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Paradise Lost
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message 1: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Smith Welcome to the second episode in Barbara's Classics and Tough Reads. This time around Barbara and I will be reading Paradise Lost by John Milton.

Barbara will be starting the poem toward the end of the week, and because I forsee myself reading a little slower than her, I'm starting today. Anyone is welcome to join in, and all comments are welcome :)


message 2: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Smith Going through this pretty slowly because
a) I need/want to consult the notes on the text and
b) it's the kind of read that makes me muse and take lots of notes myself.

I did part of this poem at varsity and although I don't remember much of what was discussed (will try and dig up my notes) I do remember enjoying it quite a lot.

Now I'm reminded of part of the reason why - Satan is an absolutely amazing character. He isn't evil per se - he's a failed but nevertheless heroic revolutionary.

Going back to the text now, it's really very good. More in the morning :)

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
Ok, i've read the first book. I tried to read the introduction but since that was focusing on the discussion whether or not Milton should be regarded as one of the greats I stopped reading it.
I must say I understand more than I did when I tried to read this many many years ago. I read it aloud to myself and that helps even further because it forces you to slow down.
I love the speeches Satan gives to rouse his demons to action. I did however expect more about the fall of men and the actual casting out of heaven of the demons.

message 4: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Smith I got sidetracked and I'm still on the first book :(
But I'll try and finish it today and then post my notes.

The fall of Man will come later (at this point they haven't been created, and neither has the earth,although I can't recall if this happens later in book 1). But yes, some more about the struggle between God and Satan would be interesting. The would actually make a great novel; I wonder if anyone's written one...

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
ok, now I'm confused. Why is Satan cast out of heaven? I always thought the fall of men had soemthing to do with that. Or does he tempt men as the first act of defiance after he is cast out?

message 6: by Lauren (last edited Feb 09, 2011 01:03AM) (new)

Lauren Smith Satan is cast out of heaven for defying God. It's actually what I love about him (or Milton's Satan at least). He's not evil, he just opposes God's dictatorship. I don't think he wants to be the ruler himself, he just sees it as unfair that God is supreme ruler and he wants shared power.

The way Satan refers to God it seems that He is not a deity really; they are all angels. God just rules because he's the strongest. It's also strength that allows him to win the battle for heaven and cast Satan and his followers out. Thus God doesn't win because He's good and Satan is evil; God is just stronger.

And yes, Satan tempts Man as an act of defiance or revenge. In the last bit I read he was pledging to oppose God in everything He did.

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
I didn't get the part of the defying. I did get the part that they are all the same in the sense that every angel and demon (once they are cast out) are called gods and that God is the most powerfull which I got the impression surprised Satan a bit.
I think I will reread book 1 again before I go any further to see if I get it the second time around or maybe I will check out the Yale lecture.

message 8: by Lauren (last edited Feb 09, 2011 01:39AM) (new)

Lauren Smith Yes, Satan underestimated exactly how powerful God was. He knew God was stronger, but he thought that with an entire army behind him he could win.

On defiance - Satan says
To do aught good will never be our task,
But ever to do ill our sole delight,
As being contrary to his high will
Whom we resist

(That's about where I stopped). But Satan's definition of good and ill uses the religious definition of good being the will of God, so I still don't see him as evil. God actually deceives Adam and Eve about what exactly the forbidden fruit will do to them. Satan tells them the truth. So even though God does something we'd consider bad, and Satan tells the truth (which we consider good), God still appears as all-good because he defines goodness.

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
I agree, that is something that has always bothered me about God. How can a being that is supposed to be good and forgiving murder whole populations because they don't do what he wants them to? How can he lie and deceive? Why does he wants people to follow him without question? So God I think isn't per definition good and Satan evil. And Satan isn't evil because he wants to be he just wants to mess with God's design.

The defiance part in heaven still eludes me. The speech you gave is something Satan says after he is cast out and he wants to get even. I get the impression that he is .... Ok now I get it. Sorry I was brainstorming for a moment. That speech is very defiant indeed. It is like he is saying you cast me out, see how you can rule without me and with me opposing you. Ok, I'm getting there. It's very helpfull to discuss about these things. You think about it more.

message 10: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Smith I have to read everything about 3 times over before I get it though. Reading this stuff has never been my forte.

Yeah, there are a lot of very difficult questions about God, because He's made out to be so completely powerful and absolutely good that His actions no longer make sense.
How can the snake be in the Garden to tempt Eve unless he wills it? Why put the damn tree there in the first place? Anyone who knows anything about human nature knows that if you tell someone not to touch something they will bloody touch it.
Love this quote from Terry Pratchett: "Some humans would do anything to see if it was possible to do it. If you put a large switch in some cave somewhere, with a sign on it saying 'End-of-the-World Switch. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH', the paint wouldn't even have time to dry."

On the whole, yes, God is very petty and egotistical, at least in the way he is depicted in the Bible and by Christianity. He is far more like a small-minded human than a god.

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
I know what you mean that's why I am reading it aloud. It helps with the natural flow of the sentences and I got more meaning out of it then when I just read it.

The old question if God is all powerfull can he make a rock so big even he can't lift it is very appropriate here. If he can he isn't all powerfull, but if he can't he isn't either.

How could God be anything else then a small minded human? We were created in his image if you believe the Bible. People as a whole are small minded. They only want what is good for them and what they need. There are few people who can get past that and look to what is good for everyone. Look at the state of the world. How could we have gotten there if we weren't small minded in some way. So if we are small minded and we are created in his image God should be small minded too. The Bible makes so much more sense if you look at it from that perspective.
Wow this is turning into a very philosophical discussion.

message 12: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Smith In my opinion, the God of religion (any religion or mythology) is created in the image of human beings. I don't think the Bible was divinely inspired, I think it was conceived of and written by humans who were drawing on the myths and cultures of their day and not on divine inspiration. I mean surely a deity could have done a better job on the book that's supposed to be a relevant spiritual text for thousands of years to come.

And that explains why God is not quite so godly as he should be. He wants to be loved and worshipped and if you don't worship him, or if you have the wrong idea about him because of the religion you were born into, you will burn in hell for all eternity. And yet human beings have forgiven each other for far worse than not being loved.

In a way I actually prefer the capricious gods of mythology - they do not pretend to be so good and noble.

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
Talking about capricious gods I have to say I love Zeus. He is the ultimate dirty old man. He seduces women left, right and center and has a terrible temper. I can relate far better to the ancient gods of mythology than I can to the God of the Bible. I do agree with you that the Bible wasn't divinely inspired. How could it be? How could a truly benign deity inspire a book that makes himself look so bad?
If you keep all this in mind Paradise Lost makes a lot more sense. Because if God is flawed by human desires it makes more sense that beings he created are so too. Why else would angels defy him if he was all good and why wouldn't he have forgiven them if he was all good. Why would he have cast them out to such a horrible place. Considering the casting out of the angels and all the other bad stuff we have already mentioned. God really has an anger management issue. Maybe he should get therapy. That would be a great idea for a book though. Too bad I don't write. God on a therapy couch in Heaven talking to the great psychiatrist of the ages talking about his anger management issues. God talking to Freud and Freud wanting too know about his sexlife to analyse his problems. Could be hilarious.

message 14: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Smith I agree with you completely.
In Paradise Lost there is also no sense that Satan and the rebel angels are simply power-hungry. Like I said in my first post, they're more like revolutionaries fighting injustice.

Also, although Satan is the leader here he talks to Beelzebub as his equal, lamenting how great they once were, together as comrades. God on the other hand is afraid of such equality. Satan mentions that God's sudden show of power at the end of the battle showed how afraid he was of losing.

I'm sure someone's done some God-therapy cartoons :)

He's very volatile. One of the stories I find most appalling is Job's. Satan has a debate with God and God is so intent on being proven right, on convincing the devil that Job loves him that he goes off and slaughters HUNDREDS of people and animals and makes poor Job totally miserable. Just to prove the devil wrong. How is that good?! And if he's God, isn't he always right anyway? Why does he have to prove it?

message 15: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Smith BTW I love Zeus and the Greek pantheon too. Reading those myths is also on my neverending list of things I'd like to do.

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
Satan is first among equals. God is first and way down below come angels and even under that comes men.
I'm getting more and more sympathy for Satan. I get the feeling God is hiding something and Satan is always honest about what he wants.
The story of Job is one of the many examples of God's wrong doing. God in the story of Job is like a small child sayong to its sibling mummy loves me more.
I must say I would love to read the old testament again. I have read a lot of it in my school years. I went to a christian school and got a lot of bible classes, so I know most of the stories, but it would be interesting to read them again and not presuming that God is good and all powerfull. If he was he could have proven his point in another way to Satan. It would be interesting to see what I make of the stories now.

message 17: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Smith God in the story of Job is like a small child sayong to its sibling mummy loves me more.
Yes! That's exactly it - that level of petty, immature boasting.

I also think reading the Bible stories with a critical eye instead of the gloss of belief will be very interesting. I've done a few recently.

Have you ever seen the movie Watchmen or read the graphic novel? I love the character Dr Manhattan. I think he's a more realistic depiction of a god-like being. He's so powerful that he loses interest in humanity, in the same way that we wouldn't be interested in the lives of ants. He doesn't try to play power games.

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
No, I haven't seen or read Watchmen. I heard great things about it but I never got around to it. Maybe I will pick it up later this year.

message 19: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Smith I read the rest of book 1 last night. After a good start I was completely lost in all the references to pagan gods and ancient kings and cultures, even with the notes. So that mostly went over my head, but I get the gist of it, ie. that the pagan gods are the fallen angels trying to thwart God's intentions.

