Re: Descendants of Wolves, Bovines and Adam
Wed, 18 Nov 1998 00:52:15 EST


You said,
<<What I can't accept in the way you and other deal with this type of issue
is this: You admit that the Biblical story doesn't match the description
and yet are unwilling to then draw the proper conclusion---Early Genesis
is factually erroneous and thus worthless as a purveyor of truth. And
being unwilling to draw the proper conclusion, you conclude that the Bible
therefore must be true.

<<As I have said before this is a 'Heads I win; Tails you lose" type of
apologetic. Heads the Bible is true; Tails, the Bible is true. Such an
apologetic does lead to the Bible being true but only true in a trivial way.>>

You know, Glenn, it's like those crazy geologists. As the YEC's say, You can
show them layers of rock strata where the fossils are in an order exactly
opposite to what the so-called geological column is supposed to be. Yet, they
refuse to draw the proper conclusion--The strata are worthless as a purveyor
of truth. And, being unwilling to draw the proper conclusion, they conclude
that, therefore, the geological column must be true. 'It's heads I win; Tails
you lose.' If the fossils are rightside up, the geological column is true; if
they are upside down, it is still true. Clearly, the geologists are working
from a theory and do not care about the facts.

The analogy is not perfect; but, the point is: you have to free yourself from
emotional viewpoints and look a little deeper.

So, let's look a little more closely. The description of the Creation, Flood,
Tower of Babel, etc. in Gen 1-11 does not fit the scientific data--geology,
astronomy, anthropology, archaeology. Therefore, (and I will draw the proper
conclusion) these chapters (1/100th of the Bible, not the whole Bible by any
means) are factually erroneous at least in part, and therefore not completely
trustworthy (true) with regard to history and science. However, as is the case
with parables, there is no necessary logical connection between their failure
to be historically and scientifically trustworthy and their ability to be
purveyors of spiritual truth. The stories can be false, yet the message they
communicate, the point for which they were written, can be true. And, in the
case of these chapters is true and is true in a profound, not trivial, way.

No, the stories in Gen 1-11 are not parables; but, they do reflect the
ordinary scientific and primeval historical opinions of the time; and hence
are now outdated. For us they are functionally parables. Why did God
communicate his spiritual truth through the scientific-historic opinions of
the time? (1) The original hearers would not have understood and probably
would not have accepted the spiritual message if it contradicted their
understanding of the universe. Missionaries are well aware that the supra-
cultural message of the Bible must be communicated in terms of the culture
being addressed. (2) The false religious ideas of the surrounding religions
were directly attached to their views of cosmology and primeval history. A
wise polemicist would necessarily be bound to answer these false religious
ideas in terms of that same cosmology and primeval history (there are
polemical passages all through Gen 1-11). (3) God has delegated the discovery
of natural truth to humankind (Gen 1:26-28; 2:19,20); and hence does not
reveal historical or scientific information. (Every reference to science in
the Bible that I have checked reflects the science of the times).

We who have come later, like adults following the childhood of historical
times, should be grateful that (a)God spoke to intellectually immature
children in their own childish terms, as befits a Father (b) respected our
delegated sphere of scientific enterprise, not taking back the responsibility
once given--as befits a Father (c) trusts us in our adulthood to see that
stories (like the modern one of a tooth fairy) were told out of love and hence
we should not think of our Father as untrustworthy because of the stories he
told when we were children (d) gave us spiritual truths which have profoundly
salvific effects in the real (empirical) world as they are obeyed; and these
truths are just as true today as they were the day they were first revealed.

<<Now, as to the timing of the flood. there are two things that must be
noted. You can only date this event by believing that the genealogies are
complete. Luke 3:35-36 shows that the genealogies of Gen. 11 are not

Actually, you can date Gen 4 reasonably well and the tower of Babel very well
completely apart from the genealogies. If there were no genealogies you could
still date them. And, thus the approximate date of the Flood, which lies
between them, can be dated. Even if you just had the date of the Tower of
Babel you would have the approximate date of the Flood because you cannot have
very many centuries between the two events or the one language that Noah's
family spoke would differentiate into several languages. In less than a
millenium, Latin became French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian; and those
peoples were not separated by long distances. I am forwarding to you my paper
on the Tower of Babel; so, you can see how surely the Tower of Babel can be
dated completely apart from genealogies.