Author Topic: Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?  (Read 495 times)

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Online wheels5894

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Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?
« on: May 19, 2014, 03:43:26 AM »
In the Genesis account of creation, after each 'days' work god looks at what he has made and is satisfied that it is good. Given the expectations religion gives us of god, then we may reasonably sure that the handiwork was really, really, good. Or was it?

Tucked in among the animals god made were some bad ones. Animals without clover hooves, shellfish, pigs of course were not god at all. In fact these delicious creatures are called unclean and are not to be eaten. So one has to ask, if god made everything right, why did he create unclean animals? I have some ideas but I'd like to hear from some theists first.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2014, 05:19:04 AM by wheels5894 »
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Re: Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2014, 04:00:36 AM »
Sorry not a theist but the virus for dysentry is not good imo mosquitoes with malaria, dengue fever...... not good.


and those first two idiots he made that got me the curse 6000 years before i was born...... not good.


sorry you were saying?
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Online wheels5894

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Re: Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2014, 04:20:11 AM »
Well, er..., yes. There were a few bad things in creation and obviously polio, smallpox, black death etc weren't all that good but they aren't mentioned in the bible and general healing was via priests who must have been pretty good at what they did, I suppose.

However, I was trying to look at the biblical text and see where we god in considering creation 'good' in god's eyes whilst, at the same time, having further texts declaring some animal unclean. I really want to know how a theist gets around this. Calling it legend, myth etc is one way round though it is really making excuses. I wonder if anyone has any other way of sorting it out, especially as Peter 'discovered' that all meats were OK after all and none were unclean.
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such that its falshood would be more miraculous than the facts it endeavours to establish. (David Hume)

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Re: Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2014, 04:25:39 AM »
Well i think you are being anthropomorphic in that you think it all has to be about humans i mean the polio virus has it's god given right to go forth and multiply just like hoomans.


anyhoo i don't have a lot to contribute so....exit stage right.
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Re: Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2014, 05:07:54 AM »
Well, er..., yes. There were a few bad things in creation and obviously polio, smallpox, black death etc weren't all that good but they aren't mentioned in the bible and general healing was via priests who must have been pretty good at what they did, I suppose.

However, I was trying to look at the biblical text and see where we god in considering creation 'good' in god's eyes whilst, at the same time, having further texts declaring some animal unclean. I really want to know how a theist gets around this. Calling it legend, myth etc is one way round though it is really making excuses. I wonder if anyone has any other way of sorting it out, especially as Peter 'discovered' that all meats were OK after all and none were unclean.

In terms of disease, the biblical belief seems to be that they are not caused by living things but 'demons'[1].

As for 'unclean animals' these are not bad per se merely bad to eat. This kind of reasoning seems fair enough to me; for example: water is good for drinking but not for breathing.

I do think you have a point in general though. JS Mill argued powerfully that if you looked at the world as a whole you would not get a benevolent God, but at best, an amoral one. One nice example is cellular mitosis, the division of cells; essential for all life, but every now and again leads to cancerous cells forming - mitosis (as with the rest of nature) is neither good nor bad, it simply is.

It is interesting to me that the writer of Gen 1 felt the need to emphasis the good character of creation, my feeling is even back then it was a claim that ran counter to most people's experience.
 1. Demons of course does not solve the problem, merely pushes it back a step ("why create demons?"). St Augustine finds this a problem and argues that they are angels who rebel - free will being 'good' irrespective of its consequences.
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Offline Jesuis

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Re: Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2014, 10:51:29 PM »
I have some ideas but I'd like to hear from some theists first.
Do you really expect a Theist to come on here and answer this question?
According to Theists: Theists know God, Atheists don't.

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Re: Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2014, 06:05:06 AM »
Yes
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Online wheels5894

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Re: Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2014, 06:19:08 AM »
I have some ideas but I'd like to hear from some theists first.
Do you really expect a Theist to come on here and answer this question?

Why ever not? It's a perfectly good question that deserves and answer.
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such that its falshood would be more miraculous than the facts it endeavours to establish. (David Hume)

Offline OldChurchGuy

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Re: Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2014, 07:09:15 AM »
In the Genesis account of creation, after each 'days' work god looks at what he has made and is satisfied that it is good. Given the expectations religion gives us of god, then we may reasonably sure that the handiwork was really, really, good. Or was it?