One of my favourite moments in the book was when Satan says "Awake, arise, or be forever fallen".
He gives such a great speech to rally the fallen angels.

message 20: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Smith Phew, I have to say this is tough going for me. Have made a small foray into Book 2. Part of my difficulty might stem from a possibly pedantic need to understand everything that's going on here, so I'm not satisfied with getting the gist of it, and keep going over a few lines several times.

How are things for you Barbara?

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
Sorry I was absent, but I have a rough two days. Having said that I have managed to read book 2 and 3.
Book 2 was a difficult one. I don't understand every line but I get what happened. Book 3 was amazing. I mean if you compare it to book 1 or 2 it's almost like a children's book.
I loved book 2 even though it was sometimes hard to understand. I like the idea that there is a council going on. It isn't just Satan who decides what will happen.
I have very mixed feelings about book three which I wont get into right now, because you haven't read it yet. But I would love to discuss them once you're ready.
The introductions at the beginning of each book are very helpful. They give you a hint of what is going to happen and help you understand what is going on. I have noticed that trying to read through a book in one go is the best thing. If you don't you loose your idea of what is happening, you'll loose the flow. Also I have noticed that if I don't understand a couple of lines it's a good idea to keep reading. Most times something happens in the lines following that will make the uncomprehensible lines more clear if not totally clear.
But this book illustrates very well why I called my personal challenge classic and tough reads. However I love this book no matter how hard it is. There are some jewels of sentences in there and I love how it changes my views about Satan and God and makes me think about religion.

message 22: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Smith Ack, I'm sorry, I'm way behind. I tried to take your advice and read the whole book in one go, even if I didn't understand everything. I fell asleep. But then again I attempted it rather late last night after spending the whole day making jewellery. So still on book 2 :(

I agree with you about the intros - very helpful.

I also like the democracy of the council. I'm just trying to get the gist of what everyone is saying.

One thing that occurred to me while I was reading, and is related to our earlier discussion is that hell isn't so much the devil's dominion as God's prison. God made hell and it is the way it is because he created it like that, not because it's inhabited by 'evil' beings. This isn't exactly opaque, but I'd never thought about it that way.

Love those "jewel" lines too :) One that comes to mind from Book 2 was something Belial said about how he wants to live, that no matter how painful this existence is, he holds on to this intellectual being, and thus he doesn't want to die waging and inevitably losing an open war against God. I love the emphasis he places on life as an intellectual existence, making the mind the most valuable part of being alive, and thus something to be used vigorously, not dumbed down in obedience to God.

It reminded me of that book I was telling you about the other day - The Club Dumas. In there there's a comparison between God and the devil, where God wants blind, unthinking obedience, but the devil values intellect, free thought, riddles. It gives an image of Satan that's in some ways similar to Milton's but far more favourable.

message 23: by Emma (new)

Emma (emmauk007) | 1081 comments I have found it quite interesting reading your comments, I have never read Paradise Lost, but it seems to have brought up alot of questions regarding God. Therefore I would just like to clarify a few points, without turning this into a theological debate. :-) Seeing as all comments are welcome, here are mine.

Firstly does God cause suffering and the murder of millions of people? The Bible does not teach this.

The Bible clearly states: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19)

To find out why God allows suffering, we need to think back to the time when suffering began. When Satan led Adam and Eve into disobeying God, an important question was raised. Satan did not call into question Gods power. Rather, Satan questioned God’s right to rule. By calling God a liar who withholds good from his subjects, Satan charged that God is a bad ruler. (Genesis 3:2-5) Satan implied that mankind would be better off without God’s rulership. This was an attack on Gods sovereignty, his right to rule.Remember that Satan had said to Eve" You will become like God, implying that it would be better to become independent of God.

Adam and Eve rebelled against God. In effect, they said: “We do not need you as our Ruler. We can decide for ourselves what is right and what is wrong.” How could God settle that issue? How could he teach all intelligent creatures that the rebels were wrong and that his way truly is best?

Think of this illustration: Imagine that a teacher is telling his students how to solve a difficult problem. A clever but rebellious student claims that the teacher’s way of solving the problem is wrong. Implying that the teacher is not capable, this rebel insists that he knows a much better way to solve the problem. Some students think that he is right, and they also become rebellious. What should the teacher do? If he throws the rebels out of the class, what will be the effect on the other students? Will they not believe that their fellow student and those who joined him are right? All the other students in the class might lose respect for the teacher, thinking that he is afraid of being proved wrong. But suppose that the teacher allows the rebel to show the class how he would solve the problem. God has dome something similar to what the teacher does. Remember that the rebels in Eden were not the only ones involved. Millions of angels were watching. (Job 38:7; Daniel 7:10) How God handled the rebellion would greatly affect all those angels and eventually all intelligent creation. So, what has God done? He has allowed Satan to show how he would rule mankind. God has also allowed humans to govern themselves under Satan’s guidance.

The teacher in the illustration knows that the rebel and the students on his side are wrong. But he also knows that allowing them the opportunity to try to prove their point will benefit the whole class. When the rebels fail, all honest students will see that the teacher is the only one qualified to lead the class. They will understand why the teacher thereafter removes any rebels from the class. Similarly, God knows that all honesthearted humans and angels will benefit from seeing that Satan and his fellow rebels have failed and that humans cannot govern themselves. Like Jeremiah of old, they will learn this vital truth: “I well know, O God, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.”—Jeremiah 10:23. The results of being independent of God are clear to see for everyone. Humans have tried every form of Government and they have all failed miserably. God has allowed enough time for this issue of his sovereignty to be decided for once and for all.

The Bible does not teach in a fiery hell fire where people who dont worship God will be tormented forever. This is a total unbiblical teaching: The word Hell translated from The Hebrew she’ohl´ and its Greek equivalent hai´des, which refer, not to an individual burial place, but to the common grave of dead mankind

The dead do not experience any pain: Eccl. 9:5, 10: “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all . . . All that your hand finds to do, do with your very power, for there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol,* the place to which you are going.”

“Much confusion and misunderstanding has been caused through the early translators of the Bible persistently rendering the Hebrew Sheol and the Greek Hades and Gehenna by the word hell. The simple transliteration of these words by the translators of the revised editions of the Bible has not sufficed to appreciably clear up this confusion and misconception.”—The Encyclopedia Americana

The word Satan means adversary and coming to a point I made earlier about Gods right to rule being questioned, another question was raised with Job. Satan implied that Job only worshipped God because he had been blessed, and also that if he was put under stress or suffering that he would turn aside from serving God. If you read the Bible verse Satan actually says " Everything that a MAN has he will give up for his soul" This issue not only involved Job but all humans as Satan was saying that any human if put to death or suffering would leave God. Bear in mind that it was not God causing Jobs suffering "
“Skin in behalf of skin, and everything that a man has he will give in behalf of his soul. For a change, thrust out your hand, please, and touch as far as his bone and his flesh and see whether he will not curse you to your very face.” So God said: “There he is in your hand! Only watch out for his soul itself!” (Job 2:2-6) Hinting that God had not yet removed all protective barriers, Satan called for the touching of Job’s bone and flesh. The Devil would not be permitted to kill Job; but Satan knew that physical disease would pain him and make it appear that he was suffering punishment from God for secret sins. The result was Job kept his integrity to God and proved Satan a liar, and what of Job. “God . . . blessed the end of Job afterward more than his beginning.”—JOB 42:12.

If this was just a mythological book then why is it written with such candor. Honest historians would record not just victories () but also defeats, not just successes but also failures, not just strengths but also weaknesses. Few secular histories reflect such honesty. The Egyptians, Assyrians and the Medes and Persians were known for only recording their successes in history. In contrast, the Bible writers displayed refreshing candor. Moses, Israel’s leader, frankly reported the shortcomings of his brother, Aaron, of his sister Miriam, of his nephews Nadab and Abihu, and of his people, as well as his own mistakes. The serious mistakes of King David were not covered over but were committed to writing—and that while David was still ruling as king. Matthew, writer of the book bearing his name, tells how the apostles (of which he was one) disputed over their personal importance and how they abandoned Jesus on the night of his arrest. The writers of the letters of the Christian Greek Scriptures freely acknowledged the problems, including sexual immorality and dissensions, in some of the early Christian congregations. And they did not mince words in addressing those problems.— Such frank, open reporting indicates a sincere concern for truth. Since the Bible writers were willing to report unfavorable information about their loved ones, their people, and even themselves, is there not good reason to trust their writings?

“There is One who is dwelling above the circle of the earth.” (Isaiah 40:22) How did a Bible writer know 3000 years ago that the earth was not flat but round. How did he know that the earth was suspended in space : the earth is hanging “upon nothing.” (Job 26:7

A planet hanging “on empty space” was not at all how most people in those days pictured the earth. Yet, far ahead of his time, the Bible writer recorded a statement that is scientifically sound.

message 24: by Lauren (last edited Feb 14, 2011 03:02AM) (new)

Lauren Smith Hey Emma, thanks for joining :) A religious perspective provides some balance.

Will reply more fully when I have a chance, but just skimming through your post I just have a few things to say for now.

