God-guided evolution......
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28-11-2016, 06:43 PM
RE: God-guided evolution......
(28-11-2016 10:07 AM)jason197754 Wrote:  How would you respond to someone who believes both in God and in evolution???
I guess they want god to have guided evolution because they want to explain their biblical assertion that god created man in his image.

They have a feeling that the human body is not like that of other mere animals.
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29-11-2016, 12:00 AM
RE: God-guided evolution......
(28-11-2016 06:29 PM)tomilay Wrote:  
(28-11-2016 04:30 PM)Aliza Wrote:  I lean toward a G-d guided evolution, though not the version you’re probably thinking.

What does your version of God guided evolution say?

Most religiously educated Jews I’ve met do believe in evolution, and we see no contradiction with Genesis. It makes sense to me that the Big Bang happened, G-d saw what would come of it, and then told a kind of broad-brush version of what occurred in Genesis. It might be relevant to mention that the Jewish people interact with the Torah and regard it very differently than Christians do. We also don’t separate nature or the events generated from man (or any life) from G-d, so anything that occurs is kind of both free will, and also from G-d. Free will is a big deal in Judaism, so it makes sense to me that life on this planet (and any other life out there) would have evolved from a set of choices made by those lifeforms.


(28-11-2016 06:29 PM)tomilay Wrote:  
(28-11-2016 04:30 PM)Aliza Wrote:  Suffice it to say, I don’t agree that someone’s belief in a G-d guided evolution, whether it’s my version or a Christian’s version, should impact another person, assuming that the believer isn’t trying to sell them on the idea. Most people who know me would say that I have very high integrity. My belief in this idea does not impact me the way I think you think it should.

I am referring to the integrity of their arguments with regards to evolution and the creation story. Not their personal integrity. For example the acceptance of a literal genesis and evolution simultaneously.

I believe in a Jewish Genesis and also evolution, as I described above. Bear in mind that Genesis is a Jewish story and in my opinion, to properly understand Genesis, one should skip the middle man and go right to the source.

(28-11-2016 06:29 PM)tomilay Wrote:  A creationist has one consistent argument. The almighty did it. God can do anything. His argument is in one neat package. He stands by it. He owns it. At least you know what he is saying.

The theistic evolutionist recognizes that evolution is a game changer to the genesis story. But instead of fully embracing it, he tries to bring them under one roof. The days in genesis become eons or something looser; everything that is demonstrably untrue becomes metaphor...but he cannot discard it as it is divinely inspired.

That is more problematic from the perspective of integrity. More so because Catholics(I am a former Roman Catholic) will say that you are free to believe either version, theistic evolution or genesis. That while you can even completely reject theistic evolution version you can "reject" the genesis version only in an oblique fashion, by treating it as a metaphor.

This approach lacks integrity. It engenders a willingness to hold a loosely defined possibly moving target(genesis) as being in reality the same thing as a scientifically verifiable fact. It's just not clear what they are saying. That is why I find the creationist position more respectable.

I am a theist and an evolutionist. I see no contradiction between Genesis and evolution because I think they’re describing the same series of events in different ways. The Jewish position has never taken a staunch, hard stance on this, or that it has to be strictly literal. Our 2,000 year old Talmud records the history and traditions of the Jewish people, and it builds the framework on how to handle new scientific discovery with previously understood religious doctrine. We have no problem bending and re imagining things because Judaism is not about holding a singular message that has to apply to all people of all times. Judaism is about having a living, breathing doctrine that grows with the people so it remains relevant in different times and in different situations. There just is no singular truth.
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29-11-2016, 01:19 AM (This post was last modified: 29-11-2016 01:28 AM by RocketSurgeon76.)
RE: God-guided evolution......
Plus, of course, the Jewish scholars recognize that the Genesis story was a "standard tale" told throughout the Fertile Crescent, in various versions, just like the story of Noah and the Flood, and that Genesis only recounts the version of this story that was told by the Hebrews. It is a record of their history in the sense that it records what they thought at the time, rather than being a "Yep, we solved it! This is absolutely the way it had to have happened. No question!"

