Re: Apologetics and Gen 1-11

john zimmer (
Mon, 09 Nov 1998 08:56:05 -0600

Paul Seely wrote:

>And the genre
>of Genesis 1-11 is not parable (nor allegory), although parable is
>functionally what they are for us. They are proto-historical writings with a
>theological apologetical intent. From a divine point of view they are
>contextualized for the communication of a supra-cultural message. What you
>not seeing is their ancient Near Eastern background. I will explicate this
>more fully in a forthcoming paper and send it to you off list. The true
>nature of these chapters is the answer that will allow you to slip between
>horns of your dilemma (history or myth?).
After the fireworks of Murphy's reply to Morton on 11/6/98, I would like
to add my two cents:

1. The objective vs subjective distinction has become a separation

This is Eric Voelgin's point when he says that, with modernism, the
ojbective pole of our experience of reality eclipsed the subjective.
Using the authority earned through empiricism's successful predictions,
scientism-ists told us that the only way to experience nature was
objectively. The YEC strive to imitate this posture, but with Genesis
as a scientific text.

Morton senses the pendulum swinging the other way, where the subjective
pole eclipses the objective.

The personal ramifications of each eclipse, for the first case, includes
a denial of God in the subjective experience of nature.
This denial of our subjective "awareness
of something beyond nature" ironically contradicts the fact that
such an awareness is part of our evolutionary heritage, or human nature.
I discussed this in a recent PSCF article perdicting that "awareness of
something beyond nature" will one day be included in
the objective paradigm of evolutionary psychology. For the second case,
we have no community in that each person cannot challenge or discuss
any other person's subjective beliefs.

2. The key question is how can we return to the in-between

Voeglin advocates a return to the in-between as the therapeutic solution
to the eclipses that have followed the separation of the objective and
subjective poles of our experience of God and nature. I think that the
predictions desired by Morton indirectly address this issue because
our objective experience of nature has changed so dramatically over the
past 150 years.

As Wolpert pointed out in the Unnatural Nature of
Science, prior to modern science, the philosophical analysis of our
world did not violate our natural expectations (for example, the Earth
did not move). Now, it does.

Prior to modernism, Genesis 1 provided the soil for the germination
of science by claiming that nature was not divine. That led to a subjective
experience of nature that eventually challenged the objective pole
that was substantially based on ancient philosophic speculation.
With modernism, the objective pole changed, it is now the
evolutionary record, and that fact led to the eclipse of the
Christian subjective view. Now the question is, and this is where
Morton's dilemma comes in, can Genesis 1 re-genearate a subjective
pole to our experience of nature? If so, then Genesis 1 should
challenge the modern assumption that "nature is all there is", just
as it challenged the Babylonian assumption that "nature is divine".

Seely shows a path where Genesis 1-11 is neither history or myth,
he will move us in this direction. This is exactly why I have wondered
whether Genesis 1-11 consisted of oral traditions familar to Moses.
At the same time, I don't think Morton was correct in saying that
the Biblical flood was not a Mesopotamian event. I think that Gen 1-11
must be taken in the context of ancient Mesopotamia. (Include me in
your list, Dr. Seely.) The objective placement of Genesis in the
context of Mesopotamin prehistory will aid in our recovery of a
subjective pole.