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Author Topic:   God's Day 1 Billion Years?
Christian7
Member (Idle past 357 days)
Posts: 628
From: n/a
Joined: 01-19-2004


Message 46 of 61 (355131)
10-08-2006 6:30 AM
Reply to: Message 43 by crashfrog
08-14-2006 8:26 AM


Re: It has everything to do with the topic
Well, there's no such evidence that a creator even exists.
And my statement isn't sloppy. No model of abiogenesis will ever be accepted until it produces results under laboratory conditions. There isn't any other kind of evidence avaliable; we won't ever have fossils of the chemical precursors to life. That information is lost forever. Observation of experiment is the only potential evidence that could confirm or dismiss any abiogenic model.
If and when labratory conditions produce life, it will be evidence that life can be created by an intellegent being, not that dead matter can conglomerate spontainouslly into living entities.
Edited by Guido Arbia, : No reason given.

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Archer Opteryx
Member (Idle past 3707 days)
Posts: 1811
From: East Asia
Joined: 08-16-2006


Message 47 of 61 (355232)
10-08-2006 3:52 PM
Reply to: Message 44 by Christian7
10-08-2006 6:23 AM


(off-topic) A Genesis day NOT 24 hours
Sorry to intrude with this on a science thread. I'd like to toss in one post to put this 'day' business to bed, then I'm out.
___
Quido Arbia argues that the Hebrew word yom has to mean a literal 24-hour time period when it appears in Genesis. Here's his assertion in full:
The word for "Day" in genesis chapter 1 in hebrew is yom. Yom means one single day. This was also combined with the terms for "Evening and morning". If when Moses wrote genesis, he wanted to mean an age, he could have used a variety of different words.
He could have used Yamim, Qedem, or Olam, all of which would have implied an age, but instead he used the world Yom. (The o has a little thingy on top of it.)
Your argument that in Genesis the word 'day' must necessarily mean a literal 24-our day is not tenable. The argument stands refuted by this passage:
quote:
And the Lord God commanded the man, ”You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’
Genesis 2.15-17 NRSV
(emphasis mine)
Genesis says Adam ate from the tree--then lived a remarkably long life.
quote:
Thus all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years; and he died.
Genesis 5.5 NRSV
Do the math. God says Adam will die the same day. Then Genesis says he died 930 years later, after raising children to adulthood.
When Genesis shows clearly that a day can last 930 years, you have no grounds to insist it has to be a 24-hour time period.
(Check the Hebrew and I think you'll find the word yom with the little thingy on it.)
You could argue that the verbal formula 'evening and morning' necessitates a 24-hour time period. This argument is dubious on two points:
When you already have a figurative 'day' in Genesis, on what grounds can you deny a figurative 'evening and morning'?
How can a literal 'evening and morning' exist before the creation of astronomically measured time on day 4? On what grounds can you insist that a pre-solar day would match the length of a solar day?
The argument fails totally on this ground:
The formula 'evening and morning' is never used of the seventh day. The seventh day is not said to have ended. Neither does Genesis ever mention an eighth day or a ninth day. Even if you can show that 'evening and morning' has to mean 24 hours (good luck), you have no grounds to insist the seventh day lasted only this length of time. It can be biblically argued that all of human history occupies God's seventh 'day' of creation.
___
Thanks for your indulgence, scientists. I'm off.
.
Edited by Archer Opterix, : Title.
Edited by Archer Opterix, : Typo repair.

Archer
All species are transitional.

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ReverendDG
Member (Idle past 4219 days)
Posts: 1119
From: Topeka,kansas
Joined: 06-06-2005


Message 48 of 61 (355233)
10-08-2006 4:05 PM
Reply to: Message 44 by Christian7
10-08-2006 6:23 AM


The word for "Day" in genesis chapter 1 in hebrew is yom. Yom means one single day. This was also combined with the terms for "Evening and morning". If when Moses wrote genesis, he wanted to mean an age, he could have used a variety of different words.
yom also means day,lifetime, and some time unknown
oh and thats a big if on if moses wrote it
Yamim- is days so it doesn't really work
Qedem - means before earlier or past, this has no meaning here
Olam - means world, or eternity - how would this work?
Yom works the best since its a story about the sabbath, and why theres a 7 day week.
using any other word wouldn't make any sense

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kuresu
Member (Idle past 2622 days)
Posts: 2544
From: boulder, colorado
Joined: 03-24-2006


Message 49 of 61 (355242)
10-08-2006 4:55 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by jimrlong.com
10-30-2005 11:13 PM


Re: Time is relative
ummm, I don't think the big bang was an explosion.
furthermore, this is false:
Projectiles always move faster at the point of explosion and move slower as time progresses. The speed of things after the “Big Bang” would have warped time and would have made predictions of time elapsed of the creation of the universe relative to an observer at that point and would be impossible to calculate without knowing the magnitude and velocity of the explosion.
why? well, even if the big bang was an explosion, and did warp the effect of time, everytime we see an explosion time should be warped too. which means that you can't even state "projectiles always move faster . . ." if the observation of time is warped (due to the relativisic nature you give it). How can you say it is moving faster, absolutely, if the time you are observing is only relative to your position?
oh, and explosions don't warp time.
another thought--your first statement about the speed of projectiles only holds true in a friction environment. Remove friction, and they'll only get faster.

Want to help give back to the world community? Did you know that your computer can help? Join the newest TeamEvC Climate Modelling to help improve climate predictions for a better tomorrow.

