the hunting-gathering
      Message 2 of 17 , Mar 15, 2005
        Now, in light of what I've said, does the story of Cain and Abel
        begin to make sense to you? After The Fall, when we abandoned the
        hunting-gathering subsistence, we domesticated animals and plants.
        But whereas herders were nomadic, the agrarians were sedentary.
        While the herders only claimed possession of a few of God's animals,
        the agrarians claimed ownership of God's land itself. Do you see why
        Cain's offering was unacceptable to the Lord? Herders, remaining
        hunting-gathering groups, and God's beasts of the field were all
        liabilities to the plan of "civilized Man." Yes, Cain slew Abel all
        right -- poor Abel probably let his herd get into the wheat field one
        too many times. Cain has never ceased from his murderous ways, but
        once you've killed your brother I guess killing God's animals and
        God's landscape are just small potatoes to you.

        And now we are like unto Lamech, just before the Flood, who said, "If
        Cain shall be avenged seven fold, truly Lamech seventy and seven
        fold."

        Truly.

        Rick Hartzog

        Worldwide Church of Latitudinarianism
      • mathewmaury
        ... By The Fall do you mean the event described in Genesis 3:23? Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from
        Message 3 of 17 , Mar 15, 2005
          --- Rick wrote:
          > After The Fall, when we abandoned the hunting-gathering
          > subsistence, we domesticated animals and plants. But whereas
          > herders were nomadic, the agrarians were sedentary. While
          > the herders only claimed possession of a few of God's
          > animals, the agrarians claimed ownership of God's land
          > itself.

          By 'The Fall' do you mean the event described in Genesis
          3:23? 'Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden
          of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.' I
          find no evidence of any hunters until Nimrod after the great
          flood. (Likely Nimrod hastened the extinction of many
          dinosaurs.) God expressly gave plants as food for man and
          animals in the beginning. Only after Noah emerged from the
          Ark were animals given as food.

          I do not see where 'agrarians claimed ownership of God's
          land'. On the contrary, the Bible teaches man to be a
          steward of the earth and subdue it 'and have dominion over
          the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over
          every living thing that moveth upon the earth.' It is the
          radical environmentalists who try to deny the responsibility
          God gave man to subdue the earth and have dominion over
          every living thing. For them to preach 'leave the earth
          alone and the animals alone' is to go against the express
          will of God. The environment is made for man. Man was not
          made to serve the environment.
        • w_w_c_l
          Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth. (Isaiah 5:8)
          Message 4 of 17 , Mar 16, 2005
            Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till
            there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the
            earth. (Isaiah 5:8)

            And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of
            the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give
            reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them
            that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which
            destroy the earth. (Revelation 11:18)

            Maury wrote:

            I find no evidence of any hunters until Nimrod after the great flood.
            (Likely Nimrod hastened the extinction of many
            dinosaurs.)

            Rick:

            No, I don't imagine you would find any evidence of hunters before
            Nimrod. Since the Bible doesn't mention them, they surely did not
            exist. But get this: the Bible makes absolutely no mention of
            dinosaurs, either. The only thing in the ible that is undisputably
            related to dinosaurs is the Hebrew word "rmx" (chemar). Explain the
            presence of this material before the Flood, if you will.

            Behemoth and Leviathan are symbols of ancient gods, before monotheism
            was realized. The message is that the One Living God has no fear of
            the mythical gods of Sumerian imagination, which were based on
            phenomena observed in Nature. God is making fun of the fertility god
            when He says "he cheweth the grass like an ox." Young-earthers, in
            their zeal to create modern dinosaurs, completely pervert this
            message. And I'll tell you something else; it isn't Behemoth's
            *tail* that moves like a cedar.

            Ever heard of these things? Lascaux. Solutre'. Clovis. Before the
            Flood or after? Young-earthers are shooting themselves in the foot
            with their "kinds" and their fossil finds that indicate cataclysmic
            burial ("such as a flood"). You can't have it both ways; either
            the "kinds" had already differentiated and therefore had to be
            included on the Ark, or all the land-animal fossils have to come from
            sometime after the Flood. What a tangled web they have woven! but
            for all that work of twisting both science and Scripture into
            unrecognizable gobs of fairy tale, it all falls to pieces with the
            slightest puff of logic.

            Don't you understand, Maury, how the young-earth lie keeps forcing
            you to back up and invent new lies? Don't you realize that there is
            no armor of fabrications you can construct that will withstand the
            two-edged sword of God's Word?

            Maury:

            God expressly gave plants as food for man and animals in the
            beginning. Only after Noah emerged from the Ark were animals given as
            food.

            Rick:

            You think the sons of Adam were herding those animals around just to
            look at? Why were there already "clean" and "unclean" animals before
            the Flood? After the Flood, clean and unclean alike became fair
            game, but you twist the meaning to make extinctions imminent. Why
            haul all those two-by-twos around if they're going to go extinct as
            soon as they get off the boat?

            Maury:

            I do not see where 'agrarians claimed ownership of God's land'. On
            the contrary, the Bible teaches man to be a steward of the earth and
            subdue it 'and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the
            fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the
            earth.' It is the radical environmentalists who try to deny the
            responsibility God gave man to subdue the earth and have dominion
            over every living thing. For them to preach 'leave the earth alone
            and the animals alone' is to go against the express will of God. The
            environment is made for man. Man was not made to serve the
            environment.

            Rick:

            Please tell me you're just a made-up character, Maury, and that
            whoever invented you didn't think very highly of the concepts upon
            which your character is based. Say you're just baiting me to see if
            you can get me started, or tempting me to rebuke you sharply.
            Because if you really think that way, I'm afraid the Lord has three
            woes and seven vials full of wrath in store for you. You're right in
            the middle of God's Creation, and your physical existence is one
            hundred per cent dependent on it, and you'd better be taking care of
            it. This is God's; not yours. That's what stewardship means.

            Yet even now, Cain, your brother's blood cries to the Lord from the
            ground. You have pursued Abel into the depths of the Amazon Basin,
            the isolated islands of the seas, the expanses of the African
            savannah. Who owns Alaska, Cain? Go and kill. Who owns the
            rainforests? Who owns the Australian Outback? Take it, murderer,
            and see if you can hold it. You are the unfaithful steward and even
            that which thou hast will be taken from you. And you think you can
            build an Ark?


            Rick Hartzog

            Worldwide Church of Latitudinarianism
          • cassondrawrites@aol.com
            Todd says: Young earth creationism involves discussion of God. Does that make it true? What is the evidence for it? Against it? Claims about what may or may
            Message 5 of 17 , Mar 18, 2005
              Todd says:

              Young earth creationism involves discussion of God. Does that make
              it true? What is the evidence for it? Against it? Claims about what
              may or may not exist in the real world stand or fall on the real
              world evidence.

              Cassondra:

              Dear Todd,

              *Any* version of creationism involves discussion of God. You seem so
              distressed by young-earth creationists because of the disingenuity of their claims,
              but the truth is you are equally opposed to any believer in God. Claims about
              what may or may not exist in the real world do stand or fall on real world
              evidence, but that is not to say physical evidence.

              A soul cannot be proven to exist using physical evidence, because it is not a
              physical thing. Yet I would argue that it does exist. There is more to man
              than his corporeal being. What is human will? It exists, yet has no physical
              being. Without a soul, we are nothing more than programmable automatons,
              forced by our past experiences and subsequent consequences to do one thing or
              another. Behaviorism is the answer to soulless man, but it is no answer at all.

              Todd says: (speaking of the tree of life)

              Sounds like the Fountain of Youth to me. The fact remains that there
              is no evidence of any such thing. There is no evidence of any
              Cherubim guards, nor is there any evidence of any Flaming Sword
              thwarting people from entering any Gate to any Garden of Eden, where
              such a Tree might be located. The reason we can't find the River
              Styx is because it is a story element in a myth.

