Friday, November 18, 2011

Conversation with Andrea, Part 2

[The long anticipated, and long, continuation of my conversation with Andrea]

Bret: You mentioned your husband is not a believer. That is similar to my parents; my mother was religious, my father wasn’t. Why do you think there are so many more religious women than men?

Andrea: I’ve been thinking about your question for several hours and although I have some ideas about it, I’m not researched and ready to formulate a more complex answer that is true and concise. So for now, I will say the short answer is that women are more sensitive to spiritual matters. For example, who did the serpent approach first?

Bret: My wife thinks it’s because women are sheltered more, and end up more dependent and uneducated. I personally have no idea why, because the opposite view has been a topic of major discussion among atheists. There are just not many atheist women out there, and I’m not willing to accept most of the vaguely misogynistic views I have seen presented. I do think there is some truth in what my wife thinks on the matter.

As for why the serpent approached Eve... I’m not sure how disobeying God means one is more sensitive to spiritual matters. If I looked at the real world, I would see that most criminals are men, that women tend to follow the rules more than men, and I would question then what the true message of the Garden story might be. I think it’s important that woman is approached first, because man is assumed to hold a position of authority, and if Adam had led Eve into sin, Eve might be seen to have just been doing her duty by obeying her man.

This is why I am inclined to agree with my wife, though I think it’s rather condescending (even for me) to assume every woman who is religious is a victim of her circumstances. Though in that respect, do you ever wonder what would happen if you were born in another place or time?

Andrea: Your wife’s theory is interesting. If women are sheltered, wouldn’t they follow their husbands??

As for your question: I believe I would still come to the same conclusion no matter what era I was born into.

Bret: Well, she views it through a Jewish lens. This is particularly true in Judaism, where a child born to a Jewish woman is “considered Jewish.”

Andrea: I didn’t know that. So it doesn’t matter what religion the father is, the child follows the mother?

Bret: According to Jewish tradition, yes. It “matters,” in that some respectable Jews won’t marry you unless your mother was Jewish, and you are officially considered Jewish if your mother is of Jewish descent.

Andrea: That’s part of religion that I would balk at, no doubt, you do too.

Bret: And since women do most of the child raising in traditional homes, religion for the mother does tend to transmit more often across the board.

Andrea: In your post about Outrage, which pastor are you talking about and what was he saying?

Bret: I’ll find the link...

Andrea: Yes, I would agree with your last statement. My son attends church with me. I know that I have a short amount of time to engage him in church otherwise he might decide that he doesn’t have to go if his father doesn’t.

Bret: Apparently he removed his blog from public view, but the contents of the post (or maybe just part of it) can be found here: I think the whole thing is nonsense. I wish atheists would chill out.

Andrea: Is that really for real? He embarrasses Christians. I’ve never heard of him - not surprising because that kind of drivel is terrible and does nothing to bridge the gap.

Bret: No he doesn’t. He doesn’t embarrass Christians anymore than Hitler does, or anymore than Stalin or Mao embarrasses atheists. I’m more worried about what the average person does, because there’s billions of average people, and only a handful of extremists.

Andrea: Have you ever heard of Hugh Ross? He’s a Christian scientist, he runs/is part of an organization called Reasons to Believe, He makes a practice of having debates with atheists. I went to a seminar with him and it was the first time I was in a room full of atheists - to be honest, I’ve never had a real conversation with an atheist because really, where would I meet one? At church? Not likely. Anyway, it was a fascinating day - my husband came with me because he had some questions about evolution vs. creation.

I wish I could recount some of the day but honestly, I walked away thinking my God is even bigger than I had thought to that point. He had very scientific sounding evidence, or at least, he poked large holes in an evolutionist theory that maybe didn’t answer all the questions but at least it offered the possibility for something more.

Anyway, just wondering if you’ve heard of him?

No, I was also going to say, that I think the Atheists in the audience acted poorly. They were disrespectful and didn’t allow Hugh to make a point without snickering and loud sighs. I don’t care if you are right in the argument, disrespecting an opposing person is low character.

Bret: I have not [heard of him].

Andrea: I’m not suggesting that I think you are showing low character. I am quite enjoying our conversation and I think you are very respectful, as you promised to be.

