Re: St. Basil's 400AD view of the Days of proclamation
Sun, 29 Aug 1999 22:21:15 +0000

Hi George,

This will be my last note on this topic for a while. It is time to shut it
down. At least I think it is time. THis has been a fascinating discussion
and I do feel that we came to a much better understanding of each other's
positions. Thanks.

At 08:24 PM 08/29/1999 -0400, George Murphy wrote:
> wrote:
>> Why can't the flesh be theologically true but historically false? My point
>> is that this approach allows one to do anything one wants and to hold
>> anything one wants as being theologically true but factually false.
> 1) This is just the domino theory again in a slightly different guise &,
as I
>noted before, the hardline fundamentalist can play the same card (&
probably has)
>against you. As far as he is concerned you've already sold the farm when
you said that
>there might be minor historical errors in the Bible.

Yes it is, and I don't see anything wrong with it. All this argument
points out is that you don't have a good reason to delimit application of
this type of approach to other things. I recall that the Vietnam domino
argument was that if S. Vietnam fell, then Laos, Cambodia and possibly
Thailand would fall. Seems to me that domino argument was correct also.
Domino arguments have validity.

And you are correct some YECs view me as having crossed the line also.

Of course someone can construct a theology in which Jesus is pure symbol with
>no historical reality but that procedure is not justified by the type of
>study I'm speaking of. I am NOT saying that one can allegorize,
spiritualize &c
>anything that doesn't fit with one's preconceptions.

I know you aren't saying that, but in the first sentence above you
essentially agree that the domino theory is true. A theology of a symbolic
Jesus can be constructed which does what you do to early Genesis. Doesn't
this mean that the domino theory is applicable?

>> I didn't reject YEC because I suddenly saw
>> evolution as a great thing. I rejected YEC because YEC wasn't working and
>> that caused me to look around for another solution. Merely being 'positive'
>> gets you ignored.
> This is a question of tactics & in some cases your approach may be better.
>But the YEC analogy is misleading. Christian fundamentalists are
Christian & (except
>perhaps for the fringes) people with whom I think you & I can agree about
basic issues
>of sin & salvation through Christ. Thus the debate with them isn't
>theological (though I'll argue that TE gives a better theological
expression of
>Christianity) & it's appropriate with them to focus on scientific &
historical matters.
>You aren't trying to "convert" them to a different religion. The reverse
is true with
>Muslims, Mormons, &c.

In some sense the process of converting a YEC is identical with conversion
of anyone from a strongly and emotionally held position. Only the details
of the doctrinal changes is different; the process is the same.

> OTOH, what kind of "observational" evidence can one give to show that
>Christianity rather than classical gnosticism, or the ideas of the
Jehovah's Witnesses,
>are false? With Islam there are important _historical_ differences (as
well as a good
>deal of historical overlap) with Christianity but it's debatable that we
can call them
>"observational" differences in the sense in which we use the word in
>Christianity depends on historical claims about Jesus but they - even the
resurrection -
>don't _prove_ that he's true God of true God, that sins are forgiven for
his sake &c.

But the resurrection is strong supporting evidence. As you know, there is
no evidence that proves anything. Evidence only supports a viewpoint.

>> NO!!! With that shared assumption (that actual events leave actual
>> evidence), I am arguing on HUMAN territory. We know that events which
>> actually happen leave evidence of that happening. Why are you saying that
>> only Mormon know that--i.e. that this is mormon territory?
> I think you're playing a word game here. If you're talking about the
Book of
>Mormon you're on Mormon territory, & that isn't changed by the fact that
the discussion
>is part of the larger realm of scientific & historical data. If you can
defeat the
>Mormons on their own ground so much the better but it's still their ground.

