Re: Geo-hydraulic event as referent?

Howard J. Van Till (
Thu, 20 Aug 1998 13:41:49 -0400


Just a couple of comments on your reply; then perhaps we should just drop
the topic for now.

GM: You and I share many many common scientific and theological beliefs.
But on this issue, for epistemological reasons, I simply can't go where you

HVT: You are right to label this as something rooted in epistemological
concerns (as well as vastly differing concepts of Ancient Near Eastern
literature). It seems to me, however, that you are looking for the kind of
modern Western certainty that is conceivable only if you have a biblical
text that is both 'written by God' (not merely inspired by God) and 'true'
by the standards of 'chronicle.' But if the text is of a vastly different
character, consistent with the vastly different cultural setting, then one
is prone to be certain about the wrong things.

GM: So now we come to the Bible. Would you believe the Bible if there was
no evidence of the flood, no evidence of Ur, no evidence of the exodus, no
evidence that Egyptians ever existed, no evidence that Babylonians existed,
no evidence that an ancient state of Israel existed, and no evidence of
Ammonites, Hittites, Amorites, Jebusites, Philistines? Would you believe
the Bible under those circumstances? I wouldn't!

HVT: You appear to be forcing an impossible choice here. The way it is
presented, "believing the Bible" is an all or nothing deal and includes
taking essentially all narratives (including those in Genesis 1-11) as
historical chronicle. I refuse to be placed in that impossible position. My
approach does indeed have far more uncertainty in it, but it does (for me,
at least) allow for far greater intellectual integrity.

On the particular matter of the Genesis 6-9 flood narrative, the fact that
your assumptions force you to postulate that an event 5.5 million years ago
is the historical referent of the account, presumed to be a chronicle,
should serve to stimulate a reexamination of your basic assumptions.