Friday, August 29, 2008

Good as Good Can Get

What do you think of when you hear the word "good?" When God first created the Earth, He used the term "good" to describe it. In school, good meant I got a 'B' -- better than average (C) but not quite excellent (A). My wife loves to bake and watches Martha Stewart. Martha has a saying, "That's a good thing," when she talks about something she enjoys. Advertisers love the word too: "Mmm mm good" (Campbell's Soup), or "Good to the last drop" (Maxwell House coffee).

The word 'good' is used 7 times to describe God's creation in Genesis Chapter 1. The final use is coupled with "very," as in "very good," when God describes man. The Hebrew word for good is 'towb' as opposed to 'tamiym,' or perfect (see Gen 6:9 when God calls Noah perfect in his generation or Lev. 22:21 as it relates to the type of sacrifice required by God).

Not only does God limit His description of the Earth to good, but He tells Adam and Eve to subdue it (the Hebrew word kabash) in Gen. 1:28. Furthermore, in Gen. 3:16 God tells Eve, as a punishment for eating of the tree, that he will multiply her pain in childbirth. I was not a math major, but anything multiplied by zero, is still zero. So childbirth prior to the fall must have still hurt for the pain to be multiplied. Then there is that little thing about the serpent roaming around...

I had often thought of Earth prior to the sin of Adam and Eve as a perfect and spotless paradise. It is not that God couldn't have made it perfect, but I am not so sure that God intended it to be so at that point in time.


Toby said...


I really like your choice of pictures in your blog, its a nice touch. At any rate, I have bookmarked your blog and I'll continue to check in if you were serious about the "DC Challenge." I expect one of three things to happen:

1. You will reject the case against Christianity, but you will be more knowledgeable, and thus you will be better able to address individuals like me who have lost their belief in Christianity...


2. You will accept some (few) of criticisms we offer and thus it will possibly legitimize our standpoint enough for you to see us at having legitimate criticisms against Christianity...


3. You will begin to question your faith and start judging it against our empirical reality.

I would have never saw myself ever hitting number 3, but I did. I don't think everyone needs to agree with me, but I do think the information is worth knowing.

I think the best challenges are:

1. Hector Avalos "The End of Biblical Studies"
2. Bart Ehrman "Misquoting Jesus."
3. John Loftus "Why I became an Atheist."

However, John presents a completely different order, and different books altogether. If you decide to read some of the books suggested, it will make you more knowledgeable even when you disagree.

Take care,

Jeff said...

Thanks for the note, Toby. It may take some time to get to the books, but I do intend to read them.

I was tempted to post a reply today on the DC site regarding our ongoing discussion. But after reading the 63 posts (so far), I felt that anything I had to add would have been pointless...even if it was something new. I wonder if forums like these are useful to engage/debate on such heavy subjects. Volumes of books were written on what we discussed, but we attempt to convince one another in a few paragraphs. I have a feeling that none of us were moved to reconsider our position based on what each other had to say.

Toby said...

I don't know, maybe you're partially right that these blogs often don't make a difference. When I was a Christian I would have said that you never know what the Holy Spirit is going to use to get through to someone. I've only been following DC for a few months. I've seen many people change their minds, but my bias is to spot it when they are letting go of their Christian beliefs. However, I still appreciate the challenges and I have been reading everything I can get my hands on. You know, even though I graduated from Bible College and Seminary, I didn't hear of anyone like Loftus or even Dawkins until this past year (I'm 32 now).

For me, this is all new and fascinating. It sounds like you are much more familiar with apologetics than I ever was. Although I took 1 class in it, it was entirely devoted to apologetics against cults.

The other thing that I appreciate about these discussions is that I am open to learning. I know that my knowledge is very limited and quite simply I am often wrong. If you have a suggested reading list for me, please let me know.

Jeff said...

Suggested reading would depend on the subject matter you would be most interested in: philosophy, history, or science. There are many I would recommend.

I am somewhat of a walking oxymoron -- I would be what some would categorize as a Evangelical with Fundamentalist views (i.e. inerrancy, substitutionary atonement, etc.). However, I happen to be okay with evolution. Recent readings I have enjoyed include Dr. Francis Collins (The Language of God), Dr. Alister McGrath (The Dawkins Delusion), and Dinesh D'Souza (What Is So Great About Christianity).

I am sure you are aware of Josh McDowell (The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict) and Lee Stobel (The Case for Christ). They are not Ph.D.'s, but do a good job in laying out issues in an accesable way. I used them early on as a primer and have found their references/bibliography valuable. For example, for dating of the New Testament (which is germane to our discussion on DC), Dr. Bruce Metzger is a good resource (McDowell and Strobel cite his work).

Another author that touches on the Gnostic gospels (another germane subject to our discussion) is Dr. Darrell L. Brock (Breaking the DaVinci Code). Gnostics were a big theme in the DaVinci Code book and movie, and Dr. Brock devoted a few chapters in this book that touch on dating and history of this movement.

Lastly, there are always the classics: Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and CS Lewis. I have yet to read much from Francis Schaeffer or Alvin Plantinga, but they are considered to be heavyweights in the field of theology and apologetics.

I will try and grab a few of the books you mentioned and read/react to them. I plan to write a future post on Dawkins's "The God Delusion" too.

Toby said...

I'll start with Bruce Metzger, thanks!