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Old 03-22-2010, 12:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm not sure how to start this, so I'll just toss it out there and hope it is understandable.

If you:

1. Are a traditional Christian that believes in the Bible ( not specifically a Biblical literalist )

2 Believe that God created Man

3 That God made himself known to Man at creation

4 That God wants to be known and worshiped ( couldn't find a better word to explain) by Man

Then how do you explain all the time and cultures that are polytheistic?

I mean if God made himself known to his creation ( Man) at the time he created them, that isn't something that people would just shine on and forget about. Ancient cultures all relied on oral tradition. The Bible came to be out of an oral tradition and existed as an oral tradition for some time prior to being written down. Also Christianity came out of Judaism which also has a very strong oral tradition.

Also looking at geography and history all the places where monotheism flourished were either, part of the Roman Empire or a later colony of a country that had been part of the Roman Empire or places where missionaries have gone to convert people. Everywhere else has a variety of beliefs or combination of beliefs that include ancestor worship, polytheism, animism ect. Everything else but monotheism basically.

When I ask this question the reasons given seem to fall into one the following groups

1 those people forgot the God of creation ( I can't think of a plausible reason that a culture so dependent on oral tradition could forget )

2 They forsake God ( But there are no oral traditions of that in any of the cultures I've studied, and they wouldn't just pretend it never happened)

3 God didn't make himself known to them so they just made up something ( I can't figure this one out either, given the parameters I outlined at the beginning )


Maybe I'm missing something?
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Old 03-22-2010, 03:32 AM
 
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I'm certainly not a traditional Christian by any means but here is what I understand the bible to say about this:

Those whom God created in the beginning directly became the Jewish nation/people, and they were God's chosen ones.
Strangely a bunch of other folks came into existance somehow without being accounted for in Gensis (I know Cain went out and found himself a wife among some other people...where did they come from...who knows?). I'm doing this from memory so that's why I'm a little short on detail.
All those other, random, unaccounted-for folks are the ones the Jews have nasty run-ins with again and again. Like the Caananites.
It is never really stated in the Old Testament that everyone else had much of a link to God. He seems to be a uniquely jewish tribal kahuna.
Of course the big three modern monotheistic religions all stem from Judism.

What is interesting to me is that in the OT there is certainly allusions to an acceptance of many gods (ie. You should have no other gods before me...how is that possible in a monotheistic worldview?). By the time of the NT this had changed; you either believed in god or you were wrong.
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Old 03-22-2010, 04:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I forgot about Cain marrying someone from outside. You brought up an interesting point about Genesis being specifically the story of the creation of the Jewish people, I did not remember that and I asked my husband about it, he was raised Jewish but no longer practicing. I gotta go find my Torah commentary now LOL

Wait, scripture doesn't actually say where Cains wife came from. And I can't find anything Christian or Jewish that states that the creation story in Genesis is the creation of the Jewish people specifically.
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Old 03-22-2010, 09:50 AM
 
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Usually the Genesis story in the Bible is understood to refer to all people, not the Hebrews specifically. The story of the Hebrews comes later, when God chooses certain people to receive his special revelation.

I think part of the question you are asking is what does the Genesis account mean about our relationship with and understanding of God. There are a few things to note in the narrative that are important. Initially, in the Garden, Adam and Eve have a face to face, personal relationship with God. They see him walking in the Garden and speak to him. He directly tells them the rules, there is no question.

After they are expelled, this begins to change. God is not always so clear about what he wants. He speaks directly to people far less often, so that eventually this becomes a surprising and awe inspiring event if it does happen. The individual's and societies relationship with God is no longer clear and intimate in the same way, it is clouded and sometimes difficult.

Now, in the history of the Church, this story has always been understood to have a spiritual meaning, rather like a parable. It was also felt by some that it was an historical narrative, but that is less important. The Church understood this story to say that by nature, God made us in such a way that we would know him clearly. Not see him walking in the garden perhaps, since he doesn't have a body, but have some kind of clear perception of him, and of Truth.

But through choosing to go against God's command, and knowingly embracing untruth, we have begun to separate ourselves from God and Truth, and even from our own true nature. We no longer percieve God in such a clear direct way, things are confusing, we make errors of judgement. This has even changef the appearence of the reality which surrounds us, causing suffering and death in all of creation, and a lack of stability - entropy would be an effect of the fall, so even the laws of physics that we see around us are affected by this seperation we have created somehow.

