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|Author||Topic: The Great Debate|
Member (Idle past 199 days)
From: god's waiting room
(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.
what other way do you propose we read this, that plainly says the lord created evil?
Member (Idle past 199 days)
From: god's waiting room
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.
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.
that's all well and dandy, but that's not what isaiah says, is it? it says god creates darkness.
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.
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.
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."
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
Member (Idle past 199 days)
From: god's waiting room
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."
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.
no, just man.
read it again.
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"
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.
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.
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.
yes, they do. but not at the same time.
synonymous parallelism is what's going on isaiah 45:7.
"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.
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.
variety. hebrew has words that are synonymous. why not use them? bara is a synonym of yatsar and 'asah. look:
same words. synonyms.
uh, except that's it's plainly not. is it being contrasts in the verse above? no. they mean the same thing.
please, please, please notice that this is SYNONYMOUS parallelism. they're synonyms.
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.
does isaiah 45:7 use figurative language?
no, the new thing created is a cloud. grammar. etc.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
and incorrectly. i'll repeat: a double negative is not a contrast.
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.
yes, perfectly. i'd prefer it that way, actually. we can get to later interpretations... later.
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.
 missed some brackets
This message has been edited by arachnophilia, 07-11-2005 02:43 AM
Member (Idle past 199 days)
From: god's waiting room
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
that's the law of conservation of matter, yes.
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?
this is the traditional hebrew thought, yes. we'll get to the exception breifly.
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.
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.
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.
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.
uh, you know this story, right?
i'm talking about THIS water:
i'm sure god creates other water, just like he creates other darkness:
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.
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?
i don't think i'm being overliteral here. it says it, or it does not say it.
but is there water OUTSIDE of the heavens?
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
yes, and i agreed. i mentioned that elsewhere, god creates by speaking: commanding things to create other things.
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.
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."
uhh, i don't see it. i see
but no בָּרָא (bara')
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.
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.
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?
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.
but sure, your statement is basically what the text is getting at.
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)"
right, but the sabbath is not being created. the creation is in the other six days. the sabbath is the ABSCENCE of creation.
no, i'm saying you're imposing a false one on the text.
i've bolded the important part. it's contrasting one state of existance against a previous state -- NOT nonexistance.
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.
no, i'm saying that genesis never describes it being created. look at it this way, has space-time always existed?
only as many times as i'm gonna have quote verses about god creating evil, using evil, or sending evil.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Member (Idle past 199 days)
From: god's waiting room
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.
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, 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.
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 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?
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.
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.
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.
yes, and i agreed. this sounds reasonable, and in my experience with the text, it fits.
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?
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 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?
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.
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?"
"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").
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.
much like the flood. it's probably recalling that specific imagery, along with prior to creation.
sure. out of anger, god destroys and turns his back.
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.
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:
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:
(keep reading til the next verse if you want. it's a little different in philosophy though)
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.
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?
no, i mean, strictly grammatically:
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.
yeah, sounds reasonable.
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?
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.
still heaven and earth. not the material they were made from.
yes, probably so. all i'm saying is that the people who wrote genesis never technically indicated god created this bit:
me neither. that was easy. :)
possibly. would you agree this passage is highly symbolic?
not the original act of creation, in genesis 1.
from the deep, or uncovered by the deep, as indicated by genesis 1.
made from the gather of the lower water, after the deep as divided.
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.
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).
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.
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.
in genesis. it never describes the deep being creating. that's all i mean.
it mentions practices involving water:
but i don't really see anything significant, no. this COULD be figuratively talking about that, but it's debatable.
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.
yeah. the psalm's being descriptive. moreso than the story. just like they describe creating the deep, where genesis does not.
what else does "spring" mean? (pool is simply the parallel of spring, btw)
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.
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.
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.
sounds fine to me.
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.
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.
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.
modern translations usually render this "a wind from god swept over the waters" or some variant.
yes, although the expanse is generally described as a solid object. (whether or not they thought it was one)
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.
now THAT sounds like an idiom to me. would you agree?
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.
yes, could you do that? it'd be real handy. :P
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.
but is not the earth.
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.
yes, i know. but not science. that's why i've been saying that science really has no place in this debate.
i'm not even close to done. we haven't gotten through my first verse yet.
it also clearly is symbolic of nothingness. but it is still, in itself, physical.
not sure that can be made sense of.
possibly. but in hebrew terms, it's described as a liquid, and the same liquid that makes up the ocean.
"unformed and void"
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?
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.
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
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)
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...
except, and look at the details now, the darkness existed before the light.
maybe my issue is that i refuse to believe that.
