Have you Christians out there actually READ this book? Part 1

I lifted the title of this post from an Amazon.com review by a person named Stephen who (by the multitude of his Amazon.com reviews) seems to specialize in writing negative reviews particularly about conservative & Christian literature.  I recently ran across one of his reviews when I was searching for a large print KJV bible and was uncharacteristically moved to respond to his criticism of the bible and particularly of Genesis. My response is below:

Stephen:
First of all God creates Adam and Eve with no knowledge of good or evil. Why? Doesn’t this seem like a design flaw? Without knowledge of good or evil, doesn’t it logically follow that these two newborns could commit evil acts without even knowing that they’re evil?

James:
The Bible doesn’t say that God created Adam and Eve without any knowledge of good and evil and one cannot deduce your proposition from the narrative in Genesis nor any other book of the bible. In fact, since they were made in the image of God (which is to say that they were created having a rational, incorporeal mind) it follows that they must have had some knowledge of Good and Evil however rudimentary. Also we see God explicitly giving Adam (and Eve) some knowledge of good and Evil when He tells them that if they ate of the fruit of the forbidden tree that they would certainly die. They must have understood that dying was a bad thing in order for the command to properly deter them from eating from the forbidden fruit. So as you can clearly see, we must conclude by good and necessary consequence that Adam and Eve had knowledge of good and evil even if it wasn’t the additional knowledge that was imparted to them after consuming the forbidden fruit. Incidentally, Adam and Eve were not newborns, contrary to what you indicated in your commentary. Since I have established that your leading proposition is erroneous I will ignore the two succeeding questions that were based upon your initial assertion’s validity.

Stephen:
Second of all, God tells Adam that he cannot eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Why? Because if he eats fruit from that tree he shall surely die.Genesis 2:17

However God put a serpent in the garden. And the serpent has a different story. He tells Eve that she will not die from eating this fruit. Rather (just like the name of the tree implies) they will know the difference between good and evil.Genesis 3:1 thru 3:5

Adam and Eve both eat the fruit from this tree and it turns out that the talking serpent told the truth and God lied. Neither Adam nor Eve died from eating this fruit. (thus proving God a liar) and they did gain the knowledge of how to tell the difference between good and evil (thus proving the talking serpent honest).

So, the hero in this story is a liar. And the bad guy in this story is telling the truth. You can’t tell me that’s not funny! Okay, it’s funny in a messed up sort of way. I’ll grant you that. But it’s still funny.
Genesis 3:6 thru 3:7

James:
You are wrong having misapprehended and misunderstood the Genesis narrative. God does tell them that they will die but He does not say that they would physically die an instantaneous death, in fact, the hebrew word for die (“mûth”) used repeatedly and successively, could also indicate a progressive death (i.e. “dying thou shall die”). On the other hand, the devil promised Eve (with Adam standing next to her) that they would not die and as we know from the scriptures both Adam and Eve died (Genesis 5:5, Hebrews 9:27), so the devil is the one that lied. Furthermore, according to the scriptures we know that Adam and Eve also died spiritually (Ephesians 2:1) so this would be a second fulfillment of God’s death promise.

Stephen:
A slight side note. Apparently by God’s logic (or the logic of the ancient Jews who worshipped him) being naked was evil. Because up until the time that they’d eaten of this fruit Adam and Eve had been running around the garden naked and didn’t think anything of it. It was perfectly acceptable. After they’d gained the knowledge of good and evil they suddenly realized they were naked and were ashamed.

Naked = evil?

Is this some sort of joke?

James:
I’m bewildered at how you could have reached the conclusion that God associated nakedness with evil especially because this would imply that when God made Adam and Eve without clothes that He committed an evil act. It is logically impossible to justify this assertion at least based upon what is revealed in scripture. Evil is specifically and deductively defined as doing that which is contrary to the will of God; therefore, since God cannot contradict His own will (2 Timothy 2:13), it follows that God cannot commit an evil act. Consequently, the act of God creating Adam and Eve without any clothes was not evil. Yes, they were naked in the garden and their nakedness was not evil. After they ate of the forbidden fruit they became cognizant of the fact that they were naked because God imparted that proposition (among others associated with the forbidden fruit) directly to Adam and Eve’s minds; but the bible doesn’t say that they were ashamed, just aware. After sin entered into the world due to Adam’s disobedience then God clothed them because in a sinful world there are many times when nakedness is inappropriate. I think that if you spent more time focusing on the details of the text then you would not err as frequently as you have done.

Stephen:
At any rate God lied and the talking snake told the truth. Rather than confront God with his dishonesty, Adam and Eve are apprehensive and nervous and ashamed. They act as if they and the talking snake are the guilty parties.

