Re: Something must change

George Murphy (
Sun, 23 Aug 1998 21:34:14 -0400

Glenn R. Morton wrote:
> At 12:31 PM 8/23/98 -0400, George Murphy wrote:
> >Glenn R. Morton wrote:
> >
> >>
> >> We agree that Christ's inclusion and descent from the first adam are not
> >> trivial themes. That makes it all the more important that it be a real (but
> >> not necessarily complete) genealogy. It seems very difficult to me to see
> >> how it helps to have a false pedigree to prove relationship (like the
> >> Japanese emporer tracing his descent from the Sun God).
> >
> > There is a human race, & such a genealogy, whether or not
> > historically accurate, is one way of stating a person's full solidarity
> > with the human race. There is no sun god.
> Well, my atheist friends would say the same thing about Jehovah.

Of course! They're atheists, for heaven's sake!
"If you do not believe, you will not be established."
The idea that people are to be brought to faith by first
proving the truth of the Bible is a venerable one but highly

> And remember this, if naturalistic evolution is true, there was no Adam and
> Eve. By this I mean that there was never a time in which there were only 2
> persons on earth. The first humans were a population, not two individuals.
> So, the genealogy in Luke is totally erroneous when it claims to trace the
> genealogy back to a man, Adam, who was not the son of God as Luke says.

No. You use phrases like "totally erroneous" because you
are unwilling to consider the possibility that statements other than
those about historical occurences are real. This is our basic dis-
agreement, & I think you're basically wrong.
The point I made was that such a genealogy can convey truth
about human relationships even if not a literal record of genetic
relationships. If someone believes in a literal Adam & Eve & I want
to talk to them about the full humanity of Jesus, I can do it in terms
of Adam & Eve. I don't have to say, "I want to talk to you about Jesus,
but first I've got to teach you about evolution." That can come later
if & when their faith is more mature.

> If
> there is not some kind of break in human genealogy, in the fashion that I
> have suggested, then Adam, was the son of well... not God. In this case,
> this solidarity with the human race is also solidarity with the horse, the
> fish and the invertebrates. And if God did insert a spirit/soul into an
> ape at some point, then why can't the creator of the universe, who has all
> that power at his disposal, not simply ensure that some simple, and easily
> understandable statement be written by the writer that He was supposedly
> inspiring? If God's inspiration is no better or stronger than the
> inspiration received by a man contemplating a beautiful lady, it isn't much
> in the way of absolute metaphysical truth.

When you get to the point of telling God how he has to reveal
himself and his relationship with us, I think you should contemplate
I Cor.1:18-25.

> > I reject the claim that only propositions convey truth, on
> > the authority of Jesus, who tells stories. You said above that we
> > were through with the Good Samaritan. Alas, we're not. If you
> > really think that truth can be conveyed only by propositions which
> > can be checked "against a backdrop of data", stop being coy about
> > the parable and state clearly that you demand that it be historically
> > accurate.
> >
> Here is the root of our differences. Only propositions convey objective,
> verifiable truth.

Of course there is a difference between propositions which relate
two observable entities or sets of events and statements that don't.
But you're going to be very constrained if the kind of truth conveyed by
propositions is the only kind you'll consider. As far as human beings are
concerned, the statement "Jesus is Lord" is verifiable by believing it &
verifiable eschatologically, but hardly "verfifiable" in the sense that
statements about geological strata are.
& note: If you are going to argue
a. the Bible is true &
b the only kind of "truth" is that of verifiable historical
or scientific propositions,
then you have to conclude
c. that everything in the Bible - not only the Good Samaritan
but the statement that the Lord is my shepherd & leads me
beside the still waters - is true in that sense.
So again, stop being coy. If that's what you believe, say so.
If not, you should try to be sympathetic to the idea that truth is
conveyed in other ways.

> > The Lord of the Rings conveys some truth in a way it wouldn't
> > if it ended up with Sauron winning. One reason (I don't say the only
> > reason) great literature is great is that it tells us things that are
> > true about the human condition. Homer can tell us a lot about ourselves,
> > whether or not Achilles, or Odysseus, or Agammenon, ever lived.
> But there is a big difference between Homer, and Tolkein. They make no
> demands that I behave in a particular way.

So? This has nothing at all to do with the question
of whether or not Homer or Tolkein convey some truth.

> The bible does. This makes the
> Bible different from those books. In Homer, if I emulate the Greek Gods,
> then I can live however I want and be as deviant as I want.

This is a smoke screen. But take _Pilgrim's Progress_ instead
of Homer if you wish.

> > You miss the point of this plot element & have written several
> > sentences without answering the question: Do you think all (or 90%)
> > of the animals of Nineveh were covered in sackcloth and commanded to
> > cry mightily to God? Is that historically accurate?
> Do you have extrabiblical evidence that say that this didn't happen at the
> time specified? I would doubt it. While the people obviously didn't
> become Jewish, there is nothing to say they didn't engage in a strange
> ritual ordered by their king.

Again, you write a great deal without answering the question.
Do you think it happened? Not woulda, coulda, shoulda - did it happen?
Were the great majority of animals in Nineveh clothed in sackcloth &
commanded to cry mightily to God?
(I recognize the dilemma. On your principles you must say
yes or deny the truth of Scripture. But if you say yes you'll sound
kind of strange. So it goes. P or not-P.)

> Given some of the customs that I have read about in the past 3 years of
> anthropological research, I really wouldn't be surprised if they really did
> put sackcloth on their animals or at least were ordered to.

Sure. After one of my parishoners told me we should teach our
cats to use our toilet, I'm capable of believing many strange things.
It's not that I don't believe that this _could_ happen. It
wouldn't be a violation of the laws of nature. But when I read the
whole story - of a type unique in the prophetic books - with
a. the big fish (Sure, God _could_ have done it!)
b. the city of Nineveh 3 days journey across (compared with
the measured size today, ~ 8 miles around),
c. the "king of Nineveh" (a title unknown to archaology)
d. the massive conversion of the whole city (yeah, 90%)
brought about by a minimal 5-word threat (& no, this isn't
just a summary of more extensive preaching. Remember that
Jonah doesn't _want_ the message to succeed)
e. the animals being clothed in sackcloth & crying mightily
to God,
f. & the fact that the pagan "king of Nineveh" is a better
theologian than Jonah,
then I ask myself, "Is there a way this may be true besides being
historical narrative. But that is a question you can't even ask because
you would be denying the truth of Scripture thereby.

George L. Murphy