Lack of Apologetical predictions

Glenn R. Morton (
Thu, 05 Nov 1998 21:49:56 -0600

Hi George,

Well, here it goes. Now I am really going to get people mad at me.

A preface: You thought I was referring to you the other night when I was
talking about allegoricalization. I wasn't. I was actually thinking of
Paul Seely, with whom I have had some interesting snail mail and e-mail
discussions off the listserv about precisely these issues--i.e. what is the
historical value of early Genesis? Paul has presented what I consider to be
some powerful arguments in favor of his position. But I also think that if
those arguments are true, there is little of objective reality to be found
within Christianity for the reasons I cite below. But since you said what
you did tonight, I simply must jump in. There is a major inconsistency that
I find in your position. Paul can join if he wants.

At 09:02 AM 11/5/98 -0500, George Murphy wrote:

>But YEC theories contribute nothing at all to the matter because they make
no prediction
>about the amount of moon dust to be found. If we _had_ found lots of
dust, YECs could
>have simply said "It was created that way 6000 years ago."

I can't resist this one (the devil makes me do it). The problem with all
modern apologetics is precisely that they make no predictions. In fact
they go out of their way to avoid making predictions. And what this does is
make the Bible irrelevant to the real world we live in. And expecting YECs
to make predictions when other apologetical systems don't either, seems
inconsistent to me.

On Mon, 02 Nov 1998 10:26:58 -0500 George Murphy wrote:
> Scripture uses allegory (e.g., Gal.4:21-31) & it can be legitimate as a
>secondary interpretation in some cases. It is NOT, however, what I would
>with Genesis 1-11. It is most important to understand the accounts of
creation &c _in
>the context of all of scripture_ THEOLOGICALLY. I.e., they are
authoritative statements
>about God's relationship with the real world and humanity. Thus Gen.1 & 2
say (in
>varying ways):
> The existence of the world depends on God alone.
> Creation is through God's word.
> The material world is fundamentally good.
> Human beings have a special place - i.e., privilege AND responsibility - in
> creation.
> The creation of living things is mediated.
> Human sexuality & marriage are part of God's intention for creation.
>(The list isn't exhaustive.) None of these statements depends on
"allegory" in
>the strict sense.
> 2) Does this lead to a "research program"? It depends on what kind of
>program you're interested in. It certainly can be part of a theological
>program in the sense in which Nancey Murphy develops the idea in _Theology
in the Age
>ofd Scientific Reasoning_. But it will not lead to the type of
>geological-paleontological-archaeological research program in which Glenn
is interested
>- which is not to say that theology has no interest in geology &c.

It is not fair to criticize the YEC for failure to make predictions, from
their apologetical perspective about the reality of the world, when you
have said, above, that your own apologetical view leads to no observable
predictions! You have said that it will not lead to any research in
geology, paleontology, archaeology etc. This can only be true if your views
make no predictions. If they made predictions you would have something to
go look for out there in the observable world. Why should you require of
the YECs that (observable predictions) which is not to be required of you
or me?

I would also say that it seems to me that if theology has an interest in
geology etc, as you say, that it must say something true about the
observable world. If theology can't say anything true about the observable
world (i.e. make a prediction) then theology HAS NO INTEREST IN GEOLOGY.
They become two separate realms, disjoint in a fundamental sense, like the
interior and exterior regions of a black hole. If theology says nothing
true about geology, then it and geology are like ships passing in the night.

You also wrote tonight:

> This is the way it often works out. E.g., YECs sometimes say "Evolution
>predicts a continuous range of organisms between taxa & special creation
doesn't, so the
>lack of fossil transitional forms favors special creation." But it does
no such thing
>because species _could_ have been created 6000 years ago with gradations
as close to
>continuity as you wish. The YEC view in itself requires no unique
> I.e., if the YEC view isn't scientifically vacuous, it's pretty close to it.

