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Thread: The Fall.

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    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    The Fall.

    The Fall.

    As a result of the Fall, does mankind now live under both a curse and a blessing?

    I’m thinking along the lines that on the one hand; as a result of the concept of “sin,” (whether original or current), human suffering, guilt, hardship, pain, sorrow and even death have now all entered the realm of human experience.

    The light in this gloom would have been the promise of a Saviour, that would manifest itself in faith in a Christ as a provider of redemption and hope.

    But then we are still left with a world, which in many sectors is a fallen world, with daily examples of; evil, greed, corruption and suffering.

    I would be interested to know other Lit Netters views, on whether we are in fact in a period of transition; a testing ground if you will, until the prospect of an ultimate goal of “eternal life.”

    And being in such a half-way house, (still with the power of free will), is it not perhaps, so much what God commands us to do, as to what He will tolerate in human weakness?

    Best regards
    M.

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    Maybe YesNo's Avatar
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    My view is that the fall is a story perhaps written by Bathsheba in Soloman's court. That doesn't mean there isn't something grand underlying it nor that taking the story as historical fact is not valuable. Most important: Atheism is false. The story of the fall is one way to orient ourselves with respect to reality. There may be other valid ways to do so. Our choices matter. We need guidance in making good choices. These stories as well as others not in this tradition may help.

    Imagine what the world would be like without suffering, guilt, hardship, pain, sorrow and death. Nothing would change. There would be no evolution. There would be no free choice. There would be no need to reach out beyond ourselves to form a relationship to the theistic and personal Other. That would be an atheist's fantasy world. As I see it our current lives are "tests". We ought to use our freedom well. Death is just a change of perspective, not an end. How do I know that? People who report near and shared and after death communications provide evidence (that I consider adequate) that death is not an end. This is essentially the Christian message based on the after death communications of Jesus.

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    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Dear YesNo

    Thanks for the feedback. I especially like the phrase "Death is just a change of perspective, not an end." More than that; it's an adventure! Churchill was even cheeky about the prospect, in the quote " I am quite prepared to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared to meet me is another matter."

    On pre / post / out of body evidence on kicking the bucket, I have no personal experience, but then I don't need it, as I have an unexplained faith based perhaps more on values & optimism, than on any form of human logic.

    Best regards
    M.

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    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    My view is that the fall is a story perhaps written by Bathsheba in Soloman's court.
    That´s a very bold hypothesis... Firstly, according to most scholars Gen 2-3 was written after the Babylonian exile, that is, in the 5th century BCE. So even if Bathsheba was a historical figure in the 10th century BCE (what is most unprobable), there is a considerable time gap. Secondly, Bathsheba was according to the biblical ´reports´ really not the type to write a story like that of the Fall. This story is most surely authored by a male. According to psychoanalyst Theodor Reik, the creation narrative in Gen 2 is a late inversion of an original plot in which Adam was born out of Eve, as is the natural way for these things, and not vice versa, what is most fantastic and, as it were, misogyne. Most scholars take Eve to be a humanized derivative of the classical Mother goddess in Ancient Near East. A strong textual hint at this is Gen 3:20 (Eve = "Mother of all Beings", what is a typical attribute of ANE mother goddesses).

    Quote Originally Posted by YesNo View Post
    Imagine what the world would be like without suffering, guilt, hardship, pain, sorrow and death. Nothing would change. There would be no evolution. There would be no free choice.
    Sorry, but this argument sounds quite inhuman. It plays human suffering down to be just part of an entertainment game, without which life would be boring. Your argument is easy to forward if you live on the bright side of life. However, people who live on the dark side, at worst in war zones or torture chambers, would take your argument as sort of travesty.

    On this, see here:

