Re: [asa] Designed Kangaroos?

From: Iain Strachan <>
Date: Thu Aug 02 2007 - 07:14:12 EDT


Having come back from holiday and examining the fall out from a post I made,
perhaps ill-advisedly, shortly before leaving, I accept that what I wrote
was hasty and perhaps I should have thought about it more before putting it
there. Like most people who try to argue reasonably with Young Earth
Creationists, occasionally it gets too much for me and I lose patience.

I apologise for the tone of the comment. However, in terms of content, it
was a response to a perfectly reasonable question from Michael, and was, in
my view the perfectly logical conclusion and answer, given what YEC's have
repeatedly told me. Adam disobeyed God, ate the fruit, and as a result of
this single historical act God put the curse on the whole of creation.
Clearly the Ebola virus is part of that curse. For a YEC to deny that they
believe this is, to be inconsistent with their claims. (Or so it seems to

I like very much your Frodo analogy & have used Frodo myself in discussions
with YEC friends, but to no avail, alas.

Greg said he didn't follow what I meant by metaphor being more meaningful
than history.

To answer this, let's expand the computer example I gave. Just consider the
whole pile of metaphors, none of which are literally true, that are thrown
at you every time you use a computer. The "Desktop" for example isn't a
desktop (it's vertical for a start on most monitors). The "Desktop
wallpaper" isn't wallpaper (you normally put wallpaper on a wall), and it
isn't made of paper. The icons on the desktop aren't icons (and aren't even
spelt correctly!). An "avatar" isn't an avatar, the buttons on the screen
aren't buttons, you don't click "on" the said buttons, nor do you type text
"into" a "window" which isn't a window anyway. The literal truth is that
whole screen is a window that allows you to see the projected pattern of
electrons that is behind the whole pile of illusions.

But if I were to explain what really literally goes on when I click the
send button and send this email out to the list, it wouldn't be very
meaningful at all. But the phrase "I click the send button and send the
email out to the list" is VERY meaningful, and it describes what happened
extremely well. And if you report a fault to a tech-support person, you
use those metaphors, and you describe perfectly what happened ( I clicked on
the "Word" icon, on the desktop, opened the file xyz.doc, then clicked on
the print button and got the blue screen of death). I think the only words
that are literally true in the above sentence are "I" "the" "then" "and"
"of", and possibly "got".

I am coming to the way of thinking that reducing it to literal history is
akin the "nothing-buttery" that Donald MacKay used to describe. If I
actually described what happened in the computer when I do any action, in
terms of electrical currents, patterns of electrons projected on the screen
etc, I would be describing something that was literally true, yet lose the
meaning of what happened.

The same is true of Genesis. If one reduces it to straight narrative -
Adam's eating of a literal piece of fruit caused all the bad things in the
world to happen, then one again misses the meaning. Does not the account
mean so much more than this? The name "Adam" means "Man". It describes our
own condition. The very first time as a child we disobey our parents, we
fall, surely. That, to me, is what it means to be "In Adam".

Greg also wrote:

The following statement is confusing: "What I dismiss is the notion that it
is interpreted as a literal historical event."

Do you really dismiss 'the notion' that is so interpreted, or do you dismiss
those who interpret it as such?

I reply:

I said "I dismiss the notion". There is absolutely nothing confusing in
that. I did not say I dismissed the people who interpret it as such. I ask
you respectfully to

(a) Listen to what I said.
(b) Not twist it into something else which I didn't say.


