10/10/22

Looking at Loren Haarsma’s Book (2021) “When Did Sin Begin” (Part 16 of 21)

0107 Is our current Lebenswelt a way to envision the Garden of Eden?

If so, then humans in the Lebenswelt that we evolved in, created as the image of God, associate to a reification, the Tree of Life.  The tree of life is rooted in our evolved relationality.  The tree of life branches out in cultural practices that maximize the fruits of our evolved relationality.

0108 The term, image of God, offers a vision, where worship conjoins life.  Yet, our ancestors could not picture or point either “image” or “God” with hand talk.  Just as birds fly, without intellectual awareness of the abstraction of flight, hominins talk to one another with manual-brachial gestures, without intellectual awareness of the abstractions that can be drawn from their discourse.  Hand talk does not permit explicit abstraction.

0109 The term, the tree of life, is an abstraction.  The meaning, presence and message that we project into the term, the tree of life, produces an artifact that validates our projection.  The tree of life is a symbol that validates the word-symbols that compose the term.

Welcome to our current Lebenswelt.

0110 How do we define3 the tree of life2?  What meaning, presence and message1 do we project into the actuality of the term2?

In the epic of Gilgamesh, the reader finds one definition.  Gilgamesh obtains, then loses, a plant that confers immortality.

In Genesis 3:22, the reader finds the a similar rendering, uttered by the Lord God.

The tree of life confers immortality, by definition.

0111 But, does this definition represent a projection that reinforces an artifact (a particular interpretation) that validates an abstraction inherent in the spoken term, “the tree of life”?

This circularity is characteristic of spoken words.

Does the tree of life confer immortality because it is composed of the spoken words, “tree” and “life”?

0111 It makes me wonder about the term, “immortality”.

Immortality is just a word.

“Immortality” is also an abstraction.

Can one die and still remain alive?

Are there other meanings, presences and messages underlying the actuality of the term, the tree of life?

10/4/22

Looking at Loren Haarsma’s Book (2021) “When Did Sin Begin” (Part 20 of 21)

0125 Chapter ten addresses the question, “Whose fault is it?”

Subsidiary questions include (more or less), “Why doesn’t God stop sin and suffering?”, “Did God create humans in a way that permitted sin?”, and “Was the Fall inevitable or unavoidable?”

These questions will eventually be leavened with Haarsma’s interscope, containing the hypothesis of the first singularity2Has the twist in human evolution2H.

Figure 24

0126 If one looks at the first singularity2H from the point of view of original sin2V, one could ask, “Why does God not stop the transition from hand-speech to speech-alone talk?”

Why does God permit it?

If one looks at original sin2V from the point of view of the first singularity2H, one could ask, “Was it inevitable or unavoidable that the multi-generational and incomprehensible increase in labor and social specialization in the early Ubaid would naturally give rise to the stories of Adam and Eve?

Of course not.

So, why does our Creator the speak to us through the depths of the confusion associated with the emergence of unconstrained social complexity?”

Why tell us the stories of Adam and Eve?

Is it a coincidence that the serpent has no hands in which to hand talk?

0127 These are not questions of blame.

These are question of mystery.

0128 Our current Lebenswelt binds the hypothesis of the first singularity2H and the doctrine of original sin2V, allowing cross-talk between two apparently independent nested forms.  Cross-talk opens our awareness to irresolvable contradictions between the two constituting actualities.  Thus, the potential of Genesis 2:4-111V is in conversation with the potential of speech-alone talk, in contrast to hand-speech talk1H.

Spoken words allow abstraction in ways that cannot be imagined in hand-speech talk.  Speech-alone talk offers the capacity to exploit and corrupt human relations by manipulating the meanings, presences and messages underlying purely symbolic words.

0129 Indeed, speech-alone talk is a vector for Satanic deception.  Consider the serpent’s conversation with Eve.  What a demonstration of speech-alone talk in action.

10/3/22

Looking at Loren Haarsma’s Book (2021) “When Did Sin Begin” (Part 21 of 21)

0130 In chapter eleven, Haarsma raises other difficult questions.

I would like to elevate my own question for examination.

0131 When does sin begin?

Here is an artistic way to appreciate the answer.

Consider the two interscopes of the Lebenswelt that we evolved in and our current Lebenswelt.

0132 Consider the theological actualities2V.

For the Lebenswelt that we evolved in, it2V is humans as images of God.

For our current Lebenswelt, it2V is the tree of life.

