Tuesday, July 27, 2010

On What "Day" Was Evil Created?

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness.
5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

From PJ: "if evil predates man, on what day was it created? Your book is a little vague on it.

Seems the great deceiver was the guy who decided to put a snake in an apple tree, but before the snake, there doesn't seem to be much mention of evil..."

* * *

I take from PJ's inquiry that by "day" he is referring to the six days of creation.  Here's my take on this.

1. The six days of creation are a depiction of "God's work week", using exalted prose (half-way between straight prose and poetry) to describe God whipping the rough creation into shape to make it a suitable habitation for man.  It thus uses the language of analogy that would be understandable to an Israelite craftsman -- "you have your work-week; God had his". It makes clear that life is planned and not accidental. Things look designed because they are designed. Man is not a mere animal. He is created in the moral, rational, creative image of God.  Man is the focus. Evil predates this.

2. The roughed-in creation of the heavens and the earth  -- Genesis 1:1-2 -- precedes the six day creation week. Notice that prior to verse three -- where the first "day" occurs, there is already the heavens and the earth, "void and without form". In other words, the earth exists, but is unsuitable for habitation.  Any number of billions years could have passed, and there is no good reason to think that the six days must be interpreted as six chronological days. Nor must we think that these six days must precisely align with scientific accounts. Not the purpose of the account.

3. Genesis 1:1 begins at the creation of the material universe. The creation of spiritual worlds, of angels, etc.,  predates the material creation. The fall of Satan would have occurred sometime during eternity past, prior to the "creation of the heavens and the earth".

Satan was not created evil, but became evil when he rebelled against God.  Why God would have allowed the devil to remain around to tempt man is a mystery. 

What cannot be denied is that evil actually exists. But, for evil to actually exist, good must actually exist, since evil is the opposite of good, the absence of good, the corruption of the good, and without good, which i.e, entails an "ought", evil, an "ought not", is an empty, incomprehensible notion.  Therefore, morality is not a mere add-on, but is at the very heart of ultimate reality. This fact alone disqualifies any kind of purely materialistic darwinian account of origins as being inadequate to explain the facts before us. The only adequate explanation for the existence of good as part of the fabric of reality is the existence of a Personal Entity who embodies goodness. In other words, if evil exists, good exists, if good exists, God exists. If God is all-powerful, evil shall be eradicated.

The first three chapters of Genesis are thus profoundly true in a way that makes any merely scientific account of origins by contrast trivial.

The only question is, "does evil win"?  Scripture and history shows that evil wins many battles -- the fall of man, the enslavement of men, the defeat of Israel, the crucifixion of  Christ, the persecution of the Jews, the corruption of the Church.

But, evil loses the war. If evil exists, God exists. If God is all-powerful (as he claims to be), evil's days are numbered.  And, so says the book of Revelation, Genesis' book-end, written thousands of years after the Genesis account.

There is a day coming when the kingdoms of this world will have become the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ.  

And the one who won my heart, and the heart of countless others, shall reign forever.

Amen.

40 comments:

P@J said...

OK, so let’s see if I follow:
First: Universe exists, but is unsuitable place for man, but is suitable for God and for Evil.
Second: God creates human-habitable universe.
Third: Evil enters the human-habitable universe in the form of a talking snake.
Fourth: After some undetermined number of eons, God will root Evil out, and everything will be great.

Please correct me if I am wrong.

So when God created the Heavens and the Earth; that was when he created evil? Or did Evil exist before the Heavens and the Earth (i.e. before the beginning)?

As for Satan, the book has always been a little vague on his origins. He pops up Gen. 3, then again as a foil to God’s parlour tricks in Job, then as a central character in Revelations, but it never really says where he comes from. Damned if I can’t find the story of his “fall”.

RkBall said...

"After some undetermined number of eons, God will root Evil out, and everything will be great."

Very soon.

It will be great for those who are saved. It will not be fun for those who are destroyed.

RkBall said...

"Damned if I can’t find the story of his “fall”.

Keep looking.

RkBall said...

First premise - wrong. God is a Spirit. He does not occupy time and space. He lives in a spiritual realm distinct from the Big-Bang creation. The devil's fall presumably takes place in what I believe I referred to as "eternity past".

Second. OK.
Third. Evil enters via the devil who is portrayed in the narrative as a snake. In revelation, he is referred to as a dragon. So, if you are into caricatures, here's a new one: Christians believe in a talking snake who can transform himself into a dragon.
Fourth. Covered previously.