On 8/2/07, David Opderbeck <> wrote:
> Iain, this is what you said:
> *God designed the Ebola virus because a real man and a real woman ate a
> piece of fruit that they weren't supposed to in 4004BC.
> Really, Michael, you lack of knowledge is truly shocking!*
> **
> I'm sorry if this offends, but IMHO that is "dismissive." It is exactly
> the kind of scoffing rhetoric atheists and others hostile to Christianity
> use to dismiss our faith. Nor is it consistent, respectfully, with the
> stance you've taken many times on this list against mocking other believers
> who think differently about these questions. I hope you know, BTW, that I
> say this in an "iron sharpens iron" kind of way, because I respect you and
> think you are right in essence about reading this story too narrowly.
> For example, Peter says: *Are you seriously suggesting that one can have
> a mythical Adam and a literal Christ? The parallelism fails. *
> **
> Yes, Peter, I personally would say we can have a non-literal Adam without
> destroying Paul's point about Christ's role as redeemer. I could say, for
> example, that *"just as Frodo had to bear the burden of the ring until it
> was destroyed, so Christ had to bear the weight of human sin and weakness
> until he acheived victory on the cross." * There is a very nice
> parellelism there, which isn't destroyed at all by the fact that Frodo
> is entirely a literary figure. Whether I intend by this statement to affirm
> the historicity of Frodo is a different matter, as is how a particular view
> of inspiration affects one's view of this kind of reference, and that is the
> real rub with Paul's reference to Adam. But either way, the illustration
> remains intact.
> I would say that Adam does not have to be like either a well defined
> historical figure or a "mythical" one. The choice doesn't have to be that
> binary. Adam and the fall might be a mytho-poetic story that is inacessible
> to scientific anthropology / history but that nevertheless possesses an
> essential historicity. But I want to say that without sniffing at the story
> God gave us in scripture. I want to say it without "sitting in the seat of
> the scornful" (Ps. 1:1) but with reverence for the mutual and
> complementary truth and beauty of God's word and His world.
> On 8/1/07, Iain Strachan <> wrote:
> > David,
> >
> > Where did I say I was dismissing it??
> >
> > What I dismiss is the notion that it is interpreted as a literal
> historical event.
> >
> > As an example I've given several times before, but no-one has commented;
> I'm about to click the "send" button to send this message off to everyone on
> the list. But I'm NOT literally doing that - I'm literally clicking the
> same button on the mouse that I'd click if I clicked the "discard" button.
> >
> > I am of the opinion that metaphor is MORE meaningful than history, not
> less. Of COURSE the narrative is central to the Christian faith, which is
> why it's so sad that people get "stuck" on the idea that it's a literal
> event & then have to invent laughable pseudo-science (and I've had to endure
> my atheist colleagues laughing at it) in order to justify it.
> >
> > Please retract your assertion that I "dismiss" a central narrative of
> the Christian faith. I find your accusation to be extremely insulting, to
> be frank.
> >
> > Just about to click the mythological "send" button...
> >
> > Iain
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > On 8/1/07, David Opderbeck <> wrote:
> > > But Iain, though I agree with you on the need for a broader
> hermeneutical perspective, and though I agree with you that it's too pat and
> simple to attribute carnivorous animals and such to a recent historical
> fall, I'm really struggling with the way in which, it seems to me, you're
> dismissing a central narrative of the Christian faith. The picture
> scripture gives us of human rebellion against God is, in fact, the picture
> of a man and woman eating fruit God told them not to eat. And scripture
> does, in fact, suggest that this somehow messes up everything. It seems to
> me that we need to appropriate this picture and interpret it in the context
> of what we know about the physical world, but not to dismiss it.
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > On 8/1/07, Iain Strachan < > wrote:
> > > > Peter
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > On 7/28/07, Peter Loose < > wrote:
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > > Iain and Friends:
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > > I find this stance in respect of 'bad things being literally due
> to one historical woman and her husband eating a piece of fruit' to be very
> sad.
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > Sorry, but that is exactly what my YEC friends tell me. That the
> fall is a literal historical event, tied precisely to Adam and Eve eating
> the fruit, literally on a given day. As direct result of this God put the
> curse on the whole of creation, and from thenceforth all the bad things
> happened. "Carnivory" started up (I've even seen articles on this on the AiG
> website), animals started eating each other.
> > > >
> > > > The logical extension to this is that to answer Michael's pointed
> question as to why God "designed" the Ebola virus is that Adam's specific
> act of disobedience in eating the forbidden fruit was the direct reason that
> God made this happen.
> > > >
> > > > My creationist friends tell me that the whole Gospel falls apart if
> you don't accept this.
> > > >
> > > > I agree - the whole stance is very sad indeed, and I feel honour
> bound as a Christian to continue to point out its absurdity - an absurdity
> that keeps people away from Christianity because most people think you must
> be a nutter to believe such things.
> > > >
> > > > As I have said elsewhere, we must think about what the Fall
> narrative _means_ rather than being stuck on whether it happened literally
> as described. (Man+woman+fruit).
> > > >
> > > > Iain
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > >
> > >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > --
> > -----------
> > After the game, the King and the pawn go back in the same box.
> >
> > - Italian Proverb
> > -----------

After the game, the King and the pawn go back in the same box.
- Italian Proverb
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Received on Thu Aug 2 07:14:51 2007

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