Re: YEC and interpretations (was: Re: asa-digest V1 #3214)

From: Jim Armstrong (
Date: Sat Mar 22 2003 - 16:23:10 EST

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    Thanks for your thoughtful response. I knew when I made that sort of
    statement, it invited comment - it's just my perspective, and it's
    probably the metaphor for me is more like two volumes than two books. My
    own pilgrimmage has been, like most I suppose, in the sequence you suggest.

    George Murphy wrote:

    >Jim Armstrong wrote:
    >>Actually, neither. I personally like the "two books" perspective, and
    >>note that the testament of nature is patient and uninflected, with
    >>authorship unquestioned. JimA
    > I'd have to question this. In the 1st place, the "book" metaphor tempts us to
    >understand the Bible as God's basic revelation, rather as Muslims see the Qur'an. But
    >it is Jesus Christ who is God's fundamental revelation, & the Bible is the witness to
    >that revelation.
    That is perhaps a weakness of a book metaphor. My inclination is to view
    both nature and scripture as revealers, not revelation per se. Probably
    that should be more precisely, as passive (?) revealers ... windows change metaphors for a moment. The actual active agent of
    revelation is the one who chooses to reveal. That seems to me to point
    to another uniqueness of Jesus in being both object of revelation and
    active revealer. For the time being at least, I am trying on for size
    the notion of setting aside distinctions like basic and fundamental
    revelation because they tend to disconnect portions of God's revelation.
    I'm not so sure that this kind of disconnect is a good or even
    appropriate thing. This is obviously sorta akin to discussions
    regarding a natural/supernatural distinction.

    > Then there is the fact that the authorship of the "testament of nature" _is_
    >questioned: That's the whole difference between those who believe the Christian
    >doctrine of creation & those who don't - though of course atheists would use some
    >impersonal language rather than "authorship.") Christians know the author of the book of
    >nature because they've read the other book first!
    Yes it is, though my intended point was that it is not much in dispute
    in present company. But it seems to me that the testimony of creation is
    essentially about God as creator (for other than atheists). Without
    quibbling too much about context, I am struck by a fairly familiar passage:

    Rom 1:20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible
    qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen,
    being understood from what has been made, so that men are without
    excuse. (NIV)

    This suggests that those who do not have and/or have not had scripture
    still are the recipients of revelation of its kind and insight into a
    creative God through his creation. This makes it more of a prequel for
    us. In my case, I can't unread the scriptures that I knew before I
    started thinking more critically about the natural world. But the
    natural world seems to let us infer much about its creator. It is
    patient, it is remarkably consistent, it is unfathomably creative and
    surprising, ....and it is unexpectedly simple at its foundations. With
    respect to the latter, my conviction is that the small number of
    fundamental particles, of laws that govern their interaction, and of
    universal constants, as well as the amazingly integer-riddled
    relationships in the mathematical models that seem to work well in
    describing the world and its operations...all point to generosity, and
    an intent for it to be understood and appreciated. The inference I draw
    is that the creator himself also desires to be understood and will make
    it as uncomplicated as possible. Scripture reinforces that through the
    expectation that we should know him in our hearts. Since we historically
    have not done well at that, there was given the law, and then to clarify
    his intent and desire in us and for us, the living revelation of Jesus.

    Regards - Jim Armstrong

    >I think Nancey Murphy put it well
    >(though perhaps without adequate attention to my 1st point) in commenting on a paper of
    >Owen Gingerich about the anthropic coincidences:
    >"Gingerich uses the metaphor of the two books, the Book of Scripture and the Book of
    >Nature, both pointing to God. However, it seems clear to me, based on the
    >considerations I have raised here, that these books ought not to be read independently
    >of one another. In fact, the Book of Nature ought to be read as a sequel to the Bible.
    >As with the sequel to a novel, it is important to read the first volume to find out
    >about the characters. Or to drop the metaphor, we get our hypothesis of design from
    >revelation. Discoveries like the fine tuning come along later, and their strength as
    >evidence lies in confirming an already-existing hypothesis that already has other
    >confirmation from other realms of experience. Without revelation, we would be at a loss
    >to know what we mean by designer in such arguments."
    > (Nancey Murphy in _Science and Theology_, edited by Murray Rae, Hilary
    > Regan, and John Stenhouse [Eerdmans, Grand Rapids MI, 1994], pp.69-70.)
    > Shalom,
    > George
    >George L. Murphy

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