All of which is to say two things. Adam and Eve were the first people, but may not have been in quite the situation described in the story, so oral transmission might well not really have been an issue - there could have been thousands of years involved, and they may not have "talked with God" in quite the way the story puts it. And in any case, things changed, dramatically, after the Fall, and the situation became quite different. It's possible, even likely, that Adam and Eve's perceptions, and their memory, of God, was as dulled as everyone else.

As for other cultures. All of us still have some kind of internal connection with the Divine. But it is possible to make mistakes about it, and to express our perceptions in different ways. Polytheistic conceptions are usually concidered to be poetic understandings of the Divine, rather than rational ones. St Paul comments that any philosopher can reason his way to God, and we can see this in cultures which have those kinds of thinkers. Hinduism and the ancient Greeks, for example, both look superficially like polytheistic religions, but really that is not the case. Both see a single First Principle or Source for Being. In many creation myths, we see a single first source for all of the World, including the gods - in philosophic terms that would be the First Principle, and in the Christian understanding that is the thing which revealed himself to the Jews as God.

You can also see in a text like the Illiad, that the gods are driven by something greater than they are - they are driven by fate.

Plato talked about the phenomena of mistakes and misconceptions about god. He was a philosopher and a firm pagan monotheist, and was very negative toward the poets who gave the Greeks their stories. Not because they talked about many gods, which was understood by the educated to be a literary device, but because they attributed inappropriate actions (adultery for example) to the gods. That was because he felt we were living in a world of shadows, separated from the Good, and so untruth became mixed with truth.

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Old 03-22-2010, 10:20 AM
 
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Very interesting question and interesting response so far, I think.

The creation account in genesis is about the creation of the earth and everything in it, humans, the lot. It also talks about God's promises to Abraham that a great nation will come from his decendants. In fact, the jewish nation/people dont exist until the next book of the bible in any form except a promise from God. Exodus discusses the creation of the Hebrew nation.

Quote:
2 They forsake God ( But there are no oral traditions of that in any of the cultures I've studied, and they wouldn't just pretend it never happened)
Im wondering if the bible is the only one that talks about humans forsaking their Creator/God then?? Bc its written on nearly every page of the bible from beginning to end.

Some have said that the original story of creation is what was eventually recorded in the bible. As time went on and the populations grew, branched off, you get the other creation stories and they sound like chinese wispers, similar in many ways to the original. Then I imagine there might have been people from time to time who genuinely sought God and truth, not willing to settle for anything else. There's people like Noah, Abraham, even Job takes place (as I understand it) during this time (and bc Job is one of those people, Im assuming there may have been others not mentioned too). There's the kings who feared God, there's Melchizadek, etc. All in Genesis, the first book of the bible. After the fall, human nature was such that it no longer sought God, in fact it seeks to replace him, forsake him, deny his existance altogether even.

I think some of the history of the human race, while it seems complete, I think it may be less complete then we think it is. Now, this is coming from a biblical 'more-literalist-than-not' and most if not all of the history of the human race pre-flood is bound to be sketchy...
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Old 03-22-2010, 12:07 PM
 
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There is an interesting article on this subject written from a "modern pagan" perspective. The author, Oberon Zell, was a bit of a character so the article is framed in a provocative style but it does provide biblical chapter/verse and offers a possible sequence of events that could explain the situation as set out in the OP.

The article is called "We Are The Other People". (please note that while I am Pagan, I don't necessarily agree with his article, premise, or conclusions! It's just that it's a more detailed run through of a potential explaination already brought up in this thread.)

Oh... and speaking as both a Pagan and as an academic in the field of Religious Studies and Anthropology, this statement:
Quote:
Polytheistic conceptions are usually concidered to be poetic understandings of the Divine, rather than rational ones.
reflects a common academic and non-Pagan perspective. But it is not the "lived reality" of many Pagans (with "Pagan" here being used in it's broadest sense, and refering to both modern and historic communities). Yes, in some cultures and at some times this would be the opinion of the "educated pagan on the street", but in other times and places it would not.

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Old 03-22-2010, 04:14 PM
 
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Wombatclay, I can't think of any religions where there is a philosophic tradition that are really polytheistic - can you give an example?

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Old 03-22-2010, 04:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Bluegoat, I'm still pondering your post, will come back later and reply but it seems to follow my first explanation of "they forgot God".