Bret: I try to be, but honestly... I have little control over whether a person gets offended by me or what I do. Standards are not very... standardized. I’m sure suggesting there are other gods would be considered offensive to some Christians.

Andrea: I’m not offended by the fact that there are other gods (small g) that are worshiped, but I have a relationship with the El Elyon, Most High God - the one over everything. It’s very American to suggest that there isn’t a spiritual realm outside of the one true God. Which is why America (and I include Canada in this) is so easily deceived. In many other nations, animism is predominant, which enables them to understand the spiritual warfare that we are involved in. Americans are ignorant about this - as a whole.

Bret: What is it like being married to a non-believer?

Andrea: First off, my husband is awesome; much better and more supportive than other women I know who have Christian husbands. It does drain my faith quite a bit, at time. He doesn’t have a faith grid so his solutions are limited to what he can imagine. And I can’t express my deepest desires with him.

Bret: Why are you married to an unbeliever? Is it to recruit him?

Andrea: When I married, I was a small ‘c’ Christian. My husband is a good man. I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. Although it was terrible for my parents, especially since we were married in Vegas. Very sinful.

My husband and I went through a traumatic period - it accounts for my ‘desert experience’ - in our second year of marriage. I was certain that we would not make it to our 3rd anniversary. This was my prayer, Lord, change my husband but leave me alone. God did the opposite of what I asked. He changed me - completely and totally. I was totally sold out for God. I was not only a capital C Christian, I was a CHRISTIAN*. It was during that period that I began to learn who God was. It’s taken me 13 years (I’ve been married for 15.5 years now) to learn about the relationship but it’s not religious (rules).

As for my husband, he hasn’t made a decision but he acknowledges that God makes an impact in our life. When we are blessed in a surprising way, he asks if I prayed for it. He seems to take for granted that I hear from God and although he doesn’t have a relationship himself (yet), he trusts my judgments and decisions because my faith is very strong.

*One time, I was riding the elevator of our apartment building, and I was heading to Bible study. I had my large teal Bible with me and another fellow got on the elevator the next floor down from mine. In the short ride down, I had a lot of thoughts run through my head. First, I was embarrassed that I was carrying a Bible and I wondered if the fellow knew if it was a Bible. But then I was ashamed that I was ashamed and by the time I reached the bottom (of 9 floors), I vowed that I would never be ashamed of the gospel again. And I haven’t. I’ve been bold. I speak about my faith - not in a terrible, condescending way, at least I hope not, but it’s part of who I am. I can no more not have a conversation about my faith as I can about not speaking about my husband or child.

Bret: Do you think morality plays any part in your relationship with God?

Andrea: How do you mean?

Bret: I am not sure how to make it any more clear... I guess I could ask a hypothetical. What’s keeping you from murdering random bystanders? Since, if you ask forgiveness, you still get to go to heaven and all.

Andrea: Yes, I can commit sin and still go to heaven but as Paul writes, do we sin so grace can abound more and more. The answer is no. I pursue holiness because that is what pleases the Father and I want to please him because we are in a relationship. I find out what the Father is pleased with and I do it.

I choose to exhibit loving-kindness to others because as I learn to see them as the Father sees them, I will love like he does. It’s about learning his perspective, not about rules that govern only my exterior behaviour.

Bret: I get the feeling you firmly believe you have an internal compass, and you call that God. Am I way off or is there something to that?

Andrea: My internal compass is not God, but a relationship with God changes my internal compass. Much like my relationship with my husband changes my internal compass towards infidelity. When I was single, I was free to date whom I chose. But now that I’m married, it wouldn’t please my husband (even though he may chose to forgive an affair, or not), so I don’t do it.

Bret: And here I was, assuming you just had a better internal compass. So you do stop yourself from doing certain things?

Andrea: Of course. Otherwise I wouldn’t have free will. A relationship HAS to be based on free will, otherwise it stops be a true and healthy relationship. If God demanded a relationship because I have no choice, then wouldn’t it become like those stories where the abductee begins to fall in love with their captor?? That isn’t real love.

You are using your free will to not have a relationship, and I am choosing to have a relationship.