Tucked in among the animals god made were some bad ones. Animals without clover hooves, shellfish, pigs of course were not god at all. In fact these delicious creatures are called unclean and are not to be eaten. So one has to ask, if god made everything right, why did he create unclean animals? I have some ideas but I'd like to hear from some theists first.

I subscribe to the theory the creation stories written in Genesis were meant to counter the multiple-god accounts in many creation myths of the time ("Myth" being defined as an attempt to explain the unexplainable; not a falsehood as it is often seen today).   

Did a little research on the word "good" and came across this:

"In Genesis he calls his creations "good". The Hebrew words almost always relate descriptions to functionality. The word tov should have been translated "functional". God declared that his creation is "functioned". He did not see it as "good", he saw it as functional. The Hebrew word "ra" means dysfunctional. The Bible uses the words tov and ra for the tree of the knowledge of "good" and "evil". The word "ra" doesn't mean evil and should have been translated as "dysfunctional". The knowledge of opposites."  Source: http://deborah-sexton.hubpages.com/hub/Biblical-Hebrew-Words-Page-II

An interesting translation reads:

“To begin with, God brought into existence the sky and the land. Now [as for] the land, [it] was without form or function, darkness covered the water, and God’s Spirit hovered over the surface of the abyss. God said, “Let there be light”; light came to be, and God saw that the light functioned well. God separated the light from the darkness, and named the light “day” and the darkness “night.” There was gathering-darkness; there came to be dawning, one [Creation]-day.

“God said, “Let there be a vault within the water, and let it separate the water.” God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above the vault, and thus it came to be. God named the vault “sky.” There was gathering-darkness; there came to be dawning, a second [Creation]-day.”  Source: http://spectrummagazine.org/blog/2012/11/12/genesis-account-six-hebrew-words-make-all-difference

I am not a Hebrew scholar by any means so have no way to prove either of these interpretations is correct.  The other sources I looked at were Christian websites which all seem intent of cobbling the Hebrew Bible as an inspired (albeit slightly inferior) prelude to the New Testament writings. 

Why some animals are seen as favorable and others as not so favorable, I have no idea.  It may be at God's direction and it may be an idea the authors of Hebrew Bible decided upon independently of God. 

Wishing I had the formulaic answers to your questions I remain,

OldChurchGuy
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Re: Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2014, 08:20:57 AM »
Hi there OGC, nice to hear from you.

I'm sorry I can't agree the translation of 'tov' as functional. The author fails to match her words with sufficient examples and, anyway, one of the principle lexicons of Hebrew, Brown Driver, Briggs (BDB) doesn't agree either. It suggests good or pleasing, which, in the context of the Genesis passages, seems about right. To try and attach other meanings to the word is, frankly, pushing it a bit and trying to bend the meaning of the text. Even the best modern translation, such as the new Jewish Tannach, stick with 'good' and for good reason. Sure, 'functional' digs one out of a hole as regards theology, but that's no excuse for going against the meaning of the word. So I go with the majority, and my BDB, and stick with 'good' here.

Now we could argue a bit about what that might mean but as god is often defined as good I think we would end up having to accept that if god though something good, then it actually was good.

Of course, this is viewing the text as though it were history and someone was sitting next to god making notes as it went along. Clearly this is not the case and the source of the text is not the original things that happened to form the world. The story appears to me a modified version of the Babylonian account of creation in which the Chaos Monster has to be defeated before any meaning world building can begin. Our Genesis account reduces this to the chaotic nature of the earth. Nonetheless, what we have is some priests' conception of creation told after the Babylonian tradition and is, in effect, an attempt to create monotheism from a story that was polytheistic. They did a great job.

I agree with you regarding myth though - a story to convey more meaning than the words and that could be easily explained is something like I would go with, Myths have been important in all civilisations but the key part is how much people get from the myth and not how much people believe the myth is actually true history. It is easier to manage not to fall into that trap if there are dragons and so on instead of creation of course.
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such that its falshood would be more miraculous than the facts it endeavours to establish. (David Hume)

Offline Graybeard

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Re: Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2014, 08:34:00 AM »
Well i think you are being anthropomorphic in that you think it all has to be about humans i mean the polio virus has it's god given right to go forth and multiply just like hoomans.


anyhoo i don't have a lot to contribute so....exit stage right.
On the contrary, that is an extremely interesting theological point!

The thing is that the theist says that we were given free will so that we might worship God and follow his ways, not by compulsion but by recognising and accepting His Ways as the way to Eternal Life.

