RE: Kline article in PSCF

Glenn Morton (
Sun, 07 Apr 1996 15:58:17

Hi Keith,

You wrote:

>I would argue that you are confusing a committment to
> the truth of scripture and its consistency with all other
>truth which I fully share, with a belief that scripture
>speaks in a consistent voice. You seem to
>want scripture to always communicate truth is the same
> manner - to have a uniform and a single hermeneutic for
>all scripture. Perhaps I am misreading your position, but
>it also seems that, for you, truth expressable in
>scientific (or historical) terms holds an elevated

You do not entirely mis-read my position concerning an
elevated position for observational data. Caesar conquered
Gaul. That is a historical fact and is backed up by many
lines of observational evidence. There are historical
writings to that effect, There are Roman roads dating from
that period. There are Roman inscriptions on rocks and old
buildings. Roman coins are found in farmer's fields. The
observational data says that the conquest of Gaul actually
occurred. Where the Bible speaks to history, it should be
held to the same standard, no more, no less.

>I would argue that truth can be apprehended and
> communicated in a great variety of ways. An artist,
>poet, dancer, etc can communicate truth just
>as surely as a scientist - and can communicate some
> truths with much greater clarity. The truth I discover
>as a scientist is not more sure or higher than that
>grasped and communicated by the artist.

First, concerning my elevated position of observational
data, I would dare say that you also hold a similar
elevated position for "scientific (or historical)" data.
If you don't then why would you find the YEC explanation so
unpalatable? Afterall "truth can be apprehended and
communicated in a great variety of ways". A YEC is simply
communicating God's truth in his own novel way! (with
little appeal to the observational data) With your
viewpoint of how truth is communicated how could you
possibly say they are wrong?

(Ironically it appears that you do not want me to connect
certain parts of the scripture with observational data

Second, an artist, a dancer and a poet do not always convey
objective information. After watching a dance I don't ever
go into the lab to test and see if the dancer was correct
about what he conveyed to me. Did the dancer convey
testable objective truth? I have never seen such a thing
but then I don't go to too many dances. I don't ask myself
if the painting in the art gallery is true or not
(especially if it is an abstract). These types of
comparisons leave me a little confused as to how I am to

An account like Genesis 6-9, written in a historical style,
is not a dance, is not a picture and is not a poem. It has
all appearances of conveying historical information. As
such it can be either true or false but not both at the
same time.

> God is so beyond my grasp that to understand Him even in
>part would require all forms of
>human expression available. I view the great variety of
>literary styles and cultural contexts present in
>scripture as giving a richer more complete
>picture of God than I could obtain from my own culture,
>literature, science, etc. To argue that a given
>scriptural passage is not historical or scientific in
>content is not to make it less true, or to give up the
>belief that all truth is God's truth and must be
>consistent. A poet does not deny scientific truth by
>speaking in non-scientific terms - or even by
>using images that run contrary to scientific
>descriptions. A scientist and poet simply are not
>speaking the same language!

I fully agree that science and poetry do not speak the same
language. But my concern is much less with Genesis 1 (which
might be poetry) than with what follows. Lets go to my
favorite topic. The flood. The literature type in Gen 6-9
appears to this Hebrew non-expert to be written in the same
style as those passages concerning Abraham, Isaac and
Jacob. Genesis 4 and 5 appear to be in the same style.
While you might claim that Genesis 1 is poetry, it gets
more difficult from Genesis 4 on. So, if Genesis 6-9 is
not historical or speak to real events, then what assurance
do I have that Genesis 12 and 22, written in a similar
style, are historical? Surely God's promise to Abraham
(Genesis 12), to make him a great nation, and to bless all
nations through him, is a very pivotal point in
Judeo-Christian thought. If this is fictitious, (i.e.,
didn't happen), then why should we pay attention to the
fulfillment (Jesus) of this fictional promise?

If Genesis 12 or 22 are intended to be taken historically
(meaning that there was a real Abraham who did these
things) then why does the same style mean that there was no
Noah, no Methusaleh and no Cain?

What I am asking for is not a consistent method of
communication from different forms of literature. I
understand the differences in literature types. I do not
expect the Psalms to communicate history in the same way
that Genesis 50 does. Genesis 4,5,6,7,8,9,10, and 11 are
written in a historical style (or the ancient Hebrew
equivalent of a historical style)! I don't expect the more
historical style of writing to mean myth in one place and
history in another!

If you say that Noah was a true, historical person, then I
want to ask of you again, "Where is the evidence of the
events of his life?" What geological formation represents
the event known as the Flood? How does it fit the
account? Does the account derived from the Bible fit the
facts derived from geology? If it doesn't then either you
have identified the wrong layer or the Biblical account is
pure fiction. Which is it?

If Genesis 6-9 and Noah are pure fiction (i.e., the flood
didn't happen and Noah never lived), then let us by all
means quit trying to say that they are true. Fictional
things are not true. I do not try to ascibe deep truth to
the Arabian nights because I do not believe they are true.

And should you reply that the fictional flood story
contains truth, I would reply that it is difficult to see
how that can be, if I derive a different, contradictory
truth from it than you do. From the fictional flood account
you may derive the "truth" that God has limits to his grace
and tolerance; I may draw the "truth" that God is not above
telling falsehoods, dressed up as historical events, to
mankind. Someone else might draw the "truth" that God
doesn't know geology. This kind of approach opens the door
wide to subjectivity. Truth must be truth to more than
one observer.

> But they may both be
>faithfully communicating truth. Since the type of
>communication does not determine whether something is
>true or not, I am free to examine each
>scriptural passage with an openess to the type of
>literature that may be involved. And the type of
>literature that is being used will affect how I
>read it. If I read poetry as a piece of scientific
>literature I am bound to miss at least something of what
>was meant - as well as being open to
>drawing false conclusions. The converse is of course
>also true.

Once again, I do not believe that Genesis 6-9 can be said
to be Hebrew poetry. Neither can Genesis 4, 5 or 11. I
have doubts about whether one can claim Genesis 2 and 3 as
poetry also. The style and content appear quite different
from Genesis 1.

Foundation,Fall and Flood