              Cassondra:

              The fact that there is there no physical evidence is simply that, and nothing
              more. There have been a great many cities for which there existed absolutely
              no physical evidence - outside of what you and many other scientists referred
              to dismissingly as "myth" - which were later found by archaeologists. Someof
              these were mentioned by the Bible and some by other sources. If the physical
              location of these cities had never been located, however, their existence and
              presence in history would have been just as real. If every crumb of their
              history had vanished into the dust, they would have lived and breathed and loved
              just the same.



              Todd says: (of Balaam and the angel and the tree of life)

              Right. They're really there even though they are completely and
              totally invisible to all comprehension of any kind. That sounds to
              me like the very same thing as "there is no evidence for such a
              thing." Hmmm... As a comparative example, the most popular argument
              with young earth creationists today is the apparent age argument,
              which argues that even though there's no evidence of the Earth and
              Universe popping into existence only 6,000 years ago (indeed, even
              though all the physical evidence shows otherwise), the 6,000-year
              youth of the Universe and the Earth is "invisible" because God
              created the Universe and the Earth to appear as if they had been
              around for billions of years. Sounds pretty fishy to me! <grin>

              Cassondra:

              They were not invisible to comprehension of any kind. The ass knew that the
              angel was there - he comprehended it. And the implication of the passage is
              plain - had Balaam proceeded, he most certainly would have comprehended the
              angel; he would have died by his hand! I do not know whether the tree of life
              remains here or not; personally, I doubt it. However, if it did, we would not
              approach it: something would prevent us, regardless of to what force we
              attributed it. However, that is not the point; that is nothing but speculation.

              You dismiss the story of Balaam as myth as easily as you do the story of the
              tree of life. The problem is, you dismiss the entire text as myth, so it is
              disingenuous of you to dismiss the creation account because it is a myth. You
              would dismiss it regardless, because you have rejected the whole book. Even
              if it walked us through the whole list of geologic ages, you would dismiss it,
              because you have already dismissed God.

              Todd, there is a abundance of real world evidence for God. Not some
              disinterested Prime Mover, but a moral God who created man and who cares about his
              fate. However, you must recognize that not all real evidence is physical
              evidence.

              There have been many supposed "single great differences" between man and the
              other animals, many of which have been disproven by advances in science. But
              one great difference remains: the soul of man is different than the spirits of
              the beasts. Man is the only creature to commit great evils and to recognize
              them as such. There is something in man which recognizes that some acts are
              innately wrong and others innately good.

              If there is no God, then there is no evil, there is no good. There is no
              consciousness of will beyond what we have been programmed to do and "think."
              There is no reason not to kill, rape, murder, abuse, steal as I please. The
              oft-vaunted "survival of society" is nonsense: what is it to me if society
              survives? Why should I care? For my children's sakes? Ha! They are no more than
              animals - they will close their eyes and that will be the end for them too.



              Todd says:

              I will concede that there are distinctions between "myth"
              and "legend," but they are alike in containing elements that are not
              actual events. I have read that the story of the apple falling on
              Newton's head and inspiring him to understand gravity is a legend.
              This doesn't mean that Isaac Newton didn't exist but simply means
              that the particulars of that particular story may not really be
              true, even while they may have some significant meaning to impart to
              us (such as in the Newton legend telling us something about the
              character of Newton).

              Cassondra says:

              True! But even if I grant you that the whole creation text is myth meant to
              convey a truth but not the details of that truth, you would still reject it.
              Any Creator would have powers and desires for man that you deny. Any Creator
              would possess real presence that would not produce physical evidence.


              Todd says:

              We have common ground in reality. We are both human beings. We both
              live on Earth. We both have to deal with physical reality. And so
              on. The physical processes that exist in the Universe that allow for
              a microwave oven to work - or a television - or a computer - are the
              same for you as they are for me.

              Cassondra :

              And so are the spiritual realities. Do you love, dream, aspire, discern,
              consider? With what, exactly? What of people who have been declared brain dead
              and later woke to full and healthy lives? What part of part of them still
              lived? When someone stops breathing, the heart stops beating, and the brain
              activity ceases, what is it that comes back? It is their soul, their being. This
              too is true; this too we share. Now what does that mean?


              Todd says:

              I would have no problems whatsoever with a Flaming Sword thwarting
              people from entering the Gate to the Garden of Eden if any of those
              things existed. The fact is simply that these things do not exist.
              If they did exist you would be telling me where they are located and
              that anyone could go and look for themselves. But they aren't
              located anywhere. This is the point. So no one can go look.

              Cassondra:

              I think I addressed this earlier. There have been any number of real places
              and items that can no longer be found or gone to. Whether or not they existed
              has little to do with whether they can be found now. The question is the
              veracity of your sources. You do not disbelieve in a flaming sword; you
              disbelieve in God. That is why you reject the story, not for a lack of physical
              evidence.




              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • cassondrawrites@aol.com
              Rick says: After The Fall, when we abandoned the hunting-gathering subsistence, we domesticated animals and plants. But whereas herders were nomadic, the
              Message 6 of 17 , Mar 18, 2005
                Rick says:
                After The Fall, when we abandoned the
                hunting-gathering subsistence, we domesticated animals and plants.
                But whereas herders were nomadic, the agrarians were sedentary.
                While the herders only claimed possession of a few of God's animals,
                the agrarians claimed ownership of God's land itself. Do you see why
                Cain's offering was unacceptable to the Lord? Herders, remaining
                hunting-gathering groups, and God's beasts of the field were all
                liabilities to the plan of "civilized Man." Yes, Cain slew Abel all
                right -- poor Abel probably let his herd get into the wheat field one
                too many times. Cain has never ceased from his murderous ways, but
                once you've killed your brother I guess killing God's animals and
                God's landscape are just small potatoes to you.


                Cassondra:

                That was interesting! ;o)

                Man didn't abandon hunting and gathering: man's relationship with the earth
                was part of God's curse on Adam in Genesis 3:17-19. In fact, there is no
                evidence of hunting ever having taken place prior to this point. Man and animals
                alike ate of the plants. It is this fact that makes the story of God killing
                the animals inorder to make clothing for Adam and Eve meaningful: their sin
                brought death into the world, not only to themselves but to the earth and its
                creatures.

                Why was Cain's sacrifice unacceptable? That one is easy. God tells us why
                so we don't have to guess.

                "By faith Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he
                obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he
                being dead yet speaketh (Hebrews 11:4.)"

                Cain's sacrifice was unacceptable because it was not offered according to
                faith. Since faith comes through the word of God, Abel plainly was following
                God's commands and Cain was not. There is no intimation in the text that it had
                anything to do with some conflict between herder and farmer.

                Cassondra


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • cassondrawrites@aol.com
                Rick says: Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth.
                Message 7 of 17 , Mar 18, 2005
                  Rick says:
                  Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till
                  there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the
                  earth. (Isaiah 5:8)

                  Cassondra:

                  Before you start attaching interpretations to a single verse pulled out like
                  this, you might look at the context. In the verses just preceeding it, God
                  refers to himself as a husbandman of a beloved vineyard. Of course, the
                  vineyard is Israel, whom he finally must destroy for their disobedience.

                  However, the point is this: if farming is an evil before God, then why would
                  he picture himself as a husbandmen of a field? And this is not the first nor
                  the last time he does so. Moreoever, it is abundantly plain from the context
                  that the import of the passage is not to condemn agrarianism but idolatry.



                  Rick:

                  You think the sons of Adam were herding those animals around just to
                  look at? Why were there already "clean" and "unclean" animals before
                  the Flood? After the Flood, clean and unclean alike became fair
                  game, but you twist the meaning to make extinctions imminent. Why
                  haul all those two-by-twos around if they're going to go extinct as
                  soon as they get off the boat?

