The emergence of life from dead matter, or abiogenesis, is the the generally accepted reality derived from the concept of evolution. There are many questions surrounding the details of this process and many theories have been proposed over the years. Indeed, it is up to science to determine how this process may have occurred, however, it is up to philosophy to determine the why. Was this a chance occurrence, or was it by design?
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.
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.
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?
The Garden of Eden is such an unique story in Genesis as it portrays the fall of mankind into sin or rebellion against God. What I find most fascinating is the common interpretation of the story, that Adam an Eve were first ignorant of good and evil. It is assumed that they lacked the ability to distinguish between bad and good. However, this distinction requires reason and intelligence in order to be performed. Understanding the story in this way presumes God created Adam in an animalistic state and his sin was actually rewarded by elevating him to a full human state. This actually goes against the idea that all of mankind started with Adam, who was created directly by, and in the image of God. When we throw in the commonly portrayed talking snake there is quite a bit to unpack in this story.
Yom is the Hebrew word for day, and is used as such throughout the Bible. In most cases, there is no question of the meaning of the word due to the surrounding context. However, when it comes to the creation of the universe, or anything really, we don't have any context at all unless we know two things; the thing that is being created, and the process that is being used to create it. These are two things that we really do not have an understanding of when we look at the book of Genesis. We do not know what the universe is, and we most definitely do not know, with complete certainty, the process by which it was created.