Why is a YEC interpretation vacuous when they make no unique predictions
but the nonhistorical scheme is not vacuous when it TOO makes no
predictions?????????? Is the allegorical/non-historical view of genesis
equally vacuous? If not why not? And the reasons should flow from your
theological beliefs, not from your scientific beliefs. You can say that the
YEC science is wrong because you have a better science, but you can't
claim that your theological view avoids vacuousness if it also makes no
predictions--just like the YEC view. And if you want to avoid the charge of
vacuousness, what prediction does your theological position make? You have
said "it will not lead to the type of
geological-paleontological-archaeological research program in which Glenn
is interested ". I presume from this that your view too makes no
predictions and must therefore be vacuous just like the YEC view.

The lack of prediction in the above (non-historical) interpretive scheme
can be shown from a thought experiment. Suppose another holy book told a
story of how God called into existence two salamanders which in mating,
produced the entire observable universe. After mating the salamanders
died and maggots ate the body. Two of the maggots fell off the carcass,
and died from starvation. God took the two maggots, converted them into
humans, male and female, made he them, and produced our primal parents.
They were placed on the earth. One man and one woman. And God said it was
all good.

Because the reality of the above account is of no nevermind to its
theological message, one can look at my creation story and draw the
following conclusions about this 'mythical, creative, salamander-using God
and his relationship to the world':

> The existence of the world depends on God alone.
> Creation is through God's word.
> The material world is fundamentally good.
> Human beings have a special place - i.e., privilege AND responsibility - in
> creation.
> The creation of living things is mediated.
> Human sexuality & marriage are part of God's intention for creation.

Because the theological intepretation of the Scripture can't produce a
prediction that can be verified in observable reality, one must wonder if
the theology really has any import to the observable world. The content (or
plot) of the creation myth is of no consequence. God might have well used
the salamander story rather than the Adam, Eve and talking snake scenario.
The non-historical approach to Genesis leads to a system in which NO story
(not even my salamader story) can possibly be wrong. This is the height of
vacuousness. If all stories can be true, then there is no limit upon what
can be believed. This is what I meant when I said above that modern
theologies go out of their way to avoid predictions. Avoiding predictions
makes it such that no story could be wrong. There simply are no predictions
which can be contradicted by any story.

This of course raises the question of why one should consider Genesis
rather than the Bhagadvadgita as the divinely inspired account. One
certainly can't state that Genesis is divinely inspired because my
parents/seminary/pastor/friend says it is. One must have a more substantive
reason for believing something which is that important; something more than
'Someone told me so'. And subjective feelings do not seem entirely
trustworthy. I thought I was right (subjectively) when I was a YEC and I
know Mormons who tell me that the spirit bears witness to their spirit that
they are right. And I doubt that Koresh's followers thought they were
wrong. On the contrary, they felt that the spirit was telling them to give
their lives for their cause. Subjectivism does not lead to truth!

Without predictions which can be verified, you have no basis upon which to
judge the YEC as being wrong for not making predictions about the moon!
What prediction does your theology give you about the moon? None according
to what you said. It is your science rather than your theology that you are
using to condemn the YEC. Because of this, you can't objectively claim to
have a better system of interpretation than theirs, because both systems
make no predictions. You can't objectively claim to have a better theology
than theirs because yours is just as subjective as theirs. Both systems
remove the objective relationship between the universe and God. All that is
left is subjectivism. You can't really claim to have a better match with
observable reality because you specifically eschew research programs aimed
at matching a theological interpretation with observable data. Only if one
interpetation has a better set of predictions can one claim to better fit
the facts. Both the YEC and nonhistorical systems leave the observable
world and theology fundamentally disconnected.

Theology simply can not become a set of subjective beliefs that one
believes to be true simply because one believes those beliefs are true.
Like Escher's drawing entitled "Waterfall", that is pure fideism--an
illusion devoid of any visible support or raison d'etre.


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