Re: Re: Something must change

Glenn R. Morton (
Mon, 24 Aug 1998 20:11:00 -0500

Hi Bob,

I have to get up really early tomorrow so I am only going to answer a
couple of things and then you can have the last word.
At 04:51 AM 8/24/98 EDT, wrote:
>Your productivity amazes me. When do you get time to do the work for which
>you get paid? Thanks for all your stimulating input to this list serve.

Thanks for the kind words. I can assure you that I work at my job 10
hours/day and often on weekends especially during the summer--my busy time.
I keep busy. I walk 3 miles a day and read while I walk. If I travel, I
read on the plane.

>Coherence and internal consistency are two different matters. Coherence
>refers to agreement with other related theories. The flood account, as I
>wrote earlier, is coherent, i.e., in agreement with, other accounts in the
>bible that depict the wickedness of humankind--the Fall, the Tower of Babel,
>individual wickedness-- and under this criteria is true. Since coherence was
>the only game on the block in those days, to judge the truth of the flood
>account by correspondence criterion which did not exist then in the form it
>does today, and to judge the account by correspondence criteria, is to apply
>the wrong criterion of truth.
>Why did God allow this to happen? Why did he not inspire the Genesis writers
>to be historically accurate? Try this. Imagine that God had withheld the
>inspiration of Scripture until the present century. Then suppose he inspired
>current men and women to write the 20th century version of what is contained
>in the Bible. Any 20th century biblical author would utilize our current
>criteria of truth: coherence (call it A) and correspondence (B). What else
>could he or she use? We would have a Bible that would satisfy modern
>assumptions of truth. Now suppose that 2K years from now a third theory of
>truth was discovered (C), more powerful than either A or B. Would it be fair
>to discard those parts of the Bible written in the 20th century that did not
>conform to C? I think that is what you are doing with those apparently
>historical parts of the Bible that do not conform to B.

Let me suggest that the ancient writer could easily have written an account
(an may have written an account) compatible with modern theories.

Genesis 1:11, And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass,
Genesis 1:20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth
Genesis 1:24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the

Notice one thing in these verses. God didn't directly bring forth
anything. The account doesn't say "God brought forth plants" He commanded
the earth and water to bring forth the life. This is mediate creation not
direct creation.

Now, While generations have not understood that detail of the account as
meaning what I see in it, this is exactly the type of simple statement that
is very compatible with modern evolutionary theory and it comes from the
Bible. God clearly was talking about indirect creation and the initial
writer apparently understood that.

>Tolkein's trilogy, however, has nothing to do with the current discussion of
>coherence. You wrote, "By the coherence theory of truth, Middle Earth is a
>real place with real hobbits." That's not so. The trilogy is not coherent
>with any other current valid account of reality, nor does it correspond to
>understanding of reality.

Does coherence theory of truth imply coherence to the concept that there
are witches around? Didn't the ancients think that there were witches?
Middle earth would be very well aligned with their view of reality and so
must be judged by the coherence theory of reality.

>I don't deny that early cultures had understanding of aspects of their world.
>I simply say they did not have the rigorous correspondence theory as their
>criteria of truth in the same way that you and modern scientist use it. Far
>more important to them was whether their stories hung-together to form a
>view, not whether their world view was an objective account of reality.

IMO, that is irreleveant really to the truth or falsity of what is written
in the Bible. God knows what reality is, and if His inspiration means
anything, it must mean that He was able to have at least a modicum of input
to the content of the Bible. Remember, the Bible is not supposedly the
Word of man who believed in correspondence principles or whatever, but the
Word of God, who really knows what reality is like.

>Granted that Tolkein's stories are coherent with the struggle between good
>evil; they might have become part of the world view of early Middle
>Easterners if Tolkein had lived and written in that time. But they fail the
>modern correspondence test. Thus they are not as true today in any sense as
>the laws of Newton and Einstein.

Why, the ancients believed in theories of magic, sorcerors, leprechauns
pixies etc. Why not hobbits? Hobbits certainly were not out of line with
their view of the world.

>I wrote, "Our task, it seems to me is not to try to account for the flood
>story with the correspondence theory, but rather to see how it coheres with
>other Biblical stories and the cultural beliefs and norms of the time."
>You responded, "We can and should do the same for Middle Earth."
>Go ahead.

I think I just did.

>I wrote, "The Bible is a mixture of accounts, some of which are best treated
>by the coherence theory of truth, and some of which fit the correspondence
>It's up to us to sort them out. That's a big job. I suggest that the story
>of the flood is consistent with the coherence theory whereas the account of
>the genealogies in Gen. 11 is more consistent with the correspondence theory.
>"There are two errors to avoid. One is the rigid correspondence-theory-error
>in which the historical accounts of the Bible are subjected throughout to
>scrutiny by scientific methods. Are they consistent with historical,
>archeological, and geological facts? If not, throw them out. The other is
>the rigid coherence-theory-error in which the Bible is explained away as
>arising solely out of cultural and psychological needs of the writers."
>You wrote, "But this is what I think a lack of history in the Scriptures
>Without history, what function does the Bible serve OTHER than the
soothing of
>psychological needs?"
>I'm not saying the Bible lacks history. Nobody is saying that.

But you all seem to pick and choose the history you want to believe in.
Genesis 11 is not different in style than Genesis 12.It always seems to
turns out that the 'nonhistorical' parts of the Bible are either the
miraculous parts or those that no one can think of a way to have
correspondence. That has all the appearance of begging the question. Those
parts are history that we can explain, but those parts are not history
which we can't.

The issue is
>the flood account. Is it history? I am saying, No; to apply modern criteria
>of history to a story is a misapplication of correspondence criteria of
>The story is true because it coheres with other biblical accounts of the
>in the human heart.

I think it isn't history to you because you can't come up with a scenario
within the past 10,000 years. But that is a poor reason to then say it
wasn't meant to be history or that it is true in some other, metaphysical
sense. Under those circumstances it would be more honest to simply say it
is false. One thing I notice is that no one really comes out and says 'This
story is totally false and needs to be ripped out of the Bible." They
always seem to say, "It isn't historical, but it is true". And the
atheists laugh on about this feeble effort to save the truth of the bible.

You get the last word

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