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Augustine vs Irenaeus on Genesis

popculturepooka
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4/23/2014 10:14:43 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I've always found the Irenaen understanding of Genesis to make much more sense than the Augstinian understanding (that has dominated western Christianity). Who's with me? It never made sense to me that people were created "perfect" - f they were in a perfected state where did they get the inclination to disobey God? They wouldn't be tempted by "satan" - in a paradise and then fell from grace, and then God punished them and all of their descendants for that sin (for trangressing a "moral code" that they had no knowledge of). When I read Genesis Adam and Eve strike me as children, basically. Irenaeus thought so too.

"Augustine verses Irenaeus on Original Sin

As Iranaeus understood it, Adam's initial sin arose in the first place for just this reason: Like every other child, he first emerged and began making choices in a morally immature state.

Iranaeus even went so far as to suggest that, when compared to the guardians of this world, namely the angels, Adam had a distinct disadvantage. For whereas the angels"were in their full development," Adam"was a little one...he was a child and had need to grow so as to come to his full perfection."The serpent, Iranaeus declared, thus had little trouble in deceiving him:"the man was a little one, and his discretion still undeveloped, wherefore also he was easily mi-led by the deceiver"
As Iranaeus understood the first human sin, then, it was virtually an inevitable consequence of the unperfected condition in which our first parents initially emerged and started making choices. They may have started out as innocently as any other child""their thoughts were innocent and childlike"" but, like every other child, they made their first moral choices in a context of ambiguity, ignorance, and misperception, a context in which their judgment was already clouded and they had no clear idea of what they were doing.

Their decision to eat the forbidden fruit, in other words, was no more a perfectly free choice, however causally undetermined it may have been, than the disobedient choices of a typical two year old are perfectly free.

Observe also how well this understanding of the first human sin comports with both the actual story of Adam and Eve, as recorded in Genesis, and the New Testament commentary on it.

So far as I can tell, not one word in the Christian Scriptures implies that our first parents were any less disposed to act in misguided and self-centered ways than their merely human descendants are; nor does anything there imply that someone not already in a"fallen"(or, more accurately, an unperfected) condition might nonetheless succumb to temptation and sin. Were not Adam and Eve subject to the same ambiguities, the same ignorance, and even the same delusions to which the rest of us are subject as well? Like the rest of us who enter this earthly life as new-born babies, they came into being with no clear understanding of good and evil. So what could it possibly mean, I would ask, to say that someone with no clear understanding of good and evil was nonetheless created morally upright? And what might it mean to say that such a person had a clear understanding of who God is, or to declare, as the Canons of Dort do, that Adam had"a true and saving knowledge of his Creator"?
In the Genesis account, Adam and Eve certainly knew that some authority (a kind of parental figure, if you will) had commanded them not to eat the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden; but like the children they were in all but appearance, they also confronted this command without any understanding of why they were required to obey it or why the command had been issued in the first place. It is as if God had simply told them, as loving parents sometimes do with immature children and in an effort to protect them from danger:"You must obey this command because I said so!" And like the children they were in all but appearance, their eyes were opened to their own imperfections or sinful propensities (the symbol for which in the story is their nakedness)only after their emerging wills had al ready mired them in an act of disobedience. It therefore seems to me quite plausible for Christian to think of this story not as an account of how human beings came to acquire a"sinful nature"in the first place, but rather as an account of how our first parents" natural propensity to"miss the mark"originally manifested itself in the context of ambiguity and illusion in which they first emerged.

Certainly the idea that Adam and Eve came into being with the same imperfections and egocentric dispositions common to human beings in general is no more philosophically problematic than the idea that an inherited sinful nature was God"s supposedly just punishment of the human race as a whole for the sin of Adam and Eve. The idea that all humans beings, including Adam and Eve, begin life with the same imperfections and egocentric dispositions also seems to accord very well with Paul"s magnificent vision of creation in two stages. As I have expressed this vision else where: The first Adam, according to Paul,"was from the earth, a man of dust "and"became a living being"; the second was not from the earth, but"from heaven" and"became a life-giving spirit"(I Cor. 15:45 & 47). The first Adam thus represents the first stage in the creation of God's children: the emergence of individual human consciousness in a context of ambiguity, illusion, sin, and death; the second Adam, or Jesus Christ, represents the second stage: the divine power that successfully overcomes all sin and death and therefore all separation from God, so that the true Sons and Daughters, or the true creations of God, can emerge.
Paul also made the following statement:"As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust,"and this at least suggests that Adam and his descendents ("those who are of the dust") all come into being in the same context of ambiguity, ignorance, and misperception and with similar dispositions and propensities. The Psalmist thus declared that the Lord"does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities." Why not? Because"he knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust."

