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Had an interesting discussion in Bible class.

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Warning: religious-based thread. You don't like it, you don't have to post. I thought it was appropriate for the Fur forum.

I was attending the adult Bible class at my church this morning, and we got into a discussion about the serpent in the Garden of Eden, and whether it was a sentient creature. Turns out, we actually agreed at the end of class that it may have been one. Let me explain why:

The first reason we agreed upon was that the serpent was punished, in a way that you read God punishing humans, not animals. Since animals are not sentient, why would God bother explaining His reasoning? Hence, the serpent may have had an intelligence higher than other creatures. He was also described as cunning.

The second reason was that the serpent talked to Eve. The interesting part isn't that it talked, because Satan could talk to Jesus later in the New Testament, but that Eve talked back! If serpents had never talked before, why wasn't Eve shocked and fearful of this? She probably had encountered talking snakes before, so it probably wasn't a new thing. She and Adam may have even been friends with serpents, thus making it easier for Satan to convince Eve to eat of the fruit.

Finally, another interesting thing we talked about is that the Serpent had legs before he talked to Eve, because God made him to crawl on his belly. IIRC, snakes do have places for appendages to attach to their skeletons, but the appendages themselves are missing.

This whole discussion also leaves the door open to extraterrestrials, since God saw no reason to tell us that He created snakes with intelligence.

Just food for thought. Any of you other religious guys ever think about this?
 
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Well, the bible isn't meant to be taken literally, or at least I think so. There's too many contradictions and "gaps" for it be anything but just a guideline to live your life by. I'm not treading heavily on your religion here, I'm just saying in that regard alone, I doubt that the serpent has self-consciousness, that it wasn't aware of it's own existence or was anymore intelligent than the snakes we have nowadays.

There is one thing though that I think you are missing. The serpent itself is not an actual serpent, it's merely an image, a representation of Satan. It was how Satan chose to appear to Eve so that she could be tempted. Much in the same was God appeared as a burning bush to Moses. Would you say that the bush was sentient? I wouldn't. I'd say the bush was a mirage created by God so he could appear in form to humanity, to a lesser species that couldn't possibly comprehend his actual image. Sure, if you take it literally, then the serpent may have spoken to Eve, but keep in mind that it wasn't a serpent, it was Satan in comprehensible form.

The first reason we agreed upon was that the serpent was punished, in a way that you read God punishing humans, not animals. Since animals are not sentient, why would God bother explaining His reasoning? Hence, the serpent may have had an intelligence higher than other creatures. He was also described as cunning.

Finally, another interesting thing we talked about is that the Serpent had legs before he talked to Eve, because God made him to crawl on his belly. IIRC, snakes do have places for appendages to attach to their skeletons, but the appendages themselves are missing.
You don't seem like a character who'd believe in evolution, so I'll make this part quick. Snakes, more than likely, evolved from lizards or other scampering reptiles. As they lost their limbs, their physiology and body structure in some parts remained unchanged. That's why snakes still have appendages where limbs could be attached, but don't actually have limbs. Just how humans have a seemingly useless appendix. It probably once had a use, but as we evolved, it became unneeded but stayed with us.

Going on what I said before though, God didn't punish an animal, he punished Satan. Taking a literal approach, God may have left snakes like that as a reminder to humanity not to give into the cunning and temptation of evil. You have to understand that the bible originated in times when people were a lot more simple-minded than they are now. Stories are a lot easier to pass on when you actually have a visual representation of the concepts you are talking about. Snakes/Serpents are seen as slippery, underhanded creatures ready to kill, they are good predators, lurk in dark places and have a strange, mysterious and alluring aura about them that almost tempts you to investigate them. Now doesn't that sound an awful lot like how Satan is usually described? A creature of "darkness", full of temptation, looks good on the surface but will ultimately be the end of you.

I'm sorry, but I just find that to be too much of a similarity to be coincidental. Like I said, people use what they know as representations of things they are trying to explain. Everyone knows what a snake is and it's a prime example of an evil creature, perfect to represent Satan. So to wrap that up, no, the serpent didn't have sentience. It was merely used as a literary device to help make the concept of Satan easier to understand.

The second reason was that the serpent talked to Eve. The interesting part isn't that it talked, because Satan could talk to Jesus later in the New Testament, but that Eve talked back! If serpents had never talked before, why wasn't Eve shocked and fearful of this? She probably had encountered talking snakes before, so it probably wasn't a new thing. She and Adam may have even been friends with serpents, thus making it easier for Satan to convince Eve to eat of the fruit.
If you can understand my above rebuttals, then you can probably see where I'm going with this. All I can say here is that even though it says serpent in the bible, that doesn't mean it was actually a serpent! Satan just chose the serpent to represent himself, so therefore the "serpent" could talk. Satan was the one giving knowledge to Eve and with that sort of power, I'm sure Satan could have given her the knowledge to understand what was happening. That could be reason as to why she was not fearful.



