marcuspnw wrote:Your background is different having been influenced strongly by your scientific understanding and training. How has your interpretation of the events in the Garden of Eden been received by other Christians?
As I am sure you know, reason isn't the only factor in the acceptance of things by Christians and so it should be no surprised that the reception is mixed. Some are less tied to tradition and more open to reason (and it is usually on internet forums that I find such), others less insistent that such questions must be answered unabiguously will simply see this as interesting idea, while others do have more of a blind faith fundamentalist magical approach where they will not seriously consider a different way of looking at things. Few Christians have the insistence on a rational methodological naturalist approach as I do.
marcuspnw wrote:As a son, I am capable of learning from my mistakes, assuming responsibility for my actions and changing my lifestyle without any interaction with my father. It is true that my father played a significant role in shaping my personality and instilling his virtues in me. As I aged, I shaped my own self out of my life's experiences and challenges.
I made no claim that non-Christians are incapable or even less capable of learning from their mistakes than Christians. The bad habits that we have vary considerably. What I will assert is that as finite beings our creativity has its limits and that we rely upon inspiration in order to learn new ways of dealing with things in our lives. Life provides many sources of inspiration both from other people and the natural world. But the promise that Christianity holds out is that of eternal life and that requires a source of inspiration that is infinite and I only see God capable of fulfilling that role.
marcuspnw wrote:The roles we play as father and son change as we mature and this is a healthy situation. Does this process occur in your relationship with God your Father? Is your relationship dynamic and changing? If so, how?
I certainly see this in numerous testimonies by other Christians.
mitchellmckain wrote:But the first question is, how was that relationship broken in the first place? Can you imagine that ANYTHING can possibly break the relationship between a parent and a child? goooood question, right?
WELL.......... how about this...
What if something happened that made the parent's presence in his child's life something that did more harm to the child than good?
If the parent really loves the child then under such circumstances, would they not withdraw themselves from the child's life?
Yes, this idea has been put forward as a justification for Hell. Hell is seen in this light (He withdraws from us because we can't abide His presence.) as a mercy of God and not His punishment.
No this is NOT the same idea. "Can't abide His presence" is not the same thing as "presence does more harm than good". God is NOT concerned with our comfort but only with our spiritual life and development. Furthermore the validity of an idea used for one thing has nothing to do with the validity in regards to something completely different.
I reject this explanation of Hell, because which path we take is NOT about which is more comfortable for us. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the path to Hell is the one that is more comfortable for EVERYONE. I believe that Hell is the place where we find our heart's desire whereas heaven is where we find God's desire for us. So no it is not about which we "can abide" but which we CHOOSE. God is bound by the necessities of life and choice is one of those necessities -- to take away our choice is to take away our life and thus nothing of that sort can be a way to bring us to eternal life.
But in any case this has absolutely nothing to do with the question of what happened to the relationship between God and man in the Garden of Eden. God's presence became something that was detriment to our continued development as living beings, and that is what made the original parent child relationship between man and God an impossibility.
marcuspnw wrote:Does a child or parent know what is good for themselves in all situations as God would?
marcuspnw wrote:God is not just our Father but also our Creator so does He not have the capacity to alter the circumstances and should He act in this capacity?
NO! NO! NO! God is our creator ONLY in so far as He is our Father. We are NOT products of design! We are living organisms and life is a process of SELF-ORGANIZATION. Thus we are participants in our own creation and the only way that God or anyone else can "create life" is NOT as a designer but as a participant in the process by their presence in the environment that stimulates learning and growth. Thus when it comes to living things God is NOT a watchmaker but a shepherd, teacher and parent, because watches are not alive.
marcuspnw wrote:If fellowship with God is the best relationship that we can ever experience then how can it be harmful in the long run?
More puzzlement... This absolutist aproach to the question that you are taking seems rather bizarre to me -- like something has either got to be one thing or the other all the time -- but it doesn't. In the long run, a relationship with God is ESSENTIAL. Thus the situation in the garden of Eden was a no-win situation. We were never intended to navigate the moral landscape of our lives without divine aid and that is why "none is without sin, not even one." And yet Adam's behavior made this completely upside down and backwards habit of blaming God for his own mistake a part of "human nature" which we all inheirit -- a situation where God's presence in our lives becomes a way to refuse responsibility for our own lives. Thus if God wanted us to ever be more than dumb sheep who relies totally upon the shepherd for all things, then He had to makes us live or die by the consequences of our own actions until we learned that the responsibility for our own lives was something that we could not avoid.
marcuspnw wrote:Would not the joy be worth the pain?
