Re: [asa] Santayana on Accommodationalism

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Tue Mar 13 2007 - 16:19:05 EDT

> -----Original Message-----
> From: George Murphy []
> Sent: Sunday, March 11, 2007 2:19 PM
> To: Glenn Morton;
> Subject: Re: [asa] Santayana on Accommodationalism
> a) Whatever rhetorical flourishes he may have about Venus,
> Lucretius is popularizing the effective atheism of Epicurus
> et al. To call his poem "religious" is a little odd.

Invoking Gods is odd for a total atheist! Yes, I am aware of Epicurus and
his connection with Lucretius, but most atheists I know don't start by
praying to Jehovah.

I didn't say "total atheist" but referred to the "effective atheism" of the
philosophy which Lucretius was popularizing. Sure there were gods but they
didn't do anything. I wouldn't call it an "atheist poem" but "religious
poem" is more of a stretch.
> b) The Genesis creation texts use figurative language but
> they aren't "poems." Ps.104 is a creation poem.
> c) I don't know who you think is arguing that the texts are
> "poems" and therefore that they can't be be conveying truth
> about the natural world but I certainly never have.

George, why is it that you always think I am speaking about you? I am not.
But over the years I have heard this expressed by many on this very list.
Jan de Konig is a case in point. He wrote:

"God wrote a poem in Gen.1, followed by another story in
Gen.2 and following, to show who made everything, followed by a story who
made a mess out of it."

You obviously haven't paid attention to what some of your fellows here have
been saying, and then act terribly surprised when I think of their replies
along this line. Your reply is a bit like Groucho Marx who was kissing a
girl when his movie 'wife' walked in on them. He asked, "Who ya gonna
believe, me or your lying eyes?"

Note that Jan didn't say that Gen.2 was a "poem." (But I won't want to
quibble about the definition of "poem.") More to the point is that he
didn't - nor do I think anybody with any sense would - argue that the texts
are poetic and therefore CANNOT convey truth about the natural world. Good
grief, think of The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere!

So your counterexample falls flat. Your reply reminds me of the old story
of the drunk hunting for his watch under a lamp post instead of down the
street where he dropped it because the light was better there.

> More to the point is the fact that we have 2 creation
> accounts which don't agree as historical/scientific accounts.

They do if one refuses to think anything new or novel about the accounts.
They fit together quite nicely within my interpretation, but, of course,
theology wouldn't really want to think anything new, now would we?

It takes a lot of interpretation to see the difference in the temporal
sequence of events in the 2 accounts!

& the remark about theology not wanting to think anything new shows a
remarkable ignorance of what's being written in theology these days. Its
problem is, if anything, being to willing to come up with new notions
unconstrained by - & in some cases in open contempt for - the tradition.

> d) Genesis 1 & 2 are both talking about the real world which
> we inhabit, not a purely poetic world. That doesn't mean
> that those accounts have to be read as historical narrative
> or science. Your problem is that they don't say the sorts of
> things about the world that you want them to say so you (like
> most concordists) read what you want into them. You also (unlike most
> concordists) construct imaginary scenarios of mutant ape-like
> creatures & survivors of 5.5 Myr ago floods & then think
> you've got correlation with historical data.

And you believe accounts which you admit are not real science or history and
think they are deeply inspired and show the hand of God. One wonders who is
more idiotic.

So it's idiotic to think that any text can be inspired & show the hand of
God if it isn't "real science or history"? Is that correct?


As to imaginary, it is a fact that there was a geologic event which
actually matches the biblical description--it happened long ago. It is a
fact that the genes in us wee humans have ages as long ago as that event
before the genes coalesce (which is the date of the gene). It is a fact that
you believe that man descended from the apes, so in what way is my scenario
more imaginative than yours? At least I base mine on an interpretation of
what the scripture says, you on the other hand, simply add things willy
nilly when they are needed regardless of whether there is any biblical basis
for it at all. (just remember George, you started this with your crack
about imaginary scenarios of mutant ape-like creatures). Do you not believe
that mutations lead from apes to humans, or have you suddenly left belief in
evolution? Do you believe we should never deal in scenarios? What do you
think your beliefs are, if not imaginary scenarios???

You should know quite well that what I was referring to was not simply the
claims that there was a Mediterranean flood or that humans & apes have a
common ancestry, but to your scenarios in which the experience of a survivor
of that flood can be correlated meaningfully with the biblical Noah and
(especially) your speculation about God resurrecting a stillborn mutant
apelike creature. I'll focus on the latter because it's the most bizarre.
Of course it "could have" happened. Lots of things "could have happened"
but there not only is no evidence that that particular event (as
distinguished from evidence for common ancestry) _did_ happen but it's hard
to see how there's any realistic possibility of ever confirming it
scientifically. Is there any remote chance that paleontologists would find
fossils of an apelike creature and, after careful study, say "We can tell
that he was stillborn but then raised from the dead"?

Which wouldn't be so bad if it had anything to do with either Genesis
account. But it doesn't. The notion that raising a stillborn infant from
the dead is somehow historical or scientific confirmation of an account of a
human being formed from the dust of the earth is a concordism that has
become so elastic that it's meaningless.

Compare that then with the theological scenario I develop, e.g., in my
recent PSCF paper. It doesn't depend on any particular dating or location
for the 1st humans in a theological sense so I need to "add" nothing there.
I point out that the picture of a gradual process of humanity "getting off
the right road" agrees in broad terms with the early chapters of Genesis &
one current of the Christian tradition. I argue, both from a general
understanding of evolution through natural selection and observation of
primate behavior that the first humans would have had strong tendencies
toward behaviors which would be sinful for moral agents. In comparison with
your speculations that's straight Joe Friday.


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Received on Tue Mar 13 15:20:07 2007

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