Allen Roy demonstrates Numbers is a historian...

Date: Fri Aug 24 2001 - 11:36:30 EDT

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    Allen Roy responds to Ted Davis:
    >In the preface to "Prophetess of Health: Ellen G. White" Ron makes the
    >following statement, "I have refrained from using divine inspiration as an
    >historical explanation." (p. xi) Thus, in a single sentence, Ron
    >automatically excludes any possibility that God could have prophets
    >(including Paul, John, Isaiah, etc.) any where and at any time thoughout
    >history. The only kind of historical explanation allowed is from strictly
    >human sources.

    I can't think of too many ways of using divine inspiration as an accessible,
    historical explanation. At least, not in a way that makes study possible.
    History, like science, tries to avoid hearsay information and focus on
    that which can be documented. In that regard, I don't see Ronald as being
    different from any other good historian.

    >In this way, the Bible is also automatically just a collection of myths and
    >irrelevant to reality. Since he automatically excludes any possibility that
    >God could have communicated with Ellen, then Ellen MUST have gotten all her
    >ideas from strictly human origins. Does this book prove that Ellen got all
    >her ideas from strictly human sources? No, it cannot do so because that is
    >assumed from the beginning. (You cannot prove what you assume)

    Umm... I think Ronald is well aware that you can never prove that ideas
    only derived from "strictly human resources". But, you can't do much
    else if it didn't.

    >All Ron does is show some similarities between some things that Ellen has
    >written and what others have written.

    Yes, Ronald is acting exactly like a historian.

    >It has absolutely no impact on whether she received visions or not. It is
    >completely irrelevant to whether she was a prophet or not.
    >But Ron thinks he has exposed Ellen as false prophet (he hasn't and
    >couldn't) and therefore he has chosen to think of her as simply a deluded,
    >religious person. It is no wonder that he was sacked from LLU.

    Well, given that pseudo religious experiences abound for which we know
    have many organic causes and that bona fide experiences are smaller in number
    and difficult to document, delusion (temporary or chronic) is a legitimate
    avenue of investigation. It's certainly possible that the voices Son of Sam
    heard were divine (or supernatural) in origin. Then again, maybe it was
    an organic disorder. I know that it is practically a taboo to even consider
    any possible relationships between religious experience, mistaken impressions
    or even mental illness, but such possibilities should be explored.

    In any case, we do know that individuals are shaped by the cultures to which
    they are exposed. And considering the interplay of ideas and the genesis of
    ideas in response to such interactions is certainly a legitimate method
    of historical analysis.

    >Ron's book on Creationism, while in some respects providing a lot of
    >historical information that would otherwise be unavailable, has very little
    >impact on Creationism itself for the same reasons.

    I don't think having an "impact on Creationism" was the intention. His
    interest and his work as a historian was not to prove or disprove
    creationism. Instead, Ronald's work have been to illustrate the various
    patterns and describe the various movements within creationism.

    >Since there is no divine inspiration, the Bible cannot be the inspired word
    >of God. And Genesis is simply mythology. Because Ron starts with these
    >assumptions, his "history" is fatally flawed and doesn't prove anything
    >about the validity or invalidity of Creationism.

    Again, Ronald's works as a historian have nothing to say about whether
    creationism is correct or even which versions of creationism are preferred.

    Numbers says *nothing* about whether the Bible is the inspired word of God.
    As a historian he is analyzing the impact and repercussions of such belief,
    and tracing how various groups have interpreted and accommodated such ideas.

    >He calls himself an agnostic. In reality he is one of Christianity's
    >greatest enemies.

    Strained hyperbole, I suspect, but YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary). Should
    we place Numbers on Christianity's Most Wanted List for defecting
    from the SDA, researching Ellen White, or publishing work in perfect
    accord with well-established historical research practices? Or perhaps
    something else?

    <grin> Now I can't get the images of the stoning scene from the "Life of
    Brian" movie out of my head.

    Tim Ikeda

    Mail2Web - Check your email from the web at .

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