Re: Descendants and Thomas Trap

George Murphy (
Sun, 22 Nov 1998 19:45:27 -0500

Glenn R. Morton wrote:
> Hi George
> At 03:55 PM 11/22/98 -0500, George Murphy wrote:
> >> But I still disagree with you about Genesis 1:1. It can't be true in any
> >> sense if god didn't actually create the universe.
> >
> > I don't, & never have, argued with that. But I understood your original
> >claim to be that Gen.1:1 can be verified by natural science. That isn't
> the >same thing - unless you think that only scientific claims can be true.
> Then maybe we agree here. My original claim was made at 6:35 11/18/98. I
> wrote:
> >>>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?<<<<
> I never made the claim (at least originally) that science was even
> involved. If you believe that Genesis 1:1 is historical rather than
> allegorical, then we have achieved agreement at least on Genesis 1:1. Want
> to go for Genesis 1:2? :-)

As I have said before, Gen.1:1 is theological. It is a statement about the
ultimate dependence of the universe upon God alone. Earlier I indicated reasons for
doubting that one could describe what is spoken of here as an event in history or even
an event in the universe. E.g., _if_ our universe is indeed of the type described by
standard big bang models then there is, strictly speaking, no space-time event
corresponding to t = 0.
If one pushes either scientific investigation sufficiently far - far enough, in
fact, that one is really in the realm of metaphysics - then one is asking questions to
which Gen.1:1 is the answer. In that sense this verse might be said to be a scientific
or historical statement. (The distinction between science and history really loses its
meaning at this point.) But I think this is a risky way of speaking about the matter
because it is almost bound to be misunderstood as a ststement about in initial creative
event within space-time.

> >> Rather than turning it around, I still would like an answer to this
> >> unanswered question (and I asked first). How do you ever propose to prove
> >> a given body is the earthly remains of Jesus Christ, son of Mary wife of
> >> Joseph?

Frankly I'm getting a little mixed up on who said what first about this so let
me just wind up my comments on it briefly.
1) The claim that Jesus rose from the dead has consequences which are in
principle testable by means of natural science and historical analysis. Scientific
disproof of the claim is conceivable in principle but virtually impossible in practice.
Historical evidence is possible, as Paul notes in parallel: Maybe somebody will find a
report of Pilate to the emperor on the execution of Jesus. But the likelihood of that
is remote.
2) We should study the New Testament documents pertaining to the resurrection
with care, & try to determine, in connection with knowledge & customs of the period &c,
just what types of reports they are & how to understand them. I think that when this is
done, a good case can be made for the basic traditions that Jesus appeared to some of
his disciples and that the woman found the tomb empty.
3) The whole question would be just an historical &/or scientific curiosity
if it were not for the profound personal & cosmic consequences claimed for the
resurrection. & it is really the whole complex of consequences & fundamental claim
which have to be evaluated together.

George L. Murphy