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How do we know there's a God? What is he like?

Re: Meta Questions about the Christian God

Postby Regnus Numis » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:20 pm

> It was wrong only because it was forbidden, not because it contained harmful properties.

Which only proves that God had to manufacture a rule just to create an opportunity for rebellion.
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Re: Meta Questions about the Christian God

Postby jimwalton » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:46 pm

You are so quick to condemn God.

It doesn't prove that at all. The opportunities for rebellion were all around them, just as they are for us. Our choices are innumerable. You seem to have a picture of a pristine paradise where all is sunshine and roses, and in the middle is this beautiful tree that God has forbidden. Not so.

There is no indication that A&E lived in the Garden of Eden. Eden was where they met with God. A&E were archetypes of all humanity (not allegories, not metaphors...), representing the race. They were so typical of homo sapiens that we can deduce that whatever they did could easily be what any human would do given the same circumstances. They were brought into the garden so God would meet with them, be their God, and teach them about himself and about sacred space. Their role and function was to care for sacred space (Gn. 2.15: "work it" and "take care of it" were priestly terms, not agricultural ones). They could come into the Garden at any time, and it would be the locus of their relationship with God. There is no magic in Eden. It was not a place where they passed their time in idyllic and uninterrupted bliss with not demands or their daily schedule. Instead, they were participating with God in the ongoing task of sustaining the equilibrium God had established in the cosmos (Gn. 1.28b).

But as far as we know, they lived out in the big bad world, full of danger, difficulties, and potential distresses (Gn. 2.5-7).

It is immediately after we read that God ordained them as priests to care for sacred space (very similarly to the book of Leviticus, and yet pertaining to the earth, not just a building and its courts) that we read about the tree, so we have to look at the context and the point at hand to discern the meaning.

God's world is one of abundant blessings, magnanimous gifts, and access to His presence. But it is also a place of choices (and therefore ineluctably dangers), since we are free agents and are not divine. The tree symbolizes those choices. The opportunity for disobedience lurked around every corner. It's part of life. This tree of the knowledge of good and evil was the one God told them represented their right to decide. God's care for them was overwhelmingly extravagant, and what he desired for them was life (keep eating from that tree). But he also warned them that if they chose against Him, there would be inevitable natural consequences to their choice. But, as God said, they were free.

There is nothing in the prohibition that suggests God set them up. There is nothing to suggest he wanted them to fail. There is nothing to suggest he had to manufacture a rule just to create an opportunity for rebellion.
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Re: Meta Questions about the Christian God

Postby Regnus Numis » Wed Nov 15, 2017 3:11 pm

> It doesn't prove that at all. The opportunities for rebellion were all around them, just as they are for us. Our choices are innumerable.

I'll acknowledge your point here. According to this source (https://discourse.biologos.org/t/our-odd-view-of-the-tree-of-knowledge/35612), Adam and Eve could have rebelled by not multiplying, not subduing the Earth, or not taking care of the garden. However, since the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil wasn't necessary to give the couple a choice to rebel, why create the tree in the first place? To create a symbol for human choice? If so, why was such a symbol necessary?
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Re: Meta Questions about the Christian God

Postby jimwalton » Wed Nov 15, 2017 3:35 pm

Great question. I had to confer with some OT scholars in case I flubbed here, and it seems that I have. So I'll need to backtrack a little bit and eat some crow. Although they didn't live in the Garden, and it probably was a dangerous world in general fraught with many perils, only those things that went against the command of God would have been authentic rebellion. Since the statement to be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it was a blessing (not a command), that wouldn't have been a possible point of rebellion. The direct command they had was not to eat from the Tree.

Now, as I've also said, the tree represented wisdom and their ability to decide. God had established order in his way—what Genesis 1 is about. When they took the fruit, that was a statement that "we want to order the world the way *we* want to order it. "We want to be the center of order." The tree wasn't to give them a choice, but to establish boundaries. It's wasn't just rebellion, but orienting themselves as sovereign. It was a departure from what God had ordered.
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Re: Meta Questions about the Christian God

Postby Regnus Numis » Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:20 pm

> The tree wasn't to give them a choice, but to establish boundaries.

Given my consequentialist mindset, I'm curious what would have happened if God hadn't established boundaries.
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Re: Meta Questions about the Christian God

Postby jimwalton » Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:21 pm

The "What if" question is always intriguing, but also always unanswerable. We're into pure imagination whenever we try to go there. Fascinating to think about, frustrating to never come to reliable conclusion. No harm in wondering, though. We just can't go anywhere with it.
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