I like my concordism like I like my coffee

john zimmer (jzimmer@therad.rpslmc.edu)
Mon, 30 Nov 1998 18:50:10 -0600

Excuse the humor. Reply below.

At 09:54 AM 11/30/98 -0500, Ted Davis wrote:
>The recent departure of Glenn Morton (GM), with whom I have exchanged posts
>(both off and on board) several times, always with the "truth" issue
>uppermost, leads me to comment briefly as follows. I'm not copying Glenn
>because I don't intend for him to be obligated to reply. Further, I hope
>it's clear that I am using him as a representative of a certain position I
>don't accept, so that my comments are absolutely not ad hominem. Glenn is a
>very bright brother in Christ. None of this is "personal," except in the
>sense that I believe what I'm saying, and that's personal.
>As promised, I'll be very brief: we could go on all year, as we all know by
>now because we already have.
>I am not a "strong" concordist of the GM variety precisely because I
>believe, as Glenn is discovering and Dick Fischer may discover, that close
>correspondences between the Bible and science can never be "confirmed" in
>anything but the most tenuous possible way, and even then only for a season.
> As Asa Gray said (anonymously) in reviewing an edition of James Dwight
>Dana's Manual of Geology in the mid-19th century, "We have faith in
>revelation, and faith in science, in each after its kind; but, as respects
>cosmogony, we are not called upon to yield an implicit assent to any
>proposed reconciliation of the two."
>Glenn might call this a bold statement of inadequacy or irrelevance, or a
>refusal to face the facts. I call it taking Galileo seriously, that the
>Bible tells how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go. I also call it a
>more sophisticated way of viewing the Bible, in which we don't read it as a
>"flat" book with one author for all times in a universal conceptual
>language. No one seriously reads Homer or Shakespeare that way, and no one
>other than certain American protestants reads the Bible that way anymore.
>Nor do historians like myself read Robert Millikan or Charles Darwin that
>way, so this has nothing to do with science vs. literature vs. religious
>literature. This has to do with hermeneutics, generally speaking.
>Moorad has already called (very fittingly) for us to reread Pascal, whose
>faith was at once purer and more sophisticated than that of most of us (I
>certainly include myself here). I'll close with something from Mr Boyle,
>from an early unpublished diary: "He whose faith never doubted, may justly
>doubt of his faith."
>Ted Davis
I think that concordism will not die because there is something
that draws us to it - like moths to a flame (as Stanley Jaki might
put it). The separation of the objective pole of our experience
of nature (now informed by the evolutionary sciences and no longer
informed by allegorical and literal readings of Genesis) and the
subjective pole (which continues to be informed by theological,
moral and inspirational readings of Genesis) means that we cannot
connect these two profound ways of experiencing nature. The Quixotean
quest that is concordism must be pursued if we are to experience
the objective and subjective poles of nature in tension with one another.
That tension is dear to the Judeo-Christian experience
and the Greek philosophical traditions.

Morton, Fischer and perhaps myself, may be a little crazy, but I
think that concordism is, at least, providing some artistic insight.
However, picturing a Homo erectus Noah building a giant raft
with stone tools for the infilling of the Mediterranean basin ...
well ... we may have hit a windmill there.