Posts Tagged ‘free will’

Another Person Who Doesn’t Know Christian Theology Mangling Genesis to Bash With

March 10, 09

I see this all too often, especially in my email discussion group – someone with the barest of shallow or skewed knowledge about Biblical narratives attempting to use it to bash Christians with.

It’s amazing, really, how lazy some people are when it comes to reading through all three chapters at the beginning of the Bible detailing the Creation and Fall of mankind before going off on some wild, unhinged rant.

So, often enough, I try to correct it.

I’m not sure of the full context of the following – whether it is Ayn Rand’s own views, or merely the views of a character in the book (John Galt himself I suspect), or Brad DeLong’s own understanding of the nature of man before the Fall (and by the way, not all Christians are fiscal Conservatives, and vice versa) – but I’m providing the mainstream correction for this gross misinterpretation/misinformation nonetheless.

(But is there really anything wrong with emulating the best parts that we admire in a person, while rejecting what we don’t agree with? After all, I don’t see Obamessiah worshipers who long to be like their idol carrying around teleprompters wherever they go. Snark!)

So here it is, a snippet from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, via Brad DeLong’s Grasping Reality with Both Hands, ostensibly used to chide Conservative Wingnuts: John Galt Is Not a Christian.

What is the nature of the guilt that your teachers call his Original Sin? What are the evils man acquired when he fell from a state they consider perfection? Their myth declares that he ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge — he acquired a mind and became a rational being. It was the knowledge of good and evil — he became a moral being. He was sentenced to earn his bread by his labor — he became a productive being. He was sentenced to experience desire — he acquired the capacity of sexual enjoyment. The evils for which they damn him are reason, morality, creativeness, joy — all the cardinal values of his existence. It is not his vices that their myth of man’s fall is designed to explain and condemn, it is not his errors they they hold as his guilt, but the essence of his nature as man. Whatever he was — that robot, in the Garden of Eden, who existed without mind, without values, without labor, without love — he was not man…

Here are the counters for each of the fallacies I noted:

1) Their myth declares that he ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge — he acquired a mind and became a rational being.

Adam and Eve had rational minds and the ability to make independent decisions before the Original Sin. How could the serpent manipulate Eve’s logic to trick her into eating the fruit, if she had none to begin with?

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” – Genesis 3:1

What the Fall accomplished was to make mankind clever in his own mind – a self-assured smarty pants, but in no way wise.

2) It was the knowledge of good and evil — he became a moral being.

The fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil did not merely grant the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. It was the presumptuousness of being the authority that decides what is right and what is wrong, i.e. replacing God.

As the serpent said to Eve: “Your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” – Genesis 3:5

What the Fall accomplished was to make mankind wholly immoral – by raising himself over and rejecting God as the definer of ethics and morality (sound familiar, moral relativists?)

3) He was sentenced to earn his bread by his labor — he became a productive being.

Adam was already given the responsibility to work the earth before the Fall.

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. – Genesis 2:15

The difference after the Fall is that his labour would now involve toil and trouble.

Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food. – Genesis 3:17-19

What the Fall accomplished was to actually decrease mankind’s productivity! What do you have to say to that, John Galt?

Also compare what Jesus Christ did for the majority of his lifetime on Earth, as quoted by I cannot now remember who: The sanctity of work is this: That God came to this world, and made furniture.

4) He was sentenced to experience desire — he acquired the capacity of sexual enjoyment.

Once again, casual (read: shallow and childish) readers get confused by the parts about being naked and probably are misinformed by wild conjectures that the original sin was sex. (Philip Pullman is guilty of this as well.)

Reproduction, and by extension procreation and just plain sex, were instituted by God Himself as something pure and holy long before the Fall:

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. – Genesis 1:28

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. – Genesis 2:24-25

Question: Do you feel shameful and abashed when naked in front of your spouse? Well, neither did Adam and Eve. They were also unabashed to be naked in front of God, who after all created them in all their anatomically detailed glory.

So why did Adam and Eve cover themselves up after they had sinned?

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden,and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” – Genesis 3:7-10

It was because they no longer had the full trust and intimacy with God that they had enjoyed before.

It is only sexual contact outside marriage that is sinful. Please update your Medieval Era datafiles with the latest patch before attempting to play Bible Critic Online.