    https://www.google.de/search?q=tortu...rture+medieval
    Last edited by Tammuz; 06-17-2017 at 11:23 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    That´s a very bold hypothesis... Firstly, according to most scholars Gen 2-3 was written after the Babylonian exile, that is, in the 5th century BCE. So even if Bathsheba was a historical figure in the 10th century BCE (what is most unprobable), there is a considerable time gap. Secondly, Bathsheba was according to the biblical ´reports´ really not the type to write a story like that of the Fall. This story is most surely authored by a male. According to psychoanalyst Theodor Reik, the creation narrative in Gen 2 is a late inversion of an original plot in which Adam was born out of Eve, as is the natural way for these things, and not vice versa, what is most fantastic and, as it were, misogyne. Most scholars take Eve to be a humanized derivative of the classical Mother goddess in Ancient Near East. A strong textual hint at this is Gen 3:20 (Eve = "Mother of all Beings", what is a typical attribute of ANE mother goddesses).
    I am getting this idea from two different sources. First, there is "The Book of J" and comments by Harold Bloom that I think reference Bathsheba specifically in at least one of his other books. He thinks J was a female in Solomon's court. Solomon's mother would be a candidate. Second, Baruch Halpern's "David's Secret Demons" describes the books of Kings and Samuel and convinces me that these stories were fabrications about real people. The goal was to justify Uriah's son, Solomon, as actually David's son and so deserving to succeed David. The existence of this propaganda is evidence that these people actually lived.

    I'm not a scholar on this subject. These are the only two books on the subject I have read.

    I don't remember which parts of Genesis were written by J and which were written by later authors. I don't know if Reik is talking about a J text or the text of someone who came later. Genesis 1 was not written by J, for example, and seemed to me to be more philosophical rather than literary. J seemed to me to be a good story teller.

    It is a bold hypothesis, but it makes sense to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tammuz View Post
    Sorry, but this argument sounds quite inhuman. It plays human suffering down to be just part of an entertainment game, without which life would be boring. Your argument is easy to forward if you live on the bright side of life. However, people who live on the dark side, at worst in war zones or torture chambers, would take your argument as sort of travesty.
    I think life in a paradise without death and suffering would be boring. It would be like being institutionalized forever. It is why people who think of heaven in these terms suggest that hell might be better or they might even suggest there must be some form of reincarnation (to get us out of heaven). Whatever heaven is, and I think it is just an expansive change in perspective on the same reality we are facing now, would have to be not boring. Part of the challenge of suffering is to solve the problem of suffering. This leads to evolutionary change and improvement.

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    rat in a strange garret Whifflingpin's Avatar
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    Not "written by J," if I remember correctly. The "J" parts of Genesis are those in which God is called Jehovah or Yahweh. Elsewhere in Genesis the term "Elohim" is used. The "J" parts are later.
    Voices mysterious far and near,
    Sound of the wind and sound of the sea,
    Are calling and whispering in my ear,
    Whifflingpin! Why stayest thou here?

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    I don't know how they were separated. But I think J stands for the German word for Yahweh. I stumbled on this site while trying to find more: http://www.necessaryprose.com/friedman.htm Whatever the name for God, he was viewed as impish and not very transcendent. Richard Elliott Friedman also claims credit for thinking J was female and thinks J texts could be seen through Kings I.

    Going back to the OP, Genesis I says the universe is "good" and the place of humans is "very good" and the universe did not appear by chance but from Someone's choice. I think all three of those ideas are true: (1) The universe was created through a conscious choice. (2) The universe is good. (3) The human role in this creation represents a climax state in the evolution sketched in Genesis I (or in evolution more generally). The presence of suffering suggests this is not the case unless suffering can be interpreted as somehow good.

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    I was skimming the texts Friedman considered J texts from Kings (see links in http://www.necessaryprose.com/friedman.htm) and it made me think that J was also the court historian, or one of them. What she may have been doing was writing a history from the beginning to the time of Solomon. Initially the characters are fictional. Toward the end they are real people, but not everything she tells about them is true. She has to justify the final outcome. It was either Bathsheba's line through Solomon or Haggith's line through Adonijah who would be king after David. The other side would be killed. If this was a female writer who else but Bathsheba would have had the political power to write this history?

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    Quote Originally Posted by MANICHAEAN View Post
    The Fall.

    As a result of the Fall, does mankind now live under both a curse and a blessing?

    I’m thinking along the lines that on the one hand; as a result of the concept of “sin,” (whether original or current), human suffering, guilt, hardship, pain, sorrow and even death have now all entered the realm of human experience.

    The light in this gloom would have been the promise of a Saviour, that would manifest itself in faith in a Christ as a provider of redemption and hope.

    But then we are still left with a world, which in many sectors is a fallen world, with daily examples of; evil, greed, corruption and suffering.

    I would be interested to know other Lit Netters views, on whether we are in fact in a period of transition; a testing ground if you will, until the prospect of an ultimate goal of “eternal life.”