Here is a picture.

Figure 25

Consider the tree of life as a metaphor for the roots and the branches of belonging, intuitively nurtured by prehistoric humans living out their lives as images of God, 

0133 … then, in order to appreciate the depths of callousness and total depravity implied by the doctrine of original sin,consider the wickedness of plucking the fruit of the tree of life in order to attain immortality.

0134 Loren Haarsma tries to calm the dissonance of two apparently independent actualities: human evolution2H and original sin2V.

In doing so, he creates a semitic textual structure that allows my comments to suggest that these two actualities belong to a single reality.  Two category-based nested forms intersect.  The intersection of two nested forms offers a message.  Here is a mystery.

It is beautiful to behold.

0135 Haarsma concludes.

God’s answer is still Christ.

Dissonance gives way to mystery.

01/18/22

Looking at Mark S. Smith’s Book (2019) “The Genesis of Good and Evil” (Part 12 of 16)

0070 In chapter five, Mark Smith asks, “When does the story of human sin begin in Genesis?”

0071 At this point, conditions further clarify.

The first audiences for the early stories of Genesis are children.  The first authors are their mothers, the daughters of Seth.  Eve is their great-great-…-great grandmother.  The stories convey to each child this lineage, a direct descent to this mother, who is center stage.  Eve is more than a foolish woman who talks to serpents.  Eve is your mother as well.

0072 What does it mean to be a mother, a woman, cursed under Eve’s indictment?

A Primer on the Family presents the family as a prototype of the corporation, the content level of the organization tier.  Eve, the woman, is the producer.  Her man is the management.  Her children are the service, or, in today’s terms, the human resources.  Eve does not change the centrality of the mother.  She magnifies it.

She offers a warning.

0073 The story of Eve’s temptation offers many lessons, including ones on the nature of desire.  As Smith points out, Genesis 3 portrays a deeply disturbing psychological narrative.  Don’t all good fairy tales?

Plus, I add, Eve’s narrative, along with other Genesis stories, captures the weirdness of the constellation of unconstrained social complexity during the Ubaid.  Adam and Eve are made in paradise, eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and are expelled.  Neither Genesis 2 nor 3 use the word, “sin”.  The label, “evil”, is only mentioned in the name of the infamous tree.

Afterwards, Eve bears two children, Cain and Abel.  Eve is the producer.

0074 “Sin” is mentioned in Genesis 4, along with the word for desire, “teshuqah”.  Desire appears in the temptation of Eve and in her rebuke, where God says, “Your desire will be for your man.”  Yes, the woman will desire her man to be her manager.  There is no sin in that.

So, where does the word, “sin”, first appear?

When Cain, the gardener, complains about God preferring burnt offerings of meat, God offers a revealing repost, saying (more or less), “If you do what is right, you can bear it.  If you do not do right, sin crouches at your door.  Its desire (teshuqah) is for you, but you can rule over it.”

The word, “sin”, appears for the first time.  It does so in conjunction with a desire that crouches, like a predator, at Cain’s threshold.  Cain can rule it.  Or, it can rule Cain.

We all know what happens next.

0075 The daughters of Seth do not pull punches.  This conjunction of “sin” and “desire” is so provocative that I wonder, what child would not remember it, later, as an adult?

Even more intriguing is how this conjunction exposes a disquieting reality within the Ubaid’s spiral towards unconstrained social complexity.  The idea of one brother killing the other is not out of the question.  Why?  Such killingis an artifact that validates what the murderous brother has been telling himself.

0076 In hand-speech talk, gesture-words picture or point to their referents.  So, the words cannot lie about what they refer to.

In speech-alone talk, spoken words do not picture or point to their referents.  Instead, we construct artifacts that validate our projection of meaning, presence and message.  We speak, and the world comes into creation.  Not just any creation.  Our creation.  Our imagination constructs artifacts that validate our spoken words.

0077 Oh, those damned artifacts.

When fatty portions are added to a fire, the fire jumps to life.

When cabbage is added to a fire, the fire smolders.

0078 One son does not talk to himself.  Instead, he praises God.

The other mutters under his breath.  He complains about God’s rejection of his artifacts.

0079 The children hear a fairy tale, telling them of dangers in their upcoming lives.

The mothers hear the tragedy of two sons, where one rules over his desires and the other does not.

0080 This is one of the poisonous fruits of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the tree of speech-alone talk.  I can create my own world through my own symbolic actions that simultaneously do not honor God and open the door to the one whose desire is for my desire.