James:
Adam and Eve were guilty because they disobeyed God. Your commentary here is just plain wrong and indefensible. Furthermore, Eve committed at least two fatal mistakes that made her vulnerable to deception: she relied upon her own understanding instead of God’s revelation and she committed errors in reasoning (logical fallacies). Eve used her mind and her senses to test whether God was honest about the information that He provided to her (Genesis 3:6); but it was God that created her mind and her senses so if God was truly dishonest she would have no basis for trusting her senses anyway. Eve should have reasoned the following way:

God is the creator of my mind and senses; therefore, if He is dishonest then I can’t know anything to be certain; therefore, Satan, you are a liar and I’m not going to place my trust in you. I will trust in God my Creator.

Ironically, you seem to be guilty of making the same mistakes that Eve did.

Stephen:
God punishes all three. The snake is cursed to spend it’s days crawling on it’s belly. Which seems to imply that it previously had some other mode of transport. Did it have legs before? I’m assuming that it must have. Then God must have ripped them off and altered the snake’s DNA so that all of it’s hatchlings would be born without legs as well.

James:
Your conclusion (that God ripped off the snakes legs and altered its DNA) is not required since God is omnipotent and unbounded; therefore, there are an infinite number of ways God could have accomplished His judgment upon the serpent.

Stephen:
Adam and Eve are cursed as well. Man and woman are cursed to always be at odds with each other. According to the curse they will always fight. Also women will always suffer horrible pain in childbirth. Also women are cursed to have men rule over them and men are cursed to perform hard labor. Genesis 3:8 thru 3:19

James:
Again, your commentary is not really indicative of what the text actually says. Your slight additions to God’s word are very problematic for me. Where in the bible does it say that Man and Woman “will always fight?” Where does it say in the bible that the pain suffered in child-birth would be “horrible?” Also, Adam was already the leader of the family (1 Timothy 2:11-13), so perhaps his position of leadership was accentuated as part of the curse but it was not a result of the curse. Since Eve acted independent of her husband in her desire for the forbidden fruit, God pronounced a judgement upon her that would remind her of her husband’s importance and that God had ordained him to lead the family.

Stephen:
Then God casts Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden. According to the Bible this is not a further punishment. Rather it is a precaution. It seems that there is another tree that God didn’t want Adam and Eve to eat from. This is the tree of life. The fruit from this tree would have allowed Adam and Eve to live forever. And apparently if a human can tell the difference between good and evil AND live forever then they’ll be just like God. And apparently God was very afraid of such a thing. So angels with flaming swords were set to guard the tree of life and keep Adam and Eve (or any of their decedents) from ever eating the fruit from that tree.
Genesis 3:22 thru 3:24

James:
Unfortunately, your use of deductive logic is in error and it seems that you cannot accurately recollect the text in the Genesis narrative of the creation. Where does the bible say that God expelling Adam and Eve from the garden was a precaution and not a further judgment? Furthermore, since the bible DOES state that Christians can tell the difference between right and wrong and that they also have eternal life does this then mean (according to your assertion above) that Christians are “just like God?” My goodness, I mean, who reasons this way! You cannot arbitrarily assert a consequent especially one that is indefensible, this is a textbook example of a logical fallacy.

Stephen:
Despite the fact that this is what the Bible says, Christians tend to come up with conclusions that have nothing to do with the actual text of Genesis.

First of all, Christians tend to say that the talking snake was actually the devil. Why? I’ve read the Bible from cover to cover. NOWHERE in here does it say that the talking snake was the devil! In point of fact, if this were the devil, it would mean that the devil has no arms or legs. It would also mean that the devil would have had to have died centuries ago, because it never got a chance to eat the fruit from the tree of life!

James:
Christians know that the serpent was actually the devil because: God tells us that the serpent of old (i.e. of Eden) was Satan in Romans 16:20 (And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly…) which is a reference to Genesis 3:15, in Revelations 12:9 (that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world) and in Revelations 20:2 (that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan) among other verses. Also, if you did “read the bible from cover to cover” you would know that the devil is a fallen angel, created by God, who possessed (or entered) the serpent in the garden of Eden and therefore has powers that are not attributable to man, thus it is uncalled for to suggest that Satan should have died centuries ago since he was not under the death mandate pronounced upon Adam and the entire human race.

Stephen:
Second of all, many Christians claim that Adam’s “original sin” in eating from the tree of knowledge cursed all humanity until the end of time.

Well, yes. That is what the story says. However please note the exact nature of that curse. Man is cursed to perform hard labor in order to earn his daily bread. He is also cursed to constantly be at odds with females and to always fight and bicker with them.

Christians will usually tell you that Adam’s “original sin” means that we are all born sinners and that we’re all condemned to Hell the moment that we’re born.

Funny. That’s not what the Bible says. Where do they get this? Somebody is obviously making stuff up.

