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Author Topic:   The Great Debate
Member (Idle past 199 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004

Message 3 of 102 (222908)
07-10-2005 3:06 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Mr. Ex Nihilo
07-09-2005 10:17 PM

(pst, you might wanna correct the typo in the topic title too. or perhaps find a better name altogether)

ok, i'll start. with something we've seen in the previous discussion.

Isaiah 45:7

I form the light, and create darkness:
I make peace, and create evil:
I the LORD do all these things.

what other way do you propose we read this, that plainly says the lord created evil?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 07-09-2005 10:17 PM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 07-10-2005 2:52 PM arachnophilia has responded

Member (Idle past 199 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004

Message 5 of 102 (222998)
07-10-2005 6:53 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Mr. Ex Nihilo
07-10-2005 2:52 PM

In the phrase, "...and create darkness.", the word create comes from the Hebrew word bara*. This likewise has been used to mean to "create", "bring about" or simply "do". However, unlike the word "yasar" above, "bara" is employed within the sense of being akin "to cut", "cut down", "engrave", or "carve". In other words, unlike the "yasar" above, the word "bara" seems to be employed in contrast to being cut apart or even divided from something else.

bara is also the word used to describe the creation of man. it's used five times in genesis 1, and twice in genesis 2.

Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Gen 1:21 And God created great [serpents], and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

Gen 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Gen 2:3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

Gen 2:4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,

some of these make sense when you substitute divided. but some do not. for instance, you could say the bit about dividing the serpents is a reference to that lothan mythology. but the rest of the verse is about the origins of life.

and you could say that "created" is in contrast to "made" in 2:3. but you'd probably be wrong here too: typical hebrew structure relies on repitition and similarity, not contrasts.

the accepted translation of bara' is "to create." the sense of the word is actually sculptural. it describes a physical fashioning or shaping of an object. i think you find this word rendered "create" in every translation.

Similar to how the Hebrew word "bara" seems to be employed, we also see that the Hebrew word for "separated" is badal*. This literally means to "separate", "divide", or "to distinguish between diverse things". It can also be used in the sense of being "selected out of a group", "excluding oneself", "to discern", or even "to make a difference".

In short, based on the Isaiah passage you have quoted, and the Genesis passage I have quoted, we are apparently seeing a picture of God creating (bara) darkness by separating it (badal) from the light he first formed (yasar). More specifically, one could say that God has brought forth darkness by contrasting it against the light.

that's all well and dandy, but that's not what isaiah says, is it? it says god creates darkness.

present tense.

one part of the line is reflecting the other. each part has to have the same meaning with the opposite object. the passage is reflecting on god's nature and range.

The Hebrew word employed for evil/disaster in the Isaiah passage is ra*, which is akin "to do evil" or to "be wicked". In its most basic sense, it means something akin to "bad", being of "interior quality", or even "evil". In other areas it means something akin being "severe", "injurious", "harmful" or even "unpleasant" (as in giving pain or causing unhappiness). It is also employed in the sense of something being "fierce", "wild", "calamity", or "that which is deadly".

It seems to me that the meaning of the word "ra" is very much dependent on how it is being employed within the Scriptures themselves -- and it doesn't always imply "evil" in the sense of someone maliciously and willfully determined to cause or inflict harm on another.

no, but it is the same word in tree of knowledge of good and evil, isn't it? it's also used to desribe why god has to flood the planet in genesis 6. it's used to describe sodom. what else is it used for? well, general badness. things that the hebrews thought were wrong. wars. wild animals. anything that general badly affects innocent people.

so if i'm walking down the road today and get hit by a car for no apparent reason, that could be called evil in ancient hebrew philosophy. if i get cancer, that could be called evil. what i'm saying is that we use the word differently. we use to me some quantifiable break of morality, or maybe even something spiritually influenced. that's not how they're using the word at all.

More specifically, since the word "ra" is being used in context with the word "bara", it seems more appropriate to conclude that the evil that is being "brought about" is more the result of the effects of one's action cutting themselves off from God's will -- this seems even more so considering that "bara" is employed within the sense of being akin "to cut", "cut down", "engrave", or "carve".

no, not acceptable. ever seen my debates with eddy pengelly? look them up, they were fun. he would take his concordance out, and completely redefine the meaning of biblical passages in this manner to mean something far from the original intent. in his case, it was about moses's cd-rom collection.

since i couldn't convince him this was a logically unsound practice, i started replying to him by "translating" some verses myself. of course, they call out about how he was wrong, and i should cut off his head. since that didn't work, i pulled out a thesaurus, and started translating his own messages back at him. it was generally pretty funny, but it'll illustrate my point.

by changing the meaning of words for their root words or other usages, we can make the bible mean just about anything we want to.

in this case, bara is not used as "divide." in fact, i don't think it's EVER used as "divide." it means "to create" "to shape" or "to fashion." there is nothing in there about evil coming about because man divides himself from god. it says "I (the Lord) create evil."

In other words, like I said above, unlike the "yasar" used to describe God bringing forth light, the word "bara" seems to be employed in contrast to being cut apart or even divided from something else.

double negative aren't contrasts. this verse is contrasting something -- light and dark. what divides darkness? light. if we change the verb to mean the opposite of what it means, the verse just becomes blind repitition. god creates light, and god creates light.

now, i know you're attacking this from the standpoint that god can do only good. but that's fundamentally not the point of this verse. in any translation you read it in, it's about god doing two very opposite things, not the same thing twice. you have to do some pretty interesting mental gymnastics to get this to mean that god doesn't use what would have been evil to ancient hebrews.

This message has been edited by arachnophilia, 07-10-2005 06:54 PM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 07-10-2005 2:52 PM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 6 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 07-10-2005 11:49 PM arachnophilia has responded

Member (Idle past 199 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004

Message 7 of 102 (223060)
07-11-2005 2:42 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by Mr. Ex Nihilo
07-10-2005 11:49 PM

Here we see God apparently making everything out of nothing. This is to say, the creation of the heaven and the earth are actually contrasted against a state of non-existence.

sorry, but that's just bull. somewhat against your username, genesis never describes creation ex nihilo. read it very carefully. the water is never created. the (original) darkness is never created. they're just there.

now, creation itself *IS* expressed in terms of divisions: light from dark, night from day, water from land, and heaven from earth. but that's not what this bit is saying. and it's not what the word bara' means. bara' means "to create" "to form" "to shape" or "to fashion." not "to divide."

when we say "divided" we say that one thing was divided from another. isaiah just says one thing: darkness. so god divided darkness from what? sure it makes sense if you start adding words, but they're not there in the verse, are they?

bara' means "to create."

Yes. And how exactly did God create life on earth?

he doesn't. god tells the earth to bring forth life, and it obeys his command. creation, "bara" seems to be defined for special things: heaven and earth themselves, man, and these (supernatural) serpents.

If you are a creationist, then you probably believe that God in some way created life out of the dust of the earth

no, just man.

Yes. And God actually "divides" the seventh day from the previous six. In other words, it is literally "set apart" from the other days in order to contrast this day from the previous six days of creation.

read it again.

And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made

the sanctification is the division. the "bara" goes on in the other six days. the bit that divides the seventh is the lack of "bara"

Actually, they all seem to make sense when you see that the division is potentially referencing the creative act in contrast to a previous state of existence

no, absolutely not. this is something you're imposing on the text. it is not contrasting them to anything. it might contrast light and dark, male and female, good and evil, but it never contrasts existance from nonexistance, because the ancient hebrews did not believe in creation ex-nihilo.

Well, as I said above, if you are a creationist, then you probably believe that God in some way created life out of the dust of the earth -- which seems to be leaning in a more traditional understanding of God's creative process in the Scriptures. If you are a theistic evolutionist, then you probably believe that God first created life out of non-life -- and then proceeded to create life from previous forms of life. Either way you look at it, God is creating in contrast to a previous state of existence.

i want to make this very clear. i'm not debating what i believe in. i'm debating what the text leads me to think the ancient hebrews believed in. personally, i believe that god may have even directed evolution through a process similar to artificial selection. but we're talking about a story that has god making men out dust, and breathing life into them.

Everything from verse 2 to verse 19 seems to have to do with assembling the earth from pre-existing material -- whereas "bara" seems to imply a rather dramatic change from a previous state of existence.

verse 1 describes the initial state of the story. "when god created the heavens and the earth," this is how he did it. everything is from pre-existing material: water.

Actually, Hebrew poetry can employ both similarity and contrasts -- and the Hebrew Scriptures do employ both these literary devices quite liberally.

yes, they do. but not at the same time.

"Parallelism" is a technical term for the form of Hebrew poetry that repeats a thought in slightly different ways. For example, "synonymous parallelism"

synonymous parallelism is what's going on isaiah 45:7.

"i make ___ and create ____
i make ____ and create ____"

it follows the exact same structure. that's not what i'm talking about. i'm talking about the second half of the line reflecting the first.

it does not say "i divide light from darkness." it says "i make light, and i make darkness." this is not about creation, although it's meant to connotate it.

what i'm trying to say is that they're not being tricky about it. all four verbs in both lines, including both bara's, are qal, present tense verbs. they express simple, but ongoing actions. it doesn't really get any simpler. it's using the simplest form of the verb, meaning to create.

you can't just change the words to mean whatever you want them to mean.

On the other hand, and example of "antithetical parallelism", in which a thought is followed by its opposite, can be found in Proverbs 14:30, "A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." In studying Hebrew parallelism the key seems to be to compare each part with its pair in the other half of the sentence. For instance, in Proverbs 14:30 "a heart at peace" pairs with its opposite, "envy", and "rots the bones" is the opposite of "gives life to the body."

but this is not antithetical parallelism. in poetry, these parallel relationship occur between whole lines. one whole line is the opposite of the other. this is not what's going on here. both lines say "i make ____ and i create ____." they're synonymous.

now, the first half of the line *IS* in contrast to the second. light is in contrast to darkness, and good is in contrast to evil. but if you change the verbs, they're not. if god creates one, and cuts down the other, it's just repeating the same idea. that's not what it's doing. it's saying god creates both.

now if it said, "i create good, but the devil makes evil" we'd talk.

First of all, this raises an interesting question: why did God not use the same word "bara" for both his creating of the light and the darkness in the Isaiah passage in question?

variety. hebrew has words that are synonymous. why not use them? bara is a synonym of yatsar and 'asah. look:

Isa 43:7 Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created (bara') him for my glory, I have formed (yatsar) him; yea, I have made ('asah) him.

same words. synonyms.

It seems to me that this is an example of subtle antithetical parallelism, with yasar being contrasted to bara in reference to the light and darkness.

uh, except that's it's plainly not. is it being contrasts in the verse above? no. they mean the same thing.

Isa 45:18

For thus saith the LORD that created (bara') the heavens;
God himself that formed (yatsar) the earth and made it;
   he hath established it,
he created (bara') it not in vain,
he formed (yatsar) it to be inhabited:
   I [am] the LORD; and [there is] none else.

please, please, please notice that this is SYNONYMOUS parallelism. they're synonyms.

Second of all, even if the word is translated "create" in every single translation of the Scriptures, the meaning of the word create (bara) can still nonetheless have very different subjects which it focusses on -- it depends on the context it is used.

Here, let's go through some examples:

yes. context is everything. and the context here is, well, CREATION. it's god making things. look at the words it's being used in conjunction with -- make. form. wonder what it's talking about.

I could go on with this. However, I think these quotes (when added to the quotes you've noted where "bara" is used above) demonstrates a clear pattern. In all these cases the thing that is created is used in contrast to the previous state that it was created in.

In the case of Psalm 51:10 the new thing "created" is a pure heart, which is in contrast to the sinful heart barren of God.

does isaiah 45:7 use figurative language?

In the case of Isaiah 4:5 the new thing "created" is an extremely visible presence of God, which is in contrast to the lack of God's presence that previously existed before the people gathered together to worship him.

no, the new thing created is a cloud. grammar. etc.

In summary, all these verses seem to clearly indicate a new creative act which stands in stark contrast to the original state in which the object was created. Rather than refashioning an object after its original creation, it seems more appropriate to me to conclude that God is creating something which is in sharp contrast to its previous state of existence.

as night is in contrast to day. that's where your contrast lies. the verb may indeed imply it, but the isaiah verse still says god creates this, (in contrast to the other state).

one part of the line is reflecting the other. each part has to have the same meaning with the opposite object. the passage is reflecting on god's nature and range.

Yes. That's exactly what I've said above. If one part of the line is reflecting the other, then we are seeing a contrast between two states of being -- which is expressed within the gamut of what God controls.

no, it's not. the SUBJECTS are opposites, not the verbs. if the verbs are opposites as well, it becomes synonymous. for instance, if it said "create good / strike down evil" it would be expressing or elaborating on the same idea. it's expressing opposites. god creates one thing, and god also creates its inverse. get it? there's no range read your way.

arachnophilia writes:

and you could say that "created" is in contrast to "made" in 2:3. but you'd probably be wrong here too: typical hebrew structure relies on repitition and similarity, not contrasts.

But now you're saying...

arachnophilia writes:

one part of the line is reflecting the other. each part has to have the same meaning with the opposite object. the passage is reflecting on god's nature and range.

It seems to me that these two statements at are least partially contradictory.

Could you explain this further because I'm not exactly sure which stance are you taking.

sure. i'm saying the STRUCTURE has to be the same. it's repeating the same structure.

"i make something. i make its opposite."

see how both sentances are structured the same way? it's meaning and elaboration through repitition. even in antithetical parallelism, it's structure is repeated, just with all of the words opposite:

"i make something. i destroy its opposite."

see how make is in contrast to destroy? and opposite is the uh, opposite of something? now, antithetical parallelism cannot express a direct opposite, because the verbs have to the antithesis as well.

if i said "god makes good and destroys evil" i'd be expressing the idea that god moves in one direction only. destroying evil is NOT the opposite of making good, is it? it's like a double negative in english. if i did not do badly on the test, i did well.

isaiah 45:7 is expressing opposites, and a god that moves in more than one direction. it's about a god who is all powerful, not singularly powerful. to express the opposites of evil and good, the verbs need to be synonyms. and as i've already shown, they are. and the use of synonyms fits perfect into the pattern.

now, before you'll bring it up, good and evil are not synonyms. so how can it be synonymous parallelism? because hebrew parallelism actually works of predefined sets of pairs. the sun and moon are a pair, but we could say they are opposites. one rules the night, one the day. rivers and seas we might as well. but they all contain some commonality. so thought evil and good are contrasts, just putting them together is comparing some quality of them -- they're both made by god.

Yes, in other words, bad things happen -- and the Israelites often attributed "bad things" toward the quality of being evil. Actually, many people still think this way today. However, in the Hebrew mind anyway, all things were basically attributable to God -- or at least his sovereign control of the universe.

this is what i'm saying precisely. "evil" is those bad things that happen (and nothing else), and god is in control of those things. it's not "evil" for him, just us.

But does this mean that they believed that God was forcing people to do evil?

i think that's touching on the issue of free will. i don't have an answer to that, and i don't think it's within the bound here. either way, let's delay this bit until we get to the point of how god uses evil to accomplish good. we'll talk about crucifixions and exoduses and such.

I know that you've presented passages that some translate as God appearing to do evil. However, some passages of Scripture seem to indicate that God was incapable of doing so -- and that other things were going on.

well that is why i suggested as a fundamental starting whether or not scripture has to agree, and whether earlier scripture should be read in light of later interpretation.

For example, Habakuk 1:13 seems to indicate that God cannot tolerate evil -- that his eyes are too pure to look upon evil

look at the whole passage you cited. it's not about inability, but unwillingess. it describes god's intollerance for man's evil against man. it then asks why, if god is so intollerant of evil, does he allow it? it then goes on to describe what isaiah would have called evil. funny, huh? the first part is meant as a clear contrast to the second. you can't cite HALF the verse. habakuk is saying "this is what i've heard; but this is what's happening instead."

the clear conclusion is that the first part, the part you cited, is actually wrong. so, uh, way to cite the opponents argument here. same story with job:

Job 34:10-12 seems to indicate a similar theme as follows:

that's elihu speaking, in argument to job. he basically says to job, "god is punishing you for something you did wrong." it's not evil, job deserves it. is god punishing job for something he did wrong?

no. elihu is wrong. job did nothing wrong. job is actually a who treatise AGAINST this singular argument, that god cannot do evil, or rather that god advances those who do good and punishes those who do bad and not vice-versa. the argument in the book of job is that god does whatever he wants, and how dare you question him or assign him your rules.

so basically, i cite all of job.

