How Shall Christians Understand God’s Definition of Hell?

I share the view along with many liberal theologians that hell is not a physical place – it is a state of mind of any one choosing to avoid the presence of God in this life.

In support of this concept, I believe God establishes the criteria for righteous living given to us in the life, death and teachings of Jesus, and if individuals reject or ignore his guidelines for living forever, they will stay on a wrong course and drive themselves into an “eternal state of hell” – both in this life and the life hereafter.

However, the majority of Christians, including all fundamentalists, believe hell is a physical place. There are a number of scriptures (particularly in Matthew) that support their theological position.

Many in the clergy, maybe one half, believe the scriptures describe hell as a symbolic place of dissent, suffering and pain after death, where sinners, by the grace of God, may, over time, receive expiation for their sins. The Catholic Church expresses this intermediary condition as “purgatory” where lost souls may be redeemed after a period of suffering and misery.

It is hard for me to accept Biblical statements that condemn   any of God’s children to experience pain and suffering – forever. Why would our God of the N.T. give us his son to suffer and die for us and then cut off some of his children – forever?

Is it possible that the word “lost” should be interpreted to mean – temporarily “lost”? If we believe that God loves us all, then our God of love, forgiveness and redemption must surely provide a path of salvation for even life time common criminals and terrorists. With some period of proportional punishment, after death, could it be that all will be given a chance to be reconciled to God through a change of heart? Maybe for some, this process will take a hundred years or more to be converted and saved. It should not be easy, but I believe it should be possible.

This theological rationale is compatible with what Jesus said to one of the convicted criminals on the cross. When the criminal confessed that he wanted to be saved, Jesus,  in Luke 23:43 said: “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise”. According to the dictionary, and I quote, “paradise is an intermediate place or state where the righteous departed await resurrection and judgement”. It would appear that the criminal was given a chance to be redeemed and saved prior to entering into heaven.

In Romans 5:10, we are assured that all persons shall be reconciled to God through our Lord Jesus Christ. And so there may be a temporary state where all sinners may be reconciled to God before being accepted into heaven.

Some additional thoughts for our consideration are:

  • Church going or non-church going does not decide who is saved or who is not. Personal resumes’ are not important – only honest, sincere Christian beliefs, attitudes and loving actions count in God’s sight.
  • God presents the path to eternal life, but each individual must choose to obey and follow, and as sinners, continuously ask for forgiveness for our transgressions.
  • Temptation is not a sin – Jesus was tempted. True and honest ignorance is not a sin – however, most of us know when we sin and cannot hide behind “ignorance”.
  • God does not directly punish people for their sins while they are living. People during their lives may receive suffering (punishments) as the result of their conduct as acts of free will.

In conclusion, this writing has been composed after considerable pray, study and thought. It is my hope that our God of love, forgiveness and redemption, presented to us in the New Testament, prevails over any concept of God of wrath and condemnation.

W.F. Peck

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A Rudimentary Summary of How Stars Contributed to Life in the Cosmos

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Have you ever wondered how the universe initially produced life –leading to our human existence?  It is said that we are the product of stars. How could that be true? After considerable study over many complex scientific writings, I shall attempt to convey a layman’s very imperfect and brief summary of how we are indeed “products of the stars”.

If you wish to gain a more accurate and complete report on this subject, may I refer you to at least two outstanding books:

“Big Bang” – The Origin of the Universe by Simon Singh and “The Stardust Revolution” – The Story of Our Origin in the Stars by Jacob Berkowitz. These and many other books are marvelous outlines written by super scientists far more qualified than I am to report this prehistoric history.

Most students begin their inquiries by asking: “What existed before the Big Bang”?  The answer is – only God – for there was no universe before the Big Bang. Second, many young students of science question the origin of the basic scientific building blocks of the universe:

  • Gravity
  • Electro- magnetism
  • The Strong Nuclear force
  • The Weak Nuclear force

From what I know, God created and mobilized these basic forces in the universe at the time of the Big Bang. They are the initial products of God’s physics and chemistry plan. We must just accept these facts and move on in our discovery of how the universe evolved and produced life as we know it.

I shall assume you are prepared to accept that the universe started when God released the “Big Bang”!  If you do not accept this scientific conclusion, supported by the vast majority of scientists all over the world, then you will have trouble understanding and believing in the facts regarding the role stars play in the creation of life.

