Re: Something must change

Glenn R. Morton (
Thu, 20 Aug 1998 21:17:28 -0500

Hi George,

Can you do me a favor and shorten the line length in your email program.
Your stuff comes through with lots of wrap arounds.

At 02:43 PM 8/20/98 -0400, George Murphy wrote:
>Glenn wrote:
>> I don't disagree that truth can be conveyed via fiction.
> Don't you? Then why the above caveat that the Good Samaritan "might have
been a
>real event"? This suggests that you still think that the truth of what
Jesus is
>communicating with the parable would be somehow greater if it really
happened - whereas
>in fact that is utterly irrelevant to the function of the story in
conveying truth.

No, what I am meaning about the Good Samaritan is that the writer didn't
preface it with 'And jesus spoke in a parable." Thus, I don't know if it
was or wasn't real. My presumption would be that it probably was a real
'current event' that was known to his listeners.
>> But that doesn't
>> mean anything about a particular passage.
> Agreed. I just said that.
>> Genesis 6-9 appears historical to
>> me.
> It appears historical to you IF you can change its place & time radically
>what everybody else who has thought it historical has imagined. That
ought at least to
>raise some questions. Your procedure reminds me of someone arguing that
the Arthurian
>battles in Nennius' _History of the Britains_ really happened - but in the
6th century
>_before_ Christ, rather than after, and in North Africa, rather than

Well, sure I want to change the time and place. Why? Because the time
and place that everyone wants to believe in forces the story to be as false
as the claims of a used-car salesman. And then we are faced with the
choice that Christianity has faced for the past 170 years, to reject
Biblical historicity or to reject science. I think that we shouldn't
have to reject either.

>> Why is it that when we have some difficulty with science, we quickly
>> retreat to a position which can not be falsified at all? to me that is a
>> cop out.
> I agree, but there also comes a time when a retreat from a position which
>have come to see is untenable is the better part of valor rather than
being massacred at
>a theological Alamo.

My views DON"T get massacred at the theological Alamo. If you would agree
to monitor Talk Origins for a few days, I will post my views there (Theory
for Creationists) as I have done twice before and gotten NO criticism from
the atheists there that daily eat Christians for breakfast. You can't post
your views there and not be viewed as one that has no reason to believe the
Bible. And the YECs can't post their views there without being slaughtered.

When I wrote my first book I sought out 5 atheists active in
anti-creationism and 5 YECs to review it prior to publication. I wanted the
WORST and most HOSTILE critics I could find. I never heard from the YECs.
I made lifelong friendships with the 5 atheists. While they didn't accept
Christianity (and I wouldn't have expected them to since creation/evolution
is a discipleship not evangelism issue), they were quite helpful and
respectful of my views. They know I have something that matches both what
the Bible says and what science says. It is the Christians that seem
unable to see that.

>> But you appear to have a problem that would reject any and every scenario
>> that might match the details of the account.
> There's a big part of the problem - "match the details". Suppose that a
>biblical writer uses some genuine historical tradition, editing it in such
a way as to
>incorporate theological commentary _without_ feeling our modern western
need to cleanly
>separate off "what really happened" from theological interpretation. In
that case some
>of the "details" will not be things that really happened, & a search for
>historical events will take you off on a wild goose chase.

If they used something non-historical, then the data should eventually show
it. The scientific data should be contradictory to the scenario.

> Again, Kings-Chronicles provides a good example. Comparison will show
that the
>Chronicler pretty much ignores the northern kingdom, idealizes the
descedants of David,
>& greatly exagerates things like sizes of armies & amounts of money to
gloify Judah.
>That makes sense if we see his Judah not _just_ as the historical Judah
but as a symbol
>of God's eschatological kingdom on earth. If you start searching for
evidence for the
>Chronicler's million-man armies, e.g., you'll either waste your time or
fool yourself.
> The biblical flood story is an account of God's judgment upon an entite
>world. The writers use traditions of catastrophic Mesopotamian floods to
construct that
>picture of _cosmic_ judgment. God lets the forces of chaos which have
>creation from the beginning overwhelm the world - almost. "The world of
that time (_ho
>tote kosmos_)... perished" (II Pet.3:6)." By making the flood big but not
>worldwide you fail to convey this theological theme.

Theological themes are in the eye of the beholder. I have collected
something like 23 different and mutually exclusive theological themes which
have been suggested for the Garden of Eden story. Some say it is a story
of the change from hunting to farming. Others an overthrow of a king by the
proletariat. No one can really prove WHICH theological meaning the story
actually was intended to convey. But I can tell whether or not it is
> If we can find a scenario
>> that matches both the details and the science, why must we automatically
>> say it is false. Tell me what detail my view violates. You may not like
>> the timing of it,
> I don't.

That is certainly your perogative, but your dislike is not evidence against
my view.

>> We agree on this. You have proven my point that you also use science and
>> history to verify the Bible.
> Yes & no. Knowledge of science and history are relevant to our
understanding of
>the Bible - as is understanding of literary genres, linguistic usage, &c.
But you can
>only see this as a matter of verifying the historical character of
biblical accounts,
>while I am open to scientific and historical information HELPING us to see
that SOME
>biblical accounts are to be read in ways other than as accurate historical

Yes, but if they CAN be read as accurate history why would you prefer the
other, more nebulous version?

> N.B. Once for all, please note the words I have capitalized. I am NOT
>that all biblical accounts are simply at the mercy of external evidence
for their
>interpretation, nor am I denying that there is a great deal of accurate
history in the

I don't deny this. But then our difference seems to be that you would
rather start by saying something might not be historical and cease looking
for historical verification. And if you stop looking, you will never find it.

>>If it is good that the Bible matches Near
>> Eastern history, why wouldn't it be better if it matched geological history
>> also? Why wouldn't it be better if we could find Abraham's house in Ur? Or
>> Noah's ark (which I do not think will ever be found, but if it were, I
>> would welcome it) Why do you only want partial verification from science
>> and history rather than verifying more details?
> Because some of the details _didn't_ happen. How much _lack_ of evidence
do you
>need before deciding that Solomon didn't have the vast amounts of money
the Chronicler
>ascribes to him or that all the animals in Nineveh didn't repent? There
can be "only so
>much verification" of historical details because some of the things you
want to read as
>historical details aren't.

I agree that there can only be so much verification. I certainly can't
verify David's feelings about Bathsheba or Solomon. But I can verify what
happened in geology.

Adam, Apes and Anthropology
Foundation, Fall and Flood
& lots of creation/evolution information