Let's try to stay on topic, shall we?

What does this have to do with the following?

This is off topic arachnophilia.

To any moderators who may be reading this, is this considered valid debating material?

I'd like to keep this thread very focussed if possible.

i cite it because it's a very valid demonstration of why you cannot look up a word in your bible dictionary, and substitute the meaning there, the meaning of the root word, or a synonym in place of a word. if you'd look them up, you'll find that meanings become perverted VERY quickly, and very far away from their obvious original intent. and so we start reading things like mose's cd-roms into the book. it's silly, i know, but it's exactly what you're doing here, substituting "divide" for "create." it's an unnacceptable, unscholarly practice, and yeilds very inaccurate results.

by changing the meaning of words for their root words or other usages, we can make the bible mean just about anything we want to.

Such as saying that God is both good and evil?

i think you'll find i'm reading the text at face value. it says god creates evil. you're the one who has to do these mental backflips to get it to say something besides what it pretty plainly says.

I've explained this in detail above using the concept of Hebrew parallelism.

and incorrectly. i'll repeat: a double negative is not a contrast.

Actually, this is the conclusion that I arrived at after reading the Scriptures. In other words, based on my understanding of the Scriptures (especially the Christian Scriptures) I've concluded that God is wholly good.

i've bolded the important point. christianity is a later tradition. it is an interpretation placed on top of judaic tradition. christianity may well indicate that god is only good, but isaiah does not. nor does nearly all of the old testament.

so the question comes up of how we should reconcile these things. well, there's your route: basically discredit isaiah et al. there's the opposite of that: discredit christianity. my choice is that i look at it as a shift in terminology and concepts.

when isaiah was written, "evil" had a set meaning. when john was written, "evil" had a different set meaning. god, i think defines good. everything god does is good, because he's god. even the "evil" (in isaiah's sense) he does is good.

However, for the sake of this discussion, I'm trying to limit the scope of the inquiry to the Hebrew Scriptures alone.

Is that alright?

yes, perfectly. i'd prefer it that way, actually. we can get to later interpretations... later.

You seem to be getting a bit presumptuous in this debate arachnophilia -- even to the point of invoking some kind of personal conclusions about my reading of the Scriptures. I would advise you to stick to the main focus of this thread,

don't forget, this is really an extension of a debate we've been having for a while now. you've already voiced alot of your conclusions. i'm not jumping to them.

[edit] missed some brackets

This message has been edited by arachnophilia, 07-11-2005 02:43 AM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 07-10-2005 11:49 PM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 07-12-2005 1:17 AM arachnophilia has responded
 Message 46 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 10-17-2005 12:24 AM arachnophilia has responded

Member (Idle past 199 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004

Message 9 of 102 (223308)
07-12-2005 3:41 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by Mr. Ex Nihilo
07-12-2005 1:17 AM

When I point out my point of view, I usually try to use terms such as "I think...", or "It seems to me...", or "It appears as if..." Since it is a debate, I try really hard to avoid absolute statements in order to be open to the other person's point of view. I realize that I don't always succeed at avoiding this, but i do make an effort to do so.

to do so is redundant. i'm writing it; of course it's what i think. to say "i think that ..." makes the phrasing sound like a personal opinion on the matter. to some degree, some of it is. but i'm not just making stuff up.

When one engages in a formal debate (which is what I've invited you to partake in), the participants are genrally not permitted to declare with absolute authority that the other sides idea is wrong. They are only allowed to present the data which attempts to rebut their opponent's view -- and the moderators (or others who read the thread) make the decision as to who has won the debate or not. So far, it appears to me anyway, you are actually messing this part up quite miserably -- but I'll leave this for others to decide.

so basically, i'm not allowed to say "you're wrong" even though essentially the entire point of my post is generally supposed to be saying "you're wrong" in a more round-about and evidenced way? i'm sorry, if something's wrong, i call it wrong. if we're debating arithmetic, and you came up with 2+2=5, would i be allowed to say "you're wrong" or would i have to prove the rules of arithmetic to you?

either way, i apologize if i'm coming off as a bit rash here, but alot of it's just common sense stuff and common sense is hard to justify to someone.

In your opinion maybe -- just as in my opinion Genesis does describe a creation ex nihilo. Obviously the doctrine of creation ex nihilo is a sticking point which has caused much debate in itself.

right, but "genesis does not describe creation ex nihilo" is a statement we can check. this is not an opinion: it either describes it, or it does not. if it describes it, feel free to cite the chapter and verse, but it'd have to come before genesis 1:2.

genesis describes god creating heaven and earth, but not the things they are formed in and from. maybe god created those, and maybe he did not -- but genesis doesn't describe that aspect of creation. so, jumping down a bit, "creator of all things" might include the deep and the blank earth, and might not. we'll come back to that.

but genesis never describes it. this is because, consistent with the people of the time and area, the people who wrote genesis 1 did not believe in creation ex nihilo. later hebrews might have. people who contributed other portions of genesis might have. but the authors of genesis 1 did not.

this might explain why isaiah describes god creating darkness, and genesis does not. but there are other explanations too, and we'll get to that too.

Bickmore actually writes of the "seemingly contradictory language" found in Jewish intertestamental literature and in the New Testament, some of which points towards creation from preexistent matter, some of which point towards ex nihilo creation. He concludes, in attempting to reconcile such passages, that, "To these ancient writers 'existence' meant organized existence, and 'non-existence' meant chaos."

sounds reasonable to me. we've already talked about the themes of chaos serpents and the deep being chaos. in this respect, god did not create the chaos or the darkness. matter is simply ordered chaos, and light is ordered darkness. this would fit fine with genesis 1. but not isaiah, which describes god creating darkness. could it be refering to something else?

since isaiah 45:7 is in PRESENT tense, my answer would be "i think so." it connotates original creation, but it can't be about that creation (literally) because of the tense. that creation would be in the past tense.

Having said this, clearly there is much still left to be debated. Somewhat against your opinion, however, there are many who have concluded that the initial chapters of Genesis do describe a creation ex nihilo -- and it's not only Christians that have concluded this.

yes, and they're evidently wrong, considering that genesis describes creation from something else, but never the creation of the original state. this is a quantitative 2+2 kind of thing. genesis either describes it, or it does not.

For example, while the Jewish theologian, Philo of Alexandria, makes statements that at times reflect the belief that God's creating was actually a shaping of pre-existing matter:

Philo of Alexandria writes:

Just as nothing comes into being out of that which has no existence, so nothing is destroyed into that which has no existence.

that's the law of conservation of matter, yes.

But even in the Philonic view of creation, some ambiguity exists since at times Philo expresses himself along the lines of creatio ex nihilo. For instance, he writes that...

Philo of Alexandria writes:

God, the begetter of all things, not only brought them into sight, but even made things which previously had no existence, being not merely an artificer but the Creator Himself."

contrasting the two next to each other (not sure offhand if the source does) seems to illustrate the idea that god is outside natural law. is this a commentary on genesis?

Consequently, a similar thought is expressed in the The Wisdom of Solomon 11:17a, where it says that creation is "out of formless matter [ex amorphou hyles]"

this is the traditional hebrew thought, yes. we'll get to the exception breifly.

It must be remembered that Jewish thought was preoccupied with the God of the cosmos rather than with the cosmos itself, with the creatio rather than the ex nihilo. The Hebrew Scriptures seems to have viewed natural phenomena primarily as pointers to God, who created them and whose glory was revealed through them.


For example, deutero-canonical Catholic book (the intertestamental book) of 2 Maccabees

we must also realize that maccabees (and the wisdom of solomon) are not within the traditionally accepted hebrew scriptures. these are later books, as you mentioned previously. they are subject to different ideas than genesis. right now we're looking at the older traditions -- later ones, and ones of slightly non-mainstream groups are bound to disagree.

Psalm 102:25-27

doesn't reinforce creation ex nihilo. it refers to heaven and earth -- not the things genesis describes them as being created from. heaven and earth are meant usually to represent all things -- but in turn, "all things" seems to represent "everything under heaven," and not the stuff above it.

Moreover, the Scriptures declare that God's word alone is what brings the universe about -- not simply God's word acting upon previously existing matter. Psalm 33 declares that it was by "the word of the Lord" and "the breath of his mouth" that "the heavens were made":

yes. the heavens. this is a very specific object in hebrew scripture. heaven is a real place in their worldview. or at least it was, and it came to be ingrained in the language that way. (subject to some debate) either way, we're referring back to genesis, and invoking it's language. and genesis describes heaven as being created to affect something that was already there -- the deep.

Finally, since science now seems to be leaning in the direction of Big Bang cosmology, if this is correct then it seems highly unlikely that the universe always existed anyway -- which is another reason to abandon this line of primitive thought which assumes that the universe always existed.

not within the scope of our debate. i'm not assigning right or wrong to scripture here, we're looking at what it says and what the people of the time seemed to have thought. it is entirely invalid to go "we know this now -> the bible has to be right -> therefor the bible says what we know now." it doesn't work that way.

the water is never created.

According to Psalm 114:7-9 we read...

NIV writes:

Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who turned the rock into a pool,
the hard rock into springs of water.

uh, you know this story, right?

Exd 17:6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.

i'm talking about THIS water:

Gen 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

i'm sure god creates other water, just like he creates other darkness:

Exd 10:22 And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days:

Seems to me, based on this passage found in the psalms, that God transmuted various substances into other subtances.

that does seem to be something god does, yes. now, where does the water in genesis 1:2 come from? it's not "heaven" and it's not "earth" which are the things verse 1 says god created.

Besides this, the very beginning of Genesis says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." The heavens include stars, planets, moons, comets, asteroids, etc.

and clouds, depending on usage. but the water in verse 2 is the water that this creation -- heaven -- divides. where does it come from, according to genesis?

Exactly how literally are you going to read these passages arachnophilia?

i don't think i'm being overliteral here. it says it, or it does not say it.

They've found water all throughout the universe, in Saturn's rings for example, on the sun itself for another example, and there are enourmous amounts of water in space. In fact, nearly all of the oxygen in space is in the form of water or carbon monoxide.

but is there water OUTSIDE of the heavens?

Furthermore, as I've read elsewhere here at EvC...

Nature writes:

Early Universe was a liquid

this becoming way off topic. if you'd like to debate this topic further, direct it to that thread. i spent pages upon pages arguing there about what i just wrote above. it was also demonstrated that "liquid" was an innaccurate terms. more like "quark-gluon plasma" which last i checked was a plasma and not a liquid.

So you're saying that all these things were not created by God even though the Hebrew Scriptures clearly state over and over again that all things were made by God?

because "the deep" does not seem to be a thing. the blank earth does not seem to be a thing. it is the abscence of things -- but it's not exactly nothing. here's that seemingly contradictory bit. the water seems to represent chaos. a previous state from which things are created.

I find it strange that you claim that God "made" evil, but that he didn't "make" the darkness. If darkness was just there (and God didn't make it), then why do you stress so much that God had to make evil? Couldn't the evil have already been "just there" as you claim the (original) darkness was?

ok, personal opinion time. i think that evil and good are somewhat arbitrary terms that apply to humans and not god. that makes them conditions of existence, under heaven, grouped in with created matter. if you want to look at this in strictly objective terms, look no further than genesis 2 and 3. the tree is of good and evil, and god puts both in the garden. whether or not god created (original) evil doesn't exactly matter. he's still responsible for allowing it in his creation. as a personal religious belief, i think he did this for a very good reason.

i do not think evil is represented as a set force independent of human influence and affect in the early bible. this is a position i'm not sure of: if you can demonstrate that they did believe evil was more than "bad things happening" and is instead an ultimate force competing against god's ultimate goodness, it would greatly further your side. however, i'm nearly certain this view is not present in the torah, or the major prophetic works or histories of the nevi'im. (when we get to chronicles, this might not be the case)

And this brings up another interesting point: what are you talking about when you talk about the (original) darkness?

the state of being from which light is created, as opposed to other darkness (like night, or the pharoah's plague). meaning the first 12 hours of the first day of creation.

You seem to be putting the parenthesis around (original) as if to exclude this darkness from other kinds of darkness. However, the word employed here in the (original) darkness is the Hebrew word hosek -- which is the exact same word used for many other kinds of darkness throughout the Scriptures. It is often synonamously used for darkness, obscurity, night, dusk, misery, falsehood, and ignorance.

well that's why i used parenthesis instead of just using the word "original" on it's own. in this case it's a contextual thing. for example, the first water mentioned in the bible is never mentioned as being created. but further examples of water are mentioned as being created, such as moses's water from the stone. doesn't matter that it's the same word. of course it's the same word. the same meaning, even, i was just specifying WHICH darkness i meant, instead of darkness as a singular concept.

Are you saying that the (original) darkness -- which is expressed with the Hebrew word hosek -- which has has been used eslewhere in the Scritpruees for darkness, obscurity, night, dusk, misery, falsehood, and ignorance -- was not created by God but was in fact just there?

Could you explain this further please?

all i'm saying is that genesis describes this darkness as being a pre-existing condition. or rather, it never describes its creation. it seems to be the null state of the universe, and light needs to be created.

Actually, bara seems to a special word for "create" which is only employed in relation to when God himself is involved in a new creative act. I've already noted the contrasts pointed out by the Scriptures themselves.

yes, and i agreed. i mentioned that elsewhere, god creates by speaking: commanding things to create other things.

Furthermore, the verb "bara" does occur in the basic verbal stem (qal) and its passive stem (niphal). There are a few cases where the word seems to occur in a different stem (piel) with the meaning “to cut down”.

yes, and at the instance in question (actually, all of the instances in question) its stem is qal. in the isaiah verse, it's present tense.

For example, Joshua 17:15 employs the verb "bara" when cutting down a forest as follows:

i figured you'd bring those up. (it occurs again in the next few verses). "cut down" is an idiomatic and loose rendering. the idea of the phrase is that they will create a place for themselves by changing the woods into a plain. (creating one thing into another, btw). literally, it says "create." but it means, based on context, "clear" or "cut down."

Similarly, Ezekial 21:24 employs the verb "bara" to express the phrase to cut out as follows (it is translated as "taken captive" below in the NIV):

uhh, i don't see it. i see

בַּכַּף, תִּתָּפֵשׂוּ (kaph taphas, caught in the hand)

but no בָּרָא (bara')

While some argue that there is insufficient data to determine how this idea could be related to the verb “to create,” it is quite possible that “cutting” was a way of “creating.”

possibly. bara does traditionally have a sculptural sense to it, ie: god making man from dust. we are described as images of god -- might indicate the word implies engraving (a cutting process). however, even if the word implies these things, it still means the same thing. when it says god created something, it doesn't mean god destroyed something.

Actually, I've pointed to two examples in the Scriptures already where the word bara is used in the sense of "cutting out".

one. and the cutting bit is not literally in the text, it's just an implication of creating land in the middle of a forest. translators often change wordings so it works more comfortably in english. it doesn't mean that in this case bara should literally be rendered as meaning cutting everywhere it occurs. even if it occurs twice, that's only about 4% of its instances. not a very strong case.

This would mean, contrary to your statement above, that there were apaprently three separate words spelled "bara" employed in the Hebrew Scriptures.

two. but ok. it depends on context and usage. got your bible dictionary handy? what sense is it in isaiah 45:7? either instance. what does that sense mean, according to your bible dictionary? which word is it using?

