Re: Response to: Let's End the Bible Versus Science Conflict

From: Dick Fischer (
Date: Wed Feb 05 2003 - 16:57:23 EST

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    Matt Morton wrote:

    >I am more than a little troubled by your letter (assuming I am=
    >it correctly). But I come from the stand point that any subtle attempt to
    >pervert the accuracy and integrity of the Bible is wrong.=20

    Unless you are reading the original manuscripts written by the Bible authors=
      themselves, you are reading a translation performed by men with their=
      unique preconceptions and biases. One example discussed on this list is=
      the Hebrew erets which appears as "earth," in certain Scripture passages,=
      but with the benefit of clarification from other Scripture versus, "land"=
      would have been a better choice. There are other examples.

    In fact, I support the accuracy and integrity of the Bible in the=
      autographs. I don't subscribe to inerrant translation.

    >I am not scared off by the possibility that my thought
    >paradigm needs change. What does turn me off (as with your letter below) is
    >when every one of your assumptions is built on assumption and speculation,
    >so consequently a pretty shaky dirt pile is constructed, and then=
    >as the rock of Gibraltar. I noticed you've attempted to ice over the=
    >holes with a few scripture versus or obscure references. But I dare say=
    >is takes some courage to circulate such incomplete evidence with the
    >proclamations you and the referenced web-site have made. It seems as if you
    >believe you've got it all figured out.

    When I landed from my 100th combat mission over Viet Nam, I was greeted with=
      a traditional, celebratory water dousing. I was surrounded by volunteers=
      armed with large buckets of water who all hit me at the same time. It's an=
      interesting feeling. I went from bone dry to dripping wet in an instant,=
      but remained perfectly upright, although I little rocky. If I hadn't been=
      uniformly surrounded, or if one bucket had been a little slow, I probably=
      would have been knocked flat. Now involved in apologetics, likewise=
      buckets of criticism come from all sides, and fairly evenly just to keep me=

    In the area of Christian apologetics, there are roughly two schools of=
      thought as regards Genesis 2-11. There are those who believe it is the=
      literal history of all of humankind, and those who consider it as allegory,=
      poetry, myth, or Jewish tradition. To be sure there are variations, but by=
      and large, the majority of Christians fall into one of those two=

    >I think the bible is pretty clear on whether we are divine creation or
    >related to the phyletic tree of life with the apes. I am a little worried
    >that you ask the question the way you did. You may want to consider=
    >it. I am hoping you are asking it that way for "shock value" to get people
    >to click on the link immediately following that particular line of=
    >But, again, it appears as if you are completely serious in your conviction.

    If I could just guess, I would place you in the first category - that is,=
      one who believes that mankind was created out of the dust without the=
      benefit of natural parents. Since I also receive criticism from the other=
      side, you might be interested in one of those criticisms and the response. =
      This come from the writer of a published article, "Adam, Anthropology and=
      the Genesis Record."

    Alan J Day, wrote:

    >I was aware of the two papers referred to at the bottom of your letter and=
      published in 1993 and 1994 in ASA Perspectives . I have however taking=
      the opportunity to read these papers again and also to view some of the=
      material on your web site.=20
    >I would make the following comments
    >Your major thesis of course is based on the proposition or presupposition=
      that the early chapters off Genesis are literal history, which indicates=
      the special creation of Adam and the subsequent creation of Eve from Adams=
      rib. The archeological evidence as well as the physical anthropological=
      evidence are accepted as evidence of earlier pre Adamic humanity. These=
      two interpretations are then correlated to suggest that the early chapters=
      of Genesis relate not to humanity as a whole but rather to the development=
      of only the Semitic race including of course the Jews..

