Re: [asa] Was Adam a real person?

From: Jack <drsyme@cablespeed.com>
Date: Sat Apr 12 2008 - 05:20:55 EDT

To the moderator

I am offended by this. The PS is completely unacceptable. I thought we were trying to limit discussions like this.
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Denis O. Lamoureux
  To: David Opderbeck
  Cc: Jack ; Dehler, Bernie ; asa@lists.calvin.edu
  Sent: Friday, April 11, 2008 11:36 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Was Adam a real person?

  Dear David,
  It is clear to me that you would benefit from a remedial course in how to read.
  In my city, they are offered at 1 year community colleges.

  Re-read (best you can) my posts. You'll see I qualified the word "science"
  with the word "ANCIENT". Ergo, ancient science. Re-read (best you can)
  Walton below, it's exactly what I've said.

  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.

  David, what don't you understand?

  Regards,
  Denis
  PS If I have to take out the crayons and draw you pictures, I will.

  ----- Original Message -----
    From: David Opderbeck
    To: Denis O. Lamoureux
    Cc: Jack ; Dehler, Bernie ; asa@lists.calvin.edu
    Sent: Friday, April 11, 2008 9:04 PM
    Subject: Re: [asa] Was Adam a real person?

    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
        To: Denis O. Lamoureux
        Cc: Jack ; Dehler, Bernie ; 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

            ----- Original Message -----
            From: David Opderbeck
            To: Denis O. Lamoureux
            Cc: Jack ; Dehler, Bernie ; 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 Sat Apr 12 05:59:04 2008

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