They look at this and note that both animals and man share the same fate when they die -- in other words, whether man or animal, to dust they will return. This, in their mind anyay, seems to indicate that both man and animals shared a common origin from dust, especially since they both share the same physical properties at death.

uh, kind of jumpy logic, but that's ok. it's right, i think. just not what i was refering to. you said god created life out of the dust of the earth, and i said just man. i was being picky about two points:

1. god doesn't create life out of dust, he gives the dust-man life by breathing into it. the life comes from god, not the dust.
2. god doesn't literally create the other life, the dust itself does at god's command.

but sure, your statement is basically what the text is getting at.

And you don't see a contrast here from one day when compard to the previous 6 days?

yes, i do. 6 days of work, then the holy sabbath. i used the word "holy" just then for a reason: it's the bit that contrasts saturday from every other day. bara' does not. creating is what's going on IN the other 6 days. for your logic to stand, the sentance would have to read:

"and god created the sabbath (from the other six days)"

As I said before, they all seem to make sense when you see that the division is potentially referencing the creative act in contrast to a previous state of existence -- all of them.

right, but the sabbath is not being created. the creation is in the other six days. the sabbath is the ABSCENCE of creation.

Really, so you're saying there is absolutely no contrast being presented at all?

no, i'm saying you're imposing a false one on the text.

it is not contrasting them to anything. it might contrast light and dark, male and female, good and evil, but it never contrasts existance from nonexistance, because the ancient hebrews did not believe in creation ex-nihilo.

This seems to be an odd opinion to hold, especially since every other time the word is used it does quite clearly display a contrast from a previous state of existence.

i've bolded the important part. it's contrasting one state of existance against a previous state -- NOT nonexistance.

And you're saying that you're not personally influenced by what the ancient Hebrews believed -- or what you believe the ancient Hebrews believed?

more or less. i agree with a lot of what i understand their philosophy to have been, but they were also wrong on a good many things. for instance, i happen to believe in creation ex nihilo. i'm not arguing my belief system here.

Ah...so you're saying that the water always existed then?

no, i'm saying that genesis never describes it being created. look at it this way, has space-time always existed?

How many times do I have to point out that the Scriptures state over again that God is the maker of all things?

only as many times as i'm gonna have quote verses about god creating evil, using evil, or sending evil.

Of course, if you reply that God is the maker of all things "made" -- but that God didn't make things that "already" existed, then I think you're the one who is actually adding words to the Scriptures. The Hebrew Scriptures say over and over again that God made all things. However, nowhere in the Hebrew Scriptures does it say that God made all things that were made.

i'm not adding anything. i'm just saying that they didn't seem to perceive the water or the darkness as things. you might argue that they didn't perceive evil to be a thing either, and you'd probably be right. but they are still bits isaiah says god creates (present tense).

This seems to be a moot point since the original account in creation does describe God seprating the light he brings forth from the darkness, darkness which you yourself claim God never made in the first place.

no no. i guess i'm not being clear. i'm trying to say that isaiah describes creation of darkness in present tense, and genesis (in past tense) does not describe creation of darkness. therefore, when the two differences are combined, it stands to reason that isaiah is not talking about genesis 1 -- just invoking its symbols.

Yes, and I think you're overlooking something very important.

i think you're looking for something that's not there. these are about the simplest sentances you can have. it's like you're reading "i goto class" as "i skip class" because "skip" can be a method of "going." i'm sorry, that's just not what it says.

I don't think I'm doing that. I'm looking at previous examples within the Scriptures to make an informed opinion about what the passage in Isaiah means -- as I feel the Spirit leads me.

yes, well, go look where it leads eddy pengelly. seriously. go look at what he was doing, because it's the same exact thing. substitution of words for root words, alternate meanings, synonyms, etc. it fundamentally changes the meaning of the text, in this case from "creating evil" (what it says) to "cutting down evil." that's a pretty drastic change. and it's just not good academic practice.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 07-12-2005 1:17 AM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 10 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 07-16-2005 2:54 AM arachnophilia has responded

Member (Idle past 199 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004

Message 11 of 102 (224359)
07-18-2005 3:04 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by Mr. Ex Nihilo
07-16-2005 2:54 AM

Whether it is redundant or not doesn't matter. It's what's been asked of you when invited to participate.

right, but we're not JUST debating opinions here. i'm sorry if i've come off as lecturing, but some of these questions are pretty objective. whether or not the bible says something is pretty objective. there is a right and a wrong answer to it.

I found it prudent to invoke science (something which you disagreed with) in order to counter your absolute claims.

well, i think you misunderstand. invoking science is out of the realm of this topic entirely. it has nothing to do with it. we're not debating what REALLY happened at the creation of the universe. we're debating how one particular document tells a story about that event, and philosophies and beliefs of the authors. it is completely immaterial whether or not we believe it to factual, and so factual checking (such as correlations with science) are completely irrelevant to the debate. we're not debating real events, just what is and what is not in this particular book. it's strictly literary.

personally, i suspect you and believe much the same way regarding the creation of the universe. there's no sense debating it really -- we're talking about the creation of EVIL.

Well neither am I just making stuff up. Neither one of us are "making stuff up". We're presenting what we believe the Scriptures are stating. That's the whole point of this discussion -- what we believe the Scriptures are saying in regards to the creation of good and evil, and how God uses these things within the Scriptural context.

well, this is the problem. the bible flat out says god creates and uses numerous times. i posted a good section of them in the original thread, remember? so if you believe the scriptures are stating something else on the matter, well, SOMEONE is just making stuff up. it's not a matter of what we believe the scriptures are stating. what the scriptures state is objective. our interpretations thereof are subjective. but an interpretation cannot void away hundreds of references to god sending evils, and several stating rather bluntly that god creates it.

You can say "you're wrong" if you feel like doing so. I'm just noting that the decision of whether we are either right or wrong in a formal debate is generally not for us to decide.

if you said 2+2=5, and i state that this is incorrect, am i deciding that? or is it an objective right or wrong question?

whether the bible says something or not is a very binary proposition, 1 or 0. right or wrong. if i were to say "nowhere in the bible does it record man seeing a physical god" you could easily prove that i am wrong by showing me exactly where. i would be wrong in this assertion: it's not evidence, it's PROOF. similarly, when you say that the bible doesn't record god using or creating evil, and i point the numerous places it does, then you are wrong. this is completely yes or no. it does, or it does not.

I'm also fairly sure that after this debate is over we will probably continue to hold our individual views.

i don't intend to change my views. they are supported by the bible. my goal is change YOUR opinion on the matter. i believe that god created, creates, and uses evil for the greater good. the bible records, quite plainly, that god creates and uses evil. this isn't even much of a matter of debate. it says it. the second part of that is the bit maybe we should debate, because it's a bit shaky. what do i base this belief on?

However, when you place your thoughts out on a public forum, you're inviting others to critique your thoughts, and how well you've expressed them. To make the claim that you are correct, or that your opponent is incorrect, is actually the redundant part. It's redundant because we already believe that we are correct and that the other side is incorrect -- and it overlooks the fact that we've invited others to judge our thoughts and examine how logically we've expressed them here.

you will find that when i am proven wrong on this forum (and it does happen) i accept it, and learn from it. my posts are occasionally admissions i was wrong. arguing for something may indicate that i think i'm correct. but sometimes it does not. i've been know to take devil's advocate arguments here from time to time. for instance, you will note that above i think i mentioned that i don't totally agree with all of the philosophy i'm arguing for.

Actually, unfortunately it does not appear to be a statement that can be checked. Rather it seems to be a statement that can be examined within the context of what other portions of Scripture have to say. In other words, it needs to be interpreted -- not checked. That's how I see it anyway.

does it describe creation ex-nihilo or not? this is what i'm trying to arguing here. this whole interpretation bit is completely a dodge. does it describe heaven and earth being made from something else, or does it describe them coming into existance out of nothing?

interpretation comes after we know what it says, and only within specific restrictions. we might presume, for instance, that god also created the water he made heaven and earth out of. but we have to keep in mind that genesis never says this, and we are reading that into it. but we can't interpret that water doesn't play into, and heaven and earth and everything else were made STRAIGHT out of nothing. that would contradict the text. so first we have to know, objectively, what the text does or does not say.

Well, this is one of my main points: The LORD apparently does not change according to the Scriptures. So, for example, if it states somewhere that God creates by a certain method, if I see a reference to God creating the same thing elsewhere in the Scriptures, then it seems to me that the Lord has most likely employed that same method for creating that same substance

the LORD may not change, but the way we've talked about him and recorded his actions over 3000+ years sure has. one has only to read through the bible to note that. if that particular verse is true, much of the bible has to interpreted subjectively. read with a grain of salt. which is good for you -- it might mean my verses are wrong. i openly acknowledge this particular weakness.

but the rest of your argument does not logically follow. the LORD not changing does not mean he's a machine. it means that is qualities and personality do not change. not that he doesn't do things a little differently from time to time. one has only to read the two different sets of ten (14?) commandments in exodus 20 and 34. moses breaks the first tablets and has to get a second set. the second set are different. so god, evidently, does not always do things the same way.

Or maybe it's because they never thought about it. As I pointed out elsewhere, Jewish thought was apparently preoccupied with the God of the cosmos rather than with the cosmos itself, with the creatio rather than the ex nihilo. The Hebrew Scriptures seems to have viewed natural phenomena primarily as pointers to God, who created them and whose glory was revealed through them.

yes, and i agreed. this sounds reasonable, and in my experience with the text, it fits.

Furthermore, it is fairly well believed that the Genesis texts were heavily borrowed from the Babylonians. More specifically, the Hebrews seem to have been strongly influenced by them to the point of adopting their beliefs all the while whittling away all the "false gods" within the Babylonian literature. In this sense, things such as "the sun, the moon and the stars" were no longer seen as "gods" but rather physical objects of nature itself which were ordered and organized by one Supreme God -- ie., created by God and not gods in their own right.

To say that the people who wrote Genesis 1 did not believe in creation ex nihilo seems to be seriously overlooking the most likely central reason for writing the Genesis text in the first place -- to testify to the monotheistic deity that they worshipped above all other things, to testify to the Creator over the creation.

yes, but it also stands to reason that the same qualities of the babylonian creation myths would be present in their similar hebrew incarnations. did the babylonians believe in creation ex-nihilo? you seem to be pretty well versed in other ancient cultures, so i'll let you answer and pretend it's not rhetorical. however, the corollary question is one i really don't know the answer to: did ANY culture in the regions (whether or not it bears similar myths) believe in creation ex-nihilo?

There was also a time when people didn't believe in gravity either. But it wasn't because they couldn't see the effects of gravity. It seems more likely that it was because it never occurred to them that a force called gravity even existed in the first place.

yes, well, what's a force? these people were clearly not modern-science minded. they incorporated the science of their day, but only has a backdrops to more important concerns.

Well. I've already discussed some ideas related to this. However, if one is looking for an alternative, then it could very well be an idiom of some sort -- an idiom that if it is translated literally could nonetheless potentially lead to some confusing conclusions.

well, i would say let's examine this possibility, but we already have. i already talked about how evil is used in the old testament. however, this usage does not negate it's literal readings. it's a very close parallel. it's actually more like the word just meants something a little different.

as i've suggested. "evil" meant something else to them. this does not void my point, however. it actually makes it stronger. if they did not believe an objective evil as modern christians do, then who are they holding responsible above all else? how do you suspect they believed, in this case?

However, the Scriptures appear to be most accurately interpreted within its Jewish cultural context.

yes, and even modern jews do not believe in an objective evil. they believe that ha-satan works for ha-shem, the name of the lord. in other words, true evil does not exist to them, god creates and sends evil. what i've basically been arguing for is the (somewhat) traditional and reform judaic philosophy. the cultural context is exactly what i've been arguing.

Actually, probably the largest obstacle when translating one language into another is how to deal with idioms. If you translate idiomatic expressions literally there is a very real chance they will be misunderstood. We understand the common phrase, "It's raining cats and dogs," but if you put that literally into another language it probably won't make much sense at all.

i don't think it makes much sense in english. most idioms have pretty easily understood origins. this one is kind of out there.

or, to quote peter griffin, "how do you turn a phrase?"

If we look to the Christian Scriptures, we see that the text of Matthew 6:22-23 literally reads: "The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is good, your whole body is full of light; but if your eye is evil your whole body is full of darkness..."

"If your eye is good" is a Hebrew saying that means, "if you are generous."

Unfortunately, many English translators have not recognized this Hebrew idiom. Almost all translations preserve the singular, "eye," even though "eyes" would make more sense in English. Only three translations (Good News For Modern Man, New English Bible, New International Version) have recognized the absurdity of "eye." These translations have translated "eyes" in spite of the fact that the original Greek text has "eye."

"eye" to "eyes" is not much of a change at all. most readers accept singular-pluralization problems. for instance, heaven is a singular object, but it's often described in plural. god is a plural noun, but always written as singular (like "scissors" or "pants").

Bearing this in mind, Christ is apparently warning against lack of generosity and nothing else. This fits the context perfectly: "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.... You cannot serve both God and money."

sounds reasonable to me. now, let's go back and apply this to the debate. when we run into an idiom in the hebrew text, how do we know it's not meant to be read strictly literally? most of the idioms you run into popularly are ones that stick out and don't make literal sense. how can it literally be raining cats and dogs, you'd ask yourself. and they're generally one liners.

well, we have a one liner. but is it outrageous? well, let's go look at the context of our isaiah verse.

verse 6 describes that all should know that there is none besides god, that god creates everything. verse 8 describes victory, and god creating it. it's possible that the evil god is creating is for the enemy. the very same act of creating good for the hebrews. it sounds to me like god is saying he's the one that chooses the victors -- good for some, bad for others.

sound reasonable?

There's a few things to note here...

1: We apparently see that people's own actions bring punishment upon themselves -- not God actually making it happen.


4. Jeremiah actually draws a parallel between their failure to do God's will (and their ultimate ruin) with an illustration of the earth returning to the formlessness and darkness that previously existed before creation itself -- things which you apparently admit God did not actually create because they were already there.

much like the flood. it's probably recalling that specific imagery, along with prior to creation.

Based on this passage, would it be fair to say that people's sins results in God anger


and that God's anger is symbolic of people falling out of God's creative order into the formless, lightless emptiness which existed prior to creation


-- a formless, lightless emptiness which God apparently did not create?

sure. out of anger, god destroys and turns his back.

Or stated more plainly, would it be safe to say that transgressing God's will basically make one's life go into deep chaos so to speak -- effectively tapping a primal chaos that, according to your view of the Scriptures, God did not actually create?.

and your argument is that this action is not equatable to evil? god clearly regrets the first time he unmade creation, as he promises he'll never do it again. let's look at an example. this will add to my later point too.

the exile was largely viewed was a response to the evil's israel and judah. the opinion of the time is that god broke his promise because the people broke their end of the bargain. you will see the exile as punishment for human evil all over the major and minor prophetic books. i don't think i need to cite much example, but here's one anyway.

Eze 6:2 Son of man, set thy face toward the mountains of Israel, and prophesy against them,
Eze 6:3 And say, Ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD; Thus saith the Lord GOD to the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys; Behold, I, [even] I, will bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places.
Eze 6:4 And your altars shall be desolate, and your images shall be broken: and I will cast down your slain [men] before your idols.

it mentions idolatry specifically, which is a big, big no-no. so it's safe to say that god's doing this because of human sin. ezekiel goes on to say:

Eze 6:9 And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall lothe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations.
Eze 6:10 And they shall know that I [am] the LORD, [and that] I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them.

in god's own prophesy of the exile to ezekiel, god himself calls the exile not only his action, but an evil as well. pay special note that god wants them to know he's not doing this evil in vain, but so that they know god is pissed, and reform their ways. if that's not enough good from evil, note also that much of the old testament was original put together in or shortly after exile. we have the bible because of this evil (in god's own words).

so yes, god does bring men's own sins around on them. and men do bring it upon themselves and deserve it. but god himself also describes this own action as evil, and then uses it bring about good. the idea that returning like punishments for evils is also evil is also central to christianity, btw:

Mat 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

(keep reading til the next verse if you want. it's a little different in philosophy though)

For the sake of this discussion, let's assume that you are correct that the Hebrews were not talking about a creatio ex nihilo in the very first parts of Genesis. Let's assume that the Hebrews did actually believe some things did indeed exist eternally prior to God making some kind of "divine order" out of some kind of vast eternal chaos.