I concur that those who think that God-magic is required for evolution to work are trying to have it both ways, and that the positions are actually mutually exclusive. Either the world works by magic or it does not. Either the Creator made the universe to function naturally without need for additional divine intervention or he didn't. Even if one believes in an interventionist, personal God, where the deity came down and interacted with individual humans and made changes in their personal lives for unknown divine reasons (usually, I'd say, to illustrate a moral lesson for later generations... ahem), it does not follow that God the Creator fucked up the initial creation of the universe in such a way that he had to alter its course in order for life to emerge, develop mammals, and from those mammals develop apes and the human subtype of ape, which would eventually go from being hunter-gatherer man living like the other animals did ("Adam" just means "man" or "mankind", in Hebrew, nothing more, just as the word means in English) to a being capable of taking note of the Creator and eventually becoming less animalistic/barbaric until it was possible to have a relationship (a Covenant) with its Creator. That's the idea, as I grok it.

For those of us who come from a Christian background, a religion that started out in the very beginning by having a poor grasp on how the Jews read their own holy book, it's easy to try to read it literally and to see everyone else as trying to do the same thing. But that's not how they read most of these stories, because they're as aware as the rest of us are of the real history of the Jewish people and the fact that the stories are badly-preserved fragments of cultural legends, finally written down only ~600 years before Christ during the Babylonian captivity. Seeing the Bible as a literal recording, like God talking to his secretary and giving dictation, is a terrible way to read it. And yet it's a mistake toooo many Christains (and those raised in that tradition) commit... the Jews typically do not take this approach, but recognize the stories as a preservation of their cultural heritage, to be understood in historical and poetic context. Remember, the Hebrews were so enamored with the idea of metaphor and of thematic context that they didn't rhyme sounds, as we do, but they rhymed ideas, in couplets, as found in the Psalms and Proverbs.

I'll use another example to illustrate this, so we're not bound up in our preconceptions about Creationism.

The famous tale of King Solomon, found in 1st Kings 3:16-28, in which he shows everyone his amazing, God-given wisdom by threatening to cut a baby in half so the real mother would relinquish her claim and thereby show her love for the baby is often seen as insane and barbaric by outsiders. Christians try to read the story literally, as in there really was a moment where this ancient king got out his sword and held it over a real infant while two potential moms looked on*. A rabbi to whom I once spoke on the subject explained to me that it is an obvious political parable, not a literal story... at that point in time, Solomon (the illegitimate son of David via Bathsheba) was not next in line to the throne, except by dint of being David's favorite son-- indeed, David claimed he'd had a "prophecy" that told him that it should be Solomon who took over the throne rather than Absalom, or all the others ahead of Solomon in the line of succession. They were warring over this even before David died, and Solomon was able to position himself to be the throne claimant, but not without strong resistance. The country was in danger of splitting in half (as it did after Solomon, anyway) and descending into full civil war.

The parable says, "Yes, I am not the legitimate ruler according to the normal rules. If you are true lovers of our country [the baby], then letting two claims stand for this throne will result in me having to split the country in half, and drop us into bloody war, so you should give up your (legitimate) claim and give the baby to the illegitimate mother, thereby preserving its life and showing your love of country."

"When all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had handed down, they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice." - 1 Kings 3:28 (NASB)


*(It honestly blows me away that the Christians read this story and they really think there was a woman who was willing to let a baby be murdered right in front of her eyes, during an attempt to claim that baby for herself-- thus negating both her ability to have the child she wanted anyway, her original motivation being to replace her own lost child, and her entire humanity. But even more that they can read verse 28 and say "Wow... they feared the king because he was going to cut a baby in half but it was really a ploy and not psychopathy. Awesome!")

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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29-11-2016, 08:55 AM
RE: God-guided evolution......
(29-11-2016 01:19 AM)RocketSurgeon76 Wrote:  Plus, of course, the Jewish scholars recognize that the Genesis story was a "standard tale" told throughout the Fertile Crescent, in various versions, just like the story of Noah and the Flood, and that Genesis only recounts the version of this story that was told by the Hebrews. It is a record of their history in the sense that it records what they thought at the time, rather than being a "Yep, we solved it! This is absolutely the way it had to have happened. No question!"

