From: George Murphy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Tue Jun 03 2003 - 08:14:01 EDT
D. F. Siemens, Jr. wrote:
> On Tue, 3 Jun 2003 00:10:16 +0100 "Vernon Jenkins"
> <email@example.com> writes:
> > Dave,
> > You appear to overlook the principal reason for my last writing to
> > Michael.
> > It was to point to the fundamental matter of man's essential nature
> > as it is
> > presented in the Judaeo-Christian Scriptures; and, arising from
> > that,
> > whether it is reasonable to believe that his (man's) overturning of
> > God's
> > account of how things actually began can possibly carry any
> > conviction. I
> > suggest that until that matter is understood, and settled, no real
> > meaning
> > can be attached to the detailed evidence driving the current debate.
> > An
> > associated consideration, of course, is man's tendency to discount
> > the
> > supernatural; to look only to 'natural' explanations.
I think that the argument Vernon makes here has in fact been bypassed. I don't
think it's correct but it deserves to be noted & - I think - buried with appropriate
As I understand it, his point is that human sinfulness means that our attempts
to understand the age of the earth independently of scripture are futile. I don't
debate the reality or seriousness of sin, but this argument won't work. Sin is
primarily a distortion of the human relationship with God. Even those who have argued
most strongly for the complete inability of unredeemed humans to do anything good
vis-a-vis God, such as Luther, have not held that such people cannot understand the way
the natural world works. & this is supported empirically by the successes of science in
many areas that have no direct connection with the age of the earth, such as the details
of atomic structure, nuclear reactions, genetics, celestial mechanics, &c. It would be
rather odd if our inability to understand the world only kicked in when we tried to find
So one can't argue that our reason is so damaged that calculations of the age of
the earth are suspect on that account. Nor can one plausibly argue that such estimates
are due to a sinful desire to eliminate God or deny scripture. Many of the founders of
historical geology were Christians firmly convinced of the truth of scripture. Michael
can give copious examples.
A related mistake is the appeal to "God's account of how things actually began"
in contrast to scientific accounts. This is a fundamental error I've pointed out here
several times, the assumption that the truth and authority of scripture immediately
imply that all scriptural texts - and especially early Genesis - are historically &
scientifically accurate accounts of things "as they acutally happened." This skips over
the whole question of what _kind_ of texts we're dealing with.
& Vernon's appeal to numerical patterns in scripture fails for the same reason.
These patterns are supposed to prove that scripture was inspired by God and that every
word is true. OK, grant that for the sake of argument. It again doesn't settle the
question of what kind of texts we're dealing with. I don't deny the divine inspiration
of Genesis 1. Whether or not the Holy Spirit intended us to read it as a scientific
account of events that happened in a 7 day period a few thousand years ago is a
George L. Murphy
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