Thanks Wombat, I've read the We Are The Other People article before, and when I ID'd as Pagan I found it provocative. As you said it doesn't answer my questions from a Christian perspective though, I'm trying to understand how Christians explain these questions.

I did reread that article and compared their interpretation to scripture. I'll jump to Cain and his wife.

Quote:
Cain left the presence of Yahweh and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden. We can assume that the phrase "left the presence of Yahweh" implies that Yahweh is a local deity, and not omnipresent. Now Eden, according to (Gen. 2:14-15), was situated at the source of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, apparently right where Lake Van is now, in Turkey. "East of Eden," therefore, would probably be along the shores of the Caspian Sea, right in the Indo-European heartland. Cain settled in there, among the people of Nod, and married one of the women of that country. Here, for the first time, is specifically mentioned the "other people" who are not of the lineage of Adam and Eve. i.e: the Pagans.
Scripture does not say he took his wife from there. Genesis 4:16

Quote:
16 So Cain went out from the LORD's presence and lived in the land of Nod, [f] east of Eden.

17 Cain lay with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch.
It just says he lain with his wife. We have have no idea when or where he married. Scripture doesn't say.

I used this source for the biblical quote

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/...+4&version=NIV

At the bottom the footnote says Genesis 4:16 Nod means wandering (see verses 12 and 14).


I'm not disputing that Pagans existed or claiming that scripture doesn't refer to them. Clearly they did and it does. I'm just trying to understand how Christians explain and understand the existence and beliefs that these peoples had. Because it's been one of the hardest things for me to understand.

If the God of the Bible created humans to know him and to worship him and made himself known to his first created humans then how do Christians explain all these non monotheistic people? Because I've only been able to come up with the 3 explanations I listed in my OP and I have trouble accepting those as likely or plausible.
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Old 03-22-2010, 04:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by genifer View Post
Im wondering if the bible is the only one that talks about humans forsaking their Creator/God then?? Bc its written on nearly every page of the bible from beginning to end.
Excellent question.

I'll have to refresh my memory by rereading but off the top of my head I can't think of any other creation stories that include a God or Gods that have the same type of relationship with humanity as the Biblical one. Other creation myths discuss the creation of humans but I don't remember them including an expectation to obey their Gods. Generally the humans focus on propitiating their Gods for favors or to prevent bad things.
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Old 03-22-2010, 04:57 PM
 
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Like I said, I'm not a fan of Oberon Zell's arguement either (though we come at that from opposite directions, I know). But his article is what I thought of when I read Chamomile Girl's ideas. Since I'm not part of the "target audience" in terms of spiritual reasoning I just wanted to provide a link to something that was already "in play" (kind of option three on your list?). I know you said that option didn't make much sense to you anyway, but maybe going through his (more explicit) points and answering them helps you remove that option from your list?

Bluegoat- I'd be happy to start another thread to discuss it since I don't want to pull this one off topic. Or if you start the thread I'll stop by! I think the first step would be setting a common definition of "polytheistic" (and so "really" polytheistic) and "philosophical tradition". From there, much fun!

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Old 03-22-2010, 05:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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If someone starts it I'll come too, I love discussing polytheism.

Wombat I don't feel we are necessarily coming at it from opposite directions. I'm not out trying to seek ways to discredit either sides interpretation of the Bible. Although I am trying to get answers that are plausible and consistant. I will spend some time looking further into Zells quotes and assertions. When I read it the first time years ago I just went, ya and agreed without looking at it criticially and comparing it to actual scripture. By the same token, I really want to know how Christians explain and understand the questions in my OP, because I can't make any sense out of it. And it's a block to me accepting the Bible and Christianity.
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Old 03-22-2010, 05:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Bluegoat View Post
Wombatclay, I can't think of any religions where there is a philosophic tradition that are really polytheistic - can you give an example?
Well why the requirement that there be a philosophic tradition in the culture? I agree with Wombat, subject for another thread But wanted to toss that out there anyway.
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Old 03-22-2010, 05:36 PM
 
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1 those people forgot the God of creation ( I can't think of a plausible reason that a culture so dependent on oral tradition could forget )

2 They forsake God ( But there are no oral traditions of that in any of the cultures I've studied, and they wouldn't just pretend it never happened)

3 God didn't make himself known to them so they just made up something ( I can't figure this one out either, given the parameters I outlined at the beginning )
I think that #2 is true from the get-go. Then as the generations went on, #3 also occurred (God did not reveal himself to many people - Noah, Abraham, Moses, etc were not the norm), and this could reasonably lead to #1 as people started making up gods to explain the natural phenomena around them. Pagan religions tended to have gods multiply over the years, and one culture's gods 'conquered' other cultures' gods when people fought amongst each other.