Sin crouches at Cain’s door.  It desires to speak to him.

Behold the fruits of the tree of death.

01/17/22

Looking at Mark S. Smith’s Book (2019) “The Genesis of Good and Evil” (Part 13 of 16)

0081 Mark Smith points out other links between Genesis 3 and 4.

When God rebukes Adam, He curses the ground.

When God confronts Cain, He says, “…now you are cursed from the ground…”

God expels Adam and Eve from Eden.

Cain replies to God, saying, “…you have driven me out…”

Adam and Eve settle east of Eden.

Cain goes to live in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

0082 Genesis 4 does not elaborate on the crouching sin.  I suppose Abel’s murder is plain enough.

Smith notes that Abel’s offering is pleasing to the Lord.

Smith adds that God does not punish Cain for murdering Abel.

Smith does not say what happens next.  He is tracking two words, “sin” and “evil”.

0083 However, what happens next provides insight into the author-ity of Genesis 4.  After the murder, God gives Cain a mark, deterring others from killing Cain.  Cain founds a city.  Within a few generations, another murder occurs.  Lamech, who has two wives, murders a man with none.

0084 Here is a critique of the social conditions of the Ubaid.  Increasing labor and social specializations lead to greater wealth and power.  The haves learn to take from the have nots.

01/15/22

Looking at Mark S. Smith’s Book (2019) “The Genesis of Good and Evil” (Part 14 of 16)

0085 In chapter six, Mark Smith asks, “Where does human evil begin in Genesis?”

In Genesis 3, Eve takes the fruit.

In Genesis 6, divine sons take beautiful daughters.

0086 Genesis 6:2 describes divine males commandeering human females.

What does this mean?

An extrapolation from Lamech offers an answer.  These men are “divine” in name only.  These wealthy and powerful “gods” have designs on women who attract their attention.

Does this sound vaguely contemporary?

0087 Then, there is the word for design, “yester”.

In Genesis 6:5, God admits that every design of the thoughts of civilized hearts is only evil, continually.

In Genesis 8:21, God, having let loose the civilization-destroying flood, regrets the act, but does not change the diagnosis.  The design (yester) of the human heart is to evil from its youth.

Its youth?

Think of the start of the Ubaid.

Unconstrained social complexity is a condiiton2H.

0088 Yes, evil in Genesis, associates to design.

The same word, “yester”, appears in Genesis 2:7, when God designs a man from earthen materials.

Smith notes that “yester”, design, typically applies to craftsmanship.  With the story of Noah, craftsmanship applies to thoughts.  So I ask, “What tool shapes thought?”  The answer is spoken words.  This is an insight2V.

0089 Various origin myths of the ancient Near East mention the Great Flood of Mesopotamia as a civilization-changing event.  By the time of the flood, evil and design are already joined.  Everyone knows it.

0090 As far as Mark Smith is concerned, by the end of chapter six, he covers the genesis of “evil”, “sin” and the fall(out).  He has only “good” and “original sin” left.

01/14/22

Looking at Mark S. Smith’s Book (2019) “The Genesis of Good and Evil” (Part 15 of 16)

0091 In chapter seven, Mark Smith asks, “Are humans basically evil, according to Genesis?”

The question brings the reader back to the word, “good”, appearing in Genesis 1.

The question brings the reader forward to the term, “original sin”, a concept that swims right below the threshold of consciousness, after Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans.

0092 The condition of the early stories of Genesis is that of a family tradition, with enough continuity as to construct fairy tales about the thousands of years of increasing social complexity in the Ubaid and the Uruk, culminating in the Great Mesopotamian Flood, centuries before the start of the Sumerian Dynastic.  

These stories are fairy tales, told to children in Seth’s family tradition for thousands of years.  These stories are preserved by Sarah, who steps (along with Abraham) out of the Sumerian world, presumably during the tempestuous culmination of Ur III.

0093 There is something problematic about speech-alone talk.  It facilitates unconstrained social complexity.  It inclines humans towards sin and death.

Technically, if there is such a thing as original sin, then how could Abel and Enoch and Noah be good people from the start?

0094 What gives?

Original sin is all about the polarity between Adam’s greedy act and Jesus’s sacrifice.  It is a way to describe the economy of salvation.  Noah’s flood story says it all.  The design of the thoughts of human hearts is continually evil.  So, we sin.  Plus, we repent of our sins.  That is the nature of our current Lebenswelt.

