GENESIS- Adam, Eve, Noah, etc. and Original Sin

by Band on the Run 133 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Band on the Run
    Band on the Run

    There was a distressing thread concerning this topic recently. There is no way I can believe these stories as literal truth or even use them as any signpost to the NT Jesus/God. These scriptures make Judaism and Christianity look silly. I can see why atheists laugh at them. As Witnesses, too, we heard fantastic claims. It helped me to see them as products of an ancient culture.

    Why do we automatically assume that YHWH is any better or moral than any other God? We don't even know anything about the writers. Genesis always seemed to be a time outside our own. I never liked being punished for Adam's sin or the story of Issac as handy dandy sacrifice.

    The question I aked myself is why anyone at any time would find these stories useful. Unfortunately, as with some so many threads, it became a battleground for voice hearers vs. others. I remained curious so I searched for popular works by experts. My interest is not theological but how a culture develops and retains legends/myths. Too many Christians reject other creations myths as crazy without questioning the veracity of Genesis.

    A Google search revealed a book by Karen Armstromg, In the Beginning. I was able to purchase it for under $4. The book was published in 1996. Hopefully, I can report what points she found useful and my own reaction. It is a more of an essay than a fully developed book.

  • PSacramento

    Have you read John Waltions' views on Genesis?

  • PSacramento

    Some argue that Darwin was the cause for different views on Genesis, but that is not the case:

    In a Nutshell

    Given the stark difference between evolution and six-day creation, many people assume that Darwin’s theory shook the foundations of the Christian faith. In truth, the literal six-day interpretation of Genesis 1-2 was not the only perspective held by Christians prior to modern science. St. Augustine (354-430), John Calvin (1509-1564), John Wesley (1703-171), and others supported the idea of Accommodation. In the Accommodation view, Genesis 1-2 was written in a simple allegorical fashion to make it easy for people of that time to understand. In fact, Augustine suggested that the 6 days of Genesis 1 describe a single day of creation. St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) argued that God did not create things in their final state, but created them to have potential to develop as he intended. The views of these and other Christian leaders are consistent with God creating life by means of evolution.

  • PSacramento

    In Detail


    Many people assume that Darwin’s theory must have shaken the foundations of the Christian faith because of the stark difference between evolution and the idea of a six-day creation. In truth, the literal six-day interpretation of Genesis 1–2 was not the only perspective espoused by Christian thinkers prior to the publication of The Origin of Species in 1859. The works of many early Christian theologians and philosophers reveal an interpretation of Genesis compatible with Darwin’s theory.

    Early Christian Thought

    Origen, a third-century philosopher and theologian from Alexandria, Egypt—one of the great intellectual centers of the ancient world—provides an example of early Christian thought on creation.

    Best known for On First Principles and Against Celsus, Origen presented the main doctrines of Christianity and defended them against pagan accusations. Origen opposed the idea that the creation story should be interpreted as a literal and historical account of how God created the world. There were other voices before Origen who advocated more symbolic interpretations of the creation story. Origen’s views were also influential for other early church thinkers who came after him.1

    St. Augustine of Hippo, a bishop in North Africa during the early fifth century, was another central figure of the period. Although he is widely known for Confessions, Augustine authored dozens of other works, several of which focus on Genesis 1–2.2 In The Literal Meaning of Genesis, Augustine argues that the first two chapters of Genesis are written to suit the understanding of the people at that time.3

    In order to communicate in a way that all people could understand, the creation story was told in a simpler, allegorical fashion. Augustine also believed God created the world with the capacity to develop, a view that is harmonious with biological evolution.4

    Later Christian Thought

    There are many other non-literal interpretations of Genesis 1–2 later in history. St. Thomas Aquinas, a well-known thirteenth-century philosopher and theologian, was particularly interested in the intersection of science and religion and was strongly influenced by Augustine. Aquinas did not fear the possible contradiction between the Genesis creation story and scientific findings.

