RE: [asa] Was Adam a real person?

From: Dehler, Bernie <>
Date: Sat Apr 12 2008 - 00:43:14 EDT

Good questions.


My take (and I think I think like Denis on this):


There has always been science. Science today is largely based on "the
scientific method" (hypothesis, experiment, hypothesis modification as
necessary). Now it is naturalistic, in ANE it wasn't It wasn't all
naturalistic for Paley either, when Darwin was starting out (per Paley's
famous watch-maker illustration).


What is science? It is the art of explaining how things work and came to
be. We've always had science, but the methods have changed. "How was
the world made?" That is a scientific question. The scientific method
started about (maybe about 1,000 AD; source:, but that doesn't mean
science started then.


Yes, there was "old world science" and there is different ways of doing
science now, but they were all "modern science" for those living in the
present moment. Modern science constantly advances (though memes),
including the scientific method (introducing double-blind tests,
placebo's, etc.).


Today, nothing supernatural is allowed in science, for the very reason
that it can't be tested. You can't say things work by miracles, then
setup a test to prove it-since miracles by definition only happen at
God's will and command. If a miracle did happen naturally, it would be
called natural, such as in the natural miracle of birth (and many other
parts of life). In that way someone could say that evolution is a
natural miracle... front-loaded design which unfolds (too deistic for
me, but I think it is a possibility).


I believe that God-directed evolution. Is that "scientific?" My
understanding is that it fits. Some may argue that evolution must be
'undirected' in order to be pure science, and they might have a point,
but there may also be a point in God directing it. As science
progresses, we may be better able to confirm or deny God-directed
evolution, likely based on statistics... which will be more accurate as
the genome is better studied and analyzed across life-forms.


It doesn't bother me if someone claims to believe in supernatural things
in science, unless it contradicts the evidence-such as believing in a
global flood when the evidence for it doesn't appear likely... or
believing that God made man unique out of dirt when there are so many
links and artifacts in the human genome, or believing the earth is 6,000
years old when we can observe activities in space that happened millions
of years ago.



From: David Opderbeck []
Sent: Friday, April 11, 2008 6:24 PM
To: Denis O. Lamoureux
Cc: Jack; Dehler, Bernie;
Subject: Re: [asa] Was Adam a real person?


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
<> 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 . . .





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
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 Sat Apr 12 00:46:39 2008

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