Re: Inconsistency on Shroud vs. Genesis.
Tue, 10 Aug 1999 20:00:23 +0000

At 02:33 PM 08/10/1999 -0400, George Murphy wrote:

>You're "fighting" for the
>position that it must be historical narrative in order to be true in any
sense. I
>am not "fighting" against all possibility of historical information in
those chapters.
>But I do resist both the notion that Scripture _must_ have that character
& against
>what seem to me implausible or purely "it might have been" historical
scenarios which
>claim to reconcile Genesis & history or science in concordist fashion.

I acknowledge that I am fighting for historicity. I do it for two reasons.
One I just posted to another list I am on. First, I see no hope to stop
the YEC paradigm unless a historical scenario is presented. I see only one
long-term solution. There are no short term solutions. A
view of the Bible will not be widely taught among conservative Christians
in their Sunday Schools unless that view teaches that the Bible is
historical. THat is the sine qua non of their theology. So the only long
term solution is to replace the present scientfically naive YEC scenario
with something that makes the Bible historical. Then it can be taught
without having the parents raise the barricades. To try to get
conservative christians to teach a view that they think undermines the
reasons to believe the Bible is like spitting into a strong wind.

Most people who approach this issue (like you) offer nothing in the way of
a scenario
that preserves what the conservative Christians want. All we offer them is
unconditional surrender--which they, to our (amazing) amazement, reject.

Secondly, I find theological problems with a God who either can't or won't
tell us the unadulterated truth!

> I think the idea that we are to know God in the same way we come to
>the world is a serious mistake.

I didn't say that we could know god in the same way we know the world.
What I said was that if God created the world there should be some evidence
of it both in the world and in the account of the creation which God inspired.
>> Looking at the literary style I see in Psalms I don't see it in early
>> Genesis. Where are the similies?
> 1st, you miss the point of my reply. Your claim was that Christian attempts
>to interpret Genesis other than as historical narratives are modern
innovations. The
>examples I cited shows that they aren't. Whether or not patristic or
>medieval allegorizing is valid is another question.
> 2d, the point (& in large part weakness) of allegory is that one can
>a text that looks like straight history as something else - either in
addition to or
>in place of the historical reading. The account of Abram, Sarai, & Hagar
reads on the
>surface as an historical account, but they are, according to St. Paul, "an
>speaking of something not at all evident on the surface (Gal.4:21-31).

So are you saying that Abram, Sarai and Hagar are as allegorical as Genesis
1? If so, there isn't much of history in Genesis at all. You will probably
say no. Pulling allegories from real history is easy but it doesn't mean
that the history is false.

> 3d, there's a lot of Hebrew poetry in the OT that doesn't come across as
>in most English version.

Give examples. I find it much easier to follow and accept an argument that
gives examples for claims like this.

>> > Say for (over) simplicity that Gen.1-11 contains stories. _Details
>> matter in
>> >stories_!
>> Why stories? I think the only reason moderns believe that Genesis has no
>> bearing on creation as it actually happened is because they have been
>> unable to present a scenario that matches the Biblical account. Thus we
>> call it stories, or poetry, anything so long as we don't have to deal with
>> it as any form of history--which is what the ancients thought it was.
> Again you miss the point. You argued that details are only important if one
>is presenting a set of historically or scientifically accurate
propositions. That is
>manifestly false.

You missed my point here. I am saying that the allegorical approach is the
easy way out of the problem. and as I noted above, it has such little
effect against the YECs, indeed, it feeds the fires of YECism. And that
this approach was taken not because the Bible requires it, but because
educated people couldn't find a reasonable scenario.

>> Here I disagree. The effect of what you are saying is that God doesn't seem
>> to be able to effectively communicate anything about the truth of what
>> actually happened in the creation. Why, I ask, is God so impotent on this
>> point? As I keep pointing out, I can communicate simple truths about
>> creation to peasants that don't understand science. Am I more capable or
>> caring than God? Of course not. Examples, (again)
> You keep misrepresenting my position as saying that God "can't" or "isn't
>to" &c do certain things. & the idea that if God really loved us he'd
reveal scientific

I am not misrepresenting. I am drawing the conclusion from the assumption.
God chose not to tell us the true historical facts of creation. Therefore
God told us a fib. God chose not to tell us the true historical facts of
creation, therefore God made up a pretty fairy tale for intellectually
inferior children who were too dumb to understand simplified truths.

>> The universe came from a hot fire.
>> The earth formed from a big cloud.
>> Life sprang forth from the waters.
>> Man was created when a creature that lived in the trees was changed.
>> There is absolutely nothing in the above 4 sentences that contradicts
>> science and that a 5000 BC farmer couldn't have understood. Is it
>> exhaustive? NO. Is it understandable? Yes. Does it conflict with science?
>> NO! The implications of your view for God's communicative abilities is
>> bad. Couldn't God think of doing this? Of course He should have been able
>> to do it. But then since He didn't, we prefer to say He spoke gibberish
>> that only a theologian can understand and interpret. That is troubling.
> In fact, what God was willing to condescend to do was to use the scientific
>ideas of the world held by Israel & its neighbors ~3000 years ago (flat
earth, dome of
>the sky, waters above the heavens &c), adapting them freely where
necessary to make
>theological points (e.g., the treatment of the heavenly bodies on the 4th

Did God tell you he was condescending? See there are as many assumptions
in your view as the YECs have in theirs and as I have in my view. The
problem is that these assumptions become believed to the point that we
can't see the world in anyother way. You obviously believe your view which
is the way it should be. But you are not seeing the questionable
assumptions that go into your view. These assumptions include that God
condescends and tells false stories to shepherds, that the shepherds are
too ignorant to be able to understand what we understand today (which is a
form of modern egotism which is quite widespread; we are not the
intellectual superiors of the ancients--we only know more), That you know
what God's intention was--to tell an allegory when it isn't all that clear
that that is what He is doing. There are lots of other assumptions that I
would question in your view.