                  Cassondra:

                  Just looking at the text it looks as if they did not eat meat before the
                  flood. I don't think I'd be dogmatic about that, but that's how it appears. I
                  don't think there's any desire for imminent extinction for any of the animals,
                  and plainly at least one purpose for the animals to be deisgnated clean and
                  unclean and to be herded was to be offered as sacrifices. Another would be for
                  clothing. The reason it looks as if man was not a great hunter before the
                  flood is the passage in Genesis 9:2-3, where God places in beasts the dread of
                  man. Prior to this they apparently did not possess such a dread nor need it for
                  their own survival.


                  Rick:

                  Please tell me you're just a made-up character, Maury, and that
                  whoever invented you didn't think very highly of the concepts upon
                  which your character is based. Say you're just baiting me to see if
                  you can get me started, or tempting me to rebuke you sharply.
                  Because if you really think that way, I'm afraid the Lord has three
                  woes and seven vials full of wrath in store for you. You're right in
                  the middle of God's Creation, and your physical existence is one
                  hundred per cent dependent on it, and you'd better be taking care of
                  it. This is God's; not yours. That's what stewardship means.

                  Yet even now, Cain, your brother's blood cries to the Lord from the
                  ground. You have pursued Abel into the depths of the Amazon Basin,
                  the isolated islands of the seas, the expanses of the African
                  savannah. Who owns Alaska, Cain? Go and kill. Who owns the
                  rainforests? Who owns the Australian Outback? Take it, murderer,
                  and see if you can hold it. You are the unfaithful steward and even
                  that which thou hast will be taken from you. And you think you can
                  build an Ark?

                  Cassondra:

                  I will agree that faithful stewards are neither wasteful nor contemptuous of
                  what has been given into their care. However, I do not agree that the Bible
                  teaches that using the bounty of the earth for our purposes or farming it is
                  sinful. Why would God give us such beautifu gifts if we were not to use them?
                  Moreoever, I find no commandments otherwise. Certainly the Israelites were
                  not commanded anything of the sort, nor does Jesus condemn such.

                  Hunter-gatherer societies can be appealing because they live off of the land
                  without substantially affecting it. But these are necessarily small
                  societies. Many more people can be fed from an acre of farmland than an acre of wood
                  or grazing pasture. The cattle industry in our own country, for example, is
                  creating incredible damage to the watertable thanks to large amounts of
                  pollutants they create and the huge amounts of water they consume, without feeding an
                  adequate number of people. We could argue all day about what percentages of
                  which types of subsistence are best, but the Bible does not dictate either way.

                  I'm sure you're aware that anyone can prove anything by the Bible if they
                  choose. If we gave Todd enough time, I bet he could use the Bible to prove that
                  God does not exist. We must examine the Bible in its own context in order to
                  understand its intent.

                  Cassondra










                  Yahoo! Groups Links





                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • w_w_c_l
                  Cassondra wrote (in reply to Todd): Claims about what may or may not exist in the real world do stand or fall on real world evidence, but that is not to say
                  Message 8 of 17 , Mar 21, 2005
                    Cassondra wrote (in reply to Todd):

                    Claims about what may or may not exist in the real world do stand or
                    fall on real world evidence, but that is not to say physical
                    evidence...

                    Rick:

                    I have seen comments on this list, mostly by Baty, to the effect that
                    the real world around us, since it is God's Creation, is also a text
                    that may be read. I wholeheartedly agree with this. And what we
                    understand about this world around us does not depend on an
                    understanding of ancient languages and cultures, or translations, or
                    tradition, or the dictates of government and so on.

                    And there is less disagreement in the scientific community over what
                    the real-world text is telling us than there is in the theological
                    community over what the Bible is telling us. I therefore find the
                    world around me a reliable reference as to how God has brought all
                    this about.

                    Cassondra:

                    I do not know whether the tree of life remains here or not;
                    personally, I doubt it. However, if it did, we would not approach it:
                    something would prevent us, regardless of to what force we
                    attributed it.

                    Rick:

                    That is what I am trying to make people realize: the Tree of Life
                    does still exist, we cannot go back to it, and we are killing it.

                    Cassondra:

                    ...However, that is not the point; that is nothing but speculation.

                    Rick:

                    From my viewpoint it is a major point and is not speculation at all.

                    Cassondra:

                    There have been many supposed "single great differences" between man
                    and the other animals, many of which have been disproven by advances
                    in science. But one great difference remains: the soul of man is
                    different than the spirits of the beasts. Man is the only creature to
                    commit great evils and to recognize them as such. There is something
                    in man which recognizes that some acts are innately wrong and others
                    innately good.

                    Rick:

                    If I may be so presumptuous as to give y'all a little lesson in
                    ecology:

                    (a) Organisms are adapted to their environments.

                    (b) When there is a change in the environment, organisms have four
                    choices: mutate, migrate, adapt, or die.

                    (c) The viability of each of these choices is related to the
                    organism's ability to change and the speed at which that change must
                    occur to keep the last choice from becoming the only choice.

                    (d) Humans are highly adaptable, and this level of adaptability also
                    increases our ability to migrate to somewhere where environmental
                    conditions are more favorable. Indeed, there is little that can stop
                    us from migrating to wherever we choose (at least as a species).

                    (e) But, as a species, we stand apart from all others in one enormous
                    aspect: we are able to alter the environment itself. When Bear goes
                    into a cave, he sleeps away the winter and, in the spring, leaves
                    everything pretty much as he found it. When Man enters a cave, we
                    drive all the other species out, we heat it and light it with fire,
                    we assemble bedding materials and paint pictures on the walls.

                    We are different, all right. But what we think of as right and wrong
                    is skewed. People seem to find it horrifying when a young antelope
                    gets ripped limb from limb by lions. But that's the way lions are
                    made, and it's according to God's Plan. In case you haven't seen
                    this, here is something I wrote to the other list in a thread
                    called "Very Good?":

                    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CFTF/message/22346

                    Todd says:

                    We have common ground in reality...

                    Rick:

                    Cassondra mentioned your reference to God as Prime Mover. I often
                    use some sort of abstraction like this when I am discussing the
                    existence of a Supreme Being with someone who doesn't believe. So
                    many of the people I have talked to who claim they don't believe in
                    God are really just talking about the God of Israel, Who they have
                    rejected for one reason or another. So, philosophically, to talk to
                    them you have to go back to Square One, Ground Zero.

                    I ask if Universal Order is possibly the outcome of Universal Mind.

                    I talk about the shape and structure of information with them; i.e.
                    how information, which is all ones and zeros, travels most
                    efficiently from one side of a hollow sphere to the other. Is it a
                    globe cut into rectangles with lines of longitude and latitude based
                    on a Cartesian coordinate system, or possibly a geodesic sphere of
                    triangles? Or does some sort of straight line exist between points,
                    a "leap" of information rather than transfer through normal channels
                    of matter and energy?

                    I assert to them that there is no Chaos.

                    We hardly have to talk about the God of Israel at all.

                    So let us do, please, use this common ground of reality we have and
                    see if we can't find an explanation for it.

                    Cassondra:

                    Man didn't abandon hunting and gathering: man's relationship with the
                    earth was part of God's curse on Adam in Genesis 3:17-19. In fact,
                    there is no evidence of hunting ever having taken place prior to this
                    point. Man and animals alike ate of the plants. It is this fact that
                    makes the story of God killing the animals in order to make clothing
                    for Adam and Eve meaningful: their sin brought death into the world,
                    not only to themselves but to the earth and its creatures.

                    [and a little later]:

                    The reason it looks as if man was not a great hunter before the
                    flood is the passage in Genesis 9:2-3, where God places in beasts the
                    dread of man. Prior to this they apparently did not possess such a
                    dread nor need it for their own survival.

                    Rick:

                    I'm not sure in what time period you think the Flood happened, but
                    Man has been an accomplished hunter for at least the last 50,000
                    years and got particularly deadly in the period between 15,000 -
                    10,000 years ago. But, yes, in our early history we were primarily
                    vegetarian, though "opportunistic" may be a better way of describing
                    it.