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arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 1453 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 50 of 61 (355328)
10-09-2006 4:44 AM
Reply to: Message 47 by Archer Opteryx
10-08-2006 3:52 PM


Re: (off-topic) A Genesis day NOT 24 hours
Your argument that in Genesis the word 'day' must necessarily mean a literal 24-our day is not tenable.
archer, this is one my pet peeves. i'm actually suprised i haven't hit this thread yet, as i am continually making this point over, and over, and over here and elsewhere.
the fact that there are multiple usages of a word does not mean that you can make it mean whatever you please.
the hebrew word (yom) has four literal usages. they are, with examples:
  1. a 24 hour day:
    quote:
    Gen 8:4 And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.
  2. the roughly 12-hour period of daylight:
    quote:
    Gen 3:8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day:
  3. —- (kol-yami- ___), "all the days of {blank}," meaning "years"
    quote:
    Gen 5:5 And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.
  4. (b'yom), "in (the) day (that)," meaning "when."
    quote:
    Gen 5:1 In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;
the example you cite is number 4, and idiomatic usage. "in the day" is not a usage that literally describes a length of time. though it often describes causality: when something happens, something else will happen. the verse you supply is one such verse, but i could find you any number of others. the implication is immediacy -- meaning that god told an untruth. don't shoot the messenger, that's what it says.
When you already have a figurative 'day' in Genesis, on what grounds can you deny a figurative 'evening and morning'?
specious argument. one yom is a different usage than the other yom. in fact, all four examples i provided above are found within genesis. i'm sure you picked up on that fact.
further, this argument, like many others, denies the plain and simple truth of what the text is. genesis is a book of etiologies. stories of origins of practices and traditions, place names, tribal names, etc. each story was written for an express reason. if you have any jewish friends, i'm sure you've noticed that they start observing yom kippur at sundown of the night before. the hebrew day starts in the evening -- genesis explains why: because there was darkness before there was light.
How can a literal 'evening and morning' exist before the creation of astronomically measured time on day 4?
how can plants grow on tuesday, when there's no sun until wednesday? yet there it is in the text. because you're actually reading it backwards. we know now that the sun provides light, but that's not what genesis says. it says there is daytime, and light (remember, "let there be light?") before a sun, and when the sun is placed in the heavens, it is to rule the day sky.
genesis was not written by modern scientifically thinking people. this whole "day-age" idea is simply apologist drivel to try to shoe-horn a text written for an entirely different purpose into our modern scientific understanding of the world, and still have it be accurate. but it's not accurate. the cosmology and scientific knowledge it hints at are simply and completely untennable nowadays. a flat earth? a solid dome of a sky? water above and below? plants and light before the sun? ridiculous.
i want to go a little deeper into two points i hinted at above. you'll notice i used "tuesday" and "wednesday." this was not rhetorical device. genesis 1 was written to explain the hebrew work week. moreso, it turns out, than it was written to explain the universe. god works for six days, and rests for one. this is a theme so important in the torah that it commands death to anyone who breaks it.
the modern hebrew for "tuesday" is (yom sleshi), literally "third day." wednesday is (yom rebayi), literally "fourth day." you may notice a patter here. for every day of the week except saturday and sunday, genesis 1 give their modern names. feel free to check that statement, using a hebrew bible and dictionary if you don't want to take my word for it. the name is gives for saturday, , is the origin of the modern name, (shabat or "sabbath"). in literal terms, it is exactly describing a week.
The formula 'evening and morning' is never used of the seventh day. The seventh day is not said to have ended.
the seventh day, shabat, does not follow the formula of the other six, more or less by definition. further, god is said to have rested for the seventh day -- and clearly since god is involved with pretty much everything that comes after this point in the bible, we can reasonably infer that the seventh day ended.
Neither does Genesis ever mention an eighth day or a ninth day.
weeks are not 8 or 9 days long. they are 7. this is not a coincidence. to argue for such a distorted reading of the text is essentially to remove the obvious and stated logic of the text, the practice of keeping the sabbath, and say that the fact that it's seven periods of each darkness and then light that precisely reflect the hebrew week is just coincidence. and that we have to create a new and unfounded usage for a word is not a problem.
guido may argue out of ignorance, and his desire for a literal YEC text, but believe me, i do not. when you know enough about the text and the language, such exercises in making genesis and geology synchronize become laughable mental gymnastics. it doesn't work, and we shouldn't expect it to. let's just read the text for what it is.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 47 by Archer Opteryx, posted 10-08-2006 3:52 PM Archer Opteryx has replied

Replies to this message:
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arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 1453 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 51 of 61 (355329)
10-09-2006 4:53 AM
Reply to: Message 48 by ReverendDG
10-08-2006 4:05 PM


Qedem - means before earlier or past, this has no meaning here
technically, it means "east." though it's often used to mean "before," "in front of" or idiomatically to mean "ancient times."
Olam - means world,
only in modern hebrew. the biblical usage seems to be only "eternity." though there has been some question here before about whether eternity is finite or infinite -- a question i was unable to answer.
yom also means day,lifetime, and some time unknown
see above.
Yom works the best since its a story about the sabbath, and why theres a 7 day week.
using any other word wouldn't make any sense
but supposing the author meant to say "a thousand years." there are words for that. the author could have written (eleph shanim). but instead, he wrote the literal word for a single day.
you can argue that it's all a metaphor, but the p'shat meaning is 24 hours. applied, it's about the structure of a week. to lay a secret meaning on top that contradicts the literal is rather silly, imho.