> The (usually tacit) assumption in a legal setting is that people are
>to testify to "history as it really happens." Even in such a setting
truth is not an
>all or nothing affair. Whittaker Chambers remembered some things wrongly
in his
>testimony in the Hiss case (as he himself notes in _Witness_), but that
>invalidate the totality of his testimony which showed that Hiss had been a
Communist & a
>Soviet spy.

And we are not to assume that God, who created things, is supposed to tell
us the truth? I expect that from my children why can't I expect it from
God? I would say that the assumption that God should tell the truth is
higher than the assumption in a legal setting. I know that people lie all
the time in a court room--I don't expect it from God. And this expectation
of what God should do is at the root of our difference.

>> That means that the Bible has NOTHING useful to say about creation; not
>> even anything to say about who made it.
> Nonsense. It says that the God who brought Israel out of Egypt & raised
>from the dead is the creator of the universe - a highly non-trivial claim.

But just an unsubstantiated claim. How do you know this isn't an
allegorical claim also? How do you know this claim is historical? I can
claim to create the world and it is a highly non-trivial claim. Prove me
wrong! You can't. Allah, Molech and Ra and a thousand other deities also
claim to have created the universe also. Who is correct and by what means
do we judge? If Jehovah doesn't have some knowledge that the others don't
have, then I say there is a problem.

>> If I claim to have made the
>> universe but give you no reason to believe that I knew how the universe was
>> created, then you would have a perfect right, no a duty, to doubt that I
>> created the universe. The very fact that I don't know enough high energy
>> physics to be able to discuss particle creation would be cited as proof
>> that I was an imposture. Why does such reasoning not apply to God?
> In other words, you have a list of conditions God has to meet before you'll
>accept him as God?

NO, I have a list of expectations about God and His nature that should play
a role in how I interpret the Bible! I don't expect God to lie or
misrepresent in any fashion what He claims to have done! If He does
misrepresent things, then He is not to be trusted. Period. I won't trust
Clinton because of his lies. Why should I trust God when you say He
misrepresents things.

>> OK, which parts are not poetry? Lay it out.
> Again you miss the point. Identification of "poetry" in the strict sense
>is a matter of looking carefully at the structure of the Hebrew. Deciding
whether or
>not to read words as metaphors &c is more difficult: The grammatical
structure of
>"My heart is broken" is the same as that of "My pencil is broken."
> But the point (& I quite understand why you want to avoid it) is that what
>I've already said twice: The motif of the struggle with the sea, the sea
monsters &c
>runs through the OT as a way of speaking about creation & no one wants to
>it as an account of events which really happened.

But you keep avoiding explaining exactly what traits in Genesis 1-11 make
it poetry. It shouldn't be hard to lay this out but you don't.

> (A horrible thought creeps upon me: It it possible that Glenn will argue
>that it _could have_ happened that way, that maybe God "really did" "slay
Rahab of
>the Deep with a deadly wound"? May it not be!)

Why do you avoid laying out the criteria for poetry--in defendable detail?
Why do you avoid explaining which parts of Genesis 1-11 are history and
which aren't? If you can't explain this, defend this and lay it out, I
would say it is not a clearly thought out position.

>> OK, so are the genealogies supposed to represent historical figures?
> They undoubdtedly have some historical information. That doesn't mean
that they
>have the kind of genealogical accuracy that the DAR would ask for.)

OK so if the genealogies have historical information, then I presume that
this means that Noah existed. Did he build an ark? Did Tubalcain live?

> As far as being able to read the text, yes, I can tell know the
literature which
>witnesses to God's revelation. I'm not insisting that God communicate
information in
>a specific way before I'll pay attention to it. It seems to me that you are.

No, I am saying pay attention to the literature and the information. But
if it is false, then reject it as false. Don't fall for the false safety of
claiming "it isn't historical but it conveys deep truth". I can find deep
truth in the lives of Bonnie and Clyde or Beowulf.

>> For the 18th time, God didn't have to teach them quantum. He could have
>> used the 4 sentences I mentioned earlier. Why do you think that if God
>> didn't teach them quantum he couldn't tell them anything true about the
>> creation? That is a nonsequitor.
> God did tell us about creation - i.e., what it means for the world to be
>his creation. & I'd add that adding some a few elementary scientific
>to the text would as likely have hindered the eventual progress of science
as helped

So we are now saying that God didn't tell us the truth because He would
have hindered science? Where does this information come from? Why does God
care about scientific progress when he doesn't care to tell us anything
true about science?


Foundation, Fall and Flood
Adam, Apes and Anthropology

Lots of information on creation/evolution