I concur that those who think that God-magic is required for evolution to work are trying to have it both ways, and that the positions are actually mutually exclusive. Either the world works by magic or it does not. Either the Creator made the universe to function naturally without need for additional divine intervention or he didn't. Even if one believes in an interventionist, personal God, where the deity came down and interacted with individual humans and made changes in their personal lives for unknown divine reasons (usually, I'd say, to illustrate a moral lesson for later generations... ahem), it does not follow that God the Creator fucked up the initial creation of the universe in such a way that he had to alter its course in order for life to emerge, develop mammals, and from those mammals develop apes and the human subtype of ape, which would eventually go from being hunter-gatherer man living like the other animals did ("Adam" just means "man" or "mankind", in Hebrew, nothing more, just as the word means in English) to a being capable of taking note of the Creator and eventually becoming less animalistic/barbaric until it was possible to have a relationship (a Covenant) with its Creator. That's the idea, as I grok it.

For those of us who come from a Christian background, a religion that started out in the very beginning by having a poor grasp on how the Jews read their own holy book, it's easy to try to read it literally and to see everyone else as trying to do the same thing. But that's not how they read most of these stories, because they're as aware as the rest of us are of the real history of the Jewish people and the fact that the stories are badly-preserved fragments of cultural legends, finally written down only ~600 years before Christ during the Babylonian captivity. Seeing the Bible as a literal recording, like God talking to his secretary and giving dictation, is a terrible way to read it. And yet it's a mistake toooo many Christains (and those raised in that tradition) commit... the Jews typically do not take this approach, but recognize the stories as a preservation of their cultural heritage, to be understood in historical and poetic context. Remember, the Hebrews were so enamored with the idea of metaphor and of thematic context that they didn't rhyme sounds, as we do, but they rhymed ideas, in couplets, as found in the Psalms and Proverbs.

I'll use another example to illustrate this, so we're not bound up in our preconceptions about Creationism.

The famous tale of King Solomon, found in 1st Kings 3:16-28, in which he shows everyone his amazing, God-given wisdom by threatening to cut a baby in half so the real mother would relinquish her claim and thereby show her love for the baby is often seen as insane and barbaric by outsiders. Christians try to read the story literally, as in there really was a moment where this ancient king got out his sword and held it over a real infant while two potential moms looked on*. A rabbi to whom I once spoke on the subject explained to me that it is an obvious political parable, not a literal story... at that point in time, Solomon (the illegitimate son of David via Bathsheba) was not next in line to the throne, except by dint of being David's favorite son-- indeed, David claimed he'd had a "prophecy" that told him that it should be Solomon who took over the throne rather than Absalom, or all the others ahead of Solomon in the line of succession. They were warring over this even before David died, and Solomon was able to position himself to be the throne claimant, but not without strong resistance. The country was in danger of splitting in half (as it did after Solomon, anyway) and descending into full civil war.

The parable says, "Yes, I am not the legitimate ruler according to the normal rules. If you are true lovers of our country [the baby], then letting two claims stand for this throne will result in me having to split the country in half, and drop us into bloody war, so you should give up your (legitimate) claim and give the baby to the illegitimate mother, thereby preserving its life and showing your love of country."

"When all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had handed down, they feared the king, for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to administer justice." - 1 Kings 3:28 (NASB)


*(It honestly blows me away that the Christians read this story and they really think there was a woman who was willing to let a baby be murdered right in front of her eyes, during an attempt to claim that baby for herself-- thus negating both her ability to have the child she wanted anyway, her original motivation being to replace her own lost child, and her entire humanity. But even more that they can read verse 28 and say "Wow... they feared the king because he was going to cut a baby in half but it was really a ploy and not psychopathy. Awesome!")

Reading the bible as literal really detracts from their god concept. If Genesis is merely a metaphor for a person to choose good over evil, then it's not a bad story, but if you think this literally happened, then you make a Faustian bargain with your interpretation that goes against science and denigrates the nature of your god.

Is he too stupid to predict what's about to happen? Is he so malicious as to deliberately plant a tree to tempt innocents while passively-aggressively deceiving them about the consequences?