    That's a good summary. I can live with that. I would add that the=
      historical data also speaks of a "created" Atum and a "created" Adapa. =
      Whether that mandates that there were no natural parents could be open to=
      argument, but whether Adam of Genesis was formed from the dust, or whether=
      he had parents is not injurious to our case. I tend to be a literalist,=
      but I could live with an evolved Adam if there was some genetic basis for=
      believing that. His placement in history is the crucial element, both in=
      time and place. There is no justification to drive Adam back into=
      pre-history to satisfy our preconceptions that he was our ultimate=

    >I suggest that your papers fail to engage with critical scholarship both=
      biblical and theological, so that it is difficult to avoid the conclusion=
      that your interpretation is somewhat na=EFve, linguistically, biblically=
      and theologically.
    >Several issues spring to mind
    >1. Your literal presuppositions would gain little support from current Old=
      Testament scholarship even among conservatives

    That's their problem. They have to live with unworkable methods of apology.=
       Some will see the clear advantages of a method of apology that can be=
      supported with data and evidence. Others won't. All I am trying to do is=
      catch the attention of a theological community that has up until now=
      avoided the problem altogether.

    >2. Linguistically you have failed to grasp the use of the various forms of=
      =93Adam=94 in the early chapters of Genesis.

    Go beyond Genesis. Psalm 49:1-2 is a case in point: "Hear this all ye=
      people; give ear all ye inhabitants of the world: both low and high, rich=
      and poor, together." The two Hebrew words bene 'adam, translated "low" in=
      the second verse, are literally - "sons of Adam." What comes to us as=
      "high" is the Hebrew bene 'ish. 'Ish is a more general term meaning "man,"=
      "male," "human being," or "mankind." Instead of "low and high," which bear=
      no semblance of meaning from the original Hebrew, either "sons of Adam and=
      sons of man," or "Adamite and Non-Adamite" would have been literal=
      translations, faithful to the Hebrew text.

    Ah, but who could the sons of man be who are not sons of Adam? =
      Non-Adamites? How could that be possible? So, the translators of the=
      authorized version avoided certain controversy by substituting the benign=
      "low and high," virtual synonyms for "poor" and "rich." Modern translators=
      of newer versions have simply followed along.

    This technique of substituting words of convenience where 'adam and 'ish are=
      contained in the same sentence is used also in Psalm 62:9, where we do not=
      read, "Surely vanity are the sons of Adam, a lie are the sons of man ..." =
      Instead we read, "Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high=
      degree are a lie ..." In Isaiah 2:9, do we see the Adamite bow down, and=
      the Non-Adamite humble himself? No, we see instead, "And the mean man=
      ('adam) boweth down, and the great man ('ish) humbleth himself ..." This=
      same pattern is repeated in Isaiah 31:8, where the term for generic man=
      'ish becomes a "mighty man," while 'adam is a "mean man." So, thanks to a=
      sanitizing translation process, even a prophet may have difficulty getting=
      his message to the people.

    >3. The question of genre and the consideration of these chapters as =93sag=
    a, protohistory or myth=94 demonstrating their important theology rather=
      than history is important. John Thompson discusses this point in his paper=

    Compare his logic to mine. Was Abraham myth or flesh and blood? If flesh=
      and blood, was Abraham the descendant of a mythical Noah and Adam? Think=
      about it. Where could mythical characters dovetail into real historical=
      personalities? Take Luke's genealogy and draw a line that separates the=
      last mythical patriarch from the first flesh and blood patriarch. Then=
      substantiate it.

    >4. The relationship of the Ancient Near Eastern creation stories such as=
      Enuma Elish to the Genesis narrative. These documents themselves are=
      political/religious documents rather than literal history.

    Enuma Elish bears little resemblance to Genesis and I don't put much stock=
      in trying to find a relationship.

    >5. The watershed that exists in Scripture at Genesis 12 with the Genesis 1=
      to 11 prologue dealing with humanity as a whole and the remainder of the=
      Old Testament directed to God=92s plan through Abraham and Israel,=
      culminating ultimately of course in its expansion in the New Testament to=
      God's encompassing the new Israel.

    We don't stop with Adam, the flood and the tower of Babel are part of a=
      continuum of Accadian and Semitic history. Read my section on the tower=
      and see if you still think it is "dealing with humanity as a whole."

    >Jewish commentators such as Cassuto or Sarna or the classical works of =
      Westermann, Von Rad are relevant.

    Sarna I haven't read. All the rest I have, plus Speiser, Delitsche, Kidner,=
      and a few others I don't recall at the moment.

