Re: Inconsistency on Shroud vs. Genesis.

Moorad Alexanian (
Wed, 11 Aug 1999 09:23:42 -0400

I think the scientific study of the Shroud is good science and should be
encouraged. If there is no scientific explanation on how the image got onto
the cloth, then there may be an explanation which lies outside science.
After all there has never been an event of a cloth surrounding a dead body
and leaving a mark on it on resurrection. Then we can speak of whether that
body was Christ's or not.


-----Original Message-----
From: George Murphy <>
To: <>
Cc: <>
Date: Tuesday, August 10, 1999 2:34 PM
Subject: Re: Inconsistency on Shroud vs. Genesis.

> wrote:
>> At 08:32 AM 08/09/1999 -0400, George Murphy wrote:
>> > Certainly it's a truth of revelation (& not only Gen.1) that God
is the
>> creator
>> >of all things. What I referred to was the idea that the creation itself
>> is divine
>> >revelation - discussion of which would get us into the whole natural
>> theology question,
>> >Romans 1 &c.
>> In the sense that the ID group tries to use a flawed approach (one that
>> never tells us what actually happened but only tells us what didn't
>> happen), I agree. But I can't see why people like you fight against the
>> idea that there might be some way to unite modern observational data with
>> newer interpretation of the Scripture.
> Scripture is witness to God's revelation to Israel which culminates in
>Christ, & for brevity one may just say that Scripture is God's revelation.
>contains differenr types of literature, and even the parts which are not
>narrative may have accurate historical, geographical &c information.
Genesis 1-11
>has such material - real rivers in Gen.2, a real city of Babylon &c. But
it is
>revelatoty even when it doesn't have such information. 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 &
>what seem to me implausible or purely "it might have been" historical
scenarios which
>claim to reconcile Genesis & history or science in concordist fashion.
>Whether mine is successful or not
>> is not the issue here. Just the concept. Let's say Joe Camel comes up
>> a fantastic synthesis between what the Bible says and modern science. Is
>> right to reject Joe's synthesis because we don't believe that the creaton
>> is a revelation? How do we know that the creation does not witness to
>> God's creative act in the past? Afterall, nature is a witness for much of
>> what modern science believes happened in the past.
> I think the idea that we are to know God in the same way we come to
>the world is a serious mistake.
>> > 1st, this statement is incorrect. Jerome said that the creation
story is
>> told
>> >"after the manner of a popular poet", & there was extensive use in the
>> early church
>> >of allegorical interpretation (which I am NOT recommending) of Genesis
>> well as
>> >other texts. It was particularly with the Reformation that the emphasis
>> was placed on a
>> >single "literal" meaning - usually understood to be historical
narrative -
>> of the
>> >biblical text.
>> > But I think we also have to say that, with all the errors and
excesses of
>> modern
>> >biblical criticism, we've learned some things about the historical
>> character of
>> >Scripture, the relationships of biblical texts to other cultures,
>> types, & of
>> >course scientific understanding of history and the world, which the
>> theologians of the
>> >early & medieval church or the Reformation didn't have. We really have
>> learned some
>> >things.
>> Genesis 1-11 doesn't have the similies [sp?], allegories and other poetic
>> devices found in the Psalms, which all agree is ancient Hebrew poetry. I
>> don't see statements in early Genesis like:
>> The Lord is my shepherd.
>> he shall be like a tree planted by the streams of water
>> Let them be as chaff before the wind,
>> Many psalms are like prayers, not at all in the style of Genesis:
>> Unto thee, O Jehovah, will I call
>> Draw me not away with the wicked,
>> 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
>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).
> 3d, there's a lot of Hebrew poetry in the OT that doesn't come across as
>in most English version.
>> > Say for (over) simplicity that Gen.1-11 contains stories.
>> 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
>> 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
>is presenting a set of historically or scientifically accurate
propositions. That is
>manifestly false.
>> >> I know you never said this. What you are saying is that God can
create the
>> >> world, but doesn't have the ability to communicate how he did it to a
>> >> of primitive tribesman of 4000 years ago.
>> >
>> > No, I didn't say that either. God didn't communicate as you'd
like him
>> >to.
>> Here I disagree. The effect of what you are saying is that God doesn't
>> 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
>truths to us I find strange.
>> 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
>> 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
>> 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
