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  #1  
Old Aug 24, '12, 6:23 pm
IbnFiktur IbnFiktur is offline
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Default Augustine on literal interpretation of Genesis/OT

EDIT: ACCIDENTALLY POSTED IN THIS FORUM. Can it please be moved to the Philosophy forum? Thanks!

I've lurked around debates on "creationism" and whatnot on these forums for some time now, and I was mildly shocked to see so many Catholics staunchly defending a literal interpretation of various events in Genesis (creation, the flood, etc). I've been reading St. Augustine's Confessions lately, and much of what my favorite Saint has to say on the topic seems to be relevant. I am curious how Catholics (and Christians of all stripes) who advocate literal interpretation of Genesis feel about these passages.

All passages from Confessions comes from Sister Maria Boulding's translation. Most of the material comes from Books V and VI.

In summary: Augustine clearly argues that the opinions of scientists regarding the natural world should be respected, and that scientific findings about the natural world should not be considered contrary to scripture, but rather that OT scriptures should be interpreted figuratively.

A little background here: At this point in the Confessions Augustine is writing about a time in his twenties when he was a member of a heretical group called the Manichees. He began to doubt the validity of this heresy when he discovered that they were making claims contrary to what the scientists of his day had discovered about the natural world. Emphasis mine:
...I then kept in mind many true conclusions which they [the scientists] had drawn from creation itself, and I saw that these could be verified by calculation... I then compared them with the assertions of [the Manichees], who had written voluminously (and incoherently) on these subjects. What I read there was confirmed neither by any rational account of solstices and equinoxes and eclipses, nor by anything else of this kind that I had learned from books of secular philosophy. I was simply bidden to believe, and what I was required to believe did not correspond to the rational explanations I had worked out and discovered by my own observations; in fact there was a wide discrepancy.
Ok, so here we have Augustine beginning to doubt this heresy based on empirical, scientific observation and the study of scientific works written by others. Indeed, in that last bolded sentence he implicitly condemns the way that the Manichees asked him to believe things that were clearly falsified by empirical observation of the natural world. In fact he directly condemns the founder of Manichaeism for preaching about the natural world in such a false way when he clearly knows nothing about it:
Obviously, Mani might have been thoroughly conversant in scientific truths, even if a stranger to piety. In fact, however, he was ignorant of them, but he still had the effrontery to teach them...
In fact, Augustine claims that it was nothing short of "providential" that Mani got so many scientific facts wrong, since that allowed many people who would have been led astray into this heresy to label it as a falsehood:
It was providential that this man talked so much about scientific subjects, and got it wrong, because this gave people who had truly studied them the chance to convict him of error.
Ok, so what we can gather from the above is basically that Augustine believes that empirical, scientific study is an effective way to evaluate the truths of the natural world, even if it is not sufficient in and of itself to find the ultimate truth, which is God. Now let's turn to Augustine's own conversion to Christianity.

Initially, Augustine rejected Christianity for a similar reason that he was beginning to doubt Manichaeism... some of the scriptures appeared to him to make no sense, and were incompatible with a rational account of the natural world. He only began to respect Christianity as a possibly truthful belief system, however, when he heard St. Ambrose discuss Old Testament texts in a figurative rather than a literal sense:
...I realized that the Catholic faith... was in fact intellectually respectable. This realization was particularly keen when once, and again, and indeed frequently, I heard some difficult passage of the Old Testament explained figuratively; such passages had been death to me because I was taking them literally.
Augustine here indicates that it is downright harmful (or, in his words, "death") to interpret the Old Testament literally. He further indicates that this is not how St. Ambrose interpreted them at all.

This is further reinforced when he once again tells of the positive effects of Ambrose's teachings on his life:
I was often delighted to hear Ambrose often asserting in his sermons to people, as a principle on which he must insist emphatically, the letter is death-dealing, but the spirit gives life. This he would tell them as he drew aside the veil of mystery and opened to them the spiritual meaning of passages which, taken literally, would seem to mislead.