James:
The Edenic curse entails a lot more than hard labor and it certainly is not compatible with your crude estimation that God made Adam and Eve “to always fight and bicker”, the whole world was cursed as a result of Adam’s sin. This is why we have animals that are hostile towards us and why we have hurricanes, earthquakes and other “natural disasters”. The bible says that the whole world is groaning and travailing in pain up until the present moment (Romans 8:22).

Yes, Christians espouse this proposition that you mention (i.e. Adam’s original sin means that we are all born sinners that are condemned to Hell the moment we are born) because it IS found in the scriptures. Examine the following passage from Romans 5:

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.(Rom 5:12-19)

Stephen:
Perhaps the priests and the Bishops and the Popes are all having a laugh at our expense.

Some Christians claim that Adam and Eve were both immortal before they ate from the tree of knowledge and pissed God off. EXCUSE ME? God was AFRAID of Adam and Eve becoming immortal. God send down angels with flaming swords to keep Adam and Eve (and the snake) from ever getting near the tree of life. He expressed fear of man living forever!

James:
The Roman Catholic State Church with its bishops and popes are hardly compatible with biblical Christianity and in fact are more of a stumbling block for those truly seeking to know the biblical Christ.You may be right about priests, bishops and popes having a laugh at “our” expense but I’m not sure what this has to do with the veracity of the bible.
On the contrary, God was and is not afraid of anything, let alone Adam and Eve becoming immortal. That Adam and Eve could not die is a necessary inference from God’s admonition that they would die if they disobeyed Him. If they were susceptible to death prior to eating the forbidden fruit then why would it matter that they would die after eating the fruit? Besides, in the passage that I referenced above (Romans 5) we are told that death entered into the world through Adam’s sin so it is necessary to infer that Adam and Eve were not subject to death prior to their Edenic Fall.

Stephen:
Again, I think that the laity are the butt of a great big joke that is being perpetrated on them by the clergy. I mean . . .you don’t have to take my word for it! Just read this book! I know that most of you Christians out there have never read the Bible. Perhaps it’s time you started.

James:
I have read the bible and it is marvellous in my eyes. Christians are not the butt of a joke, we are merely persons that have understood the great salvation that God has secured for those that trust in Him. The bible is a system of truth which if read cohesively and understood the way it was meant to be (i.e. read without transgressing the laws of logic) provides emancipation from this world and offers hope tha makes life worth living. I hope you find your way to the truth. I will be praying for you Stephen!

Part II

Stephen:
In Genesis Chapter 2, verse 17 God clearly says, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
Now, what exactly is a tree of knowledge of good and evil? It sounds pretty obvious to me. It’s a tree that produces fruit that can give you knowlege of good and knowledge of evil. If Adam and Eve could ALREADY tell the difference between good and evil then eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil would have no effect on them. Since Adam and Eve were immediately and dramatically changed after eating from the fruit of this tree it’s obvious that they did NOT have this knowledge before they ate the fruit from this tree.

James:
I urge you to go back and read what you initially wrote as it seems that you are now saying something different from what you originally wrote. I have already mentioned and always maintained that it is necessary to deduce that Adam and Eve at least had rudimentary knowledge which by definition means that this knowledge was capable of being improved upon or added to. The mere fact that God created them with a language which admittedly was limited (i.e. they didn’t know what being naked meant) demonstrates that they had some knowledge of good and evil. Death in the bible is described as an enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26). The fact that they knew what it meant to die reminds us that they had at least that particular knowledge of evil. Again and as I wrote previously, when they partook of the fruit, then God imparted to them the additional propositions attributed with consuming the forbidden fruit. Whatever these propositions might have been, we at least know that it included the knowledge of nakedness. Furthermore and as I mentioned earlier, the fact that they were created in the image of God means that they had a spirit, or more casually, an incorporeal mind with a conscience.  The conscience by biblical definition is an internal witness within us that convicts us of right and wrong (John 8:9, Romans 2:15) howbeit limited and subject to corruption. So the conscience accounts for some measure of good and evil.
You, on the other hand, stated that God created Adam and Eve with NO knowledge of good and evil and this my friend, is absolutely and manifestly a false proposition as I have just demonstrated once again.

Stephen:
And it was in Genesis 3:15 that God said that males and females would always fight. Observe: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

James:
In the verse that you cite here (Genesis 3:15), God is talking about putting enmity between the devil’s child and Eve’s child; not the between the man and the woman.

Stephen:
And it was in Genesis 3:16 that God said that the pain for women giving birth would be horrible. Take note: “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”

James:
To recap, you mentioned that the bible conveys “women will always suffer horrible pain in childbirth.” It is my intent to demonstrate to you how this is not the case at all. The words “horrible” and “sorrow[ful]” may rhyme but they are not exactly synonyms. They have somewhat different meanings. It is true that something sorrowful may also be horrible but this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case so the two words are not the same. To be sure, the birthing process is not a walk in the park as most punishments are not meant to be; but, at the same time, the bible doesn’t say that God ordained childbirth to provoke horror. The hebrew word used for sorrow, its-tsaw-bone’, is closer to hardship than it is to horror. I know that for some women the birthing experience may still be deemed horrible but you must keep in mind that my argument is not based on a tally of empirical observations but rather on the revealed words of scripture.

