Apologetics and Genesis

john zimmer (jzimmer@therad.rpslmc.edu)
Tue, 24 Nov 1998 18:44:36 -0600

It was fascinating to watch the interplay under the Apologetics
and Genesis heading. I am too slow for y'all. But I am working
on transferring the ideas of Eric Voeglin from the study of social
order to the study of natural order, and it belongs with this interplay.
You might want to print this out and ponder before replying.

Voeglin pointed out two poles to our experience of social - er -
now - natural order: subjective and objective. I will leave you to
criticize the evocative bounding of the word "subjective" as pointing
toward the person and the divine (with all the resonance of participating,
meaning, belonging and so forth) and the word "objective"
as pointing toward the impersonal and mechanistic (with all
the resonances of observer independence, modeling and analysis ... ).

Now we can break down history as a series of formations and
deformations with respect to awareness of these two poles.

1. Ancient compact cultures (Egyptian, Sumerian, early Greek, Roman)
did not explicitly distinguish natural and divine poles to nature. Gen 1,
amazingly, belongs to this era and does distinguish them (claiming that
nature is not divine) but does not explore that difference.

2. Greek speculative philosophy distinguishes subjective and objective
experiences and ideas (poles) and holds them in tension. This is a formative
discovery and development.

3. In late classical, Greek speculative philosophy informs objective
pole and Gen 1 increasingly inspires new subjective experience of nature.
The poles remain in tension as Platonic speculation is replaced by

4. In pre-modern, the subjective pole (Gen 1) undermines the objective
pole as Christians try to analyze Greek speculation from the perspective of
Gen 1. In particular, (Jaki points this out) the first
law of inertia becomes increasingly evident for explaining God's setting into
motion the heavens. Science is born.

5. In modernism, the tension begins to stretch to the limit as the subjective
pole is held to the new standards of the emerging new objective pole
Separation is clear when the objective evolutionary record does not appear to
correspond to a literal (hence objective) interpretation of Gen 1 (which
in #4 informed the subjective pole). Atheist moderns attempt to replace
subjective pole with ideologies (by immanentizing that pole with ideas like
"progressivism"). Some Christian moderns attempt to use Gen to replace
objective pole (YEC, creation science, etc.).

6. Post-modernism gives up search for certainty (driven by the domination
of the objective pole over the subjective) and cannot establish total
equivocation (the domination of an "empty" subjective pole over the
objective pole). Christians look for ways to re-establish Gen 1-11
as a subjective experience in tension with an objective experience informed
by the evolutionary sciences. Murphy's analogy to Einsteins presuppostion
of the uniform speed of light is played out with Mortons and Fischers
research that presupposes a "match" between Gen and the evolutionary
record. The "match", in essence, should place Gen in tension with the
record in such a manner that the meaning of Genesis is experienced.
Neither project, I think, does that yet.

On the other hand, I have rendered a two-tiered resemblance between
Gen 1 and the evolutionary record and have gone on to show that there
may well be an objective hypothesis in evolutionary psychology that
complements the Gen 1 description of humans "in the image of God".
(In case you wondered, Fall issue of PSCF, drink expresso before reading)
I think that these are projects that meet Mortons aspirations for a research
program that leads to predictions (that is, flows back into the objective
pole and informs the evolutionary sciences) while at the same time
showing that Gen 1 is a door to our subjective experience in the
framework of an objective experience that hitherto was not known to all
humanity, and yet, must be accepted by all humanity.

So perhaps Voeglin can shed light on our interplay - I think that
if we reach a solution regarding the natural order, we will pave the
way for a solution to problems in our experience of the social order.