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|Author||Topic: The Great Debate|
Mr. Ex Nihilo
Member (Idle past 193 days)
The scope: the nature of evil and its ultimate origin according to the Scriptures -- and how God employs evil to bring about good.
This is based on the discussions held here...
If there is any further clafirication necessary, let me know in the Coffee House thread again linked here...
I pray that the Spirit guide us in this discussion -- and that the Lord allow both of us to be illuminated if either one of us are in error regarding these positions we individually hold.
Edit: 1 corrected spelling of "Coffee" in Coffee House above, 2 corrected spelling of "discussion" and "be" in the prayer above, 3 corrected spelling of "Debate" in Title.
This message has been edited by Mr. Ex Nihilo, 07-09-2005 10:18 PM
This message has been edited by Mr. Ex Nihilo, 07-09-2005 10:48 PM
This message has been edited by Mr. Ex Nihilo, 07-10-2005 10:20 AM
Mr. Ex Nihilo
Member (Idle past 193 days)
Thank you. It's been corrected.
Well, let's take a look at the NIV for an example of how others have interpretted it.
In the phrase, "I form the light...", the word form comes from the Hebrew yasar*. This has been used to mean to "form", "devise", "produce", and "create". It has also been employed in the Scriptures to mean more specifically "to be formed" or "to be fashioned". Yet in other areas it simply seem to imply "to exist".
In the phrase, "...and create darkness.", the word create comes from the Hebrew word bara*. This likewise has been used to mean to "create", "bring about" or simply "do". However, unlike the word "yasar" above, "bara" is employed within the sense of being akin "to cut", "cut down", "engrave", or "carve". In other words, unlike the "yasar" above, the word "bara" seems to be employed in contrast to being cut apart or even divided from something else.
If we look back to the very beginning in Genesis 1:3-4 we read...
Similar to how the Hebrew word "bara" seems to be employed, we also see that the Hebrew word for "separated" is badal*. This literally means to "separate", "divide", or "to distinguish between diverse things". It can also be used in the sense of being "selected out of a group", "excluding oneself", "to discern", or even "to make a difference".
In short, based on the Isaiah passage you have quoted, and the Genesis passage I have quoted, we are apparently seeing a picture of God creating (bara) darkness by separating it (badal) from the light he first formed (yasar). More specifically, one could say that God has brought forth darkness by contrasting it against the light.
I would like to discuss the first chapter of Genesis in more detail latter. But let me get back to the remainder your quotation of Isaiah 45:7.
In the KJV we read...
In the NIV we read...
In the KJV we read peace whereas the NIV says prosperity. In the KJV we read evil whereas the NIV says disaster.
The Hebrew word employed for peace/prosperity in the Isaiah passage is salom* (derived from "salem" which means "to repay" or to "make resitution" in other areas of the Scripture). Salom means something to the effect of "to be safe" or to "be complete". It has also bee used in the Scriptrues to imply "health", "security", and "tranquility". In addition to this, it has also been used to imply "success", "comfort", and "peace" (as in the opposite of war -- or even "accepting terms of peace", "making peace with someone" or even "salvation" or "salutation" (in departing).
The Hebrew word employed for evil/disaster in the Isaiah passage is ra*, which is akin "to do evil" or to "be wicked". In its most basic sense, it means something akin to "bad", being of "interior quality", or even "evil". In other areas it means something akin being "severe", "injurious", "harmful" or even "unpleasant" (as in giving pain or causing unhappiness). It is also employed in the sense of something being "fierce", "wild", "calamity", or "that which is deadly".
It seems to me that the meaning of the word "ra" is very much dependent on how it is being employed within the Scriptures themselves -- and it doesn't always imply "evil" in the sense of someone maliciously and willfully determined to cause or inflict harm on another. More specifically, since the word "ra" is being used in context with the word "bara", it seems more appropriate to conclude that the evil that is being "brought about" is more the result of the effects of one's action cutting themselves off from God's will -- this seems even more so considering that "bara" is employed within the sense of being akin "to cut", "cut down", "engrave", or "carve".
In other words, like I said above, unlike the "yasar" used to describe God bringing forth light, the word "bara" seems to be employed in contrast to being cut apart or even divided from something else. Even the darkness in Genesis is "caused" by being "separated" or "divided" from the light which God originally formed.
*rough English pronunciation -- unfortunatrly I don't know how to make the appropriate accent marks. Any advice on how to do this would be appreciated.
Special: Please note in stating these things, I am by no means in any way claiming to have rebutted any of your points. I am simply presenting my side of the debate with as much clarity (solely from the Scriptures as possible) so as to resolve the starting point of our debate. There are actually several key points which, in my opinion, will clarify my points more clearly as the discussion proceeds.
In other words, this post is simply stating the inital premises of my side of the discourse. I fully expect much more material to be presented from both sides of the debate before any formal conclusions can be clearly made in regards to any moderated decisions made by those who might judge how well we have presented our cases..
Edit: 1 bolded the words "evil" and "disaster" in the Isaiah text quoted in both the KJV and the NIV, 2 italicized "evil" and "disaster" in explanation given, changed "be" to "me", bolded "darkness" in explanation given in contrast to "light". 3 made special note that this was only the inital starting point of the discussion -- and that much more material is expected before any formal conclusions can be made regarding the skill within which either one of us have presented our points of view.