From all this, I think we can conclude the following things:

-St. Augustine believed that the study of the natural world was an effective means of finding truth, and that a true faith will not reject scientifically proven theories.
-The issue of a literal interpretation of the Old Testament is not a new phenomenon, nor a result of the Enlightenment; rather, the issue was discussed even in the early Church. Which leads to my next point...
-Both St. Ambrose and St. Augustine reject the literal interpretation of the Old Testament, and reject the notion that science should be discarded in order to make a literal interpretation work.

Thoughts?
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  #2  
Old Aug 24, '12, 7:25 pm
edwest2 edwest2 is offline
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Default Re: Augustine on literal interpretation of Genesis/OT

This is an old theme that is brought up here on a regular basis. The primary problem is that science has absolutely nothing to say about Genesis. Nothing. There are no peer-reviewed scientific papers titled: "An Analysis of Miraculous Claims Made in the Book of Genesis of the Christian Bible." Second, there is definitely a campaign against Literalism that will be ongoing for some time. In fact, detractors should write a book: "The God Who Did Nothing- How Science Proves that the Book of Genesis is symbolically symbolic."

Yes, a few saints have published their thoughts on interpreting Genesis and that doesn't add much to the discussion. I'm not saying it should be ignored or discarded but it's the wrong place to start.

"Real History

"The argument is that all of this is real history, it is simply ordered topically rather than chronologically, and the ancient audience of Genesis, it is argued, would have understood it as such.

"Even if Genesis 1 records God’s work in a topical fashion, it still records God’s work—things God really did.

"The Catechism explains that "Scripture presents the work of the Creator symbolically as a succession of six days of divine ‘work,’ concluded by the ‘rest’ of the seventh day" (CCC 337), but "nothing exists that does not owe its existence to God the Creator. The world began when God’s word drew it out of nothingness; all existent beings, all of nature, and all human history is rooted in this primordial event, the very genesis by which the world was constituted and time begun" (CCC 338).

"It is impossible to dismiss the events of Genesis 1 as a mere legend. They are accounts of real history, even if they are told in a style of historical writing that Westerners do not typically use.



"Adam and Eve: Real People

"It is equally impermissible to dismiss the story of Adam and Eve and the fall (Gen. 2–3) as a fiction. A question often raised in this context is whether the human race descended from an original pair of two human beings (a teaching known as monogenism) or a pool of early human couples (a teaching known as polygenism).

"In this regard, Pope Pius XII stated: "When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains either that after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parents of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now, it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the teaching authority of the Church proposed with regard to original sin which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam in which through generation is passed onto all and is in everyone as his own" (Humani Generis 37).

"The story of the creation and fall of man is a true one, even if not written entirely according to modern literary techniques. The Catechism states, "The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents" (CCC 390)."



And this:


http://www.ewtn.com/vexperts/showres...DESC&start_at=





Peace,
Ed
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  #3  
Old Aug 24, '12, 7:36 pm
IbnFiktur IbnFiktur is offline
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Default Re: Augustine on literal interpretation of Genesis/OT

Ed,

By and large I agree with you when you say that we should not dismiss events in genesis if there is no reason to dismiss them.

It also seems that you are demonstrating that the "7 day creation" is figurative... in this I believe we agree as well.

The point was not that science can prove or disprove Genesis. The point is that (and I believe Augustine and Ambrose would have agreed) we should not actively go out of our way to dismiss scientific findings on issues that ARE considered factual in the scientific community such as:

-The ages of the world/universe
-Evolution
-That there was not a "global" flood

If we are so self-conscious about defending the literal meaning of Genesis that we vehemently deny scientific evidence, I believe we are doing the Church a great disservice. I have seen scattered posts on these forums to the end that "dinosaur bones are tricks from the devil," etc. I do not believe the Church Fathers would have shared this view; certainly not St. Augustine, who rejected heresy on the grounds that it did not fit empirical observation of the natural world... nor St. Ambrose, who brought St. Augustine into the Christian fold by reconciling science and faith via a figurative interpretation of the OT.
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Old Aug 24, '12, 8:43 pm
edwest2 edwest2 is offline
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Default Re: Augustine on literal interpretation of Genesis/OT

Quote:
Originally Posted by IbnFiktur View Post
Ed,

By and large I agree with you when you say that we should not dismiss events in genesis if there is no reason to dismiss them.

It also seems that you are demonstrating that the "7 day creation" is figurative... in this I believe we agree as well.