    In Summa Theologica, he responds to the question of whether all six days of creation are actually a description of a single day, a theory Augustine had suggested. Aquinas argues in favor of the view that God created all things to have potential:

    On the day on which God created the heaven and the earth, He created also every plant of the field, not, indeed, actually, but “before it sprung up in the earth,” that is, potentially.…All things were not distinguished and adorned together, not from a want of power on God’s part, as requiring time in which to work, but that due order might be observed in the instituting of the world.5

    Augustine’s creation perspective can be seen even as late as the eighteenth century—just before Darwin published The Origin of Species—in the works of John Wesley. An Anglican minister and early leader in the Methodist movement, Wesley, like Augustine, thought the scriptures were written in terms suitable for their audience. He writes,

    The inspired penman in this history [Genesis] … [wrote] for the Jews first and, calculating his narratives for the infant state of the church, describes things by their outward sensible appearances, and leaves us, by further discoveries of the divine light, to be led into the understanding of the mysteries couched under them.6

    Wesley also argues the scriptures “were written not to gratify our curiosity [of the details] but to lead us to God.”7

    In the nineteenth century, Princeton Theological Seminary was known for its staunch defense of conservative Calvinism and the absolute authority of Scripture. Perhaps the most noted Princeton theologian of that era, B. B. Warfield, accepted evolution as giving the proper scientific account of human origins. He believed that hearing God’s voice in Scripture and the findings of solid scientific work were not at odds. As historian Mark Noll puts it, “B. B. Warfield, the ablest modern defender of the theologically conservative doctrine of the inerrancy of the Bible, was also an evolutionist.”8


    The history of Christian thought has not been consistently dominated by proponents of a literal interpretation of Genesis. The discoveries of modern science should neither be seen as the instigator of some abandonment of trust in Scripture, nor as contradictory to Scripture, but as guideposts toward a proper understanding of Scripture’s meaning.

    Augustine offers this advice:

    In matters that are so obscure and far beyond our vision, we find in Holy Scripture passages which can be interpreted in very different ways without prejudice to the faith we have received. In such cases, we should not rush in headlong and so firmly take our stand on one side that, if further progress in the search of truth justly undermines this position, we too fall with it. That would be to battle not for the teaching of Holy Scripture but for our own, wishing its teaching to conform to ours, whereas we ought to wish ours to conform to that of Sacred Scripture.9

  • designs

    Joseph Campbell- The Power Of Myth is a good starting point. Humans overwhelmed by the power of nature sought to explain how things came to be. Anthropologist James Frazer explains the similarites of the creation tales as 'transmission' accounts and how the mind independent of other cultures can draw similar conclusions about the environment.

  • EntirelyPossible

    They were early attempts to explain the world around them before science got rolling.

  • PSacramento

    It is important to define myth as it is used by historians and scholars:

    Definition of MYTH

    1 a: a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon

    b:parable, allegory 2

    a: a popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone; especially: one embodying the ideals and institutions of a society or segment of society

  • designs

    Zot all Hail ZOT

  • PSacramento
    They were early attempts to explain the world around them before science got rolling.

    Yep, pretty much or they could be viewed as what passed as science stories ( observation of nature) in those days.

  • Band on the Run
    Band on the Run

    People can be pretty sophisticated even without modern science. Why we do assume these books were ever viewed literally by the earliest populace? We view Helter Skelter different from Yesterday. There aren't people around to ask what they thought when these books were commissioned.

    Does anyone have a comparison to nearby cultures' creation stories? The part that always bothered me was the woman being blamed. Being told about birth pangs as a consequence of sin. It is very against women as fellow humans. Why did men fear women so much to dictate such nonsense?

    Humans need more DNA than Adam and Eve would have offered. Imagine what creatures would be produced by such intense interbreeding. Last night PBS had a program on about Neanderthal and human DNA being comingled all over Europe. Europe and Asian populations today have DNA markers that show Neandertthal DNA. Interestingly, African humans do not.

    Genesis presents problems only when it viewed literally or used to justify the harsh treatment of woman as an inferior gender. Don't most ancient cultures elevate the female? I am very curious why Judaism developed such an anti woman trend.

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