The scientific community unanimously accepts that the universe has been and continues to expand – thanks to the knowledge gained from the development of large, powerful telescopes and the discoveries of Edwin Hubble. Scientists measuring the rate of universal expansion are able to trace back (in reverse) the cosmos to its beginning at a specific point in time. It is generally accepted that the beginning occurred about 14.7 billion years ago as mind boggling quantities of heat and energy erupted to initiate the universe. Believe it or not, our best scientific minds understand initial conditions within seconds after the Big Bang event and have traced it backward and then forward to our present day. There’s not enough space or time to explain how astro-scientists are able to measure the sizes, contents, temperatures and distances of stars and planets in the early universe – but they can!

The enormous heat and pressures associated with the early cosmos released from stars humungous amounts of hydrogen and helium into the expanding atmosphere. This continued for millions of years until atmospheric temperatures began to gradually decline. The universe was initially a mass of clouds, gases and dust particles that spewed wildly across the expanding universe. As temperatures continued to drop slowly over millions of years, dust particles, feeling the forces of gravity and electromagnetism began to accumulate into globs of atomic elements gaining mass as they grew larger.

A billion or more years pass as clouds of elementary dusts bond together creating the first stars. Gravity continues to pull masses closer together creating nuclear forces and raising star temperatures to boiling levels. Simultaneously, stars begin to move and form magnetic fields, collide and breakup forming second generation stars. 

Different stars, under varying conditions of heat and gravitational pressures, created tremendously hot nuclear furnaces that over long periods of time chemically change helium and hydrogen into other elements – including metals.

Thus, the cosmos first dust probably appeared as these stars burned and exploded as supernova ejecting vast quantities of all the chemical elements into the early atmosphere thus forming the first solids that became our rocky planets.

At some point, several billion years ago, our most famous star – the Sun was formed as vast quantities of nuclear materials bonded together creating our Solar System. Fortunately, our Sun still contains vast quantities of burning hydrogen that will last several billion years more.

Other masses of cosmic materials containing solid metallic cores are pulled by gravity to rotate around our very hot but stable Sun. One of these rotating planets, having accumulated rich deposits of organic dust (and water) settled into orbiting about our Sun and became our one and only Earth about 3.5 billion years ago. Over millions of additional years the earth grew in size by acting as a dust collector plus bonding with meteorites during numerous collisions. Now our modern knowledge of geology becomes joined together with the stars. We read that the universe contains about 75% hydrogen, and 23% helium leaving but 2% for the hundred or more remaining elements.

However, our human bodies are made up of four key elements:

  • Oxygen 65%
  • Carbon 18.5%
  • Hydrogen   9.5%
  • Nitrogen 3.2%
  • All other elements 3.8%

Totaling  =          100%

The origin of organic material on earth, appears to have been molecular dust transported to us from outer space. The stars are our direct ancestors. The very substances of our bodies were formed from chemical elements contributed from stars – first as earth materials and later as building blocks in the formation of living organisms. Remember that our Holy Bible in the book of Genesis allegorically creates human kind from symbolic earthen dust.

One must pause and reflect on the missing link. Within the complex processes of evolution, God, at some point in our history, through the power of the Holy Spirit, breathed life into multiple living creatures and finally into organic bodies of hominids.

It was no causal accident. God, through the deliberate Big Bang event, brought the building blocks of life, chemical elements, to us from billions of stars – leading to the creation of planet earth.

Praise be to God for the magnificent role stars play in the building of life on earth.

By  W.F. Peck

Leadership Styles and Human Personalities

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Much has been researched and written about the characteristics of effective leadership styles. Numerous types of evaluations reveal our individual propensities to show how we relate to others we seek to lead. Key factors such as introversion/extroversion, congenial/assertiveness or type A vs. type B personalities emerge to help describe our natural inclinations during interrelations with others. These are useful tools that are well known by our human relation experts. We who seek to become better leaders use all of this information and more as we interface with others.

You may or may not be familiar with evaluations developed by the psychiatric profession that study the multiple differences in the brain structure that innately influence how we behave as individuals.