This message is a reply to:
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Archer Opteryx
Member (Idle past 3707 days)
Posts: 1811
From: East Asia
Joined: 08-16-2006


Message 52 of 61 (355395)
10-09-2006 1:25 PM
Reply to: Message 50 by arachnophilia
10-09-2006 4:44 AM


Re: (off-topic) A Genesis day NOT 24 hours
Arachnophilia:
It saddens me to say you have profoundly misrepresented my point of view. You posit an agenda involving OEC apologetics that does not interest me. It's a cliche to say 'strawman' but there it is.
I appreciate the literal definitions you provided. They are as helpful as any literal definitions are in coming to a better understanding of great world literature.
I will not debate points, as I understand this discussion to be off-topic and have already expressed my desire to leave it be. I will inform you that you are overlooking something crucial in your understanding of how texts work.
If you are curious about this, we can discuss it in chat after you look up a word for me. English dictionary. Very easy.
Please tell me what 'artistic license' means.
I invite you to explain it to me in chat with the same thoroughness you would explain a Hebrew term to me here. Does the license mean writers have to use words according to their literal definitions? Does it mean writers can use words elastically? Does it mean they can use words to mean anything they please?
What does it mean... exactly?
See you later.
___
Edited by Archer Opterix, : Typo repair.

Archer
All species are transitional.

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arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 1453 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 53 of 61 (355410)
10-09-2006 2:45 PM
Reply to: Message 52 by Archer Opteryx
10-09-2006 1:25 PM


Re: (off-topic) A Genesis day NOT 24 hours
It saddens me to say you have profoundly misrepresented my point of view. You posit an agenda involving OEC apologetics that does not interest me. It's a cliche to say 'strawman' but there it is.
archer, i realized when i wrote the above post that this was NOT your point of view. what i intend to point out is that the only real reason for attempting to justify such an interpretation is a desire to match the text with reality. there is no textual, literary basis for it; i was suprised to see you argue for it.
I appreciate the literal definitions you provided. They are as helpful as any literal definitions are in coming to a better understanding of great world literature.
you could legitimately argue that there is a metaphorical meaning to the whole text (not the word "day"), but that defeats the literal structure and purpose of the text. and it's contrary to just about every school of jewish thought: no dresh may contradict the pshat.
I will not debate points, as I understand this discussion to be off-topic and have already expressed my desire to leave it be.
i think it's quite on-topic, as it regard lengths of time, wrt god.
I will inform you that you are overlooking something crucial in your understanding of how texts work.
supposing there is a more secretive meaning, it has to be grounded in the literal text. if we are reading "gulliver's travels" we first have to understand what happens in the story before we can talk about who the big-endians and the little-endians really represent.
Please tell me what 'artistic license' means.
I invite you to explain it to me in chat with the same thoroughness you would explain a Hebrew term to me here. Does the license mean writers have to use words according to their literal definitions? Does it mean writers can use words elastically? Does it mean they can use words to mean anything they please?
What does it mean... exactly?
genesis is not a poetic book. its writing style (even in hebrew) is so elementary that, well, i can generally read it (even in hebrew). we're not talking complexity and shades of meaning, and we're not talking esoteric or mystical content. and it would make no sense to open the book with an extended metaphor when another such metaphor cannot be found in the rest of the e document -- or the rest of the torah for that matter.
if you want some artistic licence, look at a book with artistic content. look at job. look at isaiah. look at ezekiel. look at jeremiah. look at psalms or lamentations or ecclesiastes. those have metaphors, even extended ones, and similes, and creative use of grammar and language and semantics.
genesis was not written to be artistic. it was written to record the traditions of the people, and the things that define their religion. the torah is the foundation of the many themes found later in the bible. when isaiah predicts nebuchadnezzar's eventual fall, he invokes imagery from genesis 11. when ezekiel taunts the prince of tyre, he uses imagery from genesis 3, and exodus.
these sorts of things are really easy to spot, in any language. i don't know why basic literary study goes out the window when it comes to the bible.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 52 by Archer Opteryx, posted 10-09-2006 1:25 PM Archer Opteryx has replied

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ReverendDG
Member (Idle past 4219 days)
Posts: 1119
From: Topeka,kansas
Joined: 06-06-2005


Message 54 of 61 (355420)
10-09-2006 4:05 PM
Reply to: Message 51 by arachnophilia
10-09-2006 4:53 AM


but supposing the author meant to say "a thousand years." there are words for that. the author could have written — (eleph shanim). but instead, he wrote the literal word for a single day.
yes because this is a retroactive story to answer why the jews have a seven day week that to them isn't paganistic
you can argue that it's all a metaphor, but the p'shat meaning is 24 hours. applied, it's about the structure of a week. to lay a secret meaning on top that contradicts the literal is rather silly, imho.
what i mean is, if you argue that it was anything other than a real 24 hour day, then the whole thing about god resting on the 7th day and this giving meaning to the sabbath becomes pointless and irrelevent.
becides the fact that if they meant something else the words they used in the context wouldn't make much sense with say olam or qedem, maybe i need more hebrew though
by the way i was just pointing out for the guy i posted to that the words wouldn't make any sense with rest of the story. i was showing that the idea of putting in other words that he picked won't work because they don't really relate to yom at all or mean day

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arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 1453 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 55 of 61 (355438)
10-09-2006 6:21 PM
Reply to: Message 54 by ReverendDG
10-09-2006 4:05 PM


what i mean is, if you argue that it was anything other than a real 24 hour day, then the whole thing about god resting on the 7th day and this giving meaning to the sabbath becomes pointless and irrelevent.
precisely.
becides the fact that if they meant something else the words they used in the context wouldn't make much sense with say olam or qedem, maybe i need more hebrew though
olam and qedem would indeed be the wrong words to use, for both reasons. the modern hebrew word to use would be (tequfah) which means "season" or "era" or "epoch." but i'm not sure that it's used anywhere in the bible.
there are some words in the tanakh that are translated "season," including yom, but these all appear idiomatic. since it would be dishonest if i didn't point this out, i will. for instance:
quote:
Jos 24:7 And when they cried unto the LORD, he put darkness between you and the Egyptians, and brought the sea upon them, and covered them; and your eyes have seen what I have done in Egypt: and ye dwelt in the wilderness a long season.
if you look at a concordance, you find that yom is the word rendered "season." this is the peril of using a concordance, for now you might (wrongly) think that yom can be rendered "season." the hebrew, however, says (yamim rabim) or "many days." usage in plural, especially with rabim, can be unspecified. but in singular it's just not.
the other three words i see frequently translated as "season" are (moad) which refers to a specific time/date, (zman) which just means "time" as in "i have no time (for...)." the third is probably the best match, (et or eth) which seems to be loose enough to include great lengths of time, seasons, years, etc.
so my guess is that if the author had wanted to literally describe something other than a day, he would have used , probably not but certainly not in singular.
Edited by arachnophilia, : wrong vowel in unusual hebrew plurals.