Even if this is true, we still see an amazing transformation taking place here -- because we are still seeing an amazing contrast in the creation itself which was formerly something radically different from its end result which God made it into. Regardless of whether of the Scriptures are talking about a creation ex nihilo or not, the point still stands, as I said before, in all these cases the thing that is created is used in contrast to the previous state that it was created in. In fact, all these verses still seem to clearly indicate a new creative act which stands in stark contrast to the original state in which the object was created -- even if it is only order from disorder from the very beginning. In this sense, the deep division that is taking place is still displayed by the radical before and after that is conveyed by the usage of the word.

yes, and the direct object in the sentance is the thing in stark contrast to the original state, not the original state. when something is created, it is not being destroyed. it's being created. and it's not working backward. so when jesus made wine out of water, it's not saying that jesus made water out of wine.

The passage in Isaiah 45:7 may be using figurative language -- and, then again, maybe not. That's ultimately what this debate is attempting to reconcile.

However, even still, your question isn't answering the question arachnophilia. Does the passage in Psalm 51:10 display a "creation" which lies in stark contrast to previous state of existence or not?

uh, well, you posted an act of creation that was being used figuratively (and accusing me of overliteralization?). creating a pure heart in contrast to an impure one is clearly a figurative usage of the word. if "create evil" and "create good" such a usage?

Wait a second here...

no, i mean, strictly grammatically:

the LORD will create [...] a cloud [...]

the lord will create a cloud. it might be part of an extended metaphor, but grammatically, the creation it describes is a cloud. on its own, it's not figurative. yes, it's very (purposefully) reminiscent of moses's exodus and the pillar of smoke and fire. that's not the issue. the creation it describes is a rather simple one -- the cloud.

Apparently, according to many Orthodox Jews, Isaiah's reference to the future cloud is rather an extended and amplified glory permanently "overshadowing" his Temple -- and this presence is certainly in stark contrast to the "lack of evidence" for God that so many lament over today.

yeah, sounds reasonable.

So what exactly are you saying?

that good is in contrast to evil. one half of the sentance contrasts the other. creating evil may imply that the evil is stark contrast to good. but the good's in the first half of the sentance, isn't it?

Yes, but I'm not quoting these references in order to give an "official" Jewish perpective. I'm just noting that various Jewish sources did indeed conclude that the Hebrew Scriptures indicated a creation ex nihilo to them. This doesn't mean it's the "official" Jewish view.

it's not a totally accepted one. however, it is modern jewish dogma. you can find lots of sources that talk about it, i'm sure. all i'm saying is that the people who originally wrote genesis did not appear to have believed that way. but even isaiah might have.

This passage from Nehemiah 9:6 seems to indicate otherwise.

still heaven and earth. not the material they were made from.

This passage from Psalm 148:3-5 also seems to indicate otherwise.

yes, probably so. all i'm saying is that the people who wrote genesis never technically indicated god created this bit:

and you waters above the skies.

Now some may debate who this person was that was there observing everything. Some say that it was Christ prior to his incarnation whereas others believe it was symbolic of Wisdom itself. I'm not interested in debating this part.

me neither. that was easy. :)

However, either way you look at it, this passage seems to be referring to a specific period in time before anything was even created -- including most likely the deep itself.

possibly. would you agree this passage is highly symbolic?

We also have passages of Scripture which indicate that God "turned the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing springs" -- all the while not mentioning rain.

not the original act of creation, in genesis 1.

We have passages of Scripture which indicate that God "made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them."

from the deep, or uncovered by the deep, as indicated by genesis 1.

We have passages of Scripture which say, "When there were no oceans..."

made from the gather of the lower water, after the deep as divided.

implying that there was a time when there was most likely no water on the earth -- the earth which was formless and empty at one point I might add.

which is contrary to genesis's narrative, isn't it? when is there not water in genesis 1? the dry land is only collect when god puts all of the water below (of the deep) into one place.

We also have passages of Scriptures which states that God made the "highest heavens" and the waters above the skies.

yes, you might have me there. however, this is evidently a later reading. all i'm saying is that genesis does not describe it, and the early hebrews seemed not to believe in it. i never said they don't change their minds, i've already described one such instance with the usage of satan and evil (you know, back on topic lol).

Based on all this,

no, this is where i think you go wrong. all this was based on genesis, not vice-versa. it's like someone's review of "war of the worlds" on my friends journal (paraphrased): "they copied the ending from independence day." although independence day came out a few years ago, and war of the worlds just came out, and both aliens are killed by a virus, independence day's ending is actually a twist on war of the worlds, not vice versa. you see, war of the worlds was a movie made in the 1950's. before that, it was a radio play by orson welles. and before that, a book by h.g. wells. it has a decidedly longer history than independence day, and the people who wrote id probably had seen, heard, or read war of the worlds.

similarly, genesis a fairly recent text. but it's history goes back a long way. these bits that seem to tell creation stories are based on a reading and interpretation of genesis's legends. the stories in genesis came first, then the later interpretations of them. and the later readings are not always the same, are they? for instance, the spacecraft in the 1950's wotw flew and didn't have legs. in id4, they had dog fights.

Eddy Pengelly isn't within the scope of our debate either. But you don't seem to mind invoking his name for the sake of this debate, eh?

what is within our debate is how the bible can incorrectly be distorted by unacceptable usages of concordances and bible dictionaries to change root word meanings around, something you tried to do. eddy is a classic example of why this is not an intellectually useful technique, or accurate to the text.

the water is never created.

In your opinion, correct?.

in genesis. it never describes the deep being creating. that's all i mean.

Now I admit that I was looking for a very loooong time (my apologies for the delay getting back to you), and I may have missed a reference. However, the odd thing that I noted (if my search was indeed accurate) was that not once is there made mention of everlasting, nor forever, nor eternal in reference to water in the
Hebrew Scriptures -- not once.

it mentions practices involving water:

Num 19:21 And it shall be a perpetual statute unto them, that he that sprinkleth the water of separation shall wash his clothes; and he that toucheth the water of separation shall be unclean until even.

but i don't really see anything significant, no. this COULD be figuratively talking about that, but it's debatable.

Psa 36:6 Thy righteousness [is] like the great mountains; thy judgments [are] a great deep: O LORD, thou preservest man and beast.

If you are aware of a Hebraic Scriptural verse that outright states that the waters existed forever, or were eternal, or were from everlasting (or something similar), I would be interested in reading it.

i suspect you won't find one. all i'm saying is that genesis does not record the creation of the deep. later people might talk about that, but that's a change in the beliefs.

Here's the interesting thing though -- there is no reference to a pool of water in either of these accounts.

yeah. the psalm's being descriptive. moreso than the story. just like they describe creating the deep, where genesis does not.

However, the other Scriptural passage seems to indicate a transfromation of rock into water when it says, "who turned the rock into a pool, the hard rock into springs of water." It doesn't seem to indicate a gush of water bursting from a rock,

what else does "spring" mean? (pool is simply the parallel of spring, btw)

For the sake of this discussion, I'm certainly willing to concede that Psalm 114:7-9 is referencing this event when Moses struck the rock.

i was curious as to what else you thought it could be about? i thought the imagery was rather clear, even if it didn't copy it word for word.

However, and this is my main point here: why are you allowed to cross reference a passage of Hebrew Scripture in the Psalms in order to understand the account of Moses striking the rock more accurately, while I'm apparently being restricted from cross referencing other passages of Hebrew Scriptures in order to understand the creation account in Genesis more accurately?

because, and this is key, i cross referenced backwards. remember when i asked if earlier texts had to be read in light of later ones? well, it makes more sense to do it the other way. the later text is clearly referencing the earlier text. but the earlier text is not referencing the later text.

so, if we want to discuss what psalm 114 is about, we need to know the story of moses and the rock. but if we're reading the story of moses and the rock, we don't need to know psalm 114. that was the whole point of my very first question, to establish a one-way directionality. post-hoc propter-hoc may sometimes be a fallacy, but pre-hoc propter-hoc certainly always is.

As I said above, if God doesn't change, then it seems reasonable to conclude that the way he made something one time is most likely the same way he made the same thing at another time. At the very least, we have corroborative similarities which can enable one to "infer" that the process whereby the water came is most likely similarly brought forth as well.

yes, but as demonstrated by the contradictions, the people evidently DO change. whether or not god himself does. so one person's figurative language may not be truly indicative of another's descriptive.

Now, according to the Scriptures, the first thing we see is God creating the heavens and the earth. No problem.

It's the next verse that begins the crux of this debate. When the earth is described as formless and empty, are we agreed that this means that the Lord had not yet formed the land (with mountains, rivers, etc.) and brought forth life on the earth yet? Or is there some other interpretation that you're reading here?

sounds fine to me.

Similarly, what you feel the Scriptures are describing when it then speaks of the "surface of the deep"? Do you feel that the Spirit of God "hovering over the waters" is referencing back the "surface of the deep"?


These are particularly important questions because whenever I read "the deep" in the Scriptures I'm getting a picture of an ocean.

Genesis 7:11
In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.

this reference is not suprising. look closely at what's happening here. god opens the windows of heaven, and fountains of the deep. in the hebrew world view, there was water above the sky/heaven, and water below the ground. this water was the deep of genesis 1. it's not exactly an ocean in the flood -- it's god returning to the drawing the board. it's very symbolic of god undoing creation with the same thing he used to create it.

Isaiah 51:10, where it clearly refers to the ocean;

probably. i'm not sure they thought there was an ocean floor. so the water below their land was probably also the sea. when god makes the oceans, he does it by collecting the deep below into one place. it is generally associated with the ocean, yes. it was a great unknown to the hebrew people, and apparently an object of fear (jonah/leviathan). even today, it's the last great frontier, right? it's basically viewed as the abscence of creation, i think.

Looking over these things, I'm reading that the Scriptures are describing an ocean of some kind when speaks of the "surface of the deep", an ocean that is apparently covering the earth.

oceans weren't made yet. think a little bigger. "surface" may be a bit confusing, as it appears to be all of everything. god has to create heaven to divide it and make an air pocket for us to live in.

Similarly, I read that when the Spirit of God is "hovering over the waters", it is most likely is referencing back the "surface of the deep" -- most likely some kind of primordial ocean covering the earth -- especially in light of what the later passages say in Genesis 1.

modern translations usually render this "a wind from god swept over the waters" or some variant.

A clear reading of this text appears to be describing God placing some kind of atmosphere (or sky) in between the waters to as to divide it. In other words, by "making the expanse", he is effectively separating the water under the expanse from the water above it.

yes, although the expanse is generally described as a solid object. (whether or not they thought it was one)

Lest one thinks this raising up from "under" the ocean itself in order to appear visible "above" the waters is foreign to Hebrew thought, I would remind you that this concept does appear quite clearly in later Hebrew writings as follows:

Psalm 104:5-10 writes:

never again to cover the earth? that's pretty plainly a FLOOD reference, not a creation reference. covering the earth with the deep is exactly what happened in the flood.

It is interesting to note that this particular darkness could be "felt".

now THAT sounds like an idiom to me. would you agree?

Are you now saying that we must restrict this debate to the very first chapter in Genesis alone?

no, i'm not. i'm just saying that we should read it without resorting to other scripture that interprets it. for now, at least. other scripture invariable says differing things. it was written at different times, by different people, in a culture that had changed a great deal. if we want to understand the text, we need to understand it in the context it was written in. which is NOT the rest of the bible. it's not even the rest of book sometimes, like in genesis.

what i'm saying is that the psalms are not a valid tool for interpreting genesis, but genesis is a valuable tool for interpreting the psalms. if one thing references another. you can't use the reference to try to read teh subject. it just doesn't work that way logically.

If so, would you like me to restrict the debate so that any information which might disagree with your points should avoided altogether?

yes, could you do that? it'd be real handy. :P

I ask this because it seems to me that you are basically trying to restrict the debate in an attempt to confirm your own opinions regarding the first chapter of Genesis.

but remember, this is the question i asked at the getgo: whether or not we should read earlier scripture in light of later scripture. and i suspect this is a point we will continue to disagree on. i'm trying to explain why doing this can be an invalid practice. if you'd like, i'll be completely fair and disregard the isaiah verse (and the amos one i hope we'll get to) and we'll stick to genesis 2 and 3, which is where this whole mess started. my point is entirely defensible from those two chapters alone. i'm only using isaiah (and eventually amos) because they happen to agree with genesis in this regard.

It's apparently sitting on the surface of the newly created earth. Why is this such a mystery?

but is not the earth.

Maybe it does say it. Is it possible that you're reading the text too literally to actually see it?

there's a picture of myself on my door. well, ok, it's not REALLY a picture of me. it's a bunch of quarter inch squares in 8 shades of gray. doesn't look a thing like me. i'm not gray, i'm kind of fleshy colored. and i'm not made of little squares. but... if you squint your eyes a little it looks just like me. photorealistic even.

see, it's not actually picture of me. what you see when you squint your eyes is something our brains do. they fill in gaps, and trick us. we actually see a lot, but our brains are incapable of handling that amount of information. so it discards large portions of our sensory memory before we even process it. then, our brain uses a system of symbology and memory to trick us into thinking we're seeing something that we're actually not.

now, i know what i look like. when i squint my eyes and look at this picture, i see incredible facial detail. i see eyeballs, irises, a nose, facial hair, stuble. but if i focus my eyes on it, none of it's actually there at all. my iris is a gray square. yet when i squint, it's round. my stuble is a field of light gray, with square edges. but when i squint, it's hair follicles. my brain thinks it's seeing these things because it recognizes the shapes as a human face, and my own human face. yet i am also intimately aware of what is there and what is not -- i painted every square by hand.

i'm not into the "squint your eyes a little" method of bible reading. see, just like facial recognition, we've all heard the stories of the bible. we know their shapes and plots. we think we know certain things about them, but those things are often not actually in the text. it's much more like those gray squares. for instance, most people think the fruit adam got kicked out of the garden for was an apple. others, just to be contrary i suspect, think it's a pomegranite. but it's not actually in the text. it never says what fruit adam ate, but it's probably not something we have today. everybody thinks they know the story.

what i'm asking of you is that you look a little closer and see the pixels. see what detail is there, and what detail is not there. then we can take a step back and talk about the larger picture, and what the whole thing is telling us.

but is there water OUTSIDE of the heavens?

According to the Scriptures, apparently yes.

yes, i know. but not science. that's why i've been saying that science really has no place in this debate.

Ok, at this point I think I see that we are coming close to the end of the debate. I'm not saying that we are nearly finished the debate. However, I think the points you've noted above are going to be the focus of our "closing arguments" so to speak.

i'm not even close to done. we haven't gotten through my first verse yet.

What is "the deep" presented in the very first chapter of Genesis? Do you think it is "nothingness" or some kind of "ocean" covering the newly created earth as I've suggested above? The Scripture certainly seem to reinforce the fact that "the deep" was most likely an ocean, as it is used elsewhere for this exact designation.

Or, if you do feel that "the deep" is indeed a reference to nothingness, then what is nothingness?

it also clearly is symbolic of nothingness. but it is still, in itself, physical.

Can "nothingness" even exist if there is not something around that "exists" to contrast it to?

not sure that can be made sense of.

Or, if you feel "the deep" is the "absence of things", then could you define this further? Would the deep be considered the "absence of God's order" in order to hold things together? Would the deep be the absence of "organized structure" so that "in the beginning" might be more of a reference to some type of primordial quantum foam (sorry about the scientific reference -- I couldn't think of anything else that could adequately describe "material that is at the same time nothing").

possibly. but in hebrew terms, it's described as a liquid, and the same liquid that makes up the ocean.

What exactly do you mean by the "absence of things"?

"unformed and void"

f we're sharing our personal opinions, I think the terms of good and evil are actually akin to fifth dimensional measurements -- because they transcend time and space itself as God employs them to measure the spirit of all things as they relate to God's will.

nietzsche would disagree. :P

well, this may be a valid philosophy, but it brings up some pretty grave problems. what to do with god's actions that are evil?

