I think I see where we are talking past one another.
Let's see if I can state it one more time. I do not
think you wrong. I think requiring a concordist view
of everything in scripture as the only basis for
"rational" faith in Christianity wrong. That is my
point and we seem to disagree there.
My ongoing point is not that we need to liberalize
theology. In fact, I think the depradations of
someone like Spong are silly, because Spong has
adopted a pastiche of modern scientific methodology to
scripture which is unwarranted and only barely misses
adopting a completely materialist metaphysic. IMHO,
those folks, generally, do as much harm to
Christianity as the YEC crowd.
I think I agree with you about the point of Genesis --
that Jehovah created the world as we experience it and
know it now. I think you would possibly insist on an
ex nihilio hypothesis, but I dont see that Genesis has
to be read as ex nihilio creation and in some ways
could be interpreted not to be ex nihilio.
I think one of the best discussions of the
nonimportance of the scientific how of how this
universe came into being (other than it being
dependent on God), is George Ellis's Before the
Beginning. Thus, I do not see the Big Bang as
providing considerable confirmation of the fact that
the universe seems to be a created universe.
>So, then take the question of Genesis 1:1 (which is
>what I limited most of
>my comments to before). Let's push it to the
>extreme. If the universe
>isn't created, then it is a product of natural,
non->divine forces the origin
>of which we do not understand.
Depends what you mean by created. Genesis clearly
indicates that the form of the universe we have is
dependent upon God. I tend to favor an ex nihilio
understanding, but if the universe were somehow
demonstrably eternal (such a thing cannot be
demonstrated within science), I would still have no
reason to doubt the existence of God on that datum.
> How would we test whether or not God created
>the universe by doing as you say, pushing it to its
No, I was saying that a rule or principle may be
pushed to its limits. Obviously, the only way to test
whether God sustains the world in existence is to take
God away and see if the universe still exists. This
cannot be done.
>One way to be sure that God created would be for that
>inspire a simplified,
>but true story of how it happened.
Sure. But this smacks of Carl Sagan's (I think)
question about spiritual experiences (could be UFO
abductions, but someone said it about NDEs or
spiritual experiences), why don't they ever bring back
information like some new law of physics? Personally,
if God is concerned about relating scientific laws to
people, that is not a God that means much to me, even
though I have scientific training. It is the personal
God that cares about individual people that is the God
I see attested in scriptures.
>What never seems to register with those of your
I do take exception to this in that you are presuming
and not telling me what you presume my belief to be.
It may be that you are completely wrong about my
belief, whatever that may be. I cannot infer from
your statements what that belief is.
> is that a poem can
>contain not only historical truth (Homer)
So, the gods on Olympus worked against one another,
some on the side of the Trojans and some on the sides
of the Greeks? You are making my point. I do believe
there are several kernels of truth in the Illiad.
There are other things that are highly likely to be
false, such as disputes and direct intervention among
the gods, the actual horse itself, etc., etc. Because
there are things in the text I believe likely to be
false does not lead me to believe that nothing in
Homer is true.
>but also >scientific truth as
>above. Poems are merely a means of conveying
>information (in the colloquial
>sense of that word), be it true knowledge or false
Sure, and I have never said anything against the truth
that Genesis imparts about the dependence of universe
on God. If the universe is not in some sense
dependent on God, then God is meaningless, sure. But
there is no way that proving the entirety of Genesis,
except for the existence of God, to be true in every
respect that the proposition that God created the
universe is true. God's creation of the universe is
not, in a strict sense, either provable or testable.
>The thing I fail to understand about your side of the
Again, we may be more on the same side of the fence
than you think. It is rigid assertions that put me to
the other side of the "fence" where ever it may be
located, because I do not believe that most things are
subject to rigid requirements.
>is why God, with
>all that power to raise a dead man, make a fellow
>walk on water, change
>water to wine,
I would differentiate the revelation of Jesus the
Christ from all other revelations of God. IN that
life and in that life alone, God is most fully
revealed to us. Yes, so I would expect greater
indicia of divine power in that respect.
But, you put words into my mouth that I have never
>can't even have the ability to give >the poor Hebrews
>poem about their origins!
The words are that I have never said that Genesis did
not contain truth. We only differ as to WHAT in the
poem must be true to consider the whole poem true. I
tend to be a minimalist in this regard to avoid the
problems that lead to YECers. That does not mean that
I disagree with the bulk of the content of the text.
You have asserted that Genesis must be true in order
to believe the Gospels. I reject that. That does not
mean I do not consider Genesis true. I do. It is not
a litmus test for the veracity of the New Testament.
Neither is every particular part of Genesis a litmus
test for the truth of everything in Genesis. That is
my point, which you seem to either reject or ignore in
>And that it doesn't seem to >bother anyone is even
more amazing to me.
