change of mind
Wed, 25 Nov 1998 11:02:17 -0500

Glenn Morton wrote:

>You all don't seem to understand the problem the removal of historicity
>means for apologetics. And it is almost a non-sell to most oil-men who are
>among the most hard-nosed individuals you could ever find. This is not to
>say that there are no christians, there are, but they are very very quiet
>because all Chrisitans seem to offer is belief in that which is untrue.
I have not been active on this list for several months, since I have been
simply too busy
getting into a new career path and going to school, etc. However, I take a
peek now and
then just to see how things were going -- and today I note that Glenn Morton
resolved to quit the list. He is leaving in defeat over the issue of the
historicity of
Genesis. I will be sad to see him go, because his contribution to the list,
in terms
of scholarship, good science, and civility has been a great benefit to us
all. Glenn,
I hope that you will decide to stay, at least to lurk and offer your wisdom
on the
ongoing debates.

Note what Glenn said in response to Van Till's suggestion to read CS Lewis:

>I don't think that will help. Howard, it isn't art that they are looking
>for. They are looking for reality and we Christians don't seem to offer
>that to them.
>I too believe in facing reality. One thing I know from selling oil deals is
>that if you can't sell the prospect, the market place is telling you
>something. It is telling you that something is wrong with the prospect.
>That applies in the market place of ideas also. I know that I have been
>unable to sell my views and I must be brutally honest with myself. I must
>pay attention to what the market place is telling me. I have spent 4 years
>trying to sell this idea with little to show for it except for an arm that
>is giving out. I think it is time to listen to the marketplace.

Just a few comments:
1. If Glenn had written his ideas perhaps 50 years ago, in the positivistic
they might have become a popular version of Genesis interpretation. They
certainly have more scientific evidence than the gap theory and the flood
theory. And probably more evidence in its favor will be forthcoming.
2. But we are no longer in the positivistic era, at least in the sense that
it has
become indefensible among philosophers of science. However, there are still
a lot of positivists around, and most scientists still adhere to positivism
practice. So the 'hard-nosed' culture that Glenn refers to remains within
that community of people who define 'reality' or 'truth' as ideas with
empirical verification.
If Genesis (or any story) is true, it must be empirically verifiable.
if it is not empirically verifiable, it is false.
3. The critics of critical philosophy, including literary humanists,
operationalists, postmodernists, anti-ethnocentrists, pagans etc. have made
a serious
point that is usually ridiculed in evangelical circles, but one that still
That is, we can't see our own blind spots. We don't know they are there
someone from 'outside' shows them to us. Therefore, it might be helpful to
listen to alien voices, because they might shed light on an area that we
completely overlooked.
4. Glenn's comment above indicates that he is a man who is listening, and
in the process of a change-of-mind. Some would argue that from a
viewpoint, it is not possible to change the mind. But occasionally it
happens. In fact,
isn't that what Christian conversion is all about?
5. For a person in the modern scientific culture, Genesis is an 'alien
This should not be hard to accept; after all, it was written thousands of
years ago.
If we really want to understand what its intent is, we cannot make any
because those assumptions come automatically from our own mind-set. If we
impose our philosophical framework on the text, we may in fact be distorting
We need to listen to others, such as Jewish scholars, scholars of ancient
and maybe even primitive people, to learn how they think.
6. Trying to defend the Bible scientifically is a noble cause, but I think
there are
other ways that are more 'biblical'. What did Jesus do? What did Paul do?

Perhaps in Acts 17 Paul defended basic theism philosophically; that is the
he came to a modern apologetic approach that I can find. But a
defense is quite different from a scientific defense.
7. To me, it seems more effective to begin from the obvious strengths of
the Bible:
its morality, its understanding of human character, its portrayal of love.
Note that
these are all 'humanistic' aspects of reality, not 'scientific'.
8. One of the great intellectual divides of this century has been the 'two
that C.P. Snow described, the humanistic and the technological. They hardly
ever talk to one another. I think that if we add to this the division
between spiritual
and secular, we end up with 4 distinct cultures that don't understand each
(I have been thinking about writing this up for an article in Perspectives.)

9. My conclusion: the same as Glenn's. We need to listen harder and wider.
But it is not for the sake of 'marketing'. After all, most people don't
care much
about apologetics until they become Christians and are sensitive to the
And most people become Christians, I believe, when they come to a low point
in their personal lives, and they humble themselves and change their minds.