links to 2 C.Hyers essays mentioned

From: richard williams <>
Date: Fri Feb 06 2004 - 16:50:51 EST
after reading both of C.Hyers essays, i posted this at theologyweb.
the links are in it.
Genesis 1-3, Creationism, and the hermeneutical principles

I am convinced that the creation-evolution-design debate is fundamentally a question of hermeneutical principles. In particular, what is presented as the literal historical scientific essential to the young earth creationist position.

i would offer for your reading pleasure and intellectual enlightenment two of what i think are essential essays in the topic, both by C.Hyers

the first is from: from:

The literalist mentality does not manifest itself only in conservative churches, private-school enclaves, television programs of the evangelical right, and a considerable amount of Christian bookstore material; one often finds a literalist understanding of Bible and faith being assumed by those who have no religious inclinations, or who are avowedly antireligious in sentiment. Even in educated circles the possibility of more sophisticated theologies of creation is easily obscured by burning straw effigies of biblical literalism.

But the problem is even more deep-rooted. A literalist imagination -- or lack of imagination -- pervades contemporary culture. One of the more dubious successes of modern science -- and of its attendant spirits technology, historiography and mathematics -- is the suffusion of intellectual life with a prosaic and pedantic mind-set. One may observe this feature in almost any college classroom, not only in religious studies, but within the humanities in general. Students have difficulty in thinking, feeling and expressing themselves symbolically.
One of the ironies of biblical literalism is that it shares so largely in the reductionist and literalist spirit of the age. It is not nearly as conservative as it supposes. It is modernistic, and it sells its symbolic birthright for a mess of tangible pottage. Biblical materials and affirmations -- in this case the symbolism of Creator and creation – are treated as though of the same order and the same literary genre as scientific and historical writing. “I believe in God the Father Almighty” becomes a chronological issue, and “Maker of heaven and earth” a technological problem.

To suggest that the first chapters of Genesis ought to be read in the classroom as an alternative to evolutionary theories presupposes that these chapters are yielding something comparable to scientific theories and historical reconstructions of empirical data. Interpreting the Genesis accounts faithfully, and believing in their reliability and significance as divine revelation, is understood to mean taking them literally as history, as chronology, as scientific truth. In the words of Henry Morris, a leading “scientific creationist”: “The Biblical record, accepted in its natural and literal sense, gives the only scientific and satisfying account of the origins of things. . . . The creation account is clear, definite, sequential and matter-of-fact, giving every appearance of straightforward historical narrative” (The Remarkable Birth of Planet Earth [Bethany, 1978], pp. iv, 84).

the other is at:


Creation versus Procreation

Other cosmologies operated, essentially, on an analogy with procreation. A cosmic egg is produced and hatches. A cosmic womb gives birth. Or a god and goddess mate and beget further gods and goddesses. In Genesis a radical shift has taken place from the imagery of procreation to that of creation, from a genealogy of the gods to a genesis of nature. When Hesiod entitled his monumental effort at systematizing the complicated web of relationships between the many Greek gods and goddesses a theogony, he was reflecting the fundamental character of such cosmologies. They were theogonies (birth of the gods) and theo-biographies as well. They depicted the origin, life and times of the various divinities. And they interpreted "nature" in terms of these divine relationships. Procreative, family, social and political relationships were used to describe the natural order, understood as divine beings and powers in their interaction.

Thus, the alternative to the "creation model" is the "procreation model." If there is any sense in which the "creation model" of Genesis stands over against evolutionary models of natural history, it is only in the sense that it self-consciously and decisively rejects any evolution of cosmic forces presented in terms Of an evolution of the gods. For that, by and large, was what polytheistic cosmologies were: the evolution of natural phenomena read as the emergence of new species of divinity. And the interactions within nature-its ecology were read as the interactions within and between various families, clans and armies of gods.

The fundamental question at stake, then, could not have been the scientific question of how things achieved their present form and by what processes, nor the historical question about time periods and chronological order. The issue was idolatry, not science; syncretism, not natural history; theology, not chronology; affirmation of faith in one transcendent God, not empirical or speculative theories of origin. Attempting to be loyal to the Bible by turning the creation accounts into a kind of science or history is like trying to be loyal to the teachings of Jesus by arguing that his parables are actual historical events, and only reliable and trustworthy when taken literally as such.

so in fact, Genesis 1-3 has nothing to do with modern biological science and the theory of evolution as science. But everything to do with scientism and materialism presented as a metaphysics to support an atheistic worldview in rebellion to God. It is to this contention Christians need to address, not the age of the earth, nor the order of creation, nor the mechanisms that God used to create life.

Roger G. Olson wrote:
Ted writes

"Ted: The single most effective article I use with my own students, in most
of my classes, is Conrad Hyers' article, "Dinosaur Religion: On Interpreting
and Misinterpreting the Creation Texts," published in PSCF in Sept 1984.  I
hope that everyone notices this: if you are teaching about "science and the
Bible," this article is simply required reading for you and your students!
This conclusion is based on twenty years of teaching about science and
religion, I don't recommend this article lightly.  It's available,
incidentally, on the ASA website. "

Do you happen to have the hyperlink to this article on the ASA website?


(no subject)
richard williams.................... ......creation evolution homepage blog ...sorted CED bookmark list ........unsorted CURRENT bookmark list

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Received on Fri Feb 6 16:51:17 2004

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