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Adam and Eve
marymary100 - 9-1-2008 at 08:34

refresher

Is this literal truth or a creation myth in your opinion?


janet - 9-1-2008 at 09:37

I heard a rabbi interviewed once, who was asked that same question, "Is the story literally true?"

His response was classic, "Oh, no! It's MUCH more important than that!".

I'd suggest you present a false dichotomy - myth /= untrue. Myth, in the realms of anthropology and theology, is something that provides a structure for thought, a paradigm.


LSemmens - 9-1-2008 at 14:16

Wether Adam and Eve are true or Myth is irrelevant. As your reference shows, Mary, that they had a genealogy, ergo, they did exist. The story, as presented in may holy texts, may be light on detail but specific enough to convey the appropriate meaning. i.e.
- Man was created.
- He was given the task to tend a garden called Eden.
- He was also given a choice - to either obey God and not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, or disobey God and eat of it. The tree itself is a type - e.g. obey and live, or eat and die, not necessarily literally as we may imagine, but figuratively, where the point was obedience.
- He chose to disobey and learnt what evil (in this case - disobedience) was
- He also learnt that there were consequences, too (expulsion from the garden)

As Janet has quoted "It's MUCH more important than that!"


John_Little - 9-1-2008 at 14:49

Surely, "Man" as we know the species, was not "created" but evolved over millions of years.

Modern Homo-sapiens have been around for around half a million years, or at least that's what I read in a text book at school - which itself was another half a million years ago.

So, at what stage exactly do you consider that "Man" or our ancestors came into being? I suppose technically, from the moment life came about in the primeval swamp.

John


marymary100 - 9-1-2008 at 16:28

Quote:
Originally posted by janet
I heard a rabbi interviewed once, who was asked that same question, "Is the story literally true?"

His response was classic, "Oh, no! It's MUCH more important than that!".

I'd suggest you present a false dichotomy - myth /= untrue. Myth, in the realms of anthropology and theology, is something that provides a structure for thought, a paradigm.


I used the term myth to mean a man made explanation for how everything began.

In what way is it more important than truth, in your opinion?


janet - 9-1-2008 at 16:32

I didn't say it was more important than truth. :)

The rabbi was, I think, implying that there are different kinds of truth.

I'd add that there are different means of verification.

Anyone who is religious in this country is likely to be very tired of being taken to task to *prove* one's religion is "true".

I tend to ask my questioners to prove that their children love them, or that the sunset is beautiful...

And here, I'd return again to the difference between logos and mythos.


marymary100 - 9-1-2008 at 18:17

I didn't want this to become a discussion about which version was true, just interested to know what each person believed at this moment.

For me, I think that the order of events is largely correct although the timespan is truncated. I do not believe it should be taken literally.


scholar - 9-1-2008 at 19:03

I take it as true in the ordinary sense.

Jesus argues that ideally marriages should stay together because God joined the man and the woman together in marriage--a reference that indicates the events in the beginning of Genesis actually happened.

Paul also bases some teachings on what happened in this part of Genesis.

Luke 3 traces Jesus' ancestry back to Adam (while Joseph was not involved in Jesus' conception, that was His legal connection to the royal house of David, which ran through the males). It would be hard for real people to be descended from a person who did not exist.


scholar - 9-1-2008 at 19:20

In my studies, I have come across one author who points out that the categories of myth and literal truth are not exclusionary.

He said a document would be in the category of myth according to content. A document about the action of a god or gods, involved in creating the world, would be a myth. However, that category is neutral--it doesn't say ANYTHING about whether the events therein happened, or whether the beings or persons therein existed. A good scholar can examine the meaning of a document, but to determine whether that meaning corresponds to what actually happened would require comparison with the account to what really did (or did not) happen.

I found that approach refreshing. Most writers use the term "mythology" in a prejudiced way, assuming material in this category did not happen as the narrative describes, but that need not be the case.


janet - 9-1-2008 at 19:25

It's not really a new approach, in terms of the study of mythology and folklore...


TooCute4Words - 9-1-2008 at 20:46

I think that the 'Adam & Eve' story was just a fable/story which has been handed down over the ages and we have just been made to believe it. Well, some of us ;) Nobody could ever prove one way or another whether it is true or just a made up story.

It's a nice belief, but not something I would ever get excited about.


the bear - 9-1-2008 at 21:33

Quote:
Originally posted by TooCute4Words
I think that the 'Adam & Eve' story was just a fable/story which has been handed down over the ages and we have just been made to believe it. Well, some of us ;) Nobody could ever prove one way or another whether it is true or just a made up story.

It's a nice belief, but not something I would ever get excited about.



Were you made to believe it?


Regards the Bear


John_Little - 10-1-2008 at 09:28

Quote:
Originally posted by janet
I didn't say it was more important than truth. :)

The rabbi was, I think, implying that there are different kinds of truth.

I'd add that there are different means of verification.

Anyone who is religious in this country is likely to be very tired of being taken to task to *prove* one's religion is "true".

I tend to ask my questioners to prove that their children love them, or that the sunset is beautiful...

And here, I'd return again to the difference between logos and mythos.


