Purpose of the Adam and Eve story?

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Masnev
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Purpose of the Adam and Eve story?

Post #1

Post by Masnev »

It seems that not all Christians agree as to whether the six days of creation are literal or figurative.

Questions for those that believe in God and also believe that the six days of creation is figurative;
-Do you believe that the Adam and Eve story is false? If not, how can it be true?
-If the story is false, then why do you think it was written?

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Re: Purpose of the Adam and Eve story?

Post #11

Post by Wootah »

[Replying to post 3 by Divine Insight]

Why do you conflate innocent and gullible? it seems that is the basis for your straw man view of the garden of eden.
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Re: Purpose of the Adam and Eve story?

Post #12

Post by Divine Insight »

Wootah wrote: [Replying to post 3 by Divine Insight]

Why do you conflate innocent and gullible? it seems that is the basis for your straw man view of the garden of eden.
To begin with, calling my view of the Garden of Eden "strawman" suggesst that I'm creating fallacies that are easy to knock down. This isn't the case at all. I think you need to understand that my views on these biblical tales are my sincere views.

The way I see this story Adam and Eve were two innocent people just doing their thing. They clearly weren't rebelling against God or coming up with any evil schemes on their own. For me this is a very important aspect of the story. Because I immediately have the question of whether Adam and Eve would have ever chosen to do something evil on their own.

For me this is important. The reason being that if mankind would not have "Fallen from Grace" on his own accord, then sending in an evil demon to bring him down seems extremely unfair, and unjust.

Moreover, if Adam and Eve did not yet have the knowledge of good and evil, then how could they even know that what they were doing was wrong? :-k

That too is a huge contradiction in this story. Adam and Eve necessarily had to be "innocent" if they didn't even understand what "evil" was.

Finally, this story itself has Eve confessing to God that she had been "beguiled" by the serpent. This was AFTER her eyes had been opened to the knowledge of good and evil. Prior to the actual event Eve wouldn't have even understood the concept of "being Beguiled". How could she? She wouldn't yet have had the knowledge of evil. And to beguile someone is surely evil.

Not only this, but even after the event Eve is cooperating with God in every possible way. She tells God everything, including giving witness to the fact that the serpent had beguiled her. She clearly turned in the serpent and didn't hesitate to confess to God everything.

This is actually what we are being asked to do by Christianity. To confess our sins to God openly and honestly. Eve did precisely that. She wasn't standing there rebelling against God screaming, "I hate you and I don't want to do as you say anymore". That's not even in the story at all.

There are just too many things wrong with this story. I'm not the one who is making it a "strawman" story. It's already made of straw on its own. It has no substance. It doesn't hold water.

There's even more contradictions and absurdities. If being naked was "evil" or a "sin" then why did God create Adam and Eve to be naked in the Garden of Eden in the first place? Were they "sinning" all along and just didn't know it because they didn't yet possess the knowledge of good and evil?

The whole story falls apart on its own. I don't need to make it into a "strawman", it was written without substance from the get-go.