The point was not that science can prove or disprove Genesis. The point is that (and I believe Augustine and Ambrose would have agreed) we should not actively go out of our way to dismiss scientific findings on issues that ARE considered factual in the scientific community such as:

-The ages of the world/universe
-Evolution
-That there was not a "global" flood

If we are so self-conscious about defending the literal meaning of Genesis that we vehemently deny scientific evidence, I believe we are doing the Church a great disservice. I have seen scattered posts on these forums to the end that "dinosaur bones are tricks from the devil," etc. I do not believe the Church Fathers would have shared this view; certainly not St. Augustine, who rejected heresy on the grounds that it did not fit empirical observation of the natural world... nor St. Ambrose, who brought St. Augustine into the Christian fold by reconciling science and faith via a figurative interpretation of the OT.


You are approaching the problem with preconceived notions. Without a more thorough understanding of Church teaching, any who make certain claims without knowing and understanding Church teaching are doing a disservice to the Church.

Age of the world/universe? The Church has dealt with this and it is in no hurry to resolve the age of the earth question. But WHY ARE OTHERS SO ADAMANT ABOUT IT? WHY?

"The Time Question

"Much less has been defined as to when the universe, life, and man appeared. The Church has infallibly determined that the universe is of finite age—that it has not existed from all eternity—but it has not infallibly defined whether the world was created only a few thousand years ago or whether it was created several billion years ago."


I'll wait on the Church, not science.

No, I am not demonstrating that the days of Creation were figurative at all.


I'll wait on the Church to tell me about human origins, not science.

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science...volution_N.htm


As far as the Global Flood, I have no reason to believe it did not happen.


Please look up the word heresy. It does not apply to the issues you've raised.



And yes, dinosaurs were real, but soft tissue has been found inside dinosaur bones.





Peace,
Ed
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  #5  
Old Aug 24, '12, 11:15 pm
vera dicere vera dicere is offline
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Default Re: Augustine on literal interpretation of Genesis/OT

I've been seeing more and more Catholics holding Genesis as a blow by blow literal account of creation, both online and in real life. I'm rather concerned about it actually because one you get into all kinds of problems if you try to take the lump the books in the Bible as all being the one in the same sort of genre. Genesis isn't a science book.

But I actually think a good lot of the opposition is based on the extreme atheist/secular mentality is reeving up and using literal Genesis as a means to prove Christians are all idiots, and two, that if the atheists latch on to evolution, then it must be bad.

There's no way Genesis' creation stories are literal, no way. The "science" creationists are presenting is faulty and basically looks like knocking down strawmen, and then thing is, there's no reason for it! An acception of evolution can be perfectly compatible with the Catholic faith. God started teh ball rolling. As long as you don't deny his presence in Evolution, its not some evil atheist filled Trojan horse.
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Old Aug 25, '12, 4:29 am
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JohnMPhilomena JohnMPhilomena is offline
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Default Re: Augustine on literal interpretation of Genesis/OT

True science is never in conflict with the church. I love St Augustine's Confessions - by the way, the audio version is available for free at librovox.org .

I was basically an athiest most of my life. I have a very logical mind (I'm an engineer) and like you said - it was "death" to me when I tried to take some things literally.

Faith is indeed a gift. My wife and children prayed for my conversion for 25 years. When I went to church with my family, it felt like I was lying when we would say the Creed. How could I say "I believe..." when I didn't.

I rarely prayed - except when I occassionally went to church, I would pray, "God, if you are real - make me believe." Finally He gave me the grace necessary, and I gave Him my "yes". And now I believe EVERYTHING - angels, miracles, the Eucharist, etc.

Sorry for going off-topic.

Take the "Big Bang theory" for example. Science's best guess of how the universe was formed. Is that in conflict with the church? I don't think so. Where did the matter/energy come from at the time of the event? Where was the matter prior to the event? Newton says matter can neither be created nor destroyed. So these questions cannot be answered without the existence of the creator.

Anyway, these are not the reasons that I now believe, but rather this is the way I view things now that I DO believe.

Peace,
John
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  #7  
Old Aug 25, '12, 9:46 am
OneSheep OneSheep is offline
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Default Re: Augustine on literal interpretation of Genesis/OT

I have the greatest respect for St. Augustine, and I thank you for pointing out these writings and your analysis.