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.
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.
same passage. verse numbers are arbitrary. it's just repitition.
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, 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:
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.
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.
and, you know, semmantics are all well and good. but the point of the sabbath is that nothing went on.
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.
i hold a similar belief. i'm an "evolutionary christian." i think we're a work in progress.
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.
yes, i agree.
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.
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.
damned if i know. do you know? heck, if i knew, i'd be god.
i don't think so. and i don't know. do you have an answer?
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.
then what are you doing? how ARE you trying to deny that the bible quotes god as saying "i create evil?"
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.
that's what it says. according to scripture, god creates evil. can we move on now?
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?"
i don't believe that for a second.
book, chapter, verse?
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:
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
Member (Idle past 199 days)
From: god's waiting room
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:
i suggest we stick to addressing this point in conjunction with original isaiah verse:
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:
i would also like to address something that came up off-topic, but directly applies, from mr. ex-nihilo's source on ex-nihilo:
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.
Member (Idle past 199 days)
From: god's waiting room
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.
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.
Member (Idle past 199 days)
From: god's waiting room
it is absolutely not a belief issue. right now we're on the first part of the debate:
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:
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.
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.
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.
Member (Idle past 199 days)
From: god's waiting room
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
Member (Idle past 199 days)
From: god's waiting room
in the interest of expediting this topic, i'm going to more or less ignore the bits which aren't on topic.
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:
while this is somewhat true, i think, it's not totally true. here's why:
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.
or word. the two are often interchangeable. the ideas are somewhat similar, and breath is common, yes.
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.
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."
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.
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?
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.
unfortunately, no. even if i took notes in class, i doubt you'd accept them.
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:
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:
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?
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 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.
while sort of true, look at the facts.
had the verbs been antonyms, it would antithetical: "I create good, but destroy evil." but that's not what it says, is it?
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.
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:
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):
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.
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.
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:
still synonymous. (though if i didn't know sun/moon and day/night were pairs, it'd be antithetical)
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?
and "good" is off the same word formulæ as "evil." predefined pair.
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:
if isaiah 45:7 is antithetical, that has to be too.
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.
but that's not synthetic. look:
mouth = tongue
all the words are opposites except one.
god ≠ devil
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
sounds like a reasonable argument. can we come back to it?
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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:
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
Member (Idle past 199 days)
From: god's waiting room
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
Member (Idle past 199 days)
From: god's waiting room
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.
Member (Idle past 199 days)
From: god's waiting room
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 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?
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.
what i'm suggesting is that evil in that sense doesn't actually exist within the text.
it doesn't work that way. it says "I [God] create evil." not "evil is the result of people cutting themselves off from me."
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
yet light and dark forms one day. skipping down a bit.
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.
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...
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?
yes, they can. like i said, "almost."
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.
and "all these things" included creating evil and darkness. ie: it's not man's actions at work here -- it's god's.
no, we are not. here's a special creation:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
no, it probably isn't.
i'm saying that antithesis reinforces the same idea through the equivalent of a double negative.
you could say (random made up verse):
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.
except for the fact that i keep demonstrating that THEY MEAN THE SAME THING. they're used as synonyms everywhere else.
no, the opposite. if you insist it's making a distinction, let's get it straight. god MAKES (indirect) good; god CREATES (special) evil.
yes, that appears to be the general meaning. so, god is in control of evil then, right?
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."
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.
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?
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)
yes. i don't think they support your assertion much.
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.
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.
ironic, because normally i agree with mormon philosophy. ah well. glad i didn't become a mormon then.
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.
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.
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?"
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.
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.
dear god, not this again.
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.
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 everyone win the superbowl?
right. but their defeat was "evil" to them. part of god's good.
probably, yes. my point is that "evil" is something subjective in terms of the authors of the bible.
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.
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?
use of the word "liberal." nevermind.
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.
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.
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.
Member (Idle past 199 days)
From: god's waiting room
according to the official rules, as defined by mr ex. nihilo himself:
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
shall we debate point 3 now?
This message has been edited by arachnophilia, 08-23-2005 02:47 AM
Member (Idle past 199 days)
From: god's waiting room
oh, ok. i was starting to get worried. i thought maybe you got like hit by a car or something.
this actually really suprised me, but ok. we'll go one from here.
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.
if you'd like to, it's up to you. but as you said, they're relatively minor points.
it was your rule, not mine. if you want to get rid of it, that's fine by me, especially given the circumstances.
probably. but i'm more interested in the debate than "winning." but i think it's fine, we're both understanding people 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
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