Re: The Tower of Babel - Less Confusing

From: Dick Fischer (dickfischer@earthlink.net)
Date: Fri May 16 2003 - 22:10:12 EDT

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    Hi Paul, you wrote:

    This sounds good on paper and is theoretically possible, but modern OT
    scholars do not deny that what the writer of Gen 2-11 is saying does not
    work out in agreement with science.

    The traditional interpretation of Genesis disagrees with both science and
    history, I agree. It also disagrees with some other parts of the Bible
    itself. Which is one good reason to look critically at the traditional
    interpretation. Which I do.

    Conservatives more or less ignore the conflict. Liberals often mention it.
    Most of them are quite familiar with the Sumerian and Accadian texts, some
    of them even more than you and I, but they don't see anything in them which
    they believe necessitates reinterpreting the Bible in so radical a way as
    you do. Nor can you say they are not open to facts.

    Liberals pay lip service only. They are scholarly enough to know the
    similarities are there, but lack the guts to go beyond what the
    establishment will allow. After all, there is peer pressure, tenure, and
    other important considerations.

    <<For example, the paradigm says all men died in the flood. Yet the
    Genesis 6:4 "nephilim" or giants are also mentioned in Numbers 13:33. How
    can the nephilim be on both sides of the flood if all men died in
    it? After a year long global flood Noah finds an olive tree with leaves on
    it? How did he do that? The dispersion of the sons of Noah in Genesis 10
    precedes Babel in Genesis 11. Oh, just an out of order
    presentation? These passages and more have to be swept under the rug
    simply because they don't fit. Doesn't that tell you anything?>>

    These objections follow the methodology of creation science: take a subject
    of which we do not have enough information to draw a firm conclusion,
    interpret the data to fit your theory, claim you have solved the mystery,
    and then ignore the host of clear data that contradicts your theory.

    You purposely misunderstand me. Respecting the truth of the Bible, I take
    all the data I can find that is relevant and see what direction it points,
    where the weight of evidence lies, what makes sense, and what is internally
    consistent. The methodology I promote is so overwhelmingly ahead of any
    other possible explanation that it doesn't even make sense to cling to
    another method as if some new data bit out of the blue will strengthen its
    case.

    Take a balance scale. Throw all the evidence for an old earth on one side
    and all the evidence you can find for a young earth on the other. Which
    end of the scale is lower? Answer: the world most probably is old. Now do
    the same thing with Genesis 2-11.

    There is no "host of clear data that contradicts my theory." Indeed, there
    is no data I know of at all that contradicts the logical explanation that
    Adam and Eve, the garden of Eden, Noah and the flood, and the tower of
    Babel fits a historical time frame from about 7,000 years ago to 4,000
    years ago in southern Mesopotamia.

    Do you have a better time frame? Do you have a better location? When? Where?

    Okay, I can't prove whether Adam had natural parents or not. But either
    way is not injurious to my case. I lean toward Adam's special
    creation. Don't like it? Prove otherwise.

    <<You want to defend the paradigm, even though it is historically and
    anthropologically indefensible. Okay, bundle up all the black Africans and
    truck them up to Babylon so they can get their languages scrambled before
    they journey back to Africa where they speak unrelated languages in
    isolated, individual tribes. Who cares that Westermann, Cassuto, Mathews,
    and Wenham, et. al. would be laughed out of town if they tried to explain
    the mechanics of a massive, global migration after 2900 BC. After all,
    it's just the Bible. Who cares if it doesn't make any sense?

    Okay, argue for all the animals and all humans being obliterated around
    2900 BC. Let's see your evidence. Don't forget to get all the lemurs to
    the island of Madagascar and marsupials to the island of Australia.>>

    These paragraphs display your strong commitment to the assumption that
    Scripture could not describe a universal (global) flood because it would be
    contrary to a lot of scientific evidence. This kind of apriori insistence
    upon an unproven assumption is contrary to sound scientific method, not to
    mention that it would force biblical scholars to give up the
    historical-grammatical interpretation of the Bible, landing us right back
    in the Middle Ages.

    No. The weight of biblical, scientific and historical evidence is on a
    local flood, period. There is a ton of contrary evidence against a global
    mankind, animalkind, and insectkind obliterating flood anytime during human
    history.