Now, unless venomous creatures, bacteria and viruses are directly controlled by God to do their mischief, then they too have free will. However, unlike us, it doesn't matter whether they behave reasonably or unreasonably: they have no soul and neither go to heaven or hell - they just die.

There is no incentive for venomous creatures, bacteria and viruses to behave well, yet God placed them upon Earth knowing this! Is this not outrageous negligence?

I will be starting a petition to have God grant conditional eternal life to venomous creatures, bacteria and viruses that the Christian ones might be with us in Heaven.
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

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Re: Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2014, 11:05:30 AM »
As far as the bacteria, viruses etc., I have a couple of thoughts.

1. In a 'good' creation, one indeed designed by a good god for the benefit of his human race, it would surely have been possible for him to have missed out the polio and smallpox bugs. Even if he hadn't, why would Noah have included wasps on the Ark? the thing is that smallpox, polio, malaria ans the like have no real existence without us, the humans, as hosts so leaving them out of creation would not have harmed creation in any way. The venomous animals are, of course, venomous to kill their prey. They only incidentally bite / sting us. Nontheless, god could have made his creation in a way that would have reduced the problems and suffering for mankind but he seems not to have done so. Theists like to say why?

2. Thinking of 1., it would be fair to say that we might expect a world that was designed by god for humans to have the really nasty stuff not there. Polio, smallpox etc. have no other function in the ecosystem apart from making us ill so that we find these on earth look a bit like evidence that the theists are wrong and there never was a god who created everything and saw that it was good ... because, frankly, it isn't as good as all that! 
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such that its falshood would be more miraculous than the facts it endeavours to establish. (David Hume)

Offline YRM_DM

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Re: Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2014, 11:32:38 AM »
What day did God create the bacteria that makes our armpits stink when we sweat?

That was some mighty fine creating.
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Offline dloubet

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Re: Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2014, 11:41:38 PM »
Viruses and bacteria and stuff are bad, but that's a fallible human viewpoint.

I like the OT because it refers to the things the god supposedly created that the god itself declares unclean from its own divine viewpoint. The god made them, but doesn't like them, but said they're good. WTF?
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Re: Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2014, 03:01:36 AM »
Viruses and bacteria and stuff are bad, but that's a fallible human viewpoint.

I like the OT because it refers to the things the god supposedly created that the god itself declares unclean from its own divine viewpoint. The god made them, but doesn't like them, but said they're good. WTF?

To be fair to bacteria and viruses, these are essential to life itself. For every one cell in our bodies we have 10 bacteria that do a variety of jobs - in the gut they help with digestion for example. The powerhouses of the cells, the mitochondria, are though to have been a virus that got attached to our DNA.

On the other hand, an omniscient god would have seen the evolutionary pathways and where some of these micro-organisms were going and nudged things to stop dangerous pathogens from appearing in the first place... if such a god existed of course.
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such that its falshood would be more miraculous than the facts it endeavours to establish. (David Hume)

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Re: Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?
« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2014, 03:07:41 AM »
Wheels your desire for this thread not to become farce was always on shaky ground.
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Re: Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?
« Reply #16 on: May 21, 2014, 04:23:58 AM »
Wheels your desire for this thread not to become farce was always on shaky ground.

Well, I had hopes... but the problem is the question is one of the toughest to answer for a Christian apologist. Oh, well, maybe someone will have  proper answer.... but don't hold your breath
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such that its falshood would be more miraculous than the facts it endeavours to establish. (David Hume)

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Re: Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?
« Reply #17 on: May 21, 2014, 04:28:23 AM »
Well when god said it was good was true when he said it..... a plank time later tho, it wasn't. so technically the bible is accurate .
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Offline Ron Jeremy

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Re: Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?
« Reply #18 on: May 21, 2014, 04:47:33 AM »
Incidentally, why did it take Biblegod seven days? He's supposedly all powerful, why not just create everything instantaneously? Working a week to create something, seeing ommissions and adding as you go....that's the way humans do stuff, not all powerful deities isn't it?
Matthew 10:22 "and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved." - An example of a clearly demonstrably false biblical 'prophesy'.

The biblical myth of a 6000 year old Earth is proven false by the Gaia satellite directly measuring star age.