Being a layman, I can only describe a small portion of the results of these marvelous medical discoveries. From a leadership perspective, we now know that all adults are born with varying amounts of “left brain” and “right brain” characteristics. While we all have both, most people are born with either a dominant “right brain or left brain” set of natural propensities. What does this mean?

A person who possesses a dominantly “right brain” may be described as one who naturally places such factors as: feelings, empathy, relationships, compassion and harmony with others at a high priority. A strong “left brain” personality is driven more by: facts, analysis, data, systems, schedules and goals. This is an over simplification of a complex medical study.

These two broad personality traits are not related to intelligence or moral values. We all have different interests and abilities to accomplish certain types of tasks or goals. We tend to migrate toward comfortable activities and avoid activities we dislike.

  Many times we fail to understand or appreciate people whose dominate personalities are on the other side. In most people, one side or the other is dominate, but all possible combinations exist – i.e. 70/30, 60/40, 50/50 or 30/70, 40/60 and other combinations are possible.

Many times leaders are less successful in certain types of jobs  or leading certain types of assignments, because they do not understand who they are  and how they may need to adjust their dominate conduct to fit the types of people involved in the decisions or tasks at hand.

Typical Characteristics

Be assured there are no wrong or bad personality profiles. We have all inherited certain levels of God given left and right brain personalities. Here are some general characteristics of both types of brain orientations:

Right Brain

Strengths:

  • Develop relationships easily, are good listeners, care about and project interest in others
  • Good at formulating compromises
  • Generally seek to be involved in service to others
  • Often very creative and artistic

Weaknesses:

  • Tend to avoid difficult decisions or confrontations – hoping they will go away or be decided by others
  • Tend to not be concerned about time schedules
  • Are often not able to organize their responsibilities
  • Love to interrelate and talk but often avoid drawing any specific conclusions.

Left Brain

Strengths:

  • Driven to get things done – will confront and compete easily
  • Normally good at handling systems, data and analysis
  • Very time and schedule oriented
  • Usually organize and manage their responsibilities well

Weaknesses:

  • Tend to ignore the feelings and opinions of others in their decision making
  • Are often rigid and uncompromising
  • Base most decisions on facts rather than feelings or ideas
  • Sometimes  decide and speak before thinking through options

Practical Applications

Effective leaders learn to discipline themselves to behave according to the best approach that will influence others to follow and thus to accomplish the desired results. This analysis applies equally as strong at home with family and friends as it does in our business relationships. Here are a few typical descriptions of people in real positions in life:

Politicians – right brain people do best – they are good talkers

Business Managers – left brain people organize and get things done

Scientists – left brain people who deal with facts, analysis, systems

Labor Oriented Jobs – right brain people are better followers but some supervisory positions require left brain leadership

Religious Ministers – right brain activities are heavily involved but left brain leadership is required for financial survival and church growth

Top Corporate Executives – both brain types are needed depending on the complexity of the management decisions and the types of interpersonal relationships involved

Marriages – Marriages often suffer and can lead to divorce because the partners have opposite brain orientations and they do not understand how to deal with their different God given personalities.

Parent/Child – Family relationships often suffer because the children get mixed signals on what is acceptable conduct from parents who have different brain orientations.

Friends/Neighbors – Relationships suffer or often do not develop because personalities are not understood.

The Best Model

For those of us who profess to be Christians, we learn a lot about leadership styles and human relationships from the life and teachings of Jesus. If you think about it long enough, you will remember how Jesus dealt with many difficult situations and personalities. His dominate brain orientation (as a human being), was about love and his concern for others. His mission on earth was about helping, serving and bringing people together – all right brain activities.

He did not seek to encourage physical violence, but he had the courage and resolve to confront, in a peaceful and thoughtful manner, the military and political powers of his day. He felt the suffering of his mission, but he did not back down from facing his responsibilities – all left brain activities. Jesus demonstrated a balanced approach in his decision making and in his relationships with all people. I believe if Jesus were here today, he would teach that:

  • Right brain people need to mobilize the courage, in certain situations, to activate stronger left brain capabilities in order to get more good things done correctly and on time.
  • Left brain people need to discipline themselves to being more sensitive to the feelings and opinions of the people they seek to lead.

