Teaching of Plato versus Genesis

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  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Jan. 10, 2018 3:55 p.m.

    Western religion holds that God is to be obeyed and that human beings have free will to obey or not. The Garden of Eden story is a classic setup for inevitable conflict between those two tenets. That’s just one take on the meaning of that story that goes further back in time than we will ever be able to trace. We will likely never know what its original intent must have been.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    Jan. 10, 2018 11:55 a.m.

    @ Craig Clark

    "I thought it appropriate to put in a kind word or two for poor Adam and Eve who have taken quite a merciless battering down through the centuries."

    Well, mostly Eve.

    @ Geoform

    Does your theology fail if Adam and Eve are fictional?

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Jan. 10, 2018 10:55 a.m.

    Geoform,

    It's not Mormon thinking. Just my own. I thought it appropriate to put in a kind word or two for poor Adam and Eve who have taken quite a merciless battering down through the centuries.

  • Geoform Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 10, 2018 9:26 a.m.

    “What I have never been able to make sense of is why God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the first place. Did God really not want them to know the difference? Anyway, we can all be grateful that Eve finally came to the rescue by being disobedient”. This comment, which I think is a fair representation of common Mormon thinking, illustrates perfectly a rejection of Gods good and evil in favor of our own preferences as well as a rejection of Jesus Christ in favor of “the plan”—Eve came to the rescue by being disobedient instead of Christ came to the rescue by being obedient. “What I have never been able to make sense of” is precisely the problem. Lean not unto your own understanding- after all at this point it’s got you calling sin a good thing, believing the serpents lies and distortions instead of trusting God. Man did know the difference between good and evil, to trust God is good, to trust another voice is evil. What the serpent promised was to make us God when God was already sharing everything with Adam and Eve. You are standing up for the serpent, calling sin good-rejecting the God of Israel and his promises. All for “the plan”.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Jan. 10, 2018 8:16 a.m.

    Geoform
    "Man chose to reject Gods definition of good and evil and substitute his own. Tempted by the serpent to put himself in God’s place, man fell to that temptation."
    ____________________
    What I have never been able to make sense of is why God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the first place. Did God really not want them to know the difference? Anyway, we can all be grateful that Eve finally came to the rescue by being disobedient.

  • Geoform Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 9, 2018 9:48 p.m.

    “And is not perfection an ideal that cannot be attained without death?” If you mean the death of a perfect offering, Jesus Christ, then the Bible agrees with you. God’s creation including Adam and Eve lived in the presence of God at the beginning of Genesis. Man and Woman lived in a state of perfection with God when heaven and earth were the same place. Man chose to reject Gods definition of good and evil and substitute his own. Tempted by the serpent to put himself in God’s place, man fell to that temptation. And he didn’t fall up. That is a Mormon interpretation but it is not supported by the Bible. You’re going to die because you are a fallen creature living in a fallen world. God promised at the beginning of the Bible that Eve’s child would crush the serpents skull and that has come to pass. God became Christ and offered an eternal ransom for our sins. That is the way to perfection, the perfection God has wanted for us, has promised us and offers us freely today. The serpent still tempts us to rely on our definition of good and evil, or that of a man, and many are still lured by the prospect of becoming God. It’s a lie now as then.

  • Phargo Rexburg, ID
    Jan. 9, 2018 11:49 a.m.

    Personally, I don’t find Plato and Genesis to be “oil” and “water”, but “ice” and “water”.

    God declares his material creations “good” or “very good” before the fall of Adam and Eve. One could easily argue these physical forms were perfect forms as theorized by Plato. Furthermore, the first period introducing "light" in Genesis was not physical (as in the sun, moon, stars, etc), but some stage between the divine intangible forms, and the physical forms. The fall of Adam and Eve brought about the expulsion from a physical perfection. If Plato’s only frame of reference for perfection was a fallen physical world, he is perfectly logical and correct that death would be a release from imperfection. That the “natural” man is an enemy to God (as noted in Mosiah 3:19) further lends validity to Plato’s theory. Is it not the purpose of the creation and the fall to return to a state of perfection? And is not perfection an ideal that cannot be attained without death?

    Neither Genesis nor Plato adopted a pessimistic outlook on daily living because of an imperfect body or world. However, both invite the individual to pursue that perfection in learning and serving.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    Jan. 8, 2018 7:23 p.m.

    @ mhenshaw

    "If it's all just atoms and the void, then it literally doesn't matter what you do or why you do it..."

    That's like saying the survival, safety, health and happiness of you, your spouse, kids, and other loved ones only matters if there's a reward waiting for you. I seriously doubt that this is true for you, but even if it is, there are atheists throughout the world who prove daily that it isn't true for them.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Jan. 8, 2018 3:09 p.m.

    "Platonism and the scriptures are quite distinct, and blending them is very like trying to mix oil and water."
    ____________________
    Certainly but it’s worth mentioning the underlying connecting tissues between Plato and the early pre-Israel traditions in Genesis. Both are inherited influences on Israel from components of the ancient world. All cultures have been chiseled a bit here and there by multiple influences

  • magwitch Brandon, MS
    Jan. 8, 2018 3:08 p.m.

    "... and had emerged into the purely spiritual or intellectual realm beyond, why would he welcome his body back?"

