RE: [asa] Was Adam a real person?

From: Dehler, Bernie <bernie.dehler@intel.com>
Date: Thu Apr 10 2008 - 19:07:25 EDT

DF Siemens said:
"It looks to me as though there is a problem with ambiguity. Every
culture has its explanations for phenomena. Bernie calls this the
science of the day. David wants to keep science to its current English
sense."

 

I think the science of their day said there was a dome (firmament)
covering the earth, and above the dome was an ocean (water). The stars
were in the dome, under the ocean. That aligns with Gen. 1. Their
modern science is in agreement with Scripture, as if someone wrote it
from that perspective. We would never tell a story like that today
because we all know there is no water over the stars (except for some
YEC's who still believe it ... because the Bible teaches it ... see
http://www.icr.org/article/3472/ <http://www.icr.org/article/3472/> and
look at their picture drawing of it). These YEC's go for ancient
science because it is the science taught in the Bible.

 

David Opderbeck said:
"No, it's just anachronistic to call what the Babylonians and ancient
Hebrews were doing "science." Take a look at John Walton's book
"Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament." It is a
completely foreign mindset to our contemporary scientific worldview."

 

I think I know what you mean by stating there's a difference between
Hebrew thinking and Greek-based logic. However, both had "science."
Look at medicine. What did the early Hebrews do? The best they could
with their "medical science" of the day- probably treated with herbs and
oitments from wisdom gained thru the ages. How about math? They didn't
have algebra, but they probably counted in order to pay taxes, make
trades, etc. (Maybe that is why tithe is 10%-- count on your fingers, 1
for every 10.) Then they also did amazing things like Stonehedge (other
ancients) and had technologies (lost to us) for building the pyramids.
So they surely weren't all ignorant poets, which I'm sure you also
recognize. They had science just like we do, only it was primitive and
we have built on it and refined it. That is Dawkin's idea of the
meme-evolving to a higher state over time (thought evolution).

 

Donald Calbreath said:
"Now, let's see if I have it straight. If the Scripture disagrees with
our understanding of science, then Scripture is wrong - is that correct?
It could be that our understanding of science is somehow incomplete,
couldn't it?"

 

Yes, the Scripture is wrong if it contradicts what we know from science.
This was the whole problem with Galileo and geocentricty vs.
heliocentricity. We only repeat the same battle because we didn't learn
from the last one-we all have been raised knowing the earth circles the
sun rather than vice-versa. Only this time, the stakes are much higher
with evolution and theological ramifications. If God created man via
evolution then He did not create the first man from a pile of dirt-they
are mutually exclusive hypothesis.

 

Don also said:
"Help me out here, folks. Using your logic, there's really nothing left
to hold fast to. And how does this fit in with your understanding of
the ASA statement of faith?"

 

We can't "hold fast" to something just because we want to place faith in
it. (Otherwise we may just as well be Mormons or Muslims.) Our
allegiance has to be to truth, above all. I believe if we seek truth it
will lead to Jesus and God. If that means some of the Bible has error,
some doesn't, and it has to be sorted out, so be it. The Bible can
still be "inspired" and a "rule for faith." It is like no other book.
I think the Bible has to be knocked-off of it's pedestal, which is so
high for some people that it looks like they worship it. I don't think
the Bible is the "Word of God," but encapsulates "some" of the Word of
God (not all the things Jesus did and said were written), and the whole
"Word of God" is in the person of Jesus who became flesh.

 

David Operbeck said:
"The problem is that applying the categories of modern science to the
ancient Hebrew narratives of origins is a category mistake. Scripture
isn't "wrong" here because it isn't giving us "science." "

 

If Scripture offers a hypothesis that can be checked by science, then it
is in the realm of science. If Scripture seriously teaches that man was
made from a pile of dirt and not other animals, then there are
consequences we would see in the genome. Special creation for man is at
odds with evolution, and looking at the genome can settle the debate.
We can look into this; the ancients could not, including the Apostle
Paul. Our theology will shift based on this new info.

