10/13/99

Hi,

Genesis Chap 2 is talking about events in the Garden of Eden. Vegetation and seed and fruit-bearing trees in the wild by themselves do not make crops. Cultivation and crops and gardens are human activities. Trees, including fruit trees, existed before Man; gardens and crops and orchards didn't exist until Man came on the scene.

You wrote something very perceptive:

"If we're talking about an omniscient, omnipotent god with an all-important message for all mankind, why is the bible translated by people in so many ways?"

I'm sure that,if the details were important, then God would have provided a way for us to know the details without controversy. However, the great messages are the themes in the Bible. Perhaps the most profound message from Genesis 1 is ". . . God, creator of heaven and earth. The theme here being God as the creator of everything. The exact order of creation of trees, at this thematic level, is unimportant.

The details of the Bible enrich our experience and better connect the lessons of the Bible with our everyday lives. If we truly desire to know about God and His relationship to us, then we will take the time to study the Bible, for example, comparing and contrasting different translations (we may even have to go back to the original Greek or Hebrew for some tough ones). If we're not truly interested, then it doesn't matter how the Bible is translated. If we do study the Bible, accepting the themes of the Bible, most of these controversies will resolve themselves in a way that strengthens our overall understanding.

The incredible depth and riches of the Bible is a key factor as to why I became a Christian.

The Bible contains the messages and God uses the Bible, but God also uses other means. God engineers our experiences. If I may, I will relate one personal incident to illustrate.

Some time ago, when I was a new Christian, I was troubled by an aspect of a relationship. I was going through some old papers and I found a handwritten essay on "forgiveness", written from a Christian understanding. It was written by my father's father who had died before I was born. I had never seen this paper before. I was astounded because I knew he was a Patent Examiner and didn't know he was even a Christian; certainly my father never went to church. I asked some relatives and found out that my grandfather had gone to seminary and became a pastor, but had to give it up when he began losing his voice. I got another shock when I learned he was a Lutheran pastor. As far as I knew, no other relative was a Lutheran, except me. God had given me several blessings: though that essay, He reiterated the importance of forgiveness to a relationship; and He also transcended death to let me experience my grandfather, as a person, as a Christian, as a Lutheran. It was if my grandfather had actually taken me on his knee and began telling me of God's forgiveness and how we should therefore forgive each other. The experience was comforting, but also very hard because often it is hard to forgive unconditionally. This type of engineering of experiences has happened a number of times in my Christian life.

When I said that "I personally don't think that we're in any position to demand things of God", I was not referring to intellectual curiosity (which Christianity supports, by the way). I was referring specifically to the ways in which He could reveal Himself to us. If God created nature, then logically, we have no reason to expect Him to abide by nature's rules and so, logically, we should not expect, necessarily, to find Him through science, which is the study of nature. If we begin by demanding that He be found through science or not at all, then we've deliberately doomed the enterprise from the very beginning.

Cheers,
Lynn

10/13/99

Hello,

You say that, "I'm sure that, if the details were important, then God would have provided a way for us to know the details without controversy." But again, if this were true, god still would have failed. As you have said, the themes in the bible are what are important. But you also know that not everyone sees it this way. Everyone interprets the bible differently, using the little details that are so ambiguous. From these details, you can concede that god is love, god is hate, slavery is ok, killing homosexuals is ok, blowing up abortion clinics is ok, and many other things that can potentially be harmful to society. Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland aren't killing each other because they believe that only the themes in the bible are important. The Christian god failed. If the details were unimportant, he shouldn't have stuck in a bunch of mysterious details in the first place. It doesn't show a lot of thought on the part of an omniscient and omnipotent being.

Another reason you give for becoming a Christian is that the bible contains depth and riches. But if you have studied other religions before settling upon Christianity, you would have found that other religions are just as rich and even richer, since Christianity borrows many aspects from earlier religions. It is, in fact, quite unoriginal. Also, you say that the "details of the Bible enrich our experience..." and I'm sure they do if you interpret them to your liking. This isn't particular to Christianity either, however. Neither is your story about how your god engineers your experiences. Although this is further proof to you that your god exists, it could have been Allah (only to someone who believes in Allah, of course), it is coincidence to freethinkers, and is even the work of a gnome to others. Can you really say otherwise?

You end your story by saying, "This type of engineering of experiences has happened a number of times in my Christian life." Can you honestly say that you've never experienced a coincidence before you became a Christian? Moreover, can you honestly say that coincidences of this sort never happen to non-Christians?

You say that you weren't referring to intellectual curiosity in demanding things of god, but the study of nature and science will inevitably follow. Christianity does not support much curiosity at all, which has been clearly demonstrated throughout its history. To illustrate this, I want to return to something you said in an earlier e-mail:

"Jesus is relentless. If you become His follower, He will tear down everything that is not built upon Him. Your friends, your ideas and hopes for the future, family, your career, your ideas about right and wrong, your ideas about happiness. He tells me and you that there is nothing that we have ever done, apart from Him, that is good; that all of our "rightneous" is "disgusting and filthy". The basic, fundamental sin is that I have a right to myself and He is determined to tear every bit of that out."

I was reading this over, and I realized that I have never heard Christianity presented in quite this way. Frankly, I find it arrogant and tyrranical. But more importantly, it obviously illustrates that Christianity discourages any type of freethought.

I was so surprised at this view that I hesitate to believe that you meant it literally, or perhaps I interpreted it wrong. If you did mean it literally, I'm now really wondering why you chose Christianity.

Respectfully,
Meretricula

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