Re: Adam never met Eve

From: Howard J. Van Till (
Date: Mon Nov 06 2000 - 20:14:40 EST

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    OK, one more round on some portions of your posting.
    > 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.

    Agreed. We're off to a good start.

    > This then became a point of verification for the validity of
    > the early scripture.

    No, I think it would be a point only for the verification of one particular
    reading of Genesis 6-9 (through the filter of modern Western culture).

    > 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.

    That either/or concept and the assumption that there is only one type of
    truth is, I believe, a vivid illustration of the modern post-Enlightenment
    perspective that I was talking about.

    > I simply can't go with this
    > view that there are various types of truths for events that sound like
    > historical events.

    To say that the narratives of early Genesis "sound like historical events"
    is already an interpretation that is characteristic, not of the Ancient Near
    Eastern culture in which these narratives were crafted, but of the modern
    Western culture in which we are now immersed.

    > 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.

    No one is saying that "historically false events are really true." However,
    you know well that illustrative narratives (that may not be in one-to-one
    correspondence with actual events) can be powerful conveyers of truthful
    insights about God, the human condition, etc.

    > While one can say that I am a scientist (one addicted to scientism), I see
    > nothing wrong with that.

    A scientist is not necessarily "addicted to scientism." Scientism is the
    claim that only that which can be empirically verified is worthy of being
    called a 'truth.'

    > The alternative is to allow oneself to believe that
    > which is false or contrary to evidence.

    Sorry, that's a serious non sequitur. The alternative to scientism is to
    accept that there are many important kinds of truths that cannot be forced
    into the Procrustean bed of "empirically verifiable propositions."

    > 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!!!!

    Propositions of the specific sort that are amenable to empirical testing
    should be tested that way. I agree with you that empirically testable
    propositions that fail the test should be rejected.

    [skip a bit]

    > 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?

    Glenn, I think I would have a right to say with equal conviction, "Frankly,
    I am tired of seeing that Christians can't deal with Ancient Near Eastern
    religious literature without mangling it."

    > This [my paraphrase of Huston Smith's lecture thesis] 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.

    Glenn, you know that neither I nor Huston Smith is saying that religion is
    ALL about feeling. So, why construct so many of your responses in this "all
    or nothing" format? It makes civil and fruitful conversation very difficult.

    Religion is, in part, about feeling. We know, of course, that there is much
    more to it than feeling, but I see no need to deny that it is one component.
    Yes, this recognition moves us outside of the restricted category of
    "empirically verifiable," but I think that's a step in the right direction.



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