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Friday, August 1, 2008

Since it was asked...

What makes my beliefs different than Ray's?

I do not believe that the Creation Story of Genesis necessitates a literal interpretation.

The first chapter of Genesis is written in the style of an Ancient Hebrew poem. Because of it's poetic nature, it doesn't have to be seen as literal in order to remain faithful to scripture.

That's the nature of poems. They aren't always literal. See "The Road Less Traveled."

The second and third chapter are the same story. Story. As in, "once-upon-a-time." Yeah, the ancient Hebrews had stories, too, and this one has all the ear-marks. Because of it's story-like nature, it doesn't have to be seen as literal in order to remain faithful to scripture.

Interestingly enough, this belief is also a rational approach to the reason why the order that things were created is different between the first two chapters of Genesis.

There is plenty to learn from them without making them a dissertation full of detailed play-by-plays of the beginning of the universe.

1) God did it. Alone. He didn't slay a celestial beast that was causing a ruckus. He didn't knock up with some sweet goddess that he picked up at the pub. He did it by himself, regardless of what methods (be they supernatural or natural) he used.

2) God made Mankind differently. Mankind was the only thing that God was inspired to make (let's make something like us!). Mankind is the only thing in the story that God put his hands on and got his hands dirty. He breathed life into man. The Hebrew word for "Breath" and "Spirit" are the same word, btw. Think about the theological implications of THAT.

3) Humans are powerful. God gave us the ability to have original thoughts and ideas; the ability to create. In ancient Hebrew tradition (the very same tradition that this story was entrusted to), a thing wasn't a thing unless it had a name. A things name defined some minute, but vital part of that thing's essence. A rose by any other name is not longer a rose, regardless of what it smells like.

Who named the animals? Adam did. Mankind did. God left the animals incomplete, and gave Adam the privilege of finishing his work.

4) Women have a special place in creation. Think about it, God starts making simple things and gets more and more cool and complicated as he goes along. What is the finishing touch to the universe, the thing that is the coolest and most complex? Eve. Women are the crowning jewel of creation.

5) Humans were made perfect and flawless, along with the rest of creation. God was there, in person, unfiltered, with Adam and Eve. Then, humans broke some extremely simple rule, and along with it broke themselves and the universe.


So far, I like Open Theism

Open Theism works like this. God creates man, and gives man the ability to create. We have free will, just like God has free will. God knows everything, so he knows what I'm going to do every second of every day for the rest of my life, right? He knows what tomorrow will look like, right?

Tomorrow isn't set in stone.

What if omnipotence doesn't mean "to know everything?" What if it means "To know everything in the universe that there is to know?" People view time as a segment, and the present is somewhere between the beginning and the end.


I look at time as a ray. It doesn't have a defined end; it grows. And the Present is on the edge of it.

Beginning -----Present-> Future

God doesn't know tomorrow because tomorrow isn't there until we create it with him.

Now, God's a GREAT guesser, to say the least. He knows every human being better than they know themselves, and can guess with pretty good accuracy what they are going to do. And he's still God. He can take away our free will at any moment if it suits his plan (like he did with Pharaoh after the first time he told Moses "no.")

He can proclaim that an event will happen in the future, and it will have no choice but to happen. And he has the power, if he wants, to take back our "creative spark" that gives us the ability to choose, see what we're gong to do in the future, and then give that spark back and tell us what's going to happen in the future. We call these "prophecies."

He knows everything there is to know. Tomorrow doesn't exist yet, because we haven't made it with him yet, so he doesn't know it. Therefore, he's still omniscient; knowing everything there is to know.

He's doing it of his own will. Because he wants to. Nothing is forcing him to except himself, so he's still Omnipotent.

"Well, the Bible says that God knows you even before you're born!"
Yes, but how long before you're born does it say he knows you?

You will not find any of this in the Bible. Neither will you find anything that goes against it.

Maybe this is why God says things like "I wish I hadn't done that" in the Bible...

People can be good without knowing God

"Good" does not mean "Righteous." Righteous doesn't mean good. Holy doesn't mean good, or something that belongs to God. Apple doesn't mean Orange.

I believe the same thing that Ray does. People can't be righteous (right with God), nor can they meet God's standards, without help. The only help that works is Jesus. Switching the word Righteous for Good is a semantics game, so let's define a few words.

Good = meeting the standards set by the general populace that define as such. I.E., hard worker, not a murderer, helps old ladies across the street, etc.

Righteous = being right with God.

Meeting God's standard = to be perfect. Every one has sinned in their lives and become less than perfect, but one can attain help from Jesus Christ to meet God's standards and become righteous in spite of that.

Jesus did NOT implement the same methods of evangelism for every situation.

He talked about Hell to the people who were supposedly already followers of God. He talked about love to people who needed his love. He knew their hearts' needs and acted accordingly.