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Archer Opteryx
Member (Idle past 3707 days)
Posts: 1811
From: East Asia
Joined: 08-16-2006


Message 56 of 61 (356338)
10-13-2006 2:54 PM
Reply to: Message 53 by arachnophilia
10-09-2006 2:45 PM


Re: (off-topic) A Genesis day NOT 24 hours
arachnophilia:
genesis is not a poetic book.
genesis was not written to be artistic.
Irrelevant. The Genesis narratives are very artfully written. Whether or not they were written primarily for
'artistic purposes.' Metaphorical meanings appear in all kinds of writing.
The essence of a meataphor is to use an image 'as if.' We talk about one thing as if it was another. Often metaphors
describe something less concrete--less tangible to the five senses--as if it was more so.
Genesis 1 describes creation just this way. Everything is told on as as if basis. The narrative discusses the
origin of the natural world as if an artisan went to work on a week-long creative project.
The origin of the universe is a vast subject. Yet by means of this image the writer makes sure that everyone who has
ever worked on such a project can get the idea. The telling remains 'as if,' though. because the artisan isn't
human. The artisan is God. Instead of making a rug or an anvil he makes a universe. Instead of working with human-
sized quantities of material and time, he works with God-sized quantities of everything. God's Creation Week spent
working on a universe will necessarily be a very different thing, in quantity and quality, than a human week spent
in a workshop making a rug. There's a vast difference in scale. It's built in.
It's a common but mistaken assumption that metaphors--literary images--are a feature only of poetry or
'artistic' writing. Not so.
'As if' images appear wherever language is used. They appear in all genres, even today's scientific documents.
'Black hole' is such an image. 'Big Bang' is such an image. How poetic are physicists trying to be when they use
these expressions? In each case a term's literal dictionary definition has been stretched to express a more complex
and less literal (by the dictionary) idea.
It is especially useful to use words in this way when one is trying to convey abstract, elusive, or sublime ideas.
One such moment might be when a physicist tries to describe, non-mathematically, what happens after a star collapses
or before a universe expands.
Images of this sort are unavoidable whenever one is talking about God. One can only discuss he
supernatural in natural terms.
All information about supernatural or metaphysical realms has to be conveyed 'as
if.' It's all symbol.
its writing style (even in hebrew) is so elementary that, well, i can generally read it (even in hebrew).
Irrelevant. Multiple layers of meaning often exist where vocabulary and syntax are simple.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is a book for children. Yet it can make their grandparents cry. How?
Because it has literal meanings accessible to a child's mind and other meanings an adult's mind will discern. These
co-exist in spite of the apparent artlessness of the storytelling. If anything, the simplicity of the storytelling
makes these multiple meanings more resonant.
A beginning speaker of English can understand every word in The Giving Tree. It would be a non
sequiteur
to argue that this proves anything about its author's intent that we take it only at a child's level,
as literal fact. To say so would betray a profound misunderstanding of how stories work and place unwarranted limits
on the author. The author is free to do whatever the author wants in the effort to communicate.
I mentioned apparent artlessness. It is a mistake to assert that the Genesis narratives lack sophistication.
Stories in Genesis often exhibit remarkably fine tuned structures and an intricate network of image motifs. They are
very artfully written.
This is well known among Hebrew experts . A good place to being exploring these facets of the 'writing style' is the
translation of the Torah made by Everett Fox, published as The Five Books of Moses. Or explore the writings
of the Hebrew scholar to whom he is most indebted: Martin Buber. You may also want to explore the analyses of Phylis
Trible.
it would make no sense to open the book with an extended metaphor
On the contrary, it makes all the sense in the world. There is no other way to begin. Not if you intend to
start a book by describing a supernatural being whose existence and actions transcend the material universe.
it was written to record the traditions of the people, and the things that define their religion. the torah is
the foundation of the many themes found later in the bible.
I think I understood this, actually.
Such a purpose proves nothing about literal intent--much less exclusively literal intent. You assume it does
but you have never shown how this follows.
All mythic stories use symbolic images. They often use simple narrative structures. And you have just stated the
functions mythic stories exist to serve. For any people. Any culture.
All mythic stories can be understood literally. All can also be understood symbolically. It depends less on the text
than on the mind that encounters the story. Are we talking about a child's experience or an adult's experience?
It takes more than a dictionary to come to terms with great works of world literature. Good writing starts with that
kind of basic material but doesn't end there. Great texts last as long as they do, and inform the existence of
succeeding generations as well as they do, precisely because of their ability to use language imaginatively
to carry multiple layers of meaning.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your spelling books.
_

Archer
All species are transitional.

