Massie (
Thu, 22 Apr 1999 15:46:57 -0700 wrote:

> Bert has a great point:
> Bert Massie:
> "I would also have a problem with not seeing the original interpretation as
> "concordistic" according to the prevailing world-view of nature, i.e.,
> the earth is flat, bounded, the sun travels in the sky, etc etc. "
> Comment:
> The difference between 'then' and 'now' is that 'then' Western culture
> did not differentiate its view of nature into subjective and
> objective, as we do 'now'. This differentiation of nature has
> changed how we experience it. In a way, we live in a world that
> agrees with the Genesis 1 claim that nature is not divine.
> However, that does not mean that we can jettison our subjective
> experiences. As Burt pointed out, the premoderns were just as
> 'concordist' as today's Christians. They saw (what we would call)
> the objective world through (what we would call) a subjective
> perspective.
> Thus, when Paul says:
> "If someone ... likes the latter interpretation for subjective reasons
> and says they realize it has little or no objective foundation, I have no
> problem with it."
> he ignores that the 'objective foundation' is the continued
> actuality of our subjective experience. I suspect that early
> Christians would appove of current modern explorations that
> examine the evolutionary record through the lens of the Creation
> Story.
> They saw nature through the lens of Genesis 1. So do I.
> So when Paul continues:
> "If the order of the events in Gen 1 is due to a literary framework or is
> purposely polemical or both, an underlying concord with the scientific facts
> would be neither intended nor necessary, and probably not possible."
> he is right. How could premoderns have anticipated the differentiation
> of our experience of nature into subjective and objective?
> However, when I look at the evolutionary record through the lens of Genesis 1,
> I find that Genesis 1 contains two types of descriptors: Ones that
> resemble visual features of the corresponding epoch. Ones that resemble
> the importance of the corresponding epoch to humanity. Once that
> concept is acknowledged, then concord with the evolutionary record is
> recognizable.
> Whether it was intended or not - or - possible or not, is another issue.
> To see what I mean, try , click on the 5th image
> down, a blue red swirl which opens to a picture of star HR 4796.
> Then run the quicktime movie. A similar animation may be made to
> depict days 1 and 2 of the Creation Story. Note how the perspective
> of the observer is crucial.
> Ray

Let me propose a protocol for understanding Genesis:

1. God would not say something not accurate.
That is, he would not say that the Earth is flat.

2. He would speak to the people at the time in words they could understand.
He would not talk about the general relativity space time theorem requiring a
beginning to time.

3. His woulds would be timeless.
They, even if viewed as mystical by peoples of the time, would be eventually
viewed as objectively accurate in the future.

4. They would be from a perspective an listener would understand at the time and
The events would be described as visually seen and not given in some abstract
argot of physics.

5. The real message is about who and not how but the story describes the power of
God and his relationship to man and explains our origins and does so accurately.
He is giving man a great piece of information as to mans origins and nature.
In this view, ancients may have seen the scientific implications of the Hebrew
very differently than we can today and may have believed a great deal of things
that we would scoff at today. I encourage a since of perspective in recognizing
that the Hebrews lived in tents, had no perspective of cause and effect,
scientific investigation, non-diefication of nature, etc. God, without giving a
basic science tutorial, could not have given much of a detailed explaination.

Thus, to argue that the Jewish theologians believed this or that is a bit
pointless. Unless Genesis makes some extraordinarly clear statment we have the
obligation to utilize the best external information to understand it just as we
use archaeology or historical writings to understand some of the historical
statements elsewhere. An example of a clear message is "In the beginning God ..."
and and example of something less clear is "Let there be lights in the expanse of
the sky..." (Does this mean a clearing atmosphere or the creation of the Sun and
Moon, etc.)

Bert Massie