 

I appreciate the chance to bounce my ideas off of you all- thanks! You
are all helping me refine my ideas.

 

________________________________

From: D. F. Siemens, Jr. [mailto:dfsiemensjr@juno.com]
Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2008 2:06 PM
To: Dehler, Bernie
Cc: asa@lists.calvin.edu
Subject: Re: [asa] Was Adam a real person?

 

It looks to me as though there is a problem with ambiguity. Every
culture has its explanations for phenomena. Bernie calls this the
science of the day. David wants to keep science to its current English
sense. But there is the broader sense of /wissen/ in German and the
earlier /scientia/. The latter at least required an organized approach.
An animist will explain the accident a person had after killing a bear
as the spirit of the bear retaliating because it was not placated. Such
an acceptable explanation for animism is clearly not scientific in the
contemporary sense. But there are many today whose notion of luck is not
all that different in its underlying motive.

 

The discussion that has been going on recognizes the similarity between
the early biblical report and that of ANE mythology. Dick insists that
the mythology is derived from the historical data in the Bible. I
believe that the biblical report is derived from the mythology of the
area that the earliest Hebrews came from. Unfortunately, I do not see
that it is possible to have a definitive proof of either position. But I
am persuaded that there are unintended consequences of Dick's view that
make it highly unlikely. Additionally, as I noted in "Extended Humpty
Dumpty Semantics and Genesis 1," PSCF 59:194 (September 2007), the
descriptive language ties scripture to ANE views.

Dave (ASA)

 

On Thu, 10 Apr 2008 12:14:55 -0700 "Dehler, Bernie"
<bernie.dehler@intel.com> writes:

        "It seems to me that "the closest understanding of Biblical
origins" is that the writers and redactors of the Biblical creation and
flood texts didn't seem terribly concerned about precision or
consistency. It's anachronistic to say that God accommodated the
Biblical creation texts to the "science" of the day. There was no
"science" in that day as we know it. Rather, God accommodated to a mode
of communicating through cosmogenic myths, in which function, not
structure or chronology, are the primary concerns."

         

        I disagree. I think every day and age has its "modern science."
That's the whole point- the Genesis story makes perfect sense in the
science of it's day, but not in our day, since we know more.

         

        When it says Adam had children and gives ages for Adam and his
offspring, this is just plainly an error if evolution is true and Adam
was not the first man created. The Adam that was made in Gen. 2 from
dirt is the same that is the father of Cain and Abel. He is either real
or not; can't be real in one chapter but not the other, if the same
hermeneutic is used the same on both passages for this one book of the
Bible called Genesis. There may be spiritual truth and allegory in it,
but if evolution is true, the literal (standard YEC) interpretation is
false. Just my ideas.

         

        
________________________________

        From: David Opderbeck [mailto:dopderbeck@gmail.com]
        Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2008 6:06 AM
        To: Jack
        Cc: Denis O. Lamoureux; Dehler, Bernie; asa@lists.calvin.edu
        Subject: Re: [asa] Was Adam a real person?

         

        I second what Jack said below. I'd also add this about YEC
being "the closest understanding of Biblical origins":

         

        -- the textual evidence seems ambiguous at best. We have "days"
in Gen. 1 with no Sun; we have obvious poetic parallelisms among the
Gen. 1 "days"; we have a day 7 that seems never to end; and we have a
separate, inconsistent account in Gen. 2, which turns the order of
creation in Gen. 1 upside down.

         

        -- YEC is inseparable from flood geology. There is no
suggestion in the text, including in the flood story, that the flood
dramatically reshaped global geology (or even the landscape of the flat,
four-cornered earth assumed to exist by the Biblical writers).

         

         

        -- the history of interpretation of these texts includes
numerous ancient efforts to understand the "days" as something more than
literal

         

        It seems to me that "the closest understanding of Biblical
origins" is that the writers and redactors of the Biblical creation and
flood texts didn't seem terribly concerned about precision or
consistency. It's anachronistic to say that God accommodated the
Biblical creation texts to the "science" of the day. There was no
"science" in that day as we know it. Rather, God accommodated to a mode
of communicating through cosmogenic myths, in which function, not
structure or chronology, are the primary concerns.

