Re: [asa] Empiricism, Faith and Science

From: Paul Seely <>
Date: Fri Sep 22 2006 - 20:54:29 EDT

Iain wrote,
This doesn't answer my original criticism of your argument. You're saying "I don't like this - it's more like pagan magic than a miracle, so God couldn't have done it that way". Just as Dawkins argues that God wouldn't have done it by evolution so there can't be a God.

My point here was that quite a few people have argued that the pattern in Gen 1:1 could have been put there by the original authors, because humans often played around with gematria & your comment about the aleph tau being a late edition rules out the possibility of it being done by humans. [ I grant that it doesn't rule out the possibility that it was written by a human after the aleph tau came into the language]. >>

My argument is directed at Vernon's belief that as God inspired the text of Gen 1:1 he built in an impressive numerical pattern which by its impressiveness bears witness to its divine inspiration. My point is that the impressive pattern is very probably resting partly on a much later scribe's updating of the grammar. I mentioned the aleph-tau, which is enough to make the point, but in fact there are two aleph-tau's The pattern is thus resting on significant later additions which do not add to or change the message in any way, but change the numerical value considerably. And since these additions do not add to or change the message but are, one might say, purely mechanical, I see no reason to regard them as divinely inspired.

I agree that my comments negate a theory that the pattern was purposely placed there via the author or authors playing with the words to get a numerical pattern. The last scribe who updated it could have done so, but it does not seem likely to me that he did.

To me Vernon's patterns are just one more example of numerology, which from my experience I conclude comes as much from the mind of the discoverer as from the text. I think Vernon could remove the two aleph-taus and still come up with a new impressive pattern.

As for the argument that it would be even more of a miracle if the pattern did not appear until the last scribe updated the grammar, I admit that my call (sounds like magic, not biblical miracle) is a judgement call, but unlike Dawkins it is not purely subjective: it is based on the nature of miracles as they appear in Scripture.

<<I do not think the aleph tau is like French pas. Pas is a regular word, not a mere grammatical marker.

OK, so I got it slightly wrong. In fact it is the "ne" that doesn't have a meaning. This definition came from an online dictionary:

1 ne Adverbe (a) (placed before a negated verb: carries no translation as such, and frequently absent in non-emphatic speech) je ~ travaille pas I don't work, I do not work (frm) ; il ~ travaille jamais he never works

So ne is merely an untranslatable particle that indicated the following verb is negated. Hence it's exactly analogous to the aleph tau.

Instead of this nit-picking which seems like an excuse not to evaluate the data on its own merits, I think it would be more honest to actually have a look at it. >>

I did not mean to nit-pick. I did not understand your argument I agree that there are similarities between French ne and Hebrew aleph-tau though I doubt that in speaking Hebrew Israelites actually vocalized aleph -tau (but there is no way to prove it). But, you misunderstand my argument. I am not arguing that aleph-tau should be ignored or rejected just because it is only a grammatical marker, but rather because it is a late updating of the grammar, and hence not an added revelation from God, and hence not inspired in the way that Vernon is thinking of the text.

<< Some time back, I publicly challenged Vernon to evaluate the evidence for evolution by examining Francis Collins's paper "Faith and the Human Genome", which presents pretty much irrefutable evidence that it happened. Vernon gave the absolutely infuriating answer that it was obvious that Collins and other TEs were just ignoring the bible, indicating that the evidence presented by Collins didn't carry any weight.

Your objections to Vernon's data are equally infuriating, because you, equally, are not attempting to evaluate the evidence, but using your a priori beliefs (about, e.g. the nature of miracles that you'll believe God would or would not do) to discredit it out of hand.>>

I hope you realize from the above that my argument is not purely subjective or apriori. You may also get more insight into my conclusion by reading a book on Old Testament textual criticism. The differences in the spellings and hence in the numerical value of various verses are considerable. I do not think Vernon's foundation is firm.

Regarding Collins' book, Vernon sees no more sense in going through all the intricacies of it than I do in going through all the intricacies of his work. And in a sense for the same reason: We do not think the foundation of the proffered truths is sound. Vernon believes Genesis is a revelation from God as to HOW and WHEN God created the world. Since the "days" look very much like 24-hour days, and Adam from the 6th day, judging by the genealogies, was created not more than 6 to 10 thousand years ago and since Eve was made from Adam's rib, there is no place for long ages of evolution And who is Francis Collins or anyone else to say God got it wrong?

If you want to change Vernon, you need to argue from Scripture.

Best wishes,

Paul S

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Received on Fri Sep 22 20:54:43 2006

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