A literal interpretation turns your god into a malicious deceiver that can't even tell these innocent people the plain truth and the serpent DOES tell them the plain truth.

This reduces your god to a malicious, bumbling fool.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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29-11-2016, 12:26 PM
RE: God-guided evolution......
(29-11-2016 12:00 AM)Aliza Wrote:  
(28-11-2016 06:29 PM)tomilay Wrote:  What does your version of God guided evolution say?

Most religiously educated Jews I’ve met do believe in evolution, and we see no contradiction with Genesis. It makes sense to me that the Big Bang happened, G-d saw what would come of it, and then told a kind of broad-brush version of what occurred in Genesis.

Here is how I understand this statement. The Big Bang happens. God records it using metaphors.

Here is what I don't understand:

Whether you consider the Big Bang part of evolution. Whether you consider it the first event. Whether it was the one thing directly caused by God.

Do you consider it as part of evolution, theistic or otherwise?
Do you believe it is the first event?
Do you believe it was directly caused by God?

I am used to evolution being discussed only in the context of living things. What are you talking about when you talk about evolution, theistic or otherwise?

(29-11-2016 12:00 AM)Aliza Wrote:  It might be relevant to mention that the Jewish people interact with the Torah and regard it very differently than Christians do. We also don’t separate nature or the events generated from man (or any life) from G-d, so anything that occurs is kind of both free will, and also from G-d. Free will is a big deal in Judaism, so it makes sense to me that life on this planet (and any other life out there) would have evolved from a set of choices made by those lifeforms.

My understanding.

1. God creates the world with the ingredients for life.
2. That they have free will.
3. That the resultant life forms make choices that result in the exact evolutionary(non-theistic) outcomes that have been observed by scientists.
4. That (1) and (3) cannot be separated and free will (2) is the glue.

That theistic evolution is the same thing as Darwinian evolution - they are one thing. And it would NOT happen if God withholds this free will.

What I don't understand.

What is free will? Do the ingredients of life have it? Does anything have free will on earth about 4 billion years ago? Does a rock hurtling through space have free will?

(29-11-2016 12:00 AM)Aliza Wrote:  
(28-11-2016 06:29 PM)tomilay Wrote:  I am referring to the integrity of their arguments with regards to evolution and the creation story. Not their personal integrity. For example the acceptance of a literal genesis and evolution simultaneously.

I believe in a Jewish Genesis and also evolution, as I described above. Bear in mind that Genesis is a Jewish story and in my opinion, to properly understand Genesis, one should skip the middle man and go right to the source.

At this point in time, everyone is a middle man. A 2,000 year old myth is going to have many versions directly proportional to the number of people who hear about it. Two people can even watch the same event on video and still have striking differences of opinion about what happened. I don't find this argument to be convincing at all.

(29-11-2016 12:00 AM)Aliza Wrote:  
(28-11-2016 06:29 PM)tomilay Wrote:  A creationist has one consistent argument. The almighty did it. God can do anything. His argument is in one neat package. He stands by it. He owns it. At least you know what he is saying.

The theistic evolutionist recognizes that evolution is a game changer to the genesis story. But instead of fully embracing it, he tries to bring them under one roof. The days in genesis become eons or something looser; everything that is demonstrably untrue becomes metaphor...but he cannot discard it as it is divinely inspired.

That is more problematic from the perspective of integrity. More so because Catholics(I am a former Roman Catholic) will say that you are free to believe either version, theistic evolution or genesis. That while you can even completely reject theistic evolution version you can "reject" the genesis version only in an oblique fashion, by treating it as a metaphor.

This approach lacks integrity. It engenders a willingness to hold a loosely defined possibly moving target(genesis) as being in reality the same thing as a scientifically verifiable fact. It's just not clear what they are saying. That is why I find the creationist position more respectable.

I am a theist and an evolutionist. I see no contradiction between Genesis and evolution because I think they’re describing the same series of events in different ways. The Jewish position has never taken a staunch, hard stance on this, or that it has to be strictly literal. Our 2,000 year old Talmud records the history and traditions of the Jewish people, and it builds the framework on how to handle new scientific discovery with previously understood religious doctrine. We have no problem bending and re imagining things because Judaism is not about holding a singular message that has to apply to all people of all times. Judaism is about having a living, breathing doctrine that grows with the people so it remains relevant in different times and in different situations. There just is no singular truth.

