Re: The Nature of Atheist - Christian dialogue

From: Michael Roberts (
Date: Thu May 01 2003 - 08:22:39 EDT

  • Next message: John Burgeson: "RE: The Nature of Atheist - Christian dialogue"

    I am the naughty boy who said that Vernon means that "you have to have a
    PhD in Maths to get saved" My reason is that his arguments are so obstruse
    and complex that they are beyond the wit of those who lack the maths. Sure
    there is a little numerics in the bible but to find it everywhere and in the
    way that Vernon does is to conclude that the biblical writers were inspired
    to put it in this numeric form which most Christians have never realised
    including all the leading biblical scholars of all ages.
    Can you imagine that Luke's careful work in writing Luke-Acts also included
    complex numerics. If so he should have told us in Luke ch1 vs3. As he didn't
    I conclude that either he wasn't concerned or he was concealing his numerics
    from thick Christians like me. If the latter I lose respect for Luke - and
    the rest.

    I also reckon Vernon's approach makes travesty of the Bible as God's word
    and its accessibility. It's no better than some of the nonsense on the so
    called End Times nonsense. Stop messing around with and up scripture.

    Further Ivor Gratten Guinness's (related to Os Guinness) argument can be
    used to denigrate scripture as a numeric construct with a secret bible code
    and thus liable not to be reliable as the numerics exceed the history in
    importance. If the controlling factor in writing the bible was vernonesque
    numerics, is what it says about God secondary? It sounds like it. Was Luke
    really like that? We end up with all sorts of weird interpretations which
    will make B Theiring seem quite mild.
    I would point out that I do have a degree in theology and have taught up to
    M.A. level. I am pretty familiar with biblical commentators from the early
    church until today. These do point out the numerics of 666 or 616 (there is
    a question which one is right) and 153, , 3, 6, 7 etc but none come out with
    such convoluted and obscure arguments as does Vernon.
    I have pointed out that these arguments will convince no one and what is
    needed today and especially in Britain is basic bible teaching. As we are in
    the Easter season surely the least important verse in John 21 is verse 11 on
    the 153 fish? Hendricksen's comments in his commentary are wonderful -
    "strange interpretations". Don Carson is less dismissive but questions the
    value of numerics. So what about triangular numbers, the Trinity is more
    Hence no apologies but an appeal to concentrate on the core of the Christian
    Faith and not pfaff about with obstruse interpretations.

    Finally to quote Iain I find Vernon's argument totally specious and hope he
    does not mind my choice of the word.

    When it comes to Jim's problems, as far as I am concerned rejecting YEC is
    the most important thing and whether you are Day-Age, Gappist, Framework is
    secondary and is not a primary issue. If I can persuade a YEC that them
    earth is a million years old and he thinks the DAy age is right then I


    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Iain Strachan" <>
    To: "Dr. Blake Nelson" <>
    Cc: "ASA" <>
    Sent: Wednesday, April 30, 2003 11:10 PM
    Subject: Re: The Nature of Atheist - Christian dialogue

    > Blake,
    > Thanks for the comments. I also recall that things got pretty heated at
    > time. Jim was posting very frequently to the list -often several times a
    > day-, and often getting pretty unpleasant with those who disagreed with
    > But at the time, my impression (my apologies to Jim if this is was
    > completely wrong), was that if someone was posting that frequently to a
    > and was so fired up about an issue (Day-Age), that they frequently got
    > angry, that what was going on was a massive crisis of faith. Jim had just
    > booted YEC out by about a million light years, and perhaps wanted to find
    > alternative that would resolve the crisis. In those circumstances, I
    > question whether the right approach was to systematically challenge his
    > views (just as my views on ID and Vernon's numerics have been
    > challenged by people who don't like them). It seems to me that people
    > couldn't resist the temptation to show how the Day-Age view, with which
    > didn't agree, was intellectually a non-starter. Was this really the
    > Christian thing to do in the circumstances?
    > Another point I recall here was that for a while, Vernon was prohibited
    > posting to the group about Bible Numerics. At the time, the person
    > proposing that this subject should be avoided, did have the grace to
    > that it was not Vernon who was responsible for the bad feeling, but those
    > who responded to him. It has been my observation that there have been
    > very nasty and sarcastic comments made about Vernon's position, in this
    > from people who were clearly not experiencing a crisis of faith. A recent
    > example was the suggestion that "you have to have a PhD in Maths to get
    > saved" (again, my fallible memory may have got the exact words wrong; but
    > certainly having a PhD in Maths was a major component). This was plainly
    > untrue on at least three counts, namely:
    > (a) Vernon never implied you had to understand his work to get saved.
    > (b) Vernon doesn't have a PhD in Maths. (Sorry, Vernon; hope I haven't
    > blown your street-cred!! :-)
    > (c) Schoolchildren at around year 7 or 8 in Britain are taught about
    > triangular numbers (the major part of Vernon's work); it's part of the
    > standard Maths curriculum.
    > The poster in question ought have been well aware of much of this &
    > therefore I can only conclude that he could not resist making a nasty
    > sarcastic jibe. It is this kind of thing that every day makes me feel
    > turning my back on the list. By all means one can make a reasoned and
    > courteously phrased argument as to why one thinks the numerics are not
    > helpful, or have an alternative explanation to the one proposed by Vernon
    > (and to be fair some of the group have done this and we've had some
    > constructive exchanges on it); but to resort to insults and ridicule is
    > another example of the depressingly unchristian behaviour I observe on the
    > list.
    > I live in hope that we can all learn to function better as a Christian
    > community, and can each benefit from the insights into our Creator and his
    > works that we each have received.
    > Best wishes,
    > Iain.

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