P@J said...

You raise a science question, I try my best to answer, I raise a simple bible question, and you tell me to find it myself? That's not playing fair.

Where is the story of Statan's fall again? Really, just a chapter and book, I'll read it myself. It must be in there somewhere...

Oh, and what makes you think it will be "very soon"? And are we talking very soon on a human scale or very soon in a "6 day creation" God scale? Because I'll be dead in another 40 years, so if it is after that, I won't worry too much.

RkBall said...

Let's see...

1. Isaiah chapter 14. Be careful. This passage at times identifies the antichrist with the devil, so you have to tread carefully.

2. Ezekiel chapter 28.

3. Jesus -- Luke chapter 10. Saw satan fall from heaven. Not clear if this was in present-time or referring to past event.

4. Revelation -- chapter 12. Snake/dragon.

RkBall said...

"What makes you think it will be "very soon"? And are we talking very soon on a human scale or very soon in a "6 day creation" God scale?

1. Why very soon. Because Jesus says he is coming quickly. The early church expected an imminent return. Every generation of the church lives with the expectation of Christ's soon return.

2. When the nation of Israel is re-formed, the divine clock starts ticking again. This occurred in 1948. When you see hostile nations surrounding the state of Israel, you know the time is near.

"Because I'll be dead in another 40 years, so if it is after that, I won't worry too much.

Thanks to Christ's resurrection, your own resurrection is assured. The only question is whether you will be part of the resurrection of the just, or the unjust. You either have a wonderful hope, or a dreaded expectation, depending on your response to the gospel message. Either way, you're going to be involved.

Interesting questions. I'll probably do proper posts on these tomorrow.

Good night for now.

xn--hrfn-woa said...

"Isaiah chapter 14. Be careful. This passage at times identifies the antichrist with the devil, so you have to tread carefully."

Actually this chapter makes no mention of either the "antichrist" or the "devil".

Lots of railing against "captors", "oppressors", the "king of Babylon", "those who were kings over the nations", etc -- which is hardly surprising given the kingdom of Judah's perilous state at the time, threatened by the Assyrians, and to a lesser extent by the Egyptians.

The chapter does talk rather cryptically of "morning star [ = the planet Venus, of 'Lucifer'], son of the dawn", who had "fallen from heaven" and was "cast down to the earth" (as opposed to Hell) for aspiring to "ascend to heaven" and to raise a throne "above the stars of God".

This has been conflated by Christianity together with the snake of Genesis, God's councillor (or maybe 'prosecutor' would be a better description, 'ha-satan'='the accuser') Satan in Job and the Antichrist of the Epistles of John and the Beast of Revelations into a single narrative.

RkBall said...

"Actually this chapter makes no mention of either the "antichrist" or the "devil".

By name, no. You would need to have a sense for how prophecy works -- types, fore-shadows, etc.

RkBall said...

"The chapter does talk rather cryptically of "morning star [ = the planet Venus, of 'Lucifer'], son of the dawn", who had "fallen from heaven" and was "cast down to the earth" (as opposed to Hell) for aspiring to "ascend to heaven" and to raise a throne "above the stars of God".

And in this passage you have allusions to both the devil and the antichrist.

RkBall said...

"into a single narrative."

That's because there is a single, over-arching narrative.

xn--hrfn-woa said...

"You would need to have a sense for how prophecy works -- types, fore-shadows, etc."

I do. It is widely held by those familiar with the culture of the day that such prophecies were aimed at the people and concerns of the day (i.e. in this case the Assyrians), not at people in a to-them-incopmrehensible future, speaking a language that didn't even exist back then, and living on continents unconceived of, let alone heard of.

The problem with your "types, fore-shadows, etc" interpretation is that such tenuous interpretations could lead to just about any meaning -- and in fact has over the ages, with fervent believers coming up with all manner of interpretations of what was meant to be about to happen (but in fact didn't).

"That's because there is a single, over-arching narrative."

Really?

1) Then where did Joseph, Mary and Jesus go immediately after Bethlehem? Egypt or Nazareth?

2) Who did the women who went to Jesus' tomb see? Two men or an angel?

3) At what time on what day did Jesus die?

4) At the last supper, did the disciples ask Jesus where he was going or did he upbraid them for not asking?

5) Did Noah take seven pairs of clean animals or two pairs?

Your "single, over-arching narrative" all too frequently comes out as a mismatched patchwork.

P@J said...

Ezekiel 28. Lets review, shall we?