This message has been edited by Mr. Ex Nihilo, 07-10-2005 02:57 PM
This message has been edited by Mr. Ex Nihilo, 07-10-2005 06:15 PM
This message has been edited by Mr. Ex Nihilo, 07-10-2005 06:28 PM
Mr. Ex Nihilo
Member (Idle past 193 days)
Yes. And all of them can be seen within the context of God creating by dividing its aspects from a former state of existence -- even in contrast to a state of non-existence.
Here we see God apparently making everything out of nothing. This is to say, the creation of the heaven and the earth are actually contrasted against a state of non-existence.
Yes. And how exactly did God create life on earth?
If you are a creationist, then you probably believe that God in some way created life out of the dust of the earth -- which seems to be leaning in a more traditional understanding of God's creative process in the Scriptures. If you are a theistic evolutionist, then you probably believe that God first created life out of non-life -- and then proceeded to create life from previous forms of life. Either way you look at it, God is creating in contrast to a previous state of existence.
Again, here we see God creating man in contrast to God's very own image.
Yes. And God actually "divides" the seventh day from the previous six. In other words, it is literally "set apart" from the other days in order to contrast this day from the previous six days of creation.
Well...we discussed this passage before -- that it should actually be divided into two different sentences...
Since this passage seems to be shifting from the previous chapter, it seems as if a difference context should be read here -- especially since parts of these passages do not seem to easily mesh into the very first chapter of Genesis. However, even so, based on the previous passage which also referenced God's creative act, we still see that the former contrast is still apparent -- that, whether you are a creationist or a theistic evolutionist, God has still created in contrast to a previous state of existence.
Actually, they all seem to make sense when you see that the division is potentially referencing the creative act in contrast to a previous state of existence -- every one of them I might note. But there's potentially more to it than that. It may be more appropriate to say that all these verses seem to clearly indicate a new creative act which stands in stark contrast to the original state in which the object was created.
Well, I've explained how they do make sense above. However, I'll go through your points below and comment appropriately as I feel the Spirit leads me.
Well, as I said above, if you are a creationist, then you probably believe that God in some way created life out of the dust of the earth -- which seems to be leaning in a more traditional understanding of God's creative process in the Scriptures. If you are a theistic evolutionist, then you probably believe that God first created life out of non-life -- and then proceeded to create life from previous forms of life. Either way you look at it, God is creating in contrast to a previous state of existence.
To further illustrate this, it is interesting to notice that from Genesis 1:1 where God created the heavens and the earth; the word "created" (bara) does not appear again until the fifth day in verse 20. I've already mentioned usages of the Hebrew word "bara" above. The Hebrew word for made for "made", however, is Hebrew word "asah" -- which means to "to form" or "assemble". Some have noted that it seems to refer to the act of "arranging from its previous state of usefulness to that form of beautification, so as to be used by God for His purpose." Everything from verse 2 to verse 19 seems to have to do with assembling the earth from pre-existing material -- whereas "bara" seems to imply a rather dramatic change from a previous state of existence.
Actually, Hebrew poetry can employ both similarity and contrasts -- and the Hebrew Scriptures do employ both these literary devices quite liberally.
"Parallelism" is a technical term for the form of Hebrew poetry that repeats a thought in slightly different ways. For example, "synonymous parallelism" is found in Proverbs 15:30, "A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones." On the other hand, and example of "antithetical parallelism", in which a thought is followed by its opposite, can be found in Proverbs 14:30, "A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." In studying Hebrew parallelism the key seems to be to compare each part with its pair in the other half of the sentence. For instance, in Proverbs 14:30 "a heart at peace" pairs with its opposite, "envy", and "rots the bones" is the opposite of "gives life to the body."
Sometimes these comparisons bare subtle shades of meaning. It becomes more difficult, however, when opposite ideas are expressed in different sentences -- or even different books of the Scriptures. However, as I've noted above, all the above examples of God creating (bara) can be seen within the context of being contrasted with a previous state of existence.
First of all, this raises an interesting question: why did God not use the same word "bara" for both his creating of the light and the darkness in the Isaiah passage in question?
It seems to me that this is an example of subtle antithetical parallelism, with yasar being contrasted to bara in reference to the light and darkness.
Second of all, even if the word is translated "create" in every single translation of the Scriptures, the meaning of the word create (bara) can still nonetheless have very different subjects which it focusses on -- it depends on the context it is used.
Here, let's go through some examples:
I could go on with this. However, I think these quotes (when added to the quotes you've noted where "bara" is used above) demonstrates a clear pattern. In all these cases the thing that is created is used in contrast to the previous state that it was created in.
In the case of Psalm 51:10 the new thing "created" is a pure heart, which is in contrast to the sinful heart barren of God.
In the case of Isaiah 4:5 the new thing "created" is an extremely visible presence of God, which is in contrast to the lack of God's presence that previously existed before the people gathered together to worship him.
In the case of Isaiah 49:9-10 God says he will "create" these trees in the dessert so that people will know that God put them there, which is again contrasted against the barren desert that previously existed.
