Re: Inconsistency on Shroud vs. Genesis.
Wed, 11 Aug 1999 19:30:29 +0000

At 08:54 AM 08/11/1999 -0400, George Murphy wrote:
> wrote:
> ....................................
>> 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.
> IF this is really so it's a terrible indictment of conservative Christians.
>"Jesus Christ and him crucified" is the sine qua non of any genuine
>To try to convince people that some old earth &/or evolutionary scenario
is true
>while reinforcing essentially idolatrous ideas about the Bible is
>irrelevant (for no one is going to be saved by accepting or not accepting
evolution) &
>amounts to a hardening of hearts.

Partly you misunderstand and partly you are correct. I said it was their
sine qua non of their theology. I didn't say it was the sine qua non of
their Christianity. They view salvation in the way you want them to--i.e.
it is Christ's substitutionary death. But their theology requires that
Christ's death be physical as was Adam's penalty for sin.

And I am just telling you the way things are. You have NO impact with any
conservative Christian because you hold a non-historical view of the
Scripture. They view you as having gutted the Bible of all the miraculous
parts and many of them suspect that you are not of them. They also view
people of your view as surrendering anything the Bible has to say anytime
science says something contradictory to the Bible. THis gives them the feel
that you won't stand and fight for the truth anything in the Bible. You can
argue that this is not the way things are or should be but that is just
tough; it IS the way things are. And thus YECs won't even start listening
to you. One of the reasons YECs will listen to me (not all of them) is that
I hold to a historical view of Scripture. I have lead a fair number of YECs
from YECism but it takes lots of patience and lots of time. Often they get
mad at me for a while but they eventually come back for more. Like it or
not, your view has little chance of swaying them.

> What I try to offer is a view which is theologically & scientifically sound.
>Whether or not it's what people want is another matter. I'm scarecely
amazed that
>it often isn't. What many people want is a theology of glory, a book of
rules they can
>try to follow, easy answers &c.

Agreed. YECism is an easy answer. CAlling all of early Genesis is ALSO an
easy answer. You don't have to struggle with the issues either. THe YECs
proclaim that Science is not telling us the historical truth. You proclaim
that the Bible isn't telling us the historical truth. Both views are easy
answers! They eliminate the problem by fiat rather than deal with the real

>> Secondly, I find theological problems with a God who either can't or won't
>> tell us the unadulterated truth!
> In the form you demand.
> ........................

Yes, I demand God tell the truth! A God who can't do that isn't a god.
God could have told a simplistic account of the creation that was
compatible with what we would ultimately find. And indeed, I interpret the
Scripture in a fashion that attains that goal. (see In your view God didn't even tell
us anything other than that He is creator but lots of deities claim that
status--only one can be correct.

>> 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.
> Refer back to point 1, which I've already repeated several times. The
>extensive use of allegorical interpretation in the early & medieval
churches shows
>your statement about the modernity of non-historical interpretations to be
>Beyond that, I made the point that the whole point of allegory is to give
such non-
>historical reading of texts which appear to be historical narrative. I am
>recommending wholesale allegorical interpretation,

As far as I can see, in early Genesis the only item which is not
allegorical is that God is the creator. This leaves very little
non-allegorical parts of the creation.

though St. Paul's use of it
>shows that it shouldn't be ruled out entirely. & you're right - texts can
(& often
>were) read both as real history and allegory.

Thus I would contend that the allegorical uses of the Scripture is not
proof that it was viewed as non-history.

>> > 3d, there's a lot of Hebrew poetry in the OT that doesn't come
across as
>> poetry
>> >in most English version.
>> Give examples. I find it much easier to follow and accept an argument that
>> gives examples for claims like this.
> See the article "Poetry, Hebrew" by N.K. Gottwald in _The Interpreter's
>Dictionary of the Bible_. To quote a bit -
> "Fully one third of the OT text is poetic in form. Psalms, Proverbs,
Song of
>Songs, Lamentations, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Habbakkuk, and Zephaniah are
poetic in their
>entirety (with the exception of superscriptions). The greater parts of
Job, Isaiah,
>Hosea, Joel, and Amos are poetic, and Jeremiah is about one half poetry.

These are not the historically sounding parts of the Bible, like Kings
Chronicles, Exodus etc.

Several books
>have substantial poetic portions in otherwise prose material: Genesis,
Exodus, Numbers,
>Deuteronomy, Judges, I and II Samuel, Ecclessiastes, Ezekiel, Daniel, and
>Only seven OT books appear to contain no poetic lines: Leviticus, Ruth,
Ezra, Nehemiah,
>Esther, Haggai, and Malachi."