And throughout my relationship, there are countless times when I haven’t wanted to listen to God any longer, because he directed me to a different course of action that I didn’t want to take. I can do what I want but in EVERY situation, I’ve learned that what I wanted wasn’t actually what I wanted.

I can also decide to think about myself first in my relationship with my husband, but if I continue to do that then we will have friction in the relationship and I don’t want that, so we learn to work together.

Bret: There actually are those who see religion as being a complex case of Stockholm Syndrome, where a person comes to identify with the religious community which has essentially abducted them. And I think it is fair to say that some people, like prisoners, become institutionalized to the point where they can’t function without their religion. But that wasn’t really what I meant.

What I mean is... hmm, how to phrase it... do you know much of anything about Freud’s idea of the id, ego and super-ego?

Andrea: Sorry, I can’t even pretend to know even a little bit about that.

Bret: Just as well. I think people think and operate on different levels, and I don’t even agree with Freud anyway. I think everyone has impulses and instincts which we tend to think of a “lower level” thought, in that we don’t even really consciously think about them. Then you have things like dreams and desires, which you may or may not have control over.

But, as some people imagine being “above” those, you have something else, and I find this differs between people a lot. For me, it’s ethics, and for some religious people, it’s their direct relationship with God, while for other religious people, it’s the moral code of their religion.

So basically, you have these animal drives, these human drives, and something greater than ourselves which is hopefully keeping those others in check.

Andrea: Yes, I would agree with you.

Bret: I find it... I don’t want to say odd, but I guess it is, that you get your cues from God. It’s odd to me since I don’t know who it is you’re talking to. Most atheists would say you’re talking to yourself, but I’m willing to accept that you’re talking to something external if you truly believe you are. My question is just: how do you know you’re talking to God? Do you ever worry it’s a demon or maybe even just an angel? Or maybe even a different God than the one in the Bible?

Andrea: Hmm, I was thinking the same thing. I can appreciate that you have a difference of opinion but I can’t even remotely fathom how you could come to the conclusion you have. I would sooner choose a different faith religion than nothing.

The closer the relationship, the tighter you are and the better you know the being you are in a relationship with. Hearing from God is what I call prophetic (different than prophet - title or calling). Everyone is, or can be prophetic, it takes practice though; like in the example I shared with you with the fellow from Ontario. I got a few details wrong but more or less I knew things about him that I wouldn’t have known otherwise.

There are several ways to judge a prophetic word: it MUST be congruent with Scripture, it should “sit” well within your spirit (no alarm or warning bells), it will always produce fruit that leads you or the person you’re hearing the word for closer to God, often there is a consensus among leadership that the word is from the Lord too. That’s how I know it’s from the Lord. I recognize his voice, as I recognize the voice of the devil (or demons) as well. Quite simply, if the exchange doesn’t cause the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control then it’s probably not from God.

Bret: I find that kind of disconcerting, if only because there is so much in the Bible I would not find to be very healthy to hear (especially the Old Testament). I mean, I am infinitely glad you choose to aim for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control (and I guess faithfulness in some ways is even good to an atheist). Those are all important goals, but sometimes it seems like religion takes an indirect path towards those things, and the result is that some believers act very “un-Christian” in your view, or immoral in mine.

You don’t worry at all that you may be misled? You must have seen Christians (or “Christians”) doing things in the name of faith that you find to be appalling.

Andrea: Of course I’ve seen Christians who are misled. There are countless examples that the public love to make fun of. I’ve made errors myself but I don’t ‘throw out the baby with bathwater’ so to speak. Science makes mistakes too and they have to backtrack at times. Those are ways we learn, right?

I am intent on being as close to God in my relationship as I can be so that I am always hearing correctly and so I can accurately determine the Lord’s voice from my own (or the devil). One of Jesus’ most oft repeated phrases is, “He who has ears, let him hear.”

You mention that there are things in the Bible that you wouldn’t want to hear, and I can only assume you are speaking about the violence in the OT. We are a NT church and under a new covenant - one under grace and not law, so we can usually assume that if the word doesn’t bring the fruit of the Spirit (which I mentioned above) then I’d go back to the Lord and ask for confirmation.

