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

From: Jim Armstrong <>
Date: Fri Dec 29 2006 - 14:16:12 EST

Yeh, there was conversation on this particular matter some months ago. I
had run into this understanding through a lecture on ancient Hebrew
thought relating to Genesis by4 Dr. John Walton, OT Professor. A smilar
lecture is on the Wheaton site. JimA

Janice Matchett wrote:

> 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
>> (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
>> imperfectly.
>> 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.
>> ted
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Received on Fri Dec 29 14:19:23 2006

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