Re: Seely's Views 2

From: <>
Date: Wed Sep 01 2004 - 21:09:51 EDT

Bob Barnett wrote,

> If we claim that the Bible, or any part of it, is an imperfect revelation
> and contains myth, how will we sort out the error from the truth?

If we admit that we have sometimes accepted a misinterpretation of the Bible
as truth, how will we sort out the error from the truth?

 Do [we] apply the >
> accommodation principle advocated by some in this discussion thread by
> assuming all biblical stories that seems improbable (or impossible!) are
> drawn from ancient myths and are simply accommodations by God to those
> ignorant folk who believed such myths or whose science was incomplete? What
> do we do with the miracles of the virgin birth, incarnation, and
> resurrection of Jesus Christ? After all, ancient mythology contains
> numerous stories of similar occurrences, just as the Babylonian myths
> mimicked the creation and flood stories.

The principle of accommodation advocated by myself is not to be applied
simply on the basis of a narrative seeming improbably or impossible. The issue in
all historical narratives is, What is the source? No biblical historian has
claimed or inferred that the history he was writing was revealed to him by God.
So God is the source only in the sense that he led the writer to write about
certain subjects in a certain way, not that he revealed the historical facts.
The source of the patriarchal stories seems to be the patriarchs themselves. The
source of what the kings did in Kings is apparently a royal scribe charged
with writing down the deeds of the kings and some schools of prophets who lived
at the time. The source of the NT, miracles and all, is repeatedly claimed
especially in Acts, but also in other books, to be the eyewitnesses who saw the
events. Each source has a certain credibility regardless of its seeming
improbability or impossibility from a natural point of view.

The reason accommodation is applied to Gen 1-11 is that the sources can be
traced in part to earlier Mesopotamian traditions and motifs; and, the stories
are fundamentally falsified by empirical data. This is not falsification on the
broad philosophical basis that natural law does not allow for miracles, but
direct falsification of the events by scientific discovery, e.g. no flood
subsequent to the Neolithic times of Adam covered the entire Near East.

NOTE: Unless you can show objective falsification of a narrative in whole or
in part and/or evidence of the use of an unreliable prior source, you have no
right to claim that the account was accommodated.

As to the Babylonian myths mimicking the biblical creation and Flood stories,
the evidence goes the other direction and this rationalization solves
nothing. There are several hundred creation stories and over 150 flood stories in the
world, but none of them look like the biblical story in any detail except the
Babylonian. None of the others have a splitting of a primeval sea into two
parts, one part of which becomes the sea above the sky and the other half of
which becomes the ocean around and under the earth. If the biblical stories were
the originals, there would be numerous stories with similar details all over
the world passed down by other descendants of Noah.

And what gain is there if the biblical story was first? Science in no way
agrees that the ocean was the made by splitting a primeval sea in half and using
the bottom half to make the oceans. Nor was half of it placed above the sky,
above the sun, moon, and stars. The picture is ancient Near Eastern cosmology.
As to the Flood stories, the Babylonian stories describe the Flood as due to a
storm that caused a flood that lasted a few weeks. The Sumerian account
restricts the Flood to southern Mesopotamia; and its destruction of "all mankind"
refers only to the Sumerians. That fits what science finds: evidence of a local
flood in southern Mesopotamia. The biblical account has a flood caused by the
reversal of Gen 1:6-8, a cosmic collapse, causing a flood that covered the
mountains of Ararat and lasted a year. The Babylonian accounts, and particularly
the Sumerian, is clearly closer to the scientific facts.

Jesus Christ's accepted the idea that inspired Scripture can contain
accommodation (Matt 19:8). If you want to reject his insight, fine. But, be
consistent. If you are going to follow human tradition's assumption that inspiration
guarantees that an inspired account is scientifically accurate, admit that on
that basis the Sumerian flood account has more claim to being inspired than the
biblical account.

Received on Wed Sep 1 21:58:22 2004

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