It would seem important that we all learn how to balance our responses to others with the hope that we may together some day- make a positive impact on bringing in of God’s Kingdom on this earth. May this be your daily prayer?

By W.F. Peck

Seeking to Understand the Nature of God

 

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Throughout recorded history countless numbers of religious scholars have sought to better understand the nature of our Christian God. Why would a plain, ordinary lay theologian attempt to improve on the multiple volumes on this subject written by hundreds of renowned heros of the Bible?

My reasons include:

  • Being concerned and analytical about our loving God, in my judgment, is superior to being silently afraid or passive about him.
  • Being seriously interested in exploring the nature of God, may be risky, but it draws me closer to him – even if my judgment is wrong.
  • When one truly cares about another, one seeks to be involved more closely with that person, rather than sitting a far off in fear of offending or judging. To ignore God is one of the greatest sins.
  • While it is obvious that much about the nature of God shall always be a mystery, God gave mankind a mind, a keen sense of wonder and a propensity to explore the very depths of all human experience. I believe God approves and may even enjoy man’s feeble attempts to know him more personally. Lord, I hope so!

I am prompted to explore God’s nature and even to attempt to defend him, after reading all the misguided rationale expressed by atheists (who say God does not exist) and agnostics who confess (they do not know if God exists or not). Many of their writings appear to be well thought out and often make some logical sense. My first line of defense would be to counter that the very nature of God cannot be fully explained by logical reasoning or material facts.

Second, two thousand years of human experience by millions (even billions) of religious peoples from dozens of ethnic backgrounds in hundreds of countries, will easily trump the opinions of all intellectual, non-religious people in the world. If we take a vote, there is no contest!

Praise God for doubt leading to blind faith, but should we not attempt to truly understand the nature of God? I think so – fully realizing it is a risky endeavor. We must not assume to be equal to God!

Atheist, in particular, enjoy discounting the existence of God because:

  • Evil and suffering exist in the world and our all powerful, all knowing and all present God seems to ignore or retreat from stepping in and preventing or correcting bad things.
  • A God of love and compassion cannot sit idly by and allow bad things to happen to good people.
  • How could a loving God allow natural events such as: volcanos, earth quakes, tornados, famine, flooding and disease to destroy lives and property of innocent people? Where is God when all of these terrible things are happening? There are no easy answers but here are some thoughts to ponder:
  • God created the universe, the earth and all living creatures. He is continuously involved in our human experiences – but in my view, he does not micro- manage the individual events in our daily lives. He ordained that part of being human would be free will, thus allowing mankind to freely choose between doing good or doing evil. I believe “evil” is a condition – a substance – it is not a person in a red suit and forked tail going around infecting people with sin. In essence, evil is the absence of God.
  • Our all powerful God chooses to limit his power in some relationships with humanity. For example, God will not make 2 plus 2 be anything but 4, God will not step in and make the color blue to be red or any other color, and God will not step in and rescue a small child that wanders, unsupervised, into deadly traffic or an open swimming pool. God honors the physical laws that hold the world together.
  • Some horrendous events or conditions such as the Holocast or devastating earth quakes cannot be logically explained. They remain a mystery. Maybe, just maybe, God allows some tragic events to occur with knowledge that – later a greater loving consequence will be realized. We humans may never understand some tragic events.
  • Is God all knowing? Maybe, but has he always known about countless numbers of scientific inventions such as – computers and cell phones? It seems more reasonable that God gained new knowledge as it was discovered or created. The Bible says: God sometimes changed his mind. If this is true, then it follows that he must have gained new information to persuade him to change his mind. Since humans were made in the image of God, we too grow and gain new knowledge that causes us to change our minds and our understandings of events and circumstances. To think otherwise relegates the world to being a dull and preplanned robot. Perish the thought!
  • Is God everywhere? Probably so – since the presence of the Holy Spirit is available to all who seek it. God seems to find a place next to all humans and to enjoy their happiness as well as their feelings of suffering and pain. For reasons we do not clearly understand, God selects (at least in most cases) not to intervene in our painful human experiences.
  • In the middle of these considerations, God created mankind with a free will to choose between doing good and doing evil. If this is true, God cannot honor this decision and at the same time control the outcome of every human experience. Such control would negate the principle of free will which is basic to our human existence.
  • So, it seems fair and logical to surmise that God is all powerful (within his rules of creation).
  • God is all knowing at any point in history but he gains more knowledge as his created world evolves. This may not be standard Christian thinking but it is what I believe. Forgive me Lord.
  • God is everywhere and while seeing all human events (good or bad) he feels and suffers with us rather than intervening in the natural laws he created. Intervention would reduce the world order to chaos.
  • Most natural disasters can be scientifically explained. Scientists know, without any doubt, that multiple sections of the earths crust (tectonic plates) have moved about over prehistoric time and finally settled to form the continents we have today. From time to time, subterranean movements of these tectonic plates sometimes cause volcanos to erupt, earth quakes and tsunamis to flood the earth. Many civilizations have suffered from these geological events. Did God premeditatedly plan these events? I don’t think so. They are only the result of natural events that God does not select to control. God does not create complex physical laws and then jump in and oppose or change them!