Well, MM,

I think that is a very good answer which probably summarises the Rabi's point pretty well. I have a lot of time for some Rabi's - Lionel Blue for one. They can be very sensible people.

There was one on the Telly last night talking about his wages on the Snow Show (Peter and Dan Snow). He said that technically, his "parishoners" (?) were not allowed to drive on the Sabbath but he never questioned how they got to the synagogue.

Very sensible.

John


LSemmens - 10-1-2008 at 12:34

Quote:
Originally posted by John_Little
Surely, "Man" as we know the species, was not "created" but evolved over millions of years.

Modern Homo-sapiens have been around for around half a million years, or at least that's what I read in a text book at school - which itself was another half a million years ago.

So, at what stage exactly do you consider that "Man" or our ancestors came into being? I suppose technically, from the moment life came about in the primeval swamp.

John
Whether you believe that man evolved over millions of years on not, in this case is irrelevant. "Creation" implies a beginning, at some point in the past, man ceased being (as is common evolutionary theory) an ape, and became homo sapiens. I still go with the "creationist" line of thinking as, although evolution has been demonstrated, to evolve intelligence along the lines of Man would also show other creatures somewhere between the apes and man. No other creature on this planet has yet demonstrated the need to create or, indeed, communicate with other creatures not of it's ilk. Nature is very competitive and does not consider the ramifications of its actions as man does. Had we evolved from a lower species, then the "missing link" would surely be evident to maintain the diversity of the species. i.e. if there was only one smart ape that bred with another dumb ape, the chances of creating more smart apes would be severely reduced.


janet - 10-1-2008 at 12:46

I'd say we became human... at some point. :} I'm a theologian and an educationalist (a word for which I apologise - a lot). That sort of delineation takes an anthropologist, I'd assume...

I'd take the stance that we evolved from something- probably the same something that also gave rise to the apes, the Neanderthals, and so on. The track of human evolution looks a lot more like a hugely branching tree than a nice, neat line... :}


janet - 10-1-2008 at 12:47

Quote:
Originally posted by LSemmens
Quote:
Originally posted by John_Little
Surely, "Man" as we know the species, was not "created" but evolved over millions of years.

Modern Homo-sapiens have been around for around half a million years, or at least that's what I read in a text book at school - which itself was another half a million years ago.

So, at what stage exactly do you consider that "Man" or our ancestors came into being? I suppose technically, from the moment life came about in the primeval swamp.

John
Whether you believe that man evolved over millions of years on not, in this case is irrelevant. "Creation" implies a beginning, at some point in the past, man ceased being (as is common evolutionary theory) an ape, and became homo sapiens. I still go with the "creationist" line of thinking as, although evolution has been demonstrated, to evolve intelligence along the lines of Man would also show other creatures somewhere between the apes and man. No other creature on this planet has yet demonstrated the need to create or, indeed, communicate with other creatures not of it's ilk. Nature is very competitive and does not consider the ramifications of its actions as man does. Had we evolved from a lower species, then the "missing link" would surely be evident to maintain the diversity of the species. i.e. if there was only one smart ape that bred with another dumb ape, the chances of creating more smart apes would be severely reduced.


Leigh, are you aware of just how little fossil evidence there is for any of the pre-human (as in pre-homo sapiens sapiens) species there is? We know some species by a tooth, a few bones...

The fact that the "missing link" hasn't been identified yet is hardly surprising...


LSemmens - 10-1-2008 at 12:55

Which was my point exactly, Janet,


John_Little - 10-1-2008 at 12:56

This is all getting very confusing with quotes within quotes so I wont quote anyone.

But, my point was, that there was not a point where "man" suddenly appeared. Rather who we are now is the result of a very long slow process that has seen countless minor changes over billions of years.

There was a very interesting programme a few years ago on British TV about evolution which focused (excellent pun) on the creation of the eye and how it came to be the amazing bit of kit that it is today. But it did not appear over night. In any species.

Mind you, the fact that so many different species have similar eyes suggests to me that we much have all come from a common ancestry and "branched" out, as Janet says.

John


janet - 10-1-2008 at 12:57

Quote:
Originally posted by LSemmens
Which was my point exactly, Janet,


?

I read it to say that you were sure that we should have found the missing link?


TooCute4Words - 10-1-2008 at 22:13

Quote:
Originally posted by the bear
Quote:
Originally posted by TooCute4Words
I think that the 'Adam & Eve' story was just a fable/story which has been handed down over the ages and we have just been made to believe it. Well, some of us ;) Nobody could ever prove one way or another whether it is true or just a made up story.

It's a nice belief, but not something I would ever get excited about.



Were you made to believe it?


Regards the Bear


No Bear.

Nobody makes me believe anything. I don't think that the Adam & Eve story is anything more than a ficticious story which someone way back in time said it was true and from then, it has become a supposed fact.

Of course, nobody can prove that, so...


the bear - 10-1-2008 at 22:20

Quote:
Originally posted by TooCute4Words
Quote:
Originally posted by the bear
Quote:
Originally posted by TooCute4Words
I think that the 'Adam & Eve' story was just a fable/story which has been handed down over the ages and we have just been made to believe it. Well, some of us ;) Nobody could ever prove one way or another whether it is true or just a made up story.