In any event, I find this vision of creation in two stages exceedingly suggestive. God must first bring us into being as immature rational agents; then, once we are independent of God"s direct causal control and our incipient rationality begins functioning on its own, God can relate to us not merely as the Creator who designed us and certainly not as a manipulative agent who controls all of our desires, beliefs, and judgments, but as a loving parent who works with us, guides us, and corrects us even as he permits us to learn valuable lessons from experience and from the consequences of our actions. According to the Christian religion, moreover, love is the one power in the universe that transforms without manipulating; hence, it is through sacrifice and acts of self-giving love that God will eventually transform us without manipulating us. And, of course, the supreme sacrifice, as Christians understand it, was God"s Son having"emptied him-self," having taken"the form of a slave,"and having suffered a humiliating death on a Cross"though it was also, according to the author of Hebrews, the Son"s triumph over death and the fear of it that enabled him to"free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death."

http://www.willamette.edu...
At 10/3/2016 11:49:13 PM, thett3 wrote:
BLACK LIVES MATTER!
Illegalcombatant
Posts: 4,008
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4/23/2014 10:33:11 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
You assert this and that another person asserts that and this.........

Is this even remotely resolvable or is it just what ever fits your fancy ?
"Seems like another attempt to insert God into areas our knowledge has yet to penetrate. You figure God would be bigger than the gaps of our ignorance." Drafterman 19/5/12
popculturepooka
Posts: 7,924
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4/23/2014 10:52:39 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/23/2014 10:33:11 PM, Illegalcombatant wrote:
You assert this and that another person asserts that and this.........

Is this even remotely resolvable or is it just what ever fits your fancy ?

What counts as "resolvable"?
At 10/3/2016 11:49:13 PM, thett3 wrote:
BLACK LIVES MATTER!
Illegalcombatant
Posts: 4,008
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4/23/2014 10:56:39 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/23/2014 10:52:39 PM, popculturepooka wrote:
At 4/23/2014 10:33:11 PM, Illegalcombatant wrote:
You assert this and that another person asserts that and this.........

Is this even remotely resolvable or is it just what ever fits your fancy ?

What counts as "resolvable"?

Good question.

Testability ?
"Seems like another attempt to insert God into areas our knowledge has yet to penetrate. You figure God would be bigger than the gaps of our ignorance." Drafterman 19/5/12
Installgentoo
Posts: 1,420
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4/23/2014 11:04:24 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/23/2014 10:33:11 PM, Illegalcombatant wrote:
You assert this and that another person asserts that and this.........

Is this even remotely resolvable or is it just what ever fits your fancy ?

yes it is resolvable based on historical evidence. contrary to gaytheist's beliefs, not everything needs to be testable to be based on evidence.
Illegalcombatant
Posts: 4,008
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4/23/2014 11:08:40 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/23/2014 11:04:24 PM, Installgentoo wrote:
At 4/23/2014 10:33:11 PM, Illegalcombatant wrote:
You assert this and that another person asserts that and this.........

Is this even remotely resolvable or is it just what ever fits your fancy ?

yes it is resolvable based on historical evidence. contrary to gaytheist's beliefs, not everything needs to be testable to be based on evidence.

It doesn't, but if you start making claims which can't be tested and which the evidence is non existent or weak for it, at least admit as such.

Never the less, you claim it is resolvable based on historical evidence. Oh do tell, or are you just talking smack ?
"Seems like another attempt to insert God into areas our knowledge has yet to penetrate. You figure God would be bigger than the gaps of our ignorance." Drafterman 19/5/12
popculturepooka
Posts: 7,924
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4/24/2014 2:55:46 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 4/23/2014 11:08:40 PM, Illegalcombatant wrote:
At 4/23/2014 11:04:24 PM, Installgentoo wrote:
At 4/23/2014 10:33:11 PM, Illegalcombatant wrote:
You assert this and that another person asserts that and this.........

Is this even remotely resolvable or is it just what ever fits your fancy ?

yes it is resolvable based on historical evidence. contrary to gaytheist's beliefs, not everything needs to be testable to be based on evidence.

It doesn't, but if you start making claims which can't be tested and which the evidence is non existent or weak for it, at least admit as such.

Never the less, you claim it is resolvable based on historical evidence. Oh do tell, or are you just talking smack ?

Well it seems to me that the Augustine narrative contradicts evolution.
At 10/3/2016 11:49:13 PM, thett3 wrote:
BLACK LIVES MATTER!