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 Message 53 by arachnophilia, posted 10-09-2006 2:45 PM arachnophilia has not replied

  
Archer Opteryx
Member (Idle past 3707 days)
Posts: 1811
From: East Asia
Joined: 08-16-2006


Message 57 of 61 (356341)
10-13-2006 3:17 PM
Reply to: Message 53 by arachnophilia
10-09-2006 2:45 PM


Genesis = Art (whether 'artistic' or not)
arachnophilia:
genesis is not a poetic book.
genesis was not written to be artistic.
Irrelevant. The Genesis narratives are very artfully written. This holds true regardless of whether they were written primarily for 'artistic purposes.' Metaphorical meanings appear in all kinds of writing.
The essence of a meataphor is the use of an image 'as if.' We talk about one thing as if it was another. Often metaphors describe a thing less accessible to the five senses as if it was more so.
Genesis 1 describes creation just this way. Everything is told on as as if basis. The narrative discusses the origin of the natural world as if an artisan went to work on a week-long creative project.
The origin of the universe is a vast subject indeed. Yet this image allows the writer to make sure that everyone who has ever worked on such a project can get the idea. The choice of metaphor conveys important theological meanings. The universe doesn't exist because a crowd of deities had a quarrel, it says. It's here on purpose. All in a week's work for the artisan.
The telling remains 'as if,' though, because the artisan in this case isn't human. The artisan is God. Instead of making a rug or an anvil he does make a universe. Instead of working with human-sized quantities of material and time, he works with God-sized quantities of everything. God's Creation Week spent working on a universe will necessarily be a very different thing, in quantity and quality, than a human week spent in a workshop making a rug. There's a vast difference in scale. It's built in.
It's a common but mistaken assumption that metaphors--literary images--are a feature only of poetry or 'artistic' writing. Not so.
'As if' images appear wherever language is used. They appear in all genres, even today's scientific documents.
'Black hole' is such an image. 'Big Bang' is such an image. How poetic are physicists trying to be when they use these expressions? In each case a term's literal dictionary definition has been stretched to express a more complex and less literal (by the dictionary) idea.
It is especially useful to use words in this way when one is trying to convey abstract, elusive, or sublime ideas.
One such moment might be when a physicist tries to describe, non-mathematically, what happens after a star collapses or before a universe expands.
Images of this sort are unavoidable whenever one is talking about God. One can only discuss he supernatural in natural terms. All information about supernatural or metaphysical realms has to be conveyed 'as if.' It's all symbol.
its writing style (even in hebrew) is so elementary that, well, i can generally read it (even in hebrew).
Irrelevant. Multiple layers of meaning often exist where vocabulary and syntax are simple.
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is a book for children. Yet it can make their grandparents cry. How?
Because the story has literal meanings accessible to a child's mind and other meanings an adult's mind will discern. These co-exist in spite of the apparent artlessness of the storytelling. The simplicity of expression actually helps make its range of meanings more resonant.
A beginning speaker of English can understand every word in The Giving Tree. It would be a non sequiteur to argue that this proves anything about its author's intent that we take it only at a child's level, as literal fact. To say so would betray a profound misunderstanding of how stories work. It would place unwarranted restrictions on the author.
The truth is that authors are free to do whatever they want in the effort to communicate. We do a better job as readers if we recognize this. Refusal to recognize the latitude authors enjoy does not make that freedom go away.
I mentioned apparent artlessness. The same holds true of stories in Genesis. They employ a straight-ahead narrative style, but they also exhibit finely tuned literary structures and an intricate network of image motifs. The stories are very artfully written.
This is well known among Hebrew experts. If you wish to begin exploring these facets of the Torah you would be in good hands with Everett Fox (The Five Books of Moses) or the Hebrew scholar to whom he is most indebted: Martin Buber. The analyses of Phylis Trible (God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality) are also very much worth your time.
it would make no sense to open the book with an extended metaphor
On the contrary, it makes all the sense in the world. There is no other way to begin. Not if you intend to start a book by describing a supernatural being whose existence and actions transcend the material universe.
One can only describe the supernatural through the use of natural images. Metaphor is built into the project.
it was written to record the traditions of the people, and the things that define their religion. the torah is the foundation of the many themes found later in the bible.
I think I understood this, actually.
Such a purpose proves nothing about literal intent--much less exclusively literal intent. On the contrary.
All mythic stories use symbolic images. They often display simple narrative structures. And you have just stated the functions mythic stories exist to serve. For any people. Any culture.
Mythic stories allow literal interpretations have always allowed literal interpretations by the naive. In more naive times this includes quite a number of people. But they simultaneously allow symbolic understandings that inform experience beyond this. Interpreters have been spotting such meanings in every age. The result depends less on the text than on the mind that encounters the story. Does that mind bring ot the text a child's experience or an adult's?
Great stories last as long as they do, and inform the existence of succeeding generations as well as they do, precisely because of the freedom and ability storytellers have to create multiple layers of meaning.
_
Edited by Archer Opterix, : Clarity.

Archer
All species are transitional.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 53 by arachnophilia, posted 10-09-2006 2:45 PM arachnophilia has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 58 by arachnophilia, posted 10-13-2006 5:08 PM Archer Opteryx has replied

  
arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 1453 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 58 of 61 (356355)
10-13-2006 5:08 PM
Reply to: Message 57 by Archer Opteryx
10-13-2006 3:17 PM