    Praise be and Hallelujah! The most important line in this excellent piece. The owner of that ought to claim authorial pride.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Jan. 8, 2018 9:50 a.m.

    @mhenshaw,
    You post:>>There is no evidence that religion or gods are required for humans to derive meaning/purpose for their existence.

    Perhaps; but neither the universe nor any other being in it has to care one bit about whatever meaning people derive for themselves. In a purely materialistic worldview, whatever meaning people derive for themselves has no validity beyond themselves, even if that personal meaning drives them to do things hurtful to others.

    If it's all just atoms and the void, then it literally doesn't matter what you do or why you do it--all viewpoints and motivations are equally valid.

    You may be right. But my question is: I live in a large community of all religions, non-religions, different cultures, languages, sexes, genders, combinations, philosophies, politics, etc. So how does you religious belief make any difference in what you refer to as just atoms and the void. Is it just your personal perception or do you have concrete evidence for its reality that you can share.

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    Jan. 8, 2018 8:55 a.m.

    >>There is no evidence that religion or gods are required for humans to derive meaning/purpose for their existence.

    Perhaps; but neither the universe nor any other being in it has to care one bit about whatever meaning people derive for themselves. In a purely materialistic worldview, whatever meaning people derive for themselves has no validity beyond themselves, even if that personal meaning drives them to do things hurtful to others.

    If it's all just atoms and the void, then it literally doesn't matter what you do or why you do it--all viewpoints and motivations are equally valid.

  • CMTM , 00
    Jan. 8, 2018 8:10 a.m.

    RE: Paul to the Greeks on Mars hill in ( Acts (17:27-28) “God intended that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being…” Creation is dependent on God for its very existence.

    “God is both transcendent and immanent. “God is both further from us, and nearer to us, than any other being”. C.S. Lewis. The Problem of Pain.

    @ Karen.“The Christian has the hope of eternal joy. “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more Pain: for the former things are passed away.(Rev 21:4) VS, the Secularists’ hope of annihilation.

    For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing *soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart .(Heb 4:12)

    Soul* 5900 (psyx=psyche) corresponds exactly to the OT 5315 /phÁg ("soul"). The soul is the direct aftermath of God breathing (blowing) His gift of life into a person, making them an ensouled being.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    Jan. 7, 2018 7:07 a.m.

    @ dolce

    "I have never found science, despite its ability to give objective accounts of material causes, to answer questions of purpose and meaning that are of utmost importance to my subjective existence."

    My experience is the opposite. The more I learned about material causes, the more I understood that we humans are the authors of both the need for and the answers to meaning and purpose. And this proved to be critical to my subjective existence. I understood that I belong no matter what, indelibly a part of this process we label "life" and "the universe." It gives me a visceral thrill each time I contemplate it, it's so beautiful.

    There is no evidence that religion or gods are required for humans to derive meaning/purpose for their existence. I think what the evidence shows is that religion teaches people to believe this, usually from birth, and few question whether it's actually true. However, the existence of nonbelievers throughout history proves that it isn't.

  • dolce et decorum est Murray, UT
    Jan. 6, 2018 4:42 p.m.

    @ Red Corvette

    Science, just like mathematics or Aristotelian logic, is great in its sphere, but I have never found science, despite its ability to give objective accounts of material causes, to answer questions of purpose and meaning that are of utmost importance to my subjective existence. One may say that there is no purpose or meaning to my existence, but I have not heard a satisfactory proof that would make this position qualitatively distinct from the same kind of leap of faith required for me to assert purpose and meaning through religious belief in my life, even if the leap toward religious belief may seem less tenable than the alternative at times. Once the leap is made, assurances come in the ability of the religious life, to the extent it is lived authentically, to answer the demands of of one's subjective existence. As you may have rightly intuited, the nature of these assurances is such that they cannot be imposed on anyone not otherwise interested. That said, I would agree with you if you are simply asserting that science has a lot to tell us about the formation of the earth and that it can provide answers superior to those in Genesis to technical questions.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Jan. 6, 2018 1:45 p.m.

    Plato was brilliant and a long time ago. Man much to his advantage has advanced much in knowledge, science and understanding since Plato. The same might be said for Joseph Smith and Mormonism with the exception they are still struggling to come to terms with truth and move forward in reality.

  • CMTM , 00
    Jan. 6, 2018 9:00 a.m.

    RE:Plato, and later Aristotle, believed that God was inherently "unknowable."

    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word(Jesus) was God.. (John 1:1 ) John is points the Jewish readers back to the O. T. where the Logos or “Word” of God is the personification of God’s revelation.

    Jesus as the Logos is a word and concept that both Jews and Gentiles would have been familiar with and using that as the starting point, then He introduces them to Jesus Christ.

    But John goes beyond the familiar concept of Logos that his readers would have had and presents Jesus Christ not as a mere mediating principle like the Greeks thought, but as a personal being, fully divine, yet fully human. “
    To the Greek philosophers This logos was an organizing principle, that which gives life and meaning to the universe. The ancient Greeks thought of the logos as an impersonal force, that cannot interact with the world.

    But John’s logos is personal and can be received or rejected by human beings (vv. 11–12). This was scandalous enough for Greek minds, but what was even worse, from their perspective, was that John said the logos could become incarnate as a human being (v.14}.

  • Red Corvette St George, UT
    Jan. 5, 2018 2:24 p.m.

    Science trumps them both.