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Uncommon Ground - Genesis Part 2 - Chapters 6 through 10
This is the second installment of a hub series where an Atheist (myself) and a Christian (Sed-Me) will be journeying through the Bible together: reading, commenting and discussing the issues that each other brings up.
While there is a lot we will probably disagree on, the purpose of this journey is to discuss opposing opinions with respect and without becoming argumentative or aggressive. We believe different things, and those differences are going to become more and more pronounced as we continue - but disagreements do not have to be contentious. I'm hoping that, on this journey, we can find examples of commonality as well as highlighting areas of disagreement so that we can come to a reasonable understanding between two people with very different perspectives.
Link to Sed-Me's homepage
Initial Observations: Christian
Are so sad to me. The thought strikes me that if I were to create a human. Not... I had sex, Im missing my period and "HEY, whatdaya know! We're gonna be parents!" But if I had a laboratory and I painstakingly thought through how to make a head, a brain, fingers, the digestive system, a heart... then gave it a personality and set it free on the earth... and it started killing things... raping and lying and torturing its siblings... I would surely regret having created it. Knowing that God had the ability to install a chip that would control our actions like robots, but he refused. He refused to control us...
"But Noah..." Once again, God is just looking for ONE good man! Surely there is ONE good man... and He found him. This gives me hope that living a righteous life is not impossible (not sinless, but pleasing to God.)
(I didn't know which were the clean from the unclean animals were so I looked it up, here's a link if you're interested.
again, this sounds like the expanse that God had separated at the beginning of time and had reserved in the skies.
I really kind of like this verse a lot. It is a reminder to me that no matter what I might face, whether it is the normal difficulties of life that we all face, or a discipline sent from the hand of God, there is an end to the hardship... there is a day and an hour when the trial is over... much like life itself, when I finally stand before God and He says, "Welcome home, faithful servant."
There are a lot of promises in the OT. The fact that He promised seasons without fail here, is interesting to me.
And the men all said, "Do we *have* to?!"
God would not allow man to eat a live animal... which seems obvious, but I guess everything was new back then. He would have to teach them mercy and civility.
He tells them basically that if they live by the sword they will die by the sword. He makes it clear that death will come to all things.
The reminder of the promise.
Im pretty sure you'll have issues with Noah's son.
Genealogy... no comment. :)
Mount Ararat, Turkey
Initial Observations: Atheist
Chapter 6: Who were the creatures identified as the "sons of God"? Are they separate entities from the Nephillim? How were they able to breed with human women? If angels are sexless, it can't be an angelic being. Lifespan numbered - why now? How were ordinary human women able to give birth to Giants? How was every intent of the thoughts of man's heart only evil continually? There were no laws given by God to disobey, and no consistent communication with God, so how were humans evil? How can an all-knowing God regret? Why punish the animals along with the human beings? If all people are imbued with a sinful nature from the fall, how could Noah (or anyone else) be considered blameless? Since he had to sin, how did he gain forgiveness when others did not? How did he singularly find favor?
Chapter 7: What made Noah alone righteous, out of all humanity? Repeat of the orders for the ark with variations, similar to the 2 creation stories in Genesis 1&2. If the flood waters came from above and below, no salt and fresh water could be separated, meaning all water on earth would be brackish, killing all underwater life as well. If violence was the ultimate cause of life's downfall, how were animals to blame for their nature?
Chapter 8: How could sprouting trees grow so quickly after a flood of that magnitude, when all of the trees and seeds had been submerged and drowned out? Why is the smell of burning flesh soothing to God, and what did God need to be soothed from, since all of life on earth was killed? If God now recognized that evil intent is inherent from childhood, why is He only recognizing that after the flood, not before it? Why would he make a promise to not destroy every living thing again? Wouldn't that be considered justice?
