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If Adam and Eve aren’t real personages but legendary ones none can be condemned eternally to suffer a punishment in hell because he or she doesn’t believe the factuality of the stories of creation from the Bible. It is unacceptable for someone to be punished for rejecting the alleged facticity of a lie. From the point of view of historical facts, a myth isn’t the truth and everyone has the right to know through science how things really were.
The classical theism maintains that we should believe that Adam and Eve were historical personages and we should also believe all religious consequences of this assertion. We should believe that Adam and Eve had disobeyed God’s command and for this reason they would have been punished with death. We can believe in the cross for its moral value based on the sacrificial love even if we don’t believe in the need to be redeemed for the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sins.
We are sometimes told that if we don’t believe what organised religion considers the truth we can be damned forever. This doesn’t seem to be right and the reason is that we shouldn’t be forced to believe that a legend is a true story. Nobody should be forced to believe a doctrine or dogma based on a literal interpretation of the creation myths from the book of Genesis.
Regarding the texts of the O.T. we are facing two possibilities. Either we consider many of the stories from the O.T. the results of human imagination in which God is depicted in a misleading way, or the O.T is the authentic image of God. In the O.T. God is presented other than the way in which He was described by Jesus. One finds in the narratives of the N.T. that Jesus revealed the Father as being the personification of unconditional love, but according to some texts of the O.T., He did many things which don’t express such love.
If the real image of God is the one which can be found in the N.T. and if God is perfect and He loves even His enemies as Jesus has said, then in the O.T. we cannot find Him. God in the O.T. hates His enemies and seeks their destruction. The story with Joshua and Jericho is relevant to this issue.
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“21 Then they devoted to destruction by the edge of the sword all in the city, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and donkeys.” (Joshua 6; 21 NRSV)
Another example is the story which maintains that Saul had been sent to destroy an entire nation, even the animals, and that couldn’t have been an action commanded by God who loves His enemies.
In the times of the O.T. God didn’t practice genocide only once with the occasion of the Flood, but several times. The excuse found by some religious devotees is that all those nations had been constituted of sinners. We shouldn’t forget that all the so-called sinners were people like anyone else in that age. God didn’t announce His Law amongst those people and He didn’t perform miracles in their midst so He couldn’t have had any pretension for purity from them.
“21 ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” (Mathew 11; 21 NRSV)
God didn’t perform those miracles in Tyre and Sidon therefore He didn’t have any basis to expect repentance from them. In spite of that, Tyre was a target for God and it suffered numerous disastrous events.
“The oracle concerning Tyre. Wail, O ships of Tarshish, for your fortress is destroyed.* When they came in from Cyprus they learned of it.” (Isaiah 23; 1 NRSV)
Some devotees would say that only the Jewish people had been chosen by God and had a covenant with Him, and all the other nations of the world didn’t.
Even if the Jewish people had a covenant with God they were nevertheless disobedient to Him many times, probably not much less than other human beings.
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The whole story is based on the presumption of the existence in reality of Adam and Eve who, being disobedient to God, have given Him the right to judge and condemn everyone, including any nation. God could have decided to destroy a certain nation on the basis that the alleged first human beings would have sinned and through them all human beings were sinners. According to the Bible the price for sin is death. (Romans 6; 23)
If we admit the real existence of Adam and Eve there are strong theological consequences and one of them is that all human beings deserve to die in God’s eyes. If they deserve to die there is only one more step toward the admission of eternal hell.
If God didn’t create Adam and Eve He isn’t responsible for the human condition but He can, if He wants to, grant eternal life to anyone He wills. God doesn’t need to do anything for humankind’s salvation because He didn’t create human beings, but He can elect some people for eternal life. The people who will not be elect will die because human beings are mortal, but there isn’t any need for them to suffer for eternity in hell.
In the O.T. God doesn’t express Himself as love on too many occasions. God is seen as a disciplinarian that uses tough methods against many people.
Anyone who reads the following text or many other texts about what God had asked Jewish people to do will be very puzzled about His character and His unconditional love.