My question is why is it so hard to believe that people would branch off from the oral tradition (hypothetically) started by Adam and Eve? Do we always remain faithful to the religion of our parents? If God had made himself known to all subsequent generations as he did with the chosen few, then it would be strange indeed, but he didn't.

Interesting thread! I don't have much time now, but I'll be back.
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Old 03-22-2010, 06:44 PM
 
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With "opposite directions" I was thinking along the lines of looking at his idea from the "bible as truth" position (and so finding inconsistancies that support/weaken his case) as well as the "bible as literature" position (so wondering why Zell felt compeled to base his case in a text I know he found personally irrelevant to his own beliefs.). I guess I tend to find Zell a bit too flippant overall, and that may rub off on how I view his arguements.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In terms of oral tradition... I agree that a personal revelation by God would be pretty significant and not something you'd forget. And there are examples of oral traditions being very well maintained over long periods of time (Ireland for example). But given the idea that humanity started out in relatively small groups moving through vast geographic space it does make sense that things could be lost (death/disease/diaspora/cultural assimilation/etc). Ireland is actually a good example of how easily an oral tradition can be lost, even in a brief period of time over a small region. It only takes a single generational break in the chain and the oral tradition can be lost or changed forever.

Heck, it seems like sometimes even the people to whom the revelation was made tried to change that revelation or complain about it or "forget" certain portions which then had to be re-revealed (either to that individual or to other individuals in the group)! So your option 1/2("people forgot" either because they didn't like what they heard or because circumstances resulted in the loss of knowledge) actually seems plausible to me.

While I also have difficulty reconciling "people forgot" with "God's desire to be known" (point 4), I think it can be done if you take a long term approach and accept that God's revelation unfolds gradually. So groups that forgot will eventually be restored in revelation through the actions of those who did not forget.

I'm not sure how it fits in, but there have been times/places (outside of Rome and her colonies) where monotheistic, or at least monolatristic (we worship the god that is above other gods) or henotheistic (we worship god, but there could be others out there that are worshiped by others). Akhenaten's Egypt for example, or the importance of Marduk in the Babylonian advance through Mesopotamia. Neither Aten nor Marduk "are" the Biblical God, but perhaps they represent revelation being filtered through cultural lenses?

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Old 03-22-2010, 07:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I was thinking along the lines of looking at his idea from the "bible as truth" position (and so finding inconsistancies that support/weaken his case) as well as the "bible as literature" position (so wondering why Zell felt compeled to base his case in a text I know he found personally irrelevant to his own beliefs.). I guess I tend to find Zell a bit too flippant overall, and that may rub off on how I view his arguements.
I didn't even think of that, LOL great point.


Egypt and the middle eastern non Abrahamic religions are ones I haven't studied much of. Most of my studies have been spent on Greek, Roman, Germanic, Celtic, Persian and the Indian subcontinant with a little bit of far East Asia. I'll have to read more on those.


Quote:
In terms of oral tradition... I agree that a personal revelation by God would be pretty significant and not something you'd forget. And there are examples of oral traditions being very well maintained over long periods of time (Ireland for example). But given the idea that humanity started out in relatively small groups moving through vast geographic space it does make sense that things could be lost (death/disease/diaspora/cultural assimilation/etc). Ireland is actually a good example of how easily an oral tradition can be lost, even in a brief period of time over a small region. It only takes a single generational break in the chain and the oral tradition can be lost or changed forever.

Cultural assimilation would require a culture with a different tradition to assimilate to wouldn't it? Assuming biblical truth and all peoples coming from the same tradition I wonder where this other tradition comes from.


OT dh is driving me crazy asking me what we need from the grocery store so I am losing my train of thought. Why can't he figure out what we need on his own. sigh.
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Old 03-22-2010, 09:00 PM
 
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Cultural assimilation would require a culture with a different tradition to assimilate to wouldn't it? Assuming biblical truth and all peoples coming from the same tradition I wonder where this other tradition comes from.
Good point. Perhaps a group further down the "forget/forsake" path? I don't have specific chapter/verse but aren't there several points at which the Jewish people find themselves living within and adopting the traditions of other groups? Golden calves, Moloch, etc? It still begs the question of why those other groups were there and not sharing in the revelation of the people of Israel. Though it still makes sense to me that as populations drifted apart and some lost the traditions of their ancestors, groups that hadn't lost that oral tradition woudl come into contact (through peace or war) and be assimilated to some extent.