Chapter 9: Not all beasts of the earth are terrified of humankind - why would they be after the flood, since they outnumber the people and can reproduce and become mature much quicker than human beings can? God gives all creatures as well as all plants for food, contrary to the specifics after the Garden of Eden. Life is considered to be in the blood. God created a covenant not only with Noah and his descendants, but with the animals as well (vs. 10). Vs 11 seems to contradict vs. 21 by specifying a flood as opposed to wiping out all life again. Vs. 25, why was Ham's son Canaan punished in place of his father due to his father's actions? Ham's descendants were cursed to serve the descendants of Ham's brothers. If Noah was blameless, how would he allow himself to get drunk and have this happen in the first place? Vs. 28 - if lifespans were limited in Gen. 6:3, how did Noah live to be 950 years old?
Chapter 10: the nations were separated into their lands according to their language.
Sons of God... 3 possibilities.
1) Sons of Kings, daughters of men = daughters of commoners
2) Fallen Angels
3) Nephilim (sons of angels and human women.)
Why do you assume angels are sexless? I don't find that... many say if they were only spirits, they could take the form of man, but I don't think that is the case as much as the angels were capable of sleeping with humans.
When the bible speaks of giants, do you picture Jack and the beanstalk? I have always pictured 8 ft men. There are women today who give birth to babies who have grown that tall.
Evil thoughts continually? I don't have an issue with this either. I think it just means they dwelt on evil all the time. Did they have moments of thinking good? If so, it was obviously not often. Visit a prison, they will tell you it is a dark, dark place.
Of course there was law before Moses, otherwise how would there be "clean" and 'unclean" animals to take on the ark. Think of the warning God gave Cain about sin crouching at his door. The laws were simply not written down. They were handed down verbally from generation to generation. And Paul in Romans 2 that the law of God is written on our hearts. Man, inherently know good from evil.
I knew at times when my older children were in hi school that they were going to disobey, but I gave them permission/freedom to make the mistake. Sometimes I regretted giving them so much leeway, but I did what had to be done.
The animals were not being punished, they were simply not valued equally with man. They were given as food and sometimes beasts of burden, sometimes as a sacrifice. But although they were not equal with man, God did not want them treated without mercy. There was honor to be given at the time of death. Many rules like not eating them alive, not boiling a baby animal in its mother's milk, treating it mercifully.
Noah was not sinless, he was righteous. His focus was on following God, pleasing Him... walking with Him and doing His will. This pleased God.
You and I will always have a different perspective on one thing over all else. God is all knowing, the Alpha and Omega. If sea life did perish, He had reason for it. They could have fished and eaten that sea life, either way, sea life dies. God created it, He can destroy it. With all of mankind being wiped out, sea life being wiped out isn't an issue I dwell on.
The trees were most surely on a mountain top. The trees were submerged, it doesn't say they were ripped from the soil and the land was barren. When the waters receded, the leaves begin to sprout. As I live thru the winter, it never fails to surprise me that the trees bud and leaf within days. This isn't strange to me at all.
Why is the smell of the burnt offering sweet to God? Why does musk smell good to a woman and flowery perfume to a man? It is within us. We are not God so we are not expected to think and react like him. However it isn't hard to imagine that if animals are food, which they had to hunt, slaughter and cook... at that point, they could have eaten them and enjoyed the fruit of their labor, but instead, they burnt it. It could no longer be eaten by them. It was given as a gift, a sacrifice, an offering of love to their creator. It is quite easy for me to imagine why this smells sweet to God... He is being told He is loved when He smells this aroma.
We have dominance over animals. We need weapons to do this, but we have the ability to fashion these tools, they do not. Who is to say that even the shark does not fear man and attack? Were we to have a harpoon, we would be the victor. There have been ppl who have warded off sharks by simply punching them or poking them in the eye.
Ham's sin was real though the whole story wasn't given. Did he know his dad had been drinking and followed him to see him in his weakness? Did he dishonor his dad by snickering at him and telling his brothers in hopes that they would come and look and scoff too?
Why does God punish future generations? I guess b/c there is a heavy price to be paid for our sins. Look at alcoholism... if God did not punish future generations, would we not do it to ourselves? I don't know. God makes the rules, we are called to live by them.