I reject the whole "Fall from Grace" story precisely because it makes no sense.

~~~~

A story where Adam and Eve had turned against God on their own free will choice without having to be "innocently beguiled" by an already evil serpent would have been a far more impressive "Fall from Grace" story. But that's not the Biblical Story. In the Biblical Story an evil serpent was required to beguile an otherwise innocent and non-rebellious Adam and Eve.

The authors of these fables weren't very intelligent if they expected me to believe their stories.

And I see absolutely no reason at all to think that a supposed supreme being could be that stupid.

I would expect a supreme being to know better.

So I have every reason to believe that the story of Adam and Eve was a very poorly thought out fable. And certainly nothing relating to any all-wise supreme being, or any fall from grace from such a being.

I don't need to make "strawman" arguments against it. The fable is already built from straw.
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Re: Purpose of the Adam and Eve story?

Post #13

Post by OnceConvinced »

[Replying to post 12 by Divine Insight]

It really does look like it was only meant as stories to entertain children.

Society and its morals evolve and will continue to evolve. The bible however remains the same and just requires more and more apologetics and claims of "metaphors" and "symbolism" to justify it.

Prayer is like rubbing an old bottle and hoping that a genie will pop out and grant you three wishes.

There is much about this world that is mind boggling and impressive, but I see no need whatsoever to put it down to magical super powered beings.


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Post #14

Post by bluethread »

Masnev wrote: Thank you for the responses! I see all your points.

If the first chapters of Genesis are literature rather than history, then why do so many Christians still treat them as history?

How does God make Himself known to mankind if not through the events of this story?
I noticed that cnorman did not respond to you. So, let me answer your questions from my prospective, not his, even though I would hope they would fall within his parameters. Rather than an interpretation for each generation, I prefer to seek out how the initial readers would have viewed it. It is my view that Christians threat it as a modern history book, because they are acclimated to modern western culture and are encouraged to accept that culture. I think this goes counter to the point of the passage, that differentiates between Adonai's ways(tov) and the ways of the nations(ra').

I do believe that Adonai is making Himself known to His people in the wilderness and us as persons living with them. The story takes the imagery of the common serpent myth and provides, in story form, an explanation of the difference between Adonai's way(tov) introduced in chapter one and the ways of the nations(ra'). It then explains how the introduction of those ways(ra') made it necessary for us to live as we do today and not as we would live if we did not have to deal with the ways of the nations(ra'). Again, this is my view and not THE view.

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Post #15

Post by cnorman19 »

Masnev wrote: Thank you for the responses! I see all your points.

If the first chapters of Genesis are literature rather than history, then why do so many Christians still treat them as history?
Beats me. I don't speak for Christians.
How does God make Himself known to mankind if not through the events of this story?
Through the rational thought and moral sense of human beings -- attributes which we Jews believe are what was meant by "in the image of God."

It's a little-known dictum of the Talmud that "A well-ordered logical argument has the same authority as a Divine command."

Perhaps more to the point, it may not be God's intent to "make Himself known to mankind." Moral and ethical behavior is the focus of the Jewish religion, while "belief" is not even a peripheral concern except where it affects that behavior.

This is from the Afterword to my novel, which I hope will be published next year:
cnorman19 wrote: To put it another way: Religious “doctrines� – teachings about things that no one truly knows or can either verify or falsify -- are not, and ought not be, our concern. Indeed, obsession with such things – “Am I going to Heaven? What is God like? Why does He do what he does?� – is neither healthy, nor wise, nor productive in this world. The rabbis and sages of old taught that trying to define God – formulating a list of God’s attributes, and thinking of them when thinking about God – is a kind of idolatry: constructing a mental image of God, then bowing down to it as if it were God Himself.
In my own personal religious practice, I think of God in whatever way I feel a need or desire to do so. In times of personal doubt or pain, I think of him as Avoteinu – our Father, there to listen and comfort. When writing or thinking in an academic or philosophical way, I may think of Him as Paul Tillich’s “Ground of all Being,� less a person and more a principle – that which makes things make sense, the power or principle of Rationality itself. At other times I may think of Him as the power of Love, or of Truth, or of Justice, or simply the Good.
But when thinking of God in any, or all, of these ways – I am always conscious of the fact that none of these mental constructs or images is truly God. They are all metaphors – because when thinking of God, metaphor is all we have. One cannot think of God directly.
For this very reason, the Jewish religion is not a religion of doctrines or dogma or beliefs. It is a religion of ethical behavior — of right action. Indeed, it is an old truism that Judaism is a religion of “deed, not creed.�
What is the nature of God? What is the nature of the human soul? What happens after we die? Judaism has no answers to those questions. They are God’s business.
But to other questions -- Why does God allow children to be abused? Why does He allow criminals to rule? Why does he allow the poor to starve? -- for those, Judaism does have answers, and they are always the same answer: Why do WE?
It is not our business, nor our job, to think about God. God can take care of Himself.
Our business is this world, and our job is to make it a better one, for our brothers and sisters and children and grandchildren, and for ourselves; to seek out and work for the three pillars of the world — Truth, and Justice, and Peace. In this world, in this life. If there is another – and I, for one, hope that there is – that is God’s concern, and not our own.