Re: Genesis = Art (whether 'artistic' or not)
Irrelevant. The Genesis narratives are very artfully written.
in the same way that laying brick is artful architecture. although, there have been a few "bricklayer poets"
This holds true regardless of whether they were written primarily for 'artistic purposes.' Metaphorical meanings appear in all kinds of writing.
then perhaps you can show me another such metaphor in the book of genesis. or, i'll be generous, the entire torah?
suppose for a second we are reading josephus's antiquities. would you expect to find an extended metaphor there? how about gilgamesh? why is genesis different?
it's different for a lot of people because they have a need to believe it. by and large nearly everyone who does not have this need reads genesis a particular way: literally. they read it like it's a collection of ancient myth, and is fairly straightforward. it's not until we need to find truth in the text that we go looking for it in other ways.
is there more meaning to be found than merely the literal? of course there is. we could, for instance, read gilgamesh to be about everyone, and our inner quests for immortality. did the authors intend this? maybe. but did they intend for it to be some kind of code to be deciphered to reveal the "true" meaning? certainly not.
Genesis 1 describes creation just this way. Everything is told on as as if basis.
you have not demonstrated this. you have demonstrated that if you change the meanings of some words, you can fit the narrative (kind of) to an old earth interpretation. this is not metaphor, it is distortion.
further, the deeper levels of meaning to the text -- the cause of the traditionally sabbath, the structure of the week and day -- are violated by distorting this meaning. you are actually destroying the real intended metaphor.
Instead of working with human-sized quantities of material and time, he works with God-sized quantities of everything. God's Creation Week spent working on a universe will necessarily be a very different thing, in quantity and quality, than a human week spent in a workshop making a rug. There's a vast difference in scale. It's built in.
think about this a little for a second, because there's something you're not scaling up here: god's abilities. maybe we can make a rug in a week, but god can make the universe in a week. further, part of god's creation, indeed, the major creation of the story, is time. god sets the sun and moon to define periods of time. the darkness and light define time. there is no sense saying it's different for god, because they story is about how god created markers of time for us.
the story is neccessarily told from our perspective, because it is about preparation for us. never once in the bible are we told a story from god's perspective. on a literary basis, there is a very good reason for this. we wrote the stories. we wrote them to explain how things we are familiar with (ie: night and day, and the week) came to be.
the story simply does not make any sense the other way.
It's a common but mistaken assumption that metaphors--literary images--are a feature only of poetry or 'artistic' writing. Not so.
my point is that it does not fit the style of genesis, or the rest of the torah. these texts are written a specific way, and very simplistically. and i mean very.
and our ONLY reason for modifying the timeframe here is modern knowledge. we now have reasonably convincing evidence that the exodus did not happen. is the book of exodus all one big extended metaphor? we can't revise the point of the texts to suit ourselves.
'As if' images appear wherever language is used. They appear in all genres, even today's scientific documents.
'Black hole' is such an image. 'Big Bang' is such an image. How poetic are physicists trying to be when they use these expressions? In each case a term's literal dictionary definition has been stretched to express a more complex and less literal (by the dictionary) idea.
euphemisms and idiomatic usages are not metaphors. i could point you to any number of idiomatic usages in genesis -- in fact, i pointed you to one earlier in this thread. and they are certainly not extended metaphors.
One can only discuss he supernatural in natural terms.
this is frankly a very artificial split that has only been introduced since the age of reason. a careful and contextual reading of the bible will tell you that the ancient hebrews did not differentiate natural from supernatural. god was a physical entity (at least part of the time), who lived in a physical place called heaven. natural phenominon was god's doing. the two are inexcorably linked until, well, science came along.
we cannot presume to read genesis from a scientific understanding the authors would not have even had a clue about.
A beginning speaker of English can understand every word in The Giving Tree. It would be a non sequiteur to argue that this proves anything about its author's intent that we take it only at a child's level, as literal fact. To say so would betray a profound misunderstanding of how stories work. It would place unwarranted restrictions on the author.
a beginning speaker of english -- a child -- can easily pull the metaphor from shel silverstein's classic. metaphors are not really that hard to recognize. the bible is not different. how easily can we pull the metaphor from "the lord is my shepherd" and "he makes me lay down in green pastures?" surely, david is not literally a sheep. we understand the deeper meaning, that god takes care of us, even when we are afraid.
this is not what is happening in genesis. the deeper meaning is plainly evident, and your proposed metaphor conflicts with it. genesis was simply not written for this purpose.
The truth is that authors are free to do whatever they want in the effort to communicate. We do a better job as readers if we recognize this. Refusal to recognize the latitude authors enjoy does not make that freedom go away.
this is not refusal to recognize artistic latitude. this is from a few years of educated study of the text. it's just not there. there is a lot of artistic latitude in the bible, and i mean a lot. in fact, i'm the one constantly ragging on the fundies about how little credit they give the authors.
genesis is a very carefully written text. it walks a very fine line between vaguery and precision. enough vaguery to be a somewhat blank canvas for later traditions to paint shades on meaning onto, but enough precision that its words are still very clear.
longer periods of time can (and often are) read into genesis -- but we need to make the distinction between something we are reading into the text and something the author put there.
All mythic stories use symbolic images. They often display simple narrative structures. And you have just stated the functions mythic stories exist to serve. For any people. Any culture.
you have a better chance arguing that the serpent in genesis 3 is symbollic of all temptation, evil spirits, or perhaps even satan than you do arguing that "day" in genesis 1 is symbollic of "a billion years." one is a lot more obviously a symbolic image, although you'll find that many here dispute that.
Great stories last as long as they do, and inform the existence of succeeding generations as well as they do, precisely because of the freedom and ability storytellers have to create multiple layers of meaning.
yes, and i'm not denying that. all i'm saying is that it's simply not in the text. the story of genesis 1 is literal. meaning can be extracted from it, but forcing meaning into it is a different story.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 57 by Archer Opteryx, posted 10-13-2006 3:17 PM Archer Opteryx has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 59 by Archer Opteryx, posted 10-17-2006 4:36 AM arachnophilia has replied

  
Archer Opteryx
Member (Idle past 3707 days)
Posts: 1811
From: East Asia
Joined: 08-16-2006


Message 59 of 61 (356990)
10-17-2006 4:36 AM
Reply to: Message 58 by arachnophilia
10-13-2006 5:08 PM