Why not a theological debate? I've noticed a lot of Christians say exactly that as soon as a discussion on religion begins. It tends to preface a statement without a discussion to follow it up. I'm not saying that you're about to do the same thing, I just noticed the trend, and I've actually had a conversation ended once by two women who said they don't ask questions because they can't answer them and it threatens their belief.
Anyway, theology is an important issue here, and Milton was strongly religious himself (a Puritan) and this poem was intended to "justify the ways of God to man'(although in my opinion it doesn't unless you accept the idea that might is right). To me, a debate is a very good thing, especially for the mind, if not, perhaps, for the soul :)

The second thing was about God and suffering. God doesn't openly cause suffering so much as allow it. Given that he is omnipotent, he could prevent suffering, but he obviously does not.
In the example of Job (which I apologise for misrepresenting; I forgot that Satan causes Job's suffering) God allows all these terrible things to happen to Job to prove the devil wrong, when he didn't need to enter into this discussion at all. In the story of Job, God (who must know from the start that he's right) permits mass slaughter and suffering just to get his ego stroked.

Regarding trusting the Bible: representing good and bad behaviour is not sufficient cause to trust completely in the Bible, whether for spiritual guidance, history, or scientific accuracy. Reason and common compassion alone make it impossible to place your full trust in the Bible. Think of how much of the Bible we have to ignore to use it for moral guidance example. There are purity laws in Leviticus that no one can take seriously any longer (eg. being forbidden to mix more than two types of cloth in a garment). There are laws and practices that go against human rights. Lot offers his daughters up to be raped by a mob just to spare a pair of angels, and Lot is supposed to be a good guy.

As far as scientific accuracy goes. To refer to the world as a circle, does not imply that anyone knew it was a sphere, and in fact it sounds more like they thought of the earth as a flat circle. I'll grant them the idea about space, but it's not that amazing if you look up and see sky all around.
The bible is rife with scientific inaccuracies, the ark being one of the most ridiculous. I've also read about references to things like rabbits chewing the cud, and insects with 4 legs.

Frankly, I wouldn't trust anything in the Bible to be factual unless I'd checked it thrice, preferably with a non-believer.

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
Wow, you guys. I love religious discussions and why not discuss about it? It always helps me to clear stuff up. If you can't discuss it why even read the Bible. If you're just going to take it for truth and believe everything you just need to know the rules which are set out in the 10 commandments and nothing more. I believe it is important to discuss the stories to find the hidden meanings.

Maybe Job isn't the best story about God inflicting suffering. But there are others. If God did give us free will and the power to decide how we want to live why then destroy Sodom and Gomorra, why then the flood. He didn't like the way things were going and had to destroy cities and even the earth to start over. Wasn't there any other way to get the people on the right track again? Was it necessary to kill them all?

I don't agree with you Emma that when Satan said to Eve "You will become like God" that this has to imply that it would be better to become independent of God. I rather think it means that she will know what God knows and has the same powers as he. That this will give her all the facts, facts that were withheld from her by God and that this will enable her to decide for herself.

Your example about the teacher is something that can turn out very badly. I was that rebellious kid when I was 7. I went against an answer given by my teacher whio didn't want to listen to my side of the story and to make a long story short in the end my mum was called, the principal became involved and even an inspector of education became involved. It turned out I was right and not the teacher. The teacher was forced to apologise to me. It didn't do much for the respect this teacher got from the class, I can tell you that. All I have read about God in the Bible and other books writen about religion tells me he is this teacher. He does not want to listen to other opinions.

I don't know about God given over rule to Satan and giving him a chance to rule mankind. Can you tell me where that is explained so I can read it for myself? Because if that is true why has God interfered with humanity? Why has he then send the 10 comandments, helped Noah, sent his son to be crucified? I would like to know more about that.

I agree with Lauren that the circle of the earth doesn't necessarily mean that the earth is a sphere. Early maps show the earth as a flat round place like the proverbal pancake. I don't get where you get the suspended in space part from but it is easier to imagine that what is above the earth will also be beneath the earth then come up with a totally new thing. Especially if you believe in a God that can do anything he likes and you don't have to be afraid the earth will fall in an abyss if there is only sky beneath it.

I must say I'm very impressed with your knowledge about Bible verses though. I can't throw them around as you do. Are you very religious (if so I hope I haven't offended you) or have you studied the bible?

message 26: by Emma (last edited Feb 14, 2011 04:37AM) (new)

Emma (emmauk007) | 1081 comments Lauren wrote: "Hey Emma, thanks for joining :) A religious perspective provides some balance.

Will reply more fully when I have a chance, but just skimming through your post I just have a few things to say for n..."

thanks for your comments. When I said I ddint want to turn this into a theological debate, it was merely because I didnt want to hijack your thread. I have no problem discussing certain issues with the Bible, I much prefer the word discuss to debate, debates can often become argumentative. There are lots of misrepresentations regarding the Bible and its teachings, and so if I can have an opportunity to discuss that here then we can do so. Infact the Bible itself encourages us to dig for the truth and ask questions, and not to accept things blindly. The Bible actually says 1 Peter 3:15 "But sanctify the Christ as Lord in YOUR hearts, always ready to make a defense before everyone that demands of YOU a reason for the hope in YOU, but doing so together with a mild temper and deep respect" So christians are encouraged to discuss their beliefs and anyone saying to you that they wont discuss the bible with you is infact not adhering to this verse. It is also important to be tolerable of peoples views.

God is all powerful and yes although not causing Jobs woes James 1:13 says “When under trial, let no one say I am being tried by God, for with evil things God cannot be tried, nor does he himself try anyone” ….but he did allow Satan to try Job. What did Job himself say about his trials. At one point his wife said to him : “Are you yet holding fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” But he replied: “As one of the senseless women speaks, you speak also. Shall we accept merely what is good from the true God and not accept also what is bad?” Even this ploy of Satan did not work, for we are told: “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” (Job 2:9, 10) So if Job did not attribute anything bad to God, then why do we. Job is an example of someone who kept his integrity despite hardships.

Just to add to this point, I think you were saying that God would know beforehand that Job would succeed, so why bother with this drama? The Bible does say that God has foreknowledge. Is his exercise of foreknowledge infinite, without limit? Does he foresee and foreknow all future actions of all his creatures, spirit and human? And does he foreordain such actions or even predestinate what shall be the final destiny of all his creatures, even doing so before they have come into existence? This is basically the belief of predestination, a belief not taught in scripture. Just because a woman has a beautiful singing voice does not mean that she has to sing all day every day does it, she can sing when she wants to at her own discretion, similarly with God he is selective when using foreknowledge.

Example: before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, he declared: “I am quite determined to go down that I may see whether they act altogether according to the outcry over it that has come to me, and, if not, I can get to know it.” (Genesis 18:21) This text clearly shows us that God did not foreknow the extent of the depravity in those cities before he investigated matters.

If God foreknew that Adam and Eve would sin would it not have been hypocritical for God to offer the prospect of everlasting life to Adam and Eve, fully aware that they would be unable to realize it? Moreover, the Scriptures nowhere deny that the first human couple were given a choice: either to follow divine directions and live forever or to reject them and die.—Genesis, chapter 2.

The question regarding Lot offering up his daughters has puzzled many people myself included so lets take a further look into it. But it should be noted that, according to the Oriental code, it was a host’s responsibility to protect guests in his home, defending them even to the point of death if necessary. Lot’s words (“that is why [the two men] have come under the shadow of my roof”) show that he felt an obligation to protect his houseguests. Furthermore, although Lot had at first entertained angels unawares, by now he well may have realized these to be messengers from God. (Heb. 13:2) Hence, Lot could have felt that, as deeply attached to his daughters as he was, he would be willing to sacrifice them if necessary. (Compare Genesis 22:1-14; 2 Samuel 12:3.) In offering his daughters to the mob, Lot could have been confident that, if it was God’s will, God would protect his daughters even as God had already protected Sarah in Egypt. (Gen. 12:17-19) And God did direct matters so that Lot and his daughters were kept safe, not only from the homosexual mob, but also from the destruction that came on the cities.—Gen. 19:15-29.

The Old Testament might seem outdated to us now, but it has many benefits. Through the sanitary and dietary laws, as well as the regulations on sexual morality, they were provided with safeguards against disease and depravity. (Le chaps 11-15, 18) Ofcourse Lauren that you must remember that the Old Testament and its laws were mainly for the nation of Israel who were jews. A lot of those laws as you correctly stated do not apply today, but it does not mean that they are of not of some use, which I will explain later.

The hare is a chewer of the Cud. : The hare was prohibited as food under the Law given through Moses and is referred to as a chewer of the cud. (Le 11:4, 6; De 14:7) Hares and rabbits, of course, do not have a multichambered or multiparted stomach and do not regurgitate their food for rechewing, which characteristics are associated with the scientific classification of ruminants or cud chewers. Nevertheless, although the Hebrew term here used for chewing literally means “bringing up,” the modern scientific classification was not the basis for what the Israelites in Moses’ day understood ‘cud chewing’ to be. Hence, there is no foundation for judging the accuracy of the Bible statement by the restricted, relatively recent conception of what constitutes a cud-chewing animal, as done by many critics.

Scientific observation of hares and rabbits in more recent years, however, indicates that even more than seeming cud chewing is involved. Writes François Bourlière (The Natural History of Mammals, 1964, p. 41): “The habit of ‘refection,’ or passing the food twice through the intestine instead of only once, seems to be a common phenomenon in the rabbits and hares. Domestic rabbits usually eat and swallow without chewing their night droppings, which form in the morning as much as half the total contents of the stomach. In the wild rabbit refection takes place twice daily, and the same habit is reported for the European hare. . . . It is believed that this habit provides the animals with large amounts of B vitamins produced by bacteria in the food within the large intestine.” On the same point, the work Mammals of the World (by E. P. Walker, 1964, Vol. II, p. 647) notes: “This may be similar to ‘chewing the cud’ in ruminant mammals.

Earth a sphere: The Hebrew word chugh, here “circle,” may also be rendered “sphere.”3 Other Bible translations read, “the globe of the earth” (Douay Version) and “the round earth.”—Moffatt.