It does not bother me, because it is not how I view
>This is the logic which makes me view Genesis in the
>way I do. I think
>that either we have an impotent God, a God who
> doesn't care what people say
> he did (and thus allowed them to make up the
> story of creation which lacks any
> truth value),
I never said this. Never even implied this.
>or we have the wrong God. But what I see is that no
> matter what God had said, people would say it is
> a great story which is true.
A pedantic, but important point, the chronicle of
creation does not say it is being dictated by God.
How about a God who wanted His glory and presence
known and inspired His people to write a story in
terms they understood that contrasted his reality
against the proclaimed false reality of man made gods
of those peoples whom His people knew? That's one
possibility. An apologetic from God, stressing
fundamental truths about His nature, but not intending
to be an exhaustive or accurate scientific set of
> If God had said the world arose from 2 salamancers
> mating we would defend it as theologically true!
Why? What is the theological content? As I pointed
out above, God did not say, in the beginning I
created... It is being reported by people.
I do not see how your counterfactual salamanders
examples give us any handle or traction on the
problem. Then God would be saying He wasn't
responsible for Creation and if he said nothing else,
would not be important theologically or in any other
way to us. I do think Genesis is unique in avoiding
the problem of things such as the dualism of myths
that existed about creation at the time. I believe
this to be true and distinctive of Genesis.
>We give God no way to be wrong no matter what he
As far as I can tell, his quoted words are very few in
Genesis 1. Mostly it is a description of His actions.
To me, the central importance is that the world is
dependent upon and shaped by God. That seems to me to
At the extreme limits, I don't
>think the necessity of "truth" claims that you try to
>make hold up. You seem to agree by trying to
>differentiate cases. We disagree as to how far and
>what extent something can be read as a truth claim.
>How far back in Genesis do you believe is actual
>history? Let's start there.
>Tell me why that chapter has history and the previous
On one level, I can assert that I do not have enough
data to sift what is historical in a modern sense and
what is not. I believe that the writer(s) of Genesis
were trying to tell a story about their received
understanding of the Genesis of the world. As a
general principle, you can see the hallmarks of
historicity in some books of the Bible more than
others, and the NT is filled with the hallmarks of eye
witness accounts and remembrances. I can discuss at
length some of the different methodological approaches
historians use to try to get at this exact thing, but
I view these methodological approaches as not deriving
an absolute truth just in the same way I view
hermeneutics or form criticism as all relying on
assumptions that are not provable and are subject to
considerable dispute. I don't think it worth the
bother since our disagreement stems more from the
rigidity of your assertions that it has to be
concordistically "true" as historical or scientific
fact in some strict sense (although you and YECers
disagree in the degree to which you must concord).
In fact, I do not claim any of Genesis is not
historical. I do claim that there is no reason to
reject scientific understandings of the universe
because of Genesis or vice-versa. We must
fundamentally understand the limits of our different
types of knowledge. Scientific knowledge, deep down,
can never disprove or prove the kind of God attested
to by the books of the Bible. It simply cannot go
there. Ellis, Polkinghorne, Buber, all sorts of
people have discussed this at length. Not all truths
are scientific and historical.
The God of the Bible provides a witness to the
experience of a God who can only be understood and
related to personally. As William James has
discussed, it is only be choosing to believe that you
can determine the validity of the personal nature of
God and Jesus. The God of the Bible is not a God of
science or philosophers, but that does not mean that
either science or philosophy conflict with Him, they
do not. But you can only see what the stained glass
windows really depcit from the inside, not the
The God of the Bible is a God of mystery a God that
has mystical aspects. It is not a God that can be
circumscribed by our ratiocination (not to say that we
should not try).
As I said before about your poor deluded friend, one
can only take the validity of Christianity by the
degree to which each of us who professes it is
transformed by it.
>"England revolted against George Washington and
>earned their freedom
>from American tyranny," is a demonstrably false
>statement which in no way is
>in a system requiring precision. I simply can't
>believe you are advocating the above view!
LOL. Actually, as a Yank, I would agree with that
statement. But what I was saying is that the Bible is
not a set of propositional statements. Not everything
in the Bible depends on each and every aspect of it
being historically or scientifically accurate.
>I have read Herodotus, know of this story and think
it is really
>interesting. Having seen films of rat swarms in
>Australia, where they
>covered the ground--literally-- I could believe such
>an event. What do
>find objectionable to such a story's history?
It would be the only recorded event of mice causing a
military defeat and thus highly improbable.
Especially since battles were rather common in the
area where it is thought to have occurred and those
little buggers are not reported as having chewed away
the bow strings of other invading armies.
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