I don't believe that the Bible is Inerrant

Not in the most literal meaning of the word. However, it's not chock-full of screw-ups, either. I know of two contradictions. One is the order of creation, that I mentioned before. The other is in the Gospels.

When Jesus casts out "Legion" into the herd of pigs, one of the gospels (I think it's John...) says that there were two demoniacs, while the others say that there was only one.

Why am I ok with this? Well, the number three was used to show importance. A thing repeated three times (or a figure) was emphasized. Sometimes, that was shortened down to two. This may have simply been the author emphasizing the importance of the story.
Even if it isn't that, what does it change? Jesus is still the same person. God is still the same. The demons are still the same, and still come to him first begging for mercy. it doesn't change any theological teachings in the Bible.

The Bible is perfect for teaching and correcting. It's our measuring stick, our standard, by which we measure ourselves and the teachings we hear.

People can have a real, living, breathing relationship with Christ and then walk away from it.

Bart Erhman is one of them. We can't loose our salvation, but we can walk away from it.

Paul says:
6Our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. 7For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.

Romans 6:6 & 7

Later, to those same people, he says this:
Don't you realize that whatever you choose to obey becomes your master? You can choose sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God and receive his approval.

Romans 6:16

"You're not slaves to sin any more, but you can choose to be a slave to sin again."
The Bible says that nothing can pluck us from God's hand. It never says we can't jump.

Having said that, I must concede that "false converts" do exist. I was one for quite some time. However, I usually just like to call them "fakers." And I am not in a position to judge any one's relationship with Christ unless I really know them well. If some one who I don't know except by blogs on the internet says "I was a Christian, but I'm not any more," then I am in no position to say that they never were.

I know where the cuss word in the Bible is.

Five points to the first person who guesses where. Five points to the first person to adequately explain what that means for Christians. Fifteen if the first person gets both in one shot.


  1. interesting...

    and to take your challenge...does the bible say ASS to mean donkey?


    crap, i aint knoe da verse.

  2. I should stop ending my comments with bad grammar.

  3. Ok, that's a lot of stuff you have to say about your beliefs. Needless to say, I have no reason to follow them when I don't see the premise - God's existence - as a reasonable or necessary or plausible one.
    You believe that human existence, every individual human being, has a purpose. I'm interested why you think that is so.

  4. @ Ranting:
    No, that's not it. It's a REAL cuss word.

    Here's two hints;

    It's in one of the Pauline Epistles, and you have to go straight to the Greek for it.

  5. @ Felix:

    I don't believe that God has planned out every single detail of every human being's life. For instance, I don't see anywhere in the Bible where God has created a special some one for every one who is gifted with marriage. Some people definitely have one person that was made to be with them, but others? I don't see that such is the case for every one.

    I don't believe that God has a career planned for every one. I don't see that in the Bible. While some people are called into one field or another, others God just says "You pick, and I'll bless it."

    Ultimately, God does have one desire for every human being on the face of the universe;

    To love them, and for them to love him in return.

    Beyond that, I'm not going to say what God has planned for any one I don't know.

    People forget that God didn't just give us free will so he could say "See, there, you can do what you want." He gave it to us for a reason. We have the power to make our own plans some times.

    I don't know if that answers your question any...

  6. rob,
    thanks, that essentially does answer what I wanted to know.
    Is there a cause for God's love? Obviously, it can't be a chemical reaction in his brain, so how does that register? Did God know love before he had created anything? And what's your idea about how God himself came about? If he always existed, what is the meaning of 'always' before time exists? How can thought or will occur when there's no time for it to occur in?
    Sorry if that's too much, just take your time ;)

  7. Philppians 3:8
    More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things – indeed, I regard them as dung! – that I may gain Christ,

    Other translations use the words "rubbish", "trash", "refuse".

    The original greek word "skubalon" means "shit" or "crap"

  8. ***dale, holding his tongue so Felix won't beat him up again***

    Hi Rob!
    I hope your exulted religion is serving you and your loved ones well!


  9. @ felix:

    That's not too much at all, dude.

    Is there a cause for God's love?
    If there is a cause for God's love for us, we certainly didn't cause it.

    God's love isn't caused, as far as I can tell. God's love caused. God created us because he thought that we'd be uber cool and awesome to have a loving relationship with.

    Obviously, it [love] can't be a chemical reaction in his brain, so how does that register?

    Ah, but is love merely a chemical reaction in the brain, or is love something else?

    There's a word for that chemical reaction in our brains, and it ain't love. It's infatuation. Love comes after the biochemical stew starts to recede, and we start to see that the object of our affection isn't perfect.

    Love is when, after we know a person as well as we possibly can, and know all their faults, and say "Even though I hate this and this and this about this person, I can't imagine a better life than one with them."

    I'm not sure if that changes your question any, but I saw the difference in our definitions and thought I'd clear up how I define the word. ^_^

    Did God know love before he had created anything?

    Yes. But my logic behind that gets EXTREMELY metaphysical.