In the case of Isaiah 48:6-7 we see God specifically stating that he will create new knowledge which was heretofore unknown to the people, which is again contrasted against the lack of knowledge that previously prevailed.
In summary, all these verses seem to clearly indicate a new creative act which stands in stark contrast to the original state in which the object was created. Rather than refashioning an object after its original creation, it seems more appropriate to me to conclude that God is creating something which is in sharp contrast to its previous state of existence.
Yes. That's exactly what I've said above. If one part of the line is reflecting the other, then we are seeing a contrast between two states of being -- which is expressed within the gamut of what God controls.
I'll repeat this part for you to consider.
Now having said this I will note that above you said above...
But now you're saying...
It seems to me that these two statements at are least partially contradictory.
Could you explain this further because I'm not exactly sure which stance are you taking.
Yes, in other words, bad things happen -- and the Israelites often attributed "bad things" toward the quality of being evil. Actually, many people still think this way today. However, in the Hebrew mind anyway, all things were basically attributable to God -- or at least his sovereign control of the universe.
But does this mean that they believed that God was forcing people to do evil?
I know that you've presented passages that some translate as God appearing to do evil. However, some passages of Scripture seem to indicate that God was incapable of doing so -- and that other things were going on.
For example, Habakuk 1:13 seems to indicate that God cannot tolerate evil -- that his eyes are too pure to look upon evil
Job 34:10-12 seems to indicate a similar theme as follows:
It is interesting to note that Elihu did not defend Job as being innocent. However, his arguments certainly shifted the focus of suffering from one of punishment to one of warning. He even suggested that God allows a man to suffer in order "to turn back his soul from the pit". Evidently Elihu had sat in silence throughout the discussion -- in deference to the other speakers' age he explains. However, this fact alone seems to indicate that he had a calmer nature -- he seems to have refused to jump into every heated argument.
Nonetheless, if these above passages of Scripture are accurate, then it forces me to consider that something else is being said -- something that is not expressly explained outright or immediately apparent in the Hebrew Scriptures but that one needs spiritual discernment to see.
Well, I'll leave that up to the moderators who might judge the validity of each of our cases.
Let's try to stay on topic, shall we?
What does this have to do with the following?
This is off topic arachnophilia.
To any moderators who may be reading this, is this considered valid debating material?
I'd like to keep this thread very focussed if possible.
Such as saying that God is both good and evil?
You seem to be jumping the gun here a bit. Let's just continue with the debate to see where the Spirit leads us.
I've explained how it is very much used above to contrast God's creation with the created thing's previous state of existence.
I've explained this in detail above using the concept of Hebrew parallelism.
Actually, this is the conclusion that I arrived at after reading the Scriptures. In other words, based on my understanding of the Scriptures (especially the Christian Scriptures) I've concluded that God is wholly good.
For example, 1 John 1:5 says:
However, for the sake of this discussion, I'm trying to limit the scope of the inquiry to the Hebrew Scriptures alone.
Is that alright?
You seem to be getting a bit presumptuous in this debate arachnophilia -- even to the point of invoking some kind of personal conclusions about my reading of the Scriptures. I would advise you to stick to the main focus of this thread, which has been clearly defined as follows:
Edit: 1 corrected typographical error.
This message has been edited by Mr. Ex Nihilo, 07-11-2005 12:02 AM
Mr. Ex Nihilo
Member (Idle past 193 days)
Before I proceed further I would like to note that so far your side of the debate appears to be more of a lecture.
When I point out my point of view, I usually try to use terms such as "I think...", or "It seems to me...", or "It appears as if..." Since it is a debate, I try really hard to avoid absolute statements in order to be open to the other person's point of view. I realize that I don't always succeed at avoiding this, but i do make an effort to do so.
However, when you point out your own point of view, you seem to be very much speaking in absolutes, such as statemetns like "No", or "Absolutely not," or "You'd probably be wrong", or similar things such as "I want to make this very clear", etc.
When one engages in a formal debate (which is what I've invited you to partake in), the participants are genrally not permitted to declare with absolute authority that the other sides idea is wrong. They are only allowed to present the data which attempts to rebut their opponent's view -- and the moderators (or others who read the thread) make the decision as to who has won the debate or not. So far, it appears to me anyway, you are actually messing this part up quite miserably -- but I'll leave this for others to decide.
Getting a little touchy there arachnophilia?
Comments like this do not win debates.
In your opinion maybe -- just as in my opinion Genesis does describe a creation ex nihilo. Obviously the doctrine of creation ex nihilo is a sticking point which has caused much debate in itself.
Bickmore actually writes of the "seemingly contradictory language" found in Jewish intertestamental literature and in the New Testament, some of which points towards creation from preexistent matter, some of which point towards ex nihilo creation. He concludes, in attempting to reconcile such passages, that, "To these ancient writers 'existence' meant organized existence, and 'non-existence' meant chaos."
Having said this, clearly there is much still left to be debated. Somewhat against your opinion, however, there are many who have concluded that the initial chapters of Genesis do describe a creation ex nihilo -- and it's not only Christians that have concluded this.
For example, while the Jewish theologian, Philo of Alexandria, makes statements that at times reflect the belief that God's creating was actually a shaping of pre-existing matter:
But even in the Philonic view of creation, some ambiguity exists since at times Philo expresses himself along the lines of creatio ex nihilo. For instance, he writes that...
