Augustine: The Literal Meaning of Genesis

I recently finished The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind by Mark Noll, and will be sharing a few insights and quotes from this important book. The first quote is a long one from St. Augustine of Hippo, from his work The Literal Meaning of Genesis, written in about AD 415.

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of the world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion [quoting 1 Tim 1:7].

(emphasis added; quoted from Noll, pp. 202-203, from the John Hammond Taylor translation of 1982)

Here are a few of my thoughts on what Augustine said:

  • Augustine, even though his work was entitled The Literal Meaning of Genesis, does not read Genesis 1 in the same “literal” way that modern young-Earth creationists do. Augustine believed that the creation was an instantaneous event rather than being spread out over six literal days, and that the six days of Genesis 1 were a literary structure rather than a statement of the order or timing of events. This is a remarkable insight from a deep thinker, who was in no way influenced by modern understandings of the age of the universe. This also should remind us that modern interpretations that understand Genesis as not requiring a 6000-year old Earth are not just forcing a modern interpretation on the text. Instead, the idea that Genesis doesn’t tell us how old the Earth is could be something that flows out of the text.
  • Augustine believed that non-Christians were perfectly capable of understanding the world, and he was convinced that whatever the Bible teaches, it won’t contradict the world as it really is.
  • Augustine came down hard on Christians who said things that the “scientists” of his day knew were foolish. This applies to us today as well: how will the world believe the Bible when it speaks about salvation if we also try to convince them that the Bible requires belief in dinosaurs living with humans, all the sedimentary rocks being deposited in Noah’s Flood six thousand years ago, or that all evidence of human prehistory can be compressed into less than a thousand years. These are all things taught as dogma by some Evangelicals, but none of them are explicitly taught in Scripture. And the world laughs, not only at us, but at the Creator.

Noll follows the long Augustine quote with this observation:

Augustine’s claim is nothing less than that a Christian who attempts to interpret passages of the Bible with cosmological implication s will misinterpret the Bible if that believer does not take account of what can be learned “from reason and experience.” To limit oneself only to the Scriptures in such instances, says Augustine, is to misread the Bible. (p. 203, emphasis in original)

Grace and Peace

46 thoughts on “Augustine: The Literal Meaning of Genesis

  1. Kevin, thanks for sharing this. I routinely encounter smart people who put down Christians as goofballs because they must believe a lot of non-biblical things. So it’s good to see your post and this counsel from a historic giant!

    I’ll have to add this book to my reading list :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for mentioning this book. It’s on my reading list now, and I think my husband will enjoy it as well. Of course, as we are expecting our first child literally any day now…who knows when we’ll actually have time to read… :)


  3. mickelodian

    What happens to the Christian….when non-christians (or even learned christians) remove even the facets of the scripture… when they remove most if not ALL of the bible…

    The only thing left after examining the scientific evidence presented by those who mock and scorn and remoe any logic the bible offers these days…is ‘Did God start the universe’…or ‘Did he not’… and even that question is shortly to be answered!

    In the past all of the world religions could always ‘retreat’ to this point…and in the absence of any information Gods law had rule… and if God could exist…then the Bible is truth..

    To be sure…science does not know everything (for if it did…it would STOP!) … but science and learning does not need to know ‘everything’ to boil the Bible down to nothing…

    Those who mock and scorn are much better educated… after just 10 minutes on sites like youtube when looking at a ‘science’ video…I am astounded… And science is not ‘scripture’ it does not ask one to belief without reason… and reason is ubiquitous in the modern world.

    MY problem is that simple reason presented makes much more sense… it makes so much sense that the bible really does look like a fairytale in comparison… and that’s the bits of science I understand… MOST bits I do not understand!


  4. geochristian


    Of course I disagree with your assessment, but I appreciate that you took the time to comment.

    The ignorance of some Christians—e.g. the YouTube science videos that you referred to—should not be used to discount Christianity as a whole, unless you are content with using logical fallacies to back up your rejection of God. If you wish to reject Christianity because of an internet presentation made by some young-Earth creationist organization (I’m just taking a guess here), then that is your choice, but your rejection will have a poor intellectual foundation.

    You have correctly boiled down a basic question of philosophy to “Did God start the universe or didn’t he?” but your confidence that science is about to answer this question is completely unfounded. For many who wish to remove any necessity for God, the current area of hope is the multiverse concept (I don’t know if this is what you are suggesting). Even if there are multiple parallel universes (highly conjectural and presently beyond hope of confirmation) this does not explain anything. It only puts the problems of “Why is there something rather than nothing?” back one step.

    My training in science has done nothing to make me think the Bible is on the level of fairy tale, and I suggest that it is not your science that has led you to that conclusion. Perhaps you have looked at the Bible through distorted lenses without realizing your own biases or those of your instructors.