Re: Genesis = Art (whether 'artistic' or not)
I am satisfied with the points as I have made them. I will distill two of the main points and supply two examples for anyone who may be interested in reading more on this subject.
_
1 Limits of the Text
The Creation story in Genesis 1 uses the days of a week as an organizing element. The narrative makes no mention of how long, by the clock or calendar, the days are.
That is what we know. To insist on 'a billion years' goes outside the text. To insist on '24 hours' goes outside the text.
We do know that Genesis had admitted multiple interpretations thoughout its history.
Jewish tradition recognizes the need to 'wrestle with' a text. The expression comes from the story, also in Genesis, about an angel who wrestles with Jacob in the middle of the night. A divine messenger the angel may be, but the experience presents difficulties. So it is with a sacred text. From the text we can expect some amount of confrontation. From ourselves we can expect having to shift our posture from time to time as we come to terms.
Dogmatism on the matter is thus ill-advised. The burden of proof lies on anyone who insists the narratives must be understood a certain way, were always understood a certain way, were meant by the author to be understood a certain way.
_
2 The Necessity of Stretching Terms
One can only describe the supernatural in terms of the natural. Images come to us through our five senses. An extended passage about God requires an extended use of natural images to discuss this supernatural subject. The writer is compelled to use the things of the natural world--and the words for those things--on an as if basis. Words and ideas are stretched to fit the grander requirements of the subject.
A responsible reading takes account of this necessity.
_
3 God's Very Long Sabbath
One first-century Jew had no trouble with the idea that God's seventh-day shabbat lasted for centuries. He considers the idea so obvious to his readers that he does not even argue the point. He assumes. He uses it as the premise for a theological argument:
Hebrews 4.1-11
The author says God's sabbath rest has continued since the beginning of the world. He clearly identifies it with the seventh day of Creation. He says that God's rest continues for as long as the day is called 'today.' On this basis he urges his readers to be obedient so they may enter the same sabbath rest God enjoys.
This example suffices to show that metaphorical understandings of the Genesis story were in circulation, and considered legitimate, among Jews even in ancient times. Any suggestion that Jews only understood their stories literally stands falsified. Any suggestion that the idea of age-long days first originated in our scientific age also stands falsified.
Inerrantists who believe the New Testament to be inspired have special reason to take notice. Hebrews 4 presents a compelling case that God's 'seventh day' (never said in Genesis to have ended) should be understood as lasting far longer than 24 hours. It implies a NT understanding of God's Creation Week as a metaphor for all of earthly time.
_
4 The Art of Genesis
Genesis gathers an ancient body of stories. The stories are simply yet artistically told. The stories exhibit symmetrical structures and sophisticated network of image motifs.
Here, for the purposes of this thread, is Joel W Rosenberg's outline of symmetries in the Garden story (Genesis 2.1-4.1):*
__A Headnote 'These are the generations'
___B No field economy. 'no one to till the ground'
____C Humanity given life, placed in the Garden
_____D Man prefers human companionship over animals
______E Man calls companion 'Woman'
_______F Etiological sumary: 'Therefore a man leaves...'
________G Couple 'naked and not ashamed'
_________H Serpent promises 'eyes will be opened'
__________I Transgression
_________H' Couple's eyes are opened
________G' Couple feels shame
_______F' Etiological summary: 'For... you are dust'
______E' Man calls wife 'Eve'
_____D' Couple wears skins of animals
____C' Humanity expelled from the Garden, denied immortality
___B' Field economy begins
__A' Birth of child completes one generation
This omits a smaller symmetrical structure within the larger one that takes place when God confronts the man, woman, and serpent. Remember too that the Garden story is the older and more 'primitive' of the two stories. Impressive 'bricklaying' indeed!
Such artful arrangements of material are typical of ancient Hebrew narratives. See books and translations by scholars such as Everett Fox, Martin Buber, and Phylis Trible for more information.
Thanks for the topic, Guido. Always a fascinating subject.
___
* Outline condensed from the original. Rosenberg, Joel W. 'Genesis: Introduction.' The HarperCollins Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version. Harpercollins Publishers. New York, 1993. (page 4)
Edited by Archer Opterix, : Typo repair.
Edited by Archer Opterix, : Typo repair.
Edited by Archer Opterix, : Credit.

Archer
All species are transitional.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 58 by arachnophilia, posted 10-13-2006 5:08 PM arachnophilia has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 60 by arachnophilia, posted 10-17-2006 8:46 AM Archer Opteryx has not replied

  
arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 1453 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 60 of 61 (357008)
10-17-2006 8:46 AM
Reply to: Message 59 by Archer Opteryx
10-17-2006 4:36 AM