    <<The flood covered enough land to terminate the Adamite populations living
    in southern Mesopotamia, those who were accountable and capable of sin.>>

    In a past discussion of your Adamite vs Ishite idea, Gordon listed passages
    where an Adamite is referred to as an Ish. You had lots of reasons why this
    did not make any difference. Gordon concluded, and I agree,
    "With all the exceptions you have listed you can make their meanings agree
    with the commonly accepted meanings whenever you have to, and so your
    thesis is probably almost impossible to falsify. It appears to me that with
    all the multiple meanings you allow for these words you have left the
    Hebrew writers no way to clearly indicate non-Adamites." And this also
    means that your narrow definition of Adamites is also impossible to prove.

    There is virtually nothing in theology we can prove. Are you saved? Will
    you go to heaven? History can't be proven, the Sumerians and Accadians
    frontloaded just enough myth into their legends that irrefutable proof will
    never be possible. Which should be a lesson to us all to not lie.

    Science rarely proves anything. All we can do is gain greater and greater
    confidence that a particular line of reasoning or theory is correct. And
    that I have. Had I found a Bible on the beach and interpreted it thus and
    presented the case to a world that had not already been influenced by
    earlier flawed interpretations, the case would be so air tight no other
    explanation would have a chance. Being Johnny-come-lately is a huge
    disadvantage.

    I said of the Flood of 2900: "

    It was restricted to southern Mesopotamia, and hence quite low
    elevations. But, Gen 7:19, which must be interpreted in the context of
    7:17-20 and 8:3-5, draws a picture of the ark rising higher as the Flood
    waters rose higher (v. 17) until the mountains even of Ararat were covered
    to a depth of fifteen cubits (v. 20)."

    You replied, Are you totally unaware that the Hebrew word for "hills" and
    "mountains" is the same?

    So what? The ark landed in the "hills" of Ararat, that's 400 km from the
    Flood of 2900 and considerably higher in elevation, so the Flood of 2900
    does not fit the biblical context.

    It is possible that Noah punted up the Tigris and washed out into the
    foothills of Armenia. The yearlong flood could have stretched out over two
    rainy seasons so that the flood had two or more stages. There may be other
    possibilities. But you want to override a possible flood by pointing out
    difficulties, and weigh in on an impossible flood in its stead. Where is
    your common sense?

    In addition, all the birds perished (Gen 7:23). Couldn't the birds in
    southern Mesopotamia fly?

    Here is what I mean about being consistent. You want to take one phrase
    and interpret it that every bird in the entire world perished in the
    flood. Fine. Now take this phrase: "And all my bones are out of joint" in
    Psalm 22:14. Be consistent. Explain how 206 bones can get out of joint.

    Bible interpretation is best accomplished by reading the entire Bible and
    applying what we learn in one passage to what may be troubling or confusing
    in another passage. I would much rather compare Bible passages to Bible
    passages rather than to science and history.

    Of course, there are lots of phrases in the OT that are questionable. I
    don't pretend to know all the answers. I defend the possible and probable,
    not what is provable beyond all doubt.

    You can have the biblical description of the Flood or you can have the
    flood of 2900 BC, but they are not interchangeable. The flood of 2900 is
    the _basis_ of the biblical account. It does not agree with the description
    of the Flood in the biblical account.

    Please define what you mean by "the flood of 2900 BC is the basis of the
    biblical account," yet you don't believe that all flood accounts concern
    the same flood. Please avoid typical, theological double speak in your answer.

    <<Pray tell how do olive trees grow on mountain tops?>>

    In the first place, the tree was not on a mountain top. it was not found
    until the waters had receded for quite some time.

    And the reason the olive tree survived a yearlong submersion was what
    again? I missed your explanation for that.

      Also you can't ask me a "Pray tell" until you answer my earlier "Pray
    tell's" :-)

    Did you get the marsupials to Australia after the flood? And the lemurs,
    how did you get them to Madagascar leaving no trace of lemurs anywhere else
    in the world?

      Eternal life and eternal damnation in the balance, and you tickle my ribs.

    Dick Fischer - Genesis Proclaimed Association
    Finding Harmony in Bible, Science, and History
    www.genesisproclaimed.org



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