  5. tao4all

    If you havent figured out that genesis is about the formation of the human being, and that EVE means “she serpent” (chavva), and that the seven days symbolize the seven intelligences in man – later called the seven seals (or chakras in hinduism) .. then sorry, then you are goofballs. Two serpents in a garden with a tree.. ever seen those greek healing signs? The symbol of medicine?

    The story of Christ is the story of the life force, in each one of us, hence “do you not know that the spirit of god lives in you” … now then, if the spirit of god is in you, then who can you be? A janitor? Just visiting? Wake up..

    “And mankind shall know that God is everything in everyone”.

    Case closed.

    You will find that the 4 books is a poetic description of the four sections of the human spine. The four “corners” of the earth. With sons and daughters being nerve plexes and energy lines.

    Jesus was born low, but rose to golgatha at 33? Well you have 33 vertibrea in your spine, and golgatha means “place of the skull” in jewish..

    I thought you would have figured this out by now.


  6. tao4all

    That which is called the Christian religion existed among the ancients and never did not exist from the beginning of the human race -Source: Saint Augustine, Epistolae, Lib. I, xiii

    Here is that pesky “a woman rides the beast” that children are so afraid of:

    It is a symbol. It represents nature (the female) that has taken over for spirit (the male). As attested to by Clements of Alexandria:

    The bacchanals hold their orgies in honour of the frenzied Dionysus, celebrating their sacred frenzy by the eating of raw flesh, and go through the distribution of the parts of butchered victims, crowned with snakes, shrieking out the name of that Eva by whom error came into the world (Here the church father openly admits that the female aspect of Dionysus is equal to Eve -Ed) -Source: Church father Clements of Alexandria, Exhortation to the heathen, chapter 2

    Here are some of the sources for your paul, and i’ll throw in the anti-christ for free:

    From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men 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.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring’. -Source: Acts 17.26

    et’s listen to what Epimenides of Knossos, a philosopher, poet, and prophet from Crete who lived some time around the 500s B.C. In his poem Cretica, the Cretan god Minos says to Zeus:

    They fashioned a tomb for thee, O holy and high one– The Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, idle bellies! But you are not dead: you live and abide forever, for in you we live and move and have our being.

    The second quote from Acts comes from the Stoic poet, Aratus of Soli, also living in the 200s B.C., who wrote in his principle work, Phaenomena in honor of the Macedonian king Antignous II Gonatas for his victory over the Gauls. The poem reads:

    Let us begin with Zeus, whom we mortals never leave unspoken. For every street, every market-place is full of Zeus. Even the sea and the harbor are full of this deity. Everywhere everyone is indebted to Zeus. For we are indeed his offspring.

    Thus, according to Acts, a henotheistic appropriation of Zeus is associated with the god of the Jews. Even the word that Acts and the rest of the New Testament uses for God, Theos, is a cognate of the name Zeus. The Greek poets are likewise made out to be equivalent to the Jewish prophets.

    And last but not least, the “one man”. Who was this one man? In greek mythology it was Lapethos. The first man. The greek Adam if you will. And if you add up the numbers for each letter in his name, because each letter of the alphabeth was assigned a value, guess what you get? 10 + 1 + 80 + 5 + 300 + 70 + 200 = 666. Lapethos, the titan father of humanity. His Jewish name is Japhet. Oh yes, it was him all along..

    Didnt’ you ever wonder why words such as “tartaros” came into the new testament? It’s often translated as “hell”, but thats just rubbish. Tartaros was the prison Zeus imprisoned the Titans into, it is actually far beneath the underworld. Besides, Sheol (the jewish term for the post-world existence) is the same as the Greek Hel (by their own account, not mine).

    Ignorant imbecils..


  7. tao4all

    If you had known the marvels of your own book, and tryly understood what that book contained — you would not be doing lip service to science. Im so tired of educating you people because you refuse to see the legacy invested in your own religion.


  8. geochristian


    Thanks for your comments.

    I found your “case closed” argument in your first comment to be less than compelling.

    First of all, just because “Eve” is similar to the Hebrew form of “female serpent” (Hevva or Chevva) doesn’t mean that we can equate the two. One can find words that sound similar to just about any name—Kevin and heaven, Robert and robber, Cathy and math—without having any real connection between the two. Genesis makes the meaning of “Eve” explicit: “Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living” (Gen 3:20 NIV). Nothing about snakes there.

    Likewise, the seven seals in Revelation have no more to do with seven chakras in Hinduism than they do with seven innings in softball or seven sisters in the Pleiades.

    I’m not even sure what you are advocating, though from the blog you linked to it looks like some sort of Hindu/eastern-based “spirituality.” If you are attempting to show that Christianity is derived from eastern or Greek mysticism then you are not off to a good start.


  9. tao4all

    Then read.
    Check the sources and piece together the big picture.

    Did you know, that on golgatha there was a temple? To venus. And did you know what her mantra is? I know because she is still worshipped to this day in india.
    It is called (in english): to be born again.