And yes there are small OBVIOUSLY poetic parts of other books. But when the
passage is written in a historical form as Genesis 2-11 is, then I would
suggest we have to first view it as history.

>> 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.
> I guiess we can play dueling missed points all year. All I said here is
>that details matter in stories, a fact which anyone who's read detective
novels (e.g.)
>knows. Allegory has nothing to do with this.

I agree. Dueling missed points is not productive. I agree that details
matter to a detective story. But a detective story is almost always
fiction and known to be fiction. The very issue at hand with early Genesis
is: Is it fiction/allegory or is it history. It seems to me that you
simply assume Genesis 1-11 is non-history but never really present detailed
data from that passage which points to it being poetry. You have admitted
that parts of it have historical content. If that is so, then why is it so
hard for you to at least consider the possibility that the rest of it has
historical content?

Of my simplified story of creation George wrote:
> Note that while these statements are all kindergarten versions of
theories which
>are probably correct, & I think at present that they're true, they are all
>They are all relatively recent theories. E.g., the idea that some types
of clays formed
>a matrix in which the original formation of molecules took place, rather
than the more
>commonly proposed pre-biotic soup, certainly can't be ruled out at
present. So what you
>would have God do is give an elementary version of our understanding of
origins circa
>2000 A.D. If we'd been debating this in 1900 your examples would have
been quite
>different, & they might have to be quite different in 2100.

Yes they are kindergarten versions of the theories. What is wrong with
that? YOu have acknowledged that as far as you know they are true. If so,
then you have proven my point that God could easily have told a
kindergarden version of the ultimate truth, whatever that ends up being in
the year 20,000 A. D. It is this possibility that makes me KNOW that your
approach that God must either teach quantum mechanics or nothing to the
ancient shepherds is entirely a wrong approach. God didn't have to teach
quantum he could have taught at a kindergarden level (indeed we still might
need that). But that does not relieve God of the responsibility to TELL US
THE TRUTH! You act as if God has no responsibility in this matter. Since
he was the one who reached out to us the ENTIRE responsibility for turth
telling is His.

> Instead (as noted later) God apparently made use of the near-eastern
science of
>~1000 B.C., adapting it for theological purposes because it's primarily a
>rather than a scientific, statement.

And I think this makes God look like he has no foresight to know that we
would someday view that as silly.

> The Bible identifies God by what God does. You want God to prove himself
>explaining what he has done in terms of your categories.

My category is Truth. That is all I ask, just the facts, as Joe Friday used
to say. I simply don't think this is too much to ask of God.

> Let me preface the next statement by saying that I am NOT claiming Genesis
>1 to be a parable!

No, but as near as I have ever been able to tell, you treat it as
non-history regardless of what you call it.

> I never said that Genesis 1-11 is poetry (though it contains some bits).
>The only reason "poetry" came up this time is that you wanted to dismiss the
>_Chaoskampf_ passages because they were poetry.

> Again, see Gottwald's article - though this is really getting off the track.

It is not off the track because it bears on how we view early Genesis and
why you insist on a non-historical view. I think it is quite fair to ask
one to defend the view he is advocating which as I understand your
position, Genesis 1-11 is not history.

Is Genesis 1 history? If so how much and what parts are history. Same for
Genesis 2-11?

>> 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.
> I already gave a couple of examples. One can also give examples of clearly
>NONhistorical passages, like 6:1-4, & partial duplications, like the
genealogies of
>chapters 4 & 5. But picking out all the historical fragments is something
about which
>competent commentators will differ. A "clearly thought out position" is
that these
>chapters are a theological statement about creation, the spread of sin,
God's judgment
>and covenant, as preparation for the call of Abram when we really begin to
get into
>something like history.

Why is Abe suddenly history and the previous parts aren't. The style is
the same? I could claim that the rest of Genesis is non-historical because
it is written in the same style as is Genesis 2-11 in addition, the lack of
a clear break in the genealogies make it impossible to document exactly
where the fiction ends..

>> 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?
> Your presumption is wrong. I said "have some historical information,"
not "are
>completely accurate."

It appears to me that you claim as historical those parts you want to claim
as historical (which have been verified by archaeological digs) but want as
nonhistory those parts that you don't want to deal with from a historical
view. There is no clear, objective critieria for your discriminations.

>> 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?
> I made this statement _en passant_ but I think it's true. Don't you know
>the difference between solving a problem yourself & looking up the answer
in the
>back of the book? As a physics teacher, I certainly get more satisfaction
>students being able to work a problem than from telling them the answer.

Once again, my kindergarden version of creation would not obviate the need
for us to solve the problems ourselves.

Foundation, Fall and Flood
Adam, Apes and Anthropology

Lots of information on creation/evolution