    >It is interesting to note that current Old Testament scholarship is in fact=
      concerned with narrative criticism and is particularly helpful for dealing=
      with the discussion of the text by those who come from widely different=
      theological positions =20
    > None of this is hid under a bushel. These issues are dealt with in=
      commentaries by such conservative scholars as Derek Kidner (Tyndale=
      Commentary on Genesis) or of Gordon Wenham ( Word Commentary on Genesis 1=
      to 15) and also in a number of Old Testament Survey's for example The=
      Fuller Seminary Old Testament Survey by La Sor, Hubbard and Bush or the =
      Westminster Seminary Introduction to the OT by Dillard and Longman.=20

    There are four references to irrigation in the first eight chapters of=
      Genesis. All of the luminaries you listed failed to pick up on it or=
      recognize there was a significance in it. Irrigation tells you everything.=
       Irrigation tells you when. Irrigation tells you where.

    >I would have similar reservations about your virtual failure to consider or=
      recognize some of the theological implications that arise from your thesis.=
       The way in which you consider the text by the exclusion of most of=
      humanity from the key biblical basis that establishes the doctrine of=
      creation and its contained approach to humanity is particularly alien to=

    Then change the orthodoxy! Scientific theories change with new discovery. =
      The history of ancient Sumer was entirely unknown before the clay tablets=
      were discovered and deciphered. Only theology remains entrenched in=
      obsolete dogma unmoved by the revelations of either science or history. We=
      must change the paradigm, not enshrine it.

    >These reservations relate to=20
    >1. The problems if the image of God is not related to humanity as a whole.

    I am not responsible for 2,000 years of mistaken assumptions. I am trying=
      to correct them. Here is a section from my book:

    "It is true that traditionally the majority of Bible scholars have thought=
      all of humanity was created in the image of God because supposedly all of=
      humanity started with Adam. This stand has been taken, however, with a=
      certain nonchalance not only for the fossil record and the genetic=
      evidence, but also without heeding the qualifiers in the Scriptures=
      themselves. Adam was created, and then Eve, but it is unfounded to think=
      ancient precursors are encompassed by Genesis 1:27.

    Bible expositors have taken the phrase "in the image of God" and blown it=
      into proportions far beyond the simpler intentions of the text. An "image"=
      is a likeness or representation of something. In Leviticus 26:1, the=
      children of Israel were told to make "no idols nor graven image." Idols=
      themselves can become objects of worship, obscuring the one true God who=
      accepts worship directly. "The image of Baal" (II Kings 3:2) was an object=
      of pagan worship, being a representation of that false deity.

    In Genesis 1:27, Adam represented God, having been "created in His own=
      image." This status was passed through the godly line of Seth (Gen. 5:3). =
      Noah and his generations were God's chosen people, and thus were "in the=
      image" (Gen. 9:6). This status as representatives of God was conferred=
      upon the Israelites through the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 17:1-8).

    Apparently, those outside the nation of Israel were outside the realm of=
      accountability. This can be inferred from Matthew 23:15, "Woe unto you=
      scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one=
      proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell=
      than yourselves."

    When one outside the Jewish faith was brought to the knowledge of God, he=
      became accountable. Because of false teaching, he was condemned. This=
      unique status for Israel as God's chosen people was rescinded, or at least=
      modified, at the cross. Christ was appointed by God as His representative.=
       The second Adam, Christ, was in the "image of God" (II Cor. 4:4) just as=
      the first Adam, and the mantle was passed to the followers of Christ.

    In I Corinthians 11:7, Paul's instructions were not to unregenerate men, but=
      to the redeemed of the church at Corinth. According to Paul, they were in=
      "the image and glory of God." They received this authority as believers in=
      Christ, "who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every=
      creature" (Col. 1:15). Fallen man has no claim to God's image unless he=
      receives it through redemption.