    If you truly, and honestly, take your time to study all the symbols, their origin (the greeks imported primarily from india) — and actually buy books about this, not just sit around with oppinions — then you will come to the inevitable conclusion just as i did.

    I swore that i would follow the breadcrumbs i found in the bible wherever they would lead, because “he who loves me does what i say”. Sadly, most people are happy with the breadcrums and dare not leave the safety of numbers.

    Good luck with your quest.
    And if you want to take a deeper look, then look under bible secrets, and start at the top. Read it, digest it – then make up your mind. Just browsing over is shallow.


  10. tao4all

    And eve has 3 children. Now how many attributes does the mother goddes have? 3. Now draw it all up.

    I – god
    I I – adam & eve (first division)
    I I I – sons (expansion)

    Voila, you have just drawn the pytagorean pyramid. The same that is the basis for soundwaves and energy formation in physics.

    Any jew will tell you, or just read Flavius josephus, that the old testament is written in 4 layers:
    1. Myth
    2. Archetypes
    3. Energy
    4. Number

    But find it out for yourself. The only mystical about these things is what you project on them. The bible is rooted in consciousness, which is the root of all living things. From this energy expands in logical steps through archetypical formations. Its no mumbo jumbo if you actually try to understand it.


  11. geochristian


    There is no sense looking for “secrets” in the Bible while missing the clear overall message:
    –God created the universe (and is not part of the universe)
    –Humans are sinful and in rebellion again God (and therefore are easily led down paths (e.g. breadcrumbs) that are deceptive)
    –Christ’s death on the cross paid the penalty for our sin (it is not that Jesus shows the way to God, he is the way to God, John 14:6)

    Eve did not have only three children; there were other sons and daughters not named (Genesis 5:4). Your Pythagorean triangle statement has no foundation.

    You are not finding secrets in the Bible. You are reading stuff into it that has no historical or literary basis.


  12. tao4all

    Here is your link to “she serpent”. It is a wordplay naturally, because chavva also means “life”:

    As woman is regarded as the cause of death because she brings to birth, so also for the same reason she may be called the originator of life. In fact the woman who first began transgression was named “Life” because she became responsible for the succession of those who were born and fell into sin, the mother of righteous and unrighteous alike. -Saint Clements of Alexandria, Stromata, Book III, Chapter IX, 64-65

    And this might be “strong meat” for some:

    By these Christ was typified (created as a type, an ideal -Ed), and acknowledged, and brought into the world; for He was prefigured in Joseph: then from Levi and Judah he was descended according to the flesh, as King and Priest; and He was acknowledged by Simeon in the temple: through Baal he was believed in among the Gentiles, as says the prophet, “the land of Baal [zebulon];” and through Benjamin [that is, Paul] he was glorified, by being preached throughout all the world. -Source: The church father Irenaeus, Fragments of lost works, section 17

    Ok, i wanted to make one post of this but there was no edit button, so sorry for cluttering up your post.

    I mean well, but i get furious that only 1 in 100 knows these things. So much suffering is being caused, and completely needless. The goal of christianity has always been the same:

    Unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of
    the fulness of Christ. -Source: New Testament, Eph. 4:13.

    What some call yoga, is the means of perfecting man. In jewish it is called “Ophanim”. But it was hidden in allegory and symbol.

    When you are reading the NT, you are actually reading about your own being. The places jesus visits are not real places, but organs and principles inside your own body. Around your solar plexus there are 12 nerves that governs the entire body. Including the sex tendency, the “traitor” that sells you for silver (also a symbol).

    Here is the jewish temple:

    “Thou son of man, show the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the PATTERN. And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, show them THE FORM of the house. -Source: Ezekiel 43:10

    Now do you see it?


  13. tao4all

    No historical basis?
    And on what grounds are you saying that?
    I have studied mythology for years my friend, and everything i have posted here has sources and is documented. I have a library of books dedicated to the subject.

    Did you ever concider, that the ancient sciences did not make use to the logical faculties of the left brain? That you in fact have to approach them symbolically using your right brain abilities?

    Look up Joseph Campbell, and i would also suggest some basic knowledge of hindu and jewish religious inter-breeding. Most of the jewish names have spelling that is found in only one other language: sanskrit.


  14. tao4all

    My last post on this subject:

    That there should be certain doctrines, not made known to the multitude, which are [revealed] after the exoteric ones have been taught, is not a peculiarity of Christianity alone, but also of philosophic systems, in which certain truths are exoteric and others esoteric -Source: Church father Origenes, Contra Celsus

    Good night


  15. geochristian


    In your effort to find secrets in the Bible (or to read Eastern mysticism into the Bible), you are entirely missing what the Bible has to say.

    Ephesians, for example, is about the supremacy of Christ. It is not by looking inward that we are built up, but by looking to Christ. Christianity is primarily a religion about things that have happened outside of us, such as Christ dying on the cross as our substitute (2 Cor 5:21 — God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (NIV)). We do not attain to the fullness of Christ by looking inward (all we see there is sin), but by looking to him.

