Re: The forgotten verses

From: George Murphy (
Date: Tue Jun 03 2003 - 08:14:01 EDT

  • Next message: "Re: preoccupation with Rich"

    D. F. Siemens, Jr. wrote:
    > On Tue, 3 Jun 2003 00:10:16 +0100 "Vernon Jenkins"
    > <> 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
    its age.
            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
    different matter.

    George L. Murphy

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Tue Jun 03 2003 - 08:13:39 EDT