Bret: I would hope one would not even seek confirmation for some things, like slaughtering children or raping the women of a captured city. And yet, those are things that are explicitly commanded (I assume by God) in the Old Testament. I can’t personally picture you being in such a situation where that would come up, but for most atheists, it’s just the very fact that the door is left open to that sort of behavior.

Here in the US especially, religion has sort of weaseled its way into our politics, and yet I question if it’s really “Christian.” Just our foreign policy alone makes me wonder if every American Christian skipped over the “turn the other cheek” part of the Sermon on the Mount and instead prefer to take their cues from the Old Testament.

How do you reconcile certain aspects of the New Testament, like Matthew 10:34, where Jesus says he comes to bring not peace, but a sword, or Luke 22:36, where Jesus recommends selling your cloak to buy a sword?

Andrea: Ah yes, the sword. The passage you quote in Luke 22:36, MUST have a different meaning than literally buying a sword because in the hours that pass later, Jesus is arrested in the garden and Peter, taking Jesus’ words literally (not for the first time), cuts off the ear of one of the soldiers. Jesus heals the ear; obviously Jesus didn’t mean a literal sword, otherwise it would have been a blood bath, under the approving eye of Jesus. Jesus spoke in parables and used poetic language and metaphors.

The sword is mentioned several other places: Ephesians 6:17, says the Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Hebrews 4:12, For the word of God is sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul & spirit, joints & marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from his sight.

Revelation 1:26, gives a description of Jesus in heaven: and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword.

Revelation 2:12, these are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword.

From these passages, we can understand that Jesus was not speaking about a literal sword but by words, because our enemy is not flesh and blood but by rulers, authorities and powers of the world and against spiritual forces of evil in the spiritual realms. (Eph 6:12, paraphrased)

If God spoke the world into existence and we say his is omnipotent (including his words), then our words are potent because we are created in his image. Words carry enormous authority. Jesus said that if you say to this mountain, move – it will move. He calmed the storm by speaking to it. See how that is different than OT? I’ve spoken quite a bit about the heart issue, the Bible also says from the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34). And, life and death is in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).

Bret: One of the things that makes the Bible such a dangerous document in the minds of some atheists is more or less akin to the comment made by most Christians, in that the Bible is “poetry,” which implies it is open to interpretation. I tend to agree, which is why I interpret all the food analogies to mean God is going to eat believers, which I think is in keeping with the idea that no one really understands God’s motives.

But beyond my silly theories, the fact that there is so much violent imagery in the Bible, even the New Testament, means that it doesn’t take a leap of faith to use Christianity to justify atrocities. I tend to agree with your interpretation, but I think this comes down to an issue of verification.

Basically, if people are listening to voices in their head and the only document they have to verify the voices with includes calls for murder and violence... do you kind of see where I’m going with this? Assuming God is all-knowing, why did He leave the door wide open for such a grossly destructive interpretation?

Granted, there will always be people doing bad things, there are actually plenty of religions where there is no violent imagery present and the followers of those religions tend to be far more peaceful than Christians (Jainism and Buddhism come to mind, but even among Christian sects, one might point to the Amish and Quakers, or even Mennonites, as a group that has adopted Christianity in a uniformly peaceful and docile interpretation in stark comparison to the overwhelming majority).

Andrea: Those are good questions but it goes back to the relationship; without the relationship it’s so easy to stumble upon the interpretation.

Think about your relationship with a spouse or close friend/family member - there are special nuances and common phrases that identify that person to you. When you first begin to know someone, when you talk on the telephone, you have to first identify yourself but as time goes on, you can jump into the conversation by saying, ‘hey, it’s me’, or not even have to introduce yourself at all. I’m fairly certain the misguided Christians intent on destroying the world do not have an intimate relationship because their actions don’t line up with Scripture.

I once read, Jesus is perfect theology. I believe that is true. He came so that we can identify with God as a person, so that we could have a relationship with him.

Bret: You said earlier you would rather join another religion than have no religion at all. If you had to pick any other religion to join, which would it be?

Andrea: Can I pick agnostic? I would believe in something but perhaps not be able to define it because other religions are exactly that - a set of rules based on fear of punishment, rather than a relationship. I identify with the God of Israel, so perhaps I’d pick that, if push came to shove.