I view archaeology as MY ground not theirs. :-)

>> I don't see much in Acts, e.g., of _detailed_ argument against
>> >paganism in the missionary preaching. Paul's messaage to the pagans is,
>> "There's a much
>> >better way."
>> Neither do I. But everytime I mention Psalms, which is not historical
>> narrative or Proverbs, or parables I get a big raspberry from you. :-)
> I don't recall making this noise. The reason I'm critical of your
mentioning of
>Ps. or Prov. is that you seem to want to quarantine non-historical
material in the Bible
>to a cleanly demarcated portion of scripture, & don't recognize that it's
more pervasive
>than that & that it's presence is often more subtle than obvious poetic

Yes I do expect some sort of demarcation. I do this because what I see
done to early Genesis is an easy cop-out. It is in the style of historical
writings like the rest of Genesis, but if we treat it as some sort of
nonhistorical genre, then I can avoid having to deal with the fact that it
doesn't match science as Genesis is usually interpreted. To me, that smacks
of defining the problem away.

> I think your account of the flood can be called "historical" only in the
2d of
>the senses quoted above, & even there I'd omit the word "well". It's a
"might have
>been" account. & while linguistically _kol_ doesn't have to =
"everything" & _eretz_
>can = "land" rather than the earth, one has to look pretty fixedly at the
trees rather
>than the forest not to see that the story is talking about the destruction
of the world
>- all flesh, the earth. No, I don't believe in an historical global
flood. I think the
>biblical writers used traditions of Mesopotamian floods to speak about
God's cosmic
>destruction of an evil world by a global flood. I think that that is
truer to the sense
>of the whole flood story than your attempt to construct a might-have-been
>version, ingenious though it is (& I am not being sarcastic).

I didn't take that as sarcasm. I am the only person who has presented a
flood theory on Talk.Origins and gotten no critical responses. All I got
was notes saying things like, 'I never thought I would see a flood theory
that actually matched the data of science.' Usually that place eats
christians for breakfast.

>> I guess my question is, why would someone want nonhistoricity when it can
>> be historical? That is something I really don't understand.
> It's not a question of "want" but of "willing to accept when the evidence
>suggests". & it's partly a question of how much one is willing to stuff
into the
>category "CAN BE historical". In order to "harmonize" the gospels
Osiander was willing
>for Jesus to have raised Jairus' daughter more than once. Would you be
willing to
>accept that as "can be historical"?

Just out of curiosity, is the a legal limit to the number of times a person
can be raised from the dead? Where do I find that in the Bible? My point
is not that Osiander is correct; my point is that you act as if this is
demonstrably against some Biblical injunction. It isn't. It may be wrong,
probably is wrong, but it is a possibility as far as I can see.


>> Two comments. First, your committment to thinking that everything in the
>> Koran and the Book of Moman is false is not evidence that this is so.
> You misread me. I said "I'm NOT committed to thinking that everything in
>Quran or the Book of Mormon is false."

Sorry you are correct I did mis read you.

>> I have not (to my knowledge) said that all theologically true statements
>> must be historically accurate.
> On 28 August you said, "After all, if the story is all fiction, no amount
>theological truth can be squeezed from it." Does this mean that if it has
a little
>historical truth it can have a little of theological value? What's the
>OTOH, I don't think there is a 1 to 1 correlation.

Be sure to get this one in context. We were talking at that time about the
centrality of the important historical events. The entire quote is:

"Ok, now I see what you are meaning by major and minor. I would define
major as those things that attest to either the centrality of the gospel
story or the veracity of the documents.
After all, if the story is all fiction, no amount of theological truth can
be squeezed from it."

I was referring to the central dogmas of Christianity, the Fall, the Exodus
the Resurrection. And I stand by that statment. If they are not
historical, then no theology can be squeezed from it.

And because you quote was pulled out of context, I stand by what I said
earlier--namely I have never claimed that all theologically true statements
must be historically accurate.

>> That does not apply
>> to early Genesis since it is not part of a sermon illustration.
> Would it be unfair to paraphrase your statement as "is not intended
primarily as
>a theological statement"? If that's a reasonable paraphrase then it
summarizes our
>basic disagreement here.

I would have no strong disagreement here with your paraphrase. I think it
is a cop out to take an ostensibly historical document like Genesis and
treat it as if it is nonhistorical. And I would say we disagree about the
applicability of the domino theory. Maybe I can say that David's life is
meant primarily as a theological statement and it doesn't matter whether or
not he lived.

Foundation, Fall and Flood
Adam, Apes and Anthropology

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