“6 Cut down old men, young men and young women, little children and women, but touch no one who has the mark. And begin at my sanctuary.’ So they began with the elders who were in front of the house. 7 Then he said to them, ‘Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain. Go!’ So they went out and killed in the city. 8 While they were killing, and I was left alone, I fell prostrate on my face and cried out, ‘Ah Lord GOD! will you destroy all who remain of Israel as you pour out your wrath upon Jerusalem?’ 9 He said to me, ‘The guilt of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great; the land is full of bloodshed and the city full of perversity; for they say, “The LORD has forsaken the land, and the LORD does not see.” 10 As for me, my eye will not spare, nor will I have pity, but I will bring down their deeds upon their heads.’” (Ezekiel 9; 6-10 NRSV)
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Probably “the land was full with bloodshed and the city was full of perversity” but we expect from God not to add to such bloodshed. God could have done that but this doesn’t have anything to do with a loving Father who loves His enemies. It isn’t about punishing the personal guilt of some individuals but it is about indiscriminate killing. What guilt could the little children have had? They could have had none. There isn’t any justification for the killing of little children and if God had ordered such a thing this would cast doubt on His righteousness. I am persuaded that God didn’t do that and that He is love, and my conviction goes against what the Bible says in Ezekiel chapter 9. In order to believe that God is love one has to evade many texts from the O.T. My conviction is based on how Jesus described God. The text in Ezekiel 9; 6-10, is in contradiction with the following text:
“20 The person who sins shall die. A child shall not suffer for the iniquity of a parent, nor a parent suffer for the iniquity of a child; the righteousness of the righteous shall be his own, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be his own.” (Ezekiel 18; 20 NRSV)
The biblical texts are very confusing and sometimes children respond for the sins of their parents and sometimes don’t. There are many such examples in the O.T. which would legitimate the idea that God in the O.T. and in the N.T. are two different Persons. In the N.T. we have many texts about God’s loving character, so much so that He is identified with love:
“8 Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4; 8 NRSV)
If God can be known by a human being who loves another human being, such an individual finds it hard to understand how God being a Person who loves and moreover who is love, can kill so indiscriminately so many human beings. It is true that one cannot know which part of the Bible presents the real God and if it is the O.T. or the N.T. For the Christians, the N.T. and its image of God are paramount but for the Jews the O.T. is the most important.
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At the same time the two parts of the Bible contradict each other greatly about how God is.
One can either choose to have a Gnostic view on the O.T. or to disregard many stories from it, considering them human inventions having the purpose to justify the fate of the Jewish people through supernatural means. That would be similar to finding supernatural explanations to natural things in other cases, for example in the domain of cosmology.
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As I noticed before, humankind hadn’t been created immortal but mortal, according to the book of Genesis. We can know that from the biblical declaration according to which God would have created the tree of life necessary for acquiring eternal life. Why would God have created the tree of life if human beings were created immortal from the beginning? There wouldn’t have been any reason for that. If human beings had been created mortal the animals were also mortal and of course the plants were mortal by definition if they were the food of the animals and man. If that is so, the assertion advanced by the apostle Paul that death had entered into the world as a consequence of humankind’s disobedience to God is wrong. This is enough reason for the rejection of all theology of classical theism. Death didn’t enter into the world because man didn’t listen to God but He generated mortal human beings. Those human beings could have acceded to eternal life only by eating from the tree of life. After Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God the tree of life has been guarded by the cherubim in order to prevent the human beings from eating from it and living forever.
“22 Then the LORD God said, ‘See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live for/span> ever’ — 23 therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken.” (Genesis 3; 22-23 NRSV)
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Even after their disobedience to God humankind would have been able to become immortal if only they were allowed to eat from the tree of life, and this is the reason why the tree of life was guarded. The idea that humankind had been created immortal but would have died following its disobedience to God isn’t biblical, it is an invention which justifies a false theology:
“12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned — 13 sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. 14 Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many.” (Romans 5; 12-15 NRSV)
If the many didn’t die through the one man’s trespass, there isn’t any reason for the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, to abound for the many. Death, contrary to what Apostle Paul says in the epistle to Romans, would have been in the world before Adam and Eve’s alleged disobedience to God and doesn’t have anything to do with that myth. This assertion questions the principle of grace or free gift of salvation. Human salvation is based on the idea of a free gift which compensates Adam’s alleged sin which would have been transmitted to all human beings. If it looks rather unjust that so many people have to suffer for the alleged Adam’s sin even if they didn’t sin in the same way, this injustice is compensated by the free gift of salvation. Those who are condemned for Adam’s sin are forgiven if they believe in Jesus and in this way the injustice of the transmission of the consequences of Adam’s sin is eradicated. Because Adam is only a mythological personage the free gift of salvation doesn’t compensate anything because none can be punished for Adam’s sin.