                    If you think animals are afraid of us now, wait until after "the
                    Flood" actually occurs.

                    Cassondra:

                    Why was Cain's sacrifice unacceptable? That one is easy. God tells us
                    why so we don't have to guess.

                    "By faith Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which
                    he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his
                    gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh (Hebrews 11:4.)"

                    Cain's sacrifice was unacceptable because it was not offered
                    according to faith. Since faith comes through the word of God, Abel
                    plainly was following God's commands and Cain was not. There is no
                    intimation in the text that it had anything to do with some conflict
                    between herder and farmer.

                    Rick:

                    Before we jump over to Hebrews let's look a little closer at Genesis
                    4. Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
                    There is a distinction made between the two. The lifestyles of the
                    two would have been much different. Maury commented in another
                    thread, "Good fences make good neighbors." But this was back in the
                    days before sheep-proof fences. Just think of all the things you
                    have to keep out of your pea-patch! You have to stay in one place
                    and significantly alter the natural systems operating on that place
                    for your peas to make.

                    Herders, on the other hand, were nomadic. They followed the sheep as
                    they grazed, and led them from place to place. Their whole lifestyle
                    was more dependent on the provision of God than on their own
                    manipulation of environment. Abel was already being faithful in his
                    life, before it came time to offer back to the Lord from the increase
                    God had given. It was this faithfulness that provided him with a
                    sacrifice that would be acceptable in the first place.

                    And Cain and Abel talked together in the field. What field? Whose
                    field? Abel didn't have any field; he had green pastures. What was
                    Abel doing in Cain's pea-patch? Cain was already mad, because the
                    Lord had told him he was doing wrong.

                    So Cain killed his brother and had to leave the area. He took his
                    wife with him, they had a son, and the son builded a city. The first
                    city, and founded on agriculture. Mesopotamia. And the rest is
                    history.

                    Rick quoted:

                    Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till
                    there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the
                    earth. (Isaiah 5:8)

                    Cassondra:

                    Before you start attaching interpretations to a single verse pulled
                    out like this, you might look at the context. In the verses just
                    preceeding it, God refers to himself as a husbandman of a beloved
                    vineyard. Of course, the vineyard is Israel, whom he finally must
                    destroy for their disobedience.

                    Rick:

                    The context of the chapter is the Apocalypse.

                    Cassondra:

                    However, the point is this: if farming is an evil before God, then
                    why would he picture himself as a husbandmen of a field? And this is
                    not the first nor the last time he does so.

                    Rick:

                    We ourselves were put in the Garden to be husbandmen. Some of us
                    consider it the most honorable profession. But there is a big
                    difference between husbandry and agriculture, just as there is a
                    difference between gardening and farming, and a difference between
                    the obsolete family farm, where a large portion of its production was
                    used by the family itself, and the large monocultural corporations
                    that provide our food now.

                    But please don't get the impression that I think farmers are evil. I
                    don't. There are a lot worse things you can do with your life. It
                    isn't their production that is evil, it is our demand for that
                    production, and our absolute dependence on it and our blind faith in
                    its continuance.

                    Cassondra:

                    Moreoever, it is abundantly plain from the context that the import of
                    the passage is not to condemn agrarianism but idolatry.

                    Rick:

                    The import of the chapter is to warn us of the destruction facing us
                    for not bringing forth fruit according to the training of God's
                    wellbeloved Son. I didn't just pick this verse out because it
                    sounded good; it's directly applicable to what I'm trying to show
                    you. Notice the element of agricultural calamity. Notice the verses
                    alluded to by the Book of Revelation and other apocalyptic
                    Scripture. Notice that in Genesis 4 the earth has opened her mouth
                    to receive the blood of Abel, and in Isaiah 5 hell enlarges its mouth
                    to accept the wicked. Remember Christ when He said, "from the blood
                    of righteous Abel to Zacharias, whom ye slew between the temple and
                    the altar, it shall be required of this generation..." We are they
                    who have laid those fields and placed those houses. These verses are
                    living and relevant.

                    Cassondra:

                    Just looking at the text it looks as if they did not eat meat before
                    the flood. I don't think I'd be dogmatic about that, but that's how
                    it appears.

                    Rick:

                    Here is a good place, I think, for me to try to make a point about
                    Scripture and how it is interpreted in light of what we know (which
                    is where this thread began). There is a claim made in some of the
                    churches that "we speak where the Scriptures speak, and where the
                    Scriptures are silent, we are silent." Let's take the idea of
                    instrumental music in worship services. And let's just say, for the
                    moment, that the Scriptures really are silent about this (which I
                    don't think they are, but let's just say). Now, when a church
                    disallows instrumental music, they are doing so because instrumental
                    music is not specifically mentioned in Scripture as part of the New
                    Testament Church. But are they really being "silent where the
                    Scriptures are silent"? No. They are interpreting the silence to
                    say, "Thou shalt not have instrumental music in your worship
                    services." For some congregations, this silence is taken even
                    farther, to the idea that instrumental music in service is downright
                    anathema.

                    The truth is, though, that it probably never entered any of the New
                    Testament writers' minds that it would ever be a point of
                    contention. They had lived all their lives with instrumental music
                    in the synagogues, and when they brought their psalms into the early
                    Church I expect they brought their psalters as well. And it
                    certainly seems that if instrumental music were as evil as some make
                    it out to be, the Apostle Paul or somebody would have spelled it out
                    for us, rather than just saying, "Let all things be done decently and
                    in order."

                    So let's go back to Genesis, now. Eating meat is not specifically
                    mentioned between the time Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden
                    to the time Noah got off the boat. The Scriptures are silent about
                    this.

                    The evidence from the other text, however, is not. There was a
                    hundred thousand years of hunting/gathering culture before the advent
                    of agriculture. Lascaux, in France, dates to 40,000 years ago.
                    There is at least 15,000 years of this evidence in the New World.
                    This is real-world knowledge that I don't have to reject on the basis
                    of what I think I understand about Scripture; it's the other way
                    around: I tailor my understanding of Scripture to the evidence
                    provided for me through God's other text, His Creation.

                    I have to.

                    From the Bible I know that God made the heavens and the earth. From
                    what He has made, I know it was longer than a few thousand years
                    ago. The Creation tells me things like "When" and "How" -- the Bible
                    tells me "Why."

                    It's Robert's "Goliath of GRAS" in action, and I think it works very
                    well.

                    Cassondra:

                    I don't think there's any desire for imminent extinction for any of
                    the animals...

                    Rick:

                    Young-earthers need imminent extinction of the dinosaurs after the
                    Flood to hold their fairy tale together. Almost all of the dinosaurs
                    on the planet had to die during the Flood for their explanations of
                    the fossil record and where we get our oil to work alongside
                    their "no death before Adam" theology and their claim to descriptions
                    of dinosaurs in Job. The extinction of the dinosaurs after the Flood
                    is also pointed to as evidence that the worldwide climate after the
                    Flood was very different than before, which is needed as an
                    explanation that before the Flood the worldwide climate was uniform
                    and somewhat tropical, so all the species that had to be on the Ark
                    could have been part of the native fauna of pre-Flood Iraq. This is
                    needed to show that the platypus couple didn't have to swim from
                    Australia to get on the Ark -- they were already in the area.

                    The whole thing is quite farcical and in the end they can't answer
                    logic. It's kind of like when your child comes into your room at
                    night saying she saw a monster, and you say, oh really, and get her
                    to describe it for you. Was it a big monster? What color is it?
                    How many eyes does it have? Did it say anything to you? Could you
                    smell it? Did it need to take a bath? It better not be getting any
                    monster hair on your great-grandma's quilt. Do you think it's happy
                    being a monster? Are you sure we don't need to go in there and tell
                    it to take a bath? And after a while the child knows you're just
                    pulling her leg and just tells you plainly, "I know you don't believe
                    me but you have to believe me because I want to stay in here with
                    you."