Indeed and that is why we should choose heaven rather than hell, for no matter how excruciating it may be to face up to the truth of our own bad habits, changing those habits and becoming the kind of person who people would actually want to be around is worth any pain and discomfort. There is indeed only one heaven and hell that we need to worry about and that is the heaven or hell that we create around ourselves and make our world into.
mitchellmckain wrote:I am claiming that Adam started a habit of thinking about God that made His presence in the lives of His children something that did more harm than good. The habit I am talking about was one of blaiming God and even the good things -- the very best things -- that God did for what went wrong in his life even when the truth is that what really went wrong was his own fault and his own mistake. Eve was in fact one of the best things in Adam's life and yet when it came to facing the fact that he did something wrong, he chose instead to accuse God for giving Eve to him. This was so totally upside down and backwards -- such an utter refusal to be responsible for his own actions and a willingness to make the omnipotence of God into liability that made him the ultimate scapegoat. Under such circumstances all the advantage of having God in his life to guide him was turned into the disadvantage of having a convenient excuse to avoid learning from his own mistakes.
Make no mistake here, however, the "eating of the fruit" was no trivial thing, and certainly no pointless test of obedience. (That last just makes me laugh because its like -- ok lets test whether these are robots or children and ok right they disobeyed not like robots ever would but like children always do so OOOPS you mean we actually succeeded in creating CHILDREN? eeewwee back up rewind yuk disgusting little children, NO we wanted perfect robots not children so we got to stomp on these things who have deluded themselves in to thinking they are children, crush their spirit and creativity and teach them to behave like the proper mindless robots that they are supposed to be.) No the commandment was regarding something of critical importance to all of mankind, and it was important for them wait regarding that one aspect of their lives so that they would do that only when they were ready for it. So there were indeed devastating consequences of that disobedience - of that there is no doubt. But that is par for the course in a parent-child relationship -- where the parents are always cleaning up after the enormous messes that their children make of everything. So I cannot think that this mistake and disobedience was the real problem here.
So, in summary, God as Jesus made Himself the scapegoat because we insisted on making Him responsible for our actions. Jesus died and shed His blood not because God demanded a blood sacrifice from us to tolerate our being in His perfect presence, but rather due to our erroneous way of thinking which was so skewed that: 1. we were unable to abide with God as we were, 2. we failed to take responsibility for our own actions and 3. could not(would not) see Him as the perfect and loving Father that He is.
No I do not accept this as a summary of what I have said. But I can comment on this if you would like...
We do not need a scapegoat in the sense of having someone else bear the consequences of our actions. What we need is to learn the lesson that our sin will destroy us and everything we touch and that there is nothing that God would not do in order to help us. The truth is that the consequences of our sin cannot be escaped, but if we would not have our sin rule our destiny forever then we must change.
It is not God who demands blood but our own nature as living creatures ruled by our habits that we only change the way we live when it is "too late". It is only when we hit rock bottom and our habits have wrecked devastation upon our lives and the ones we love that we begin to accept the need to change. You can say that this need for blood comes from our own origins in the process of evolution where the species does not change until it is on the brink of extinction -- and so evolutionary development is always an an enormous cost in life.
It had nothing to do with tolerating God's presence but with whether His presence did more harm than good. Jesus offered up His life as a way for the person with a love for God to learn to see God in the right way -- not as a easy way out but as a way of confronting ourselves, where forgiveness can only come through a recognition of the terrible consequences of sin and thus where we are properly motivated to change. Thus the death of Jesus was a direct attack on this habit which made our relationship with God untenable. It showed that there was no limit to what God would do to help us, so we had to recognize that it is our own failings and nothing else that is at fault for our miserable situation and not God.
Rather than being unable to abide with God, the problem was that we were addicted to God in an unhealthy way. Take note that Jesus greatest difficulty and the people He condemned was not with the non-believers but with the most religious people -- the Pharisees. The Pharisees were not unable to abide by God -- they found God rather useful, just as do so many of the religious today -- to make themselves superior in their own eyes to everyone else. Neither was the problem was not that we could not see God as the loving Father. Again the Pharisees had no problem with that, for they were confident that God loved them -- and yet they did indeed have it all wrong. God did not love them because they were good little boys. God loved them even though they were "blind guides" "shutting the kingdom of heaven against men" and making others "twice the child of hell as" themselves.