Modern medical science has taught us much about the spread and prevention of disease. Medical advances in the 19th century led to the introduction into medical practice of antisepsis—cleanliness to reduce infections. The result was dramatic. There was a significant reduction in infections and premature deaths. The Mosaic Law contained other sanitary regulations that safeguarded Israel against the spread of infectious diseases. A person who had or was suspected of having a communicable disease was quarantined. (Leviticus 13:1-5) Garments or vessels that came in contact with an animal that had died of itself (perhaps from disease) were to be either washed before reuse or destroyed. (Leviticus 11:27, 28, 32, 33) Any person who touched a corpse was considered unclean and had to undergo a cleansing procedure that included washing his garments and bathing. During the seven-day period of uncleanness, he was to avoid physical contact with others.—Numbers 19:1-13. As you can see the book of Leviticus has been quite beneficial.

Archaeology and the Bible

Archaeologists, by digging among the remains of past civilizations, have in many ways increased our understanding of the way things were in ancient times. Hence, it is not surprising that the archaeological record repeatedly harmonizes with what we read in the Bible. Sometimes, archaeology has even vindicated the Bible against its critics.
For example, according to the book of Daniel, the last ruler in Babylon before it fell to the Persians was named Belshazzar. (Daniel 5:1-30) Since there appeared to be no mention of Belshazzar outside the Bible, the charge was made that the Bible was wrong and that this man never existed. But during the 19th century, several small cylinders inscribed in cuneiform were discovered in some ruins in southern Iraq. They were found to include a prayer for the health of the eldest son of Nabonidus, king of Babylon. The name of this son? Belshazzar.

So there was a Belshazzar! Was he a king, though, when Babylon fell? Most documents subsequently found referred to him as the son of the king, the crown prince. But a cuneiform document described as the “Verse Account of Nabonidus” shed more light on Belshazzar’s true position. It reported: “He [Nabonidus] entrusted the ‘Camp’ to his oldest (son), the firstborn, the troops everywhere in the country he ordered under his (command). He let (everything) go, he entrusted the kingship to him.”8 So Belshazzar was entrusted with the kingship. Surely, to all intents and purposes that made him a king! This relationship between Belshazzar and his father, Nabonidus, explains why Belshazzar, during that final banquet in Babylon, offered to make Daniel the third ruler in the kingdom. (Daniel 5:16) Since Nabonidus was the first ruler, Belshazzar himself was only the second ruler of Babylon.

Like I said Lauren that there are lots of questions that need to be asked, theres nothing wrong with that. So please do check it thrice. Thanks for the debate urmmm discussion on this subject. :-)

message 27: by Emma (new)

Emma (emmauk007) | 1081 comments Barbara wrote: "Wow, you guys. I love religious discussions and why not discuss about it? It always helps me to clear stuff up. If you can't discuss it why even read the Bible. If you're just going to take it for ..."

Hi Barbara, I actually answered Laurens question before yours as I didnt see it, so let me just try and answer it as best I can.

When first reading Genesis 3:1-5 you might miss certain things. It is very interesting the way Satan talks to Eve.Satan says "Is it really so that God said you must not eat from every tree of the garden?” The question seems harmless, but look at it again. Firstly Satan already knows that God has not told them they cannot eat from EVERY TREE of the garden, only one tree. He starts by saying “Is it really so?” Satan sounds surprised, as if to say, ‘Why would God say a thing like that?’. In her innocence, Eve indicated that this was so. She knew the divine teaching on this matter, that God had told Adam that they would die if they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and bad. (Genesis 2:16, 17) Satan’s question evidently piqued her interest, so she listened as he came to the point: “At this the serpent said to the woman: ‘You positively will not die.’” Satan accused God,the Creator, of lying to His human children!—Psalm 31:5; 1 John 4:16.

But Satan said more. He went on: “For God knows that in the very day of your eating from it your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad.” According to Satan, God—who had provided so bountifully for our first parents—wanted to deprive them of something wonderful. He wanted to prevent them from being like gods. Thus, Satan challenged the goodness of God. He also promoted self-gratification and a deliberate ignoring of God’s laws, saying that acting in this way would be beneficial. In effect, Satan challenged God’s sovereignty over His own creation, alleging that God had no right to put limits on what man did.

The scriptures that refer to Satan ruling the earth as are as follows, you can check them in your own Bible.

“Now there is a judging of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out”—completely discredited. (Joh 12:31)

The Bible also calls him “the god of this system of things,” .—2 Cor. 4:4; 1 Cor. 10:20.

Also think about this Barbara if you read Luke 4:5-7 Satan here tempts Jesus , the Bible says " the Devil “brought him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the inhabited earth in an instant of time; and the Devil said to him: ‘I will give you all this authority and the glory of them, because it has been delivered to me, and to whomever I wish I give it. You, therefore, if you do an act of worship before me, it will all be yours.’” (Luke 4:5-7) Revelation 13:1, 2 . Now how could Satan give all these kingdoms to Jesus if they were not his to give?

1 John 5:19 “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.”

I am not sure if Paradise Lost mentions Satan being cast out of heaven, the Bible in Revelation 12:7 -12 tells us of this event: "So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him....VERSE 12 "12 On this account be glad, YOU heavens and YOU who reside in them! Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to YOU, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.

Hope this answers your question Barbara. I am just a student of the Bible Barbara, who at one time thought the bible was an old book. :-) I think very differntly now. You didnt offend me dont worry. :-)

message 28: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Smith There’s quite a lot here, so I’ll go through it bit by bit. Like Barbara I’m not as familiar with Bible verses as you are Emma, so I’ll address it from a more conceptual/philosophical perspective rather than with dogma.

does God cause suffering and the murder of millions of people? The Bible does not teach this. The Bible clearly states: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19)
I will cite the example of the Flood here. This is one clear case where God murdered millions. As Barbara mentioned, if God sees fit for people to make their own decisions, thereby finding out that he was right all along (more about this in a moment), why does he have to interfere, and interfere so violently? Why does he have to kill all the animals too? As non-sentient beings they haven’t done anything wrong. In addition, this particular story also has God admitting that he made a mistake, that things have gone wrong and he needs to, almost literally, wipe the slate clean and start over. Given his error here, how can we assume that he’s always right?

In terms of general suffering: this is a major problem when you consider the nature of God. He is supposed to be omnipotent but also absolutely good. That means he can and should prevent suffering, but he does not. The other day I mentioned the Epicurean paradox, but I’ll post the whole thing here:
"Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. If God can abolish evil, and God really wants to do it, why is there evil in the world?"
David Hume’s version is a bit more succinct: "Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then is he impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then is he malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?"

Taking your teacher example into account, the answer to this is that there is an ultimate good in evil, and that good is in fact a learning process that proves God was right all along (echoes of Job here). Assuming for the moment that God is always right, we have to ask if mass suffering is an appropriate lesson. I would argue that it isn’t. It’s akin to allowing your child to electrocute himself to teach him not to stick his fingers into electrical sockets. There must be a less cruel way of proving a point.

However, the Flood example shows that God doesn’t always know best, and in fact I consider the Bible as a whole to be proof that God’s wisdom is generally rather dodgy. This would not be so much of a problem if God is not supposed to be omnipotent. But he is. Which brings me back to your earlier quote: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19).
How is this possible if God is all-powerful? Has he given Satan dominion over the earth and over humanity?

Another thing you mentioned was that Satan’s challenges God’s right to rule. But what exactly gives God the right to rule? Is it sheer strength? I would actually find something sincere in a religion that admitted you have to obey God because he is very powerful and will torture you (or let you be tortured) if you don’t but it is certainly not admirable.
Should God rule because he knows best? He doesn’t really seem to, as I’ve suggested, and his sense of justice is appalling.
So should God rule because he is perfectly good? Again, his actions suggest that he is not.
Consequently, I would argue that Satan here has every right to oppose God’s rule. God is a dictator.

I have to go now, but I will continue this later. Just a question before I go though – if hell isn’t in the bible, where does it come from? The idea of a fiery, torturous hell is key to Catholicism; I’m less sure about Protestant doctrines, but it’s definitely there in some of them.

message 29: by Emma (new)

Emma (emmauk007) | 1081 comments Lauren wrote: "There’s quite a lot here, so I’ll go through it bit by bit. Like Barbara I’m not as familiar with Bible verses as you are Emma, so I’ll address it from a more conceptual/philosophical perspective r..."

You raise some interesting points Lauren. Lets deal with the issue of the flood.

It is interesting to note the circumstances that led upto the flood. The Bible tells us that the earth came to be filled with violence “God saw that the badness of man was abundant in the earth and every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only bad all the time. So God saw the earth and, look! it was ruined, because all flesh had ruined its way on the earth.”—Genesis 6:5, 12. The Bible tells us that prior to the flood angels started to look at the beautiful daughters of men, the noticed that they had sexual relations and bore children, and so these angels came down to the earth dematerialized and married and had children with these women. The women bore offspring hybrids and were called Nephillim which basically means fellers or those who cause others to fall down. The Nephillim no doubt made conditions on the earth worse.

The Deluge did not come suddenly without warning. Years of time were spent building the ark, time that Noah the “preacher of righteousness” also used in warning that wicked generation. (2Pe 2:5) Infact Noah spent 40 years building the Ark and also warning people of the upcoming destruction. Jesus himself said “They took no note, until the flood swept them all away” Why should righteous people live in a world where the unrighteous are? Everyone at that time ad ample opportunity to turn aside from all their wicked acts and turn to God. It was not Gods fault that men had become wicked, nor the fact that they refused to listen to is warnings.