                    Cassondra:

                    ...and plainly at least one purpose for the animals to be deisgnated
                    clean and unclean and to be herded was to be offered as sacrifices.
                    Another would be for clothing.

                    Rick:

                    But a "sacrifice" is giving up something you need in deference to
                    something else you need more. If the herders had not been herding
                    those sheep or whatever to provide their needs, there would have been
                    no reason to sacrifice them. When they were sacrificing, they were
                    saying, "Look, Lord, you have provided for me bountifully and I am
                    giving the best of that bounty back to You, in hopes of your
                    continued favor." They were offering in recognition and thankfulness.

                    Cassondra:

                    I will agree that faithful stewards are neither wasteful nor
                    contemptuous of what has been given into their care. However, I do
                    not agree that the Bible teaches that using the bounty of the earth
                    for our purposes or farming it is sinful. Why would God give us such
                    beautiful gifts if we were not to use them? Moreoever, I find no
                    commandments otherwise. Certainly the Israelites were not commanded
                    anything of the sort, nor does Jesus condemn such.

                    Rick:

                    Let me suggest that this is all directly related to the Communion.
                    The bread. The wine. The parables of vineyards and wheat seeds and
                    husbandmen. Eating unworthily. Our daily bread. It's all tied in
                    together. Jesus told us how to escape destruction in this world, but
                    He knew we wouldn't be able to do it. He knew His sacrifice was
                    necessary for us to escape destruction in the next.

                    Cassondra:

                    Hunter-gatherer societies can be appealing because they live off of
                    the land without substantially affecting it. But these are
                    necessarily small societies. Many more people can be fed from an acre
                    of farmland than an acre of wood or grazing pasture. The cattle
                    industry in our own country, for example, is creating incredible
                    damage to the watertable thanks to large amounts of pollutants they
                    create and the huge amounts of water they consume, without feeding an
                    adequate number of people.

                    Rick:

                    An adequate number of people to do what? These are my points
                    exactly, yet obversely. There are too many people on the planet
                    already, and there is another big wave on the way. How are they to
                    be fed? How are they to be clothed? Where will they live? How will
                    they heat their homes? How will they get to work? Will there be any
                    work? What good, all-in-all, comes about by filling the planet up
                    with humans at the expense of everything else? What is the
                    justification of our existence? We certainly haven't been dressing
                    and keeping the Garden.

                    Cassondra:

                    We could argue all day about what percentages of which types of
                    subsistence are best, but the Bible does not dictate either way.

                    Rick:

                    Whether that is true or not, our "other" text dictates very clearly
                    that there is a limit to all of this. We have artificially increased
                    carrying capacity of the land by pouring large amounts of
                    nonrenewable energy into large tracts of bottomland. Increased
                    population will bring the need for more nonrenewable resources and
                    more pressure on existing natural areas to be converted into cropping
                    systems, both plant and animal. We are borrowing from the future to
                    supply our needs today; we are *stealing* from the future to supply
                    frivolous wants. And it will catch up to us. It very certainly is
                    catching up to us right now.

                    I think the Bible agrees that time is getting short, too.

                    Cassondra:

                    I'm sure you're aware that anyone can prove anything by the Bible if
                    they choose. If we gave Todd enough time, I bet he could use the
                    Bible to prove that God does not exist.

                    Rick:

                    Only to himself, or others who may not know any better. The
                    existence of God can never be disproven. Disbelief is a lack of
                    faith, not a lack of God. And if, as we believe, the Bible is true,
                    it can only really prove the truth, and any "proof" of a lie is only
                    proof of an improper understanding of Scripture.

                    Cassondra:

                    We must examine the Bible in its own context in order to understand
                    its intent.

                    Rick:

                    For me, the Bible is an explanation for the context in which I find
                    myself -- a thinking being on a spinning ball in a vast and unknown
                    place I've never seen before. I find the Bible's explanation, at
                    least the way It explains it to me, to be thoroughly sufficient in a
                    way that grows more beautiful as my understanding of both It and the
                    world I live in grows.


                    Rick Hartzog

                    Worldwide Church of Latitudinarianism
                  • cassondrawrites@aol.com
                    Dear Rick, I get the feeling that we could trade comments endlessly on these topics. They *are* pretty wide-ranging. But rather than go point by point, I
                    Message 9 of 17 , Mar 24, 2005
                      Dear Rick,

                      I get the feeling that we could trade comments endlessly on these topics.
                      They *are* pretty wide-ranging. But rather than go point by point, I think I'll
                      be brief.

                      I believe that everything in creation possesses purpose and inherent good as
                      created by God. Each life or element is therefore rather like a single shard
                      of broken mirror which whole would reflect the wisdom and beauty of God.

                      We ought to use our gifts wisely and with respect, not with mad heedless
                      consumption. We ought to value all life. In order to be whole, we must recognize
                      the difference between real life and real value and the false constructs
                      which often compose and order our lives.

                      However, the story of the Bible is not a story of environmental justice. The
                      good news is not that the earth must be saved.

                      The story of the Bible is the story of how God has a plan to save mankind
                      from the sins that ultimately will separate man from all that is good, including
                      God himself. The good news is that Jesus Christ lived among us and taught us
                      and showed us a better way, then died a horrific death for us. He conquered
                      death that we might do the same.

                      The Bible is not about saving the earth, it is about saving man. Jesus
                      stated that his kingdom is not of this world. This world will one day be
                      destroyed, but the righteous soul will live on in a world where death and decay hold no
                      power.

                      I would be happy to discuss various environmental issues with you, but not as
                      if the message of the Bible revolved around such. You may have found a way
                      to fit the Bible into your environmental beliefs, but that is a twisting of its
                      original context and purpose. Or if it is not, then it is strange that a
                      text in existence for thousands of years has only just been properly received and
                      interpreted, completely in a void of historical or traditional understanding.

                      Please understand - the Bible does speak to such things, as it speaks to
                      every facet of human existence, but that is not the point about which it revolves.

                      Sincerely,
                      Cassondra


                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • w_w_c_l
                      Hi, Cassondra, et al. I trust everyone had plenty of marshmallow chicks left over... Here s a link related to what we have been talking about lately:
                      Message 10 of 17 , Mar 28, 2005
                        Hi, Cassondra, et al. I trust everyone had plenty of marshmallow
                        chicks left over... Here's a link related to what we have been
                        talking about lately:

                        http://www.ldolphin.org/eden/

                        Cassondra wrote:

                        I would be happy to discuss various environmental issues with you,
                        but not as if the message of the Bible revolved around such.

                        Rick:

                        I realize that the entire message of the Bible is centered around
                        salvation through Jesus Christ. I have known this for as many years
                        as I have been a Christian. I know I cannot save the Earth, because
                        it is to be destroyed by fire. I know that the entire human race,
                        and all other life on this planet, is doomed because of human sin. I
                        know that only those who are found worthy at Judgement will be
                        allowed to see the New Heaven and New Earth, and that the rest will
                        be banished to outer darkness, eternally separated from God and His
                        love.

                        What I didn't understand though, for many, many years, was "Why?"

                        Why would a loving God ever put me in this situation in the first
                        place? What evil, in my short time allotted, can I possibly commit
                        that would be worthy of my eternal soul being eternally tormented? I
                        mean, if I live to be seventy and seven, wouldn't just 77 years of
                        hellfire more than make up for all the bad I had ever done? Why
                        would God create something this magnificent, this overpoweringly
                        beautiful, and then turn a bunch of idiots like us loose in it? What
                        in the world did Adam *do*?

                        But now I know. And if you ever see it, you'll know, too.

                        Granted, it will be "as through a glass, darkly," but just a glimpse
                        is all it takes.

                        Cassondra wrote:

                        You may have found a way to fit the Bible into your environmental
                        beliefs, but that is a twisting of its original context and purpose.
                        Or if it is not, then it is strange that a text in existence for
                        thousands of years has only just been properly received and
                        interpreted, completely in a void of historical or traditional
                        understanding.