A few years ago, I was a guest lecturer in a world religion [online] class for an East Coast University. As preparation, I read the text book and the other required reading; I was also carefully reading the class exchanges to understand where the students were coming from. I learned quite a bit about different religions at that point.

Then I took a class myself, called Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, in a field trip for that class we visited a Buddhist temple, a Sheik temple, a Hindu temple and a Mosque. For each location, we had a holy man guide us and answer questions. I was extremely grateful for the experience but in EVERY circumstance they worship at the temple and must give a tithe - those 2 things were the first items mentioned when asked what is the most important tenets of their faith.

Bret: Well, most religions tend to consider communal worship and charity to be important, so those two aspects tend to materialize in the form of worship in a sacred location and donations. Do you not value community and charity, or do you just go about it differently?

Andrea: Yes, I value them but if someone asked me to describe Christianity, I would not cite rules. It’s a relationship and from the relationship flows the desire to please the one you are in relationship with.

As far as fellowship [with others], it’s important to keep one another encouraged and to share life in community. Again, as part of the relationship, I like to gather with others that have the same interests. At the base of all relationship is a common thread.

Bret: Getting back to just the relationship itself, I find your position to be very perilous. Have you read the entire Bible?

Andrea: Yes.

Bret: Is there anything in there that you disagree with?

Andrea: There are things I don’t understand, but I hold to the base truth that God is good and that he wants a relationship with me. So the things I don’t understand, I ask questions to the Lord - some I understand but others I don’t yet, and that’s okay. God is infinite so there is no end to knowing him. As our relationship deepens, I understand his heart more and more.

Bret: It’s not necessarily about understanding. I mean... say you were asked to do something you didn’t want to do, or something you believed was wrong, but then say you happened to find that exact thing in the Bible, prescribed by God. Do you just do it or do you consider seconding-guessing what you heard?

Andrea: It’s not blind faith; that’s part of the relationship - being able to converse back and forth. If God is asking me to do something that doesn’t jive with other ways to interpret his word.

Speaking of word, there are two Greek words that describe our one word for ‘word’. Rhema is the utterance of God - meaning a fresh word, Logos is the written word. So, before I act on a directive, I have to be sure it’s God’s rhema for me and it MUST be in line with the Logos as well. Does that make sense?

Bret: Yeah, but most people would point out that the Bible is a virtual literary ink blotch. You can see anything you want to see in it. I think what you have done is adopted a virtue based faith.

Andrea: I disagree. You could misunderstand my husband when he speaks too, because you don’t have a relationship with him. I know him intimately, so I will understand when he is serious, joking or indifferent. But somehow the line of questioning seems to have changed - what are you asking? I also don’t understand what you mean by virtue-based faith.

Bret: Well, most people think of morality in terms of rules. You take the affirmative and seek virtues like goodness, kindness, peace, etc.

I guess what I was asking about was that it seems plausible that just about anything can be justified in the Bible. Maybe not all things. I doubt you can justify premarital sex, for instance, and I’m not even sure that is an important rule. But you can justify things like murder, genocide, rape, spousal abuse, slavery... the list is pretty long and the things the Bible have been used to justify have been pretty bad.

So I guess my question is... how did you come to a good conclusion, given how awful the track record is for the Bible? What did you do differently?

Andrea: As far as the violence in the OT, the best I can wrap my head around it (I don’t understand it, either) is that when you live by the law, you die by the law. It was religion and rules.

Also, the Bible records some of the events, because they happened, it doesn’t always offer a commentary on whether it was correct or not. For example, in Ezra 10, after hearing the Torah again, the people repented and rejected their foreign wives and children. I really don’t understand that because God honours covenant, so why would he allow those women & children to be loosed? The Scripture doesn’t give commentary on whether that was the correct course of action, just that it was the action they took.

However, because of Jesus, we have a new covenant (NT) and the game changes - so to speak. Our enemy is not flesh & blood but it’s about the spiritual realm and Jesus directs us to re-form our heart. In fact, Ezekial says that we will have a new heart and a new spirit. Jeremiah says that the new covenant will be written on our hearts (internal compass) and Paul’s letter to the Corinthians tells us to put on the mind of Christ. He also says that we are a new creation - the old is gone.