The Scriptures tell us: “Perfect is his activity, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness, with whom there is no injustice; righteous and upright is he.” (Deut. 32:4)

“GOD is not a man that he should tell lies, neither a son of mankind that he should feel regret. Has he himself said it and will he not do it, and has he spoken and will he not carry it out?”—Num. 23:19.

Since God does not make mistakes, his regretting manifestly refers to a change in attitude toward humans. Just what prompts such a change on his part?
Take the situation in the days of Noah. At that time the earth was filled with violence. The Bible reports: “God saw that the badness of man was abundant in the earth and every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only bad all the time. And God felt regrets that he had made men in the earth, and he felt hurt at his heart.”—Gen. 6:5, 6.

We are not to conclude from this that God felt that he had made a mistake in creating man. This could not be, for he pronounced all his creative works “very good,” measuring up to his standard of perfection. (Gen. 1:31) Rather, God regretted that humans had chosen to follow a course of disobedience. He regretted that they, with the exception of Noah and his immediate family, had become so corrupt that he was forced to take rightful action against them.

The same conclusion can be drawn regarding God’s selection of Saul as Israel’s first king. First Samuel 15:10, 11 states: “The word of God now came to Samuel, saying: ‘I do regret that I have caused Saul to reign as king.’” Why? “Because he has turned back from following me, and my words he has not carried out.” Note that God’s regret was not prompted by any feeling that the choice of Saul was wrong but resulted from that one’s failure to use his privilege in harmony with the divine will. It was Saul who, as a free moral agent, had changed, and this called for a change on God’s part.

Lauren you are not the only one to ask questions such as If God is a god of Love then why does her permit wickedness to continue, the Hebrew prophet Habakkuk also questioned God “Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong?. In a vision God assured Habakkuk that the seeming prosperity of the wicked was only temporary. God not only saw what was occurring, but also cared. He had an “appointed time” for meting out divine justice. Even if humans thought that this was delaying, Habakkuk was assured, “It will without fail come true. It will not be late.”—Habakkuk 2:3.

The issues raised in Eden are serious moral issues which demand complete settlement. The way in which God chose to do that clearly shows his wisdom and his interest in our welfare, both now and in the future. God allowed time to pass, during which all intelligent creatures could see the evidence. To appreciate this, consider how you would act if someone publicly claimed that you were not a good family member, that you lied and exercised authority through instilling fear. An insecure person might loudly protest or even fight the accuser. But secure in the knowledge that the charge was false, you could dispel questions simply by allowing time for all to observe your ways and the fine results in your family.—Matthew 12:33. What evidence has time revealed on the issues raised in Eden? As God forewarned, human disobedience has resulted in death, preceded by sickness and old age. So God was not dishonest in his warning, and there was no basis in this for challenging the rightfulness of his rulership.

God is going to act against those carrying on wickedness, even as he did on the small scale mentioned in the book of Habakkuk. God will eliminate all in heaven and on earth who are responsible for wickedness and suffering. Just as God told Habakkuk, there is an “appointed time” for this. We can be sure that “it will without fail come true. It will not be late.”—Habakkuk 2:3. As to God’s permitting evil, many persons think only about man’s suffering. They fail to appreciate the important issues that are being settled. Also, they may overlook the benefits that they can receive because God has allowed time for the settlement.—2 Peter 3:9. Says “ God is not slow respecting his promise, as some consider slowness, but he is patient with you, for he does not want any to be destroyed, but all to attain to repentance”

Why does God have the right to rule? I will answer this scriptually Revelation 4:11 “You are worthy O God to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for God, infact nothing would. The very act of creation reveals his love for humans. “God is love. By this the love of God was made manifest in our case, because God sent forth his only-begotten Son into the world that we might gain life through him. The love is in this respect, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent forth his Son as a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins.”—1 John 4:8-10; 1 Cor. 15:25, 26. God is more than worthy to rule over mankind, because for one he created us, and 2 we cant rule ourselves, look at the world around us, it’s a complete mess. The order in the universe speaks of God’s glory.

Look at creation, everything in nature is so definitely planned and has such a purposeful design that it shows intelligent planning .It has taken the best minds of great scientists to discover only a few of the laws of nature. Are laws made by accident? What intelligent planning exists in regard to our earth! The sun’s distance from the earth is just right. The moon’s distance from the earth is just right. The earth is tilted on its axis just right. The mixture of gases is just right. The relationship between plants and animals is just right. What infinite wisdom is behind that cycle in nature! Animals take in oxygen, exhale it again combined in carbon dioxide while plants take in carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen. An accident?

How obvious that the earth was prepared for man! Said one medical authority: “There are probably a thousand conditions which would have to be fulfilled before man could inhabit the earth. Not only must there be light, many kinds of food, water, proper atmosphere, appropriate temperature, the nitrogen cycle, etc., but there are hundreds of chemical reactions in the body which contribute to man’s life processes. The chance that all conditions for life would have been fulfilled by pure chance is one in billions. It is very evident that the earth was prepared for man. This fact alone proves the existence of a conscious God.”—The Physician Examines the Bible, p. 318.

This testifies that God cares deeply for humans and wants them to become reconciled to him, and to enjoy life as he originally intended it to be, not for 60 70 years but forever in peace on earth. He did not forsake humankind which he could have but gave them a sure hope for the future. A dictator does not give people a choice, but as humans we are free moral agents not mere robots.

To answer your question regarding Hellfire. Yes most definitely this has been a teaching of the majority of Christian religions, but is it biblical? And where did the idea come from?

The Hebrew word she´ohl´ occurs 65 times in the Masoretic text. In the King James Version, it is translated 31 times as “hell,” 31 times as “grave,” and 3 times as “pit.” The Catholic Douay Version rendered the word 63 times as “hell,” once as “pit,” and once as “death.” In addition, at Isaiah 7:11 the Hebrew text originally read she´ohl´, and it was rendered as “Hades” in the ancient Greek versions of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, and as “hell” in the Douay Version.—See NW ftn.
There is no English word that conveys the precise sense of the Hebrew word she´ohl´. Commenting on the use of the word “hell” in Bible translation, Collier’s Encyclopedia (1986, Vol. 12, p. 28) says: “Since Sheol in Old Testament times referred simply to the abode of the dead and suggested no moral distinctions, the word ‘hell,’ as understood today, is not a happy translation.” More recent versions transliterate the word into English as “Sheol

While the Greek teaching of the immortality of the human soul infiltrated Jewish religious thinking in later centuries, the Bible record shows that Sheol refers to mankind’s common grave as a place where there is no consciousness. (Ec 9:4-6, 10) Those in Sheol neither praise God nor mention him. (Ps 6:4, 5; Isa 38:17-19) Yet it cannot be said that it simply represents ‘a condition of being separated from God,’ since the Scriptures render such a teaching untenable by showing that Sheol is “in front of” him, and that God is in effect “there.” (Pr 15:11; Ps 139:7, 8; Am 9:1, 2) For this reason Job, longing to be relieved of his suffering, prayed that he might go to Sheol and later be remembered by God and be called out from Sheol.—Job 14:12-15.

message 30: by Barbara (last edited Feb 15, 2011 12:41PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
Ok, I really have to think about all was said by Emma. That is because I do not agree with her, but haven't yet formulated my responses. So I will come back on that later. I just wanted to come back to the original point of this discussion which is the book Paradise Lost and wanted to let everyone who is interested know that I have finished book 7.

message 31: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Smith Ditto here I'm afraid. Also, I'm sorry Barbara, but I'm really struggling to find the time to read Paradise Lost. I have a lot of work at work, and a lot of jewellery to make at home, so reading is getting squeezed in on the side. However, please feel free to post your thoughts in the meantime. We all know what's going to happen, so it's not like you'll reveal any spoilers. Anyway, if I know what's going to happen beforehand, it might make reading easier and quicker :)

If there's something you really don't want to reveal yet though, you can use the new spoiler html tag: < spoiler> spoiler>

Example: (view spoiler)

message 32: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Smith OK, the story of Job. I wasn’t really satisfied with your answer Emma. In the first instance, your quote from Job states that we must accept both bad and good things from God. However, you then say Job does not attribute anything bad to God, which is a contradiction. If anything, Job seems to admit that God can be both good and bad, but stands his ground in saying that God must nevertheless be worshipped, presumably because of his power
More importantly though, your reply turns the focus of the argument to Job whereas I was discussing the implications for God. Job certainly proves the integrity of his belief, but this is not the issue. The problem is that God ‘s behaviour is petty and ultimately quite unnecessary. Why should he have to prove anything to the devil? Why is that worth letting Job suffer and allowing his family and servants to be killed?

Just to add to this point, I think you were saying that God would know beforehand that Job would succeed, so why bother with this drama?
Actually no, that’s not quite what I said. I said God should know beforehand that he (not Job) will be proven right. I said this on the basis that God is omniscient (one of his attributes, according to Christian and other doctrines). You countered this by suggesting that God has foreknowledge, which is a power he doesn’t use all the time.

I think what we need to clear up here is the definition of omniscience then. In my view, this means God knows everything, including knowledge of the future. It is not a power he possesses that he can turn on and off, but an attribute. He’s always aware of all things. So if he’s saying that he didn’t know something would happen, it’s a lie because he’s just wilfully ignoring the knowledge he already possesses. However, that implies viewing the bible and biblical doctrine as a unified whole, which it is not. Rather, God’s assumed omniscience is clashing with texts that do not make this assumption.

Alternatively, if God knows only about the past and present, but has the power of looking into the future, that’s a bit different, and I would concede your point here. However, I would then take the issue to a broader view and ask why God wouldn’t use his clairvoyance for some of the most important decisions he has made, such as creating Satan, creating Adam and Eve and allowing the devil into the garden with them, etc.