But I've never disagreed with the concept of God allowing evil to happen have I? We're not debating this at all as far as I can tell.

well that would be kind of silly, yes. because obviously there IS evil. the only other argument that could be made is that god is too weak to stop it. and i don't think you're making that argument.

For the sake of this discussion, whether or not god created (original) evil definitely matters -- in fact, it was the whole point of us engaging in this discourse in the first place..

alright, simple question then. if you believe god created everything out of nothing (as your name implies) why is evil not one of those things god created, similar to the dimensions like time and space, or the laws of physics/mathematics? see, we're actually arguing each others' points here. you believe god created everything -- darkness, the deep, etc. then invariably you should believe he also created evil. i believe god did not create darkness or the deep. but i believe god created evil.

so basically, we're both hypocrites. :D

The Ten seem to be moral laws which God expected everyone to abide by to some extent.

that's a separate debate. there's good evidence that the ten commandments were directed ONLY to jews as a contractual agreement for the exodus. (paul probably would have agreed)

Could you expand on this idea more?

that evil as an exterior force is not represented in the torah? i could be mistaken, of course, but i don't recall and prominent references until chronicles invents satan. and even then...

If we see an example of God creating darkness by a certain process, such as by separating it from light in one passage, could this be carried over to other passages which refer to God creating darkness even though it doesn't explicitly state how God created the darkness?

except, and look at the details now, the darkness existed before the light.

This actually jives very much which the concept of evil as being the absence of God -- or to phrase it using your own words here, evil is the "null state" of the universe.

maybe my issue is that i refuse to believe that.

But isn't God "ever present" so to speak? In God's timeless sense, I don't so why something being present tense limits God's creative process.

no, it's not. that's not at all what i'm saying -- i'm saying it's a continuing action, something happening currently. not the creation in genesis 1.

Ah...My apologies. I quoted the wrong passage there.

I meant the another passage. I'm looking this up further..

the only other one is right next to the one you cited, and it just repeats the same thing. the other verse might have been confusing, the numbers are different in the hebrew than the english.

There is another passage which uses it this way -- even I've quoted the wrong one (I'll get this part fixed later).

same passage. verse numbers are arbitrary. it's just repitition.

But I'm not talking about a literal cutting. I'm talking about a change which illuminates an allegorical division upon creation which contrasts the former state with the latter state.

I would like to talk about this further on the next message.

and that change is still the creation of darkness and evil, not their destruction. it is in contrast to good and light, sure. but it's still creation of darkness and evil -- there's no dodging that.

No. Three.

no, as i showed, the bara' in the cutting reference was changed to fit a strange wording. it actually refers to creating clearing, the open land. not cutting the trees. even though the bible dictionary misrenders this, it still lists it as follows:

1) to create, shape, form
 a) (Qal) to shape, fashion, create (always with God as subject)
  1) of heaven and earth
  2) of individual man
  3) of new conditions and circumstances
  4) of transformations
 b) (Niphal) to be created
  1) of heaven and earth
  2) of birth
  3) of something new
  4) of miracles
 c) (Piel)
  1) to cut down
  2) to cut out

2) to be fat
 a) (Hiphil) to make yourselves fat

see? two? keep in mind this just catalogs the usages, and sometimes (poor) scholarly guesses. for instance, the same dictionary defines behemoth and leviathan as dinosaurs, and we know that's not true.

I don't have a Bible Dictionary. I can reference some concordance terms within the NIV Study Bible. But most things I've read have been on-line discussion which I evaluate and critique on my own -- not necessarily from other people's thoughts though..

http://www.blueletterbible.org/ is very helpful. but like i said, don't rely on the bible dictionary feature. personally, i'm just going to learn hebrew.

Actually, the Sabbath is being created in that day -- contradicting the idea that God is notcreating anything in that day.

and, you know, semmantics are all well and good. but the point of the sabbath is that nothing went on.

I would like to note that God finishing (or ceasing) his work on the seventh day in no way seems to imply that God was no longer involved within his Creation.

yes, god continues to create and work miracles. last i checked, you were the one putting up a fight on this, insisting that god always has to do the same things.

For example, if humanity’s ultimate goal was to reside in heaven, and the souls of Adam and Eve were still very much present within God’s Creation yet still not dwelling in heaven, then could one also infer that God’s work was not completed for humanity at his time -- even though the universe itself was indeed completed?

i hold a similar belief. i'm an "evolutionary christian." i think we're a work in progress.

Or stated differently within the context of a personal relationship with God here on earth, could one also say that God finished the ‘material’ creation in order to focus exclusively on and indwell within his greater ‘spiritual’ creation, the soul of man?

i think all creation is more or less designed so that we mature into something better god could have created on his own flat out. evil is an integral part of that -- we need to be able to make choices, and bad ones at that. because otherwise the good ones don't mean anything.

God’s work associated with the soul of man seems to be easily implied within the Hebrew Scriptures

yes, i agree.

Like I said, for the sake of this discussion, let's assume that you're correct that the Hebrew did not believe in a creation from non-existence. Even still, we're still observing a creation of order from disorder. This is not a false contrast -- and I'm not forcing it into the text either. This is plainly stated all throughout the Scripture, most especially in the Genesis account of creation.

no, i meant on the isaiah verse. you're imposing a false contrast. it says "... good .... evil" and you're adding "... (good)" on the end. of course evil is in contrast to good. and vice versa. the contrast's already in the verse, we don't need to throw any others in to get it to read the way you want it to. it says "i create good; i create evil." contrast, but similarlity in their creation. the other contrast isn't there.

It would seem that time itself is something which belongs to the more temporal realm of human existence -- and that God is not subject to these limitations.

I don't think space-time has always existed. It seems to be more the result of a "finite" creation which drops from an infinite state and slowly returns to the infinite state it began from. I'll explain this further when I have a chance..

yeah, but at the same time, space-time kind of defines the limit on time, doesn't it? so even though it's of finite length, and has a beginning, technically it's also always existed: there was no time before it. it's existed for ever.

forever just happens to be finite.

Yes. but the question still remains: How did God create these things.

damned if i know. do you know? heck, if i knew, i'd be god.

Here's the questions then: Does good and evil even have substance? How does one actually create good and evil?

i don't think so. and i don't know. do you have an answer?

And yet...by invoking its symbols, is Isaiah not partaking in the timelessness of God above time-space itself? Is God not outside the realm of time-space yet still defined by the higher dimensions of good and evil?

don't get where the second bit comes in. isaiah is basically flat out saying that god is above both good and evil -- he can be defined in both terms. two ends of the spectrum. sounds like isaiah is saying god is not confined by those terms.

these are about the simplest sentences you can have. it's like you're reading "i goto class" as "i skip class" because "skip" can be a method of "going." i'm sorry, that's just not what it says.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, That's not what I'm saying. I've explained this fairly carefully too.

then what are you doing? how ARE you trying to deny that the bible quotes god as saying "i create evil?"

The scope: the nature of evil and its ultimate origin according to the Scriptures -- and how God employs evil to bring about good.

I see nothing in this sentence about specifcally focusing on what the writers of the Scriptures thought they meant when writing the works.

and you know what? i don't either. so let's not go into what the authors "really" meant. let's read it and see what it says.

Isa 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these [things].

that's what it says. according to scripture, god creates evil. can we move on now?

This is about understanding the Scriptures in our modern day according to what we know today. While I respect your determination to attempt to grasp what you feel the witers of the Scripture intended to mean, this is ultimately not about that.

has the meaning of "I make peace, and create evil" changed, do you suspect? what does it mean today, besides "I make peace, and create evil?"

Many times the writers of the Scriptures themselves did not understand the revelations that they themselves were recording.

i don't believe that for a second.

. They didn't even understand what they were writing according to their own words within the Hebrew Scriptures themselves. In fact, they left them for later generation to understand more clearly as time pressed on and more knolwedge furthwer illuminated their writings.

book, chapter, verse?

In this later regard, the concept of evil being the absence of God made a lot of sense to the Rambam -- an extremely influential thinker within Judaism. It also made sense to the Catholic Scholastics and Muslim thinkers as well.

and yet evil being the abscence of god is clearly refuted by this verse we're supposedly discussing, as well as the several dozen i posted previously. it just doesn't fit the bible, which continually describes god being aware of, understanding, being present for, allowing, and even controlling evil. from your source:

He begins with the assumption that God’s created world is thoroughly good. Contrary to the claim of [the biblical book of] Isaiah, then, God cannot have created evil in any of its forms.

let's examine this assumption then, shall we? it stands to reason that if the assumption the whole logic is built upon is wrong, then it the logic that follows is also wrong.

so, is there evil in the garden?

This message has been edited by arachnophilia, 07-18-2005 03:11 AM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 07-16-2005 2:54 AM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 49 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 10-17-2005 1:12 AM arachnophilia has not yet responded

Member (Idle past 199 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004

Message 13 of 102 (224461)
07-18-2005 5:41 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by AdminJar
07-18-2005 10:40 AM

Re: Topic folk
yes, i think we are. i was going to suggest we quit this whole creation bit -- it actually has very little to do with debate. it came up as a side comment in the analysis of why the isaiah verse in question is unusual.

the issues i would like focused on are mostly in quote boxes in my above post:

Eze 6:9 And they that escape of you shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart, which hath departed from me, and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall lothe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations.
Eze 6:10 And they shall know that I am the LORD, and that I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them.

i suggest we stick to addressing this point in conjunction with original isaiah verse:

Isaiah 45:7

I form the light, and create darkness:
I make peace, and create evil:
I the LORD do all these things.

as well as the amos verse i mentioned previously in the conversations that lead up to this debate, as was next on my list of things to bring up:

Amo 3:6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done [it]?

i would also like to address something that came up off-topic, but directly applies, from mr. ex-nihilo's source on ex-nihilo:

He [Maimonides] begins with the assumption that God’s created world is thoroughly good. Contrary to the claim of [the biblical book of] Isaiah, then, God cannot have created evil in any of its forms.

i think our next route of discussion should be to examine this assumption, since it is being used to directly contradict the verse in isaiah. but if that's too much for now, we can hold off. these posts are getting rather long.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by AdminJar, posted 07-18-2005 10:40 AM AdminJar has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 23 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 07-23-2005 12:51 AM arachnophilia has responded

Member (Idle past 199 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004

Message 15 of 102 (224556)
07-19-2005 1:54 AM
Reply to: Message 14 by Mr. Ex Nihilo
07-19-2005 12:46 AM

Re: Topic folk
I thought the creation account was a fair discussion since it uses some the same Hebrew words for create as the Isaiah passage did

well, so do a lot of other passages. using passages to show predominant usage is ok (even if trying to show that "create" doesn't actually mean "create" is kind of silly). but we're debating something that doesn't really have much to do with the topic. we're not debating where the universe came from -- we're debating where evil came from.

...what is considered fair game for discussion?

i think a ruling on this might be in order, actually. although in the interest of fairness, i think someone besides jar alone should do it -- i think jar and i hold much the same position, and i don't want it to seem like the mods are playing favourites. i've also suggested the direction the topic should probably be moving.

but we can't even agree on the first point. i would also like a ruling on what stands as reasonable evidence that "I [the LORD] create evil" actually means god creates evil. this seems like comon sense to me, especially in light of the usage of evil i already demonstrated, and number of similar mentions in the text. perhaps i should put the ball in your court, and ask you to demonstrate why it's a euphemism or idiom and really means something else (other than what i said it means) in light of it's context and usage in the bible.

but if we can't get past this bit, that god occasionally creates evil in the present tense, we'll never get to the next two: that god creates all evil, and that god first created evil. these are relatively easily demonstrated from scripture, if i can just get you to agree first off to take it at face value.

then we can get to the interesting part: how god uses evil. once we agree on the p'shat, we can talk about the remez and the drash. the problem is the foundation, you don't build a very strong statue with feet of clay.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 14 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 07-19-2005 12:46 AM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

Replies to this message:
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Member (Idle past 199 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004

Message 20 of 102 (224737)
07-19-2005 8:19 PM
Reply to: Message 17 by AdminPhat
07-19-2005 1:22 PM

not a belief issue
This is a belief issue.

it is absolutely not a belief issue. right now we're on the first part of the debate:

the nature of evil and its ultimate origin according to the Scriptures

mr. ex, or you, or anyone is free to believe what they like. we added the "according to scriptures" part because otherwise the whole debate is just a belief issue. we'd be slugging out opinions. i think one thing, he thinks something else. we'll get nowhere.

instead, our focus as defined by the topic is first the scriptural base. does the bible say god is a source of evil? the source of evil? how is "evil" used in the old testament? our belief or disbelief in the verse should play no role in this part. we just need to establish what the bible actually says.

then we can get on to a matter of belief or interpretation:

and how God employs evil to bring about good.

instead, what is happening hree is that mr ex is starting with his belief system -- that god is not ever responsible for evil -- and then trying to change the meaning of the verses that don't fit. as noted in the off-topic bits about creation-ex-nihilo, i am fine with arguing against my beliefs. i think god did create from nothing, but the early hebrew texts don't reflect that idea, although later ones do.

Personally, I have always held the view that while God DID create a freewill Lucifer, He never made Lucifer turn into a rebellious (evil)

we are also not debating free will. that is an argument without end, really. i think we may have put that out of bounds early on, actually, but i forget. lucifer is also a misnomer, but i happen to believe that satan has either no free will, or restricted free will, since it is said he can only act under the authority of god. but i recognize there are other ways to interpret this matter.

Kinda like if I made a firecracker but never lit the fuse, would I be responsible for the "bang"?

this is essentially the question we will be tackling in the second half of the topic. but first we need to know if god ever lights the firecracker himself -- and that's matter of what's in the text.


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Member (Idle past 199 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004

Message 21 of 102 (224774)
07-19-2005 10:14 PM
Reply to: Message 16 by Mr. Ex Nihilo
07-19-2005 9:22 AM

Re: Topic folk
Stop trying to restict the direction of the debate, let Adminjar make his ruling on the matter, and then we can proceed.

is the direction i proposed contrary to the focus of the topic?

and shall we continue now?

This message has been edited by arachnophilia, 07-19-2005 10:16 PM


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Member (Idle past 199 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004

Message 24 of 102 (225626)
07-23-2005 5:02 AM
Reply to: Message 23 by Mr. Ex Nihilo
07-23-2005 12:51 AM

on topic, i promise.
in the interest of expediting this topic, i'm going to more or less ignore the bits which aren't on topic.


I don't know how else to explain this.


I've never said that God didn't create evil. [...] God creating evil effectively means God creating the choice for man to obey his will or not.

ok, i actually agree with this bit. god created everything, including evil, and darkness. genesis does not depict it, but i will admit that it is not an incompatible later reading. many believe this way, including myself. i think, however, this next point is the error:

This is to say, I think the Hebrew Scriptures are effectively pointing to God creating evil being the equivalent of God allowing humanity the free-will to choose between his will and their own will.

while this is somewhat true, i think, it's not totally true. here's why:

I've said that evil is the absence of God

evil does not appear to be "the abscence of god." this point is totally contrary to what isaiah actuall says, and this is why the "PRESENT TENSE" bit is important. it's not "i creatED good and i creatED evil," it's "i create evil." it's a present participle in hebrew. it's not only a continuing action, but a CONTINUOUS action. it means that god is saying he is the source of evil in the past, in isaiah's day, in our time, and in the future to come, and he creates, present tense, evil continuously.

this means, point blank, that isaiah is not referring to a distant point of time, nor is he referring to god as absent. god is actively present, creating. but, and i know you'll bring this up, is he active creating by not showing up?

well, isaiah is speaking of the wonders of god's creation, and the duality of it. is one of those wonders the abscence of god, something many would lament? what does isaiah mean? i'll touch on the import (but slight) difference here a little later in the post.

I think the Israelites' believed, according to my understanding of the Scriptures, that God created most things by his breath (or spirit) in some way or another.

or word. the two are often interchangeable. the ideas are somewhat similar, and breath is common, yes.