Consequently, a similar thought is expressed in the The Wisdom of Solomon 11:17a, where it says that creation is "out of formless matter [ex amorphou hyles]" A date in the first century B.C. seems most likely for the authorship of this book, though any time from the second century B.C. to the first century A.D. is possible.
The King James version of the Wisdom of Solomon expresses it as "For thy Almighty hand, that made the world of matter without form..." whereas the Revised Standard Version of the Wisdom of Solomon expresses it as "For thy all-powerful hand, which created the world out of formless matter.."
It must be remembered that Jewish thought was preoccupied with the God of the cosmos rather than with the cosmos itself, with the creatio rather than the ex nihilo. The Hebrew Scriptures seems to have viewed natural phenomena primarily as pointers to God, who created them and whose glory was revealed through them.
Nothwithstanding this observation, we still nonetheless see Jewish writers expressing these thoughts as they began to delve more deeply into the nature of what may have existed before the creation event.
For example, deutero-canonical Catholic book (the intertestamental book) of 2 Maccabees clearly states the traditional doctrine of creatio ex nihilo. Here we see a mother pleads with her son willingly to accept torture rather than recant his beliefs:
We find another reference to creation out of nothing in the Dead Sea Scrolls:
The noted first-century rabbi, Gamaliel, seems to have reflected this concept of creation in his thinking. Apparently a philosopher challenged him, "Your God was indeed a great artist, but he had good materials [unformed space/void, darkness, water, wind, and the deep] to help him." Gamaliel, responded, "All of them are explicitly described as having been created by him [and not as preexistent]."
Similarly the Jewish pseudepigraphical book Joseph and Aseneth, whose date of composition is estimated to be between the second century BC and the second century AD, contains a passage which also seems to imply creatio ex nihilo. Aseneth, having thrown her idols out of the window and put on sackcloth for a week, addresses the God of Joseph:
In addition, the notion of creatio ex nihilo appears to be reinforced when Scripture declares the eternality and self-sufficiency of God in contrast to the finite created order:
The God "who called forth creation out of nothing has power also to reduce it to nothing again." Likewise, implicit throughout Isaiah 40–48 is the supreme sovereignty and utter uniqueness of God in creation, besides whom there was no other god - or anything else - when he created:
Moreover, the Scriptures declare that God's word alone is what brings the universe about -- not simply God's word acting upon previously existing matter. Psalm 33 declares that it was by "the word of the Lord" and "the breath of his mouth" that "the heavens were made":
Finally, since science now seems to be leaning in the direction of Big Bang cosmology, if this is correct then it seems highly unlikely that the universe always existed anyway -- which is another reason to abandon this line of primitive thought which assumes that the universe always existed.
According to Psalm 114:7-9 we read...
Seems to me, based on this passage found in the psalms, that God transmuted various substances into other subtances.
Besides this, the very beginning of Genesis says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." The heavens include stars, planets, moons, comets, asteroids, etc.
Exactly how literally are you going to read these passages arachnophilia?
They've found water all throughout the universe, in Saturn's rings for example, on the sun itself for another example, and there are enourmous amounts of water in space. In fact, nearly all of the oxygen in space is in the form of water or carbon monoxide.
Furthermore, as I've read elsewhere here at EvC...
So you're saying that all these things were not created by God even though the Hebrew Scriptures clearly state over and over again that all things were made by God?
I find it strange that you claim that God "made" evil, but that he didn't "make" the darkness. If darkness was just there (and God didn't make it), then why do you stress so much that God had to make evil? Couldn't the evil have already been "just there" as you claim the (original) darkness was?
And this brings up another interesting point: what are you talking about when you talk about the (original) darkness?
You seem to be putting the parenthesis around (original) as if to exclude this darkness from other kinds of darkness. However, the word employed here in the (original) darkness is the Hebrew word hosek -- which is the exact same word used for many other kinds of darkness throughout the Scriptures. It is often synonamously used for darkness, obscurity, night, dusk, misery, falsehood, and ignorance.
Are you saying that the (original) darkness -- which is expressed with the Hebrew word hosek -- which has has been used eslewhere in the Scritpruees for darkness, obscurity, night, dusk, misery, falsehood, and ignorance -- was not created by God but was in fact just there?
Could you explain this further please?
Actually, bara seems to a special word for "create" which is only employed in relation to when God himself is involved in a new creative act. I've already noted the contrasts pointed out by the Scriptures themselves.
Furthermore, the verb "bara" does occur in the basic verbal stem (qal) and its passive stem (niphal). There are a few cases where the word seems to occur in a different stem (piel) with the meaning “to cut down”.
For example, Joshua 17:15 employs the verb "bara" when cutting down a forest as follows:
Similarly, Ezekial 21:24 employs the verb "bara" to express the phrase to cut out as follows (it is translated as "taken captive" below in the NIV):
While some argue that there is insufficient data to determine how this idea could be related to the verb “to create,” it is quite possible that “cutting” was a way of “creating.”
Actually, I've pointed to two examples in the Scriptures already where the word bara is used in the sense of "cutting out".
