Re: [asa] biological evolution and a literal Adam- logically inconsistent?

From: David Opderbeck <dopderbeck@gmail.com>
Date: Mon Sep 01 2008 - 14:55:09 EDT

Bernie said: My original question is how could people take "the making of
man by forming dust" figurative and then the immediately following story of
the fall literally (real talking serpent, real tree of life, etc.). Isn't
it inconsistent to take one literal and the other figurative?

I respond: that's what I thought your question was originally. No, I don't
see why this is inconsistent at all. It is not a simple type of literature
that is either "literal" or "figurative" in a binary fashion. I think it's
incredibly difficult to tease out what is to be taken each way.

Again, I give an example from sports: "Yankees slaughtered the Tigers
today." Did the Yankees literally kill the Tigers? No, that is a
figurative expression. Was there a real historical game to which that
figure refers? Yes. It is not necessarily either-or.

In a similar way, the fact that the Fall story doesn't appear to be a
simple, straightforwardly "literal" account doesn't necessarily mean it has
no historical referent.

On Mon, Sep 1, 2008 at 2:37 PM, Dehler, Bernie <bernie.dehler@intel.com>wrote:

> So Merv- I think you are saying Gen. 2 and 3 are both figurative. My
> original question is how could people take "the making of man by forming
> dust" figurative and then the immediately following story of the fall
> literally (real talking serpent, real tree of life, etc.). Isn't it
> inconsistent to take one literal and the other figurative? Sounds like you
> take them both figurative, so it is not an issue for you. Seems to me if
> the first is taken figuratively, then it is even that much easier to take
> the fall story figurative because it is more obvious a departure from real
> life.
>
> Is the story of the fall literal or figurative? It seems to me that the
> vast majority of Christians go agnostic on that question, because it is so
> difficult to deal with the ramifications. For example, I don't think I
> found any definite answers from Hugh Ross' ministry (Reasons to Believe- Old
> Earth Creationist) on it (I didn't do a thorough search, so if someone knows
> his take, you can share).
>
> ...Bernie
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Merv [mailto:mrb22667@kansas.net]
> Sent: Monday, September 01, 2008 9:51 AM
> To: Dehler, Bernie; asa@calvin.edu
> Subject: Re: [asa] biological evolution and a literal Adam- logically
> inconsistent?
>
> Dehler, Bernie wrote:
> > . . . . . . . .
> > I don't get that response. If God made man from dust, and it is
> literally true, that means he really scooped up real dust. If God didn't
> really scoop up real dust, then it is a figurative saying.
> >
> > When the Bible says we are all made of dust (Gen. 18:27 and
> > Psalm 103:14), maybe it is referring to the ancient science when they
> thought Adam really was literally made from real dust?
> >
> > Today we may say our bodies are made of stardust (considering
> cosmological evolution), but there's no way they could have had that idea, I
> think.
> >
> > ...Bernie
> >
> Bernie, I think you're anthropomorphizing God by imagining that the only
> way the claim [He made us from dust] can be true is if God (looking like
> a human with hands) literally appeared, and began shaping Adam from some
> handy dirt much like a child playing in a sandbox. In this sense I
> think most would agree that the passage is 100% figurative. Where else
> in the Bible does God ever assume human form (except at Bethlehem) and
> do things in that way? Very rarely --yes I know there are the
> human-looking visitors Abraham & a couple others which carry the label
> "Angel of the Lord". But almost always God is still given 100% credit
> for doing things in a mediated sense by influencing people's hearts
> (pharaoh, Moses,...) or by using natural things to bring about events (a
> wind drying up the red sea or bringing the locusts into Egypt, knitting
> us together in our mothers' wombs...). Surely you don't dispute those
> passages because of the absence of an actual figure with knitting
> needles failing to appear on any sonograms? (I know you don't, and yet
> I think this very illustrative of the point I'm attempting to make.)
> Even the O.T. authors don't insist that the only work that can qualify
> as being God's is work he did while looking and working like a human
> with human hands. And it is Scripturally unwarranted to insist on such
> a thing for this passage (which also makes no claim about *how* God
> formed the dust, but only that he did). So if you are uncomfortable
> with accepting both literal and figurative in this case --fine: ditch
> the literal. It was 100% figurative --and also 100% true. It also
> happens to correspond with what evolutionary theory teaches (the "made
> with dust" part) so any who are troubled by wanting to have their truth
> "only in literal form, please" can actually still have it in this case
> and save their head scratching for other passages where truth doesn't
> easily accommodate modern literalist form. The prophets of old had no
> problems with metaphor (e.g. that God is a potter and we are the clay);
> so we probably shouldn't either --nor should we relegate it down to
> "second-class truth" because of its non-literal status.
>
> --Merv
>
>
>
>
>
>
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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 Mon Sep 1 14:55:26 2008

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