    Psalm 8 points to the coming Messiah. David affirms that Christ has=
      dominion over all things. This was given to Adam at his creation (Gen.=
      1:28), and was intended for his generations, but it was clearly in Christ's=
      hands after the Fall. "Thou madest Him to have dominion over the works of=
      thy hands: thou hast put all things under His feet: all sheep and oxen,=
      yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the=
      sea ..." (Psa. 8:6-8).

    Dominion over the lesser animals does not accrue to man. It was inherent=
      first in Adam, and then in Christ. Those who belong to Christ share in His=
      authority and in His dominion. Those who are not in Christ, though they=
      may act as if they have divine permission, merely usurp an authority not=
      granted by God.

    The notion that all of mankind has "dominion" over the earth and were=
      created in God's "image" derives from the mistaken idea that Adam was the=
      ultimate progenitor of the human race. From this, Bible expositors have=
      gone overboard postulating the marvelous similarities between us and our=

    In what manner are we, his stumbling creatures, like the Most High God? Do=
      we possess His holiness, or His righteousness? Can we boast of His wisdom?=
       Are we omnipotent? Can we transcend time? Is it in our power to forgive=
      sin? Can we grant immortality? No, we mere mortals presume too much.

    Our claim to being in His image is on the righteousness of Christ, not by=
      any birth right, lest any man should boast. "For my thoughts are not your=
      thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord" (Isa. 55:8)."=20

    >2. Creation ethical implications form the basis of our understanding of=
      human worth etc and the basis for consideration of our common humanity. =
      All sorts of racial and discrimination issues emerge as implications of=
      your thesis.

    A caution flag should be raised lest anyone make unwarranted racist=
      conclusions. Adam's niche in history is tens of thousands of years after=
      the advent of modern Homo sapiens and the branching out of the great races.=
       With no ancestral ties, Adam could not have been from any particular race.=
       No one can say Adam was Caucasian, for example, even though present-day=
      peoples with possible blood ties to Noah's three sons have Caucasoid=

    The wives of Noah and the wives of his three sons are the key. Considering=
      the likelihood these women had blood ties to the distant past, then this=
      almost assuredly mandates Caucasian ancestry for them. At that point in=
      history, the resident populations in the Mesopotamian valley, the=
      Sumerians, were dark-haired, light-skinned Caucasians. And, possibly=
      through intermarriage, this is the same racial type of modern-day Semites.

    >3. The relevance of Genesis 1 to 11 to our common humanity particularly in=
      relation to
    >Sin and Responsibility
    >Judgment and Grace
    >Stewardship and Playing God
    >These are key aspects of a Christian doctrine of Creation and are dependant=
      on a proper understanding of the Gen 1-11 text and approach.

    Unfortunately, we have made extrapolations from our misunderstanding. We=
      don't come under sin because Adam was father to us all, but because he=
      failed to be an example to us all. Likewise, we come under grace from=
      Christ's example, not because any of us are related to him.

    >The theology of the text seems to have been lost in your literal history.

    If we must modify our theology on the basis of new-found understanding, then=
      let us set about the task. What has been tried is to modify science and=
      history on the basis of our theological beliefs. That has been counter=
      productive thus far.

    >I do not deny that there are issues that arise from modern anthropology,=
      but would suggest that they cannot be solved by adopting the approach you=

    I believe the deeper you dig into this the more likely it is that you will=
      become convinced. I say that not arrogantly, but in all humility. I had=
      to modify my thinking when I found I was on the wrong path initially. It=
      was painful. I dropped out of seminary for over a year. I am not=
      altogether happy myself with all the implications, but I believe the answer=
      we offer will overcome its predecessors eventually on the basis of data and=
      evidence, logic and common sense..

    > If you have read my paper on Adam, Anthropology and the Genesis record you=
      will see that I have indeed considered several alternatives including the=
      one you present (a modern Adam but not the progenitor of humanity )=
      .Several other possibilities are also considered.=20

    So did Davis A. Young in Christian Scholars Review. Incidentally, I was one=
      of the reviewers of that article.

    >I hope you will see the above comments as adding to the discussion of an=
      important issue.

    And I hope you will consider the validity of my responses.


    Dick Fischer - Genesis Proclaimed Association
    Finding Harmony in Bible, Science, and History

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