A similar concept is expressed back further in Exodus 15:10...

NIV writes:

But you blew with your breath, and the sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters.

And later we see a similar concept in 2 Samuel 22:16 as follows...

NIV writes:

The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at the rebuke of the LORD, at the blast of breath from his nostrils.

Clearly both good and bad happen according to the same breath of God.

yes, i agree. this is what i'm getting at, actually. i think isaiah is discussing this very same concept -- but i'll get to that.

According to New Advent, parallelism is the balance of verse with verse. It is an essential and characteristic feature in Hebrew poetry. Either by repetition or by antithesis or by some other device, thought is set over against thought, form balances form. In this way, it brings the meaning home to the reader in a rather striking and agreeable fashion.

Even according to JewishEncyclopedia.com, it should be noted that it is now generally conceded that parallelism is the fundamental law, not only of the poetical, but even of the rhetorical and therefore of higher style in general in the Hebrew Scriptures (aka: the "Old Testament").

yes, it is thoroughly ingrained in almost all hebrew texts. even the prose. it's quite evident of the hebrew mode of thinking. i'm not sure what this is evidence of, though, or how it's meant to prove me wrong. even if the parallelism IS antithetic, which it's not, it still says "god creates evil."

So you're willing to admit that this passage in Isaiah "connotates" creation and yet is "not about" creation -- even though the creation event clearly states that God divided the light from the darkness?

yes, what's hard about this idea? if it were in past tense, it would probably be about the creation event of genesis 1. rather, it is only using the imagery. the bit that distinguishes it, if it weren't plainly obvious, is the tense. the 7 days of creation have stopped nearly 4000 years before isaiah wrote, according to tradition. they were not going on still. god creating good and evil is not a singular action occuring the past, but a continuing action occuring the in present.

The "creation event" is clearly expressed in opposites and contrasts even to the point of saying that God divided the light from the darkness. This same thought, where God's light penetrates, transforms or divides the darkness is expressed in many ways throughout the Scriptures as follows:

yes, but none of those are about the creation in 7 days, are they? they're all metaphors for something else. the author is implying the imagery of a story that everyone knew to make his point. do you agree?

Similarly, you can't just insist on the most literal reading possible so as to change the meaning of the text to that of something radically different from what the authors originally intended.

but that's not at all what i'm doing. i'm insisting that it actually says god creates evil, because it does. i don't know how or why you are denying this simple fact, but there it is in black and white. (or blue and white as the case may be)

i have suggested a more interpretive reading that actually illuminates what the ancient hebrews thought about good and evil -- but you've rejected it for some unknown reason, in favor of a completely anachronistic view: evil is the abscence of god. but i'll suggest it again, below. what isaiah originally intended was to say that god creates both good and evil. if he had intended to say "god turns our evil into his good" he could have said -- and in fact does as you have pointed out. but that's not what this verse is saying.

Could you cite a source please because I would like to investigate it further

unfortunately, no. even if i took notes in class, i doubt you'd accept them.

The reason why I ask is because what you said above is actually wrong. According to all the sources I've read, you can have parallel relationships even within two different clauses of the exact same sentence

yes, ok, i suppose you can. technical error on my part -- but that doesn't make you right either. because it's still, get this, synonymous parallelism within the line. if you hadn't already asked it, it would be you next question:

Good and evil are synonymous? Light and darkness are synonymous?

strangely enough, YES! because synonymous parallelism doesn't work with synonyms in the english sense of the word. sometimes the words have the same meaning, but other times, objects occur in distinct, predefined pairs that are actually opposites. numbers go up by one. if you don't believe me, look at your own post:

Synonymous writes:

Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.

are day and night synonymns? not in english, they're not. day always occurs with night, good always occurs with evil, and light always occurs with dark. heaven with earth, sun with moon, rivers with oceans, etc. good and evil are a pair. it kind of illustrates the hebrew philosophy -- that opposites often compliment each other. it's almost eastern, but then again so is the middle east, right?

Thank you for a nearly textbook definition of antithetical parallelism by the way.

see above. the distinction is pretty subtle, i know. what i'm trying to say is that the pair is in contrast, not the whole structure. see, in antithetical, we'd have an example like this: (from your examples)

Soundness of heart is the life of the flesh,
Envy is the rot of the bones.

"soundness of heart" is the opposite of "envy." "life" is the opposite of "rot." "flesh" is a predefined pair with "bones" (not an opposite pair, btw)

so almost every word is opposite the other, except the pair. what we have in isaiah, and follow me on this, is this:

"i" is the same word as "i". "make" is a synonym of "create." "good" is a predefined pair with "evil." the whole line is then repeated with "light" being a synonym of "good" and "dark" being a synonym of "evil." not predefined pairs, but of the same meaning.

the only opposition in the entire thing occurs within the predefined pairs of "good and evil" and "light and dark." which are ALWAYS that way. it does not mean the parallelism of the sentance is antithetical. it's just expressing equal but opposite ideas through the pair alone. it is meant to equate the two, not contrast. compare that with the example above of antithetical parallelism: one line is the compliment of the other on the whole. they both express the same idea really, and it moves in one direction.

antithetical parallelism, i think, cannot express true opposites since every word has to be the opposite of the one above. i think opposites can only be expressed by synonyms and opposing pairings -- but i could be wrong. either way, that's clearly what's going on here.

The verbs have nothing specific to do with whether or not the verse is considered antithetical parallelism or not.

while sort of true, look at the facts.
same word.

had the verbs been antonyms, it would antithetical: "I create good, but destroy evil." but that's not what it says, is it?

In synonymous parallelism the very same thought is repeated, at times in the very same words.

usually. sometimes one elaborates slightly on the other (while still remaining synonymous). however, what i'm suggesting is that this is rather clear evidence of my position. it *IS* the same idea being repeated, both from phrase to phrase, and line to line.

god creating good and god creating evil are essentially the same concept, and they have to be since good and evil are an established pair in hebrew thought, even without the structure indicating a synonymous parallel. if you know how the pairing works. otherwise, you might have a really good point.

why are good and evil the same idea? although genesis reports there being darkness before light (whether or not god created it, let's not get into that again), it also reports that darkness is not NAMED "night" until "day" is made. night and day are made at the same time. so are the sun and moon, as are man and woman -- all traditional pairings. heaven and earth are made at roughly the same time (it seems to take a god a whole day to make heaven, and a whole day to make earth). but the analogy doesn't work perfectly. as you said yourself, much of creation seems to regard separation and defining. much of hebrew thought seems to regard the grouping of opposites.

it's like "north and south" really. i could be going north on a road, and you could be going south on a road. but in the grand scheme of things, we could indeed be on the very same road. good and evil seem to be two directions on the same road. compliments, that cancel each other out (or maybe not, more later on in the debate), but essentially one is just the other in reverse or upside-down. follow me?

just keep in mind that for whatever reason "good and evil" are a pair, and are very commonly used in conjunction, even in synonymous poetry, as "night and day" in your example above.

In antithetical parallelism, however, the thought of the first line is expressed by an antithesis in the second -- or is counterbalanced by a contrast in the second.

Antithetical writes:

My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart

is the thought here the antithesis of the first? man is weak, god is strong. these are actually somewhat the same idea. antithesis doesn't express an opposite. more from your examples:

The integrity of the upright shall guide them,
But the perversity of the treacherous shall destroy them

this one's a little more clear. the idea of the first line is "have integretity." the idea of the second line is "don't have perversity." but not having perversity and having integrity are actually the same idea. one's just the backwards way of saying it. do the positive, don't do the negative. same idea. --not an antithetical by your definition.

here's a synonymous (check your link):

Saul hath slain his thousands,
And David his ten thousands

now, i mentioned earlier, numbers increase by one. i lied a little, sorry. i wasn't specific enough -- numbers that are units go up by an order. 10 becomes 100, 100 becomes 1000, 1000 becomes 10,000, etc. i think 20 becomes 30, and 30 into 40, but i forget. little off on my number pairings.

now, both of these are expressing the same idea. david is a parallel for saul. both are slaying people. but -- if i didn't understand the pairing i'd think david killed more. it's probably not actually saying that, it's just a product of pairing practices. however, it would be wrong to say that this is synthetic parallelism, even though to the unexperienced reader it's CLEARLY expression a progress. why? because the pairings doen't seem to matter that much in relation to what kind parallelism it is.

so look at isaiah 45:7 again, we'll diagram it. i'll use a for the first word, b for the next, etc, and mark off the pairs. i'll use the prime denotation for a synonym (') and capitalize for an antonymn.
a b (pair1) / a b' (PAIR1)
a b'' (pair 2) / a b' (PAIR2)

it's rather convenient that the only antonyms in this verse are paired with each other in the language. i'm not sure if this is ALWAYS the case, but it seems to be.

My son, hear the instruction of thy father,
and forsake not the law of thy mother:

imagine if we percieved mother and father to be opposite. we'd be having a similar problem here. again, a predifined pair, NOT synonyms. here's one with two:

Psa 121:6 The sun shall not smite thee by day,
nor the moon by night.

still synonymous. (though if i didn't know sun/moon and day/night were pairs, it'd be antithetical)

Psa 74:16 The day is thine,
the night also is thine

still synonymous.

Isa 40:12 ...and meted out heaven with the span,
and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure,

synonymous (although the whole bit is eclectic. i contains another synonymous pairing after this, and the line before is an extra line)

it's the structure, not the predefined pairs, that determine the kind of parallelism. need i prove that "good and evil" is a common pair?

Parallelism in general may be defined not only as a relationship between two or more sentences that correspond in similarity or are set with each other -- but also with two or more clauses which exhibit similar word formulae.

and "good" is off the same word formulæ as "evil." predefined pair.

In fact, one of the examples listed as an example of antithetical parallelism is that of Isaiah 45:7 itself, "I form the light, and create darkness".

i know you're going to rag on me for this, but he's wrong. and i think i've pretty succesfully shown why. if not, i'll show you again in summary:

Synonymous writes:

Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.

if isaiah 45:7 is antithetical, that has to be too.

so if you have some special insight into the nature of parallelisms within the Hebrew Scriptures, an insight that is better than the people who actually found the nature of parallelisms within the Hebrew Scriptures, I'd like to know your source for this information.

common sense, the ability to read, and a knowledge of hebrew pairing practices. but like i said, if you don't believe me, look above.

now if it said, "i create good, but the devil makes evil" we'd talk.

No, I don't think we would even begin to talk -- because then we'd be talking about synthetic parallelism within the Hebrew Scriptures -- not antithetical parallelism. Synthetic parallelism is that in which the two members contain two disparate ideas, which, however, are connected by a certain affinity between them.

but that's not synthetic. look:

The tongue of the wise adorneth knowledge,
The mouth of the fool blurteth out folly.

mouth = tongue
wise ≠ fool
adorn ≠ blurt
knowledge ≠ folly.

all the words are opposites except one.

{god} create{s} good,
but the devil makes evil

god ≠ devil
create = make
good ≠ evil.

the structures are the same, and all of the words are opposite except one. it encompasses the same ideal, like the one above. the two lines share more than a certain affinity. one is the direct opposite of the other. it's classic contradiction in the bible.

synthetic, however, marches the idea forward a bit.


What does Isaiah 43:7 have to do with Isaiah 45:7? Yes, creations are mentioned in Isaiah 43:7 for sure -- yet I see absolutely no reference to any contrasts whatsoever -- not one.

no, you don't, do you? that's sort of the point. i'm just showing that bara', asah and yatsar are all synonyms. make has a similar meaning to create which has a similar meaning to form. they are not antonyms. do you agree?

But why are you talking Isaiah 45:18?

I thought we were discussing Isaiah 45:7?

you were trying to say that "make" and "create" had different (opposite) meanings. this cannot be so. "i make _____" has to have the same meaning as "i create _____" no matter what the two blanks actually are. they are synonyms, not antonyms. do you agree?

I think it has a lot to do with the debate. I also think that the whole "creation bit" has actually worked against your own arguments, especially with your belief that the Hebrews didn't believe that God created the primal chaos "prior" to the creation.

actually, if i recall, you were heartily arguing against that position. see, well, the first line of this post. if god made all things, god made all things -- including evil, chaos, and darkness. personally, i believe he did, and that later texts indicate this outright. i just don't believe it is indicated outright or even implied in genesis at all -- it just seems to be something they didn't really think through until later. however, evil is certainly among god's creations, even in the garden... they just seemed to think of it as a property of everyday life.

However, the main difference between your argument and my argument is that you seem to believe that the Israelites thought that when God creates something, it means he literally created something tangible -- including good and evil, even including the adversary.

ah ha! no, actually i'm not! see, i think we're really arguing for the same thing, we just need to make each see that. the point of this debate is that i DON'T think the hebrews thought of evil as something tangible at all! nor even defined in the modern sense.

christianity, as a contrast, seems to have a VERY tangible of what evil is. evil is the devil, doing against what god says, disobedience -- and some outside force that acts on us. rather, to hebrews, evils seems to have been a property that was somewhat arbitrarily thrown around. something could be good and evil at the same time, like knowledge. or, for that matter, god. but that's where i'm going.

see, i think the parallelism in isaiah 45:7 is telling us something. i'll explain it in a way isaiah never would have thought of. we have an earth that spins on its axis. the transformation of day into night and night into day is essentially the same action: the rotation of the earth. the light that we are getting is essentially taken away from others. similarly, god cannot favor everyone at once. isaiah 45 is about declaring war.

Isa 45:1 Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings,

god says, conquer these countries, and i'll reward you. god is giving favor to one king by taking it away from others -- this is politics. god making peace and creating evil, or making darkness and forming light is the very same action. it's saying that god is the one who choses who lives and dies -- god makes these decisions and separations, and continues to do so. i'm sure you agree so far, right?

do you see why i've been making the points about "present tense" and the synonymous nature of the sentance? it kind of depends on that for it to even make sense. now, i know your thought: "but that's not the same thing as god creating evil!" you're technically correct in that evil here is god withdrawing something. you're just not right for the right reasons, and i'm a technicality whore.

however, what i want you to remember is that this is a STARTING place. we've been going on and on about this verse, but it was just my wedge in. like i said, i want to examine what is meant by "evil" first, and show that god sometimes does things (like withdraw favor) that are literally called evil. then we'll examine if god actively does actions that are evil, then if god is the ONLY source of evil, and then -- then if god is the original source of evil. then we can get back to the ex-nihilo bit.

My view is that the Israelites distinguished between when the Scriptures said that God created something tangible and when God created something intangible. In the case of tangible objects, such as the creation of the physical heavens and earth, I believe that the Israelites really believed that God literlly created it. However, in the case of intangible objects, such as spirtual qualities of good and evil, I believe that the Israelites didn't believe that God literally created it

sounds like a reasonable argument. can we come back to it?

In the case of the spiritual, this was more of an emanation from God himself when considered good -- and a lack of God's emanation when considered bad.

yes, i agree with this somewhat, but it's not actually the point. the point is that the darkness was still considered evil. god withdrawing himself was considered an evil act. as evidenced by that ezekiel verse.

Clearly both good and bad happen according to the same breath of God.

How can this be?

because god's actions can be both good and evil. although evil is often viewed as a lack of god by some, it's also an action. those actions of god were considered evil. the exile (god forsaking israel) was considered evil. a more technically correct definition seems to be that evil is not the lack of god, but the lack of god's FAVOR. indeed, i think the whole philosophy is that everything basically functions not according to actions or presence of god, but by his APPROVAL. "it is good" seems to be an integral part of genesis, and it is held by traditions (unsure of scriptural support) that satan himself can only operate by the consent of god. much of creation works on its own -- the earth creates plants and animals. god just has to approve the designs, so to speak. (btw: someone start a topic in this reading's application to theological evolution. it'd be fun)

Now let me ask you a couple of questions: In the above analogy who caused the man in the boat to die? Did God cause it -- or did the man cause it himself?

great sunday school lesson and all, but technically god did. the guy's on the island because of god's will. the storm exists, and behaves the way it does because of god's will. god could also have withheld, too. for instance, there is a remarkably similar story in the bible which you had to have been referencing. jonah disobeys god, goes sailing in the wrong direction, and god sends a storm. but the storm doesn't kill jonah, nor does the fish that swallows him -- both miracles in their own right. god spares jonah, so he can deliver two messages. not just the one to nineveh, but the one to us too, the book of jonah. had he not survived, it would be a pretty different book. and -- now get this -- without his disobedience, we wouldn't have it at all.

see, the storm (symbolic of god's will) is in terms of isaiah 45:7 BOTH good AND evil. it just depends which direction we're going and who's side we're on.