As far as Darwin goes, I really think that one can read nothing other than a loving God and an underlying optimism from his science and conclusions.
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Old Aug 25, '12, 10:31 am
edwest2 edwest2 is offline
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Default Re: Augustine on literal interpretation of Genesis/OT

Quote:
Originally Posted by vera dicere View Post
I've been seeing more and more Catholics holding Genesis as a blow by blow literal account of creation, both online and in real life. I'm rather concerned about it actually because one you get into all kinds of problems if you try to take the lump the books in the Bible as all being the one in the same sort of genre. Genesis isn't a science book.

But I actually think a good lot of the opposition is based on the extreme atheist/secular mentality is reeving up and using literal Genesis as a means to prove Christians are all idiots, and two, that if the atheists latch on to evolution, then it must be bad.

There's no way Genesis' creation stories are literal, no way. The "science" creationists are presenting is faulty and basically looks like knocking down strawmen, and then thing is, there's no reason for it! An acception of evolution can be perfectly compatible with the Catholic faith. God started teh ball rolling. As long as you don't deny his presence in Evolution, its not some evil atheist filled Trojan horse.



Please use specific examples of the problems caused by a literal interpretation of Genesis. Just a reminder, the topic is Genesis, not all the books in the Bible.

Second, do Christians look like idiots when we tell non-theists that Jesus raised the dead, cleansed the lepers, gave sight to the blind, and literally told the winds and waves to be still, and it all happened without the use of any science or technology?

Do we look like bigger idiots when we tell non-theists that that little wafer called the Eucharist, contains the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ? That Christ is actually present in the Eucharist, or when the priest says, "Body of Christ." he doesn't mean it's true?

The more people bring this subject up, the more I'm convinced that the story of the development of life on earth, especially the creation of man and woman, is an atheist filled Trojan Horse. Otherwise, why spend all the time and effort to convince Christians otherwise? To put it another way, if the population of the United States believed that Genesis covered 7 literal, 24 hour days, so what? What would be the specific consequences?

Here is a perfect example of what I'm talking about:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/intel...invoke-darwin/


The author is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.



Peace,
Ed
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  #9  
Old Aug 25, '12, 10:54 am
edwest2 edwest2 is offline
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Default Re: Augustine on literal interpretation of Genesis/OT

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnMPhilomena View Post
True science is never in conflict with the church. I love St Augustine's Confessions - by the way, the audio version is available for free at librovox.org .

I was basically an athiest most of my life. I have a very logical mind (I'm an engineer) and like you said - it was "death" to me when I tried to take some things literally.

Faith is indeed a gift. My wife and children prayed for my conversion for 25 years. When I went to church with my family, it felt like I was lying when we would say the Creed. How could I say "I believe..." when I didn't.

I rarely prayed - except when I occassionally went to church, I would pray, "God, if you are real - make me believe." Finally He gave me the grace necessary, and I gave Him my "yes". And now I believe EVERYTHING - angels, miracles, the Eucharist, etc.

Sorry for going off-topic.

Take the "Big Bang theory" for example. Science's best guess of how the universe was formed. Is that in conflict with the church? I don't think so. Where did the matter/energy come from at the time of the event? Where was the matter prior to the event? Newton says matter can neither be created nor destroyed. So these questions cannot be answered without the existence of the creator.

Anyway, these are not the reasons that I now believe, but rather this is the way I view things now that I DO believe.

Peace,
John


Hi John,


I am acquainted with engineers. In one case, I was fascinated with his detailed account of how he developed a particular solution to a particular design problem, as leader of a team of engineers. He's been doing this sort of work for 12 years. His team assisted him by providing knowledge as to the best types of materials to use, dimensional requirements, electronics requirements, and ways to minimize weight without compromising structural and safety concerns. Finally, this had a budget requirement that needed to be met.

In short: just the facts, testing - it had to be shown to work as designed as fitted inside an actual vehicle, and field tests with a human being where the vehicle would be exposed to the exact conditions which the newly developed device would encounter. And do it multiple times and on multiple types of terrain.

