Re: [asa] Was Adam a real person?

From: David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
Date: Fri Apr 11 2008 - 23:04:08 EDT

How about if we let Walton speak for himself:

Mythology in the ancient world was like science in our modern world -- it
was their explanation of how the world came into being and how it worked.
The gods had purposes, and their activities were the causes of what humans
experienced as effects. *In contrast, our modern scientific approach
attempts to understand cause and effect based on natural laws.*

John Walton, NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, p. 27 (emphasis added).
So Walton says here ANE mythology was "like" science, but clearly contrasts
it to what we mean by "science" today. How have I "misunderstood" or
"misrepresented" Walton's views on this?

I also said Walton stresses that the ANE mindset is about assigning
functions, whereas modern science is about material causes. Here is a
relevant quote:

If we are to understand ancient views about bringing the cosmos into
existence (creation cosmogony), it is essential that we understand ancient
views about what constitutes existence (creation ontology). As I noted when
discussing the origins of the gods, in the ancient world something came into
existence when it was separated out as a distinct entity, given a function,
and given a name. For purposes of discussion I will label this approach to
ontology as "function-oriented." *This is in stark contrast to modern
ontology, which is much more interested in what might be called the
structure or substance of something along with its properties.....* If
ontology in the ancient world is function-oriented, then to create something
(i.e., bring it into existence) would mean to give it a function or a role
within an ordered cosmos.... The result of this study is the suggestion that
in ancient Near East "to create" meant to assign roles and functions, rather
than to give substance to the material objects that make up the universe.
Something could conceivably exist materially by my definitions, yet in their
view of cosmology not be created yet. An obvious case in point is that in
Egypt creation took place all over again every morning.

John Walton, Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament, pp. 179-184
(emphasis added). Again, please tell me how I have "misunderstood" or
"misrepresented" his views?

On Fri, Apr 11, 2008 at 10:33 PM, Denis O. Lamoureux <dlamoure@ualberta.ca>
wrote:

> Yep.
> Like a true lawyer, David has selectively proof texted my
> message, completely failing to deal with his insulting
> nonsensical argument:
>
> (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.
>
> Of course, David's only response is to whine about ad hom
> arguments and play his usual word games.
>
> And I haven't confused you with Phil Johnson. There you go
> again jumping to an injudicious conclusion. You're half a notch
> below Phil. He never padded his e-mails with all sorts of books
> he didn't understand (don't pedantic undergrads do that in their
> papers)?
>
> As Howard Van Till said to Phil a number of years ago: sophomoric
> arrogance.
>
> Counselor, don't give up your day job.
>
> Regards,
> Denis
>
> ----- Original Message -----
>
> *From:* David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
> *To:* Denis O. Lamoureux <dlamoure@ualberta.ca>
> *Cc:* Jack <drsyme@cablespeed.com> ; Dehler, Bernie<bernie.dehler@intel.com>;
> asa@lists.calvin.edu
> *Sent:* Friday, April 11, 2008 7:23 PM
> *Subject:* Re: [asa] Was Adam a real person?
>
> 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
> now?
>
> 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 <dlamoure@ualberta.ca>
> wrote:
>
> > 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: dlamoure@ualberta.ca
> > Website: www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure <http://www.ualberta.ca/%7Edlamoure>
> >
> >
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > *From:* David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
> > *To:* Denis O. Lamoureux <dlamoure@ualberta.ca>
> > *Cc:* Jack <drsyme@cablespeed.com> ; Dehler, Bernie<bernie.dehler@intel.com>;
> > asa@lists.calvin.edu
> > *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
>
>

-- 
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 23:06:07 2008

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