    You said “When you are reading the NT, you are actually reading about your own being. Yes, for example: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23 NIV) and “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23 NIV).


    I have a library too, and have enough knowledge of the world that surrounded the Hebrews to see that they drew some things from the surrounding cultures, but ended up with something that stood radically apart from those cultures. I attribute this to divine revelation.

    Sanskrit is on my wish list of things to learn, but it is not high enough on my list of priorities to make it happen any time soon.

    The books I’ve paged through connecting the Hebrews or Jesus to Hinduism (e.g. the idea that Jesus went to India between ages 12 and 30) seem to make all sorts of unsupportable statements, and completely miss the core teachings of Jesus or the rest of the Bible.

    With respect,
    Kevin N


  16. tao4all

    Im talking about serious books, not the new-age books. Serious books by serious schollars.

    If you want to argue bible at a superficial level, then sorry, i thought you were passed that. I mean the alternative is that the authors of the bible were imbeciles regarding the natural world. Or that god is an unjust butcher. Sorry, but jesus himself underlined that the kingdom is within you. Not outside. The messenger told you to go within, not blindly look outside. And there is no historical basis for christianity at all – if you actually look at the 3 scraps, 2 of them forgeries.

    If we accept the bible as historical, or even remotely real, then we also have to include:

    Dragons are for real (Psalms 74:13)

    Snakes can talk (Genesis. Also notice that the snake turns up after God has deemed all creatures to be good)

    Giants really existed (Gen 6:4)

    Unicorns were common (Job 39:9–12)

    God finds pleasure in his believers burning their own children and human sacrifices (Exodus 13:2, Joshua 7:15, 1 Kings 13:1-2, 2 Kings 23:20-25 )

    Gang rape of teenagers and children is great (Judges 21:10-24)

    If a father is short on cash, he may sell his own daughter (Exodus 21:7-11).

    Goliath was a time traveler (he is wearing Greek armour. This would not be invented for another 500 years. Why? Because the old testament was re-written during the reign of Alexander the great, as well as king Hezekiah the reformer).

    and last but not least: Gods army (host of heaven) are actually the stars and the planets (Kings 2.23:5, Zephaniah 1:5)

    The other alternative is, that it is allegorical and very much closer to home – namely in the body like jesus said:

    * Galatians 4:24: Which things are an allegory (Abraham is not real).
    * Matthew 13:34: All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them.
    * Mark 4:11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables.
    * Psalm 78:2: I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old.
    * Proverbs 1:6: To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.
    * 2 cor.4:3: And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.
    * 2 cor. 3:14: But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.
    * Romans 7:6: We should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.
    * Eze:20: Then said I, Ah Lord GOD! they say of me, Doth he not speak in parables?
    * 1.CR 2:7: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, [even] the hidden [wisdom], which God ordained before the world unto our glory.
    * Eze. 17:2: Son of man, put forth a riddle, and speak a parable unto the house of Israel.
    * Jdg.14:19: And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he went down to Ashkelon, and slew thirty men of them, and took their spoil, and gave change of garments unto them which expounded the riddle. And his anger was kindled, and he went up to his father’s house (here it says god was pleased when they cracked the riddle, and rewarded them).
    * Proverbs 25:2: It is the glory of GOD to conceal a thing: but honor of kings is to search out a matter.
    * 2Cor.4:3,4 “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”
    * Isaiah 9,10 And he said, Go and tell this people, hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes
    * Col 1:26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints.
    * JOB 27:11 I will teach you by the hand of God: that which is with the Almighty will I not conceal.
    * MAT 11:25 At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
    * psalm 89 might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.”
    * 1 cor 2:7: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory
    * IS. 48:6: Thou hast heard, see all this; and will not ye declare it? I have shewed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them.
    * Exodus 4:12 Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.
    * Matthew 22:29: You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.
    * Hebrews 5:13: For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
    * Galatians 4 :24: Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.

    Forgiveness for sins? OK.
    Believe in God? OK
    Recognizing christ – christ in you? OK

    See? You dont loose anything – you gain and gain more! You now re-gain the closeness to God as your own source, that which has been lost and perverted by editors over the years.


    Should we understand sacred writ to the letter, we should fall into the most enormous blasphemies -Source: Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma. Quoting Saint Athanasious, bishop and patriarch of Alexandria.

    Just look at the temple of the cosmos:

    For out of Sion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem —the celestial Word, the true athlete crowned in the theatre of the whole universe -Source: Church father Clements of Alexandria, Protrepticus, page 1.

    The word is actually spelled wrong, it is “verb”. The creative formation of soundwaves.