                        Rick:

                        My environmental beliefs came about because of my Christian beliefs,
                        not the other way around. It isn't Scriptures you have to twist;
                        it's your own perspective. It's within you.


                        A literal reading of the Genesis creation doesn't work. A figurative
                        reading does. As I have said on the CFTF list, just as human
                        knowledge has grown to the point that we know the literal reading is
                        wrong, our knowledge has arrived at a place where we can understand
                        the figurative truths of the creation account in real-world
                        applications. This is one of the miracles of the Bible. I'm not
                        saying that it is a miracle *to me*; I'm saying it is a flat-out
                        miracle. There is no way primitive people could have known this
                        stuff. No way at all, except through revelation from a Higher Power.

                        If you look through some of the other creation accounts you will see
                        that in other cultures agriculture was not the result of disobedience
                        to the deity, but was given to "the people" as a gift, in the form of
                        the hoe or other implements, or in the form of magic seeds, such as
                        maize and wheat.

                        If you've ever paid any attention to genealogy, you know what
                        a "family tree" looks like. A "genealogy" of the history of life on
                        Earth looks quite similar -- like a tree. It also corresponds to the
                        sequence found in the Genesis creation.

                        Biblical archaeology has shown time and time again the historical
                        veracity of the Bible.

                        Even the Big Bang theory can be seen in Biblical terms.

                        So why is it that a text in existence for thousands of years is only
                        now being properly received? Well, it isn't. Historians,
                        anthropologists, paleontologists and archaeologists have been finding
                        evidence that supports the Biblical account for years, but the people
                        in the churches don't want to hear it. They don't want to read other
                        creation accounts. They are not allowed to look at "trees" of life
                        that go back millions of years. Even archaeological sites that,
                        through carbon dating, show the accuracy of the Biblical record of an
                        event don't get any attention in the churches. All that sort of
                        thing just messes up the neat little understanding they have of the
                        Bible story, at which they have arrived through a literal reading of
                        Genesis in which "days" are days and individual people lived for many
                        hundreds of years. They are afraid of the truth. And I guess they
                        should be.

                        Because the truth convicts. The truth has no use for play-Christians
                        in play-churches. We live in a real world that was made by a Real
                        God, and all those letters in red in Our Book are straight from the
                        Real Truth. And though Heaven and Earth pass away, those words will
                        never pass.

                        We have become the rich man casting crumbs to Lazarus. Those dogs,
                        who licked Lazarus's sores, and let Lazarus eat the crumbs, have a
                        better chance of getting into Heaven. We are the rich young ruler,
                        but we no longer go away sorrowing; we walk off in self-righteous
                        indignation. We are the scribes and Pharisees that Jesus heaped
                        damnation upon in Matthew 23, for shutting up the gates of Heaven
                        against those trying to enter.

                        When all this time we should have been like those who received
                        Peter's message at Pentecost with pierced hearts, asking, "Men and
                        brethren, what shall we do?"


                        Rick Hartzog

                        Worldwide Church of Latitudinarianism
                      • Todd S. Greene
                        Hi, Cassondra. Don t take anything I write as thinking that I m upset or irritated or anything like that. I m simply involved in discussing the ideas and
                        Message 11 of 17 , Mar 29, 2005
                          Hi, Cassondra.

                          Don't take anything I write as thinking that I'm upset or irritated
                          or anything like that. I'm simply involved in discussing the ideas
                          and issues and nothing more. I'm just saying this to make it
                          explicit.

                          --- In Maury_and_Baty, Cassondra wrote (post #5775):
                          > Todd says:
                          >> Young earth creationism involves discussion of God. Does that
                          >> make it true? What is the evidence for it? Against it? Claims
                          >> about what may or may not exist in the real world stand or fall
                          >> on the real world evidence.
                          >
                          > Dear Todd,
                          >
                          > *Any* version of creationism involves discussion of God.

                          Actually, you missed the point I was making, and looking back at the
                          context I suspect that I simply didn't state my point as clearly as
                          I should have. You had stated the following (post #5746):

                          >>> In this post,
                          >>> you seem to dismiss the story because it contains supernatural
                          >>> elements - a flaming sword, cherubims. However, any discussion
                          >>> of God will involve such supernatural elements.

                          My point was and is that it really doesn't matter whether or not it
                          contains supernatural elements. The issue is whether or not the
                          claims that are made can be substantiated by reference to what we
                          observe in the real world. My reason for mentioning young earth
                          creationism ("Young earth creationism involves discussion of God.
                          Does that make it true?") was to make it clear to YOU that YOU
                          already agree with me that just because a claim is made that
                          involves supernatural elements this does not somehow magically cause
                          it to be immune from evidential requirements. As I wrote, "What is
                          the evidence for it? Against it? Claims about what may or may not
                          exist in the real world stand or fall on the real world evidence." I
                          know that you agree with me on this point, because you acknowledge
                          that even though the young earth creationist claims entail
                          supernatural elements, there claims are rendered false because they
                          cannot be substantiated by observations of the real world.

                          > You seem so
                          > distressed by young-earth creationists because of the
                          > disingenuity of their claims,

                          Yes! ;-)

                          > but the truth
                          > is you are equally opposed to any believer in God.

                          Well, to be honest with you I would claim that there are varying
                          degrees of disingenuity, and that of young earth creationists
                          happens to be very severe. But besides that, my interests are about
                          science, and it is young earth creationists who make false claims
                          about science left and right, and top to bottom, and front and back,
                          and sideways and upside-down. (Did I miss anything?) While you are
                          correct that I think theists of all stripes are misleading
                          themselves (just as, by the way, you think all theists except
                          Christian theists, and perhaps Jewish theists, are misleading
                          themselves), they don't tend to be actively distorting and
                          misrepresenting science as young earth creationists are so fond of
                          doing.

                          > Claims about what
                          > may or may not exist in the real world do stand or fall on real
                          > world evidence, but that is not to say physical evidence.

                          There is no other evidence.

                          > A soul cannot
                          > be proven to exist using physical evidence, because it is not a
                          > physical thing.

                          I agree completely!

                          > Yet I would
                          > argue that it does exist. There is more to man than his
                          > corporeal being. What is human will? It exists, yet has no
                          > physical being.

                          I have never in my life seen human will without a physical human
                          being. I would dare to offer that you haven't either. You show me a
                          human will without a physical human being (in which case, by the
                          way, you'll be offering, or claiming to offer, some form of physical
                          evidence), and I'll agree with you.

                          > Without a soul,
                          > we are nothing more than programmable automatons, forced by our
                          > past experiences and subsequent consequences to do one thing or
                          > another. Behaviorism is the answer to soulless man, but it is no
                          > answer at all.

                          Philosophers, psychologists, psychiatrists, neurologists, and so on
                          have argument this subject for a long time, and the consensus has
                          been that what you are claiming here is simply incorrect. "Without a
                          soul" does not imply what you are claiming.

                          > Todd says: (speaking of the tree of life)
                          >> Sounds like the Fountain of Youth to me. The fact remains that
                          >> there is no evidence of any such thing. There is no evidence of
                          >> any Cherubim guards, nor is there any evidence of any Flaming
                          >> Sword thwarting people from entering any Gate to any Garden of
                          >> Eden, where such a Tree might be located. The reason we can't
                          >> find the River Styx is because it is a story element in a myth.
                          >
                          > The fact that there is there no physical evidence is simply
                          > that, and nothing more. There have been a great many cities for
                          > which there existed absolutely no physical evidence - outside of
                          > what you and many other scientists referred to dismissingly as
                          > "myth" - which were later found by archaeologists. Some of
                          > these were mentioned by the Bible and some by other sources. If
                          > the physical location of these cities had never been located,
                          > however, their existence and presence in history would have been
                          > just as real. If every crumb of their history had vanished into
                          > the dust, they would have lived and breathed and loved just the
                          > same.

