Re: Seely's Views 2

From: <>
Date: Mon Aug 23 2004 - 00:08:02 EDT

> PHS I am not trying to save what is false. The history as such in Gen 1-11
> is largely false. This raises the question, Why did Moses use unreliable
> Mesopotamian stories, traditions, and motifs as his basic source for origin
> stories?
> GRM: There are two reasons, one of which you reject for no clear reason I
> can see. The first reason to use 'unreliable' stories is that Genesis is not
> true in any way shape or form. That is the position taken by the atheists,
> You seem to rule it out, but I don't see why. What possible POSITIVE evidence
> can there be for the 'truth' in Genesis, if everything it says is simply
> historically and factually false? I see no reason to believe it has any deep
> theology other than mere fideism.

PHS: The question I am raising is why does a person trained in Egyptian
thought use Mesopotamian rather than Egyptian origin stories? But, never mind my
intent. You run off from the historical unreliability of Gen 1-11 to "everything
it [Genesis] says." I clearly distinguished the historicity of Gen 1-11 from
that of 12-50 on the basis of the probable sources, and I inferred that I
take Gen 12-50 as based on more reliable sources than Gen 1-11. Gen 1-11 reflects
stories well known in Mesopotamia long before the time of Moses. Gen 12-50
does not. The stories about the patriarchs appear to come from the patriarchs.
Unless there is evidence to refute that, it is a reasonable assumption; and
skepticism is not evidence.

> GRM: Can you provide a single bible verse which actually SPEAKS to the idea
> of God's accomodation?  I think I can find lots of verses where God tells
> the Israelites not to accommodate with the surrounding religions, but then God
> hypocritically does it himself. Your view makes God a hypocrite.
PHS: The accommodation I am stressing is to the history/science, not
religion; so your examples from the OT are irrelevant. Indeed, I mentioned the
religious non-accommodation as evidence that there is discrimination in the OT and
not a willy-nilly acceptance of everything found in the surrounding culture.
Accommodation involves employing as true something that is not true because the
people to whom you are speaking are not ready to accept the actual truth. Matt
19:8/Mk 10:5 is the clearest verse that God sometimes employed accommodation.
Most commentaries on these verses explicitly use the word "concession" or

> GRM: It seems very troubling to me that if we let God misrepresent things,
> then YEC very well may be true!  After all, maybe God actually did the global
> flood thing but accommodated the evidence to what we expect?

PHS: For Moses and the Israelites, nothing was misrepresented. The origin
stories they told were accepted as true, God made no comment as to what he
thought about their historicity or science. They did not see these stories as God
introducing ab novo His account of creation and Flood, but using the accounts
they already had and believed. God made some changes for theological reasons,
just as the "divorce for any reason" cultural law they already had was modified
to include a written bill of divorce and no return to the divorced wife. (As
best as scholars can figure it out these changes were made to protect the

We are reading over the shoulders of a simple people who lived 3500 years
ago. What you are saying is that God should not have used the stories they were
familiar with and believed. He should have introduced a new account that was
closer to the actual facts. I prefer to think he had a good reason for what he

Go back to the missionary who translated John 1:29, "Behold the Pig of God."
It was a very nice fit with their cultural beliefs, and the facts (Lamb) would
not communicate the lesson as clearly. Now go forward to some generations
later when some descendant of those primitive people learns that the facts are
different. That the text really says, "Lamb" and that pigs in the OT are unclean
and were not sacrificed. In the light of that fuller knowledge, the
translation "Pig" is scandalous. But, you tell me, Was the missionary ignorant when he
wrote, "Pig of God?" Was he a liar? Was he a hypocrite? Or did "pig"
communicate in a particularly effective way the meaning of the passage?

And what would you make of a later generation New Guinea Morton tribesman
asking, Couldn't he have just used a plain vanilla word like "small animal" thus
avoiding the future conflict? After all, he was a professed Christian whose
primary task was translating the NT. Shouldn't we expect an honest reliable
translation from such a person? If he can't do any better than put an unclean and
utterly wrong animal in the place of a spotless lamb, can we trust his
translation for anything? Did he really expect God to use a just plain false
translation of the Greek word amnos? Apparently, missionaries call this
contextualization. They say it was an accommodation to our ancestors to help communicate
the NT message to them. Well, I'm not cutting any slack for our ignorant
ancestors. Their IQ's were just as high as ours, and they could have understood the
truth. True is true, and false is false. These "accommodations" just cause me
to doubt everything he translated. We may as well throw the whole translation
out. And, don't tell me God uses false statements to communicate truth.

PHS: In the latter part of your post you cited my statement: "He [God] cannot
use pre-ingrained false stories to teach theological > lessons. " 

You took this as a statement of my position and found it inconsistent,
contradictory, and not well thought out. If this really were a statement of my
position, you would be absolutely right; but it was not intended to be a statement
of my position. I guess I should have used a colon instead of a period before
the previous sentence because the statement was intended to be an explanatory
elaboration of the common Evangelical view of inspiration, not my position.
My statement intended to say, "
> [Similar to the days of Kepler, we have an unjustified assumption about
> what God would do] Today we have the "God cannot lie" syllogism which demands
> that God always reflect the absolute truth in anything he inspires: [This
> syllogism includes the belief that] >> He cannot use pre-ingrained false stories
>> to teach theological lessons."

I did not comment on your Osiris stuff partly because it would be too
involved, but also because I regard the information as out of context and unrelable.
Did you really expect reliable information from a talk show host?

Received on Mon Aug 23 00:40:08 2004

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