    Im sorry, im not projecting hindu mysticism onto christianity. Im explaining the allegories to you as they were understood by the first christians. What you think of christianity actually doesnt matter, or mine for that matter — what matters what how the first christians regarded their religion. And they did not care for copyright my friend:

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. -Source: The New Testament, Gospel of John 1.1

    The source is ultimately of Hindu origin:

    In the beginning was the word , and the word was with Brahma (God), and the word was Brahma (Prajapati vai idam agra asit, Tasya vak dvitiya asit, Vag vai paramam Brahma) -Source: Krishna Yajurveda, Kathaka Samhita, 12.5, 27.1


  17. tao4all

    The Hindu origin of Adam and Eve:

    The progeny of Adamis and Hevas (Jewish: Adamah and Chavvah) soon became so wicked that they were no longer able to coexist peacefully. Brahma therefore decided to punish his creatures. -Source: The Mahabharata, Cronicles of Vaivasvata

    The Allegory of Abraham likewise is of hindu sources:

    It is well known that Abraham means “father Brahm” after the Hindu Brahma. Brahmas wife was Sarasvati, while Abraham is married to Sarah. And just like Brahma had a child with the free woman Gayantri – so does Abraham have a fling outside of marriage. From the jewish copy Christ is said to decent, while in the Hindu original Krishna (purusha) descends. Coincidence? There can be no doubt that these stories are one and the same. Let us not forget the sacred Hindu river, Hagar, that also is a part of the original mythology, but typified and personalized in the Jewish rip-off. And the link is complete when we examine the name “Pharisees”. In Greek it is Pharisaioi, in Arameic it is Perishaya– and in Hebrew it’s “Perushim“. The followers of Purusha.

    The story of Noah is likewise a poor duplicate of the most ancient Hindu scriptures, here is the original as found in the Mahabharata:

    To Satyavarman were born three sons: the eldest Shem; then Sham; and thirdly, Jyapeti by name. Whilst he remained honouring and satisfying the gods, and priests, and kine, one day by the act of destiny the king, having drunk mead, became senseless and lay asleep naked.

    Then, was he seen by Sham, and by him were his two brothers called: To whom he said, “What now has befallen? In what state is this our sire?” By these two he was hidden with clothes, and called to his senses again and again. Having recovered his intellect, and perfectly knowing what had passed, he cursed Sham, saying, “Thou shalt be the servant of servants.” -Source: Matsya Purana, Chronicles of the fish


  18. tao4all

    The seven seals. In Pauline theology they are quickly translated into their Hindu originals:

    * Laodicea = Sahasrara
    * Philadelphia = Ajna
    * Sardis = Vishuddha
    * Thyatira = Anahata
    * Pergamos = Manipura
    * Smyrna = Svadhisthana
    * Ephesus = Muladhara

    And the seven groups of glands that control our biology are:

    Pituary ganglion (Sahasrara)
    Pineal ganglion (Ajna)
    Pharyngeal ganglion (Vishuddha)
    Cardiac ganglion (Anahata)
    Epigastric ganglion (Manipura)
    Prostatic ganglion (Svadhistana)
    Sacral ganglion (Muladhara)


  19. geochristian


    I read through your long list of problems with the Bible in comment #18. There are many lists of “Bible contradictions” out there written by those who oppose Christianity, but the items on these lists stem from poor tranlations (in some cases in the King James Version), misinterpretations of the intent of the text, or historical ignorance.

    Rather than going through the list one by one, I’ll take a look at just a few items:

    1. “Dragons are for real (Psalms 74:13)” — The KJV has “dragons” in this verse; modern translations have “monsters” or “sea monsters.” The Israelites were as a whole not a sea-faring people, and viewed the ocean as a fearful place. “Sea monsters” could refer to any sort of creatures: giant squids, whales, or even mythological creatures. The point of the passage in Psalm 74 is that God is in control, even over the most fearsome creatures imaginable.

    The occurance of “giants” and “unicorns” in the King James Version can be explained in a similar fashion. I wrote about unicorns here.

    2. “Gang rape of teenagers and children is great (Judges 21:10-24)” — Like many gruesome stories in the Old Testament, this one is presented without any sort of theological commentary. It does not state that God told them to do any of this; they acted on their own. One sorry event followed another. If you look at the overall context of the book of Judges, it is clear that the point of this passage— and of the whole book—is to show how far people can stray when they leave God out of the picture. Instead of condoning practices such as the kidnapping and forced marriages that occur in this passage, the book of Judges as a whole is a harsh condemnation of the wretched spiritual state of the nation of Israel. It ends with “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.” (Judges 21:25 NIV). When everyone did whatever they wanted, the result was a social disaster.

    I could go on. I have written about dealing with Bible contradictions here.

    Regarding comment #19:

    Similarities between Hebrew and Hindu flood stories, as well as Hebrew and Mesopotamian flood stories, could have more than one explanation. As a Christian, I hold the most likely explanation to be that they are rooted in the same events. This is a good argument for the historicity of some sort of flood event, which I believe for Biblical and scientific reasons was not global, but restricted to someplace in the Mesopotamian basin.

    Regarding comment #20:

    The seven seals in Revelation (which was written by John, not Paul) are different than the seven churches.