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Post #16

Post by Divine Insight »

bluethread wrote:
Masnev wrote: Thank you for the responses! I see all your points.

If the first chapters of Genesis are literature rather than history, then why do so many Christians still treat them as history?

How does God make Himself known to mankind if not through the events of this story?
I noticed that cnorman did not respond to you. So, let me answer your questions from my prospective, not his, even though I would hope they would fall within his parameters. Rather than an interpretation for each generation, I prefer to seek out how the initial readers would have viewed it. It is my view that Christians threat it as a modern history book, because they are acclimated to modern western culture and are encouraged to accept that culture. I think this goes counter to the point of the passage, that differentiates between Adonai's ways(tov) and the ways of the nations(ra').

I do believe that Adonai is making Himself known to His people in the wilderness and us as persons living with them. The story takes the imagery of the common serpent myth and provides, in story form, an explanation of the difference between Adonai's way(tov) introduced in chapter one and the ways of the nations(ra'). It then explains how the introduction of those ways(ra') made it necessary for us to live as we do today and not as we would live if we did not have to deal with the ways of the nations(ra'). Again, this is my view and not THE view.
Your views in on this are interesting, but not the least bit compelling in terms of debate argument. And my reasons for saying this follow:

Your argument is not, IMHO, "well-ordered". It's simply not what I would consider to be rational logical argument. On the contrary I feel that it has major logical flaws.

As Cnorman suggested: "A well-ordered logical argument has the same authority as a Divine command."

I would tend to agree with this. However, the argument you have just given for this religion is, IMHO not "logical".

You claim that there are "two ways". One way is Adonai's way (tov) and the other way is the way of nations (ra).

The only problem with this is that Adonai would need to be a complete idiot if he thought for one second that anyone would follow "his ways" (which aren't even clear) over the ways of the society that an individual is actually born and raised into.

In fact, if those ways actually conflict, a person living under the rule of law of the nation they are a citizen of would find it extremely difficult, if not "unlawful" to disobey the laws of the nation in favor of the laws of some imagined God.

It would also be quite difficult to even know what the ways of Adonai even are. According to the dogma associated with Adonai we are instructed to stone sinners to death, as well as our unruly children. The laws of most nations would have you up on charges of murder if you did that.

And the Jews can't even appeal to Jesus as an excuse to disobey those laws of Adonai. They would need to abide by those original laws.

So the argument isn't compelling. Adonai would need to be a complete fool to think that any human would reject the laws of the nation they are born into in favor of obeying the dogma of Adonai.

Not only that but Adonai would need to be an even greater fool to think that any sane human would obey the laws of an invisible unseen rumored God over the laws of the nation that they live in. Especially knowing that the laws of the nation will indeed be enforced.

So it's not a compelling argument, because Adonai himself would need to be a complete idiot to think that anyone would be naive enough to obey the superstitious rumors of an unseen God over the laws of the actual nation they are living in.

Adonai himself would need to be a fool. And this is why the argument fails to be impressive.

Moreover, don't these Biblical fairytales even claim that Adonai is the one who places Kings in power? And also, that to disobey a King is the same as disobeying Adonai? That would pretty much make any imagined distinction between (tov) and (ra) totally irrelevant and inapplicable.

Any argument that a God would want a person to disobey the laws of their nation seems like an extremely weak apology for any religion.
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Post #17

Post by cnorman19 »

To repeat a post from another thread:
This whole subject is a lot easier to discuss intelligently -- not to mention sanely -- if one begins with the fact of what the Bible actually IS. The Hebrew Bible (I have nothing much to say about the New Testament; not my book) is a collection of the oldest literature of the Jewish people. Written by people, not by God. As fallible and imperfect and contradictory as any other literary collection from any age, or any culture. This one just happens to be the most well-known and influential in the Western hemisphere. If this forum were based in India, we'd probably be arguing over the "facts" in the Bhagavad-Gita or the Vedas -- or perhaps the Qu'ran.

Start there -- with the understanding that the Bible is a collection of very old books -- and we can all have a rational and intelligent discussion. But when you start throwing out questions like "Why did God ..." (fill in blank) when referring to some passage of this ancient literature, it makes as much sense as asking "Why did Zeus..." (fill in blank) when discussing the Iliad or "Why did Dumbledore..." (fill in blank) when discussing Harry Potter and the (fill in blank). Actually, that last is much easier, since the author of Harry Potter is still living, and comes from the same culture and speaks the same language as ourselves.

If you want to argue over what people have done with this book or how they have used it, fine; but let's not go blaming those things -- from the benign to the lunatic -- on the book itself. It's just a book; its meaning has always been determined by people, which is easily proven since so many different meanings have always been found there.

All that said: Since Biblical literalism seems to be the only acceptable approach around here -- and since few, if any, seem to even understand the basics of "allegory" and "metaphor" and "myth" beyond "Those terms just mean it's not true!" -- I don't get into Bible debates much any more [except to advocate this point of view, of course]. Frankly, Harry Potter would be more interesting than these "debates" over what God should have said or done.