Again, as I've explained above, I think you're reading the text too literally. However, to express this concept more clearly, I think it's poetry which is, ultimatety, designed to reassure the Israelites even when bad things happen. I think the most basic message being expressed here is that nothing happens by random chance.

and, now don't miss this point, that evil is under the control of god. that's fundamental to the amos verse. and i'm not reading it too literally: you're reading it too liberally. (oh god, faith's gonna kill me) but yes, it is a reassurance. and the reassurance is that god's in conrol -- even of the things they see as evil.

As John W. Ritenbaugh notes, in these disasters, God is saying something quite different -- something vitally important. He is warning the people that they have a responsibility, and if they fail to live under their covenant with him, he has the power to correct them so that they will repent. So, in fairness and mercy, God lays a simple choice before them:

that's all well and good -- but the action itself is still called evil. if the people forsake god, god send evil their way so they are reminded of god.

Their choice is either to face their sins and repent, or face the wrath of a just God.

and to the people facing the wrath -- the disfavor -- of god, that wrath is called "evil." god himself in the ezekiel verse calls it evil. (obviously in understanding of their perspective.) what does this tell you about how the hebrews use the word "evil" in the ot? what does this tell you about WHY they thought there was evil, and where it came from?

"If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it?"

notice the change of the word "evil" here? what does the word "evil" seem to mean to them, as rendered in a modern idiomatic way?

I think I've addressed many of these points above. However, I'm fairly sure that they are not acceptable to you.

What part of Maimonides' assumption would you like to discuss further?

well, he's clearly saying that isaiah is wrong. not sure if you caught that or not. he's denying outright that isaiah's portrait of god creating evil is an accurate one. but even by your definition (and i suspect you'll agree with my interpretation above -- the one solidly based on the text) maimonides is wrong in this assertion. but, his assumption is "God’s created world is thoroughly good."

so this begs a question or two:
1. is god's created world thoroughly good?
2. if not, did god create the evil in it, and if not where did it come from?
3. is "good" incompatible with "evil."

as i've postulated above, a singular action, such as movement of god's approval, can be both good and evil at the same time. that takes a chunk out of his assertion, because good and evil can coexist. did god create anything that is viewed as evil? how about the serpent? what about the tree of knowlegde which is both good and evil? even if god is absent, that's not thoroughly good under your definition, because abscence of god = evil. and he's not present for the whole tree debacle. so in some sense, god did create, or at least allow evil. third... does god describe anything as "not good?" if he does, then it is not thoroughly good.

so in otherwords, i think his logic is totally bunk. but let's hold of an actual debate of this part until we've settled isaiah and amos at the very least. these are getting way to long, and i suspect we're going to start agreeing at SOME point. so when they start getting shorter...

This message has been edited by arachnophilia, 07-23-2005 05:03 AM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 23 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 07-23-2005 12:51 AM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

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Member (Idle past 199 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004

Message 25 of 102 (225628)
07-23-2005 5:13 AM
Reply to: Message 24 by arachnophilia
07-23-2005 5:02 AM

(not on topic)
oh dear god my brain. can we start making these shorter? that was 9 pages single spaced with no line breaks. it'd probably be close to 25 after formatting, longer than my average term paper.

This message has been edited by arachnophilia, 07-23-2005 05:13 AM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 24 by arachnophilia, posted 07-23-2005 5:02 AM arachnophilia has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
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Member (Idle past 199 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004

Message 28 of 102 (225718)
07-23-2005 3:08 PM
Reply to: Message 27 by AdminJar
07-23-2005 12:50 PM

Re: Let's try to Moosify these.
Are you good folk running in too many directions?

no, just too much at once. i think we've more or less whittled it down to one direction.

actually a better topic title would be nice -- "the biblical nature and origin of evil" would be good. "the great debate" is rather undescriptive.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 27 by AdminJar, posted 07-23-2005 12:50 PM AdminJar has not yet responded

Member (Idle past 199 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004

Message 30 of 102 (228022)
07-31-2005 1:16 AM
Reply to: Message 29 by Mr. Ex Nihilo
07-24-2005 11:03 AM

Re: on topic, i promise.
Yes, but his "creating evil" basically equals man going against his goodness which he has fore-ordained. In other words, his intention is good for people -- until they decide to go against his will. It's not that God is the source of evil. It's that he's controlling the outcome of our actions so that regardless of whether we do his will or not, his will WILL be accomplished.

there's nothing in the isaiah verse that says that, and it's plainly contradicted by the other verse which we have discussed in part and will again. god's "creating evil" is because of man going against his will, yes. but god creating evil ≠ man creating evil. one evil is in response to the other, like in the ezekiel verse.

I guess the point is that, if it is indeed antithetical (as the sources I've read seem to believe),

i suggest we end this little bit, as we don't really agree on what makes something antithetical, and it's actually a bit moot. what's the difference, exactly?

then there is a distinct contrast being presented in the Isaiah text.

between one kind of creation and the other? as i've shown, they are very clearly synonymous, and used to mean the same things. but, let's suppose you're right, and look at that supposed contrast. what does 'bara usually mean? how else is it used?

it's used for the creation of heaven and earth. it's used for the creation of the tanniyn. it's used for the creation of man. it's used to describe signs, and miracles. these are all things god seems to be doing directly, and personally. and these are all special things.

why should the word mean anything different here? it's not indicating god's abscence. it's indicating god's presence.

As I said before, the meaning of the word "ra" seems very much dependent on how it is being employed within the Scriptures themselves -- and it doesn't always imply "evil" in the sense of someone maliciously and willfully determined to cause or inflict harm on another.

what i'm suggesting is that evil in that sense doesn't actually exist within the text.

More specifically, since the word "ra" is being used in context with the word "bara", it seems more appropriate to conclude that the evil that is being "brought about" is more the result of the effects of one's action cutting themselves off from God's will

it doesn't work that way. it says "I [God] create evil." not "evil is the result of people cutting themselves off from me."

this seems even more so considering that "bara" is employed within the sense of being akin "to cut", "cut down", "engrave", or

i've already pointed out that this is a funny translation, and not what the hebrew says. but if that doesn't work for you, notice the tenses: "cut" is only use in the piel. both bara's in isaiah 45:7 are qal. wrong tense. you can't just change the meaning of the sentance at will. it says: "I [God] create evil." not "I cut down evil."

In other words, like I said above, unlike the "yasar" used to describe God bringing forth light, the word "bara" seems to be employed in contrast to being cut apart or even divided from something else. Even the darkness in Genesis is "caused" by being "separated" or "divided" from the light which God originally formed.

no, in genesis the darkness is there before the light. night and day are created by division, but the darkness was there before the light was divided from it. and even still -- it's not using it in the sense that you seem to think it is. god is doing the dividing, not man. it's used grammatically the same as in genesis 1, except that it's a present participle verb, not a past perfect. but both are qal, and both are used the same way in the sentance. god creating the earth is the same as god creating evil, grammatically. the only difference is that god is not STILL creating the earth.

Take a look at the literal translation of when God "makes a covenant" anywhere in the Hebrew Scriptures, and I think you'll my point about "cutting" being synonomous to "making" being emphasized more.

but evil is not synonymous to good? the problem is that it's the wrong barah -- it's the one with an h. they sound alike, but they don't have the same meaning. (the cutting and eating references elsewhere could be related to this word, actually. language evolves, but root words ≠ usage.)

for instance, if i say "i've read this whole book" i don't mean i took a crayon or a can of paint and colored it all red, do i? and i don't mean that i put a hole through the book either. the words sound the same, but they don't have the same meaning. homonyms do not prove relation.

When I look to the definition of "covenant", I'm reading the Hebrew word berith -- which primarilly means "a cutting" with reference to the custom of cutting or dividing animals in two and passing between the parts in ratifying the coventant.

or circumcision. it's not related to the other bara' directly. both might share a common origin, but it'd be awful hard to prove.

I will note that the seventh day began in Genesis -- but it never actually said that it was finished yet. In other words, from the first to the sixth day, God basically ends it with something like, "And there was evening, and there was morning -- the Xth day."

because the 7th day is special. instead of just "the evening and the morning were the n'th day," is says "god blessed and sanctified it." same structure, but different wording for the holy day. check the first 3 and a half verses of genesis 2. day 7 is over.

Yes, but you cannot read one verse from Isaiah to the exclusion of the other verse in Isaiah. If Isaiah says in one passage that God creates evil, and then he says in another passage that he turns evil into good, it seems highly likely that God can also allow good to be turned into evil -- which is exactly what Isaiah warns that people do in Isaiah 5:20...

no, not exactly. in the verse we're discussing, it's about distinctions. it's saying that god chooses the victors and losers in a battle. this other verse (5:20) is condemning those that mix the two up, morally.

Light and darkness are clearly not synonymous. Neither are good and evil.

yet light and dark forms one day. skipping down a bit.

In Hebrew day and night comprise of one [echad] day.
However, nowhere do the Scriptures actually state that good and evil are one [echad]. Likewise, nowhere does the Hebrew Scriptures actually state that light and darkness are actually one [echad] -- except in relation to the physical events of day and night. Not once are these "pairs" of good and evil described in such a fashion as a unified one with the word "echad".

Gen 3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

knowing good and evil seems to form one GOD, or person of god-like qualities. apparently. good and evil are united in the tree, and in god, and now apparently in man. before this point -- the division of morality so to speak, man seemed to be unaware of either in specific. thus he was easily duped by the serpent and/or eve, who also probably did not know better.

Yes they do -- synonymous parallelisms do work with synonyms in the English sense of the word so long as they are literally translated. The trouble comes when one is not aware of the Hebrew idioms that may be expressed within the synonymous parallelism.
But we're not talking about English are we? We're talking about Hebrew -- specifically what the Israelites believed when they wrote their Hebrew Scriptures.

exactly. and good and evil are a pair. these aren't even things we really have to think about. biblical lore and language is so ingrained in our culture that we can pick these things out pretty easily. day/night, sun/moon, heaven/earth, good/evil, life/death. some of them are opposites, some of them are not. yet each shares some commonality with the other, especially in the more synonymous pairings: flesh/bone, etc...

While I admit that light occurs with dark in reference to day and night making one day (which is a physical process), it needs to be stated that good can exist without evil. It seems to be evil that cannot exist without good -- that evil needs good in order to define itself.

similarly, light needed darkness to define itself. oh wait, that's backwards, sorry. we're generally agreed, i think, that the theme of creation is order from chaos, nevermind the ex-nihilo stuff. we've talked before about the leviathan-lothan connection, and the role of the deep as chaos. i'd like to suggest that the natural state of things is evil. the chaos is evil. and leviathan is evil (his image is used to depict the devil in revelation.)

this is, i should point out, totally consistent with your point. if god, being the source of "good" went away, the universe would by nature revert to "evil," would it not? so evil then can be expressed as an abscence of god -- which is your point exactly if i'm correct. and that's fine. i agree with that. it's not what this verse in isaiah is saying, but that's an acceptable view of things. now, this is of course begging a question:

if evil is a lack of god's presence -- and the universe is naturally evil -- why?

It is the Middle East for sure. But no, the Hebrew philosophy does not rest on the idea that opposites often compliment each other. Opposites seem to be employed in order to further define their ideas more clearly -- but the indivual objects that are "paired" can nonetheless be described on their own by their own characteristics independant of their "coupling".

yes, they can. like i said, "almost."

Actually, the whole structure is in contrast in this verse...

Synonymous writes:

Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.

your examples contain it as an example of synonymous. if they're mistaken on this one, couldn't they presumably be mistaken on the other one too? not that they are, but it shows you're nto following the rules you claim to be.

This is a no-brainer. The conclusion is that "I" {meaning God) "do all these things."

and "all these things" included creating evil and darkness. ie: it's not man's actions at work here -- it's god's.

Then why is bara used only in special situations, such heaven and earth themselves, man, and these (supernatural) serpents -- as you yourself have noted?

Are we not seeing a contrast between God's "special creations" and God's "natural creations" when Isaiah invokes bara for "darkness" and yasar for "light" respectively?

no, we are not. here's a special creation:

Gen 1:26 And God said, Let us make ('asah) man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

the next verse uses bara' to refer to the same event -- making man. i'm sorry, but they're synonyms. why are you even arguing this point? the "special" creations are the ones that are actually made PHYSICALLY by god. this would suggest that god is physically creating evil. now, if you wanted to argue that the contrast is that god is indirectly creating light, that would make sense.

and be consisten with genesis's description of god creating light:

Gen 1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

no bara there. so in isaiah, it would seem, that god is actually making the evil, but just commanding the good to happen. but hey, if you wanna go back to my synonym reading, that's cool too.

I'll also note that you seem to believe that good and evil are synonymous -- based on your understanding of "day" and "night" being considered synonymous -- which seems to be another misunderstanding. Day and night are synonymous in regards to compriseing one day, but light and darkness are not synonymous in the sense of comprising one of...well...anything.

Where in the Scriptures does it say that good and evil are considered one echad of something in the same way that day and night are considered one echad day?

it doesn't matter if they form one of anything or not, or if they are synonymous. i tried to be pretty clear on this in the other post. all that matters is that they are commonly paired.

If the Israelites believed that God was the ultimate source of both good and evil (insteead of just good), then why do they not once just outright state that God is evil in the same way that they outright state that God is good?

because "source of evil" and "being evil" are different things. god is not evil. god cannot be evil. it's a logical contradiction for them. god defines what is good, so god must be good. when god uses evil, god is good for doing so (see the bottom for allegorical examples). it's kind of a wierd logic, i know. but i suspect this how they thought. look at the views of god using evil. is god evil for using evil?

another possibility is that they believed saying "god is evil" would be blasphemy and they would be punished for it. kind of a "tugging on superman's cape" kind of thing. don't mess with the bigger guy.

I actually think you're borrowing more from the Eastern religions (such as the eternal cycles of Yin and Yang), than any opinions the Israelites held when you make this statement. I've seen no passages of Scripture which states that good equals evil -- never -- not even once.

except for this one. but that'd be circular logic on my part. i'm not saying that "the net force of good = the net force of evil." i'm saying that here they are two sides of the same coin. god is making both, because the two sides can't both win. that's all i'm saying, really. that here they are equating good and evil to the same action.

It moves in the direction that God is in control for sure -- and it's reasurring to those readers who are trusting in God to know that he is in control no matter how bad things look. But it is not stating that good compliments evil -- or that good cannot exist without evil for that matter.

no, it probably isn't.

Well...I'm glad you explained that -- because now I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

i'm saying that antithesis reinforces the same idea through the equivalent of a double negative.

you could say (random made up verse):
God loves only the good,
but hates the wicked.

the second line is kind of implied from the first. it's not expressing the opposite idea. since love and hate are antonyms, and good and wicked are antonyms, the two cancel each other out grammatically. it's like saying "that movies wasn't bad" to mean it was good. it's not exactly the same concept, but it's the same basic direction.

I've pointed out where some of your assertions here may be generallly incorrect above. For example, what you call a synonym might actually be more accurately noted as a contrast between "special" and "natural" creations.

except for the fact that i keep demonstrating that THEY MEAN THE SAME THING. they're used as synonyms everywhere else.

The Isaiah passage is clearly saying, "I create good, and I make evil."

no, the opposite. if you insist it's making a distinction, let's get it straight. god MAKES (indirect) good; god CREATES (special) evil.

I think the Isaiah passage means that God is in control regardless of whether good or evil befalls someone -- that all things work according to his will.

yes, that appears to be the general meaning. so, god is in control of evil then, right?

