Exegesis or Eisegesis?

From: Howard J. Van Till (hvantill@novagate.com)
Date: Wed Dec 26 2001 - 10:15:12 EST

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    >From: Peter Ruest <pruest@pop.mysunrise.ch>
    > Doesn't Scripture
    > tell us He creates [bara'] individual human beings (Is. 43:7), who are
    > fathered and borne by natural procreation? Ps. 139:13 gives a similar
    > idea, and v.16 includes the individual's life history. What does God do
    > here? Nothing? In scientific language, an individual's personality and
    > life history is conditioned by his or her genome, some as yet poorly
    > understood epigenetics, and many even less well understood aspects of
    > the environment, whereas theological language adds God's providence. If
    > God is responsible for an individual's personality (not sin, of course),
    > wouldn't it be by means of some kind of (non-coercive, not violating any
    > physical law) hidden intervention in a huge number of details like
    > selecting, during meiosis, whether gene xyz of the ovum-to-be comes from
    > the mother's or the father's side, or letting a C-14 atom decay near a
    > given cytidylic residue at a given moment, etc.? No highly improbable
    > elementary events need be implied, the improbability arising from the
    > large number of bifurcation events composing the influence in question,
    > be it in the creation of an individual human being, or in the evolution
    > of a novel functionality.

    1. The genre of all of the texts cited above fall in the broad category of
    poetry. Are you telling us, Peter, that you consider it responsible exegesis
    to employ these samples of Ancient Hebrew poetry as the basis for a modern
    theory of divine action involving hidden interventions that determine the
    outcomes of quantum events involved in genetic processes at the molecular

    2. Are you telling us, Peter, that God manipulates the genetic makeup of
    every person so as to actualize particular individual personalities? If so,
    is God then responsible for some of the miserable personalities that I am
    acquainted with? May I, for instance, blame God for my own personality

    3. Are you saying that an individual's life history is also determined by
    God? If so, then wouldn't many pious believers with painful life experiences
    be inclined to question God's life determining skills?

    Peter, you have also said in your PSCF Communication (Sept. 2001): "The Old
    Testament explicitly applies [the word bara'] to God's creating individuals
    -- not only humans [Ps 102:18, Is 43:7, Malachi 2:10], but even animals [Ps

    4. Are you telling us that you believe that God determines the individual
    personalities of even the animals? Their individual life histories also?

    Howard Van Till

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