Re: Descendants of Wolves, Bovines and Adam

George Murphy (
Thu, 19 Nov 1998 21:42:20 -0500

Glenn R. Morton wrote:
> Hi George:
> Of Dante, At 07:54 AM 11/19/98 -0500, George Murphy wrote:
> > Indeed. But if any kind of truth can be conveyed such poetry which
> >makes use of cosmological models which are now obsolete, then why not
> God's >truth?
> >
> So how many people believe the Bible today because of Dante's book?

Utterly irrelevant. I never said people would believe the Bible because of
Dante. I said his poem conveyed some truth. I realize you don't think poetry can do
that. You're wrong.

> What
> real difference has it made today? A few English teachers torture their
> students with it and a few Ph.D.'s are awarded. But unfortunately, it is
> irrelevant to today's world and is viewed as an anachronism. And yes I have
> read the Divine Comedy, all of it, AFTER I LEFT COLLEGE because I wanted to
> read it. I enjoyed it, but it has no impact on my life and I doubt on
> anyone-elses.

Dante's poem says a great deal about the nature of human beings & society.
Whether people today are interested in what he is saying is another matter. You can
probably repeat your last statement about Shakespeare, Dickinson, Solzhenitsyn, & many
other writers, but that says at least as much about you as about their work.

> >> I keep finding it fascinating that the Bible says 'In the Beginning God
> >> created the heavens and the earth" and that is the only part of Genesis
> >> 1-11 we believe. But if all the rest of Genesis 1-11 is
> >> wrong/allegory/whatever, why should I believe that Genesis 1:1 is telling
> >> me of a real creation by a real God?
> >
> > Who are the "we" who only believe the first verse of Genesis?
> > The first verse of the Bible is of course _not_ a statement which can be
> >verified by scientific or historical study. I'm not sure that in any
> >reasonable way you can claim that it conforms to your criteria for truth.
> >Gen.1:1 is a theological statement about God's relationship with the
> universe >in space & time. In different ways, so is the rest of Gen.1-11.
> So, if Genesis 1:1 is only a statement about God's relationship with the
> universe WITHOUT indicating that God actually created this universe as an
> act in history, then I really find this unfathomable. How can this merely
> be a statement of God's relationship without also and at the same time
> being a statment of ACTUAL creative ACTION occuring at a given point in
> space and time? Creation IS verifiable via the singularity at the Big Bang.
> The universe can not be cyclical because of thermodynamic relations so it
> must have a beginning and thus have been created by SOMETHING--either the
> Creator or the Eternal Vacuum [lets call it eV for short :-) ]. But
> something created it. And if the eV created it, then Genesis 1:1 is NOT a
> true statement of God's relationship with the universe because God would
> not then be the CREATOR.

First and most importantly, the creation of the universe is not "an act in
history" because it is the creation of the whole framework in which history is possible.
As Augustine said, "God did not create the universe in time but with time." Saying that
creation must be an act "in history" is like saying that the writing of a novel must be
part of the plot of the novel.
Secondly, to be precise, there is no "singularity at the Big Bang". A
singularity in general relativity is not an event at which strange things happen. If
one is going to speak strictly, one should say that a space-time is singular. This
means that it is "geodesically incomplete" - or to put it crudely, an event is torn out
of space time. "There is no there there" - to quote a poet.
Thirdly, we don't know & probably never will know for sure whether or not our
space-time is singular in this sense. There are cosmological models which avoid
singularity, such as the Hartle-Hawking model, the one I proposed in Phys. Rev. D8,
4231, 1973, and various models which "bounce" because of torsion &c. These may or may
not be correct, but to stop work on quantum cosmology or other possibilities & just say
"God did it" is our old friend the God of the gaps.
Genesis 1:1 says that the universe depends for its existence upon God and,
according to one way of translating it (which I prefer but don't claim enough expertise
in Hebrew to be authoritative about) that the universe had a beginning of time. What we
know of scientific cosmology is consistent with this, and that is a nontrivial point for
apologetics. But that is not the same thing as saying that we have confirmed creation -
which is a theological, not a scientific, concept - scientifically.

George L. Murphy