Overall though, I will say the same thing I say in all religious threads. Don't take the bible literally! It should be used only as a guideline to live a morally good life and isn't meant to be used as a definitive.

Just as a side note to all, I'm not a religious person nor do I believe in God, Satan, the bible or talking snakes. What I've said above was just to convey my thoughts in a "if it were true" situation.
 
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Mako

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Lukie hit every point perfectly so I won't try to add there.

But the reason eve wouldn't be fearful would be because she hadn't yet gained to the knowledge to be fearful. Nothing had threatened adam and eve before, thus no natural instincts would have been instilled to cause them to fear a talking serpent, or even at that even question why there was one.
Adam and Eve were the model of innocence and ignorance.
 
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Well said, Lukie. Like I said, it was just food for thought.

Actually I believe in limited evolution, but from my understanding about DNA and biology I find it highly unlikely that different species could form from one another(OT, it is interesting that human DNA has more in common with chicken DNA than chimpanzee DNA). But I don't want to get into a debate right now.

As a side note, I don't take the English translation literally. It's too far-removed in most cases to be useful without looking at the original Greek and Hebrew texts. If you like, I'd very much like to talk with you about this via PMs, since I believe it is important in understanding a subject to get all sides before committing to a decision or sticking to one.

Back to the topic though, the reason I brought this up is that it's interesting to me that there is a possibility that talking animals did exist, if one were to fantasize a little bit about the possible interpretations of Genesis.
 

BromeTeks

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I think the snake talking was more of a symbol. As lukie Pointed out, a representaion of satan. The vestigal limb attachments are just something that hasn't evolved away yet, simply because of Darwinian evolution, and there is no particular advantage whether they have them or not. As it so happens, most species of whales have vestigal hips, but no legs attached to them.

As for animals ever being able to talk, it would logically follow that they would probably have organized social order, thus posing a threat to the dominace of early Man. It would logically follow that we removed the competition, if it ever existed, in the same way we wiped out the neanderthals. Also, the only other animals known to have simple communication are Lower Primates, Dolphins, certain species of ground hogs, and a few lesser ones. All of these are mammals. Reptiles simply do not have a complex enough brain to develop complex language. Thus re-enforcing that the snake was only a symbol. While I think it's a pretty good metaphor, I do not really believe that the bible or other religeous texts should be taken literally.

Also, just a thought, the Idea that it is unlikely that other species will evolove form each other is only partially correct. A species can only generally evolve into new species if it is successful in the biosphere, thus limiting the number of species able to diverge. Also, If splitting was always likely and happened anything less than extremely rarely, It probably would have taken a lot less time to develop a fully sentient species. However, The problem I find many non-evolutionists have is that they simply fail to grasp how long life has taken to get this far. Evolution is a slow process, otherwise it would not have taken four-and-a-half Billion years to make it this evolutionary level.

So yes, A species evolving from another is quite rare, but it does happen. After All, the species we've domesticated (cats, dogs, maize, wheat) are different species than they were when Humanity first encountered them. But through selectivity far more exclusive than what occurs in nature, Humanity has catalyzed the evolution process in certain species for our benefit. It is a form of Darwinian theory, only instead of species having to have a certain advantage for survival and reproduction, they had to have certain selective advantages for our benefit in order for us to breed them, and it was done with much more precision than could possibly have occured in nature. That's why it has only taken a few thousand years to make a new species of canine or plant, rather than the few million it would normally take.

And now, we're forcing species change through at an even faster rate than evolution or selective breeding could ever have brought us, by going straight to the source with genetic engineering. Once we perfect that, we could be creating a new species every day if we so desired.

This is CBT, Armchair Biologist of Sci vs Sci, ending my rant for Darwin's Theory of Evolution.

PS Just because it's a theory doesn't mean its highly contested among scientists. Gravity is also just a theory, but we don't all doubt it for it's status do we?
 

weswissa

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My discussion in Bible Study was if everyone is born with sin when babies die to they go to Hell? We decided no, they are won't. One is because they have no knowledge of anything so they can't be doing anything wrong. Two, because our God is a just and loving God who would not condemn those who don't deserve to go to Hell go to Hell. Three is because babies could be on Earth to put some joy into someone's heart and that's what God put them here to do. So they would be serving God in all that they can. Then we started to go off into clones and decided that they go to Hell because only God can create something with a soul and your soul goes to Heaven/Hell so anything else is going to Hell.

~Weswissa
 

kite

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does that mean twins go to hell and if so, which ones: identical or not?
 