It seems to me that they are flexible to re-purposing the story for different contingencies. It seems redundant, at best, to re-imagine a myth to fit in with the new evidence. Why not just discard the myth altogether?

We have to remember that what we observe is not nature herself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning ~ Werner Heisenberg
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29-11-2016, 01:52 PM
RE: God-guided evolution......
(29-11-2016 12:26 PM)tomilay Wrote:  Here is how I understand this statement. The Big Bang happens. God records it using metaphors.
Here is what I don't understand:
Whether you consider the Big Bang part of evolution. Whether you consider it the first event. Whether it was the one thing directly caused by God.
Do you consider it as part of evolution, theistic or otherwise?
Do you believe it is the first event?
Do you believe it was directly caused by God?
I am used to evolution being discussed only in the context of living things. What are you talking about when you talk about evolution, theistic or otherwise?
My understanding.
1. God creates the world with the ingredients for life.
2. That they have free will.
3. That the resultant life forms make choices that result in the exact evolutionary(non-theistic) outcomes that have been observed by scientists.
4. That (1) and (3) cannot be separated and free will (2) is the glue.
That theistic evolution is the same thing as Darwinian evolution - they are one thing. And it would NOT happen if God withholds this free will.
What I don't understand.
What is free will? Do the ingredients of life have it? Does anything have free will on earth about 4 billion years ago? Does a rock hurtling through space have free will?

At this point in time, everyone is a middle man. A 2,000 year old myth is going to have many versions directly proportional to the number of people who hear about it. Two people can even watch the same event on video and still have striking differences of opinion about what happened. I don't find this argument to be convincing at all.

Tomilay, I am absolutely not trying to convince you of anything at all. You asked me some follow-up questions, and I answered them, but I answered them to inform you about my position and not to persuade you. I did call to question your belief that I lack integrity, mostly because I don’t think you know enough about my religious views to make a blanket statement like that about not only my people, but every religious person of any religion who appreciates scientific discovery and their cultural and religious traditions.

(29-11-2016 12:26 PM)tomilay Wrote:  It seems to me that they are flexible to re-purposing the story for different contingencies. It seems redundant, at best, to re-imagine a myth to fit in with the new evidence. Why not just discard the myth altogether?

They read the same to me. I like my Torah, Talmud, and associated texts, and that is why I choose not to discard them. What I see is the Jewish story of creation that involves a defined beginning and a universe that expands from the size of a mustard seed, is currently 15 billion years old, and that it will eventually have an ending. The Jewish model has humanity living on Earth way before Adam (974 generations before), and that Earth was filled with animals and plants way before that. We Jews have watched while gentiles have argued since Aristotle that the universe is static, to the modern era with scientists gathering data and coming around to something that, to our way of thinking, strongly resembles the Jewish view.

The primary reason why I do not discard my religious teachings is because those who would wish me to do so have failed to address or even consider the Jewish position. I’m not about to discard something that makes me happy and makes sense to me when I’ve never been given a good reason to do so.
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29-11-2016, 02:11 PM
RE: God-guided evolution......
(29-11-2016 01:52 PM)Aliza Wrote:  
(29-11-2016 12:26 PM)tomilay Wrote:  Here is how I understand this statement. The Big Bang happens. God records it using metaphors.
Here is what I don't understand:
Whether you consider the Big Bang part of evolution. Whether you consider it the first event. Whether it was the one thing directly caused by God.
Do you consider it as part of evolution, theistic or otherwise?
Do you believe it is the first event?
Do you believe it was directly caused by God?
I am used to evolution being discussed only in the context of living things. What are you talking about when you talk about evolution, theistic or otherwise?
My understanding.
1. God creates the world with the ingredients for life.
2. That they have free will.
3. That the resultant life forms make choices that result in the exact evolutionary(non-theistic) outcomes that have been observed by scientists.
4. That (1) and (3) cannot be separated and free will (2) is the glue.
That theistic evolution is the same thing as Darwinian evolution - they are one thing. And it would NOT happen if God withholds this free will.
What I don't understand.
What is free will? Do the ingredients of life have it? Does anything have free will on earth about 4 billion years ago? Does a rock hurtling through space have free will?

