> -----Original Message-----
> From: Howard J. Van Till [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: Monday, November 06, 2000 7:19 PM
> Hi Glenn,
> I have resisted quick replies on this thread to see how the conversation
> went. It's not going particularly well, but here is one general
> thought that comes to mind.
> You have repeatedly expressed your conviction (or insistence?) that the
> biblical text must be true in the specific sense of being objectively
> There are, of course, some particular "matters of fact" for which that
> conviction/insistence may well be appropriate. Yet there is a
> certain irony
> in your wishing to extend this requirement to the entire text (or at least
> the vast majority of it) because this particular concept of truth and its
> verification is so deeply characteristic of modernity and its accompanying
First, as we have discussed, I don't believe, as George ascribes to me, that
statements of goodness, truth, beauty etc can be objectively verified. Thus
any part of the scripture talking about such items are outside the realm of
My concern in this whole area began with the flood. Geologically, there is
absolutely no reason that if there had been a flood, Mesopotamian,
worldwide, or otherwise, that there would not be evidence left of its impact
on the earth. This then became a point of verification for the validity of
the early scripture. I have said before, that there is no way to verify
creation. Certain people want to put that into my mouth but it I doubt very
seriously they can find anywhere I have said that. I have said that
pre-flood accounts must be historical or the Scripture must be wrong. This
is true regardless of whether or not the account can be verified. Why?
Because there is only one standard of truth. I simply can't go with this
view that there are various types of truths for events that sound like
historical events. If we can claim that historically false events are really
true, then fairness says that we have to allow for the Muslims, Mormons,
Hindus and everyone else to claim that their false accounts are true. And
this would apply no matter how bizarre the account is--including the mating
of salamanders for the creation of the earth.
While one can say that I am a scientist (one addicted to scientism), I see
nothing wrong with that. The alternative is to allow oneself to believe that
which is false or contrary to evidence. As I see it, the young-earthers and
the extreme liberals are doing exactly the same thing. They are violating
logic and truth in order to make their religion secure. If that is what we
have to do to make our religion secure, I would rather reject it and believe
something else. It would be like the advocate of N-rays claiming that it
really doesn't matter that there is no evidence (or contrary evidence) for
n-rays, because they are true regardless. The liberals make the Bible
retreat into allegory or into only a remnant of truth everytime it conflicts
with science and the conservatives make science retreat everytime it
conflicts with the Bible. The means of securing the religious belief by
liberal and conservative are identical and identically FALACIOUS!!!!
What I have begun to believe is that Christians of all stripes can't seem to
deal with evidence. Liberals accept science but make the Bible little more
than a fairy tale and conservatives make fools of themselves by denying what
is clearly before their eyes. It all makes one wonder if Christians would
know the truth if it hit them in the face!
> As such, it stands in marked contrast to a great portion of traditional
> religious thought and experience: we apprehend Truth by opening our hearts
> and minds and spirits to the presence of God, Spirit, Creator, Love,
> Goodness, and various other ways of naming the Transcendent.
Don't equivocate on the word 'Truth'. We know Jesus the 'Truth' by opening
our hearts and minds to him. We don't know the 'Truth' of quantum mechanics
or evolution by opening our hearts and minds to him. The above is a great
example of the logical fallacy of equivocation!
Truth of this
> sort was available and valued long before the concept of empirical
> verification gained supremacy in post-Enlightenment culture. Furthermore,
> adopting the modern (and reduced) concept of truth as that which can be
> empirically verified strikes me as a capitulation to the Enlightenment's
> restricted concept of Reality and the limited means of apprehending it.
No. It is not capitulation, it is a recognition that God gave us brains and
He expects us to use them properly. It has nothing to do with a capitulation
to a restricted reality. If by restricted reality you mean that we must use
a logic that allows that which is obviously false to become true, then I
would say reality MUST be restricted.
Frankly, I am very tired of seeing that Christians can't deal with data
without mangling it. What sort of people are we? Are we so immune to
observational data that we must either deny it or deny that the Bible says
anything real about the world? (I know, George, you will say that your
Mesopotamian flood is historically accurate but related in an inaccurate
> A couple of weekends ago our church sponsored a series of
> lectures by Huston
> Smith. One of his themes was his hopefulness that the modern,
> post-Enlightnment loss of humanity's sense of the Transcendent would soon
> end, and that the scientism and materialism characteristic of modernity
> would be replaced by a regaining of our appreciation for the diverse and
> robust ways that humans are capable of apprehending the real presence of
> Transcendence, Truth, God.
This sounds very much like Carlos Castenada's _A Separate Reality_--a
reality in which we feel rather than think. And if that is what religion is
all about, you can have it. And, you want to know the truth? Christians,
Mormons and Muslims are beginning to convince me that that is all there is
to religion--mere feeling with brains placed firmly in the jar on the shelf.
As I said, YECs want to deny everything they see and liberals want to deny
the Bible at a drop of a hat.
Sorry, about this tirade but, Howard, as much as I respect you and enjoyed
meeting you this year, the way you and YECs are approaching religion, I see
little of value in it. In fact, I have been thinking that it is a big
mistake for me to have come back on line on this issue of
creation/evolution. All I seem to see is people fleeing from the standards
that they apply and expect of scientists and engineers in the real world.
That is, they flee from a unified concept of how the world came to be and
how it operates. And this depresses the heck out of me.
for lots of creation/evolution information
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