These humble thoughts about the nature of God may be grossly inadequate. How will mankind ever fully understand the mysteries of God? Probably never.

It is comforting to remember that Job, while being humble and respectful to God, debated and argued with God and challenged God’s treatment of him. God finally responds to Job and teaches him right thinking but he also admitted that Job’s hardships and suffering were not the result of his sins. Job’s advisors were wrong.

There are earthly consequences for human sin, but God does not impose punishment on any living creature for their sins. However, mankind is capable of generating its own earthly punishments. The rains fall equally on the just and the unjust. Suffering is a normal event of our human experience. How sad and sterile the world would be without suffering persons to love. This is one of the lessons Job learned.

God ultimately agreed with Job and restored him to a deserving and normal life. I believe God welcomes thoughtful inquiries and prayerful studies into his nature. After all, we were made in the image of him.

 

Written by W.F. Peck

Modern Beliefs About Creation

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Modern day Christians need to adjust their theological understandings of the biblical story of beginnings as new scientific facts are uncovered. We have all been raised and “schooled” to accept the traditional and cultural interpretations of the early chapters of the book of Genesis – that is, God created the universe and the earth in a short period of time (one week).

Current scientific facts clearly disclose that the universe, and later, planet earth, to be billions of years old. Are these scientific facts reliable? Have they been proven beyond any doubt to be accurate? Yes they have! But rather than trying to understand a set of complex scientific proofs, most layman would opt to believe what a majority of competent scientists believe. International statistics consistently report that 95% of all informed scientists – across the entire world- believe in these evolutionary facts. Additionally, most educated adults accept these scientific facts as being true, even though they may not understand the technical details. Also, the vast majority of our most highly educated clergy (in all denominations) believe in the evolutionary process.

So do these new scientific discoveries undermine or discount the value of the Bible? Of course not! God has continued to reveal more and more about his beautiful creation every year through modern science. God’s biblical messages regarding creation are still true. Although modern knowledge of the processes have been refined- God is still at the center of Creation!

Even so, many traditional Christians still have trouble accepting new scientific information. Most layman do not understand the scientific processes – that appear to contradict the Bible. Well, can we agree that many of God’s best messages are often hidden behind the literal words of the Bible – in metaphorical or allegorical stories? Jesus used similar teaching methods through parables. If one cannot accept this premise, then surely one will find interpretations of certain scriptures to be troublesome. Please remember, St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the founding fathers of Christian theology – in about 300AD – stated: “When scientific facts appear to be in conflict with scripture, it is time to reinterpret scripture.” Traditional thinking has not been wrong, it simply requires intelligent updating.

Since some would suggest that none of this discussion impacts our central beliefs regarding the life and teachings of Jesus, why worry about it? I disagree. Jesus said: “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free”. If Christianity is to remain viable in the lives of human kind, it must be about truth. Our young people are progressively exposed to more and more scientific information. They are smart, analytical and perceptive. Their school training is complex and comprehensive and includes studies of scientific creation. They are far ahead of most mature adults in their learning. It only takes a few years of college training or experience in the work place for them to discover many new truths about God and his creation. How can we expect them to remain loyal to their traditional family churches that tend to hide from or give lip service to scientific truths? This topic is crucial to keeping our traditional churches viable and growing for future generations.