Chapter 6: I’m not sure where I got the idea that Angels were sexless. I know that they can appear in the form of men, but I guess that I assumed that appearing in the shape of men and having that ability does not necessarily mean that they ARE men. I’ve also had the understanding that since there is no marriage of heaven and the purpose of gender and/or sexual organs would be to reproduce (under the covenant of marriage, inferred) that Angels would have no need of sexual reproduction – especially since they were created prior to human beings, and existed by the time that the first humans were first placed in the Garden of Eden.
My idea of the Giants referenced in Genesis 6 comes from knowledge of the Anakins mentioned later throughout the old-testament. Perhaps the Israelite spies exaggerated when they said that the Anakins made the Israelite soldiers look like Grasshoppers in comparison, or perhaps Goliath was not that much bigger than David as the stories propose. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anak
From my reading, animals were not given to humans as food until AFTER the flood, and it wasn’t so much a decree to not eat a living animal (and eww) rather than an animal that you DID eat had to be drained of blood, as later recognized in the Mosaic law handed down to the people of Israel after their exodus from Egypt.
My point is simply that if all sea/lake/river life died, it makes no mention of being recreated. So how did we get it up through this day? For the most part, salt water life cannot live in fresh or brackish water. Fresh water life cannot live in salty or brackish water. How were the fish saved, if not recreated? What about the marine life that HAD the breath of life, all of which God purported to wipe out of existence like dolphins and whales? My question wasn’t necessarily on the morality of its extinction, but simply the mechanics of its survival.
My only issue is that when trees and their seeds, etc. are submerged for that period of time, it drowns the seeds and seedlings. Trees simply cannot survive being underwater for that long, so the question was where did they come from? How did they grow long enough to sprout a branch that quickly after the flood was over?
The text specifically said that it was a soothing aroma to God. As much as I like barbeque, I wouldn’t imagine that the smell of deliberately burning flesh is pleasing to me. I usually squeal and try to put out the fire. I understand that I’m not God, and the importance of the sacrifice itself. I’m simply curious as to what was left to appease God for.
Some animals (albeit a small number) can indeed fashion tools. Weapons, not so much, although apes can throw stones as weapons – and they throw poop as I have discovered quite by accident. Yes, humanity is dominant over the animal world, but this did not occur immediately after the flood. In fact, in most parts of the world, it did not occur with any regularity until the invention of hunting weapons like bows, crossbows and guns. Anyone can get lucky with a harpoon or a bow or a shotgun. Animals don’t necessarily have to be lucky – they simply have to be themselves. In a one-on-one match between a lion and a human being without a firearm, the lion will win 99% of the time – and that seems to be the natural order of things.
I don’t disagree that Ham’s actions were disrespectful, but I don’t see justice in cursing his son to be a servant to his uncles for all time into the future. His son did not commit the sin, and I’ve never understood the concept of justice that involves punishing someone not guilty of the crime for the crimes of another. For example, I would not consider it justice for one person to willingly go to jail for a crime that their child or parent committed. That would not be justice, regardless of how willingly they did it. What lesson does that teach to the guilty party? Seemingly the lesson is that they can get away with negative behavior and someone else can take the blame.
Final Thoughts: Christian
I think one thing we will have to come to terms with is that being a god is altogether different from being a man. Of course I only believe in one god, but you get you get my gist? We cannot begin to think like the creator of the universe. We cannot fit him into our mold. Speaking of Ham, how serious an offense this was is not for us to determine. This will seem silly to you, but my thought is, we grew up watching Three's Company and the Love Boat... our times are outrageously different from theirs.
Final Thoughts: Atheist
I agree that we live in a much different time period than these people did, and that’s part of the reason why context is so important. Not just scriptural context, but understanding Jewish context of these passages, that often differs significantly from Christian context in the 4th century through today. These were Jewish scriptures long before they were incorporated into the Christian Bible, and many Christians today (not necessarily referring to the present conversation) I think could benefit greatly from studying Jewish understanding of this and other books in the Jewish Torah, as well as cultural and climate influences, influences from other groups of people that the Jews were in conflict and collaboration with, etc.
© 2014 Elizabeth