@gbrooks9 The hardest thing for Atheists to grasp is why Christians, Jews, or Muslims or any modern science literate person beyond the fifth grade could take the Genesis story as historical fact. For hundreds of years, Genesis has been regarded as a ancient middle eastern allegorical story of about creation. Woman made from the rib of a man, a talking snake, God walking around garden is so fanciful that any Kindergarten child of any religion can quickly realize that it is a fairy tale not to be taken as historical fact.
Just offering a plausible perspective on your issue. C.S. Lewis in his capacity of literary scholar once suggested that the creation story was a “true myth.”
Perhaps at the time genesis was written, the idea of writing history as such may not have been valued. Perhaps the point of the story was to function as oral cosmogony traditions which were vehicles for passing down answers to the big questions, with a polemical point of differentiating the worldview of “our tribe” from other ANE tribes. That addresses the genre question.
But it is also reasonable to suppose that the basis for these stories was real history, with real people and events, which would explain why Jesus and Paul read them that way. It’s likely the oral and written tradition of the Jews affirmed that the details were indeed factual.
Just some thoughts
Great to meet you, Kevin. Welcome to the forum! Thanks for those helpful reflections. I am also a fan of CS Lewis
Real history? A talking snake, a woman made from a rib of a man made from dust or was it clay? A God walking around a garden looking for a naked couple. A tree of knowledge with forbidden fruit. Sounds like a fanciful child’s story to tell your kids at bed time.
Maybe not a great children’s bedtime story with the naked people…
Much better than the heart warming story of Abraham taking his son on a father/son hike to kill him as a sacrifice to God because Abraham heard voices in his head. The experience probably psychologically scared Issac for his entire life. Not advisable to read to children as a bedtime story.
But what is the basis for the story, and what is fanciful embellishment?
When we read the Iliad we, almost subconsciously, separate the historical basis of a war between the Greeks and the Trojans from the fanciful embellishments of the Gods who have chosen sides and intervene on behalf of their favourites.
Why do people so easily do this with Homer, but not when reading Genesis? My view is cultural conditioning.
Are you at least trying to understand my point?
faded ~ Hence the distinction of “true myth.”
The fact that the majority of mythology has no historical basis in fact doesn’t categorically exclude the possibility of a true myth.
I don’t know if Patrick is understanding your point, but I don’t see any reason to think he doesn’t. But if I understand your point, all you are saying is that a myth could contain elements which are historical, or not, and that the fact that it comes to us through folkloric processes means we can never tell which parts, if any, are historical. I think everyone agrees with that. That’s the problem, not a solution.
That is true, but that leaves the question how one would go about distinguishing that single true one (and there can only be one, right?) from the countless false ones.
faded ~ That is where I turn to the historical resurrection to adjudicate the matter.
Resurrection endorses the life and teaching of Jesus who accepts the historical basis of the story.
Joshua ~ What do you think he meant?
I’m not familiar with Lewis on this – I am going from how Kevin has described it.
What about the historical aid that Athena provided Achilles when he fought with Hector?
Is that a fact?
Roy ~ Your point is well taken. If I had independent evidence of the existence of the other gods …
Speaking as an atheist, I can grasp this quite easily. Stubbornness, tribalism, cognitive dissonance, and a whole host of other psychological foibles are part and parcel of the human condition. As an atheist, I can and have suffered from those same issues as well.