1: God talks to Ezekiel
2: Tells Ezekiel to tell the King of Tyrus to shush up;
3: tell him he’s smart and good looking;
4: that’s why he is so successful
5: and that’s why he is so happy;
6: Mentions his “setine” heart (?)
7: So now, God's gonna he bring on some bad guys to teach the King a few sword lessons;
8: Bad dudes will kill the king;
9: Says he’ll do it to show the King that he ain’t no God;
10: Threatens that the King will “die the death of the uncircumcised” (yikes!)

11: The God went on to Ezekiel;
12: “go cry to the King of Tyrus, and give him this message from me
13: “you’ve been to Eden, there was plenty bling and funky musical instruments the Day you were made;
14: “I decided you were a special baby, hanging with me, fireproof;
15: “I made you perfect, but then I found a flaw”
16: “You were so rich, you got bitchy, so I cast you out.”
17: “You were so bright, that you made me look stupid, so I called you names in front of your friends.”
18: “you displease me so, I will barbeque you, eat you, and then show off your ashes”
19: “All your friends will be pretty surprised and frightened about the fact you are gone forever”

20: God continues on to Ezekiel:
21: Now, on to the subject of Zidon”
22: “go tell Zidon I got a problem: they better start liking me more, Or I’ll bring the hammer down”
23: “I think I’ll hit them with some pestilence, or some streets of blood, just to let them know who I am.”
24: “that way, they won’t be such a pest to Israel”
25: God concludes “So all the Israelites will get together, and we’ll get right in the heathens’ faces”
26: “And all the Israelites will move right in, live in peace and security, once I finish wiping out anyone who doesn’t agree. Amen.”

That’s it? That is your “fall of Satan” story?

xn--hrfn-woa said...

P@J:

You're missing the point:

Anything can mean "the fall of Satan" if you "interpret" it sufficiently fervently.

Of course it could mean just about anything else as well -- but those are the problems you have religious wars to solve.

xn--hrfn-woa said...

"But, evil loses the war. If evil exists, God exists. If God is all-powerful (as he claims to be), evil's days are numbered."

There are a number of problems with this statement:

1) If God is all-powerful then why does evil exist?

2) If "evil's days are numbered" then evil cannot be necessary. If evil is not necessary, then why did God allow it to exist in the first place?

3) Where in the Bible does God himself state that he is all powerful?

RkBall said...

"Really?..."

Your comments have nothing to do with the concept of an over-arching narrative. In the case of the NT passages, nothing more, at most, than the kinds of discrepancies one might expect in authentic historical narratives.

RkBall said...

"That’s it? That is your “fall of Satan” story?"

I have no idea what your point is, beyond producing a caricature of the Ezekiel passage.

P@J said...

The point is this quote from your post: “Satan was not created evil, but became evil when he rebelled against God.”

I’m curious what the source of this information was. I like to provide references to the information I provide to you, I appreciate your efforts to do the same. But the only authoritative document on the topic seems to be your holy book, and it seems you don’t know if your book actually provides that information.

Ezekiel 28 is about Ezekiel being sent to tell the King of Tyrus that he displeases God by being too rich and thinking of himself is a God; then promising to render Tyrus to ashes forever (of course, Tyrus was never rendered to ashes, and is still a thriving port in Lebanon, English name is Tyre). Then God repeats a similar threat to Zidon (also, curiously, still a thriving port in Lebanon, English name is Sidon). Where does Satan come in?

Oh, wait, I guess I am not reading it in context of the “overarching narrative”.

RkBall said...

"Ezekiel 28 is about Ezekiel being sent to tell the King of Tyrus"

Like the Isaiah passage, it is about more than the human personage being described.

RkBall said...

"You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created
till wickedness was found in you.

Blameless and created -- not born.

Your heart became proud on account of your beauty,
and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor.

Became proud and thereby corrupted.

Pretty good depiction in prophetic language.

xn--hrfn-woa said...

"Your comments have nothing to do with the concept of an over-arching narrative. In the case of the NT passages, nothing more, at most, than the kinds of discrepancies one might expect in authentic historical narratives."

My point was that the Bible is a patchwork of, often contradictory, stories written at different times to serve different purposes, not "an over-arching narrative". If my small-and-manageable examples are too nit-picking to prove my point, then that point will have to stay unsubstantiated, as any larger points would require (i) far more room than a blog-comment & (ii) better familiarity than my own to argue cleanly.

