Exegesis or Eisegesis?

From: Peter Ruest (pruest@pop.mysunrise.ch)
Date: Mon Dec 31 2001 - 12:17:04 EST

  • Next message: Howard J. Van Till: "Re: Exegesis or Eisegesis?"

    "Howard J. Van Till" wrote:
    >
    > >From: Peter Ruest <pruest@pop.mysunrise.ch>
    >
    > > Howard, I am sorry, but I get the impression that you still have not
    > > understood what I have been trying to say for quite a while. Have I
    > > really failed to communicate my ideas? So let me try once more, although
    > > this forces me to repeat various points I brought up in my PSCF papers
    > > and on this list.
    >
    > Thanks, but I see no need for further repetition.
    >
    > This conversation may not go anywhere, but let me select just one of our
    > points of disagreement for additional comment. Take #2.
    >
    > You originally said:
    >
    > > > 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.?
    >
    > ... to which I replied:
    >
    > >> 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 defects?
    >
    > ... to which you responded:
    >
    > > Again, you are reading something into my text which I didn't write
    > > (eisegesis). You derogatively talk about God's "manipulating", where I
    > > considered divine providence - as it might be seen from a metaphysical
    > > viewpoint.
    >
    > Peter, if the divine choice of which specific genes are taken from the
    > father's sperm and which specific genes are taken from the mother's egg is
    > not "manipulation," then there is no such thing as "manipulation."
    > Substituting the word "providence" does not change the character of what has
    > been done.
    >
    > I recall an illustrative story (attributed to Abraham Lincoln, I believe):
    > Abe asked a companion, "Jack, if you call a dog's tail a leg, then how many
    > legs does a dog have?" "Five," answered Abe's innocent friend. "No, Jack,"
    > said Abe, "only four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it one."

    From the scientific point of view, gene selections during meiosis are
    about random. This fact is not changed if, from the metaphysical point
    of view, God uses some hidden option to specifically select one of the
    possibilities. Neither is it changed if, from a theological point of
    view, I believe that God has specifically fashioned me, or you, or any
    other person, according to his good providential will, and I think this
    idea is biblical. Neither is it changed if I consider these 3 viewpoints
    as complementary views of the same event or process. You may call such a
    providential creative action by God a manipulation - I don't.
     
    > > Similarly, you talk about God being responsible for our sin,
    > > which I explicitely excluded.
    >
    > Please show me where I made any reference to "sin." I don't see any such
    > reference. However, now that you mention it, it surely is convenient that
    > God's crafting of individual personalities evidently takes place only in the
    > arena of personality traits that have nothing to do with such things as
    > temptation, selfishness, covetousness, envy, greed, lust, hatred, violence,
    > etc.

    Isn't selfishness, covetousness, envy, greed, lust, hatred, violence,
    etc. sin? To say God is not responsible for sin but for much of what
    constitutes us is not a "convenient" device but biblical teaching.
     
    > > The straw man of determinism you impose on
    > > my formulations is just as eisegetic and unjustified.
    >
    > "Determinism" is your word, not mine. I presume that you are NOT saying that
    > EVERY portion of the personality of EVERY human individual is specifically
    > chosen by God. I assume, rather, that your view is one of the following:
    >
    > 1. SOME portion of EVERY individual personality is specifically chosen by
    > God. (Basis for choice =?)
    >
    > 2. EVERY portion of SOME individual personalities is specifically chosen by
    > God. (Basis for choice =?)
    >
    > 3. SOME portion of SOME individual personalities is specifically chosen by
    > God. (Basis for choice =?)
    >
    > 4. (similar statements re individual animals?)

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

    I am sorry if I falsly concluded from these sentences that you were
    accusing me of suggesting determinism. Your new points > 1. to > 4.
    above look different. I don't subscribe to 2 or 3, but I might accept 1
    (if you exclude sinful "personality" defects, and if you don't insist
    that "some" means the same personality traits etc. for every person) and
    4 (if it is understood that for animals the situation is different
    insofar as they don't have "personality"). Your recurring question
    "Basis for choice =?" is somewhat baffling. It seems to me that you want
    me to make a hard and fast distinction between events/processes due to
    "nothing but natural laws" and those due to God's "manipulation". This
    is not at all in accordance with what I suggested. I believe
    (theological viewpoint) that God is free to perform any particular
    choices he wants to, and free to permit genuine chance to operate where
    he wants to (and who are we to try to define a "basis for choice"?); and
    I believe that this is part of his creative providence. I think
    (metaphysical viewpoint) that he probably uses both options at different
    points, and both are entirely within "natural law".
     
    > > I am surprised
    > > that you should believe, as it appears from this comment of yours, that
    > > God should _not_ be directly responsible for _any_ part of an individual
    > > human's personality. This question doesn't even depend on any theory of
    > > ours about _how_ he would create an individual person. Or do I
    > > misinterpret you here?
    >
    > My point is that I see no justification whatsoever for the idea that the
    > biblical texts you cite [Ps 139:13, 16, Ps 102:18, Is 43:7, Malachi 2:10, Ps
    > 104:30] provide any support for your thesis that God DIRECTLY chooses
    > INDIVIDUAL personality traits by gene selection. Although my concept of the
    > nature of the Bible is quite different from yours, I have a high respect for
    > the Bible and do not enjoy seeing it used as a source of proof texts for
    > theories totally foreign to the historical text.
    >
    > You have every right to craft a metaphysical theory of the sort you propose,
    > but why sprinkle it with snippets of biblical text dealing with entirely
    > different agendas?
    >
    > Howard Van Till

    Are you so sure that your way of interpreting the Bible is correct, that
    you use such suggestive expressions as "I see no justification
    whatsoever for..." and "sprinkle it with snippets of biblical text
    dealing with entirely different agendas", or the five-legged-dog story
    in critique of others who hold many of the same basic points of
    christian belief as you do? I would prefer a different style of
    discussion. I suspect that we would first have to discuss our differing
    metaphysical viewpoints vis-a-vis the Bible.

    Peter

    -- 
    Dr Peter Ruest, <pruest@dplanet.ch>
    CH-3148 Lanzenhaeusern, Switzerland
    Biochemistry - Creation and evolution
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    Creative providence in biology (Gen.2:3):
    "..the work which God created (in order) to (actively) evolve it"
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    



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