However, in addition to this, there is another verb bara’ which the dictionaries list as a separate root, “to be fat.” It occurs in the causative stem (hiphil) with the meaning “to fatten” in 1 Samual 2:29.
This would mean, contrary to your statement above, that there were apaprently three separate words spelled "bara" employed in the Hebrew Scriptures.
I don't think you're not really answering the question here arachnophilia -- and it appears as if you're being quite evasive about it too. The Scriptures testify over and over again that God created the heavens and the earth.
Here's a few more examples.
Take a look here...
Actually many creationists seem point to this passage here in Genesis 3:19:
They look at this and note that both animals and man share the same fate when they die -- in other words, whether man or animal, to dust they will return. This, in their mind anyay, seems to indicate that both man and animals shared a common origin from dust, especially since they both share the same physical properties at death.
Similarly, some creationists point to passages like this...
To them, passages like these confirm that other creatures can be created from the dust just like man was.
For the sake of this debate let's take a look at the passage again.
And you don't see a contrast here from one day when compard to the previous 6 days?
As I said before, they all seem to make sense when you see that the division is potentially referencing the creative act in contrast to a previous state of existence -- all of them.
More absolutes eh?
Really, so you're saying there is absolutely no contrast being presented at all?
Let's take a look at what you say below.
This seems to be an odd opinion to hold, especially since every other time the word is used it does quite clearly display a contrast from a previous state of existence.
I discuss your rebuttal in more detail below.
And you're saying that you're not personally influenced by what the ancient Hebrews believed -- or what you believe the ancient Hebrews believed?
Ah...so you're saying that the water always existed then?
Then why do the Scriptures say in Ecclesiastes 11:5:
How many times do I have to point out that the Scriptures state over again that God is the maker of all things?
Of course, if you reply that God is the maker of all things "made" -- but that God didn't make things that "already" existed, then I think you're the one who is actually adding words to the Scriptures. The Hebrew Scriptures say over and over again that God made all things. However, nowhere in the Hebrew Scriptures does it say that God made all things that were made.
This seems to be a moot point since the original account in creation does describe God seprating the light he brings forth from the darkness, darkness which you yourself claim God never made in the first place.
Just as a reminder, I'll requote what you said above...
Here, let's take a look at it again.
Please note that God did not "name" the darkness "night" until the light was separated from it and named "day". In other words, the darkness has no name until it is contrasted with the light.
Yes, and I think you're overlooking something very important.
I don't think I'm doing that. I'm looking at previous examples within the Scriptures to make an informed opinion about what the passage in Isaiah means -- as I feel the Spirit leads me.
I am still curiuos to know what you mean by putting the parenthesis around (original) as if to exclude this darkness from other kinds of darkness. As I said above, the word employed here in the (original) darkness is the Hebrew word hosek -- which is the exact same word used for many other kinds of darkness throughout the Scriptures. It is often synonamously used for darkness, obscurity, night, dusk, misery, falsehood, and ignorance.
Are you saying that the (original) darkness -- which is expressed with the Hebrew word hosek -- which has has been used eslewhere in the Scritpruees for darkness, obscurity, night, dusk, misery, falsehood, and ignorance -- was not created by God but was in fact just there?
Could you explain this further please?
I'm going to discuss the parallelism aspect later this week when I have a chance.
Mr. Ex Nihilo
Member (Idle past 193 days)
Please note: I've typed this message out in a word processor program, cut it, and pasted it. There will probably be some typographical and layout problems. I am fixing them as I see them.
Edit follow-up: I've corrected the typographical and layout problems. Everything should be clear to go now.
Whether it is redundant or not doesn't matter. It's what's been asked of you when invited to participate.
When you asked me to restrict this discussion to the Hebrew Scriptures, I honored your request. However, you seem to be nonetheless indulging in a kind of lecturing. In response to this, I found it prudent to invoke science (something which you disagreed with) in order to counter your absolute claims. If you persist in continuing to engage in this kind of debate where certain rules are ignored in favor of your own position -- even to the point of invoking other debates with Eddy Pengelly, which bears no relevance to this debate at all -- then it seems to me that there is basically no reason to honor your request to restrict the debate solely to the Hebrew Scriptures or to exclude scientific findings.
How would you like me to proceed with this?
Well neither am I just making stuff up. Neither one of us are "making stuff up". We're presenting what we believe the Scriptures are stating. That's the whole point of this discussion -- what we believe the Scriptures are saying in regards to the creation of good and evil, and how God uses these things within the Scriptural context.
You can say "you're wrong" if you feel like doing so. I'm just noting that the decision of whether we are either right or wrong in a formal debate is generally not for us to decide. Of course we each feel that our individual cases are correct, because we wouldn't be debating in the first place if we felt we were in agreement. I'm also fairly sure that after this debate is over we will probably continue to hold our individual views.
However, when you place your thoughts out on a public forum, you're inviting others to critique your thoughts, and how well you've expressed them. To make the claim that you are correct, or that your opponent is incorrect, is actually the redundant part. It's redundant because we already believe that we are correct and that the other side is incorrect -- and it overlooks the fact that we've invited others to judge our thoughts and examine how logically we've expressed them here.
