Re: [asa] Question for all the theistic evolutionists

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Sun Mar 11 2007 - 22:08:30 EDT

*But God's revelation is given to us in a historical context. If the
historical context is not recorded correctly then why should we think
that the theology is right?*

Dave, it's true that Christianity is a faith rooted in history. But you're
betraying a bit of a cultural bias here, I think, when you use a phrase like
"if the historical context is not recorded correctly" in reference to any
particular part of the Bible. By stating it that way, you're bringing to the
text a presupposition about the literary genre, and another presupposition
about what standards of "correctness" should apply to that genre. Your
presuppositions simply beg the foundational hermeneutical questions about
any particular Biblical text.

It's also not clear what you mean by "the theology" being "right."
Certainly, there are some historical events that are foundational to the
Christian faith -- the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus in
particular. There are other events described in the Bible, it seems to me,
as to which the theological point wouldn't change regardless of
historicity. The book of Job, for example, is a beautiful theodicy that
shouldn't be diminished if Job was an actual historical figure or if it is
an entirely fictional story or something in between.

I would tend to agree with you that if the stories of Adam and Eve and the
flood aren't rooted in essential history, it is difficult to see the whole
story of scripture hangs together and how the doctrine of original sin
works. So, I can't agree that these stories are broken myth or entirely
fictional. However, it seems equally clear to me that the stories of the
fall and the flood as presented in the Bible aren't history of the same sort
as the gospel accounts of Jesus' life, death and resurrection. Among other
things, the fall and flood stories don't purport to be eyewitness accounts,
they aren't detailed, they bear striking similarities to extrabiblical
literature, and the story of the fall at least clearly includes figurative
elements (the talking snake, for example). So, for example, if it turns out
that we can't figure out exactly where and how in hominid history the fall
happened, or how the flood story suggests a more massive flood than anything
we can locate in history, I don't see that as not being "recorded correctly"
-- these stories simply aren't the kind of literary genres from which we can
expect precisely accurate recording.

On 3/11/07, Dave Wallace <> wrote:
> David Opderbeck wrote:
> > /The atheists are the ones who are setting
> > the cultural agenda--they are the men and women of action.
> > /
> > I think there are areas in which this is true, but it is not true of
> > everything everywhere. Look at important things like addressing
> > genocide in Darfur. Christians are at the forefront of many such
> efforts.
> >
> > /Thus, I will submit again, that unless we put real history and real
> > > empiricism into the Bible (to use Burgy's phrase when we had
> lunch),our
> > > religion will be not worth a bucket of warm spit. Everyone will look
> at
> > > that bucket we offer and go 'YUCK!", rejecting what we offer them-- a
> > > chance, like us, to be men and women of inaction./
> > //
> > This may be true for people who are committed to the religion of
> > positivist empiricism. It isn't true, I would submit, for the vast
> > majority of people most of us interact with every day. There are
> > hundreds of new believers in the church I attend, and I doubt even one
> > of them came to faith because of some "empirical" argument. Most of
> > them came because someone loved them enough to show them some kindness
> > and to introduce them to Jesus -- a person, not a proposition. And as a
> > whole the folks I fellowship with are by no stretch "men and women of
> > inaction." There's more "action" in that fellowship than anyone can
> > handle -- from youth skate parks, to homes for unwed mothers, to
> > sponsoring an entire village in Africa.
> >
> > Read a little deeper on philosophy, history and hermeneutics. This kind
> > of "empiricism" always fails because it just isn't true to our human
> > condition, to the relational nature of faith, or to the sort of
> > revelation God gave us in scripture. In seeking a true foundation for
> > faith, it provides instead a false faith system of its own.
> >
> But God's revelation is given to us in a historical context. If the
> historical context is not recorded correctly then why should we think
> that the theology is right? Not that if the history were correct it
> would prove the theology right or anything like that.
> How far are people willing to go? If the Adam and Eve story is not
> historically true then what about Abraham, Moses, The Judges, Kings,
> Prophets and even Christ himself?
> I am asking a serious question here, how far would the TEs on this list
> go before deciding their was nothing to Christianity?
> We attended one church where the birth, death, burial and resurrection
> of Christ was considered an accommodation or so it seemed to me. That
> denies what I at least, see as the essence of the Gospel, ie is an
> extremely good approximation to strong heresy. Since that particular
> church had a high degree of Orthopraxy we moved on in sorrow.
> I'm not saying that a literal reading is necessary. For example I see
> no problem with a local flood. Language describing what the
> participants saw is being used, not scientific/modern reporting kind of
> language. Further as someone who grew up speaking a Semitic language
> when playing with my friends, I have some understanding of the great
> difficulties of accurate translation including connotations to and from
> a living language let alone one in the ANE. For example the word
> translated brother often included not just male siblings but male
> cousins or even a close friend. Getting meanings like that across was
> often difficult especially for people newly arrived from the English
> speaking world. At times there were even suggestions that people were
> lying when claiming someone was a brother when in our terms he was a
> cousin. Thus I have considerable sympathy for the modified translation
> Glenn provided a while back. I have little doubt that some of our
> problems are due to mis-translations.
> I do not by any means think that if the Creation story is not completly
> factual that the whole of revelation falls apart. However I would like
> to see either Glenn or Dick be correct but am not convinced to date.
> Dave W
> To unsubscribe, send a message to with
> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Sun Mar 11 22:09:17 2007

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sun Mar 11 2007 - 22:09:17 EDT