As I view it, there are five (5) related reasons why scientific truths are ignored or suppressed by many Christian churches:

1). Many pastors cling tenaciously to the literal interpretation of all scriptures because it fits well with the educational level of the majority of their church members. Tis far easier to promote peace and harmony than intellectual analysis.

2). Many pastors, who intellectually believe in scientific evolution, will admit it privately, but stay away from it in their public pronouncements. Why is this? Pastors have to weigh carefully what they say from the pulpit – regarding nontraditional matters, for fear of confusing or losing many loyal church members. In my view, they are placating the older traditional members while risking the loss of their now grown children. Carefully planned and objectively presented educational programs are the answer.

3). Knowledge of Scientific Evolution is very complex and continuously changing. Even the scientific community cannot provide clear and simple answers to many creation questions. Most people do not have the educational background to grasp highly technical concepts. Our public libraries offer dozens of well written books on scientific creation, written by both theologians and scientists, that most layman can understand. Unfortunately, most senior citizens do not care or will not change their traditional beliefs regarding creation.

4). The fundamental movement across America attracts many people who prefer a simple, literal and traditional interpretation of all scriptures. It seems sad and wasteful for so much time and energy to be expended defending outdated and inaccurate interpretations of scripture.

5). Scholars (on both sides – scientific and religious) have for centuries had great difficulties blending our beautiful Christian beliefs with new and ever changing scientific knowledge. This must be done. Substantial progress has been made in the last few years toward understanding God’s real processes of creation. Fully understood, the scientific explanations for God’s processes of creation are exciting, rational and inspiring. The future of our wonderful, traditional churches may be dependent on this encouraging trend.

 

Written by W.F. Peck

About Bill Peck

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Bill Peck is a retired management consultant with over 50 years of consulting technical businesses.  A Georgia Tech Graduate, Bill has written numerous articles relevant to engineering firms pertaining to, “small business re-structuring”, “financial strategies”  managing team workshops and creating successful business plans.

Furthermore, for many years, Bill has led Sunday School classrooms in Bible teachings, and Evolution discussions.  Conducting Evolution Seminars has been a passion for Bill that continually grows stronger while sharing his advanced knowledge, research, devoted studies, and excitement regarding the true history of Earth’s beginnings.

This blog is written to educate, introduce, convey, express, provoke, enlighten, entertain, or perhaps  “document” years of thoroughly studying  the  Evolution phenomena.

We hope you’ll take a moment to read a few articles that Mr. Peck has written.  These pages primarily reveal a different point of view,  discovery,  scientific / religious aspect and closer understanding of Theological topics relating to modern day Christianity and Evolution.

Bill resides in Georgia and has 2 grown daughters, and 3 grand children. An avid fisherman, Bill continues to teach, read, and conduct daily research on these religious topics.

Thank you for taking time to read this blog.  We will be adding future posts, and certainly solicit your feedback.

We welcome your comments.

Warm Regards,

Bill Peck

To Become Fully Human- Prehistoric Man Must Choose to Disobey God

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Interpreting Scripture

The true meaning of the eating of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil presented to us in Genesis, chapter three, has troubled God’s people since the beginning of modern history. Prior to this act of disobedience, only partially human, upright bipedal hominids existed. The bible symbolically identifies these first pre-humans as Adam and Eve. Hominids, God’s very early human creatures, were innocent of sin because they were not yet fully human with a conscience and an understanding of the difference between right and wrong.

There were metaphorically two important trees at the center of the mythical Garden of Eden – the Tree of  Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life (immortality). Although in the third chapter of Genesis, God instructs Adam and Eve not to partake fruit from the tree of good and evil, they disobeyed God for the first time and ate the forbidden fruit. While God clearly objected to this act of disobedience, this  symbolic act is the key to mankind reaching full maturity. Scriptures tell us – their eyes were opened and they realized who they were – and they were ashamed of their nakedness. God then said: “Man is now like God” – with intellect, a conscience and the ability to discern the difference between right and wrong. 

Based on a traditional interpretation of scripture, God objected to Adam and Eve’s act of disobedience and  “slapped their wrists” with several metaphorical penalties. They were ordered to leave the Garden of Eden – (it was time for mankind to move out into the real world) and also work and sweat at their labor (normal conditions for all responsible humans). Worries about birth pains seem superfluous since near humans had for thousands of years experienced birth pains.