All in all, the Scriptures depict God creating by a) bringing things into existence, b) structuring the things he has created by separating them into more individualized components,

yes. yes.

or c) withdrawing so as to create by virtue of his inactivity by allowing things to flow according to their own volition.

no! this is never a method of god creating, unless you want to argue that god created free will that way. but good is as much of a part of free will as evil is. in no other example does god create by abscence. the only bits that describe creation happening on its own are the places it DOES NOT use the words create, make, or form. it says "let the earth bring forth."

In this sense, I believe that Isaiah is employing antithetical parrallelism in order to display that God is sovereign over all things -- that even if evil happens, then he has a plan in order to potentially turn the evil into something good..

that's not what isaiah is saying at all. that might be an implication of other verse on the topic, but it's not in this one. in this one, good and evil are weighed equally, and both under the control of god, created by god. others mention greater good -- this one is about awesome might.

Anyway, what do you actually think it's saying? I know you believe it means what it says -- that God creates good and God make evil. But what are you getting at beyond this?

i've elaborated a few times. i think the "good" is referencing victory, and the "evil" referencing defeat. but one army's victory IS the other army's defeat. it's just a fact of life that there are both winners AND losers. i think it's saying that god choses who's who. do you agree that this the most sensible reading, given the context?

Hold on a moment here. Even in the case of when things are authentically being "paired", this doesn't necessarilly imply "equality" at all.

For example, the sun and moon are certainly paired. However, the sun is described as the greater light whereas the moon is descibed as the lesser light. Man and woman are certainly paired. However, again, according to the patriarchal society that the Israelites emerged from, man was considered greater than woman. When light is actually paired with darkness, the light is always being shown in a way in which it is either piercing, dispersing, or separating the darkness -- again implying that light is greater than darkness. Likewise, the heavens are certainly considered greater than the earth. Similarly, when evil is actually contrasted against good, good is certainly presented as the greater choice by which one should follow.

How on earth can you claim that these pairings are equal at all?

i'm not. i'm just claiming that the verse equates them. good is always viewed as greater than evil -- but here they are equal in the respect that god makes both. and especially in equal in that they seem to be the same event from two different sides -- see above.

(also, off topic for a second. though man is always literally described as "greater" than woman, women are generally portrayed by the bible as better than men in some respects. the archetype of stupid man/smart woman seems to be present pretty commonly. men are "greater" because the smarter woman seems to use her intelligence for evil more than man does... but that's another whole discussion)

Did you even read through those links I posted?

yes. i don't think they support your assertion much.

But I already listed this passage as a synonymous parallelism -- so why are you going into such great detail about why it's not synthetic parallelism?

because "thousands" and "ten thousands" are a pair. and if we didn't understand that they were a pair, we might thing that it was trying to show that david was a worse tyrant than saul (when the case seems to be the OPPOSITE). if we didn't know about the pairing, we might think that one is increasing and contrasting the other -- turning it into a synthetic.

that's why your logic regarding isaiah 45:7 is wrong: because of the pair. both halves of each line are expressing the idea of god creating something -- it's COMPARING, not contrasting, just like this verse is not contrasting david and saul, but comparing them.

I'm not going to rag you out. However, I would like to hear these same thoughts from an more authoritative source.

can it wait a little? if i get an opportunity, i'll find my old prof on campus and ask him if he can refer me to some material.

Note: That passage that you made bears a striking resemblance to a Mormon holy text...

Whatsoever is good
cometh from God,
and whatsoever is evil
cometh from the devil

Alma 5:40

ironic, because normally i agree with mormon philosophy. ah well. glad i didn't become a mormon then.

The passage in Isaiah 45:7, however, is still showing an antithetical parallelism because bara (special creation) is in contrast to yasar (natural creation) in the same way that darkness (hosek) is in contrast to light (or).

Would you like me to explain why asah can be contrasted to bara in the same?

yes, actually. find me a verse where bara' and 'asah or yatsar don't mean the same thing. i suspect that you can't, because i'm rather certain they're pretty close synonyms. i mean, the number of times they're used to mean the same thing is downright impressive.

Gen 2:4 These [are] the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,

Gen 5:1 This [is] the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;

Gen 6:7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

i mean, these are special creations here too. i don't see how it can be a contrast, since one can and does refer to the other. they're used interchangeably. not to refer to slightly different things -- but the very same things.

In the passage of Isaiah 43:7, based on the context of the passage, yes I agree -- they are not antonyms.

In the passage of Isaiah 45:7, based on the context of the passage, no I disagree -- they are antonyms.

oy, you're about as contradictory as the book of proverbs. how do you justify that two words can mean the same thing, but also be opposites? and if they can do that, why can't "good" and "evil?"

I still am disagreeing with it. I'm just pointing out that there seems to be a flaw in your own logic that allows a way for evil to exist without it being created by God.

but that's your entire point. that evil is not created by god. look, like i said, i'm taking this one step at a time. first that god creates some evil, then god creates all evil, then that god created evil originally. each is the implication of the one before it. but first i have to get you to agree that when it says "god creates evil" in some specific instance, it MEANS "god creates evil" and not some other weird mental-gymnastic interpretation involving a bunch of stuff that's not actually there.

In short, many simply believe that something went wrong in-between the time God "created" the trees and the time God "planted" the garden.

the first "it is not good" is the result of god's own creation -- man, and his loneliness. there's nothing about anything going wrong in the garden of eden, except for god not doing something good enough the first time.

In fact, as I've pointed out before, Ezekial seems to describe something going seriously wrong in the garden -- and he seems to indicate that rebellion from God's will is what caused things to go wrong.

dear god, not this again.

Does this present a fair representation of the chronomology of the appearance of evil in the Hebrew Scriptures?

no. it does not. this is interpretive poetry. it's using the imagery of the cherubims who gaurd the garden after adam and eve leave as a metaphor for the king of tyre's duty to protect his citizens. the king = the cherub and the garden = tyre. this is similar to the leviathan reference in revelation. leviathan is not the devil, yet the devil is portrayed using his image. it's a metaphor. -- don't accuse *ME* of being over-literal.

See, when you make a statement that you DON'T think the Hebrews thought of evil as something tangible at all -- I'm left scratching my said saying, "Well then why are you arguing with me and saying that evil is not the absence of God?". In other words, from my point of view (and what I believe the Hebrews believed too) evil is nothing. When I say that evil is the absence of God I'm essentially saying that evil is nothing -- the only reality is found in God.

Don't you understand this?

i do, but i don't agree. what i'm arguing is the difference between objective and subjective. they didn't even seem to think of evil as DEFINED, let alone solid. it's that chaos we're talking about. it's formless. when god puts it into a form, it becomes good. see? it's sort of the same idea, but not quite.

but more importantly, "evil" as a word seems to describe things that are just bad, not the godless deeds of some devil. it CAN be the work of god, if god does something that's bad to someone.

Why can't God favor everyone at once?

why can't everyone win the superbowl?

No. I think God sent the Israelites against many of these countries because these countries had abominable practices in the eyes of God. The Israelites taking the promised land was not a reward but rather part of a greater strategic plan in order to fill the whole world with God's will.

right. but their defeat was "evil" to them. part of god's good.

Yes, but you still seem to be presenting "evil" as in morally evil. Sometimes the word for evil simply meant things like painful, bad and/or suffering -- but not always specifically a malignant intent to inflict harm.


Based on our human perceptions yes. But God is not evil. He is good -- as the Hebrew Scriptures repeatedly state over and over again. If we perceive his actions as evil, it's because we're going against his will -- not the other way around. We don't define what's good and evil. God does


But it's his "good actions" which are called bad by those who rebel against his will. God is not doing bad. He's doing good -- which others perceive as bad. In other words, we're the ones calling good evil.

probably, yes. my point is that "evil" is something subjective in terms of the authors of the bible.

No. If he had obeyed, the book would have most likely just been shorter than it already is. Jonah did not have to rebel against God in order to complete God's will. God was going to complete it regardless of whether Jonah obeyed or not.

yes, and that's kind of the point of story. however, in order for that lesson to be in the bible... jonah had to disobey.

So then God never does evil. Evil is merely a perception on the part of humanity when we go against God.

that i would argue is a pretty sound reading of the text. this could in fact be the end of our debate, depending on the answer to this question: biblically, do you think "evil" exists as a force outside of human moral perception?

Why is Faith going to kill you?

use of the word "liberal." nevermind.

It's evil because people forsake God. In other words, God sending evil against people = people going against God. God's not intentially causing the evil. People are doing it to themselves when they go against God's will.

well, no. god intentionally does it, and that's pretty clear from the text. god makes the decisions, god sends the evils and the evil spirits. god could concievably forgive too -- as he often does. the evil itself is a choice on the part of god.

It's pain and disaster --- not a malignant attempt to inflict harm.

well, it's still inflicting harm, isn't it? but then again, so are vaccines. looked at from the small picture (where we're starting) a vaccine could be seen as intentionally inflicting harm on the body. on the larger picture, a vaccine though mildy and temporarily harmful, is a good thing, and builds the immune system. similarly, excercise actually destroys muscle tissue. on the tiny scale, it's harmful. god's use of evil, in regards to israel/judah at least, seems to something similar. destroying the hebrews so they can be rebuilt stronger. so god's use of small-scale harm is actually for the greater good.

the problem is that we live on the small scale, not the god-scale. and so some might perceive this as maliganant and morally wrong. the other big question seems to be whether or not god inflicts harm.

I think Maimonides' goes too far in stressing that God is "holy" to the point that anytime God is presented in the Scriptures he seems to view it as a vision. In other words, in Maimonides' view, since God is totally "set apart", he also needs to be something "distinct from creation itself". However, his other views on evil seem appealing to many including both Muslims and Catholics in addition to some modern Jews today.

well the idea of god being totally unlike his creation is a bad one. it's tradition, i know, and tradition dies hard. but on some degree we are like god according to the bible. we are made in his image, and we know right from wrong. i don't think his opinions hold at all --

-- creation CANNOT be thoroughly good. otherwise it would be like god. and that's a big problem with that logic. it contradicts itself. evidently, creation is not currently thoroughly good, either. so what happened, exactly? where did the bad come from? from god's absence? if god's creation turns evil when he takes a coffee break, it's not too thoroughly good is it?

logic does not side with maimonides.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 29 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 07-24-2005 11:03 AM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 37 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 09-03-2005 7:45 PM arachnophilia has responded
 Message 39 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 10-03-2005 12:04 PM arachnophilia has not yet responded

Member (Idle past 199 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004

Message 31 of 102 (235822)
08-23-2005 2:46 AM
Reply to: Message 29 by Mr. Ex Nihilo
07-24-2005 11:03 AM

according to the official rules, as defined by mr ex. nihilo himself:

the time frame: maximum time between post and response -- one week.

i cut you some slack, of course, because i missed by a day myself. it's now been more than three weeks since i last replied. if you'd like to continue this at a later date, due to real-life concerns or whathaveyou, that's ok by me. i hope you're ok and everything.

anyways. i think you forfeit a turn.

the verse we were discussing was:

Isaiah 45:7

I form the light, and create darkness:
I make peace, and create evil:
I the LORD do all these things.

i have been arguing that the literal meaning of this verse, aside from anything structural is that god does two things: one at each extreme. an alpha and omega, so to speak.

the interpretative meaning, according to context, is that god is picking who wins a battle -- there cannot be two winners. one side must lose. the "evil" here is the defeat, and the "good" the victory. this means that the biblical definition of evil is subjective, because both the good and the evil are technically refering to the very same event: the outcome of the battle. applied to us, this means that "good" and "evil" seem to be relative human terms, and that god is above those particular definitions. do you agree this fits with the verse?

so, the point of this verse is that god does some things that some people think are evil some of the time. similar points are made even when the hebrew are on the losing end:

Lamentations 3:38

Out of the mouth of the most High proceedeth not evil and good?

this is somewhat a point about division, as you have said. god divides the good from the evil. but in essence, by choosing to not bestow blessing on a group (especially in favor of another) god is in effect "doing evil" to that group of people. in this case, the evil is done to city of jerusalem. god is righteous in his decisions -- but to the sinning hebrews he is doing evil. god himself even phrases it as such:

Ezekiel 6:10

And they shall know that I am the LORD, and that I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them.

god's evil is his abscence, yes. he forsakes judah and allows them to be captured and exiled in babylon. but the action of withdrawing his favor is called "evil" by god and the people who worship him. and it is phrased as an action god does. similarly, we might call a mother who abandons her baby in a trash dumpster "evil." the evil is not her action, but the lack of it, and it's still phrased an action she does: abuse.

anyways, on to the forfeiture part -- because i think we can move on now. i've brought it up before, but here it is again:

Amos 3:6

Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid?
Shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?

this, again, i think is pretty straightforward. but i'm sure you'll object. this might be a war reference too, depending on what a trumpet blowing in the city could mean. it might mean an invading army. either way, it's something the people seem afraid of.

what this passage is saying, i think, is that people should not be afraid, because god has the authority. i think, in this respect, it's similar to matthew 6, which says that god takes care of the birds and the flower, why not the ones he loves? either way, the verse is speaking to the ultimate authority of god, who controls even the bad things that might happen to a people.


  1. god does good and evil, speaks good and evil.
  2. evil is subjective, and depends on the recipient not god or objective moral standards
  3. god is in control of all things, including (all) evils
  4. god is the original source of evil

shall we debate point 3 now?

This message has been edited by arachnophilia, 08-23-2005 02:47 AM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 29 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 07-24-2005 11:03 AM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 32 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 08-28-2005 12:21 PM arachnophilia has responded

Member (Idle past 199 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004

Message 33 of 102 (238025)
08-28-2005 4:17 PM
Reply to: Message 32 by Mr. Ex Nihilo
08-28-2005 12:21 PM

Re: bump
My apologies arachnophilia. I gave my computer to my mom as a gift -- so I don't have easy access to the internet at home. I tried to go down to the library, but I can only get 1 hour slots -- which isn't enough time for me. With summer working, and family and kids, and everything else, I just haven't been able to reply as soon as I wanted.

oh, ok. i was starting to get worried. i thought maybe you got like hit by a car or something.

Anyway, since I don't have as much time as I used to -- let's just cut to the chase:

  1. god does good and evil, speaks good and evil.
  2. evil is subjective, and depends on the recipient not god or objective moral standards
  3. god is in control of all things, including (all) evils
  4. god is the original source of evil

Having read through your posts, I think we already agree on #3 as well -- although there are some finer points that we might disagree with.

this actually really suprised me, but ok. we'll go one from here.

I think ultimately this last point, however, is the point that needs to be addressed: what is the original source of evil according to the Scriptures?

this is really the heart of the debate, i think. the point we've been trying to get to. i don't actually know, and i'm open to some debate of course. my position here is relatively weak.

f you want me to go back and respond to your previous posts, I will. There were some very important things I'd like to comment on

if you'd like to, it's up to you. but as you said, they're relatively minor points.

I'd like to get to the heart of the matter as the Spirit leads and and finish this debate -- perhaps even taking off the time-restriction of "one week" if possible.

it was your rule, not mine. if you want to get rid of it, that's fine by me, especially given the circumstances.

This didn't mean that a person would lose their turn to respond. This meant that they would lose the debate period due to lack of response. I think I'm actually the one cutting you some slack when you first missed by a day -- at least according to the rules of how I pictured an official debate.

probably. but i'm more interested in the debate than "winning." but i think it's fine, we're both understanding people here.

I'm not interested in winning a debate by a technicality. Although I have and I will continue to stress using some standards when engaging this debate, I also realize that there is life outside of EvC -- and that we all have things to do with family, work, and all that.


Where do you want to go from here?

well, let's hash this last point out for a while, and see what we come up with. this is really the interesting point of the debate, and it'd be a shame to miss it because of some silly rule neither of us seem to care that much about anyways.

This message has been edited by arachnophilia, 08-28-2005 04:18 PM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 32 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 08-28-2005 12:21 PM Mr. Ex Nihilo has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 34 by Mr. Ex Nihilo, posted 08-30-2005 2:45 PM arachnophilia has responded

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