If God is able to use our actions to produce a desired outcome, do we really have free will? If mankind is unable to resist sin, do we have free will? Does the existence of an all-knowing God imply that we have no free will? This group of questions came to me after finishing the story of Joseph at the end of the book of Genesis and I think they are an appropriate set of questions given Joseph's statement to his brothers at the end of the story.
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The Epic of Gilgamesh is an ancient Sumerian tale regarding a heroic protagonist that goes on a tremendous journey. Along the way, he meets a person who was divinely chosen to survive a massive flood on a boat which he had built himself. Sound familiar? Of course it does, this portion of the Sumerian story is remarkably similar to the story of Noah. In fact, there are a great number of similarities between stories found on Sumerian tablets and Genesis. This is commonly used to discredit the Bible itself, with the claim being that Genesis is simply a plagiarized version of older creation stories. The question I want to ask is, should we really be surprised by this?
The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau. Was Isaac truly fooled by Jacob on his deathbed, or does this narrative from Genesis 27 convey a deeper meaning regarding the nature of the world? There are many lessons to be learned from the story of the rival sons of Isaac, but I wanted to focus in on this particular scene, where Isaac seemingly blesses Jacob by mistake, to investigate the possibility of a deeper meaning in the text. Of course, in order to get to the end, we must start at the beginning.
Humanity has had many opinions about the earth’s role in the universe throughout our brief history. Only recently in our history have we even understood that there was much more to the universe than earth, that we might be able to travel beyond earth. For many centuries we thought that the earth was the center of the universe, but the Copernican Principle taught us that the appears to rotate around our sun just as the other planets within our solar system do, and that the earth is not particularly special within the universe. This seems to fly in the face of the Judeo-Christian idea that the universe was created for humanity. If we don’t exist within a special place in the universe, how could the universe be “for us”?
Abram, or Abraham as he will later be known, is such a tremendous Biblical character. The father of the world's largest monothesitic religions, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and others, Abram is known throughout most of the modern world. If you have read the Bible, you know the story of Abraham, and it is an awesome one. However, Abraham's story is not one of earth-changing miracles, parting seas, plagues, but rather, it is one of prophecy. A simple promise from God, and Abraham uproots his life, his family, and heads into an unknown land. The most captivating part of this narrative is the fact that Abraham does not seem to question, or have doubts about this decision. He just does it. Personally, I think we should take some time to examine what we might learn from Abraham's decision, fortitude, and unshakeable certainty.
The story of the destruction of Sodom is certainly a very grandiose claim from Genesis, and frankly, it should be possible to prove whether or not it actually happened given the amount of architectural ruins found in the area. So, did Sodom and Gomorrah actually exist? Were they really destroyed by fire and brimstone as the Bible suggests? Let’s take a look at what history has shown regarding this particular story from Genesis.
As we reach the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis, we will most likely find ourselves questioning the morality of God. We have already had a flood, and now we have two cities that will be destroyed by sulfur raining from the sky. So let’s take a moment to highlight some important elements of the Sodom and Gomorrah story.
Any Christian that chooses to adopt the idea of an earth which is older than the direct numbers presented in the Bible, roughly six thousand years, will need to account for several things, one of which is the fact that it would be difficult to accept a claim which agrees with the estimated age of raw materials, rocks, water, etc, but does not agree with the estimated age of human remains. This is, of course, resolved if one accepts the idea of divinely controlled evolution, but that too comes with its own set of challenges. Those challenges are what I would like to focus on right now. Can evolution and Adam be reconciled?
This is an important question to address as we examine the possibility of a local flood. Why save Noah if others could survive? Why not have Noah leave the area? Why build a boat? Why save the animals? Noah could have just left the region with his family, cattle, and belongings. Doesn't this prove that the flood must have been global?