If one reflects carefully on the Genesis story, it is obvious that any act of disobedience must be initiated by man for surely God would not initiate such an act. Throughout the history of mankind, imperfection, disobedience and rebellion against God have been the “Human Condition”. A positive interpretation of this historic event, outlined in detail in the third chapter of Genesis, represents mankind’s first act of adult thinking and choosing for the first time to exercise a free will.

To be made in the full image of God means (in part): Man became aware of his intellect, powers of reasoning and a sensitive conscience.

The early scriptures do not tell us if it was God’s plan to allow his pre-human creatures to become fully human. The scriptural wording seems to suggest that God temporarily resisted this evolutionary process. A more positive interpretation of Genesis three expresses a beautiful story of how humanity came into being. Man’s initial act of disobedience inaugurated and emancipated the human race.

Genesis three also reports that God chose to block mankind from partaking of fruit from the Tree of Life – that is to immediately allow man to gain eternal life – immortality. God, in his infinite wisdom, knew that the goal of attaining immortality must be a slow and life long struggle for humanity – not something man should gain instantaneously. The entire Old Testament presents mankind with a continuing struggle to gain eternal life which culminates with the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.

The Christian theology of the western culture was to a large extent developed and presented to us through the writings of Bishop Augustine of Hippo. This great theologian gave us the terminology  of: “Original Sin” and the “Genesis Fall of Mankind”. Neither of these ideas is mentioned in the Bible. Most modern biblical scholars discount the Augustine theory that every generation has biologically inherited the initial sin of Adam and Eve – their act of disobedience. They also object to Augustine’s conclusion that all unbaptized babies are doomed to hell!

It is true that fully human beings possessing a free will, can choose to act in accordance with God’s will or can select to perform ungodly acts. The existence of evil in the world is part of the “Human Condition”, but each person has the choice , every day, to choose to do good or evil. To agree with Augustine’s theory of “original Sin” tends to absolve mankind of the responsibility to exercise its God given right of free will.

Interpreting Scientific Information

This positive interpretation of the meaning of the events presented in Genesis, chapter three, matches well with our current scientific knowledge regarding the slow and gradual evolution of God’s primordial creatures. For at least the last four hundred years, anthropologists, archeologists, geologists and paleontologists, all over the world, have unearthed, dated and classified bones, skulls and fossils of pre-human (hominids). Several million years ago, hominid brain sizes were only 400cc according to scientific measurements of ancient skulls. Over long periods of time brain sizes developed and grew to 1000cc and finally at the dawn of humanity, Homo sapiens brains were 1450cc – about the same size as modern humans.

At this point in pre-history, evidence abounds that these nearly human upright, bi-pedal creatures were:

  • Creating stone weapons and tools
  • Cooking over fires
  • Caring for their families
  • Organizing into groups (tribes)
  • Presenting creative art and pictures on walls
  • Burying their dead with preparations for an after life

At some point in time, most experts believe between 6000BC and 10,000BC, God breathed his Holy Spirit into these evolved hominids and they became fully human. In Hebrew theology this marvelous act of God is identified as the “Neshama”. Man is fully whole – with a free will, a conscience and the capacity to discern the difference between right and wrong for the first time.

Understanding these scientific facts and believing in God’s messages expressed in metaphorical language through the stories of Adam and Eve, offers a giant leap in mans ability to blend scientific information with our holy scriptures.

There is no question that God created human – kind over eons of time using all of his laws of nature and bringing the culmination  of his final acts to us through the beautiful stories in the early chapters of the book of Genesis. It is the most logical and inspiring explanation of God’s evolutionary processes that any educated student of the Bible could ever imagine!

This wonderful reconciliation of our current scientific knowledge, with God’s messages hidden in the book of Genesis, will greatly enhance our chances of attracting and keeping younger, educated Christians loyal to our traditional churches. More open and totally honest dialogues are needed by church leaders if this reconciliation  is to be meaningful and supportive of God’s work through his churches.

Oh Lord, we pray, someday our church leaders will have the intellect, knowledge and courage to abandon misleading, traditional interpretations of Old Testament scriptures and thus strengthen the effectiveness of their Christian callings.

 By W.F.Peck