Your approach in getting difficult and complex concepts is exactly what is
needed. I try to do the same, not so much in writing but in giving
I also agree with you that the OT and NT writers were faced with the same
difficulty in getting complex concepts across. However, where I run into
difficulties is where the authors apparently conveyed truths in terms that
don't make a lot of sense to us now (but that, apparently, made sufficient
sense to the church fathers who set the Canon). My earlier example of
Adam's rib is just one of many I could cite. To me, this is such a detailed
description (in comparison with the creation of Adam) that it seems to me
that there is something more to it that appears at first glance. I don't
recall it being covered in any of the courses I took at Calvin College.
I must admit that I don't have a lot of time to take the intellectual
journey that Howard van Till recommended in his e-mail to me. If we have
problems with this Bible passage, how do we deal with it in discussions with
> I have often written popular articles about advanced topics in physics.
> aim has always been to make it simple for the one that knows no physics
> write it carefully enough for the one that knows a lot of physics. I
> believe that it is in this sense that Genesis is written. From the article
> one cannot deduce the knowledge of the writer. However, if one had all
> knowledge, then the article would not contradict any of it.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Vandergraaf, Chuck <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> To: 'Howard J. Van Till' <email@example.com>
> Cc: ASA Listserve <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Date: Thursday, February 11, 1999 6:07 PM
> Subject: RE: Grapenuts, anyone?
> >Re: your third point:
> >> 3. Let me try something a bit more provocative. Perhaps it is high time
> >> that we Christians also consider that the Scriptures were written
> >> the limits of the human knowledge of the writers. Not only were their
> >> conceptual vocabularies limited by their placement in particular
> >> but their particular knowledge of the universe was limited by their
> >> placement in history. Hence we read nothing of galaxies, quasars,
> >> molecules, etc. Similarly, our finding nothing in the Scritpures about
> >> evolutionary development of life forms over billions of years should
> >> as no surprise whatsoever.
> >I can live with part of your "provocative" argument. Undoubtedly, the
> >writers of Scripture were limited by their understanding of the universe.
> >Probably more to the point, they had to deal with the limitations of
> >audience/readers (for example, the apostle John's description of his
> >on Patmos may well have been limited by the availability of the words and
> >concepts at that time). That would put the authors in the same
> >as we would be if we want to explain television to an aboriginal who has
> >concept of this technology (maybe a bad example, but you get my idea).
> >However, when we read a detailed description of what appears to us
> >that the early readers of / listeners to Genesis should have been able to
> >grasp, we run into problems.
> >Let's just take the creation of Eve "from Adam's rib." Assuming for the
> >moment that "Adam" and "Eve"can be identified as individuals and "rib" is
> >piece of bone that protects the upper innards of a human body, and "deep
> >sleep" is what we call it today, what are we to make out of this? Is
> >the best the author could come up with to convey a historic event to the
> >reader/listener? Is there something wrong with the translation? Is it
> >allegorical? Are we missing the point? What is the point? Why was it
> >To me, this has little to do with a knowledge of galaxies, neutrons, or
> >photons. Am I missing something?
> >T.T. (Chuck) Vandergraaf
> >Engineered Barriers and Analysis Branch
> >Whiteshell Laboratories
> >Pinawa, MB R0E 1L0
> >*(204) 753-2311 xt. 2592