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The salvation isn’t a free gift somehow owed by God to humankind but it is a possibility of a human being to improve himself or herself through a personal relation with God and through new birth. If Adam and Eve are a legend, personal faith in God doesn’t have anything to do with the narratives promoting that story. This, of course, has huge theological consequences regarding what we mean by grace of God. The assertion from the epistles to the Romans which says: “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin…” is false. Even if sin would have come into the world through one man, death didn’t come through sin but had emerged before the apparition of human beings on Earth. According to the book of Genesis, plants were created on the third day and animals on the sixth day before the creation of humankind, hence plants and animals died before the apparition of humankind on Earth. From the scientific point of view, fossils of dead animals which were discovered are millions of years old, hence they are dated before the emergence of first human beings on our planet. There are insects which live only few hours, such as some species of mayflies. These types of insects, being created by God, would have died before the creation of humankind and their Fall. Other insects or worms would have died in accidental deaths, being swallowed or crushed by dinosaurs or by other animals. In the waters, large animals such as whales would have swallowed a huge amount of small fish, killing them before the creation of humankind and its disobedience to God. On the land, predators would have started to prey on other animals before the human beings’ Fall, hence death would have been present from the beginning on the entire planet Earth. At the same time, viruses and bacteria which would have provoked fatal illnesses would have taken their toll. The idea that death entered the creation only after Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God is a theological construction with no basis in reality. Death didn’t enter into the world through humankind’s sin but through the presence of life on Earth. Where there is life there is also death starting with the simplest micro-organisms. Whoever had created the universe is also responsible for death, and death is destruction, and from this point of view is a necessary evil. It isn’t that death comes from evil but rather evil comes from death. Criminals who kill people as a means to get personal benefits are an evil coming from the existence of death.
Even in the context of the book of Genesis, Adam and Eve’s disobedience is connected to the existence of death, without which they couldn’t have been tested by God. Keeping the framework of the legend, death would have existed before human beings’ Fall as a necessary condition for it. In a theistic evolution view the evil must be seen as being intrinsic to the process of creation because death is inevitable for evolution. This is the only view in which there isn’t any contradiction between God’s existence and the presence of evil in the world. Evil is a necessary condition of the creation through evolution. It wasn’t the so-called free will of humankind that caused evil in the world because due to lack of knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve didn’t have any free will. In the real world, evolution comes as a necessary battle between good and evil inherent in the existence of all beings. As a matter of fact, death is an important part of evolution. When a certain individual dies another better individual of the same species, a more adapted one to the conditions of the environment, takes the place of the previous one. Even entire species can disappear completely when all its individuals die and another species takes their place. For example, the death of the dinosaurs generated the premises for the apparition of other more evolved species which finally ended in the apparition of humankind. Death is a natural and necessary thing for the apparition of more evolved species and if God had created the natural world He accepted death and consequently evil as a means for His creation, not as a punishment. God isn’t responsible for the existence of evil because evil comes from death and suffering, but without the existence of death the biological life, at least at a less evolved level, it isn’t possible. The existence of death in the universe isn’t the consequence of a moral fault but the effect of the existence of life which necessarily presupposes death. Humankind doesn’t need to be redeemed for their inexistent original sin and death is a natural phenomenon which probably can be overcome in the future through natural means. Apostle Paul said that the price for sin is death. Nevertheless, human beings die for eternity not because Adam and Eve sinned but because humankind is mortal. Eternal life seems to be a gift which comes for selected people in a supernatural way. Death is the norm and everlasting life is the exception.
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The problem in Apostle Paul’s theology is that he maintains that the faith in Jesus is enough for salvation because this is a procedure which compensates Adam’s Fall, which infected all of humankind even if a majority of human beings are not directly responsible for the Fall. With the lack of Adam and Eve’s real Fall, this mechanism for salvation doesn’t work automatically in compensation for the Fall, hence beside faith a spiritual birth is also absolutely necessary for salvation as Jesus said. Faith alone isn’t enough for salvation if it isn’t doubled with a real regeneration because Adam didn’t bring death into the creation and salvation isn’t a free gift which compensates God’s harsh punishment of Adam and Eve. Salvation is a reward for a real transformation of individual lives. Faith without works is dead. (James 2; 17) If death doesn’t come as a logical consequence of sin but as a natural thing, immortality is an exception and comes as a gift from God for people who can live without sin. It is about a very new situation unnatural for human beings. “But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many.” Immortality is possible not because someone believes that the story of Adam and Eve is real, but because someone can attain high spiritual standards. Jesus has come not to reverse what Adam did because Adam never existed on Earth, but to be a model of a personal relationship with God. The human beings appeared on Earth through evolution from less evolved beings and rationality constitutes the main difference between us and our previous stages of evolution. The Logos is God and rational existence and consciousness is another level of existence more evolved than the biological type. God is Consciousness and a person is as close to Him as the height of his or her consciousness. To be conscious is the peremptory condition for any kind of improvement because without seeing his or her weaknesses none can fight against them. The biological existence is a condition of the existence of human consciousness but the latter achieves a certain independence from the former and sometime is even able to be opposed to the biological support, for example during a fast.