What does the Adam and Eve story mean? What does Alice Through the Looking-Glass mean? What does The Lord of the Rings mean? It's a STORY. It has NO meaning other than that which its readers give it, WHATEVER it says. If there were only one possible meaning, there would be no disagreement over what it is; and that has NEVER been the case, as in NOT EVER.
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Post #18

Post by Beyonder »

It's up to you I believe in it as the truth.

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Post #19

Post by cnorman19 »

Beyonder wrote: It's up to you I believe in it as the truth.
Oh, so do I; but look at the first quote in my signature. "Truth" doesn't always mean "really happened in real life in real time."
"The Torah is true, and some of it may even have happened." -- Rabbi William Gershon

"Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry; but why on Earth should that mean that it is not real?" -- Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; J. K. Rowling

"It may be that our role on this planet is not to worship God -- but to create him." -- Arthur C. Clarke

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Post #20

Post by bluethread »

Divine Insight wrote:
Your views in on this are interesting, but not the least bit compelling in terms of debate argument.
Well, this is not a debate forum. It is expository.
And my reasons for saying this follow:

Your argument is not, IMHO, "well-ordered". It's simply not what I would consider to be rational logical argument. On the contrary I feel that it has major logical flaws.

As Cnorman suggested: "A well-ordered logical argument has the same authority as a Divine command."

I would tend to agree with this. However, the argument you have just given for this religion is, IMHO not "logical".
As stated above, it is not an argument. Regarding cnorman, I said that they are my views and not his, and he has stated similar things. Even if he appears to support a rabbinic view that rationalism holds equal value with the written Torah is not a problem for me. That is his view, I have a different one. At least in this forum, these two views do not have to be reconciled. As explanation and not debate, I will entertain your observations.
You claim that there are "two ways". One way is Adonai's way (tov) and the other way is the way of nations (ra).

The only problem with this is that Adonai would need to be a complete idiot if he thought for one second that anyone would follow "his ways" (which aren't even clear) over the ways of the society that an individual is actually born and raised into.

In fact, if those ways actually conflict, a person living under the rule of law of the nation they are a citizen of would find it extremely difficult, if not "unlawful" to disobey the laws of the nation in favor of the laws of some imagined God.
You have a right to your opinion. However, IMO, this is why historical black churches have attached themselves to what some have called "the white man's religion." Like Israel, they were freed from slavery and accepted a different social order, some also accepted Islam, which was not common in the society that they grew up in. In the same way, Israel was given a moral code that was not common in the society from which they were freed. Seems logical to me.
It would also be quite difficult to even know what the ways of Adonai even are. According to the dogma associated with Adonai we are instructed to stone sinners to death, as well as our unruly children. The laws of most nations would have you up on charges of murder if you did that.
You seem to think that you know what Adonai's ways are. So, why are you asking? That is why Adonai had the covenant written down and also why He established them as a nation.
And the Jews can't even appeal to Jesus as an excuse to disobey those laws of Adonai. They would need to abide by those original laws.


I don't think that Jesus is an excuse to disobey. Maybe, in a thread designed to inquire about want one believes, you should enquire regarding what one believes.
So the argument isn't compelling. Adonai would need to be a complete fool to think that any human would reject the laws of the nation they are born into in favor of obeying the dogma of Adonai.
Again, I am not making an argument. This is not a debate thread. People reject the laws of the nations they are born into all the time, but if you wish to believe that doesn't happen, have at it.
Not only that but Adonai would need to be an even greater fool to think that any sane human would obey the laws of an invisible unseen rumored God over the laws of the nation that they live in. Especially knowing that the laws of the nation will indeed be enforced.
That is why they were taken out of that nation and established as a separate nation, kind of like the American revolution. At least that is my viewpoint.
So it's not a compelling argument, because Adonai himself would need to be a complete idiot to think that anyone would be naive enough to obey the superstitious rumors of an unseen God over the laws of the actual nation they are living in.

Adonai himself would need to be a fool. And this is why the argument fails to be impressive.
This is the third time, in this post, you have said this. Are you even interested in what I believe, or do you just like to talk about what you think?
Moreover, don't these Biblical fairytales even claim that Adonai is the one who places Kings in power? And also, that to disobey a King is the same as disobeying Adonai? That would pretty much make any imagined distinction between (tov) and (ra) totally irrelevant and inapplicable.
No, that does not mean that belief systems of the nations are Adonai's ways. Also, I do not believe that is what the Scriptures say. With regard to what they do say, I do not believe it is calling for absolute obedience to the leaders of the nations.
Any argument that a God would want a person to disobey the laws of their nation seems like an extremely weak apology for any religion.
Again, I am not making an argument or apology. If you will note this is not the C&A forum or any debate forum. That said, I do believe that Adonai's people should not disobey the laws of their nation, to the extent that is possible in the diaspora.

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