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Re: Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?
« Reply #19 on: May 21, 2014, 04:50:19 AM »
Seriously Ron, how else were we going to get a full week to organise our ....week?
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Re: Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?
« Reply #20 on: May 21, 2014, 04:54:52 AM »
Technially, folks, god is supposed to have taken 6 days to leave one for a day out but the text actually conflates 2 days into one on day six for this purpose. In the Babylonian equivalent, on which this is based, there are 7 days of creative work. The Jews wanted the Sabbath so re-worked the old text a bit.

Why not create everything in a puff - well I suppose a godless answer was that this is exactly what happened at the Big Bang.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?
« Reply #21 on: May 21, 2014, 08:51:32 AM »
I like the OT because it refers to the things the god supposedly created that the god itself declares unclean from its own divine viewpoint. The god made them, but doesn't like them, but said they're good. WTF?

Unless I am mistaken, they are ritually unclean.  It is not that pigs are evil or not good.  It is that god has said they are unusable as sacrifices to him.  He prefers other animals as sacrifce.  Also notice that god prefers beef and lamb over wheat and other crops as sacrifice.  This was the source of discord between Cain and Abel.  That does not make wheat bad.

This also applies to kosher.  It is not that the taboo items are inherently bad.  It is that god has made some loopy rules for jews to follow as a sort of obstacle course (as if life wasn't complicated enough).  I heard kosher explained by one jew as "not making any sense or having any rhyme or reason.  But if you love god, you will do them."

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Re: Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?
« Reply #22 on: May 21, 2014, 09:10:29 AM »
I like the OT because it refers to the things the god supposedly created that the god itself declares unclean from its own divine viewpoint. The god made them, but doesn't like them, but said they're good. WTF?

Unless I am mistaken, they are ritually unclean.  It is not that pigs are evil or not good.  It is that god has said they are unusable as sacrifices to him.  He prefers other animals as sacrifice.  Also notice that god prefers beef and lamb over wheat and other crops as sacrifice.  This was the source of discord between Cain and Abel.  That does not make wheat bad.

This also applies to kosher.  It is not that the taboo items are inherently bad.  It is that god has made some loopy rules for Jews to follow as a sort of obstacle course (as if life wasn't complicated enough).  I heard kosher explained by one Jew as "not making any sense or having any rhyme or reason.  But if you love god, you will do them."

You are quite right in what you say, Screwtape, but that doesn't make it any more sense. I mean, take pigs. For carnivores, like me, not only is the pig quite delicious but its is also a good animal for nose to tail eating and makes good sense for farming. Yet, for all the qualities of this animal, the creator bans people from eating it. (I am talking about the Israelites and their dietary laws not modern people.) If the animal is so unclean and so unsuitable for sacrifice or for food, why not either not create it is the first place and create it as a clean animal. Either way, it doesn't make the creator look that bright, deos it?
No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such that its falshood would be more miraculous than the facts it endeavours to establish. (David Hume)

Offline screwtape

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Re: Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?
« Reply #23 on: May 21, 2014, 11:00:13 AM »
If the animal is so unclean and so unsuitable for sacrifice or for food, why not either not create it is the first place and create it as a clean animal.

It is not about the animal being created clean or unclean.  That was a later designation. 

It's arbitrary.  That's the point.  It is just an arbitrary rule god made so that he would know they loved him by following the rules.  He could just as easily made a cow unclean.[1]  It is the same with cooking a "kid in its mother's milk".  Totally arbitrary.  Or wearing cloth of mixed fiber.  There is nothing inherent in the fibers that make them bad or unclean or whatever.  It is just that god made the rule. 

I think if anything, it makes the creator look like a weirdo.
 1. for those who say all religions worship the same god, they might say he did make cows unclearn... for hindus.
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Offline Mrjason

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Re: Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?
« Reply #24 on: May 21, 2014, 11:08:19 AM »
I think if anything, it makes the creator look like a weirdo.

At least it's consistent in it's inconsistency.

Offline epidemic

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Re: Was creation good - the Genesis says it was?
« Reply #25 on: May 22, 2014, 07:00:05 AM »
Even leaving gods creations being "good".

The thought that, pigs being unclean is "bad", is just silly anthropocentric thinking.  Pigs, shelfish... being unclean only means you cant kill and eat it big deal.  You also can't ("ought not") eat rock and mercury and 2X4's ok next.

Virus, bacteria, mosquitos,  well I guess those may not be good.  They are equal opportunity annoyances and dangers to all life  from plant to animal.  I am not sure i can call them good.  I would love to see mankind accidentally make extinct the following species mosquitos, ticks, chiggers an biting flies.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2014, 07:03:21 AM by epidemic »