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The abstinence from food is against the biological laws of the functioning of a human body but is a manifestation of the relative independence of consciousness from its biological support. Religions usually profess a development of the human consciousness against human biological instincts. The Supreme Consciousness is God and He wants to absorb us in His infinite existence. To be a spiritual person can also mean to be able to rise above the limited views determined by his or her personal interests and to enter into unity with the universal Consciousness who is a Person and who integrates all consciousness in a harmonious spiritual concert. The biological side doesn’t disappear but it transposes in more elevated attitudes. The first human beings when they evolved from other biological beings were as mortal as the entities from which they evolved. Jesus had come to address mortality for people who wanted to be immortal but this is another level of evolution and not a comeback to an alleged original state which would be that of Adam and Eve. After all, eternal life doesn’t mean reaching the level of ignorance of Adam and Eve but a very high level of knowledge. It isn’t the ignorance of the good and evil which is able to save someone but quite the opposite. In order for anyone to become immortal he or she must know the difference between good and evil and this observation raises a question about the value of the story of the creation from the book of Genesis. The serpent in the context of the myth had given Adam and Eve the path for reaching the tree of life and that road is precisely the knowledge of the difference between good and evil. In other words, the first 11 chapters from the book of Genesis say something very different from what the official Christian doctrine affirms. Eating from the tree of knowledge would have been a necessary condition in order to attain eternal life because none can live eternally without choosing the good against the evil, therefore without knowing the difference between good and evil. If Jesus had come to Earth to show us how to become immortal, and if He has shown us how to discern between good and evil, the logical consequence of that would be that without the knowledge of good and evil given by Him none can be immortal. In point of fact, the way toward immortality in the book of Genesis is a very tortuous one.
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The rational path wouldn’t have been the one in which the eating from the tree of knowledge would have been avoided, because consuming from that tree would have been a necessary preparation for eternity. Because evil comes from death, in their spiritual ignorance people cannot but follow evil found in their mortal nature, and in order to follow the spiritual good every human being has to be born again. (John 3; 3-6) Without the ability to discern the spiritual good from the spiritual evil none can be saved and none can be immortal. In other words, a Christian view implies that eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil would have been a necessary condition for human immortality because choosing good against evil is the emblem of any faithful person.Being like God means knowing the difference between good and evil and unless someone has this ability to discern between the two, that person isn’t in His likeness. In the book of Genesis achieving the likeness of God by knowing the difference between good and evil wasn’t a good thing because after obtaining the likeness He forbade them to eat from the tree of life. This is contradictory if the knowledge of good and evil is an unavoidable step toward a higher moral standard necessary to attain immortality. In the Bible, the knowledge of good and evil is seen as being sometimes good and sometimes wrong, and this is the sign of a certain inconsistency. The idea that obeying God’s command in the Garden of Eden would have meant a shortcut which would have made unnecessary the knowledge of the difference between good and evil is strange. It implies that God would have always replaced the consciousness of humankind and He would have made human beings nothing more than robots. Human beings would have needed Him to tell them what is good and what is evil all the time. Such entitles who would have needed approval for all their actions would have been far from human, in the way that we understand humankind. Not being tested through God’s command regarding the prohibition of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, Adam and Eve could have chosen the evil at any time rather than the good, without knowing it. In heaven God needs people able to discern between good and evil therefore the path followed by Adam and Eve was a necessary one.
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The problem of death before human disobedience to God is an important theological problem and this is acknowledged by the representatives of the classical theism. The following quotation expresses this issue: fossil record, theistic evolutionists believe that many creatures lived, died, and became extinct long before man’s belated arrival. This means that death existed before Adam and his sin.” The theistic evolution view is the only one which exonerates God of His responsibility for the existence of evil and that is because He couldn’t create through evolution in another way than He did. As a matter of fact, God didn’t directly create humankind but he had created all the necessary conditions for the apparition of human beings following a long process of evolution. During this very long process God could have intervened in human development particularly through His presence in human history. His main intervention is His presence in the Person of Jesus. God didn’t create an ideal world without death and suffering as Apostle Paul understood it, and human beings didn’t spoil that world through their disobedience, but He had created a perfectible world in which evolution isn’t only biological but is also moral. Some people choose to go on this path of increased evolution when they choose to be born again from God and after being preponderant biological beings they become spiritually coordinated human beings. The story of Adam and Eve is confusing because it seems to condemn the only way through which someone can be a superior being, and that is the way of the knowledge of good and evil. The path toward eternity goes necessarily through the capability to discern the difference between good and evil, and the biblical texts which condemn that knowledge are nonsensical.
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