RE: Seely's Views 2

From: Glenn Morton <glennmorton@entouch.net>
Date: Sun Sep 05 2004 - 21:33:29 EDT

> -----Original Message-----
> From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. [mailto:dfsiemensjr@juno.com]
> Sent: Sunday, September 05, 2004 6:08 PM
> To: glennmorton@entouch.net
> Cc: asa@calvin.edu
> Subject: Re: Seely's Views 2
>
>
> Glenn,
> Let me try again. I've been pondering how to treat my claim
> without getting into problems with contemporary cosmology and
> physics, which means putting words into your mouth. I hope
> what follows comes close.
>
> As I understand you, you want revelation to be strictly
> accurate but not necessarily complete. I also think that you
> consider Genesis 1:1 to present the start of time, space and
> matter, what we usually associate with the Big Bang, but
> without the recognition in antiquity of a vast universe. This
> requires /bara/ to refer to /creatio ex nihilo/. This is
> clearly one possibility. However, Hebrew specialists note
> that the first words may be translated, "When God began to
> create ..." Since /bara/ does not have to refer to an
> absolute origin, this may mean the shaping of a chaotic
> world, which matches the description in verse 2.

I think you are getting too detailed here. All I am interested in is, Is
Jehovah the creator of the universe regardless of how he did it?
Physics can't tell us much about the origin of the universe. It can tell
us what happened after a finite time, but it tells us nothing about
times prior to 10^-35 sec. So, All I am interested in being true is that
God is the prime mover. If that isn't true, then in my mind at least
half the Bible goes away. Why would I care about what a bunch of deluded
people said a fictional creator did in their benefit any more than I
really care what the Romans thought Diana did for them each harvest
time? This is why I am not interested in a physics book being given to
Abraham as part of the initial revelation.

And when it comes to the creation of the animals and plants, if there is
no way to make that account have the slightest bit of historical and
scientific truth, then there is no reason to pay it any more attention
than I do to the Peapod man of an ancient Native American culture. It
seems that the Peapod gave birth to the first man (something I presume,
but after today am a bit afraid to ask, most people would agree is not
historically or scientifically true. I fear the answer might be
different than I would expect from rational people).

>
> I do not know whether those first receiving this revelation,
> whoever it may have been, would have understood /creatio ex
> nihilo/. All I can say is that the notion was rejected by
> Greeks and Romans, and seems not to have been part of the
> Babylonian mythology. Whatever may have been the case, the
> passage is ambiguous--/creatio ex nihilo/ vs forming
> something preexistent. How, then, is it strictly accurate?
> How does it meet the requirement of divine revelation?

It always amazes me at how often something I am reading on a given day
becomes important in a debate that night. I am reading Brian Greene's
Fabric of the Cosmos. What we see back to 10^-36 sec is not the creation
of the universe. We do have some evidence of a pre-existing world.

"According to the inflationary theory, the reason why our universe is so
big, and why gravity and expansion are so closely balanced, lies in
something remarkable that happened during the first 10^-36 seconds, when
our entire observable universe was the size of a golfball." Martin Rees,
Before the Beginning, (Reading, MA: Perseus Books, 1997), p. 167

What happened was inflation. But in the flatness problem of cosmology,
Greene notes that before the inflation there was a previous period of
uniform expansion.

'In a nutshell, space expands slowly enough in the very beginning for a
uniform temprature to be broadly established and then, through an
intense burst of ever more rapid expansion, the universe makes up for
the sluggish start and widely disperses nearby regions." Brian Greene,
The Fabric of the Cosmos, Alfred Knopf, 2004, p. 290

When you get right down to it, without inflation we wouldn't be here.
The inflation was really the big bang itself. It is what made the
universe huge.

And prior to that were the Higgs' field, which may very well have
existed prior to the creation of our universe and may still be creating
universes. See Alan Guth, The Inflationary Universe, (Reading, MA:
Perseus Books, 1997)

>
> As to what was created or formed, the Hebrew for 'heavens' is
> dual, which should specify that there are exactly two. Unless
> there are two heavens reasonably distinguishable, one must
> ask why God did not reform the language or find other
> terminology so as to be accurate. So it seems to me that God
> accommodated himself to the dual, and that neither of these
> verses is unambiguously accurate, expressing THE truth. If
> there is this accommodation to language, why is further
> accommodation ruled out?

Only because of a physical law which accommodationists seem to ignore.
It is the communication theory developed by Shannon which notes that any
communication which reduces communication to chance is communicating
zero information. I assume that god is desirous of communicating truth.
If you and others think God desires to communicate falsehoods that is
another issue. But if God is accommodating and only telling us about a
rare case (divorce as Paul points out) it raises the issue of how many
other accommodations we have that are not true both historically and
theologically of which we have not been informed. Maybe Jesus saying
that divorce was given because of the hardness of their hearts is itself
an accommodation? Maybe we really can be polygamists! Afterall, Jesus
said that in the beginning it was one man and one woman but jehovah had
previously accommodated to polygamy. Here we have the Bible saying two
opposite things. I guess the really neat thing about this is that I get
to choose which I want since God may have engaged in accommodation on
either or both sides of this question. I probably don't want to ask my
wife's opinion about this choice however. Maybe I should become an
accommodationalist! :-)

And the tired answer to your tired question about accommodating to
language is answered by the setting of the sun example. Alternatively,
it could be that God created both the heaven (outer space) and heaven
(the place we go). You just aren't trying to come up with reasons for
why there are two heavens in that verse. You would rather it be an
accommodation and that makes you not think about other possibilities. I
do think that Heaven (outer space) and heaven (the place we go when we
die assuming heaven itself isn't an accommodation) are reasonably
distinguishable.

By the way, how do we know that heaven isn't an accommodation to
everyone's universal belief in their personal immortality? We all think
there is something about ourselves that won't die. Yeah, I think heaven
is an accommodation to mankinds desire to live forever. Who would
listen to a God who offered you personal annihilation upon death?

This can be a fascinating game. Is there anything that can't be an
accommodation?

>
> I hope in setting up this argument I have not ascribed to you
> commitments you do not have. I was trying to make the same
> point earlier, but obviously did not succeed. Dave

This time you haven't. And I thank you for that. Good debate does
require trying not to paint the other person as one of the extreme
positions but drawing the logical conclusions from what they say and
pointing out the problems. In this note you have done that.
Received on Sun Sep 5 21:47:47 2004

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