Again, let's leave what is considered common sense for others to decide. We already believe that our individual points of view are "common sense" in our own mind. It's the other participants who are reading this that I'm interested in hearing after the debate is over.
Actually, unfortunately it does not appear to be a statement that can be checked. Rather it seems to be a statement that can be examined within the context of what other portions of Scripture have to say. In other words, it needs to be interpreted -- not checked. That's how I see it anyway.
Well, this is one of my main points: The LORD apparently does not change according to the Scriptures. So, for example, if it states somewhere that God creates by a certain method, if I see a reference to God creating the same thing elsewhere in the Scriptures, then it seems to me that the Lord has most likely employed that same method for creating that same substance.
Or maybe it's because they never thought about it. As I pointed out elsewhere, Jewish thought was apparently preoccupied with the God of the cosmos rather than with the cosmos itself, with the creatio rather than the ex nihilo. The Hebrew Scriptures seems to have viewed natural phenomena primarily as pointers to God, who created them and whose glory was revealed through them.
Furthermore, it is fairly well believed that the Genesis texts were heavily borrowed from the Babylonians. More specifically, the Hebrews seem to have been strongly influenced by them to the point of adopting their beliefs all the while whittling away all the "false gods" within the Babylonian literature. In this sense, things such as "the sun, the moon and the stars" were no longer seen as "gods" but rather physical objects of nature itself which were ordered and organized by one Supreme God -- ie., created by God and not gods in their own right.
To say that the people who wrote Genesis 1 did not believe in creation ex nihilo seems to be seriously overlooking the most likely central reason for writing the Genesis text in the first place -- to testify to the monotheistic deity that they worshipped above all other things, to testify to the Creator over the creation.
There was also a time when people didn't believe in gravity either. But it wasn't because they couldn't see the effects of gravity. It seems more likely that it was because it never occurred to them that a force called gravity even existed in the first place.
Or it might not explain it. Or it might be something else entirely that neither one of us have even considered. Let's continue with the debate to find out more from both our points of view.
Well. I've already discussed some ideas related to this. However, if one is looking for an alternative, then it could very well be an idiom of some sort -- an idiom that if it is translated literally could nonetheless potentially lead to some confusing conclusions.
For example, if I were to translate English-based idioms like "hit the ceiling," or "kill time," or "eat your heart out," into another language, the reader from the other language could be very likely left scratching their head thinking things like, "Why is he hitting the ceiling?" or "Is it really time for someone to be killed?" or "Ew, that's really disgusting...why is he telling me to eat my heart out of my chest cavity?" Some rather perplexing and/or ghastly images can be left by translating an idiom from one language literally into the words of another language.
It's virtually impossible to translate the meaning of words and their "nuances" with complete accuracy. However, the Scriptures appear to be most accurately interpreted within its Jewish cultural context. The word "context" comes from the Latin verb, "contextuere" which means "to weave". A book or any other writing consists of words and thoughts woven together. One of the primary rules of Scriptural hermeneutics is to understand what the original readers would have understood. This necessarily implies an awareness of the culture that would have affected that understanding. In order to understand the meaning of words from a different culture, we must understand the culture of the people using that language.
Actually, probably the largest obstacle when translating one language into another is how to deal with idioms. If you translate idiomatic expressions literally there is a very real chance they will be misunderstood. We understand the common phrase, "It's raining cats and dogs," but if you put that literally into another language it probably won't make much sense at all.
If we look to the Christian Scriptures, we see that the text of Matthew 6:22-23 literally reads: "The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is good, your whole body is full of light; but if your eye is evil your whole body is full of darkness..."
"If your eye is good" is a Hebrew saying that means, "if you are generous."
Unfortunately, many English translators have not recognized this Hebrew idiom. Almost all translations preserve the singular, "eye," even though "eyes" would make more sense in English. Only three translations (Good News For Modern Man, New English Bible, New International Version) have recognized the absurdity of "eye." These translations have translated "eyes" in spite of the fact that the original Greek text has "eye."
More variety apparently exists in the translation of the word "good." Weymouth and the New International Version translate literally. But "good" in relation to an eye doesn't make much sense in this particular context. Weymouth tries to solve this problem by translating eye as "eyesight" - "If your eyesight is good". Other translators simply guess at the meaning of "good." "Single" is the traditional translation of "good" (King James, American Standard). Most modem versions prefer "sound" (Amplified, Goodspeed, Jerusalem Bible, New Berkeley, New English Bible, Phillips, Revised Standard, Williams). Other suggestions are "clear" (Good News For Modern Man, New American Standard), and "pure" (The Living Bible). Only James Moffatt translates "good eye" as "generous," but even he uses "sound" in the parallel to Matthew 6:22 found in Luke, even though the same Greek word for "good" appears in both places.
Now some would ask, "What is an evil eye?"
Someone not knowing the Jewish background might suppose he was talking about casting spells. But in Hebrew, having an "evil eye," means being stingy - just like having a "good eye," means being generous.
Bearing this in mind, Christ is apparently warning against lack of generosity and nothing else. This fits the context perfectly: "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.... You cannot serve both God and money."
Another interesting article presents some interesting food for thought as well...
