Do We Really Have the Freedom to Choose?

The problem gets worse if we notice that Yaweh’s response is misplaced chronologically: “Oh look [behold], they are now like us, knowing good and evil!” after He already found out from their attire that they had crashed. Maybe vss. 22,23 are a fragment from a different version.

He says,“If I don’t act they will live forever.” He goes on to severely punish billions.

In either event, when God told them not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they OBEYED. Taking that into account, are you sure you want to call them “utterly untrustworthy”? The Bible says they were “deceived”. They were evidently susceptible to confidence trickery, but made good decisions when they understood what was going on. Maybe the story is about an experiment to determine what can happen if a trickster cons humans whose original equipment doesn’t include the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

But it’s not a story that portrays the God that I believe in!

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[quote=“vandieman, post:192, topic:15771”]
an essentially altered bible that leads us down the garden path could in fact be worse than no bible…

Altered from what, Jeremy? The Bible is the end product of alterations. The oldest parts were originally oral traditions susceptible to less than perfect memories, eventually written, copied, edited, redacted, translated…sometimes with pretense of authorship. Millions think that quotations are verbatim, that the speakers in ancient Israel and angels all spoke in a funny English with "thou"s and "wast"s, etc. and indignantly reject improved translations.

The end products are valuable, but our Bible is a collection of ancient works, none of which was written in expectation of ever being bound together and declared to be the word of God. Fortunately, we all have something better, direct contact with the Holy Spirit.

IOW, we have come to believe the Bible is whatever we want it to be. There is one text in the entire Bible claiming that all scripture is God-breathed but doesn’t define scripture or God-breathed. Scholarship widely holds that 2Tim wasn’t written by Paul, anyway. The evils that have resulted from extreme reliance on holy books I believe are always the result of belief in their inerrancy.


Thanks, @ajshep.

You said to @Cassie :

You added:

In response:

To be taken as credible, you should probably read a 312-page book on the subject, as well as the supporting scholarship, regarding the effects mass incarceration have had on Black people. (I can suggest one to you, if you need me to do so.)

Doing so might challenge your conclusions and thinking, and raise the quality of your arguments.

You said:

In response:

Is this a credible statement?

In other words, given the body of your words, should people take what you say about racism seriously? (By this, I mean people who 1) aren’t white, or 2) those who are sympathetic to the experiences of non-white people.)

You said:

In response:

Enough white people practice white supremacy for it to a) exist, and b) be effective.

You claim to have data about the actual numbers of white people who are engaged in this practice. You imply it is a minority of white people.

But you have not said why, if this is so, the majority of white people, who, by you, do not practice white supremacy, do not do something to end it.

In other words, if racism is a sport engaged in by a minority of white people, why don’t the majority of white people stop it?

Why don’t they say, “Oh, no: Race is a terrible blight on our nation. It has cursed us for centuries. It has retarded the development of fellow Americans; millions of them. We do not agree, and we will not tolerate you in our midst any longer”?

Why don’t you, oh majority, do that?

You’d do that, if you found that the same number—whatever you imagine it is—of white people were aligned with ISIS, and planning terrorist acts against U.S. citizens, wouldn’t you?

So, if, as you say, racism is not “the underlying motivation or issue of all or even a majority of white individuals,” why don’t those for whom it is not do something about those for whom it is, the way you would about Islamic fundamentalist terrorism?

I loved the way that Heidi Beirich, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, answered this question: “The difference between a radical Islamic attack and a white supremacist attack is this: White supremacy is an indigenous ideology in the United States.


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Thanks, @ajshep.

You said to @Cassie :

In response:

I’m sure you’re correct.

I mean, you used to pastor Northwest SDA Church, which is in a town—Crown Point, IN—whose historical KKK membership, during the last century, was notable enough to be the site of scholarly study and regard.

It’s a place, one researcher states, that enjoyed a particularly “high level of Klan participation by county employees.”

It is a municipality that, even recently, was depicted as brutally racist in a fictional, TV cop show.

Today, as “diversity” becomes a significant cultural byword, Crown Point is still 88% white.

Racially, this is a “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” kind of place. Given this, one could say, what good will further discussion do? Many Black people would say that, certainly.

But I don’t see it that way, necessarily.

In other words, @ajshep, I think that you were trying to impress upon me that the election of a Black man, Barack Obama, to two terms as President of the United States, says something important about racism, and white people.

I’m saying, if so, i) please state explicitly what that is, and ii) to me, racially, the most significant aspect of the Obama presidency was how Americans followed it up.



A change is gonna come. Yes it is, yes it is…

And I am signing off.

Bye, all. :wave:

ELLEN 2.0 !