Paul even goes so far as to say in Galatians that we died with Christ and no longer live, but the life I live, is Christ living in me.

Romans chapters 5-7 describe the death, we are a dead man but chapter 8 describes the new life in Jesus. Jesus is perfect theology.

Bret: I don’t know if I would trust anything Paul said. Honestly, you know Jesus as well as Paul did, as far as I’m concerned. The very presence of Paul in the New Testament is very unsettling to me. If there is any one person who says some dumb stuff in the New Testament, it was Paul.

Have you ever read any non-canonical gospels or writings from that era? Like, any of the gnostic gospels or anything that was considered but was rejected?

Andrea: I have the gospel of Judas but can’t say I’m familiar with it.

Bret: Do you know the surprise twist in the Gospel of Judas?

Andrea: Enlighten me.

Bret: Well, Judas was ordered by Jesus to turn him in, in order to facilitate the resurrection. And some people argue that Judas was the most favored apostle, and it’s even stated in the Bible many times. He was also trusted with the money. So I’m thinking the other apostles didn’t like him, so they framed him in their retellings.

Andrea: That could be true, but it doesn’t change the outcome.

Bret: No, of course not, it’s just an interesting twist. A bit of Biblical politics.

Andrea: I’m sure there were plenty. John continually refers to himself as the one Jesus loved; even James & John’s mother got involved, like a typical Jewish mom.

Bret: Which James?

Andrea: The sons of Zebbedee.

Bret: There was an early James who was supposedly related to Jesus.

Andrea: Yes, that’s true too. James, the brother of Jesus supposedly wrote the book of James.

Bret: And he supposedly ran his own church, which was overtaken at some point.

Andrea: If you had scientific evidence that God existed, would that change your views?

Bret: Like if I looked into a telescope and saw a bearded guy in the sky?

Andrea: I don’t know about that - could be true. I’m not disputing. Sure, if that’s how you want to perceive it.

Bret: Well, I’ll simplify what you said, because I wouldn’t use “science” to prove God. I would say, if there was a verifiable way of knowing there is a God, then yes, I would obviously believe in God like I believe in the Sun.

Andrea: You don’t have to include that question in the interview. I find that most people have a predisposition to think one way and will not change their mind. For example, I used to drink only Coke, even though in a taste test, I thought Pepsi tasted better.

Bret: I don’t believe in “science,” so I sort of saved you there. I wouldn’t have any reason to deny something that is plainly there. I think it would raise questions, though, like “Which god is there?” I have nothing to gain or lose in my position. Remember, it would be better for me if there was a God. There just doesn’t happen to be one, so I’m disappointed.

Andrea: Some would argue that you have eternity to gain or lose.

Bret: Well I mean, from my perspective as an atheist. If I give up atheism, I’m not losing out on atheist heaven. There’s nothing keeping me attached to atheism, I just linger there. Mostly because I’ve been down every path I have seen, and it’s pretty bleak.

Andrea: Maybe you could try relationship because from what I can tell, you don’t have one.

Bret: I have a relationship with all the voices in my head. I just don’t consult the Bible or call them gods. Well, I do consult the Bible, but as a literary work. Like I would consult the Epic of Gilgamesh or the Iliad. I don’t begrudge people for their religion, but I don’t find what people call religion to be all that mystical.

Andrea: At least you are not lonely. :)

No, it’s not mystical.

Bret: Is that what the relationship is all about? Not being alone? How can you ever be lonely when the mind just keeps going deeper and deeper, no matter how deep you look?

Andrea: Perhaps. We benefit from the relationship but we were created for relationship with God. Genesis 2:18 is the first time that God said something wasn’t good - it’s not good for man to be alone. Without relationships, people don’t function optimally.

Bret: I’m surprised God wasn’t a bit perturbed that He wasn’t enough for Adam. God is awfully jealous in the Bible, which I find very unbecoming of a god.

