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Wednesday, December 28, 2005

This Isn't Going Where He Wants It To...

A fundamentalist reader contends that one has to believe a literal account of Genesis or think Jesus was lying when in Mark, chapter 10, verse 6, he said: “But from the beginning of creation, God made [humans] male and female...”

What's remarkable about this is that it is does not jibe with a literal reading of Genesis 1 or 2!

In Genesis 1, we learn that on day six: "God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them."

So that's not the beginning -- that's day six! Of course, maybe Christ didn't literally mean the beginning...

Then in Two we read:

"Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made."

"And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof.
And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man."

So this disagrees with both Christ and Genesis One! In Genesis Two, man and woman were not created together on day six (like Genesis One) or at the beginning, as Christ said, but one man was created before day seven, and sometime later a woman was created.

Yes, I'm sure fundamentalists have worked out some elaborate evasion about how these three literal readings don't "really" contradict each other. I also expect there is some fundamentalist out there somewhere explaining how it really is biologically possibly to create a woman from a man's rib!

In any case, the is a problem for a Christian here only if Christ's words were meant literally -- and to insist that they were just begs the question on the table!

14 comments:

  1. I suggest switching to a more fruitful
    blogging topic soon. You will never
    win with logic when dicussing the bible.
    Just give it up. And even the ID/evolution
    debate seems unwinable and pointless,
    because religion is involved.

    Rob

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  2. Actual students of the Hebrew scriptures — including the ancient Hebrews themselves — have fairly consistently viewed Genesis 1:1 through 2:4 as a general overview of the Creation Week, followed (beginning in Genesis 2:5) with a more detailed account of the events surrounding the creation of man.

    (Nothing like a little research to tidy things up a bit.)

    Your error is innocent enough on its own, but is compounded by your obviously presuming yourself to be an expert on ancient Hebrew prose simply because you are able to read the text. (Tried that with Shakespeare or Homer as well?)

    Christ’s words cited from Mark Chapter 10 (“But from the beginning of creation, God made [humans] male and female...”) are quoting Genesis 1:27 and 5:2 — apparently quite deliberately and ... literally.

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  3. Why do fundamentalists always say "whatever that is," as if they didn't understand the term quite well? It's someone who insists on a literal interpretation of (just about) the entire Bible. The term has been in use for at least decades with a quite steady meaning.

    As I said, these obvious contradictions and passages that no one can take literally are always met with lots of hand waving. One does not need to know ancient Hebrew to see that there is no way that a literal reading of an "overview" that says men and women were created on day six can be reconciled with a detailed account that says that the first woman came after the seventh day of rest.

    "Christ’s words cited from Mark Chapter 10 ('But from the beginning of creation, God made [humans] male and female...') are quoting Genesis 1:27 and 5:2 — apparently quite deliberately and ... literally."

    Yes, obviously he is literally citing Genesis. What in the world does that have to do with whether or not he was reading it literally?!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yes, Rob, you are obviously right.

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  5. When you consider the definition of fundament, you have to admit that fundamentalist is an apt description for a bible thumper.

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  6. Gene,

    I have no problem with the term fundamentalist--I consider myself one. (So I guess I'm like the one neocon who admitted they existed as a class.) I also need to check into this alleged contradiction in Genesis. Back when I was an atheist, I thought there was an obvious contradiction, but after I (re)converted I couldn't see it anymore. (How's that for theory filtering data!!)

    Having said all this, I think you need choose better examples about the literal stuff. I'll grant you the Ezekiel passage ("four corners of the earth") for the sake of argument, but COME ON, Jesus is not being metaphorical when He says "beginning." If I said, "At the beginning of The Godfather, Michael takes Kate to his father's house," am I speaking metaphorically? After all, in the beginning of the movie, the coroner is asking the Don to kill the guys who raped his daughter. Michael's not even in the scene!!

    Now in contrast to this type of "inaccurate" statement, if I say, "Whoa! It's raining cats and dogs out there," then that's not to be taken literally.

    Do you agree that there's a qualitative difference between the "literalness" of the Godfather and rain statements?

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  7. Fundamentalist: I just use the term as the accepted term for a certain type of Christian. My correspondent apparently thinks it is a slander.

    Here's a different way to interpret Christ's statement, one which I happen to think is probably something like what he meant: "The beginning" means before time, in the Platonic world of forms, the Aboriginal dreamtime, etc. In that pre-temporal envisioning, which is creation, God made men and women. Then in the temporal realm, people appeared after a few billion years.

    For a good exposition of just this sort of theology, read Tolkein's Silmarillion.

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  8. Final Statement on this thread:

    I reread the two Genesis chapters and I don't see a contradiction, Gene. I agree that if you just read Chap. 2 in isolation, you would think it said one thing, but it is vague. (I used the NIV translation I think.) But when read in conjunction with Chap. 1, there's no actual contradiction.

    I'm not denying that there really are places where fundamentalists rely on "contorted" solutions. Thomas Paine points out that in one gospel Judas hangs himself, and in Acts (I think) Peter I believe says that Judas died when he fell in a field and his guts spilled out. I think some have reconciled this by saying he hanged himself, the rope broke, and his guts spilled out when he hit the ground.

    But in any event, I still don't think your e.g. of Jesus' statement is a good one. When Jesus says "the beginning" why can't He just mean when man and woman were created?

    Finally, I screwed up with the Godfather reference. Michael's girlfriend (to be wife) is Kay, not Kate, and that guy in the actual beginning of the movie is probably not a coroner, but a some-job-description-that-escapes-me.

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  9. If Jesus means that, then it's no evidence that he is claiming Genesis is literally true, as my correspondent said it was.

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