    I have not read up on the supposed connections to the seven Hindu items you listed, but I suspect they are a bit of a stretch.

    I could make parallels between the seven cities of Revelation 2-3 and the seven dwarfs from Snow White:
    Ephesus = Sleepy (they had lost their first love, meaning they had gotten sleepy in their faith)
    Laodicea = Sneezy (they caught colds from bathing in the lukewarm water that came from the springs by their city)
    Philadelphia = Happy (they were happy because Christ did not critisize them for anything)

    Obviously, the connections I’ve made between the seven cities and the seven dwarfs are rather silly. But it illustrates the point that one can stretch dissimilar things to make them fit together, even when there is no natural connection between them.

    Regarding comment #21:

    I would say the case is closed as well, but with a different verdict than what you imply. You have not made a sound case that the Bible is untrustworthy, nor have you made a good case that Biblical and Hindu spirituality come from the same source. Sometime I would like to write a short entry on my blog about why I am a Christian instead of a Hindu. I won’t take the time to do that now.

    Thanks for the nice email.

    Kevin N


  20. tao4all

    All i am saying is that behind the parables and allegories, there are things most people dont know about. Not because it is special knowledge – but because we are seperated from the greek culture (and jewish) by over 2.000 years. I have sent you an email explaining some of this, and yes – i am sorry for bombarding your blog with info. No matter how much we might disagree – i should not have used bad language. For that i am sorry.

    But i am saying that the bible is untrustworthy, rather that: it’s not understood in it’s proper context.

    The apostle marc was after all called “the mystagog”. It goes without saying that there are some things that might not be commonly known by all. And perhaps, just perhaps, it’s time to shed some light on them – since people are more advanced these days. Jesus warned us that there would be knowledge people could not carry 2.000 years ago.. But the spirit will teach all who are willing to learn. Putting literary “limits” on that spirit, or restricting it with our vision of godhead is, well .. a bit odd to my mind.

    The essence of human transformation, which this is all about, can be found in nearly all cultures. And so is the message that God is the substance of all life. Indeed in Acts we reed “Do you believe we are doing anything new here?”.

    How we venture into that mystery of life and God, body and spirit is individual, but more and more people seem to need more technical information. That demand could be met! But not if we are to argue about spelling, or on the “level of the letter”. For we are not apostles after the letter.. are we?

    I enjoyed your email, and you seem like a good person.
    Im sorry for the name-calling.


  21. mickelodian

    Thanks for the reply… only now however was I informed by the software I use to track blog comments that there was a reply…so much for the advances made in software engineering!

    Anyway… no… my ‘rejection’ if you could call it that, of biblical scripture…or any scripture for that matter is not based on the illogical and mostly uneducated rantings of YEC’s or any other uneducated source. I actually find the YEC thing funny… its like watching a comedy… I certainly does not apply it to the average christian. But it is an example of what happens when you take something that is essentially a book of early philosophy and stories and try to apply it to the world of science. It’d be funny if it weren’t actually true.

    I never rejected Christianity because nobody in my family was ever christian…or in fact subscribed (to my knowledge) to any religious philosophy.

    My rejection therefore is based on basic common sense, even ignoring the advances of science is wide and varied. Science which although not in direct conflict with religion do have the unfortunate habit of continually turning up information that has apologists running about plugging up the holes.

    I’m not an uneducated person. I’ve read almost every book on philosophy religious and secularist alike…But as an example the idea that an allegorical story of snakes in gardens with the first two people in the world and God imparting ‘original sin’ as being a ‘story’ to explain mankinds awakening and the birth of consciousness is fine… I find no issue with metaphorical explanations of where consciousness came from….

    But then later for that same God as depicted in the original metaphorical story to cancel such sin (even though the original story is allegorical) by sending a son to remove the sin…. is simply wrong… You cannot remove the ‘responsibility’ of a persons actions be they Good or Bad…even if you wanted to.

    So Jesus whoever he might have been was simply incapable of removing the responsibility of a thief to his victim… he might ‘say’ he was volunteering to do so… but essentially that is a matter for the thief…and his conscience… Whatever a third party does cannot remove such responsibility. Nor can the action be taken back…nor the victim compensated…or the thief excused.

    In fact I find that entire idea ‘dangerous’. One should not spread about the idea that responsibility for ones actions can be absorbed somehow by a third party if they so wish…it cannot.

    So Jesus then died one can only consider…for no good reason whatsoever. The original story is allegorical…so there is no original sin…and in any case the sin (such as it is) can’t be transferred to a third party for removal anyway!

    Next there are simply so many holes and factually incorrect entries in all scripture for them to be taken as any more than an early attempt at law giving…and for the most part many of the laws in the old testament at least were ‘borrowed’ wholesale from earlier writings that weren’t even religious…

    For example the book of the hammurabi almost 1,000 years before Moses explains the punishment for injuring another in a fight…or injuring a pregnant woman…it is almost a verbatim copy of the same entry in exodus… Since I doubt a God would lower itself to plagiarism we’d have to assume that this was the actions of an author with a copy of the hammurabi adding bits to the bible! When I was a child in school you got punished for copying another childs homework!

