Re: The forgotten verses

From: Don Winterstein (
Date: Mon Jun 09 2003 - 02:40:51 EDT

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    Some time ago I wrote in response to one of your posts, "So I now say to God, '.........If you think your numerical tricks are going to impress me, we need to have a long talk.'" You questioned the relevance of that sentence.

    The relevance is this, that there are so many other, more effective ways that God could have demonstrated his power and love than by secreting numerical tricks in his inspired texts.

    Example: If the world really is young, as you believe, it would have been oh-so-helpful for God to have inserted somewhere just one short clause: "God made the world appear to be far older than it really is." Such a sentence would go a long way towards persuading me to try to interpret every word of the Bible in the most straightforward possible way. The numerical tricks, on the other hand, just leave me puzzled.

    The absence of that sentence (on appearance of great age) or anything like it leaves things up in the air. The most straightforward interpretation of the Genesis creation accounts assuredly yields a young Earth, but on the other hand, the world truly appears to be billions of years old, and all careful analyses of the world's age, both simple and complex, pretty much agree on that. I therefore feel compelled to use my head and interpret Genesis and all other inspired texts in the way I see fit. I still regard the Bible as inspired by God, but I conclude that parts of it incorporate modified versions of local myths or other accommodations to beliefs and cultures of the times.

    In a way it's unfortunate that we had to take our initial cues from science rather than from God. If God had been the kind of authority figure that the YECs believe he is, then truly he should have given us the necessary information before we got it from the scientists.

    Ultimately, the fact that God didn't clue us in on the great age of the world before the scientists did simply means he's a different kind of authority figure than the YECs believe he is. Our challenge now is to make our theology consistent with what we know about the world without throwing out essentials from past revelations. We have input from the world that tells us we need new ideas about God, so we must come to know him as a different kind of person than the kind of person the ancients knew.

    In doing all this necessary revising I find your work with numbers distracting and even mildly upsetting. My first thought on such numerical tricks is that they would be more appropriate to Ra of the Egyptians or Chemosh of the Moabites than to YHWH; that is, to me they seem more consistent with magic or the occult than with God's divine inspiration.


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Vernon Jenkins
      To: George Murphy
      Sent: Saturday, June 07, 2003 12:55 PM
      Subject: Re: The forgotten verses


      I greatly appreciate your calm and logical approach to the matters under
      discussion. You chose to address my three points in reverse order, and I
      will do likewise.

      VJ had said:

      (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.

      GM replies:

      (3) Grant (as I said) for the sake of argument that there are numerical
      patterns in Genesis which prove that God is its author. This emphatically
      does _not_ prove that the text which God has authored is a literal (i.e.,
      historically and scientifically accurate) account of how and when creation
      took place. To imagine that this is so is like claiming (to use this
      example once again) that the story of the Good Samaritan "really happened"
      because Jesus told it as a true statement of who one's neighbor is.

      VJ's response:

      Please accept my assurance that the phenomena I describe are real enough,
      and cannot reasonably be attributed to chance or human agency - facts you
      may readily confirm for yourself. This inevitably invites the questions, Who
      is responsible? and Why are they there? Because they are found in
      particularly high concentration in the foundational and strategically-placed
      Genesis 1:1 - the equilateral triangle (an obvious symbol of the Godhead)
      being a recurring feature - we infer _divine authorship_ and _serious
      intent_. I therefore suggest these are good reasons for believing the
      observed geometries - and their many other numerical associations - are
      intended to bring home to intellectual man that what He has caused to be
      written in His name is to be believed - rather than challenged, as hitherto.
      [I fail to see that your reference to the parable of the Good Samaritan is
      relevant in this context.]

      VJ had further said:

      (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?

      GM replies:

      (2) There is no sharp qualitative difference between the 2 types of science
      which you try to distinguish here. E.g., the types of arguments used to
      determine the distance to the galaxy in Andromeda are based on quite routine
      observations (properties of certain types of stars) and well-known laws
      (inverse square law for light propagation &c). No one has any objection
      when these are used to find that a cluster of stars in our galaxy is ~1000
      LY away. But when they show that M31 is a couple of million LY away, YECs
      immediately start objecting. There is no difference in the procedures, the
      underlying assumptions, or the beliefs of the astronomers. But the results
      conflict with the YECs preconceptions - preconceptions traceable to the
      unwarranted assumption noted under (3).

      VJ's response:

      But you haven't addressed the points I raised under this heading, viz to
      what extent is science able to make sense of _miracle_? When the
      supernatural is arbitrarily dismissed as _non-existent_ or _irrelevant_ how
      can the Christian be completely satisfied with the pontifications of
      scientists in respect of the Creation?
      [Concernng YEC, I'd like to clarify my own position. It must be clear to all
      that the numerical disclosures are as repugnant to proponents of YEC and ID
      as they are to evolutionists - a contingent phenomenon which, I suggest,
      confirms the biblical strictures referred to under (1).]

      VJ had again said:

       (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.

      GM replies:

      (1) I don't disagree about the seriousness of sin. But if you follow your
      argument here to its logical conclusion, you end up unable to have any
      confidence in any knowledge about the world. If our knowledge of the world
      is that severely distorted by sin then maybe the earth is flat. Maybe heat
      really flows from cold to hot. Who knows? But in fact the accurate
      correlations between our theories and observations can give us a great deal
      of confidence that scientific investigation - _without_ "God's revelation" -
      works quite well. And since (as I noted under (2)) there is no division
      between the type of science that raises no religious objections from YECs
      and that which does, YECs need to take a hard look at their presuppositions.
      Again, see (1).

      VJ's response:

      No, you miss the point I was attempting to make. When man's scientific
      endeavours are _neutral_, ie not involved in trying to prove God wrong, or
      non-existent, then all is well. That is science as it is properly
      practised - and as you describe. On the other hand its use as an aid in
      formulating a history of the earth which attempts to overturn revelation is
      a completely different matter.



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