At this point in time, everyone is a middle man. A 2,000 year old myth is going to have many versions directly proportional to the number of people who hear about it. Two people can even watch the same event on video and still have striking differences of opinion about what happened. I don't find this argument to be convincing at all.

Tomilay, I am absolutely not trying to convince you of anything at all. You asked me some follow-up questions, and I answered them, but I answered them to inform you about my position and not to persuade you. I did call to question your belief that I lack integrity, mostly because I don’t think you know enough about my religious views to make a blanket statement like that about not only my people, but every religious person of any religion who appreciates scientific discovery and their cultural and religious traditions.

(29-11-2016 12:26 PM)tomilay Wrote:  It seems to me that they are flexible to re-purposing the story for different contingencies. It seems redundant, at best, to re-imagine a myth to fit in with the new evidence. Why not just discard the myth altogether?

They read the same to me. I like my Torah, Talmud, and associated texts, and that is why I choose not to discard them. What I see is the Jewish story of creation that involves a defined beginning and a universe that expands from the size of a mustard seed, is currently 15 billion years old, and that it will eventually have an ending. The Jewish model has humanity living on Earth way before Adam (974 generations before), and that Earth was filled with animals and plants way before that. We Jews have watched while gentiles have argued since Aristotle that the universe is static, to the modern era with scientists gathering data and coming around to something that, to our way of thinking, strongly resembles the Jewish view.

The primary reason why I do not discard my religious teachings is because those who would wish me to do so have failed to address or even consider the Jewish position. I’m not about to discard something that makes me happy and makes sense to me when I’ve never been given a good reason to do so.

For the Jewish model of creation (i.e. plants, animals, humans way before Adam) is there a specific passage that addresses this? I have heard about the 974 generations prior to Adam, which is how Kabbalists came up with their number regarding the age of the universe (which actually comes close to the age of the universe given to us by science.)

"Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your own being." -Rumi
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29-11-2016, 02:25 PM
RE: God-guided evolution......
*I would add that Hinduism also has a number based on their teachings that is close to the scientific age of the Earth.

"Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your own being." -Rumi
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29-11-2016, 02:44 PM
RE: God-guided evolution......
I spoke with a rabbi on aish.com. He was so nice. Anyway, he pointed me to this article and here is an excerpt:

"The Torah is a book of truth, not a history book. Only ideas spiritually relevant to us are recorded. Our world begins with Adam; whether Adam had physical precursors in worlds destroyed is not really the issue. Our story begins with Adam, with the capacity of man to relate to and emulate God. This is our legacy. However, the Talmud traces the effects of these earlier generations: The Holy One, blessed be He, arose and planted them in every generation, and it is they who are the insolent of each generation. The question we are left to ponder is whether they existed in fact or in thought alone."

"Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your own being." -Rumi
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29-11-2016, 02:55 PM
RE: God-guided evolution......
(29-11-2016 02:44 PM)jennybee Wrote:  I spoke with a rabbi on aish.com. He was so nice. Anyway, he pointed me to this article and here is an excerpt:

"The Torah is a book of truth, not a history book. Only ideas spiritually relevant to us are recorded. Our world begins with Adam; whether Adam had physical precursors in worlds destroyed is not really the issue. Our story begins with Adam, with the capacity of man to relate to and emulate God. This is our legacy. However, the Talmud traces the effects of these earlier generations: The Holy One, blessed be He, arose and planted them in every generation, and it is they who are the insolent of each generation. The question we are left to ponder is whether they existed in fact or in thought alone."

I was taught that the 974 generations existed prior to Adam in a literal sense, and that they "didn't exist" in that they were not a part of our world. We know for a fact in this day and age that many generations did exist prior to 6,000 years ago. But I agree with the Rabbi in that it doesn't really matter if they existed or not. What you believe on the subject doesn't change what was.
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