        
        
         

        On Wed, Apr 9, 2008 at 10:59 PM, Jack <drsyme@cablespeed.com>
wrote:

        Ok hold on one second here.
        
        Perhaps I need to read your book. But there is a difference
between understanding big bang cosmology and evolutionary theory, and
understanding whether or not Adam was historical or mythical. What I am
hearing from you in this email is a 21st century bias against the
ancients, and I think the ancients may have known more than you seem to
give them credit for.
        ----- Original Message ----- From: "Denis O. Lamoureux"
<dlamoure@ualberta.ca>
        To: "Dehler, Bernie" <bernie.dehler@intel.com>;
<asa@lists.calvin.edu>
        Sent: Wednesday, April 09, 2008 10:42 PM
        Subject: Re: [asa] Was Adam a real person?

        Hi Bernie,
        Everything you ask/state in your note is perfectly logical.
        
        Did the writers of Genesis believe in an Adam? Yes.
        Did Paul believe in an Adam? Yes
        Is young earth creation the closest understanding of the
Biblical view of origins? Yes.
        
        So how can I as an evangelical Xian open the concluding chapter
of my book
        with the following sentence:
          My central conclusion in this book is clear: Adam never
existed, and this fact
          has no impact whatsoever on the foundational beliefs of
Christianity.
        It takes me some 400 pages to get there, and obviously I can
give a satisfying
        answer in one e-mail.
        
        However, the 'quick & dirty' answer is that the de novo creation
(quick & complete)
        of humans is an ancient understanding of origins. In starting
the revelatory process,
        the Holy Spirit accommodated to the origins science of the day.
The Holy
        Spirit used de novo creation as an incidental vessel to deliver
the Messages
        of Faith: the God of the Bible is the Creator, the creation is
very good, and humans
        are created in God's Image.
        
        Another way of looking at it is to remember when we first met
Christ. Did the
        Lord not come down to our level? So to with the ancient
Hebrews. They
        would never have understood Big Bang cosmology or evolutionary
biology.
        
        So one word: Grace.
        
        Hope this helps.
        Denis
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        ----- Original Message ----- From: "Dehler, Bernie"
<bernie.dehler@intel.com>
        To: <asa@lists.calvin.edu>
        Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2008 10:36 AM
        Subject: [asa] Was Adam a real person?

        Hi all-
        
        I still have a question. For those who think that Adam was not
a real
        person in history, how do you answer the critic that says this
idea
        undermines the whole Bible, since likewise if Adam didn't exist
then
        other characters maybe didn't exist either (Noah, Jonah,
Abraham, &
        Moses). If the Bible is undermined, then the faith is on shaky
ground,
        since it is difficult to know what is true and what isn't.
        
        I've asked before, but don't think I've gotten any straight,
crisp,
        answers. Can someone point me to some references or sources for
the
        answer? Is this a straight-forward question that is being
routinely
        ignored or shunted or re-directed?
        
        I'm not looking for answers as to why Adam must have been real,
but
        looking for answers to the criticism of those who say he was not
a real
        person.
        
         Here's what I think the answer is-- tell me if it looks
reasonable:
        
        The Bible must be studied with what we know of nature. If a
Biblical
        story conflicts with natural science, then we must pick the
clearer over
        the foggier; and if science is clearer, we must accept that.
Example,
        those who read the Bible with ancient science thought the sun
revolved
        around the earth. Now we know the earth revolves around the sun,
so
        science is therefore used to interpret Scripture. Likewise, we
know
        that evolution works on groups of people, and there was no
"first,
        unique" man... man evolved like all other life-forms, over vast
amounts
        of times within populations. Therefore, we know from science
there was
        no first man named Adam, as there is no such thing as a "first"
man.
        
        
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        --
        David W. Opderbeck
        Associate Professor of Law
        Seton Hall University Law School
        Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology

         

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Received on Thu Apr 10 19:12:40 2008

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