"authentic historical narratives"

Don't make me laugh -- much of the Old Testament is about as historically authentic as a $3 bill.

Genesis: non-existent global flood, chock full of anachronisms (e.g. camels before they were domesticated, Arabian trade before it existed). Most probably written (or substantially rewritten) long after its purported events, based upon earlier legends.

Exodus: quite simply never happened. No Egyptian record of Jewish slaves in Biblically-recorded numbers existing or escaping. No record of a Pharaoh of the appropriate time period drowning in the Red Sea (and Egyptian records of the period were easily sufficiently detailed to cover such matters). In any case, Canaan was at the time, and for many years thereafter remained, an Egyptian province, with Egyptian garrisons.

Joshua: there is no evidence to support the claim that the Biblically-listed cities were sacked in close chronological proximity. In fact it is well established that Jerico wasn't even inhabited at the time: "if you want a miracle, here's your miracle: Joshua destroyed a city that wasn't even there." -- archaeologist Bill Dever

In fact the strong archaeological evidence is that the Jews were themselves Canaanites -- with Israelite and Phoenician constitute the core of Canaanite civilisation and Judahite, Ammonite, Moabite and Edomite the fringe.

United Kingdom: There is no evidence that there was a substantial kingdom centred in Jerusalem (which at the time was little more than a village) prior to the Assyrian conquest of Israel. In fact the archaeological evidence is that Jerusalem and Judah only rose to prominence as the result of the influx of Israelite refuges as a result of the conquest, and the increased trade that resulted from being a vassal of the Assyrian empire.

RkBall said...

Using the archeological evidence to disprove the Bible is a losing battle.

xn--hrfn-woa said...

"Using the archeological evidence to disprove the Bible is a losing battle."

Another bizarre, unsubstantiated claim in contradiction to the facts.

P@J said...

Ok, so you suggest God was actually talking about Satan, not the King of Tyrus, as he was “created” and had been to Eden, but was cast out.

According to Gen 1-3, there were only three “beings” in Eden: Adam, Eve, and Satan (in the form of the talking snake, who apparently at that time had legs). Two were clearly cast out (Gen 3), but the serpent isn’t cast out according to Gen 3…just loses his legs. Are you presuming that the snake was also cast out? Where is the support for that?

Wouldn’t a simpler explanation be that the King of Tyrus in Ezekiel 28 is Adam? He seems to fit the bill (Eden, creation , and casting out) much better than the snake does.

Secondly, since Tyrus and Zidon are still there, and still thorns in the side of Israel, this is a prophecy that has yet to come true. So maybe a future “King of Tyrus” will be Satan/Adam? How does this purported future event explain the origin of Satan again?

P@J said...

Xn’s comments and mine are following down the same path here:

You argue that archaeological/scientific evidence doesn’t matter, because it is trumped by the biblical narrative (presumably because it is the perfect word of God).

Then you say the inconsistencies in the biblical narrative are little details consistent with the hearsay nature of the chronicles, so not written by God and not perfect (but somehow still trumping the scientific evidence).

Then you cannot even find references to a few simple, but seemingly important to Christians, facts from the narrative: the Fall of Satan would seem to be a big event, considering his central role in the origin story and Revelations. Why no mention?

RkBall said...

"Since Tyrus and Zidon are still there, and still thorns in the side of Israel, this is a prophecy that has yet to come true."

I would say it has already been fulfilled and the cities have been subsequently been rebuilt. It may have a possible second-round fulfillment in the "last days". Also, sometimes new cities arise close to old cities and are given the same names.




So maybe a future “King of Tyrus” will be Satan/Adam? How does this purported future event explain the origin of Satan again?

RkBall said...

"You argue that archaeological/scientific evidence doesn’t matter, because it is trumped by the biblical narrative (presumably because it is the perfect word of God)."

No, I do not argue this. I argue that when there is an apparent conflict, it is usually because there is "too little" information, and not because there is "too much" information.

RkBall said...

"Ok, so you suggest God was actually talking about Satan, not the King of Tyrus, as he was “created” and had been to Eden, but was cast out.

No. Prophecy is often like a stone skipping across the water with two or three layers of meaning and/or two or three historical fulfillments. The king of Tyrus is in view, but also, seemingly, a spiritual creature as well. Given that Tyrus is himself considered an evil man (as the king of Babylon in Isaiah) it is not much of a stretch to see that Satan is also in view here.

"According to Gen 1-3... Are you presuming that the snake was also cast out? Where is the support for that?