But regardless of the omniscience problem, I see no reason for God to play this game with the devil at all; his fault lies there.

message 33: by Lauren (last edited Feb 17, 2011 01:59AM) (new)

Lauren Smith Before I continue, I just want to reiterate that a key difference between your perspective and mine Emma is that I do not look at the Bible as an authoritative text on anything. So, for example, you might cite a Bible verse saying that God is perfect, take that to be true, and then attempt to interpret his actions as such. To me, the Bible is just another book, so if a verse says God is perfect, I just assume that’s either his own opinion or the writer’s, and I look to the text to see if the claim seems true or not. God is just a major character in this collection of documents, and I come to it as I would to a novel I was studying – analysing the characters, considering the authors’ motives, the context in which it was written, etc.

In addition, not all religious doctrine comes from the Bible so the book on its own can’t always be used to address theological problems. The Trinity, for example, is not in the Bible, but it’s a fundamental Christian belief. It was a later doctrine made up to explain why this monotheistic religion is exhibiting polytheistic tendencies. As you’ve said, the common conception of hell is not biblical, but it’s still an important doctrine within the religion, or at least some versions. The bible is considered the word of God, but the Old Testament at least, never makes this claim, although it includes divine speech. This is a belief imposed on the text by those using it for religious purposes.

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
What I still don't understand is why God interferes.
Emma said that the earth is in Satan's power and that God did this to show to Satan that it isn't easy to rule. I'm parafrasing here.
First of all the sentence Earth is in Satan's power doesn't tell me that Satan rules on earth. Someone can be in the power of a disease and that doesn't mean that the disease rules the person. Maybe not a good example but I can't think of a better one right now. But what i want to say is that you can be in the power of sopmething and still not be ruled by it.
But let's say for the sake of argument that Satan rules the earth. Why then the flood? Why then interfere when we all do what Satan wants? Satan who is are rightfull ruler because God ordained it. Why then wipe out all civilisation except for Noah and his family and start again? Weren't we obeying our ruler?

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
Another point I don't understand is God's omnisience. In Paradise Lost God says he knows man will be corrupted by Satan but that he will forgive man. He will forgive man because he was tempted and his sin was not of his own making as was Satans. Satan sinned because he wanted to, man because he was tempted by Satan. God tells his Angels and his son that he will forgive man if someone will die for his sins. His Son volunteers and so man can be forgiven. But Satan will never be forgiven because he was not tempted and his sin was of his own making.
Why not nip this in the butt if you know this is going to happen? Why not deny Satan entrance to the Garden of Eden?
Why does Jesus have to die for our sin or what is called the Original Sin of Adam and Eve while the original sin was Satan's and not men's? Why not forgive Satan if he repents? Satan does not get the chance to repent even if he would he would not be forgiven. Why be so harsh?

message 36: by Lauren (last edited Feb 17, 2011 03:02AM) (new)

Lauren Smith Rules of the Bible – Outdated or useful?
- My comments don’t imply that there is nothing useful in the Bible, and thus the more useful practices you listed don’t really address the issue. Why are there all these rules which virtually no one would abide by today?
- An example here is the way people use Leviticus to condemn homosexuality, while happily ignoring the many other rules listed.
- So my question is – if this is a divine text meant to apply throughout the ages, why didn’t God do a better job? If this document is perfect, why do we need to be so selective about the guidance we take from it?

Archaeology and the Bible
- Barbara is the archaeologist here, so she’s far better qualified to deal with this one. However, I will say that whether or not these discoveries tend to support biblical claims or not, archaeology is only one science, and other sciences have frequently disputed biblical claims.

Regarding the earth being a sphere, I found this on Wikipedia: While Christians argue that the term chuwg 'erets (translated as circle of the earth) in Isaiah 40:22 refers to a "round earth", critics argue that it meant a "flat earth". They argue that if Isaiah wanted to refer to a spherical earth, he would have used the term kadur(sphere) in Hebrew .

The Flood/Deluge
The Deluge did not come suddenly without warning. Years of time were spent building the ark, time that Noah the “preacher of righteousness” also used in warning that wicked generation. (2Pe 2:5) Infact Noah spent 40 years building the Ark and also warning people of the upcoming destruction. Jesus himself said “They took no note, until the flood swept them all away” Why should righteous people live in a world where the unrighteous are? Everyone at that time ad ample opportunity to turn aside from all their wicked acts and turn to God. It was not Gods fault that men had become wicked, nor the fact that they refused to listen to is warnings.

I cannot accept this. You’re talking about one man in ancient times, and ignoring that fact that there are other nations in the world who will never have had any opportunity to see Noah or hear about his teachings. So no, you can’t say that everyone had a chance to change their ways.

Furthermore, I have trouble with the idea that EVERY SINGLE PERSON was so wicked. How did this group of evil people all manage to be cohesive enough to form a society? What exactly makes them wicked? Are babies and children evil too?

Other issues
- God is omnipotent. If he wanted to get rid of all the ‘evil’ people, why didn’t he just make them disappear? Why be so cruel and violent? The novel Not the End of the World by Geraldine McCaughrean gives a great idea of how horrific the disaster must have been.
- The Flood was meant to rid the earth of evil people. It didn’t.

message 37: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Smith Barbara wrote: "Another point I don't understand is God's omnisience. In Paradise Lost God says he knows man will be corrupted by Satan but that he will forgive man. He will forgive man because he was tempted and ..."

Hmm, is this in the Bible too?
There's a book by the philosopher Slavoj Zizek called
The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity. I've read very little of it, but the title refers to the sins that lie at the heart of Christianity, and which God actually needs human beings to commit. If they hadn't eaten the fruit, their obedience to God would be meaningless, because they'd know nothing else. Presumably, God wanted the Fall to happen then.

Then, with Jesus, he needs Judas to betray him to lead to the crucifixion. Without Judas's crime, there is no salvation.

Also, I think the punishment of Satan and humanity is indescribably disproportionate. So they ate the fruit. Would you jail your child for raiding the cookie jar?! God reminds me of Bluebeard here.
And why must ALL of humanity suffer for what the first TWO people did?
Why no second chances?

message 38: by Emma (new)

Emma (emmauk007) | 1081 comments Bit busy today, but will answer tomorrow when I have more time :-)

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
I know how that is. No hurry though. Take your time.

message 40: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Smith Ok, just finished book 2, and whoa, things got twisted.

Please let me know if I've got this right:
Satan has a daughter who sprang from his head like Athena did from Zeus's. She seems to have been born of his rebellious thoughts/plans, hence her name Sin.

Then Satan, seeing himself in her (who full oft / Thyself in me thy perfect image viewing) is narcissistically attracted to her, sleeps with her in secret, and impregnates her.

In the rebellion, she gets thrown down to hell with the other angels. However, she's given the key to hell (by whom?).

There she gives birth to her son and Satan's son/grandson, Death. He's so scary she runs away from him, he chases her, rapes her, and that's what causes those howling dog heads to emerge around her waist. And sometimes the dogs return to her womb to gnaw at her entrails. Gross.

But anyway, Satan's rebellion gives birth to Sin (while they're still in heaven). Satan and Sin then create Death, who rapes his own mother. Not sure what the point of the rape is, but my text notes suggest that Sin is tormented by disease, fear and guilt. It's pretty grotesque, but in an interesting way. Where did the idea for Satan's daughter come from though? Is there something in the Bible or other mythology, or is it just Milton's idea?

Then there's all this stuff about Chaos that I find quite intriguingg:
- God doesn't create the world from nothing, he uses chaos as "his dark materials" (I guess that's where Pullman got his series title from). In book 1 it's said that "the heav'ns and earth / Rose out of chaos". However, Chaos hasn't disappeared - it's still there, and very dangerous, as Satan flies out of hell to earth. In fact, he almost falls into limitless depths.

I find this interesting, because my understanding of the Creation has always been that God created the universe out of nothing, but now it's said that he creates order out of Chaos instead, although in Milton it's like he only uses a bit of Chaos/raw matter.

I was surprised to find that this is actually in the Bible. My study Bible translates the first line of Genesis as such: When God began to create heaven and earth - the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep, and a wind from God sweeping over the water - God said "Let there be light"
The normal intro goes "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth", which paints a different picture, but the translation notes in my bible say their version is that of an 11th century Jewish commentator. In addition, the notes state that while modern people think of the opposite of creation as nothingness, the ancient Near Eastern mindset believed that creation was preceded by a malevolent force best termed chaos. And while some dislike the idea of God using pre-existing materials, in the ancient Near Eastern world a god that subdued chaos was worthy of the highest praise.

Another thing is that the existence of hell precedes both heaven and earth. One of the spirits, possibly Chaos, says to Satan that first hell and now heaven and earth are hanging over his realm. So did God create hell? If so why create it before heaven? And who are these spirits? They seem to favour Satan, but are independant of both him and God. Does God have any power over them?

Milton's theology is quite surprising, I'd like to know more about it.

message 41: by Emma (new)

Emma (emmauk007) | 1081 comments There were quite a lot of questions posed last time, so I hope I have answered them all, If I haven’t or I have missed one that I do apologise.