    And being in such a half-way house, (still with the power of free will), is it not perhaps, so much what God commands us to do, as to what He will tolerate in human weakness?

    Best regards
    M.
    I am not yet satisfied that the existence of God cannot be proven through reason alone. The scriptual denial of the power of reason in that department is not something I feel I have to take particularly seriously, though the tradition is strong. To go against that traditional belief and seek logical reasons for the existence of God anyway, would seem like a sin to many Christians, just as the doubt necessary for proper inquiry also would give them feelings of sin and guilt. Not me, of course.

    First, we have to imagine a scenario with absolutely nothing, if such ever was the case. We quickly realize it could not have been. Even in our hypothesized, so-called nothingness, something must have existed--the potential for something to exist. We know this simply because things exist now. Without at least the potential for things to exist, nothing ever could have existed.

    Potential is just an abstract word. I would like to know what it consists of, its constituent parts. It has to be more than just the word. If I see logs piled on a hillside restrained by cables, I understand it has energetic potential, and I can breakdown what it consists of. The question is, in an otherwise pure nothingness, what would the potential for things to exist consist of?

    If we have already ruled out anything physical, the only alternative I can think of is mental. There are other words that could do the job, like spiritual, passionate and consciousness. The potential for anything to exist must have been mental (or your chosen alternative to my word) since it could not have been physical. We are presupposing a scenario with only potential, in case it ever was the case.

    This is like proving the existence of God, but only for a particular case, just in case it ever was the real case. If there was a scenario "before," (we know time did not exist yet either) anything else when only potential existed, that potential had to be mental (or your chosen alternative to physical). If we say it consisted of compressed storage able to unfold into the universe, that already brings in many other items that potential would have to consist of, such as storage devices, which would already have to have existed, if this is what we were to mean by potential. Storage devices also presuppose a mentality, or at least suggest a plan. How could there be a plan without mentality, after all?

    So we have to go all the way back before anything but the potential for other things. In this case we can demonstrate there had to be an operant mentality, I believe.

    If we suppose that "things," have sort of always existed, you know, it is much harder to prove mentality, and I have not done it yet. If there is no beginning to universes and to things in general, then they were not created. Go back a trillion Big Bangs, and things of some sort still existed, in this case. And of course a trillion Big Bangs does not even scratch the surface of eternity.

    Actually, the basic eternity of existence is undeniable, whichever case we are looking at. In one case we are saying only potential could have existed at one point, but it did always exist, and in the other possibility we are saying the existence of things has forever been the case.

    I cannot prove the second case requires a mentality yet. It does seem to require an infinite energy source, though. But maybe not. However, I have strong leanings that the energy source is mental, or some type of urge.

    If there is a conscious God, whether It could help from creating what It did, is a good question. Just why God would create things is another.

    I am not precisely sure what or where the injunction or prohibition against reason is in the Bible. Perhaps you could locate this. It may only imply you cannot know God through reason, it may not say you cannot know that God exists through the faculties of reason alone. We are all familiar with the teaching, but I do not know what part of scripture contains it. I think faith is how you worship God, which is a much different thing than merely proving the existence of. The Bible may not even say I cannot prove the existence of God through reason. Maybe I just cannot know God through reason.

    I have strong urges to square my thoughts with Christain doctrines, you see, simply because I was born into this tradition. It is part of the habit.
    Last edited by desiresjab; 06-19-2017 at 10:57 PM.

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    A thoretical question hot off the brain stem. Would there be more reason to pray to a merciful God, or a cruel one? The one is already merciful, and since he is God I suppose that to be merciful in a big way. It might make more sense to plead with the cruel one.
    Last edited by desiresjab; 06-19-2017 at 11:10 PM.

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    More brain stem.

    Suppose the Bible is true. Who comes to collect the souls of good moslems? Perhaps Christrians see Jesus coming to collect them, and moslems see Mohammud beckoning. Ahem! Can a moslem even go to heaven, if Christianity and the Bible are exactly true? Serious question.

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    I think you are right, desiresjab, about whatever is real is eternal since nothing comes from nothing. Is it mental or unconscious matter? Maybe some of both? I think it would be mental and not some of both. That means there is no unconscious matter. What we see as unconscious matter is a convenient view of reality, a conventional way of dealing with reality, that lets us build things and predict events.

