Re: The forgotten verses

From: Vernon Jenkins (
Date: Wed Jun 04 2003 - 18:45:35 EDT

  • Next message: Vernon Jenkins: "Re: The forgotten verses"


    Writing to Dave, I had said:

    "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."

    Commenting on Dave's lack of response to this, you said:

    " 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 honors."

    George, thanks for injecting a little gravitas into the discussion, and for
    conceding the potential significance of the point I was making. However, I
    believe the 'funeral arrangements' you envisage will need to be deferred for
    a time, if not indefinitely.

    You went on to say:

    "As I understand it, his (Vernon's) 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 actually
    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

    George, just a few observations on what you have written:

    (1) I seem to recall that we have argued before on the true nature of sin.
    When you say "Sin is primarily a distortion of the human relationship with
    God." you are, of course, correct. But I suggest your words do not
    adequately capture the true nature of our problem. Sin, as the scriptures
    inform us - and as I understand it - is not a _negative_ or a _neutral_
    thing, but rather a very _positive_ anti-God attitude which can lead us into
    all kinds of error. Jesus was well aware of it (Jn.2:25) - and it surely
    follows that all who profess to follow him should be also. The words of the
    Lord as spoken by Jeremiah can hardly be more damaging to our self-esteem:
    "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can
    know it?" (Jer.17:9). If that indeed be true - and I suggest experience
    confirms it - then we are surely on sticky ground if we insist on
    challenging the biblical account of how and when things began.

    (2) You fail to distinguish between science as normally and legitimately
    practised (with God's revelation and blessing) and its misuse in attempts to
    analyse/question the _miracle_ outlined in the Creation narrative. Is it
    your general view that any supernatural event is, (a) open to such
    investigation and, (b) then capable of being completely explained in
    scientific terms?

    (3) You've twice used the phrase 'what kind of texts we're dealing with'.
    When I point out that the 7 Hebrew words of the Bible's first verse conceal
    a _standing miracle_ of numerical geometry and many other incontrovertible
    wonders - including an accurate estimate of pi - surely that should alert us
    to the kind of text that follows. Such clear evidence of His being and
    sovereignty must remove all doubts about the literal truth of a recent
    ex-nihilo creation.



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