Lauren that is the main difference between you and I, as you pointed out, is that you read the Bible with a somewhat critical eye and maybe only see the negatives, whereas I read the Bible and see a beautiful book inspired of God and which reveals his love for us and for all of creation. Ofcourse as you have pointed out there are many parts in the Bible which at first might portray God as cruel, Job a case in point or maybe the flood. The Bible must be taken in its entirety and yes if you read only portions of the Bible it might seem that way. Many religions of Christianity do the same, they might read John 10;30 Where Jesus says “I and the father are one” and interpret that as Jesus saying that he was God. They do not read further in John 17:21 onwards where Jesus explains what this oneness means, which is unity of thoughts and purpose. People don’t always have to agree on anything, so its nice to be able to discuss certain subjects and have balance as you say. Just as you might puzzle of the fact that I believe in the Bible, and in a creator, I too puzzle at those that don’t.

When I read John 4;16 where it says God is Love I know that to be true, for the creator saw fit to have his written word where we read of his promises for us for the future. Seeing what God has done in fulfilling his own prophecies in the Scriptures, by sending his only-begotten Son into the world to help man to understand and become acquainted with his Creator, certainly we must say that God is love. From the way Jesus taught us and the way the inspired Holy Scriptures teach us we can realize that God is LOVE.

When we look about us, we see all nature proving that the Creator is a God of love.Although some of us complain about our bodies today, just think how amazing it really is. Consider this body God has given us, and observe what man can do with it.

Had man continued in God’s love things would be different today. But man left God’s love and went his own way. Although man did so, God did not forsake humankind. “For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son: that whosoever believeth in him may not perish, but may have life everlasting.” (John 3:16, Dy)

God rules in love. All he told man to do was: Do not eat of that one particular tree. What God wanted to see in man was obedience. For disobedience Adam and Eve lost the right to live on earth. They lost their home in the paradise of pleasure and were put out of the garden of Eden. But as for their offspring, God promised that his Seed of promise would come and change things. God purposed for man to live for eternity in his earthly home, whereas now mankind lives for a short time. This earth was meant for man’s home, not heaven, not purgatory, not a hell of eternal torment. “The Lord has pronounced it; the Lord who made the heavens, and the whole frame and fashion of earth, moulded to his will. He did not create it to lie idle, he shaped it to be man’s home.” (Isa. 45:18, Knox)

Lauren God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but it will be a blessing for mankind for God to destroy all the wicked. “As I live, saith the Lord God, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways: and why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezech. 33:11, Dy) It is so foolish for any creatures to turn away from God’s commandments and direction. Why will you die just to carry out your own will and way of life? Those who refuse to obey God’s commandments he will bring to extinction, wiping them out, annihilating them. That is what will happen to the wicked. (Ps. 144:20, Dy; 2 Thess. 1:7-9) It is essential to all men loving righteousness that the wicked be thus destroyed. It expresses God’s love of righteousness and his kindness to man to destroy those wicked ones from the universe.

God will bring forth a perfect earth, peopled with a perfect human family. Why, then, should God let the wicked remain on this earth and corrupt it? It is God who purposes to produce a perfect society of men and women, all in expression of his love, bringing them happiness, peace, plenty and contentment with their perfect life. It is his purpose to fill this earth with happy, righteous creatures, not wicked ones.

So you see, there are second chances.

Why didn’t God use foreknowledge in the case of Adam and Eve and the fall of Satan?

For God to exercise foreknowledge concerning their case would have been to predestinate them, because that foreknown course would then have been required to fit God’s foreknowledge. In which case Adam and Eve and the covering cherub would not have stood a chance of going straight. That would be unjust on God’s part, to set before them verbally an opportunity to enjoy everlasting life in happiness in a righteous world, whereas all the while he foreknew and hence predestinated that they would never make it. It would be raising false hopes, which would be deceptive and unfair.

So in their case God did not choose to exercise foreknowledge of what these creatures (persons other than himself) would do. The only thing he did predestinate respecting them was that if they obeyed they would live forever, but if they rebelled they would suffer and die. God so informed Adam, and through him Eve.

Prior to the Flood of Noah’s day, God announced his purpose to bring about this act of destruction, resulting in loss of human as well as animal life. The Biblical account shows, however, that such divine determination was made after the conditions developed that called for such action, including violence and other badness. Additionally, God, who is able to “know the heart of the sons of mankind,” made examination and found that “every inclination of the thoughts of [mankind’s] heart was only bad all the time.” (2Ch 6:30; Ge 6:5) Yet individuals, Noah and his family, gained God’s favor and escaped destruction.—Ge 6:7, 8; 7:1.

Barbara: Does Satan rule the world? 2 Cor 4:4 states that he does. Notice, though, that Satan’s statement to Jesus, “All this authority . . . has been delivered to me,” shows that he too exercises authority only by permission. For reasons already discussed here, this issue of rightfulness to rule. How could Satan offer these kingdoms to Jesus if they were not his to give? Bear in mind this is only for a limited time as Revelation reveals that Satan only has a short period of time.

Why does not desire any to be destroyed.

If we look at the example of the city of Sodom. Sodom, was known for its immoral practices “The cry of complaint about Sodom and Gomorrah,” God declared, “yes, it is loud, and their sin, yes, it is very heavy.” God therefore sent his angels to destroy Sodom, with the assurance to Abraham that if ten righteous persons could be found in the place, the whole city would be spared.—Ge 18:16, 20-33. We must conclude then that God would feel the same about people in Noah’s day. God does not want anyone to be destroyed, but as our creator he has the right to set the standards. Just as parents have the right to set the standard with their children.

The Bible itself warns that there will be conflict between the received wisdom of the world and the Bible’s own teachings. (1 Corinthians 1:22, 23; 3:19) Since knowledge based on human research and philosophizing is so uncertain, this conflict should not surprise us. And we should not be disturbed if some popular theories contradict the Bible. The Bible itself directs us to look in other directions for proof of its claim that it truly is the Word of God.

For example, the Bible proves to be a book of prophecy. (2 Peter 1:19-21) Higher critics claim that these prophecies were written after the event, but in many cases this is clearly impossible. Prophecies about Jesus made centuries before his birth were fulfilled to the letter. (See, for example, Isaiah 53:1-12; Daniel 9:24-27.) Jesus’ own prophecies about the destruction of Jerusalem were precisely fulfilled. And the prophecies that he and the apostle Paul made about the last days read like this morning’s newspapers. (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; 2 Timothy 3:1-5) Since humans are notoriously inaccurate when they try to foretell the future, the Bible’s prophecies are a strong argument that it comes from a higher Source.

There is quite a lot of information here so I do apologise, but you did ask lots of questions and the answers are not always easy to answer, neither are they short unfortunately. Whatever answer I have given I have always quoted from the Bible so you can see that these are not my own thoughts, but are infact scriptually based.

Thankyou for your questions I have enjoyed discussing it with you. Please enjoy the rest of your book.

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
Emma, I'm sorry but you say God is love in the same breath as that God only demands obedience. Love and obedience are mutually exclusive in my book. When I love someone I do not demand obedience and if someone I love does something I do not want to happen or I don't agree with I don't throw them out of my house or kill them. Maybe it's a bit overstated like this but that is what happened with God and Adam and Eve. I just can't get my head around the obedience part. I'm sorry.

The Tree of Knowledge is just cruel if you ask me. All accounts say that it is the most beautifull tree with the best smelling fruit and he puts it in the middle of the Garden of Eden for all eternity and says you cannot eat from this tree ever and if you don't you will live here forever and ever and ever, but once you eat from it you die. I would just eat from the tree just to get it over with. It would have happened anyway. If you live for billions of years in a garden with a beautiful tree with delicious fruit on it you're bound to eat from it at some point.

Is still don't understand why God interferes with the flood if Satan rules. It is not his kingdom to destroy. It's Satan's.

I agree with you that parents can set standards. But in the Netherlands is is against the law to kill your children if they don't follow your rules. I think it is a bit of a harsh punishment. And if God is love as you say why kill your own children?

From your last sentence I understand that you want to end the discussion and I can understand that. It was fun discussing these things with you and I think it would be best to agree on the fact that we disagree. But I will reread the Bible to refresh my memory on some parts and I want to ask you to read a story by Arthur C. Clarke if you haven't already read it. It is called the Star. It is a story connected to God and that gave me the shivers when I read it and made me think.

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
Hey Lauren, yeah that's what I got too. Don't you just love stories about Gods and Devils and stuff. They do the strangest things:)

I went ahead and finished it today. I don't have time to focus on Paradise lost this weekend and I didn't want to loose the story. It is hard enough to follow as it is. I must say that book 2 is one of my favorites though. I love Satan. The way he thinks and talks. Later in the book we get to know Adam and Eve more and we focus on that part of the story and that made my blood boil at points. I can tell you one thing it's a good thing I wasn't Eve. But read it for yourself and let me know what you think.

I am also intrigued by Milton's way of thinking and his mythology. It makes me curious about Paradise Regained. I do not have that book, but I believe it's about the temptation of Christ. I think I will be reading that later this year when I have recoverd after reading this.

Anyhow I didn't get who Sin got the key from and all I got is that she guards the gates with her son Death.
The concept of a daughter of Satan is new for me. I never heard that the devil had a daughter. It makes sense though if you are further along in the book. It always told that the original sin was committed by woman, but they way it is portrayed here is at times enough to make my blood boil. But if the original sin is committed by woman it would make sense that Satan has a daughter. Woman is tempted by evil to do evil. And so if you read Milton the conclusion must be that the women belong to the Devil.

Well anyway read on at your own pace and we'll discuss points as you reach them.

message 44: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Smith Emma wrote: "There were quite a lot of questions posed last time, so I hope I have answered them all, If I haven’t or I have missed one that I do apologise.

Lauren that is the main difference between you and ..."

