From: Peter Ruest (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Sun Jun 15 2003 - 10:02:39 EDT
Don Winterstein wrote to Vernon Jenkins:
> ... By "not believed" I assume you mean "not taken as literally true in a =
> scientific sense." The words of the creation accounts are indeed not =
> believed in that sense precisely because they are utterly irreconcilable =
> with huge volumes of scientific evidence. As indicated previously, I =
> (and many others) would have a much different attitude towards the Bible =
> and its inspiration if in some small way the inspired texts acknowledged =
> the scientific evidence. In other words, such further words would have =
> made a huge difference, would have done a huge amount of "good." The =
> fact that they're not there has had a huge impact on my personal =
> theology, on my view of the kind of person God is. =20
may I suggest to you a much better way of approaching the question of
biblical inspiration? The "further words" you ask for are not needed:
apparently God didn't feel they were.
There are worlds between "not taken as literally true in a scientific
sense" and "utterly irreconcilable with huge volumes of scientific
evidence". In A. Held & P. Rüst, "Genesis reconsidered", PSCF 51/4 (Dec.
1999), 231-243; http://www.asa3.org/ASA/PSCF/1999/PSCF12-99Held.html, we
showed that there are quite reasonable harmonizing interpretations which
take both the biblical text and modern science seriously. The "utter
irreconcilability with huge volumes of scientific evidence" is bogus -
suggested by the mythologizers, cf. below.
Armin Held and I don't "take the Bible as a scientific textbook". We
don't draw any scientific conclusions out of the creation account, and
we don't claim the author or his contemporaries knew any modern science.
We take the main emphasis of the text to clearly be theological. But we
claim to show that the text, as it stands (Massoretic Hebrew) - although
also interpretable in the contexts of ancient Near Eastern worldviews -
is just as easily capable of being interpreted in the light of modern
science. Of course, we see in this God's careful guidance of the
prophet's thoughts and choice of words and expressions - a
non-mechanical, but spiritual inspiration. The text was designed (by its
ultimate author) to be for people of _all_ ages - without turning off
any of them, us included.
Paul Seely has tried to dispute the legitimacy of such an approach. Our
reasoned refutation of his charge has been published in A. Held & P.
Rüst, "Taking Genesis as inspired", PSCF 52/3 (Sept. 2000), 212-214. In
essence, he claimed that in no text there can be any information unknown
to its author, that the only "cosmological" information he had was the
Babylonian myths of the 6th century BC (and other ancient near eastern
ones), and that therefore the early Genesis chapters are myths being
used by God as vectors (in the sense of gene therapy) for his spiritual
Paul recommended to me an introductory source-critical book describing
how the OT should be interpreted. After studying that book (by an
apparently non-believing Jew), I explained to this list that the book
confirmed my previous conclusions about the arbitrariness of the whole
source-critical approach (including the late dating of Gen.1), which
destroys virtually the entire history of ancient Israel.
Armin and I reject YEC just as definitely as this kind of
mythologization of Genesis. We accept the big bang, an old earth, even
biological evolution (including that of humans) as fully compatible with
the text of Gen.1-2, if this text is taken even more "literally" than
YEC (because YEC is still too much steeped in some erroneous traditional
interpretations - as are the mythologizers).
> ... Overall, there is no way a reasonable, =
> intelligent, open-minded person who knows the data could conclude that =
> the world is young except by saying that God tricked us by making =
> something young look old...
> Therefore the reality of the Earth's _distant_ past is as =
> firmly established as anything in any science. =20
Here, I fully agree with you.
> ... How many key biblical texts don't have any such numerical structures? =
> We're talking about really simple declarative sentences. What are =
> chances that these numerical structures are statistical accidents? =
> Given the large number of sentences in the Bible, is it not likely that =
> one or two would exhibit such numerical structures? ...
Here I must partially side with Vernon. I reject YEC, and I am in doubt
about numerology (tending to ignore it), but did you back up your
statistical claim with any estimates and calculations? Some time ago, I
questioned this list about Vernon's calculations of pi from Gen.1:1 and
e from John 1:1. After having checked these claims with my own computer
program, I asked mathematicians (and others) on the list about their
take on the statistical significance. I got no answer but Iain
Strachan's, who indicated that a straightforward test might be
impossible. That's why I am casting doubt on your statistical claims.
-- Dr. Peter Ruest, CH-3148 Lanzenhaeusern, Switzerland <email@example.com> - Biochemistry - Creation and evolution "..the work which God created to evolve it" (Genesis 2:3)
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