Remember Ernie Knoll? He still has a website.

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I suppose i should not defend myself as I am not speaking on these matters, but this is too much.

The church’s black membership increased while i pastored (The church in Hammond, the other half of the district, was a mixed church with about 40 to 50% black at the beginning.) A prominent leader from the regional conference retired there (NW), and speaks regularly. The little church school has always had a black attendance out of proportion to its membership at NW.

Never was I accused of racism, even promoting some black members to leadership; they had plenty of opportunity to mention it, BTW.

I grew up in S. California, far from Crown Point, not knowing of its history prior to your telling of it. I learned that some of the surrounding communities did have such reputations, a few years after I came.

I did not know any of this when I accepted the pastorate there, especially since one of the churches was predominantly black to begin with.

But for you, Harry, it seems, that any association means racism. I am white, after all, so implicitly racist.


My father read the Bible incessantly. He also used to say that any opposite parties can easily build their cases if they pick & choose biblical verses carefully. So true.


we’ve already determined she’s a falsey, paul…her vision about IJ passing to the cases of the living on Sept 23, 2015, and a Sunday law commencing in 2019, is obviously false…

but what her false visions do confirm is that satan is worried that a true prophet may emerge…he’s trying to muddy up the waters…and he’s also trying to belittle egw, by painting her important work in the same lightweight category…

so-called improved translations, like the NIV, depend on manuscripts that are different than those used by the KJV translators…those differences tend to obliterate important doctrines like IJ, which make them suspicious and dangerous…

Thanks, @ajshep .

You said:

In response:

Allen, we should get this clear, because I don’t want you to labor under false suppositions: I don’t know if you are a racist, and I’ve never said, or implied, that you are.

My comments were about people in the geographic location where you used to pastor. I could just as easily have talked about people in Southern California.

I suspect any white person of being a racist, as long as the bar to entry is so low, and the system is so dominant. Since I am non-white, I consider this prudent.

Additionally, I suspect that you are a racist, because of things that you write. They sound like the things racists say. Additionally, the fact that you don’t seem to think that they do…sounds like the things racists say.

But as to whether you are a racist, or not, would be based on whether you practice racism; i.e., whether, directly or indirectly, in thought, speech, or action, in any area of activity, you help to establish, maintain, expand, or refine the system of race (white supremacy).

That you were not accused of racism at your church doesn’t mean that you are not a racist, then.

That your church’s Black membership increased under your leadership doesn’t mean that you are not a racist.

That you promoted Black people to church positions doesn’t mean that you are not a racist.

In short, what determines if you’re a racist or not is if you are a white person, who is mentally and/or physically able to speak, and/or act, to eliminate white supremacy, but who does not do so.


Actually this isn’t new. Several of our doctrines only work using the KJV, and not using older or newer versions nor versions in other languages. The first SDA missionary sent to Germany wrote the GC that he could not support these doctrines using the German bible. I think he quit and returned to the US.

Also the differences you refer to result from new and better source materials and scholarship.

The KJV was not meant to be a study bible, but meant to be read in church to the masses. It was written in the common language of the time.

The KJV translators stated very directly that multiple translations should be used for study, to best understand the meaning of the texts in the original language. They also stated that it would have been better for the Roman Catholic Church to complete an English translation, had they been willing, as they were more competent when it came to such a task.

I will say that any doctrine that depends on the syntax found in only one translation of the bible into English is very suspect and requires careful review of the meaning of the best source documents we have.

Food for thought.


Cassie, please forgive me as I see you’ve signed off but I would like to get this comment in and linked to yours about Michelle Alexander’s talk.

I watched the Michelle Alexander TED talk and she touches on the rise of private prisons. So, FWIW, the US being a corporatocracy, I decided to ‘follow the money’.

Many of the following quotes are from this article:

Ms. Alexander mentions the jump in prison incarceration, especially of blacks, since the 1980s despite level or lower crime rates. She also says that’s when the ‘War on Drugs’ was initiated. This was the same time that ‘ushered in a new era of prison privatization’.

‘A 2011 Report by the American Civil Liberties Union points out that private prisons are more costly, more violent and less accountable than public prisons, and are actually a major contributor to increased mass incarceration.’

‘A 2016 report by the U.S. Department of Justice asserts that privately operated federal facilities are less secure and more punitive than federal prisons.’

The DOJ under Obama changed course and started phasing out private prisons. Studies showed they were not less expensive and were not much into rehabilitation. (Why would you want to impair your 70% repeat business?)

