The Problem with Biblical Literalism, Part One

Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

Genesis 1:28, NLT

“…except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”

Genesis 2:17, NLT

There are some Biblical literalists that read, “you are sure to die” to mean that there was no physical death before Original Sin. If this were true, why would God command us to “be fruitful and multiply”? Surely, he would know that this commission would eventually create an unsustainable population, which all the earth’s resources could not support.

Let’s examine why we procreate, scientifically. The purpose is to perpetuate our DNA. It is an instinctual desire to prevent our genetic code from going extinct. In a sense, it is the result of an instinct to be immortal.

If we were immortal originally, why would we need to procreate? “To build a society/civilization/community,” you might say. Of immortal people? There are not enough resources to support seven billion times seven billion plus people. Death has to come into play; logic dictates this.

There is no way we could have been immortal. God would have made the earth as expansive as Heaven if this were true.

Death here is a metaphor.

To take the Bible literally is to discount the creator of language. We use metaphors every day. Why? Because they exist to help us explain things. Why? Because God created them for our benefit.

He already uses language, a creation for our benefit, to communicate the Word to us. Metaphors are an extension of language. It discredits and demeans God to assume He does not use, or is not clever enough to use, or thinks His language-speaking children won’t understand, figures of speech.

Death here refers to spiritual death. The choice to sin separates us from God. It is a choice to abandon God, to denounce the reason we exist and have the ability to make that choice. It is a choice of hell – of the death of the spirit.

And the death of the spirit leads to a physical death that is sooner. The longer we live, the more bad choices we have the option of making. The more bad choices we make, the farther we are from God. This is why God (metaphorically) sent angels to guard the Tree of Life, so Adam and Eve would not eat of it and live forever in their sin. More evidence that they were mortal to start with – to be immortal they would have had to eat of the Tree of Life.

Christ came to give us the choice of life, of union with God, again after rejecting (severing our bond with) Him. To save us from a permanent spiritual death.

For further discussion:

https://answersingenesis.org/death-before-sin/genesis-2-17-you-shall-surely-die/

http://christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/1589/what-is-the-specific-meaning-of-die-in-genesis-2

So, why did God create us, if we were always meant to physically die in the end? Why do we exist to “be fruitful and multiply”?

That’s akin to asking, “What’s the meaning of life?”

I would be mightily arrogant to assume I had the answer.

However, there is a way to think of this if you are willing to expand your beliefs beyond what is revealed in the Word.

First, the Bible does tell us that God created ex nihilo, or, out of nothing. It only stands to reason that he used His power, Himself, alone, to create the universe. Therefore, it is logical to think of the universe as an extension of Him, that His essence permeates everything. All is in God, God is in all. This is not God Is All – that’s pantheism, and it assumes God requires the universe to exist. He obviously existed before all of this. The one paradox no one has been able to decipher in this life is that God has always existed and will always exist – no beginning and no end.

All in God and God in All is Panentheism, a pagan notion, but one that is in tandem with Christianity and the other Abrahamic religions. God creates the universe out of nothing, therefore out of Himself. Why do this? To experience Himself from the eyes of ignorance. To discover wisdom anew, to experience awe and wonder with us, beside us, within us. To experience ignorance becoming knowledge from all different perspectives. To know what it is to suffer from the Adversary infecting our world.

To understand one’s people and one’s enemy from their perspective is to better defend and defeat. Not that God needs to do this, as the omniscient Creator, but He wants to, because He is Love. Love needs a target. It cannot exist alone. That is why we exist. While angels exist as well, they cannot receive love; that is not their purpose (see my later entry Panentheism and The Body Metaphor).

It could be simplified into, “God is lonely and bored,” but that puts Him in a box. There is no way to really know the meaning of life, but knowing that wonder and awe are a large part of experience, and one of the reasons we were made, is beautiful and comforting.

God bless with mother earth’s bliss.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s