No guesswork. It had to be shown to work, multiple times.
No philosophy.
No looking at the Bible.
When the end user looked over the spec.s, test reports and cost, he, and usually a group, would see the device in action, and in some cases, be seated in the vehicle when the device went into action. And that it could be built in a satisfactory construction time. He had to be convinced to put it into production based on those factors alone. Nothing else.

My reason for posting? To tell you that there are Biology textbooks that tell students things that are philosophical at best and theologically wrong at worst.



Peace,
Ed
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  #10  
Old Aug 25, '12, 3:31 pm
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JohnMPhilomena JohnMPhilomena is offline
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Default Re: Augustine on literal interpretation of Genesis/OT

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnMPhilomena View Post
True science is never in conflict with the church. I love St Augustine's Confessions - by the way, the audio version is available for free at librovox.org .

I was basically an athiest most of my life. I have a very logical mind (I'm an engineer) and like you said - it was "death" to me when I tried to take some things literally.

Faith is indeed a gift. My wife and children prayed for my conversion for 25 years. When I went to church with my family, it felt like I was lying when we would say the Creed. How could I say "I believe..." when I didn't.

I rarely prayed - except when I occassionally went to church, I would pray, "God, if you are real - make me believe." Finally He gave me the grace necessary, and I gave Him my "yes". And now I believe EVERYTHING - angels, miracles, the Eucharist, etc.

Sorry for going off-topic.

Take the "Big Bang theory" for example. Science's best guess of how the universe was formed. Is that in conflict with the church? I don't think so. Where did the matter/energy come from at the time of the event? Where was the matter prior to the event? Newton says matter can neither be created nor destroyed. So these questions cannot be answered without the existence of the creator.

Anyway, these are not the reasons that I now believe, but rather this is the way I view things now that I DO believe.

Peace,
John
Sorry - typo. St Augustine's Confessions is available on librivox.org not librovox. Here is the link:
http://librivox.org/confessions-by-s...tine-of-hippo/

Peace,
John
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  #11  
Old Aug 26, '12, 11:40 am
IbnFiktur IbnFiktur is offline
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Default Re: Augustine on literal interpretation of Genesis/OT

Quote:
Originally Posted by edwest2 View Post
You are approaching the problem with preconceived notions. Without a more thorough understanding of Church teaching, any who make certain claims without knowing and understanding Church teaching are doing a disservice to the Church.

Age of the world/universe? The Church has dealt with this and it is in no hurry to resolve the age of the earth question. But WHY ARE OTHERS SO ADAMANT ABOUT IT? WHY?

"The Time Question

"Much less has been defined as to when the universe, life, and man appeared. The Church has infallibly determined that the universe is of finite age—that it has not existed from all eternity—but it has not infallibly defined whether the world was created only a few thousand years ago or whether it was created several billion years ago."

I'll wait on the Church, not science.

No, I am not demonstrating that the days of Creation were figurative at all.

I'll wait on the Church to tell me about human origins, not science.

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science...volution_N.htm

As far as the Global Flood, I have no reason to believe it did not happen.

Please look up the word heresy. It does not apply to the issues you've raised.

And yes, dinosaurs were real, but soft tissue has been found inside dinosaur bones.

Peace,
Ed

Ed,

We seem to simply be hashing out Creationism debates that have been going on in these forums for ages. That is not where I want this thread to go, and it is not the topic of this thread.

For instance, you say that you "have no reason to believe" that the global flood did not happen. However, in this thread several posters described in great detail good reasons to believe that a global flood did not take place. I believe you actually took part in that thread. I'm not trying to have that argument again, but rather suggest what the early Church fathers and doctors would have had to say about the way in which you and those with similar views were making your arguments and treating empirical study.

The words you posted in this thread that most concern the topic at hand is this:

Quote:
I'll wait on the Church, not science.
You are describing the "Church" and "science" as two separate and possibly antagonistic ways of knowing. What I am arguing is that Augustine would never have viewed them as antagonistic. Rather, he approached the Old Testament figuratively (he uses precisely that language), and used the works of scientists to debunk heresies.***

Augustine and Ambrose are both doctors of the faith, and among the earliest fathers of the Latin Church. Another point I am making in this thread is that Catholics accepting scientific theories as credible and interpreting the OT figuratively is NOT a concession to modernism... it is an integral part of our theological tradition.

