Paul Arveson (
Wed, 5 Jun 96 11:46:34 EDT

Dean Ohlman wrote:

Date: Tue, 04 Jun 1996 17:09:50 EST
Subject: Where's the humility?

>As a temporary participant in what I hope comes to reality: a discussion of the
>environmental issues brought up by Dick Wright, I have been wading through the
>"dating Adam" posts. After the most recent spate, I felt compelled to make an
>observation: There seems to be an amazing amount of hubris in this discussion.

Is there more hubris in openly discussing what we are trying to understand,
or assuming that our present understanding is sufficient?

>First, I think it is astounding that anyone would suggest that the Holy Spirit
>has made this startling interpretation (of who Adam and Eve really were)
>apparent to only a few folks through the millenia. So all those great saints
>throughout church history were really mistaken! Wow, that's a pretty bold

Which saints? All the ones I have read believed different things about the
subjects under discussion here, and they discussed (and even argued) among
themselves, too.

>Second, I thought evangelicals were marked by granting authority to
>the Word over our faulty understanding of the World.

Evangelicals are (or should be) marked by recognizing that our fallen nature
and our finite minds create problems in understanding BOTH God's Word and the
good world He created. Hence the need for discussion.

>If the Bible is so
>esoteric that only a few "gifted" individuals can ferret out this totally
>unapparent understanding, I might just as well give up on reading it. How
>anyone can explain away Eve being "the mother of all the living" as saying that
>all of Eve's relatives emanate from her really blows me away. The progeny
>(relatives) obviously emanate from _any_ progenitor. It would be absurd for
>the Scripture writer to state such an obvious fact. Why can't we let the plain
>sense of Scripture keep us from such nonsense.

Here's why: because what you consider obvious is nonsense to a lot of other
thoughtful people. They have rejected the Bible and its offer of salvation
because they have concluded that its story of origins is wrong. Some of us in
ASA find that situation unacceptable and are seeking to respond to their

>I have always told my kids and my students to beware of big books (and long
>discussions) over "biblical" issues about which the Bible says very little.
>Just try to write a big book about the Scriptural meaning of "meditation." The
>fact that this discussion has gone so long and ranges so widely, it seems to me
>anyway, is that it is so far afield from the obvious meaning of the Bible that
>we are in the endless world of human speculation. Truth is singular; falsehood
>is infinitely plural -- the arena of endless discussion. The shouting of
>human speculation in sacred halls seems terribly proud and profane to me.

We aren't interested in human speculation in the sense of fantasy or
fiction. We are scientists trying to make sense of the evidence available, such
as rocks and fossils. Speculation is of no serious concern to us.

>I trust this does not come across as harsh. But this has all been pretty
>astounding to me -- given the evangelical basis of ASA. I am reminded of the
>words of Blake:

>This life's dim windows of the soul
>Distort the heavens from pole to pole,
>And make us to believe a lie
>When we see with, not through the eye.

>Seems like much of this is seen with human eyes and not through the eyes of the
>divine Word by whom we were created and through whom we are sustained.

Unlike Blake, the mystic (not exactly an evangelical, either), we do not
presuppose a contradiction between God's Word and God's world as seen by human
eyes. As you said, truth is one. Integration of the different aspects of truth
is the real challenge. It does no good to try to forbid inquiry into any area
of natural science. "Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who have
pleasure in them." (Psa. 111:2).

There are some areas where Scripture prohibits speculation (Deut. 29:29).
But the subject matter under discussion here, geology and natural history, does
not fall under that prohibition. Nature is declared by God to be good. It is
worthy of study and discussion.

Furthermore, God gave us our minds and our eyes; they are gifts to us and we
need to use them to do anything, any kind of ministry or work. Jesus says, "Why
do you not judge for yourselves what is right?" Paul spent years arguing daily
in the Ephesian forum.

"God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound

Paul Arveson, Research Physicist
(301) 227-3831 (W) (301) 227-1914 (FAX) (301) 816-9459 (H)
Code 724, NSWC, Bethesda, MD 20084