Re: paganism

Paul Arveson (
Wed, 3 Apr 96 16:57:59 EST

In message <v02130510ad87ec9917d2@[]> Alice Fulton writes:

> Maybe I'll add to this a thought that has been in my mind following this
> thread. Perhaps in thinking about Genesis 1 and 2 an idea of C. S. Lewis's
> might be helpful. He said in several places that interpreters of old
> documents often treat as separate concepts what the writers experienced as
> a unity. In the case of Genesis, there are statements that on the face of
> it are physical (talking about things and time) and metaphysical (talking
> about value and transcendent reality). If we, going back in time, were to
> ask the author whether the author intended this particular statement as a
> physical or a metaphysical claim, the author might well not have been able
> to separate the two. Now we have other ways to do physics, but the
> metaphysical claims of Genesis (the world is contingent, an intentional
> creation of God, by original nature good; humans reflect in profound but
> finite and dependent ways the nature of God) are ones that physics and
> biology can't address. They are also claims that are not made by all
> religions, so they cannot be called self-evident, and revelation would seem
> to be the only avenue to receiving them.
> Peace -
> ___________________________________________________
> Alice B. Fulton

Thanks, Alice. The above deserved to be repeated. Some commentators, such as
James Houston (I Believe in the Creator) and Conrad Hyers (The Meaning of
Creation) devote a chapter or two to the alternative theologies that were
prevalent at the time Genesis was written down. Some of these are so utterly
forgotten today that we have a hard time thinking in these alternative terms
(thanks to the Bible!). Houston notes that Genesis was deliberately written as
a polemic against these alternatives. (For instance, the names of the sun and
moon were not given in Genesis 1, only that they were the greater light and the
lesser light, in order that no one would give them special status as gods.)

Some paganism remains in our memory, in ways that unfortunately attack the
heart of both creation and redemption: there is a Biblical 7-day week, but the
names of the days are all pagan gods. There is a celebration of the
resurrection, but it is usually called Easter.

Modern pagan scholars are hard at work trying to recover the lost concepts
from the gnostic "gospels" and other ancient documents, and import them from
their preserved forms in the East. So today people interested in apologetics
had better turn around and see what is coming from new directions.

Paul Arveson, Research Physicist
(301) 227-3831 (W) (301) 227-1914 (FAX) (301) 816-9459 (H)
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