Earlier this year, the DOJ said it is once again in favour of private prisons.
It’s a $50 billion industry into lobbying for ‘tough on crime laws’ such as ‘Three Strikes’. No surprise that ‘…critics argue, private prison companies influence legislation for tougher, longer prison sentences’. Ms. Alexander brings up the difficulties of reintegration into society of a convicted felon. It’s not hard to guess how these corporate interests feel about any sort of ‘forgiveness’ legislation.

The following quote directly ties this profit motive to the race issue:
‘A 2014 study by a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley shows that minorities make up a greater percentage of inmates at private prisons than in their public counterparts, largely because minorities are cheaper to incarcerate.’

Is it fair to say that at least, to a significant degree, the corporate quest for more profit is exploiting the disadvantages of the black community?

It may not be racism per se, but doesn’t the result end up being the same as if it were?

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Wow, pretty low bar! Your judgment, then, is based on your view of whether they have supported, or not suppressed “white supremacy”. Not so?

But so much of life has nothing to do with this, and if you make this the lens through which you view everything, you are going to make a lot of misjudgments, and offend a lot of people unnecessarily.

People in Ohio voted for Trump because they liked his economic program better than Hillary’s. Or maybe being called deplorable turned them off. It had nothing to do with racism, or white supremacy. But you would judge it so by your criteria: they could have voted for a more liberal person who agrees with you on incipient racism. They are therefore white supremacists, and racists. Right?

Do you see how you are going to misjudge a lot of innocent folk here? There is a whole raft of motives out there that white people have besides promoting white supremacy! But you would judge them all on that single criteria, and feel quite righteous about your assessment.

Maybe a little grace is in order.

Good news: If you read the introduction to the NIV, you will find that they use ALL sources in conjunction with all available research done in the centuries since the original KJV was completed.
AND the KJV introduction, itself, implores its readers to test the KJV against literal translations yet to come.
AND the KJV translators admit that their product contained a lot of guesses.


Hmmm. They obeyed?? Not many take that tack, for sure.

Were they deceived? Yes. But does that excuse their action? There are so many things you can do when you are not sure. Ask questions of others. Wait. See if there is something else going on here.

I recall an incident several years ago. A con man came to the church, promising to give us money to buy a school. (He had just gotten out of prison mind you!) Well, half the church believed him, and the rest were not sure.

I was in the middle. And a wrong move would divide the church. So, I did not take a side, but played along. Waited without commitment. (I thought he was bogus, but could not state that openly without real problems)

The folks that believed wanted to believe. He took advantage of their greed and desire for something good, and deceived them. I finally wrote a note to one of the true believers, a leader in the church. Instead of believing me, she wanted me to go before the elders to answer to this man. Wow.

Adam and Eve in the end, wanted to take of the tree. it was good for food, would make one wise, etc. It is notable that Satan promised them something they already had, they were godlike already.

You think they were set up. How could this be? All they had to do was wait a few hours and tell God what they had seen. Instead they rush right in.

The story is so typical of human behavior, i don’t see how you can quibble.

But the real issue is: Billions punished. one little act by Adam, and the whole race is condemned,

But we have another Adam, and are his children, not through any act of our own. So, all the ill from the mistake Adam made can be reversed.

Of course, the problem is we love the darkness rather than the light, so bring condemnation on ourselves, doing just as they did.

Yes, that’s the definition of being deceived. You don’t know you’re making the wrong choice. Deceiving someone is causing them to believe something that is not true, typically in order to gain some personal advantage for yourself.

There were not others to ask, remember?

When you’re deceived you don’t suspect that there is something else going on.

Exactly. Half were deceived. The other half were not.

It could be, but that’s a qualitative judgement, and in any case, once they were deceived, then they were.

Well, that’s not stated in the story. It does not say why they did it, except that they were deceived.

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So, where do you get the picture of God you believe in? It seems it is not the Bible, or the Law and the Prophets as Jesus used to cite.

So where do you get your view?

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I think it is a bit more complex. God had said what they were to do, not eat the fruit. That was pretty clear. The serpent said, in contradiction, you will not die. So they ate. Deceived, yes, but ignoring a clear command that was really clear.

Well, all they had to do was wait a few hours. Not such a difficult task

Look at the situation: God said, “do not eat the fruit” Is there something unclear about that?

So then the Serpent starts to discuss the issue of God’s command. Actually questions it. Then denies it.

The command was clear. It was the quibbling that lead to “deception”.

Commentators have noted that the Serpent was crafty, questioning Eve, and getting her to loose sight of God’s command by making as if there was something to discuss There was really nothing to discuss. The command was clear. But to discuss puts you on the serpent’s turf, and eventually under his control. Not a good place to be, as they fouond out.

In 2 Thess. 2:11, God sends strong delusion. Is that fair, and why does he do it?

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