    So as a christian you really need to ask….are you obeying the laws you see as Gods? or are you in fact obeying the laws of the hittite empire? are you a christian? or a hittite?

    Lastly these books…the bible, the qu’ran etc… they don’t have anything particularly ‘special’ about them. They certainly don’t give any insight into morality…. morality existed before the bible. Just because recognition of human morality is penned in a book (any book) with a few other ‘morals’ added to the ones we have natually does not make that book the ‘source’ of such morality… just another comment upon it.

    In the centuries following the bible, morals have been literally ‘hijacked’ by the major religions along I might add with words like ‘law’, ‘truth’ and ‘justice’…and even concepts like ‘spiritual’ . There is no God required for any of these things.

    And I say ‘hijacked’ in the sense that the word in the dictionary does not match most Christians understanding of it as applied to the bible. Only recently the pope insisted that ‘Hell’ was a real place…and offered this as the ‘truth’ but omitted along the way to mention that ‘truth’ in the dictionary…requires that there is validation of this truth by means of factual evidence and objective observation. So whatever it might be thats written in the bible…it certainly cannot actually be ‘truth’. The closest is comes is ‘opinion’… the same is true of the word ‘morality’ etc. The bible doesn’t ‘give’ morals, it explains the morals that people had and for the most part still have as a direct result of our experiences and the golden rule.

    Lastly the ‘soon to be discovered’ area of ‘was there a god at the outset of the universe?’ is one of the questions that will be answered by the discovery of the higgs boson particle and the discovery of how and when and under what circumstances ‘mass’ came about and if therefore there was a finite beginning to the universe…

    Incidentally the Higgs Bosun is also known as the ‘God particle’…not because of a search for God… but because its a search for ‘mass’ which has two meanings in the western world.

    If as is suspected there was in fact no ‘start’ to the universe as a process…regardless of its changing form…then there was nothing for a God to start in the first place! Which would make the question of ‘what created the universe?’ more redundant than it already is…if that’s actaully possible.


  22. mickelodian

    BTW after reading some of the comments above it is interesting the way people ‘view’ the contents of the bible and their common interpretations.

    One commentator actually tried to point out that ‘jesus warned that people would have knowledge’

    Now think about that for a minute… this person thinks that it is imporatnat to be aware that humanity was ‘warned’ about future knowledge…and also that this was somehow prophetic…and something to be ‘warned’ against… all I can say there is wow! I’m seriously at a loss to explain the huge void in this individuals understanding of the world they live in, when they think ‘people a day from now will have more information than they do today’ is an amazingly profound assertions. It certainly wouldn’t be profound if found in Harry Potter though… only if found in the bible…and the higher up the food chain the person in the bible is that says it…the more profound it sounds…sheeesh!.

    Well I can prophesise myself that people in the future will indeed have more knowledge… and I’m putting it in witing here… does that make me a prophet?… or am I just stating the obvious?… and do you need to be ‘warned’ of this ‘future knowledge’?

    This is what the bible and all religions are… they pass on ‘memes of nothingness’ and label it as ‘profound wisdom’

    Most of what people see as ‘profound’ and ‘wise’ and ‘philosophical’ in the bible is nothing of the sort… its all use mention errors (UME’s) dressed up as ‘important’ but with no real substance…and certainly no more information than was not obvious to begin with.

    I often wonder if there was a sentence in the bible which said ‘God says that water is wet’ would people actaully believe that every human knows how wet water is solely from the bible? or would they be bright enough to work out that the first person to stick their hand under water finds it wet…well the bible also says a lot of ‘other’ obvious things…and the answer is ‘no’ people are not in fact bright enough to work out that these things are simply obvious.

    Its odd isn’t it… how such books tell one how things we knew 2000 years ago are all marvelous revelations in the bible… yet it doesn’t tell us anything that we currently seek knowledge of. Nor does it actaully tell even the bronze age inhabitants of Palestine and Egypt anything they didn’t also know at the time.

    The bible does not pretend, nor does anyone with an ounce of sense expect it to tell us the nature of gravity… yet when this is finally understood some time in the future, some idiot somewhere will search the bible high and low for anything that might make it look like it was there all along. Given the sheer quantity of mistranslated, misinterpreted and patent gibberish in the book I could find a reference to raspberry and pea soup if I looked hard enough.

    It’s bunk for the most part and the rest is simply obvious… but more worryingly it actaully does give rise to dangerous elements who believe every word… including the nasty bits in Exodus and Leviticus. In there lies the trouble of somebody thinking it is moral to kill another person becausue ‘God’ gave them permission to do so!