0095 Smith proposes that the fairy tales of early Genesis are constructed backwards, within the Yahwist tradition, in order to provide a front end to the stories of Noah’s flood.

Such speculation seems viable when one is only looking at the Biblical text.

How easy it is to forget the oral traditions that leave no written trace.

How easy it is to erase such traces, for the ones who write the script.

11/30/21

Looking at the Book (2015) Genesis: History, Fiction or Neither? (Part 1 of 38)

0001 Biblical scholars James Hoffmeier, Gordon Wenham and Kenton Sparks contribute to a little book, titled Genesis: History, Fiction or Neither?, edited by Charles Halton and published by Counterpoint Press (affiliated with Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan).

0002 The format is straightforward.  Each contributor offers an essay and responds to the other two essays.

0003 These essays and responses are written shortly after the e-publication of An Archaeology of the Fall, by Razie Mah, which dramatizes a scientific hypothesis about the potentiation of civilization (and how the Genesis stories can be re-imagined in light of the hypothesis).

Why is this significant?

The contributors to Genesis: History, Fiction or Neither?: Three Views on The Bible’s Earliest Chapters, are not aware of the hypothesis of the first singularity.

Their arguments may be examined a point of view that is aware of the hypothesis.

Finally, their innocence of the hypothesis may illuminate the origins of our current Lebenswelt, from within.

0004 What is the first singularity?

The series, Crystallizations of the Fall, at the smashwords website, offers a succinct introduction.  This series contains two works.

The First Singularity and its Fairy Tale Trace offers a brief scientific account for the potentiation of unconstrained social complexity.

Comments on Original Sin and Original Death: Romans 5:12-19 offers a reading of Paul consistent with the consequences of the first singularity.

04/16/21

Looking at Jeff Hardin’s Essay (2019) “Biology and Theological Anthropology” (Part 6 of 15)

0032 Here is a mirror picture of Hardin’s argument.

0033 Ah, the current narrative of human evolution cannot account for a twist. All written origin stories of the ancient Near East depict a recent creation of humanity.

What does that imply?

Our current Lebenswelt is not the same as the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.

Surely, the phenomena of the Developed Neolithic tell us as much.  Once the towns of the Uruk period arise in the Tigris and Euphrates River delta, there is no looking back.  Civilization begins.

0034 So, we can pose a question to the origin stories of the Ancient Near East.

What makes civilization possible?

They tell us that humans are recent creations by the gods.

0035 What does this imply?

The manufacture of humans by newly differentiated gods indicates that the ancient scribes and storytellers could not see beyond a certain point in the past.  They could not see into the Lebenswelt that we evolved in.  I call this time horizon: the first singularity.

The evolutionary sciences do not see what is right in front of them.

Human evolution comes with a twist.

04/15/21

Looking at Jeff Hardin’s Essay (2019) “Biology and Theological Anthropology” (Part 7 of 15)

0036 Human evolution comes with a twist?

What insights do we have from the Bible?

0037 First, there are two origins depicted in Genesis.  The Creation Story covers Genesis 1:1-2.3.  The stories of Adam and Eve start at Genesis 2.4.

Both comport with the style and content of ancient Near East texts.

0038 Second, those in Abraham’s tradition treat both origin stories as real.

The Creation Story justifies the Sabbath as a day of rest, as codified by Moses.  

The stories of Adam and Eve, in contrast, suddenly come into the limelight when St. Paul connects the Jewish revelation, fulfilled in Christ, to all humanity, all the way back to Adam.  Adam is where Jews and Gentiles converge.

0039 What does this imply?

The Bible conveys the noumenon of a recent prehistoric change, the first singularity, that alters the course of human evolution.

0040 There are two origin stories in the Bible.

Perhaps, to evolutionary scientists, the leisurely day-to-day development in Genesis One is a better analogy to the origin of our world and ourselves, than the bizarre abrupt manufacturing scenes in the stories of Adam and Eve.

At the same time, the surprising fairy-tale construction of Adam and Eve testifies that the evolutionary scientists miss a crucial turn of events.  All the written origin myths of the ancient Near East concur with the stories of Adam and Eve.  Humans are recent creations by the divine.

0041 Does Jeff Hardin call for new models of human evolution in light of both science and the Bible?

I suspect he does.

He does not go so far as to call for a new empirio-schematic judgment.

But, he is certainly not shutting the door.