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Old 03-23-2010, 03:49 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Arduinna View Post
By the same token, I really want to know how Christians explain and understand the questions in my OP, because I can't make any sense out of it. And it's a block to me accepting the Bible and Christianity.
This really struck me, feeling 'blocked', because I used to feel like that with regards to other matters related to God and Christianity.
Disclaimer: I've gone back and read some of my pp and I sound, pushy, or like I know everything and I don't! Sorry if I come off this way. I'm working on it.

Keeping these three things in mind has helped me:
  1. God's purpose: for man to have God's likeness and image to express God and have dominion over the earth (Gen 1:26)
  2. Satan's strategy: to thwart all of God's doings by destroying man spiritually, emotionally, and even physically.
  3. Man's role: as a vessel to be filled with God in order to express God's life and nature.
Bottom line: Satan, the destroyer, is constantly usurping man in order to keep man from expressing God, thus thwarting God's eternal purpose.

God's life and nature and the by-products thereof: love, righteous, holy, light, truth, joy, peace, purity, eternal, life in all forms-spiritual, emotional, and physical

Satan's life and nature and the by-products thereof: hate, unrighteous, impure, liar, dark, sadness, depression, oppression, anxiety, confusion, death in all forms-spiritual, emotional, and physical

God/Christ/Spirit is in my human spirit and Satan personified as sin is in my flesh. I am in the middle of this warfare. I have to constantly contact God in my spirit by calling on Him in order to avoid being in my roller-coaster emotions, my corrupted mind, and/or my fallen flesh. This requires a real dependency on God, which I don't have by the way. Although I am filled with Him, I may or may not express Him at any given moment in time.
Stick with me, I will come full circle. This is background info to help me make my point.

The Fall (which can be seen as a progression of 4 falls)

1st Fall--from God's presence to man's conscience
Adam/Eve partook of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The serpent (Satan) deceived them and this began the fall. Adam/Eve were spoiled from fulfilling God's purpose to express Him. Their spirit was deadened, their soul (mind, emotion, will) was corrupted, and their body became flesh. All three parts of their being were contaminated by Satan's life and nature. This is when man began to have a conscience (covering their nakedness with the fig leaves).

2nd Fall--from man's conscience to others' control (religion)(Gen 4)
Here is a further falling when Cain tried to do something for God out of his own labor. Abel was tending sheep as offerings to God and this was God's way. Cain made up his own religion (Jude 11) by presumptuously offering Him from the fruit of the ground. This was Cain worshipping God in his own way rather than God's ordained way. This is making your own religion. Throughout the centuries people have made their own religion, and Christianity is not exempt from this fall. Christianity is full of divisions. Satan is the source of division. God is all about oneness among His people.
Furthermore, after leaving God's presence, Cain constructed a a city for his protection and self-existence. Within this city he produced a culture without God. In the garden God was everything to man--his protection, maintenance, supply, and amusement. When man lost God, he lost everything. Man's loss of God forced man to invent human culture, the main elements of which were cities for existence, cattle-raising for making a living, music for amusement, and weapons for defense (Gen 4:16-17). The godless culture invented in Gen. 4 will develop until it climaxes in the great Babylon.

3rd Fall--from others' control to human government
Gen 6:6 is where Jehovah repented that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him in His heart. Whoa, that is heavy! This is when the flesh of man is being expressed in a major way through their lusts, fornication, and violence. Again, not expressing God. Satan's strategy. Man's failure. But Noah found favor with God and the built the Ark (type of Christ and was saved). In Gen 9:6 you can see God authorized man to rule over other men, and human government began (Rom 13:1).

4th Fall--from human government to rebellion under Satan's instigation (Gen 11)
This chapter starts out saying that the whole earth had one language and the same speech. The people decided to build a city and a tower whose top is in the heavens. Let us make a name for ourselves so that we won't be scattered over the whole earth. Jehovah said, Let Us go down and confound their language so they won't understand each other. Jehovah did scatter them and it was called Babel (meaning confusion).
The city built by man's labor signifies that man had forsaken God and replaced Him with a man-made and godless culture. They wanted a name for themselves. Satan is the source of all pride and rebellion and confusion. Again, Satan usurping God's people. Man failed, again.