    Remember regardless of ones religious position the mind you have…and the mental makeup you have is borne of experience… if that experience makes you aggressive then the ‘nasty’ bits of the bible will be amplified…

    For this reason you don’t get secular suicide bombers. Even the downright nasty and arrogant agnostics, atheists or secularist humanists are not likely to carry out an action that would harm another just for their beliefs…either political, religious or philosophical. They can still be violent or disturbed… but they don’t have something unproven they can use as an amplifier!


  23. The context of this statement Augustine was explaining that it is foolish to allegorize Scripture in the presence of unbelievers. In this specific instance he uses the example of “spiritual light” taking on a meaning which the biblical writer did not intend. When a non-Christian hears a Christian arguing in defense of the over-spiritualization of a passage and it turns out that the allegory propounded is disproven by science, then that Christian is “reckless and incompetent.” Augustine asks how in the world an unbeliever is going to take Christians seriously regarding the resurrection of the dead if a Christian is speculating about the meaning of “light” by giving it some spiritual meaning the biblical author never intended it to have. Augustine came down hard on Christians who said things that the “scientists” of his day knew were foolish.

    I leave you with this quote from Augustine’s The Literal Meaning of Genesis:

    “…But more dangerous is the error of certain weak brethren who faint away when they hear these irreligious critics learnedly and eloquently discoursing on the theories of astronomy or on any of the questions relating to the elements of this universe. With a sigh, they esteem these teachers as superior to themselves, looking upon them as great men; and they return with disdain to the books which were written for the good of their souls; and, although they ought to drink from these books with relish, they can scarcely bear to take them up. Turning away in disgust from the unattractive wheat field, they long for the blossoms on the thorn…”


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  34. John Carpenter

    Don’t tell me what Augustine said without a quote and a specific reference. What you’ve posted is just your opinion without that. I came here looking for evidence about what Augustine taught on the age of the earth. You didn’t provide me any reference.


  35. geochristian

    John — I think you missed something. I said that the quote was “from St. Augustine of Hippo, from his work The Literal Meaning of Genesis,” and that I got the quote from Noll’s book The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, pp. 202-203. You can look into it for yourself.


  36. Jesse Chuhta

    I would very much like to see the quote from Augustine myself, which book of the cited 5th century reference does that come from? It’s available on Amazon as either Volume 1 (Books 1-6) or Volume 2 (Books 7-12). Thanks!


  37. You stated in the original post:

    “This also should remind us that modern interpretations that understand Genesis as not requiring a 6000-year old Earth are not just forcing a modern interpretation on the text. Instead, the idea that Genesis doesn’t tell us how old the Earth is could be something that flows out of the text.”

    I would like to say that, first of all, it’s true that we can’t force on Augustine what many of us may see as modern interpretations of Genesis. There were, indeed, many places in which Augustine would allegorize the text and point out things that may not make sense to us today. He was, of course, dealing with movements that we are not so much concerned with today.

    That being said, I would like to offer some statements that Augustine made in Book XXII of City of God which have some direct bearing on the assertions you are making (yes, you, since the quote you posted had nothing that Augustine said about the actual age of the earth) regarding the “6000 years.”

    CoG Book XXII, Chapter 10: They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6000 years have yet passed. (He then discusses some ancient chronologies before saying the following) But not even thus, as I said, does the Greek history correspond with the Egyptian in its chronology. And therefore the former must receive the greater credit, because it does not exceed the true account of the duration of the world as it is given by our documents, which are truly sacred.

    CoG Book XXII, Chapter 12: As to those who are always asking why man was not created during these countless ages of the infinitely extended past, and came into being so lately that, according to Scripture, less than 6000 years have elapsed since He began to be, I would reply to them regarding the creation of man, just as I replied regarding the origin of the world to those who will not believe that it is not eternal, but had a beginning, which even Plato himself most plainly declares, though some think Iris statement was not consistent with his real opinion. If it offends them that the time that has elapsed since the creation of man is so short, and his years so few according to our authorities, let them take this into consideration, that nothing that has a limit is long, and that all the ages of time being finite, are very little, or indeed nothing at all, when compared to the interminable eternity.

    A couple of notes:

    1 – Augustine bases his authority here on Scripture, our sacred writings.
    2 – Augustine does assert that there could have been countless years prior to the creation event starting. If, as you stated, he believed that it was instantaneous then that would mean that he was asserting that not only man but all of creation has only been in existence for “not/less than 6000 years” at the time he was writing.


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  40. Paulrich

    Well, it looks like it’s been 5 years since the last comment on this Augustine BLOG issue. I was just in the middle of Kevin Swanson’s “APOSTATE” where in the Darwin chapter p.140, A few comments about Augustine’s view of earth age interested me…so I ended up finding your blog from 2009. Mr. Swanson should have included Augustine as the first Apostate for his statements about relying on “Human Reason” alone to interpret the natural world…add 800 years and you get St. Thomas Aquinas with his sacred knowledge and philosophical knowledge permissions. Augustine writes that “reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6,000 years have yet passed”. But which side does he land on ?


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