No. The fall of Satan was an ontological fall which occurred either prior to the creation of the material universe -- the heavens and the earth, as I suggested, or at some point after the creation of the heavens and the earth but prior to the creation of man. So, the creature that Adam and Eve meet is already fallen.

"Wouldn’t a simpler explanation be that the King of Tyrus in Ezekiel 28 is Adam?

It wouldn't make much sense to equate the king of Tyrus with Adam, because, unlike, Adam, the king was never in a pristine innocent state. You would have to check if anybody else has entertained this view. I think on balance there is a spiritual entity in view. Jesus often spoke of persons in terms of the spirit animating them.

xn--hrfn-woa said...

P@J:

Contrary to Rick's claims, I can find no evidence that Tyrus (modern day Tyre) has been destroyed and then rebuilt. The closest thing was it being successfully sieged by Alexander, but it continued to be an important trading centre for centuries thereafter.

Also Ezekiel 26:7-10 states:

"For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: From the north I am going to bring against Tyre Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses and chariots, with horsemen and a great army. He will ravage your settlements on the mainland with the sword; he will set up siege works against you, build a ramp up to your walls and raise his shields against you. He will direct the blows of his battering rams against your walls and demolish your towers with his weapons."

The trouble being that Nebuchadnezzar's 13 year siege of Tyre was unsuccessful, and resulted in a compromise peace rather than its 'towers being demolished'.

I can also find no explicit Biblical corroboration for his claim that "the king was never in a pristine innocent state."

xn--hrfn-woa said...

P@J:

Of course, as you've already guessed, and in the words of Sigmund Freud, "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar" -- and sometimes a 'King of Tyre' is just a normal, human ruler of a nearby city-state.

Ricky has provided no evidence in support of his 'fervent over-interpretation' of the passage in question.

This is particularly true, given we know the names of the two kings of Tyre at the time of the siege: Astarymus & Phelles. Perhaps you can inquire of Ricky which one was the devil incarnate.

Incidentally, you should probably not refer to the snake from Genesis as 'Satan', as Ricky hasn't substantiated the link between it and God's good friend and debating companion in Job either.

RkBall said...

REv. 12:9 "So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. "

This shouldn't be necessary.

RkBall said...

This is all a question of what evidence exists, and what authority you accept.

P@J said...

Respectfully, Mr. Ball, you understand that written records of the history of Tyre exist, and there haven’t been any events there that coincide with the prophesy given to Ezekiel. There are several written histories of the area which are internally consistent (unlike Ezekiel) and match the physical evidence at the place (unlike Ezekiel). Oh, and no records of “streets of blood” at Zidon, either.
So let us put away the notion that the prophecies of Ezekiel 28 have already been fulfilled.

p.s. The king was never in a pristine state?
Ezekiel 28:15 “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.”

RkBall said...

I'm doing some research. May take some time. Will elevate to a fresh post. I'm not really an archeology guy.

RkBall said...

p.s. The king was never in a pristine state?
Ezekiel 28:15 “Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.”

Exactly. No-one is. We all enter the world as fallen creatures. Which is why another being, created, not born, is apparently in view.

RkBall said...

BTW, "make yourself as God" and an uplifted heart is the primary sin of Satan and the antichrist, and antichrist-like figures such as the King of Tyre and the King of Babylonia in Isaiah 14. It is also the temptation in the Garden -- "you shall be as gods".

It is also inevitably part of the appeal of atheism to many.

xn--hrfn-woa said...

P@J:

It would seem that the Hebrews demonised (figuratively) their enemies on occasion (like that's never happened in wars since), and some more fervent, and less analytic, Christians have decided to interpret that as literal demonisation.

The trouble is that this interpretation makes no sense whatsoever, when the Bible has God threatening to have the King of Babylon (aka the devil) destroy the King of Tyre (aka the devil).

While its relatively rational for the ancient Hebrews to figuratively demonise both, it makes no sense whatsoever to literally demonise them both.

xn--hrfn-woa said...

P@J

1) Atheists don't believe in gods (by definition.

2) Atheists believe that they are gods (from Ricky, above)

From 1+2:

Atheists must therefore believe that they themselves don't exist.

ROFLMAO

Houston, we have a problem. :D

P@J said...

I was going to respond, but Ricky's irrefutable logic just caused me to pop out of existence...

xn--hrfn-woa said...

God darn filosofers, making things we thought existed disappear. Makes the place untidy.

Do let me know when you start to exist again.

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"