                          Okay, wait a minute. Now I'm confused. Are you saying that there is
                          no such thing as myth? Are you saying that every single element of a
                          mythical story must always be derived from something that actually
                          existed?

                          It is entirely obvious that some stories that were thought to have
                          mythical setting as well as other mythical elements turned out to
                          have settings that were based on the reality of the time. So what?
                          Perhaps the River Styx is based on some actual river of the time.
                          Does that imply that there's an actual river where we can cross over
                          and visit the land of the dead. Certainly not!

                          The writer(s) of the Garden of Eden myth certainly could have had a
                          real-world setting that it was derived from (maybe a wonderful
                          fantastic wonder-of-the-world garden in Babylon built on the backs
                          of slaves?). That doesn't mean there were actually walking talking
                          snakes running around, nor a Tree of Life, and so on. There is a
                          significant difference between fantasy and reality.

                          Another point is also the fact that some of the elements of the Adam
                          and Eve in the Garden of Eden myth have precursors in other ancient
                          literature from the Middle East. The writer(s) were not writing the
                          story in a vacuum but were using mythical elements that their
                          Israelite readers were already familiar with.

                          Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that the implication of
                          how you stated what you stated here is an acknowledgement of the
                          fact that there exists absolutely no physical evidence for these
                          things like cherubim guards, flaming swords, Tree of Life, walking
                          talking snakes, and so on. I think I should here reiterate the point
                          that if in real life there was a magical flaming sword barring the
                          entrance to some place in the Middle East (or wherever it might
                          happen to be), we clearly wouldn't be having this discussion! This
                          whole discussion is prompted by people believing in things of
                          fantasy on the basis of zero evidence and then building up a entire
                          epistemological (I would call it rhetorical ;-) ) framework for why
                          it's perfectly okay to believe in things for which there is zero
                          evidence.

                          > Todd says: (of Balaam and the angel and the tree of life)
                          >> Right. They're really there even though they are completely and
                          >> totally invisible to all comprehension of any kind. That sounds
                          >> to me like the very same thing as "there is no evidence for
                          >> such a thing." Hmmm... As a comparative example, the most
                          >> popular argument with young earth creationists today is the
                          >> apparent age argument, which argues that even though there's
                          >> no evidence of the Earth and Universe popping into existence
                          >> only 6,000 years ago (indeed, even though all the physical
                          >> evidence shows otherwise), the 6,000-year youth of the Universe
                          >> and the Earth is "invisible" because God created the Universe
                          >> and the Earth to appear as if they had been around for billions
                          >> of years. Sounds pretty fishy to me! <grin>
                          >
                          > Cassondra:
                          >
                          > They were not invisible to comprehension of any kind. The ass
                          > knew that the angel was there - he comprehended it. And the
                          > implication of the passage is plain - had Balaam proceeded, he
                          > most certainly would have comprehended the angel; he would have
                          > died by his hand! I do not know whether the tree of life remains
                          > here or not; personally, I doubt it. However, if it did, we would
                          > not approach it: something would prevent us, regardless of to
                          > what force we attributed it. However, that is not the point;
                          > that is nothing but speculation.

                          It is nothing but speculation. Exactly! That IS the point. There is
                          zero evidence, so that's all it can be is speculation. But I do
                          notice how JUST LIKE the advocates of the apparent age argument you
                          agree that there is zero evidence and then you try to argue for why
                          we should believe it anyway. We would not be able to approach the
                          Tree of Life, we would be prevented from doing so by a magic flaming
                          sword or a cherubim guard, but even more magically *we wouldn't even
                          know it*, and *no matter what we did with respect to examining the
                          real world we could never possibly discover it*. That is EXACTLY the
                          same kind of argument that the apparent age advocates make (though
                          actually they're not all that consistent about it).

                          >
                          > You dismiss the story of Balaam as myth as easily as you do the
                          > story of the tree of life. The problem is, you dismiss the entire
                          > text as myth,

                          This is not correct. I don't dismiss the entire text as myth. That's
                          a huge exaggeration.

                          > so it is
                          > disingenuous of you to dismiss the creation account because it
                          > is a myth.

                          I think I've already pointed out that it is a myth because it has
                          fantastical elements AND there is no evidence of any such thing.
                          Indeed, if we had the evidence of these things it wouldn't matter
                          whether or not they were fantastic. A magical flaming sword is a
                          pretty fantastic thing, but if it was really there I'd simply accept
                          that it was there because it was. But there is no magical flaming
                          sword. <-- This is the point.

                          > You would dismiss
                          > it regardless, because you have rejected the whole book.

                          Again, for emphasis, this is simply not correct. The writings of the
                          Bible are written in the context of a particular culture and its
                          history. Recognizing that it contains myth does not imply that one
                          must then believe that the entire book is a myth. Why would you even
                          think that?

                          > Even if it
                          > walked us through the whole list of geologic ages, you would
                          > dismiss it, because you have already dismissed God.

                          To the contrary, I would have been duly impressed. It was because I
                          learned that the Bible does *not* have anything to say about the
                          world from a divine perspective, but only from a human perspective,
                          and indeed only from the perspective of a particular human religious
                          culture, that I came to realize that my being impressed by the Bible
                          to begin with wasn't based on reality. (Don't forget that I started
                          out on this ideological journey as a Christian. Based on some of
                          your comments, I'm thinking you're not realizing this.)

                          >
                          > Todd, there is
                          > an abundance of real world evidence for God. Not some
                          > disinterested Prime Mover, but a moral God who created man and
                          > who cares about his fate.

                          Is this the same "moral" God who commanded the marauding Israelites
                          to "slaughter" (that's the word used in the book of Joshua) millions
                          of children, and women, and men? Is this the same "fate-caring" God
                          who stood back and watched hundreds of thousands of children, and
                          women, and men drown in a massive ocean wave? Hmmm...

                          What we have here is, I think, referred to as "equivocal
                          evidence." ;-)

                          > However, you must
                          > recognize that not all real evidence is physical evidence.

                          You sure? Perhaps you could provide an example.

                          >
                          > There have been
                          > many supposed "single great differences" between man and the
                          > other animals, many of which have been disproven by advances in
                          > science. But one great difference remains: the soul of man is
                          > different than the spirits of the beasts. Man is the only
                          > creature to commit great evils and to recognize them as such.
                          > There is something in man which recognizes that some acts are
                          > innately wrong and others innately good.

                          Innately wrong? Innately good? You sure? Is it innately wrong to
                          purposely kill children? Is it innately wrong to have sex with more
                          than one person at the same time? Is it innately wrong to make a
                          fellow man your slave? Be careful how you answer.

                          But besides that, the previous argument is circular. Of all
                          organisms on the Earth there is going to be one species that happens
                          to be more intelligent than all other species. And on Earth, today,
                          there happens to have evolved a very intelligent primate. Does this
                          mean that no other organisms, and no other primates, are
                          intelligent? No, it simply means that we happen to be the most
                          intelligent, and you and I happen to be members of this species.

                          And if you think humans are the only species to kill children, have
                          sex with more than one other member of the species at the same time,
                          or make fellow members of their species do things for them by
                          coercion, you are seriously mistaken. It is simply because we are
                          the most intelligent, and this intelligence has reached the level
                          where our tool-making has become very sophisticated relative to all
                          other species (indeed, even very sophisticated relative to our own
                          species of more than a few tens of thousands of years ago) that we
                          can do things like kill a million people all at once with a nuclear
                          bomb.

                          >
                          > If there is
                          > no God, then there is no evil, there is no good.

                          Oh no, this is a pretty worn out theistic argument. This is the same
                          argument as "Without God there is no absolute morality." Of course,
                          *with* God there is no absolute morality either, so this argument is
                          simply incoherent.