Andrea: Much of what was created in Genesis was for a system that wasn’t necessary at the time of creation. Such as livestock - ever wonder why livestock was created if Adam didn’t need to toil with the ground? Livestock were used for sacrifices, which wasn’t necessary, and they didn’t need clothing or food.

God’s desire is to be in relationship with us, and he can sustain us but perhaps he created human relationships because he knew we’d need each other once sin entered the world.

Bret: Right, because you can’t have livestock after creation if He didn’t create them to begin with. That wouldn’t make sense.

Andrea: Are you mocking me?

Bret: No. Unless you wrote Genesis. If you did, I apologize. I still appreciate the bulk of your work. It doesn’t make sense though to take Genesis literally. Even religious people tend to look at it as metaphor. Like, the sun was created on day four. Day four... what defined the other days?

Andrea: Okay, then I think you misunderstood.

I tend to look at creation as literal but I’m open to other ideas. Good question about day 4, and the answer is, I don’t know. I took a class once on the first 3 verses of Genesis. It was over 12 hours of teaching - on 3 verses!! I didn’t understand quite a lot but I did walk away thinking, God is even bigger than I imagined.

What I meant about livestock is the language used to describe it. On day 6, God made wild beasts and livestock - why differentiate if there wasn’t a purpose intended for the livestock even before there was sin.

I understand this to mean that because God desired a relationship with us and he knew that sin would separate us from him so he created a system that would allow us to continue in a relationship.

Bret: Well, you know who supposedly wrote Genesis?

Andrea: Most scholars agree that Moses wrote the Torah, but there might be evidence to suggest that the Torah (including some of Genesis) was written by 4 or 5 writers.

Bret: Right, and do you think Moses wrote “beasts and livestock?”

Andrea: I don’t know. I have no reason to believe otherwise but if it wasn’t him, it was another dude. Some people are interested in that sort of thing, I’m not one of them.

Bret: I bet he wrote in terms of food that was kosher to eat and food that was trafe. I could be wrong, but I bet it was to denote animals that were edible and animals that weren’t. Adam still ate meat, right?

Andrea: I don’t believe that Adam ate meat. I think meat was introduced into the diet only after Noah, when the length of life was limited to 120 years. But your point is still the same as mine - there was a system in place before it was necessary.

Bret: True, if they didn’t eat meat. I’m rereading it and it appears God told Adam to eat plant life. Well, I have to use that in another way now.

Andrea: I’m not saying you are wrong but there is no “evidence” to suggest that they ate meat. God gave them every plant to eat and it wasn’t until Noah that God offered them to eat meat.

Bret: I’ll have to ask my wife when she gets home to check the beast/cattle thing later, but you’re definitely right about Adam being a vegan. It’s pretty clear. Even the animals are supposed to eat the herbs of the earth.

I’m imagining a grazing lion... I bet the lion was glad Adam sinned. That seems like a miserable existence for a lion. I’m surprised it wasn’t the lion who tricked Eve.

Andrea: One theory I’ve heard about that is because they had such long lives - a prolonged diet with meat leaves such amounts of proteins and hormones (naturally occuring, of course) would harm them but when the life span was only 120 years, then they couldn’t eat enough to do damage in such a short period of time.

Don’t you think it’s curious also that the serpent spoke with Eve and she didn’t freak out? I wonder if it was an everyday occurrence for them then.

Bret: It’s a garden with a forbidden tree, of course the animals talk. Maybe the animals talk now, we’re just not listening. My dog is always like, “Pet me, pet me!”

Andrea: A possibility.

Bret: I’m not saying they have anything to say worth listening to.

Andrea: God spoke through an ass, perhaps he’s still speaking through an ass.

Bret: I get the feeling a lot of asses think God is speaking through them. Present company excluded.

Andrea: Oh, of course, I wasn’t referring to you. ;)

[To be continued…]


  1. I think one major reason men are less likely to be religious is due to the feminization of the church. If you were to ask a group of people to describe a "good Christian", you would likely hear, "caring, thoughtful, compassionate, tender, etc.". But we ignore qualities like "strength, virtue, power, courage, drive, etc". Those are also godly qualities, but are not highly esteemed in the church.

  2. The first list is typically quite feminine, while the second is more masculine. And I don't think many men feel connected with that first list.


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