It's a nice belief, but not something I would ever get excited about.


I think we are back to the question of "faith" and being steadfast in your beliefs.

I think its wrong to tread the bible like a pick and mix. just opting for the bits that appeal to you,



Regards the Bear


Were you made to believe it?


Regards the Bear


No Bear.

Nobody makes me believe anything. I don't think that the Adam & Eve story is anything more than a ficticious story which someone way back in time said it was true and from then, it has become a supposed fact.

Of course, nobody can prove that, so...


TooCute4Words - 10-1-2008 at 22:30

Quote:
Originally posted by the bear

I think we are back to the question of "faith" and being steadfast in your beliefs.

I think its wrong to tread the bible like a pick and mix. just opting for the bits that appeal to you,



Regards the Bear



I think most of us will pick at the bible, unless you totally believe everything which is in the bible word for word, which I personally don't.

It doesn't come down to faith or belief in God either.


the bear - 10-1-2008 at 22:43

Quote:
Originally posted by TooCute4Words
Quote:
Originally posted by the bear

I think we are back to the question of "faith" and being steadfast in your beliefs.

I think its wrong to treat the bible like a pick and mix. just opting for the bits that appeal to you,



Regards the Bear



I think most of us will pick at the bible, unless you totally believe everything which is in the bible word for word, which I personally don't.

It doesn't come down to faith or belief in God either.


scholar - 10-1-2008 at 23:56

Quote:
Originally posted by John_Little
Mind you, the fact that so many different species have similar eyes suggests to me that we much have all come from a common ancestry and "branched" out, as Janet says.

John
May I point out, the eyes of a squid have many similarities to the eyes of humans, but macro-evolutionists imagine the ancestors of squids, which did not have similar eyes, are a different evolutionary branch from the ancestors of humans. In other words, eyes supposedly developed independently in different divisions.

I follow the theory which pre-dated macro-evolution, that similarities between creatures indicate a similarity of design.:)


janet - 11-1-2008 at 00:53

To take up a point made earlier - making people believe things is not particularly easy.

There are some ways of doing it, of course - the easiest is simply to keep them in ignorance of any alternative (if you never knew that it was possible to leave your home town, for instance, you'd never decide to do so).

There are *lots* of ways of forcing outside acceptance of ideas, that is, getting people to agree with you. But that doesn't really mean they believe...

And when it comes down to forcing adults to believe something, we're on really dodgy, difficult grounds. Humans are fairly persuadable critters, but forcing belief is a different matter entirely.

(I'm avoiding using the key word here, because it tends to mean different things on the two sides of the Atlantic, at least in the literature).


the bear - 11-1-2008 at 01:48

Any learning experience no matter how slightly you brush against it leaves its mark.
so you could say we are being moulded from day one



Regards the Bear


janet - 11-1-2008 at 08:58

Oh, there I would agree - but that's missing the element of force.

To force someone to believe something is to overcome their will in possibly the most significant way a human can do, to another human....


LSemmens - 11-1-2008 at 13:39

A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still. - Anon

We can all argue till we're blue in the face (aside - would that mean that we're "coloured") but unless we are convinced beyond all shadow of a doubt, we'll not change our thinking, or beliefs. As Bear has said, any learning experience (or conversation, I might add) will leave its mark. We may modify our viewpoint, but not renounce our beliefs based on one conversation.


SRD - 13-1-2008 at 09:36

I think the bible, and all of the other examples of early story telling, are a combination of things, firstly an attempt to explain what is not understood through reason and current knowledge, secondly an attempt to explain human history and as such a justification of one's place in the world, and thirdly an attempt by those who would wish to control us for their own benefit.

As our existence (as a cognitive species) lengthens and our knowledge grows we come to understand more about unknown things (a simple example being the movement from thinking that the earth is the centre of our planetary system to understanding that the planets revolve around the sun) which enables us to have a retake on some of the ancient myths of, say, Greece. Similarly our understanding of archaeology enables us to understand that the time span of, say, the bible cannot be accurate.
And the use of history and time span, not to mention the religious beliefs, for members of various tribes to justify their political aims can be challenged by our greater understanding of timescale and progress of other tribes in other parts of the world who have equally (in)valid ideas of the length of human history.

This doesn't mean that I don't think that these texts aren't important, more that they help us understand what people knew in the past and how the justification for their actions was put together.

I also think it is important that we should understand that a major part of our makeup as a species is our ability to imagine, to dream, to make up stories. This is something that children often find difficult to understand; the difference between lying and story telling, which is why they will often say things like "But is it real?".
The concepts of simile, analogy and parable to explain difficult questions or as an early lead into far more complex answers is not something a young mind finds easy.

So, do I think the story of Adam and Eve is 'true', without getting into the semantics of the meaning of the word true (a poor weapon used by those who know they can't justify their arguments), no I do not. Do I think it is a way to start to explain to children why women have one more pair of ribs than men, yes I do. Do I think it is a good way to start to explain our position in the animal kingdom, I suppose so but with reservations.