5) Whatever he was — that robot, in the Garden of Eden, who existed without mind, without values, without labor, without love — he was not man…

Typical. Citing the temptation of the Forbidden Fruit, and later on in the same rant lamenting mankind’s ‘lack of free will’. Do tell me how ‘robots’ which can only follow pre-programmed orders can decide to disobey a direct order not to eat the forbidden fruit.

The irony here is that the very existence of the Forbidden Fruit in the Garden of Eden is due to the need for a way that mankind can actively choose to disobey God.

Imagine if God had said, “Hey man and woman! Y’all are free to disobey Me with your free will I’m giving you and all, hear? ‘Cept that, I won’t give you any way to actually do it. Have fun now!”

The end result of that would be like something explored in Ultimate Fantastic Four.

Just for the information of the uninitiated, free will is a HUGE thing in most Christian denominations. It’s so big, that God let Adam and Eve reject Him and His ways. It’s so big, that God still lets billions of people reject His last chance offer of reconciliation through Jesus Christ instead of using His omnipotent power to force everyone to be saved and join Him in heaven – despite the fact that God “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

CONCLUSION:

To paraphrase the passage from Atlas Shrugged: In the Garden of Eden, he existed with mind, with values, with labor, with love — he was man.

Man had a different nature once – you only have to imagine humanity with all the good qualities we see today, but none of the bad ones, and you’d be able to grasp just what kind of utopian society Eden and the future redeemed world must be like.

It’d be like the result of Marxism if people weren’t naturally selfish b*stards, i.e. actually successful!

And yes, the early Christians in Acts were technically Socialists and even Communists…

All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. – Acts 2:44-45

From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs, eh? But as you can see, each of them gave up their personal possessions for the Greater Good willingly and without coercion.

And they worshiped the perfect God of all creation, not some self-aggrandizing, man-is-god, original-sin, utterly and predictably fallible diktat-ors.

That is how a church can raise $19 million in one day from 22,000 people… And also why people are balking at the Tax Raiser in Chief’s mandatory redistribution of wealth.

If Conservatives and Christians are presented with a cause they can believe in, you don’t have to twist their arms – the giving will flow all on its own.

After all… Conservatives outgive Liberals when it comes to charity, while top rich Democrats routinely avoid paying the very taxes they want to impose on us hapless proles. Which is perhaps why President Obama sees fit to discourage charitable donations by reducing their tax deduction.

UPDATE: Well, this piece about Ayn Rand explains it.

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See also related at The Golden Compass – Attacking A Misportrayal of Christianity (And How to Refute the Attacks).

Ultimate Fantastic Four: Why God Allows Us Disobedience (A World of Happy Slaves)

March 18, 08

From the comic series Ultimate Fantastic Four, the Silver Surfer story arc:

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This is why there needs to be a Forbidden Fruit, a real method by which Adam and Eve could choose to totally reject God – not just choose whether to LOVE GOD LOTS or to LOVE GOD MORE.

If God gave us free will to do ANYTHING we please EXCEPT rebel against him, but we decided we wanted to rebel against Him… Would that really be free will? What we want to do, we cannot.

Hence, the forbidden fruit of rebellion against God.

That is the reason the choice to diobey and rebel against God was given to humanity, who chose it even with the dire cost it entailed.

For truly free will to exist – including the free will to reject God – the choice to rebel against God is necessary.

This is why the God of the Bible, with all His infinite power and wisdom and love…

Gives humanity free will.

Gives us the freedom of choice.

Gives us the capability to reject Him.

Gives us the choice not to love Him.

Gives us the mental capacity to disbelieve in His existence.

Gives us the chance to turn down His offer of salvation and reconciliation through His son, Jesus.

Gives us the permission to choose between sin and obedience. Because the alternative is:

A WORLD OF HAPPY SLAVES

Would that be real happiness? Or just the illusion of it? Can we truly be happy if we have no choice but to be happy?

Gave Adam and Eve the choice to disobey Him by placing the forbidden fruit within their reach.

This is my God… A God who is so powerful, wise and loving, that He will only accept true and genuine love from us – His precious children.

For love that is coerced is not genuine love. Belief that is forced is devoid of faith.

This is my God… Because He gives me the choice to choose.

And I choose Him.

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“How do you make someone love you without affecting free will?” – Jim Carrey as Bruce Almighty

“Welcome to my life. If you figure out an answer to that question, let me know.” – Morgan Freeman as God


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