>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
>> > & I don't think it's necessary or profitable to try to
"harmonize" all the
>> >Easter accounts as a single historical narrative. There is good
>> literary-historical
>> >evidence for the women finding the tomb empty & appearances of Jesus to
>> some of his
>> >followers. That doesn't mean that all the details of the accounts - how
>> many women
>> >there were &c - can be harmonized historically.
>> If there is absolutely no way to harmonize all the details then someone
>> telling a whopper. Just like in the Clinton/Lewinsky affair, there was
>> way to harmonize all the accounts ("I didn't have sex with that woman,
>> Lewinsky" and "I was alone with him and performed...."). When accounts
>> don't harmonize, often someone is mistaken or lying. So while you might
>> not find it profitable to harmonize such things, I find it crucial.
> 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.
> As I said, I think one can make a good case from the totality of the
>materials which we have that Jesus' tomb was found empty and that he
appeared to his
>disciples after his death. In order to say that one does not have to
insist that all
>the gospel statements about arrangements at the tomb, number of women,
whether Jesus
>first appeared in Galilee or Jerusalem &c can be put into a single
consistent historical
>> >Where is that stated in the Bible?
>> >
>> > Where is it stated that everything in Scripture is accurate
>> >narrative?
>> Exodus treated the 6 days as history:
>> Exodus 20:16 "In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth"
>> Is Exodus 20:16 false? That is NOT a poetic statement, unless we now want
>> to include anything that discusses the creation as being poetry.
>> >> What you advocate is that we are free to ignore the Bible.
>> >
>> > As far as doing science is concerned, yes. If it weren't so, S.
Weinberg &
>> >other atheists wouldn't get anywhere in science. Of course this doesn't
>> mean should
>> >ignore the Bible _period_.
>> 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.
>> If I claim to have made the
>> universe but give you no reason to believe that I knew how the universe
>> 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
>accept him as God?
>> > & Isaiah & Job.
>> >
>> >> There is no problem with the psalms being
>> >> poetry. They are clearly poetry. But Genesis 1-11 are not entirely
>> >> poetry.
>> >
>> > I didn't say they were. The point is that there is a way of
speaking about
>> >creation which runs through the OT which is inspired, authoritative,
>> & which
>> >no one with any sense reads as historical narrative.
>> 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.
> (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!)
>> >Name the Psalm that is a genealogical list as is Genesis 5 and 11.
>> >> Name the psalm that gives the kind of detail seen in Genesis 1-4. I
>> >> find one in my bible.
>> >
>> > Of course there are different literary types in Gen.1-11.
>> 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.)
> ......................
>> > No, you demonstrated that God could have given a smidgen of a
hint of the
>> idea
>> >of biological evolution. But you are misrepresenting my position & to
>> state it
>> >accurately will have to stop refrring to what God "can" or "can't" do.
>> It's a question
>> >of what God chose to do.
>> Now, here we come to an interesting issue. Are you claiming to know what
>> God chose to do? I certainly don't know the mind of God that clearly.
>> I can figure out what it is possible for God to do. And given that,
>> with the premise that God tells no lies, points me in the direction of
>> trying to find a scenario that will match both science and the Scripture.
> As far as being able to read the text, yes, I can tell know the literature
>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
>> > God apparently chose to bring about life through processes of
>> In
>> >doing so (as in other ways) God VOLUNTARILY limited the ways in which he
>> would act in
>> >the world.
>> But that does not explain why God voluntarily limited his communicative
>> abilities! I agree that God created life via evolution. But that
>> explain why God went to such lengths to hide this from the ancient
>> (This is the basic idea of a kenotic theology of divine action - see my
>> >paper in last summer's Zygon - or the old distinction between God's
>> "absolute" & God's
>> >"ordinate" power.) Given this, it's hardly surprising that at the stage
>> when God wanted
>> >to begin the revelation of himself & his relation with the world to an
>> intelligent
>> >species which had evolved, they weren't ready to understand general
>> relativity, quantum
>> >field theory, stellar evolution, DNA, population genetics &c.
>> 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
>it. We've already have enough problems with goofy attempts to fit the
waters above the
>heavens into modern cosmologies.
> Shalom,
> George
>George L. Murphy