The Ten Commandments, a testimony of who He is

Eventually God had to institute the 10 commandments in order to slow down this fall. In a sense we are still falling away from God's original purpose to fill man with Himself, so that man can express God. This is what the church is to God. The church is the actual body of Christ on the earth, which is meant to express God. As you can see, not meaning to offend, but the church has failed with it's many divisions. Christ's body is not meant to be divided. This is Satan's strategy to divide the body of Christ. It is a spiritual warfare.
All the philosophies and winds of teachings, while they may be interesting mind candy, are also a strategy of Satan to draw God's people away from Him and His Word, which is Truth. God has to gain a group of people who will care for the Truth and the oneness among His people.

The short answer to your question, the Fall and the spiritual warfare between God and His enemy, Satan.

This was all taken from the first 11 chapters in Genesis. You can read more on the Life Study of Genesis at this website http://www.ministrybooks.org/life-studies.cfm

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Old 03-23-2010, 08:22 AM
 
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Look, while I have accepted Christ and believe the bible back to front, pretty much in a literal sense, I do still have a lot of questions. I think we've all tried to give the best answers to your questions. The thing is that we are still seeking too (I suspect).

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Also looking at geography and history all the places where monotheism flourished were either, part of the Roman Empire or a later colony of a country that had been part of the Roman Empire or places where missionaries have gone to convert people. Everywhere else has a variety of beliefs or combination of beliefs that include ancestor worship, polytheism, animism ect. Everything else but monotheism basically.
that might be true, to an extent. Except you have this tiny little nation, in ancient history called Israel. Which doesnt get a lot of mention is history books except the bible. (most dont really believe the bible to be a history book anyway... I do)

As far as your statement here is concerned...

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I mean if God made himself known to his creation ( Man) at the time he created them, that isn't something that people would just shine on and forget about.
I would assert that they did forget God. I mean look at the nation of Israel at the foot of Mount Sinai for example. They had just been miraculously redeemed out of slaverly and witnessed some pretty awesome events to secure their safety from being recaptured and no sooner does Moses mosey up the mountain are they melting their gold to make a golden calf to worship!

Talk about short term memory loss! But thats not just the nature of the nation of Israel at that point in time, thats the nature of human beings in general, and this is what the bible is about. ThE running theme in the bible is about God reaching out to man, man rejecting God to be their own free agent.

I mean, if you read the bible, on its own, with the questions you got, you have the answers staring back at you.


I think Shami brought up a good point that is worth exploring...

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Satan's strategy: to thwart all of God's doings by destroying man spiritually, emotionally, and even physically.
Personally, this has been the hardest thing for me to begin to understand but Im finally beginning to.

If you take a look at Job, we see that God uses Satan to sift humanity, possibly (Im not sure if 'sift' is the best word to use tho), its something Im still researching actually but Im not sure if Im far off. And not just to sift humanity, but to prove that no matter what, there will be people of integrity, who will seek God, love Him and worship Him no matter what happens in their life. Knowing that suffering is A) temporary, B) a refining fire and C) one thing God can use to bring us to our knees before Him, where we should be. Now, Satan also has a way of decieving people.

ok... Im getting there now, paganism and the bible...

These are my thoughts...

God still created ALL people, He is the God of ALL people, whether they worship Him or not. Whether they worship a false god, or many false gods. How do we account for paganism in light of what we (as believers, I mean) read in scripture? Well, Im not exactly sure what the origin of those faiths are, in a cultural sense. In a spiritual sense, I personally believe they are worshipping false gods, very likely demons setting themselves up as gods.

I do know how that will make others feel, tho, so I tend not to go out of my way to rub it in other people's faces that this is what I believe. I dont doubt their spirituality is very real.

I dont doubt, that in those ancient culutres where paganism flourished, that there were people who sincerely sought the true God. Abraham will have been one of them. Noah, another, those are examples, tho I think. Im not sure if everyone who ever did seek God in ancient times was recorded in the bible. Also, there were kings mentioned who will concede that the God of these people was a very powerful God. I believe God did what He did in Exodus, with Pharoah, to prove that He was more powerful then their 'gods'.

I think a good question to ponder, for me anyway, is why God does things the way He does. Thats where Im at anyway. Is this more to the point of your questioning?