I understand what you're saying. However, I think I have partially addressed this above when invoking the Scriptures which indicate the changeless nature of God. In other words, if God doesn't change, then it seems reasonable to conclude that the way he made something one time is most likely the same way he made the same thing at another time.
We can discuss this further when you reply.
If, however, you find this unacceptable (and we can talk about that point when the time comes), then I would like to further illustrate my thought regarding the nature of evil (and God creating it) -- that when people miss the mark (sin), they are effectively breaching God's creation and partaking in the formless chaos which (by your own admission) God did not actually create according to the Scriptures.
For example, consider the following lengthy passage of Scripture from Jeremiah...
There's a few things to note here...
1: We apparently see that people's own actions bring punishment upon themselves -- not God actually making it happen.
Based on this passage, would it be fair to say that people's sins results in God anger -- and that God's anger is symbolic of people falling out of God's creative order into the formless, lightless emptiness which existed prior to creation -- a formless, lightless emptiness which God apparently did not create?
Or stated more plainly, would it be safe to say that transgressing God's will basically make one's life go into deep chaos so to speak -- effectively tapping a primal chaos that, according to your view of the Scriptures, God did not actually create?.
For the sake of this discussion, let's assume that you are correct that the Hebrews were not talking about a creatio ex nihilo in the very first parts of Genesis. Let's assume that the Hebrews did actually believe some things did indeed exist eternally prior to God making some kind of "divine order" out of some kind of vast eternal chaos.
Even if this is true, we still see an amazing transformation taking place here -- because we are still seeing an amazing contrast in the creation itself which was formerly something radically different from its end result which God made it into. Regardless of whether of the Scriptures are talking about a creation ex nihilo or not, the point still stands, as I said before, in all these cases the thing that is created is used in contrast to the previous state that it was created in. In fact, all these verses still seem to clearly indicate a new creative act which stands in stark contrast to the original state in which the object was created -- even if it is only order from disorder from the very beginning. In this sense, the deep division that is taking place is still displayed by the radical before and after that is conveyed by the usage of the word.
Now, for the sake of emphasizing this part, I felt that I should address some of your previous rebuttals where this stark constrast has already been pointed out...
The passage in Isaiah 45:7 may be using figurative language -- and, then again, maybe not. That's ultimately what this debate is attempting to reconcile.
However, even still, your question isn't answering the question arachnophilia. Does the passage in Psalm 51:10 display a "creation" which lies in stark contrast to previous state of existence or not?
Wait a second here...
The northern nation of Israel was totally apostate from the beginning. It was given over to idolatry and did not have one righteous king in its 200 year history. In sharp contrast, the southern nation of Judah was blessed with many righteous kings. It was also blessed with Jerusalem as its capital. And it was blessed even more by having the Shekinah glory of God residing in its Temple.
Many Orthodox Jews (and a minority of Christians too) do believe that the nation of Israel will also serve once more as the home of God's spectacular Shekinah glory. However, they point out that the glory will not be contained within the Holy of Holies. They actually point toward Isaiah 4:5-6 among other verses and say that the Shekinah will hover over the whole city of Jerusalem as a cloud by day and a fire by night, providing a canopy to protect the city from heat and rain.
Whether they are right or wrong, I have to admit that the description in Isaiah 4:5-6 does seem to be oddly reminiscent of former things in the Scriptures, such as the presence which went before the Israelites in the time of Moses, or the glory which filled the Temple in the time of Solomon.
Even the unorthodox Jews seemed to make this connection. For example, in 2 Maccabees (2:4-12), it describes how the Prophet Jeremiah hid the Ark of the Covenant in a cave. He prophesied that the Ark of the Covenant would remain hidden until the time of the return of the Jews and their receiving of God’s mercy. Then, according to this view, the Ark will be revealed and the Shekinah Presence of God will manifest himself just as he did in the time of Moses and Solomon.
In Moses' time we read this:
In Solomon's time we read this:
Apparently, according to many Orthodox Jews, Isaiah's reference to the future cloud is rather an extended and amplified glory permanently "overshadowing" his Temple -- and this presence is certainly in stark contrast to the "lack of evidence" for God that so many lament over today.
So what exactly are you saying?
I personally think so, or at least an early concept of it. However, that's not what Philo was referring to.
The first quote is from The Eternity of the World.
The second quote is from On Dreams 1.76.
(Note: For a helpful discussion on Philo's view of creation, see R. Sorabji, Time Creation and the Continuum (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1983) 20-39. Sorabji concludes on the basis of Philos de Providentia 1 and 2 that Philo implies that the universe - including its matter - had a beginning; he admits, however, that
Yes, but I'm not quoting these references in order to give an "official" Jewish perpective. I'm just noting that various Jewish sources did indeed conclude that the Hebrew Scriptures indicated a creation ex nihilo to them. This doesn't mean it's the "official" Jewish view. It just means that some Jews did conclude that the Hebrew Scriptures were teaching a creation from nothing. In other words, its origins can be traced to a period before Christianity emerged, so the doctrine could not be claimed to be an explicitly Christian doctrine -- although the church certainly did promulgate this belief beyond what was heretofore known previously.
This passage from Nehemiah 9:6 seems to indicate otherwise.
Similarly, let's take a look at Psalm 148:3-5
This passage from Psalm 148:3-5 also seems to indicate otherwise.