Re: Genesis = Art (whether 'artistic' or not)
Genesis 1 uses the days of a week as an organizing element in presenting the story. The narrative makes no mention of how long, by the clock or calendary, the days are.
this is just silly; no offense.
when i say that, for instance, "i'm driving to tallahasse this weekend to see my friend. i'll be gone for two days." how long do i mean? must i define what "day" means? and yet, genesis does provide us with a definition: a day is a period of darkness, followed by a period of light.
this really isn't very complex, and i will keep making this point no matter how many times you continue to ignore it. genesis is a book of origins. this story explains the origin of the week, and shabat. the days are neccessarily 24 hours by definition. because these days were written about to explain and define our days.
That is what we know. To insist on 'a billion years' goes outside the text. To insist on '24 hours' goes outside the text.
"24 hours" isn't exaclty very far outside the text. it is the only logical implication of what the text says, what it means, and the "moral" application.
Jewish tradition recognizes the need to 'wrestle with' a text. The idea is that a sacred text is like the angel who meets Jacob in the middle of the night. A divine messenger it may be, but it also presents difficulties. We cannot expect ease in coming to terms. We can expect confrontation from the text and shifting postures on our part over time.
yes, and this (among other things), is a very good reason why "there is a jewish interpretation that says x-y-z" is actually a very specious argument. there's jewish interpretation that says just about whatever you want it to say. if you can't find your particular viewpoint in the many volumes of the talmud, there's always midrashim and modern interpretations.
"so and so says..." just isn't any good with the torah. we must look at the text a) in the cultural context of the time (which is rather tricky), and b) with the intent and purpose of the book in mind.
Dogmatism on the matter is thus ill-advised.
i promise you, this is not an issue of dogma. on the contrary, your point is entirely dogmatic; reading one word to mean another. i am just voicing what the text actually says, and the very barest of logical implications of what it means, how the text was used, and the purpose behind the story. the only good reason i can see for subscribing to this day-age stuff is the conflict between a young-earth genesis, and an old-earth reality.
The burden of proof lies on anyone who insists the narratives must be understood a certain way, were always understood a certain way, were meant by the author to be understood a certain way.
"were always" was never part of my argument. people have always understood things differently. and jewish interpretation is vast and contradictory. and i am not insisting that it must be understood a certain way, simply that it must be read for the words on the page, and what those particular words mean in the correct usages.
if you want to understand the whole thing as allegory, that's up to you. but i think the metaphor here is highly unlikely, and does not fit with the style and purpose of the rest of the torah.
One can only describe the supernatural in terms of the natural. Images come to us through our five senses. An extended passage about God requires an extended use of natural images to describe the supernatural. The writer is compelled to use the things of the natural world--and the words for those things--and stretch them to fit the requirements of the supernatural subject.
A responsible reading takes account of this necessity.
there are very few books of the bible which god does not play a rather prominent role. but the presence of god is not a valid excuse to insist on changing meanings as you see fit. the argument is, essentially, that there are different levels of truth to the bible. it can be inaccurate on the surface level, but still contain a deeper truth to it. and even if that deeper truth isn't right either, there's some kind of moral truth to it.
this really is a very amatuerish view of the bible. understand that i am by no means a fundamentalist; i make this argument partly out of personal history. i looked at the bible this way before studying it more intently. i once subscribed to this day-age idea myself. but as it turns out, the authors of the bible are much more forward than this. genesis in particular does not beat around the bush, or hide its meanings at all. the stories practically end in "...and that's how this place got its name" or "...and that's why these people are called this." if you want to know why a story was written, look at the end of it. the "truth" to the story is the point it's getting at, not whether or not we can fudge the details and make somehow accurate. it's deeper meanings are human ones. why do we get married? because otherwise we are lonely. the truths are obvious, not secret divinations about god -- god was almost a granted, like the "scientific" content -- and not the point of the story.
One first-century Jew had no trouble with the idea that God's seventh-day shabbat lasted for centuries. He considers the idea so obvious to his readers that he does not even argue the point. He assumes. He uses it as the premise for a theological argument:
Hebrews 4.1-11
again, you're putting the cart before the horse. if you want to look for deeper metaphorical meanings, hey why not, paul's a good place. but the themes he uses come from genesis. this is a classic fundamentalist blunder; not recognizing the chronological order and textual heirarchy of the book. paul's epistles were written long after genesis -- his reading tells us nothing about the intent of the authors (especially because paul so often differs from the traditional jewish reading, tending more towards a hellenized viewpoint).
and in any case, paul is not speaking literally about a sabbath, but using shabat as an allegory for heaven.
The author says God's sabbath rest has continued since the beginning of the world.
clearly, it has not. the rest of the bible demonstrates this fact -- such a reading neccessitates the utter absence of god after genesis 2:4, meaning everything from that point on must be complete fiction. such a reading simply does not make sense: why accept the first chapter, but not the rest of the book, volume, or library?
This was written centuries after Genesis. By then God's 'seventh day' would already seem to have gone on since time immemorial. The example does suffice to show that metaphorical understandings of the Genesis story were in circulation, and considered legitimate, among Jews even in ancient times.
i don't think paul was considered a legitimate jew somehow. and, again, this is not a metaphorical reading of genesis. this is another text using themes from genesis as a metaphor. if i refer to a power struggle in the workplace using ideas from shakespeare's macbeth, am i reading macbeth as metaphor? or am i using it to make a metaphor?
Any suggestion that Jews only understood their stories literally stands falsified.
the question is not how people have read it, but how the authors intended it. very different ideas.
Any suggestion that the idea of age-long days first originated in our scientific age also stands falsified.
paul does not say what you think he says. but i am also aware of older talmudic readings that describe similar "long days." the argument does not originate in modern times. but the primary reason people accept it today are scientific ones. there are no good textual or contextual reasons.
To the inerrantist who believes the New Testament is inspired, Hebrews 4 presents a compelling case that God's 'seventh day' (never said in Genesis to have ended) should be understood as lasting far longer than 24 hours.
i am not an inerrantist. making arguments simply to win the approval a crowd who does not agree with you, and whom you would otherwise want nothing to do with, and based upon a reading and technique i'm sure you know to be highly faulty logic is nothing but intellectually dishonest.
Genesis gathers an ancient body of stories. The stories are simply yet artistically told. The stories exhibit symmetrical structures and sophisticated network of image motifs.
i never said otherwise. but the bit you propose, extended metaphor, is simply not the style presented in genesis. of course there is art to it, but it's not exactly high art, art-for-art's-sake, or outright poetry. yes, skill went into it. but you have to consider the style of the book.
just like we wouldn't expect to find abstract expressionism (ala pollock) in medieval tapestry, so we would not expect to find extended metaphor in traditional and etiological history.
Remember too that the Garden story is the older and more 'primitive' of the two stories. Impressive 'bricklaying' indeed!
yes, it is. rigid framework is the definition of "bricklaying" in poetry. so is simplistic language and grammar.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 59 by Archer Opteryx, posted 10-17-2006 4:36 AM Archer Opteryx has not replied

  
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