    You raise a good point about what would happen if the Bible is exactly true. If one could dump our subjective reality into a set of texts and doctrines then we have objectified it, we have turned the mental into something like unconscious matter. If we could do that, exactly, then subjective reality could be reduced to some objective state. If that were possible, I think that would mean that atheism is true. So, for Christianity to have a chance of representing a theistic perspective on reality its sacred texts cannot be exactly true. They are aids to help us live, like a clothes washer is an aid to help us wear clean clothes, but it is not the living itself nor the wearing of clean clothes. When the clothes washer breaks down, we repair or replace it with something new. So, both Christians and Muslims can go to heaven. Even atheists can. Even aliens on some planet in a galaxy far, far away--or in another universe.

    The problem with suffering is real. I think Genesis 1 provides a Judeo-Christian and perhaps Muslim solution for that. It just asserts that the universe is "good" in spite of suffering and humans as "very good" in spite of our similarity to other life and even machines. Is the Fall, which is J's explanation for suffering, better than Genesis 1? I don't think it is, although it makes a more entertaining story. It also adds the idea of human choice. We can make choices which adds something new to the mix that is not contained in either determinism or chance. Both Genesis 1 and the Fall complement each other.

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    Is every sort of universe produced in the frenzy of creation, or only some possible types? When we think of different universes, I have the feeling the ones we think up are easy variations of our own, perhaps with some physics tweaks, which we loosely install by imagination.

    But some universes could be so vastly different from our own that we would not recognize them as universes at all. Why could there not be universes consisting of no matter, that we could only experience as dream states? Esp communications might be the only choice. Such beings never heard of a tongue or a mouth. I see no reason there could not be entirely subjective universes. Such a universe might consist soley of the consciousness of one entity.

    No one has tried to answer the question of why God created anything in the first place. Did he have to do it? Is that just the way things are, too?

    Have our universe and its predecessors been sitting there forever evolving by themselves, that is the question, and I think that would be the position of many people on the issue. Probably many scientists hold this view. The view seems almost unassailable to one who would like to prove the necessity of God in the case where things have existed forever.

    Do not get too hung up on matter. Under different physical constants and unforeseen constraints matter might transform into repositories for familiar emotions or sleep. I have a deep suspicion that many states of matter would be unrecognizable to us as matter, and that we would insist they were something else familiar to us. In such a case matter would be recognizable only as an emotion, for instance, or a bright idea, perhaps.

    One of my deepest beliefs is expressed by Shakespeare: There are more things under heaven and earth than your philosophies have ever dreamed of, to paraphrase.

    If you look closely at the content of that, it suggests that my fantasies have fallen well short of the surprises in store for the human race as they learn more and more about the universe and their own scenario. These scenarios are too strange for me to even dream of or fantasize, without falling short, like throwing rocks at the moon. The actual strangeness of the universe exceeds human imagination. That is my own belief.
    Last edited by desiresjab; 06-20-2017 at 07:52 PM.

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    I think our universe is an entirely subjective universe, that is, there is no unconscious matter in it, only conscious "mental" reality. However we aren't the only subjects in it. Objects are unreal as objects, but they are real as other subjects. However, it is easier for us to manipulate them if we think of them as objects.

    It's a good question whether God had to create the universe. But the question assumes that there exists reality that is determined. I don't know if anything is determined. True, it is convenient to think it is determined so we can make predictions, but just because it is convenient to think something is true doesn't mean it is true.

    There are two reasons to assume there are other universes.

    First, there is the anthropic principle. This assumes we need a lot of different universes randomly popping out to get one that will support the kind of life we are living now. The anthropic principle basically admits it doesn't know why we are here and falls back on randomness rather God.

    Second, our universe has to be finite or the heat of infinitely many stars reaching any planet would prohibit life from existing (Olber's paradox). But eternity is infinite. God could make infinitely many other finite universes. They don't have to be different from ours.

    I prefer the second reason for infinitely many universes. With that there is no need to have other universes different from the one we experience.

    But to get back to the OP, is it possible for a good universe to contain suffering?
    Last edited by YesNo; 06-21-2017 at 12:05 AM.

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    If we assume all universes have finite boundaries, you could not jam infinite stars into one anyway, let alone worry about the heat. Infinite stars would require infinite space where the fireballs could be separated by any distances you cared to name.

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