Re: Gosse

Jonathan Clarke (
Wed, 07 Apr 1999 20:41:15 +1000

Evening Bill (at least it is evening here)

Bill Payne wrote:

> On Wed, 07 Apr 1999 08:22:09 +1000 Jonathan Clarke
> <> writes:
> >So the question is which methods God used in the past, and how do
> >we determine them. That comes to basic hermeneutics again,
> epistemology, and
> >how we relate extra-Biblical information to the Bible.
> Agreed. Let me ask you about what for me is a pivotal verse, How do you
> read Jude 14 ("Enoch, the seventh from Adam")? As I recall, we've had
> two divergent responses: one agreed, or seemed to agree, with me that it
> implies a literal Adam who lived in the not too distant past; the other
> said that Jude quoted the Book of Enoch which was not inspired and
> therefore was not true in what Jude said about Enoch's distance from
> Adam. I would disagree with the latter on the basis that I believe the
> Bible from Genesis to Revelation to all be scripture, and II Timothy
> 3:16: "All scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching,
> for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness." This is
> not to say that there are not mistakes in the Bible as we know it, and
> this is not to say that it is all to be taken literally. But Jude 14
> does not appear to me to be a mistake or an allegory. What is your sense
> of this verse?

In the "Clarke amplified Bible" I would read this verse as saying "Enoch, the
seventh name in the Genesis list from Adam". So what? It says nothing
about how we are to understand the passage, at least not to me. Like you I
believe that Scripture is inspired, authoritative, and normative to the life
of faith. That is well and good. But claiming that doesn't really solve the
problem of what we are to do with the text.

I won't say much more on this point, as I think we are moving into a separate
issue, more Dick Fisher's or Paul Seeley's territory than mine. Perhaps they
would like to comment. I believe however there are several ways we can read
this text within an overall commitment to a high view of scripture. For the
record, however I would tend to see a distinction between the "Adam of
Genesis 4 with those of Genesis 1 and 2-3. Don't tie me down on that one
though, I am still working through it. The answer I give might depend which
day of week you ask!

> >I presume you were only joking about no wear before the fall!
> I wasn't, but maybe I should have been? Why?

Where is the evidence for such an extraordinary statement in scripture?
Forget about the scientific problems raised by not having wear! All this
about no thermodynamics or friction, or animal death, what ever before the
fall is something which some read into the next. It is not actually there in
the text. Augustine for one certainly would not have held such an opinion,
and he lived long before any controversy over the age of the earth.

> >I notice you have not answered my question that if Gosse is right, who
> needs
> >flood geology? Gosse himself rejected the flood as an explanation for
> strata
> >because the geological record did not support it.
> In my open mind :-) the jury is still out on that one. I didn't mean to
> avoid your question. If the geological record does indeed support a
> global flood, who needs a local flood? Gosse may have jumped the gun by
> assuming the geological record does not support it.

Why do you say that Gosse may have jumped the gun? Remember that flood
geology was the dominant paradigm in geology for 150-200 years but had been
in eclipse 100 years before Gosse published "Omphalos" in 1857, and had been
generally falsified for at least 60 years.

With respect to Gosse vs flood geology, if you vacillate between them you are
in danger of trying to have your cake and eat it as well. You have to decide
either that we can decipher the past from geology, or that we cannot. You
can't flip between the two as it suits your argument. They are two utterly
and fundamentally different ways of interpreting the world and cannot be both

> >His prochronism (so he thought) eliminated the need for both flood and
> uniformitarian geology. Perhaps there is an apologetic reason here. Flood
> geologists may hope
> that by pointing to the geological record as the result of the flood, they
> are offering a proof of Scripture.
> That would be a nice benefit, yes. But more fundamental is an accurate
> interpretation and assimilation of the data. I am trying to see if I can
> find a relaxed fit of coal and an allochthonous (transported) origin.
> There may be a fatal block to this line of reasoning, but I am unaware of
> any at this point. If you would strap me to the underside of one of your
> low ponies, maybe I will be able to continue my conversation with Keith
> Miller.

You have lost me with your allusions to low ponies! This is the second time
you have mentioned these poor beasties. Are we divided by a common language

I would agree with you that the fundamental issue is the correct assimilation
and interpretation of data. However the impression I have is in most cases
that a commitment to a young earth came first, and the data is then fit into
that. I have only met one geologically literate flood geologist who claims
that they were led there by the data.

> >I assume that those flood geologists who seek "natural" explanations for
> a
> >global flood do not see it any less an act of God because of that.
> I certainly don't.

I am pleased to see this. There are many Christians who would regard an act
of God by secondary causes somehow less an act of God. I would see this as
un Biblical, however.

> >The is interesting. I go about things the other way round, and don't
> >approach an outcrop looking for any YEC or OEC model. I start by
> identifying
> >the rock type and trying to discover its relationship with other rock
> units.
> >I then look for the key features that will give me the information I am
> >after, depositional environment, weathering history, hydrothermal
> alteration,
> >etc. It is only then that I compare the ensemble of features against a
> range
> >of possible process models which you would call "OEC".
> Ummmm, you eliminate the "YEC" models? :-)

Depends what you mean by YEC models. Most that I have read are grandiose
cosmologies which are irrelevant to, even if not actually refuted, at the
outcrop scale. Mind you, I have tried, in an attempt to keep myself open.
The YEC models have failed each time. More specific (and thus useful) models
(like your favourite floating vegie mat for example) I would regard as not
being exclusive to flood geology, and would stand or fall on the evidence.

> >> I look for the naturalistic explanations. :-) You knew that didn't
> >you?
> >You have said that you lean towards YEC and flood geology. Does this
> then mean you see the flood as a naturalistic event?
> Maybe, maybe not. I just believe that there was a global flood, and I
> look for evidence to support that belief. I was unclear above in
> responding to your questions. Whether I am approaching an outcrop or
> writing a report for work, I am attempting to supply rational support for
> my conclusions. The question of the causative agent is quite separate
> from whether geologic data support or contradict a given conclusion.

So in your work causative agents are irrelevant to conclusions? That is very
different from the sort of geology I do now and have done in the past. For
example,as an exploration geologist different causative processes for a
geochemical anomaly will have led me to very different conclusions about how
to read that anomaly and where I would have told the company where to spend
the next $500,000!

> Bill

God Bless