If the God of the bible is the One True God, AND he wants to be worshipped by His creation, as if this were His sole purpose in creating us, then why let these other religions abound? Why didnt he go ahead and just reveal Himself to them? Again I point to Exodus and what happened with the golden calf. I think that was an example to give us just an inkling into how God sees things in us.

Im not sure His sole purpose in creating anything is to have it worship Him tho...
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Old 03-23-2010, 12:47 PM
 
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2 Corinthians 3:14-16

14 But their thoughts were hardened; for until the present day the same veil remains at the reading of the old covenant, it not being unveiled to them that the veil is being done away with in Christ.

15 Indeed unto this day, whenever Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart;

16 But whenever their heart turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

Here it is referring to the Jews with a turned away heart. Our heart being turned away can be a veil. Whenever our heart turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

Also, please go and read Romans chapter 11. It explains why God has allowed His chosen people, the Hebrews, to have a hardened heart. It says God has not cast away His people, but He has made a way (Christ) for the rest of us (Gentiles) to be grafted in. Then, at some time God will graft His chosen ones back in.

Here is a verse that might refer to the why there are Pagans question?

Romans 1:20,25

20 For the invisible things of Him, both His eternal power and divine characteristics, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being perceived by the things made, so that they would be without excuse;

25 Who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Maybe you have already seen these verses. I don't know if this helps because it presumes that you believe the Bible is Truth. I'm not sure where you stand in your belief of the Bible. I don't have much knowledge regarding oral tradtions and history and such.

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Old 03-23-2010, 01:22 PM
 
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In regards to the original post about how so many people who come from the same "people" have let go of their beliefs and traditions or have forgotten God, I will try to explain from my Christian perspective.

After "the fall" of man, even though they knew the truth about God and had once walked with Him, earthly desires started to pull their focus away from God. Not unlike in today's culture where even the most devoted christian can lose their focus because of earthly obligations. People began to think that they don't NEED God, they're fine on their own. They became self-reliant and self-involved. So, wayyyy back in the beginning, some people just fell away. Just as people who grow up in a faith-filled household still do.

I liken it to parenting, since most of us are parents! We can raise our children from babes, teach them everything we know, they BEST way to live. Say you're a vegetarian, no vaxing, homeschooler and you teach your kids to love this way of life. as they get older and more self-reliant, they will start to separate from you and make their own choices (they all do). One child might choose to emulate his parents' lifestyle choices, while another will rebel completely, while still another will be be a meat-eating homeschooler. Even if you, as the parent, were PERFECT in your parenting, it does not eliminate the free will of your children. They will choose their own way. Who knows, the kid who rebelled completely might get sick as an adult and turn back to their parents' way or not. Free will.

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Old 03-23-2010, 02:01 PM
 
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Even if you, as the parent, were PERFECT in your parenting, it does not eliminate the free will of your children. They will choose their own way. Who knows, the kid who rebelled completely might get sick as an adult and turn back to their parents' way or not. Free will.
This is exactly what I was thinking. Free will.

God made himself known to man in the beginning, but he also gave them free will. If God had continued to make himself known beyond a shadow of a doubt, then there would be no free will, so people absolutely must have the ability to 'shine on and forget' their creator no matter if there is an oral tradition or not.

God did not create people just to be worshiped by them - there was no point in giving us free will if that is our only purpose.
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Old 03-23-2010, 02:31 PM
 
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After "the fall" of man, even though they knew the truth about God and had once walked with Him, earthly desires started to pull their focus away from God. Not unlike in today's culture where even the most devoted christian can lose their focus because of earthly obligations. People began to think that they don't NEED God, they're fine on their own. They became self-reliant and self-involved.
Hmm, I think you are conflating modern-day secularism with ancient times and it doesn't work. The ancient world was highly religious, just not monotheistic. They most certainly did believe they needed God, but the God they worshipped was not Yahweh.
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Old 03-23-2010, 05:50 PM
 
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Did a little more reading in Genesis 11

Immediately after the account of the Tower of Babel where the people, who had one language, decided to build a city and a tower to reach the heavens, there is a genealogy leading up to Abram (Abraham).
Then God appears to Abram and calls him out of his land to leave his relatives and go to the land of Canaan. Abram's land was the Ur of Chaldeans, which was a land of idols. God had confounded the language, which caused confusion. Over the centuries the worshipping of idols developed, rather than the worship of the Creator.
Maybe it's this confounding of language that is the answer to why the oral traditions were lost, resulting in a misguided path of worshipping the creation rather than the creator.