                          > There is no
                          > consciousness of will beyond what we have been programmed to do
                          > and "think."

                          Not sure what you're saying here. It is obvious that what is beyond
                          our human capacity to think about is beyond our capacity to think
                          about. Of course, if it is within our capacity to think about it,
                          then it is. But anyway it's not clear to me what point you are even
                          trying to make with this statement.

                          > There is no
                          > reason not to kill, rape, murder, abuse, steal as I please.

                          Then do it, and watch what happens! This statement is simply wrong.

                          > The oft-vaunted
                          > "survival of society" is nonsense: what is it to me if society
                          > survives? Why should I care?

                          Maybe because you want to live a peaceful and stable life? Which is,
                          of course, a selfish consideration.

                          > For my children's
                          > sakes? Ha! They are no more than animals - they will close their
                          > eyes and that will be the end for them too.

                          Now this is interesting statement by you, because you argue that -
                          unlike humans - animals have no soul, and yet the fact remains that
                          all kinds of animals have parental instincts. But you argue that
                          with humans this parental instinct is because of "God" and a "soul."
                          Yet animals with no souls also have parental instincts. Why do you
                          think that would be?

                          >
                          > Todd says:
                          >> I will concede that there are distinctions between "myth" and
                          >> "legend," but they are alike in containing elements that are
                          >> not actual events. I have read that the story of the apple
                          >> falling on Newton's head and inspiring him to understand
                          >> gravity is a legend. This doesn't mean that Isaac Newton didn't
                          >> exist but simply means that the particulars of that particular
                          >> story may not really be true, even while they may have some
                          >> significant meaning to impart to us (such as in the Newton
                          >> legend telling us something about the character of Newton).
                          >
                          > Cassondra says:
                          >
                          > True! But even if I grant you that the whole creation text is
                          > myth meant to convey a truth but not the details of that truth,
                          > you would still reject it.

                          Maybe, maybe not. It depends. If you tell me that women get men into
                          trouble, I think I could accept that a truth is being conveyed. ;-)

                          > Any Creator would
                          > have powers and desires for man that you deny. Any Creator would
                          > possess real presence that would not produce physical evidence.

                          But if that is ALL this Creator had, then in truth it would be
                          nothing more than a figment of the imagination. This is not to say
                          that imaginative figments are completely worthless or ineffectual
                          because that's simply not the case. I'm simply arguing that the
                          particular claims about entities, objects, or processes that are
                          supposed to be part of the real world don't actually correlate to
                          anything in the real world that we can observe or examine.

                          You're also forgetting that we *know* that people love to make stuff
                          up that we *know* that people have been making stuff up over all the
                          written history of humans. They do it for all kinds of reasons, but
                          we know they do it and you're not taking any of that into account.

                          >
                          > Todd says:
                          >> We have common ground in reality. We are both human beings. We
                          >> both live on Earth. We both have to deal with physical reality.
                          >> And so on. The physical processes that exist in the Universe
                          >> that allow for a microwave oven to work - or a television - or
                          >> a computer - are the same for you as they are for me.
                          >
                          > Cassondra :
                          >> And so are the spiritual realities. Do you love, dream, aspire,
                          >> discern, consider? With what, exactly?

                          With my brain. You show me love, dreaming, aspiring, discerning, and
                          considering, and the like, without a brain, and I would be quite
                          willing to consider your argument.

                          > What of people
                          > who have been declared brain dead and later woke to full and
                          > healthy lives? What part of part of them still lived? When
                          > someone stops breathing, the heart stops beating, and the brain
                          > activity ceases, what is it that comes back? It is their soul,
                          > their being. This too is true; this too we share. Now what does
                          > that mean?

                          Medical detection instruments are perfect, and doctors never make
                          mistakes? Is that what you're saying?

                          Again, if you show me these things such as love, dreaming, aspiring,
                          discerning, and considering, and the like, *without a brain* and I
                          will be duly impressed.

                          >
                          > Todd says:
                          >> I would have no problems whatsoever with a Flaming Sword
                          >> thwarting people from entering the Gate to the Garden of Eden
                          >> if any of those things existed. The fact is simply that these
                          >> things do not exist. If they did exist you would be telling me
                          >> where they are located and that anyone could go and look for
                          >> themselves. But they aren't located anywhere. This is the
                          >> point. So no one can go look.
                          >
                          > Cassondra:
                          >
                          >> I think I addressed this earlier. There have been any number of
                          >> real places and items that can no longer be found or gone to.
                          >> Whether or not they existed has little to do with whether they
                          >> can be found now. The question is the veracity of your sources.

                          Which is a kind of evidence. Notice that the veracity of a source is
                          based on physical evidence of some kind. But there is more involved.
                          Things can get complicated, because, as already noted, a myth or
                          legend will mix elements of reality with elements of fantasy, and it
                          may not always be easy to distinguish which is which.

                          > You do not
                          > disbelieve in a flaming sword; you disbelieve in God. That is why
                          > you reject the story, not for a lack of physical evidence.

                          That is not correct. I disbelieve in both claims because both claims
                          have the same problem: a lack of physical evidence.

                          Regards,
                          Todd Greene
                          http://www.geocities.com/greeneto
                        • rlbaty50
                          ... That post contained a lot of things for serious consideration as one seeks to dig into the details on that most fundamental issue. I don t recall, Todd,
                          Message 12 of 17 , Mar 29, 2005
                            --- In Maury_and_Baty@yahoogroups.com, "Todd S. Greene"
                            <greeneto@y...> wrote, in part:

                            > I (Todd) disbelieve (in God). . .because
                            > (of) a lack of physical evidence.

                            That post contained a lot of things for serious consideration as one
                            seeks to "dig into" the details on that most fundamental issue.

                            I don't recall, Todd, if we ever got into your position regarding the
                            ultimate source of man's belief in God, though I do recall discussing
                            it at various times, particularly in the context of the discussion
                            Campbell had with Owen.

                            There, it was proposed there were three alternatives:

                            > Reason
                            > Revelation
                            > Imagaination

                            Campbell and Owen both appears to agree that man's reason (alone) was
                            not responsible for the origination of belief.

                            They disagreed on whether man's belief originated as a result of
                            imagination or revelation.

                            Unless there be some other alternative, I would guess you would have
                            to join Owen in selecting imagination as the ultimate source.

                            Am I correct?

                            I probabably wouldn't argue the point with you at this stage, but it
                            might be good to make the record clear as to where the fundamental
                            difference lies.

                            Did man imagine to God, or did God first reveal himself to man, IYHO?

                            If folks could first resolve that most fundamental issue, much of the
                            rest of the dispute would be moot. If unresolved, one can probably
                            reasonably conclude that the other matters are not subject to
                            resolution, though the discussion thereof most certainly helps in
                            understanding the issues and the strengths and weaknesses of various
                            aspects of the arguments that are sometimes made in support of one
                            side or the other.

                            Sincerely,
                            Robert Baty
                          • Todd S. Greene
                            ... [snip] ... I think that s probably correct. ... [snip] In the beginning, man created God. ;-) Regards, Todd
                            Message 13 of 17 , Mar 30, 2005
                              --- In Maury_and_Baty, Robert Baty wrote (post #5813):
                              > --- In Maury_and_Baty, Todd Greene wrote, in part:
                              >> I (Todd) disbelieve (in God)...because
                              >> (of) a lack of physical evidence.
                              [snip]

                              > Unless there be some other alternative, I would guess you would
                              > have to join Owen in selecting imagination as the ultimate
                              > source.
                              >
                              > Am I correct?

                              I think that's probably correct.

                              >
                              > I probably wouldn't argue the point with you at this stage, but
                              > it might be good to make the record clear as to where the
                              > fundamental difference lies.
                              >
                              > Did man imagine to God, or did God first reveal himself to man,
                              > IYHO?
                              [snip]

                              In the beginning, man created God. ;-)

                              Regards,
                              Todd
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