I wouldn't say that I only see the negatives, but I don't come to the book with the assumption that everything in it is true, that it proves God's love, that it's inspired by God, or that all parts agree with each other. I'm actually doing a course on the Old Testament at the moment, because I do find the bible very interesting, but I want to see it for what it is and learn what it says in and of itself, not what it would imply if I took religious assumptions into account.

While I still have issues with what has been said I think I'm going to withdraw from the discussion, and focus on Paradise Lost, because I also got the impression that you'd you'd like to end it, but mostly because I feel we're having two different conversations here Emma. You haven't answered my questions, and I'd actually prefer to hear your own thoughts rather than quotes, because they are not satisfactory answers for me. They don't explain the problems I’ve found and they require me to believe in completely senseless, contradictory and/or impossible things. This isn't about taking the bible's word on whether something happened or not, it's about logical problems. Quotes can’t solve these problems because they are the problem. They state one thing and God does another.

Thanks for having this discussion though and for conducting it with such civility; despite out difference in perspective, I've enjoyed it very much. I always value learning about different points of view, so perhaps we can pick up the debate later, but for now I need to catch up with Barabara :)

message 45: by Emma (new)

Emma (emmauk007) | 1081 comments I appreciate that both Lauren and Barbara. and I thankyou for keeping it civil . We will agree to disagree as at some point there will always be an impasse, especially as we are obviously confident on our own beliefs and thoughts. :-)

message 46: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Smith Barbara wrote: "Hey Lauren, yeah that's what I got too. Don't you just love stories about Gods and Devils and stuff. They do the strangest things:)"

Yes, it's pretty cool, and it's also why I prefer to look at this story in mythological terms - you're free to enjoy it with all it's contradictions and oddities.

I wish someone would make a movie out of this. Yes, chances are they'd cock it up, but I would love to see a really good rendering of Satan amidst his fallen angles bellowing "Awake, arise, or be forever fallen!"

Was rather disappointed to hear then, in one of those Yale lectures, that Sin and Death are supposed to be allegorical - they're not real entities in the way that Satan, the angels, or God is real. It might be the same for Chaos, Night, Hades, etc. Hmph...

However, you're right - it seems important that Sin is a woman, given the temptation of Eve. It's also interesting how Satan, Sin and Death are all twisted together with sex, incest and rape, given the way that the Fall is often linked to sex; a Fall from innocence. What also strikes me is the parallel between Sin and Athena, the goddess of wisdom. As Emma pointed out, there is a biblical warning against the wisdom of this world which may stand in opposition to the wisdom of God. My feeling about that warning has always been that it's a kind of biblical failsafe to protect against the (quite likely) chance that the bible might seem to be lacking in wisdom while secular thought seems more reasonable. I suppose Satan's narcissism is an important point here too - his attraction to Sin is based on the fact that he sees himself in her. Similarly, he values his own intelligence, and it could be said that those (like us! haha) who place their own wisdom/reason above that of God's as portrayed in the bible, are also sinfully narcissistic.
And of course, the whole Fall is based on knowledge, specifically knowledge of good and evil.

message 47: by Lauren (last edited Feb 20, 2011 10:53AM) (new)

Lauren Smith OK, I've finished book 3, and there's quite a lot to think about. You were right Barbara, it's much easier to read, possibly because it includes so much we're familiar with - the Fall, salvation by Christ.

Firstly, God's omniscience. Milton states that God sees past, present and future, so he's fully omniscient, and he knew that Adam and Eve would fall all along. However, God himself states that foreknowledge did not affect events at all. Adam and Eve had a choice; God simply knew what choice they would make. I think it's a good thing we discussed this with Emma earlier, as it provides a bit of perspective.

Then there's the issue of free will - God gives humans and the angels free will because without it their praise for him would be meaningless and he would get no pleasure from their devotion.
I quite like the lines "I have made him just and right / Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall."

While I dislike that God equates obedience with love, I can sort of accept it, especially as Milton emphasises that this is the one command God gave Adam and Eve - they can whatever they like, as long as they don't eat from that tree. Now that I think about it though, would Adam and Eve be free to commit murder, rape, incest etc.? I can't imagine what would stop them.

However, my major problem comes, once again, with the punishment, although in a different way this time. Yes, it's disproportionate, but what I think is more interesting here is, as you mentioned, that Satan gets no redemption because his rebellion was "self-tempted" but man gets saved because he was "deceived". Firstly, I don't see why this should prevent Satan from being forgiven/redeemed. Then what really annoys me is that God says of the judgement of Satan and man
"in mercy and justice both. / Through heav'n and earth so shall my glory excel, / But mercy first and last shall brightest shine.

Mercy?! Are you kidding me? How is this merciful? Besides seeming to be totally unmerciful in his words, God is actually blowing his own horn about how wonderfully merciful he's being right now.

In addition, I feel like God is actually robbing Adam and Eve of their own free will in this judgement. By saying that they are deceived and therefore less responsible, he's implying that Satan made the choice for them in part. But I would argue that Adam and Eve are still defying God of their own volition when they choose to take another being's word over his.

There's a slightly different interpretation in that Yale course on the Old Testament - the lecturer states that by eating the fruit, Adam and Eve fall because the act itself allows them to realise that it is possible for them to disobey God. By the way, if you can, check out lectures 3 and 4 of that course. They cover the creation stories closely, and it's interesting to relate it to Paradise Lost.

Then there's The Son, who confuses me a bit, because Milton doesn't seem to prescribe to the idea of the Trinity. The Son is very much a separate being, and God only says he must be worshiped as a God because of the sacrifice he made for man, and not because they are essentially the same being. So we've got that problem of a polytheistic tendency here. God isn't saying that his Son is a god as well (I don't think) but he must nevertheless be worshiped as one.

Barbara | 4434 comments Mod
It would make sense that Sin and Death are allegorical since we never heard of them before as persons, but it is a shame.
The whole story about Sin makes sense. The way she resembles Athena. The original sin was about wisdom so why shouldn't she resemble the godess of wisdom is some way.
I think that is indeed the problem. God is afraid of us becoming too wise. Maybe if we become truly wise we become godlike. And since he like Emaa stated commands obedience in us he doesn't want us on the same foot. Who is the narcissist now. We how want wisdom and look outside the Bible to get it Or God who needs billions of "stupid" people to worship him and be obedient to him.
God's omniscience. Question? If God knows exactly what choice Adam and Eve were going to make, do they have a free will? Weren't they doomed the moment God created them? Couldn't he have made them different so there choice would have been different and we would all still be living in paradise?
Adam an Eve wouldn't have been free to commit rape and murder and stuff because the knowledge of those for lack of a better word options wasn't known to them. It came with eating the aplle from the tree of knowledge. So again how much free will did they have if the knowledge of evil wasn't know to them. It isn't hard to do the good thing if that is the only thing you know. It becomes hard the moment you have several options and you still do the good thing even though it isn't the easiest option for you.
The mercy thing again shows that God is a tirnat and a narcissist. I must say that by reading Paradise Lost I sart liking the guy less and less.
The Son is very confusing. Especially if you get further along because he does things you would expect the father to do. What I don't understand is where does he come from? How is he created and why is he the Son and not for example the archangel Raphael? What makes him different? If he is created like all the angels, Satan and man why aren't we all worshipped as a God. Maybe I missed it and maybe you can clear this up for me, but I found it very confussing.

message 49: by Lauren (last edited Feb 21, 2011 06:27AM) (new)

Lauren Smith Yes, wisdom is indeed intertwined with being godlike, specifically moral knowledge, knowledge of good and evil. In Genesis, after Adam and Eve eat the fruit, God quite anxiously bans them from Eden so that they can't eat from the Tree of Life and become immortal. He's afraid that they will become his rivals and he's protecting himself from having another Satan on his hands. On the whole God is totally opposed to, if not afraid of equality.

As an aside, Genesis never even suggests that the serpent is Satan in disguise. In fact, the Yale lecturer states that there is not Satan in that part of the Bible - he is a later invention.

The bible has contradictory statements about wisdom and reason. Some verses encourage learning and thinking for yourself, others warn against trusting your own reason instead of God's. Milton seems to be struggling with it too. Apparently he ws very much in favour of learning and of 'reading everything' if only to know what you're up against ito pagan mythology for example. And although he's obviously well-versed in mythology, he's trying hard to reject it.
Also, Milton's attitude towards style that I discussed in the other thread suggests that he's against blind tradition, his politics were apparently quite liberal.

I'm replying on my phone and it's getting tedious so will stop here and continue later.

message 50: by Lauren (last edited Feb 21, 2011 07:00AM) (new)

Lauren Smith Regarding free will - I still don't understand why Adam and Eve wouldn't have had the option of murder or other sins. God has given them only one command. There are no ten commandments or anything else yet. There is only one means of disobeying God and that's eating the fruit.

I'm sure there's some sort of philosophical paradox in having humans with free will and a god with foreknowledge, but until I understand and agree with it, I'm happy to accept Milton's model which says that we all have free will, but God, seeing the future, knows what we will do with it. In fact he actually seems to respect our decisions by not trying to change them. The punishment he imposes on those decisions is a different matter.

However, foreknowledge makes the conversation with the Son a bit creepy, because God already knows the Son will offer himself as a sacrifice, and that he will suffer such great pain and humiliation. You have to wonder if God created him specifically for this. How cruel. Nevertheless, Milton is making God less cruel than usual by having the Son offer himself, rather than have God make the decision.

The Son is literally God's son, created sometime before, for reasons I don't know (and might have missed; will check). Milton didn't believe in the Trinity, as he found no biblical basis for it. It seems he avoids polytheism by having God grant the Son godly powers and the right to worship. The Son is not a god in his own right, although one day God will exist in everything and there will be no distinction.

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