Stephen:
And indeed God WAS afraid of Adam and Eve living forever. This is why he kicked them out of the Garden of Eden. Read Genesis 3:22, 3:23 and 3:24
“And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. ”

James:
Once again, the bible doesn’t say that God was afraid and the verses that you cite certainly do not necessitate such a conclusion. If you would like, you may surmise that He was concerned that if Adam and Eve stayed in the garden and partook of the Tree of Life, this would undermine His punishment pronounced upon them; but you may not surmise that the living God Who upholds and sustains all things (including trees and human beings) was afraid. They were kicked out of the garden primarily for disobeying God. Why would God tell Adam that he would now have to work hard for his own food and then leave him in the garden where there was nothing but plenty of free food (including a Tree that could reverse the effects of His death judgement)? It is true that God did not want them to eat of the Tree of Life but this fact doesn’t lead us to say that he was afraid they would live forever; after all, God is omnipotent. He upholds every atom in the universe. He has nothing to be afraid of. On the other hand, those that despise and reject His word have everything to be afraid of. Proverbs 13:13 states: Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.  (Proverbs 13:13)

Stephen:
Now, I am not trying to turn you into an atheist, however I am trying to improve your reading comprension and deductive reasoning skills. I do hope that I have contributed in some small way to accomplishing this goal.

James:
Why would an atheist try to improve someone else’s “deductive reasoning” skills when atheism itself cannot even account for the laws of logic which are necessary to do so? It always humors me that atheist want to pride themselves on adhering to logic especially because they cannot even account for logic in their worldview. Why should an atheist adhere to logic? What compels an atheist to think that being rational is a “good” thing? How do atheist even define the word “good” without making the error in reasoning known as arbitrariness? For example when you mentioned in your initial post that God supposedly committed a design flaw I was initially going to challenge you to reveal the standard that you were appealing to when making the determination. In other words, how do you determine what is a flaw and what is a feature and who are you to think that your definition is authoritative (especially as an atheist)? You are just one human telling another human the results of chemical reactions that are currently occurring in your brain (at least that’s how the atheist sees it). Since the specific chemical reactions in both of our brains are different (because our brains are composed of separate matter) what right have you to expect me to adhere to rationality? And finally, since the laws of logic are immaterial how do you account for them in a worldview (atheism) that only allows for matter or the corporeal?
For more information on the folly of atheism see my blog post on this topic @(https://christpluszero.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/301/ )

 

Have you Christians out there actually READ this book? – Part II

Advertisements

Unbelievers are going to be judged by the Scriptures on the Last day…

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (Revelation 20:12)

At the great White Throne judgment depicted in the 20th chapter of the book of Revelations, we are contextually told that all of the unbelievers, both great and small, will be judged according to the contents of multiple books. One of the books that are opened is described as the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelations 12:15); but the other books are not identified by name.  Nevertheless, I believe that (at least some of) these other books are the same books that comprise the scriptures. Let me show you why:

1) He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: THE WORD THAT I HAVE SPOKEN, the same shall judge him in the last day. (John 12:48)

If the word that Christ has spoken is going to judge unbelievers on the last day, where else can one find the word’s that Christ has spoken but in scripture?

2) Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him. (Hebrews 2:1-3)

The Scriptures give at least two reasons why it is impossible to escape (God’s Judgment) if we neglect the great salvation that Christ has secured for us by His death on the cross:
(1) The words spoken by angels are steadfast –  this is a reference to the scriptures, for we are told that these angelic words are also the things which we have heard (in verse 1) and the angelic transmission of God’s words are also confirmed in Act 7:53 and Galatians 3:19.
(2) Every transgression and disobedience will receive a just recompense of reward – in other words – God will judge and reward every sinner according to the sins he/she has committed.

So, during the Judgment, God’s verdict of guilty is inescapable primarily because of the steadfastness of the scriptures; this confirms that the scriptures must play a role during the judgment of the unforgiven. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that Hebrews 2:3 also addresses the other criteria that God uses during the Great White Throne Judgment, namely, God’s promise to judge unbelievers according to their works.  Hebrews 2:3 mentions that for the unbeliever, every transgression and disobedience will receive a corresponding punishment, again, this is a confirmation of the Judgment according to works that is mentioned in Revelations 20:12

3) Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?
(John 5:45-47)

Christ equates belief in Moses to belief in the Scriptures (Moses’ writings) and mentions that Moses (specifically his writings) will accuse these unbelievers.