I think the passages I quoted above seem to contradict some of your assertions here. However, let's take another look at the Scriptures to see what else the Spirit might reveal.
Now some may debate who this person was that was there observing everything. Some say that it was Christ prior to his incarnation whereas others believe it was symbolic of Wisdom itself. I'm not interested in debating this part. However, either way you look at it, this passage seems to be referring to a specific period in time before anything was even created -- including most likely the deep itself.
Now one could get technical and say that the Scriptural passage in the Proverbs doesn't actually outright state that God "created" the deep. However, we do have passages of Scripture which talk about God making water from rock. We also have passages of Scripture which indicate that God "turned the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into flowing springs" -- all the while not mentioning rain. We have passages of Scripture which indicate that God "made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them." We have passages of Scripture which say, "When there were no oceans..." and "when there were no springs abounding with water." -- implying that there was a time when there was most likely no water on the earth -- the earth which was formless and empty at one point I might add. We also have passages of Scriptures which states that God made the "highest heavens" and the waters above the skies.We also have the passage of Scripture which states from the very beginning that God created the heavens and the earth itself.
Based on all this, it doesn't seem so impossible that God most likely either made the earth first and then the water then naturally issued forth -- or he made the earth with water on its surface in the first place. In other words, the mystery really doesn't seem to be that mysterious based on other passages of Scripture -- even if it isn't explicitly stated in the original chapters of Genesis.
But well take a closer look at the passage down below -- just to check to see if it isn't explicitly stated in the original chapters of Genesis.
Eddy Pengelly isn't within the scope of our debate either. But you don't seem to mind invoking his name for the sake of this debate, eh?
I will attempt to honor my side of the obligation from here on in -- provided you maintain your end as well. :)
In your opinion, correct?.
I just did an extensive search for "everlasting", "forever" and "eternal" throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. I found these words used in conjuntion with God, God's promises, his covenants, many tangible things which can be touched, and many intangible things which cannot be physically touched.
Here's some examples of "everlasting"
Here's some examples of "forever":
Here some examples of "eternal"
Now I admit that I was looking for a very loooong time (my apologies for the delay getting back to you), and I may have missed a reference. However, the odd thing that I noted (if my search was indeed accurate) was that not once is there made mention of everlasting, nor forever, nor eternal in reference to water in the
If my search was accurate, I wonder why that is so?
You can do your own search if you wish -- because I admit that I may have missed something.
However, if the waters were indeed never created as you insist the Scriptures apparently "infer", certainly the Hebrew Scriptures would testify somewhere to the fact that the waters had somehow always been there, wouldn't they?
If you are aware of a Hebraic Scriptural verse that outright states that the waters existed forever, or were eternal, or were from everlasting (or something similar), I would be interested in reading it. I did find some references to the "everlasting hills" in Deuteronomy 33:15. However, I think Psalm 90:2 effectively renders this reference ineffective because it clearly states, "Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God." This passage in Psalm 90:2 also seems to render ineffective the passage in Micah 6:2 which states, "...listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth." because, again as the Psalm states, "Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God."
Clearly, it appears to me anyway, God was around before anything else was made according to the Hebrew Scriptures themselves.
Oddly, in the Christian Scriptures I have found references to eternal waters -- but that's apparently outside the scope of this debate isn't it?
Yes. I do know that story. It reads as follows:
There is another reference here...
Here's the interesting thing though -- there is no reference to a pool of water in either of these accounts. Of course, one can "infer" that there was a large pool based on the account because the Scriptures say, "...and the community and their livestock drank" This certainly seems to imply that there was a lot of water gushing
However, the other Scriptural passage seems to indicate a transfromation of rock into water when it says, "who turned the rock into a pool, the hard rock into springs of water." It doesn't seem to indicate a gush of water bursting from a rock, but rather rock changing into water. For the sake of this discussion, I'm certainly willing to concede that Psalm 114:7-9 is referencing this event when Moses struck the rock. The earlier pasts of the Psalm seem to indicate this...
However, and this is my main point here: why are you allowed to cross reference a passage of Hebrew Scripture in the Psalms in order to understand the account of Moses striking the rock more accurately, while I'm apparently being restricted from cross referencing other passages of Hebrew Scriptures in order to understand the creation account in Genesis more accurately? As I said above, if God doesn't change, then it seems reasonable to conclude that the way he made something one time is most likely the same way he made the same thing at another time. At the very least, we have corroborative similarities which can enable one to "infer" that the process whereby the water came is most likely similarly brought forth as well.
Fine. Let's talk about this water.
Now, according to the Scriptures, the first thing we see is God creating the heavens and the earth. No problem.
It's the next verse that begins the crux of this debate. When the earth is described as formless and empty, are we agreed that this means that the Lord had not yet formed the land (with mountains, rivers, etc.) and brought forth life on the earth yet? Or is there some other interpretation that you're reading here?
Similarly, what you feel the Scriptures are describing when it then speaks of the "surface of the deep"? Do you feel that the Spirit of God "hovering over the waters" is referencing back the "surface of the deep"?
These are particularly important questions because whenever I read "the deep" in the Scriptures I'm getting a picture of an ocean.
Some examples can be found here...