BromeTeks

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I don't think there are any moral problems with clones. Experiance and physical enviroment do quite a bit to shape a person in both body and mind. All cloning is really doing is using a particlular set of instructions for a body over, that's all. It's like recycling a good computer program. It's the same base, but it might be different depending on how the user set it.
 

weswissa

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I say they go to Hell because they are an abomination of God's work... not really, but I do agree that they have no souls so they can't possibly go to Heaven or Hell.

~Weswissa
 
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Mako

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My discussion in Bible Study was if everyone is born with sin when babies die to they go to Hell? We decided no, they are won't. One is because they have no knowledge of anything so they can't be doing anything wrong. Two, because our God is a just and loving God who would not condemn those who don't deserve to go to Hell go to Hell. Three is because babies could be on Earth to put some joy into someone's heart and that's what God put them here to do. So they would be serving God in all that they can. Then we started to go off into clones and decided that they go to Hell because only God can create something with a soul and your soul goes to Heaven/Hell so anything else is going to Hell.

~Weswissa
Then all of those who never had the option to exposed to christianity would fall under the same umbrella as those babies. Rather through cultural restrictions, or timeline such as native americans pre-european colonization. Correct me if I'm wrong, but i'm not familiar with any verse stating exemption of knowledge, excuses one from judgment.
 

weswissa

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Then all of those who never had the option to exposed to christianity would fall under the same umbrella as those babies. Rather through cultural restrictions, or timeline such as native americans pre-european colonization. Correct me if I'm wrong, but i'm not familiar with any verse stating exemption of knowledge, excuses one from judgment.
Again, I believe God is just and right and loving and would not condemn anyone that cannot physically find out about God to Hell... I actually had this discussion yesterday with someone at my job... and we decided the same thing... they were never able to find God in any way so they can't be condemned to Hell...
 
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As a side note, I don't take the English translation literally. It's too far-removed in most cases to be useful without looking at the original Greek and Hebrew texts. If you like, I'd very much like to talk with you about this via PMs, since I believe it is important in understanding a subject to get all sides before committing to a decision or sticking to one.
No one's expecting you to commit to a decision straight-up off the bat. The idea behind conversing is to learn about other people's views as you give your own. Consider it a give'n'take mentality. Allowing someone to agree with or refute you all adds to the discussion.

I try not to make a habit of PM conversation. If you want to discuss it, then here in this thread is the best place to do so.
 

Boyhood

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It's just the old testiment that some people have trouble taking a few stories literally, but those people need to realize that these stories are based on concepts, and ones that define good morals and such. That is an interesting conclusion you came to with the serpent, but there are far more that would leave you wondering about particular things if you were to read all of the old testiment.

p.s. jesus is ftw *for the win*
 

weswissa

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It's just the old testiment that some people have trouble taking a few stories literally, but those people need to realize that these stories are based on concepts, and ones that define good morals and such. That is an interesting conclusion you came to with the serpent, but there are far more that would leave you wondering about particular things if you were to read all of the old testiment.

p.s. jesus is ftw *for the win*
Also, me, being a Baptist, use the New Testament, so all the stuff in the Old Testament is no longer used... but they provide great stories for us to abide by and most of the rules set down in the OT are in the NT so it doesn't matter...

~Weswissa
 
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i don't think that the bible should be taken literaly. it should just be a book that tells you how to be a good person.
 

kite

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i don't think that the bible should be taken literaly. it should just be a book that tells you how to be a good person.
just like lord of the rings!
also, if clones have no souls does that mean i can kill my clones at will? i believe i have a doppleganger and i'm worried that if i don't kill it it could get the idea first and then kill me out of fear.
and if it's ok to kill my clone out of fear, or some sick internal instinct, or maybe i just want to taste human flesh, whatever, do i have to do a certain ritual so i don't become tainted with clone blood?
oh and one last thing, with the US being known to use clones and modified genes in their food supply does that mean we're all full of sinful micro clone particulates thus infecting us with sin by means that which we cannot comprehend?
 
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Mako

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Again, I believe God is just and right and loving and would not condemn anyone that cannot physically find out about God to Hell... I actually had this discussion yesterday with someone at my job... and we decided the same thing... they were never able to find God in any way so they can't be condemned to Hell...
Last I checked the ONLY way to be saved is through christ, so correct me if i'm wrong. God always isn't what humans would conceive as "Fair". Just look at job, ****ed around for essentially a bet.

On the topic of cloning, if a clone has no soul, then it is not a sin to murder them. Thus inherently if we can clone fetuses, by the logic you presented, stem cell research is A-okay by you.
 

kite

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finally i can find out what baby tastes like!
 

BromeTeks

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Speaking of stem cells, I heard that some british research group was going to be combining human stemcells into animal embryos to create largeer quantities of stem cells that do not come from fetuses. So, animal human hybrids (even though according to the plans, they will never even get close to maturity).
 
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