    I believe that God is a trinitarian entity. Most (though not all) Christians do. The trinity was in existence in the beginning.

    God loved his son before anything was created. Jesus loved his father before anything was created. The Holy Spirit loved YHWH and Jesus before anything was created, and they loved him.

    Before anything was created, God loved and was loved. He, all by himselves, defines love by his nature.

    And what's your idea about how God himself came about?

    I'm pretty conservative and traditional on that. God's always been there, and it's a mystery. I'll never know anything on the matter beyond that.

    If he always existed, what is the meaning of 'always' before time exists?

    It doesn't have any meaning. Not to God, any way.

    The whole "Time is meaningless to me, because a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day," bit really means just that. Time has no bearing on God, only on the universe.

    How can thought or will occur when there's no time for it to occur in?

    I'm not sure that's the right question. I firmly believe that if you ask the wrong questions, you'll get the wrong answers 100% of the time.

    I think the better question is "Does God need time?"

    He doesn't. He created time and the universe because he thought that they were cool. Not as cool as the humans that he placed there, but they were cool none the less.

    Your question is kind of like "How can anything fly without propellers or jet engines?" It's specified to the limitations of humans. Birds fly without those things. They don't need them because of the way they are.

    To answer the question that you actually asked, I suppose I would have to say "Humans will never know." But that's such a side step, and I hate that. The better question and answer I gave you aren't that much better in the side step area, but at some point I just have to say I've never done it before, and there's no instruction manual.

    Hope that answers something. ^_^

  10. @ Stew:

    Five points for you! ^_^

    Who wants to try for the other five?

    Any one? Bueller?

  11. @ dale:

    ***dale, holding his tongue so Felix won't beat him up again***

    Hi Rob!
    I hope your exulted religion is serving you and your loved ones well!

    My religion serves me just fine. My loved ones hate certain aspects of my search for God, but theirs is suiting them just fine.

    I know you said that you were looking forward to this post, so I hope it was what you were hoping for. ^_^

  12. dale,
    this would have been a great moment to jump on rob actually ;)

    of course I don't accept assumptions about a metaphysical realm. Your answers are good, and I'm glad you understand what I was asking. It's logically paradoxical to ask for detectable and reproducible evidence for something metaphysical within the material/physical/natural realm, as in my view anything interacting within anything else in any way within the universe is necessarily physically dependant. Within a metaphysical view, infinitely more assumptions can be made and validated by other assumptions. Leibniz for example argued for metaphysical dualism in his works, to account for concepts like conscience. I just don't buy it, as I believe that there is a completely physical explanation for everything, and I think that an honest person must also concede that in this worldview, he can't be certain that all explanations will be accessible for humans. They might be someday, but we've seen how wrong physicists of the 19th centure were when they claimed that physics would reach the final explanation soon. Naturalism requires modesty. I'm currently reading Daniel Dennett's Sweet Dreams, which is about these questions and superbly written and argued.

  13. I bookmarked this to read over the weekend. But I stopped reading at "God's a great guesser."

    I had to stop because my rhyming gene fired and this was the result:

    Said Satan, "It's better to reign
    In Hell than serve in Heaven again!
    God's a great guesser
    But I'm a sharp dresser
    And the damned never cease to entertain."

    See, Rob, this is what happens when you make inane and unsupported assertions -- you leave yourself open to ridicule. (And ridicule that doesn't even scan properly! -- to add insult to injury.)

    As for the shit-as-swearing, I grew up on a farm. No amount of shit will scare me.

  14. @ Weemaryanne:

    If we're talking about the nature of YHWH, the authority on the subject is the Canon. Or is it the Cannon? One's a collection of writings about God, and the other's a big gun.

    Any way, the point is there's nothing in Scripture that supports open theism, but there's nothing in scripture that goes against it either. And it does provide a reasonable answer to things like "Why does God say things like I wish I hadn't done that?'" an "Why is God shown changing his mind in the Bible?"

    And, in the end, Open Theism may not be accurate. It may just be that God can do whatever the heck he wants because he's God. However, I don't like playing the God card if I don't have to.

    I'm not worried about the swearing. This isn't my blog, and I'm not going to enforce that rule here. I may not, to an extent, even worry about that so much in my own blog. I haven't had any on y blog, so I'm not sure where that line is just yet.

    And I grew up a nerd in a family of jocks. It takes a LOT of ridicule to scare me, and no one's gong to reach that level unless they're in person. ;)

  15. @ Felix:

    I suppose that depends on what you mean by "Being able to detect the metaphysical."

    If you mean detecting the metaphysical in the same way we can detect a magnetic field, then you're right. We don't have anything like that.

    However, if you mean detect the Metaphysical the same way people detected magnetic activity like they did without these same instruments, then it's not impossible. The same way people can observe how magnetic activity affects the world they can observe, we can seek to observe how the metaphysical affects the world we observe.


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