***I do not believe I am using the term incorrectly. Augustine was writing against an early Church heresy. I am not implying that a failure to accept scientific findings is heresy.
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Old Aug 26, '12, 12:32 pm
edwest2 edwest2 is offline
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Default Re: Augustine on literal interpretation of Genesis/OT

Scroll down to the heading: Tradition / Church Fathers and continue reading.


http://www.scripturecatholic.com/evolution.html



Peace,
Ed
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Old Sep 12, '12, 8:07 pm
iohannes13 iohannes13 is offline
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Default Re: Augustine on literal interpretation of Genesis/OT

Modern Science is relatively new in the history of humanity. The writers of Genesis had no inkling of the Scientific Method so they couldn't transmit their information in modern scientific terms. I do believe that the Genesis story is mythic in nature. It is telling a story to help us understand several things, especially about the human condition. I personally do not view it as a creation story as that has no bearing on my life. When I read it, I see it as a metaphor of our childhood and growth into adulthood. Think about it. But this is only one of many things this story can convey to us. But while I think the story is a myth, I do recognize that many Modern Scientific findings across serveral disciplines have some interesting parallels with the Genesis creation myth. So while Genesis can never be a science or literal history book, these parallels show that the ancients were transmitting wisdom. These are but a few to highlight my point.

1. Everything was created from nothing. Same thing taught in Genesis and by Science (the Big Bang Theory).
2. Man was a special creation. Genesis states man was created in God’s image and received God’s breath. Science (i.e. archaeological record) shows that after millions of years of evolution something special happened with the arrival of Homo sapiens during a specific period of time, referred to as the Big Mind Bang Theory. Meaning that signs of true humanity and our mental capacity appeared virtually instantaneously approximately 50,000 years ago.
3. Man created religion. All religions are man-made. Religion is the practice of theology (the belief in God). Abel and Cain are described as making sacrifices to God. Science shows that ritualistic and religious activity appeared very early in our pre-history.
4. Earliest religions were based on worship of animals or nature resulting in polytheistic religions. On careful reading of Genesis, the culture that wrote Genesis story was polytheistic or at the very least henotheistic. Science shows all the earliest religions were polytheistic.
5. Early cultures practiced animal sacrifices. Cain and Abel are referenced in Genesis as making such sacrifices. Science shows evidence of this across the world.
6. Humans Domesticated crops and animals. Science fact. Cain and Abel are referenced in Genesis as one being a farmer, the other a herder.
7. Farmers and animal herders fought for land. Science shows evidence that shortly after people began farming and domesticating animals, both groups began fighting each other for land. One needed the land to farm, the other for their herds to graze. Interestingly, much of this evidence comes from the Middle East. Genesis has hints of this in the Cain and Abel story in which the herder kills the farmer.

Last edited by iohannes13; Sep 12, '12 at 8:24 pm.
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Old Sep 13, '12, 7:20 am
OneSheep OneSheep is offline
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Default Re: Augustine on literal interpretation of Genesis/OT

Quote:
Originally Posted by iohannes13 View Post
Modern Science is relatively new in the history of humanity. The writers of Genesis had no inkling of the Scientific Method so they couldn't transmit their information in modern scientific terms. I do believe that the Genesis story is mythic in nature. It is telling a story to help us understand several things, especially about the human condition. I personally do not view it as a creation story as that has no bearing on my life. When I read it, I see it as a metaphor of our childhood and growth into adulthood. Think about it. But this is only one of many things this story can convey to us. But while I think the story is a myth, I do recognize that many Modern Scientific findings across serveral disciplines have some interesting parallels with the Genesis creation myth. So while Genesis can never be a science or literal history book, these parallels show that the ancients were transmitting wisdom. These are but a few to highlight my point.

