Re: [asa] Was Adam a real person?

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Fri Apr 11 2008 - 21:23:47 EDT

Denis said: You have misread and misrepresented Walton's book.
But I guess misspeaking is standard and perfectly
acceptable for lawyers . .

I respond: Really, Denis, is this kind of garbage ad hominem argument
necessary? I don't think I've "misread" Walton's book at all, though that
certainly is possible. The claim that I've "misrepresented" it, however, is
just offensive, because that implies malicious intent. I've been around
here for a while, and if you understood that you'd know that I'm probably
more on your "side" than not. But don't try to bully me and don't confuse
me with Phil Johnson.

I've also corresponded several times with Walton about his book in the past
-- not in connection with this conversation -- and he made clear to me that
we can't consider the ANE people to have been doing "literal" cosmology in
the way that we would use the term "literal" because they were more
interested in "functions" than "causes." In fact, this distinction between
"functions" and "causes" is one of his main points about the ANE mindset,
and if you've read his IVP commentary on Genesis you'll see that this is why
he considers the "days" of Genesis 1 not to be "literal" days -- i.e., God's
statements about the sun and moon don't cause the sun and moon to come into
existence, they assign functions to the sun and moon of marking seasons and
days and years. How is Walton your "colleague," BTW? Are you at Wheaton

So, if Walton is using the shorthand "Old World Science," fine -- but I
think he'd also agree that this does NOT imply "science" in the sense we use
that term today, meaning explanations of natural causes.

Anyway, let me ask you this:

-- do you agree that "science" as we define it today is limited to natural
explanations? Or do you contend that "science" as we define it today can
admit the immediate presence and activity of gods?

-- do you agree that ANE cosmology is contingent on the immediate presence
and activity of gods? Or do you contend that the Enuma Elish is a purely
naturalistic explanation of how the universe came to be?

On Fri, Apr 11, 2008 at 8:55 PM, Denis O. Lamoureux <>

> Hello David,
> I'm the "Someone said" individual. Two points:
> (1) So you admit your anachronism, but then argue
> that my anachronism is worst than yours.
> Goodness gracious! I suppose I should walk over
> to the law school to learn about this special way
> of arguing.
> (2) Just contacted my colleague John Walton whose
> book you've appealed to in your posts. Regarding
> the notion of ancient science or science of the day,
> he writes:
> I often use "Old World Science" as a way
> of categorizing Israel's cosmic geography if
> that clarifies anything.
> You have misread and misrepresented Walton's book.
> But I guess misspeaking is standard and perfectly
> acceptable for lawyers . . .
> Regards,
> Denis
> Denis O. Lamoureux DDS PhD PhD
> Assistant Professor of Science & Religion
> St. Joseph's College, University of Alberta
> Edmonton, Alberta Canada T6G 2J5
> Tel: 780 492 7681 ext.246
> Fax: 780 492 8145
> E-mail:
> Website: <>
> ----- Original Message -----
> *From:* David Opderbeck <>
> *To:* Denis O. Lamoureux <>
> *Cc:* Jack <> ; Dehler, Bernie<>;
> *Sent:* Friday, April 11, 2008 7:36 AM
> *Subject:* Re: [asa] Was Adam a real person?
> Someone said: Now this is delicious. I'm accused of being
> "anachronistic," and two sentences later David refers to "cosmogenic
> myths." Does anyone think that J, P or R were constructing "cosmogenic
> myths"? [I'm saying "someone said" b/c the string got long and I can't
> figure out who's saying what!]
> I respond: Yes, I do think the author[s] of Gen. 1-4 was[were]
> constructing / assembling / editing / redacting cosmogenic myths, just like
> I think the authors and editors of the Enuma Elish were constructing /
> assembling / editing / redacting cosmogenic myths. Obviously, they wouldn't
> have used this term, so yeah, that's a little anachronistic too. But I
> don't think its anachronistic as a category in the way "science of the day"
> is anachronistic as a category. "Science" by definition means natural
> explanations for natural phenomena, doesn't it? If one thing is certain,
> it's that "methodological naturalism" would have been utterly,
> incomprehensibly foreign to the ANE peoples.
> An acquaintance of mine who is an ANE scholar recommended to me Thorkild
> Jacobsen's "The Treasures of Darkness: A History of Mesopotamian
> Religion." A really captivating book. Reading the actual texts and poems
> of the culture, and understanding the rituals associated with those texts,
> its clear that they had no notion of transcendence of the gods. The
> numinous was ever present for them. The earth and sky really were, in some
> sense, Tiamat's body, the gods were really present in the people enacting
> their parts in fertility rituals -- it reminds me a bit of the Roman notion
> of the real presence of Christ in the host. Their marriage and love poems
> are poignant too.
> If you want to call the numinous presence of Tiamat in the earth and
> firmament "the science of the day," it seems to me you have to qualify the
> word "science" so much that what it really means is "cosmogenic myths."

David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology
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Received on Fri Apr 11 21:25:39 2008

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