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Old 03-23-2010, 06:03 PM
 
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I'm not sure how to start this, so I'll just toss it out there and hope it is understandable.

If you:

1. Are a traditional Christian that believes in the Bible ( not specifically a Biblical literalist )

2 Believe that God created Man

3 That God made himself known to Man at creation

4 That God wants to be known and worshiped ( couldn't find a better word to explain) by Man

Then how do you explain all the time and cultures that are polytheistic?
I am not so sure i fall in the class of a traditional Christian as my beliefs on this are not widely shared. But i do believe the 2nd, 3rd and 4th statements of yours. AND i also believe that each of us finds 'faith' or our moral compasses in it's own forms. That my god is my choice and anothers right to believe in nothing and anothers choice to worship various gods & godesses. While i don't worship other gods, i believe in my one God. But i dont believe there is a right and wrong religion, i believe we all are right because we all are drawn to what our core needs in the religions we choose. So the teachings of my God are not laws that hold others who don't believe in them. i am FAR from a bible literalist, needless to say. And i believe that polytheistic cultures have always existed and if you follow the bible, God put them into place himself as a way to give choices for those where Judiasm and eventually Christianity wouldn't be the right fit. Another form of being given 'free will'.

Clear as mud huh?

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Old 03-23-2010, 06:23 PM
 
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You know, I bet some of the Jewish Mamas might have some great knowledge on what the talmud and stuff says about Cain's wife, etc. The stories seem to answer some of those questions that come up...

I'll see if I can find anything online... but hopefully, some of the Jewish Mamas might chime in.

Mom to DS(8), DS(6), DD(4), and DS(1).  "Kids do as well as they can."

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Old 03-23-2010, 06:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I appreciate the posts, just wanted to stop in an say I'm distracted with some other stuff right now but will try and catch up ASAP.
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Old 03-23-2010, 08:14 PM
 
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Regarding Cain's wife, every interpretation I have seen has assumed Cain married one of his sisters. All the early generations did so, since incest was not forbidden by God until later.

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Originally Posted by Arduinna View Post
1 those people forgot the God of creation ( I can't think of a plausible reason that a culture so dependent on oral tradition could forget )

2 They forsake God ( But there are no oral traditions of that in any of the cultures I've studied, and they wouldn't just pretend it never happened)
I doubt any group of people would openly say, "we forsook God" or include turning from the true God as part of their acknowledged history. People would move away from God and begin to (as Shami said) worship the creation rather than the Creator. Soon this would seem normal and familiar to them.
If the Israelites had gone ahead with their worship of the golden calf and become idolators, they would not have later described it as "the time we rejected the True God and became idolators." More likely they would have absorbed God into their pantheon in some form, and forgotten their original allegiance to Him.
I think this is quite plausible for a culture with an oral tradition, since even cultures with a written tradition and clear historical records have been known to forget and rewrite their past over time.
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Old 03-28-2010, 04:17 PM
 
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Because some of us have short attention spans and are easily distracted.

Because we want to do what WE want to do.

Some of us tend to wander.

It's so easy to forget.

And even if evidence is written down or passed down orally, we can choose not to believe... we can choose to do as we please and disregard the information we have been given.

Sometimes we choose to forget or we turn away from what we were given.

We outright reject it.

Doesn't matter if it was written down or passed down orally. We reject it and find something else to believe in.

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." -Plato
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Old 04-03-2010, 09:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I was talking with dh and think my main issue is that I just don't want to think that my non Christian ancestors were deluded or corrupted or whatever the right word would be.
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Old 04-04-2010, 05:21 PM
 
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I was talking with dh and think my main issue is that I just don't want to think that my non Christian ancestors were deluded or corrupted or whatever the right word would be.
Perhaps it depends on belief, but that idea doesn't bother me because I believe our natural state is corrupt. IOW, we're all born into the tendency to sin. Christians as much as non-Christians. We believe that this sin separates us from God and Jesus' righteousness is what brings us into relationship with him.

His blood was shed for all mankind. How exactly that works is God's business, and I think it's been addressed in the other thread. But I don't have to believe I'm "better" than my ancestors to believe that Jesus is the Truth that was revealed on God's timetable and according to his will.
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