1. Everything was created from nothing. Same thing taught in Genesis and by Science (the Big Bang Theory).
2. Man was a special creation. Genesis states man was created in God’s image and received God’s breath. Science (i.e. archaeological record) shows that after millions of years of evolution something special happened with the arrival of Homo sapiens during a specific period of time, referred to as the Big Mind Bang Theory. Meaning that signs of true humanity and our mental capacity appeared virtually instantaneously approximately 50,000 years ago.
3. Man created religion. All religions are man-made. Religion is the practice of theology (the belief in God). Abel and Cain are described as making sacrifices to God. Science shows that ritualistic and religious activity appeared very early in our pre-history.
4. Earliest religions were based on worship of animals or nature resulting in polytheistic religions. On careful reading of Genesis, the culture that wrote Genesis story was polytheistic or at the very least henotheistic. Science shows all the earliest religions were polytheistic.
5. Early cultures practiced animal sacrifices. Cain and Abel are referenced in Genesis as making such sacrifices. Science shows evidence of this across the world.
6. Humans Domesticated crops and animals. Science fact. Cain and Abel are referenced in Genesis as one being a farmer, the other a herder.
7. Farmers and animal herders fought for land. Science shows evidence that shortly after people began farming and domesticating animals, both groups began fighting each other for land. One needed the land to farm, the other for their herds to graze. Interestingly, much of this evidence comes from the Middle East. Genesis has hints of this in the Cain and Abel story in which the herder kills the farmer.
Great list. I would like to add one:
8. Given that the human shares almost all innate compulsions with the rest of the mammalian world, the compulsion to punish what we see as wrongdoing is described as a special addition to the human.

Augustine fans like me out there might be interested in a thread I posted:

http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=706175
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Old Sep 13, '12, 7:51 am
rossum rossum is offline
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Default Re: Augustine on literal interpretation of Genesis/OT

Quote:
Originally Posted by edwest2 View Post
Please use specific examples of the problems caused by a literal interpretation of Genesis.
Certainly, here are three. The first two are from the ICR, from their RATE project:
The Heat Problem

Of greater concern to both supporters and skeptics of the RATE project is the issue of how to dispose of the tremendous quantities of heat generated by accelerated decay during the Genesis Flood. The amount of heat produced by a decay rate of a million times faster than normal during the year of the Flood could potentially vaporize the earth’s oceans, melt the crust, and obliterate the surface of the earth. The RATE group is confident that the accelerated decay they discovered was not only caused by God, but that the necessary removal of heat was also superintended by Him as well. Dr. Russell Humphreys, a member of the RATE group, has suggested one possible mechanism that may explain this dilemma. He has found evidence, both scientific and scriptural, that cooling of the earth by the expansion of the cosmos may have occurred simultaneously with the heat produced by accelerated decay.

The Radiation Problem

Another consideration is how Noah and his family could have survived the massive dose of radiation unleashed during the Flood. It is likely that the humans aboard the Ark would have been protected from most of the radiation occurring on the surface of the earth by the water covering the planet. It is common knowledge that water absorbs radiation, and an average of 8,000 feet of water covering the earth would have made a very effective shield. However, some have expressed concern that a radioactive element like potassium-40 that is present in the human body may have produced radiation within Noah’s body itself.

Source: ICR - RATE in Review: Unresolved Problems.
The third problem is with animal genomes. When we look at the genomes of cheetahs we can see evidence of a recent severe genetic bottleneck. Sometime in the last 10,000 years cheetahs were reduced to a very small population, perhaps as small as a single family. Even now you can graft skin from one cheetah to another because they are so genetically similar that there is no rejection problem between them. This shows that modern genetic science can recognise recent severe genetic bottlenecks in animals.

The problem for the literal interpretation of Genesis is that other animals do not show such a bottleneck. Pigs do not have a bottleneck. Chimpanzees do not have a bottleneck. Kangaroos do not have a bottleneck. Raccoons do not have a bottleneck. Rats do not have a bottleneck. I could go on at very great length. At no time in the last 10,000 years was there a genetic bottleneck down to two individuals for that vast majority of animals that were meant to have been on Noah's Ark.

There was no worldwide flood as described by the Genesis literalists. Their interpretation of "eretz" is presumably incorrect. Genesis 12:1 would also tend to confirm that "eretz" does not refer to an entire planet:
The Lord had said to Abram, "Go from your country (eretz), your people and your father’s household to the land (eretz) I will show you."
Given that Abraham was not an extra-terrestrial and did not travel to Earth in a spaceship, then we have to accept that 'eretz' is not an entire planet. Science has no problem with a large local flood. The literalist interpretation of a year-long worldwide flood is incompatible with science.

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