Re: [asa] Critical review of Dawkins' Book by the "Liberal Media"

From: Janice Matchett <>
Date: Fri Dec 29 2006 - 10:41:34 EST

It seems to me as if I read somewhere that in Hebrew thought there is
an idea that until God names and gives function to what he has
created out of nothing, it doesn't exist in time, even though it exists.

I don't know if I got that right or not. I vaguely remember either
posting something , or reading something to that effect. If so, I
believe it may have come from some ANE literature that J.P. Holding
was discussing in one of his commentaries. When I get time I'll try
and track it down.

That may be what Jim is referring to. Or not. :)

~ Janice

At 10:18 AM 12/29/2006, Ted Davis wrote:
> >>> Jim Armstrong <> 12/27/06 9:08 PM >>>writes:
>That's not the Jewish perspective that I'm more familiar with. The
>Creator does something like creating form through organizing a portion
>of chaotic "something", and then assigning functionality (along with a
>name). JimA
>Ted disagrees.
>Jim's view sounds more like that of PLato, in Timaeus, where the "DEMIURGOS"
>(craftsman, the same word used in the book of Hebrews for God the creator)
>makes the world out of 3 things: preexisting, unformed matter; the form of
>the good (a reference no doubt in two dimensions to a prefect square with 90
>feet between bases), from which other forms are derived; and "the nurse of
>becoming," a sort of potential to be something.
>The Greeks saw this as different from the Jewish view, and I think they were
>correct to see it that way. The Biblical God was not beholden to uncreated
>things with which he had to work. As a consequence of the Greek view that
>the demiurgos lacks omnipotence (ie, cannot create from nothing) and has to
>work with externally given perfect forms *that can only be imperfectly
>imposed on matter*, nature is an imperfect copy of the perfect forms. We
>can therefore have only "opinion," not genuine "knowledge" (ie, science =
>knowledge), of physical nature; we can however have genuine "knowledge" (ie,
>science) of the forms themselves. That is, we can know mathematics, but
>only opine physics. There is no "science" of nature for Plato, there is
>mere opinion of an imperfectly formed nature that only "copies" the forms
>There are also further consequences. As the Hellenistic physician Galen
>wrote roughly 500 years after PLato, Moses believed that God could do
>whatever he wanted to, whereas the Greeks held correctly (in Galen's view)
>that God can only choose the best of the various possibilities that
>presented themselves to him. He says this in his biological treatise, "De
>usu partium," which I do not have here at home to quote. Boyle picked up on
>this very Galenic point in his treatise on the doctrine of creation, "A Free
>Inquiry into the Vulgarly Received Notion of Nature" (published 1686 but
>mostly written in the mid-1660s), where he strongly affirmed the Hebrew
>notion of creatio ex nihilo. As Boyle underscores the point, Hebrew has no
>word for "nature" in the sense spoken of by the Greeks (ie, no equivalent to
>"PHYSIS"), only words expressing the fact that God created it.
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Received on Fri Dec 29 10:41:49 2006

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