Re: [asa] The Big Sleep

From: Murray Hogg <>
Date: Thu Sep 11 2008 - 03:58:44 EDT

Hi Vernon,

I'm certain that I can give you little in the way of satisfaction in regards to the following. But for what it's worth...

Vernon Jenkins wrote:
> Murray,
> Thank you for your spirited response and testimony. However, allow me to
> explore the matters under discussion a little further, if I may.
> First, concerning your statement that every Christian ministers the
> gospel of Christ: I don't doubt that each does it to the best of his/her
> ability, but the acid test of discipleship surely is whether one
> believes what one reads in God's Word, and follows the example of the
> Bereans, viz "...they received the word with all readiness of mind, and
> searched the scriptures daily, whether these things were so." (Acts
> 17:11). I have little doubt that their understanding was _literal_. Is
> that your position? You will already, no doubt, have deduced that I come
> from a tradition where the word of God is considered 100% informative.
> We understand the Bible to come to us as a _complete package_, to be
> accepted in its entirety (warts and all) as the Word of God our Creator.

Not sure what you mean when you ask "is that my position?"

Either you want to know if I think the Bereans were literalists - in which case, my answer is "no comment". There's simply no evidence in the text to answer the question - OR you want to know if _I_ am a literalist - in which case my answer is

> You then make the point, "Theistic Evolutionists don't claim that
> naturalistic explanations are comprehensive or that they
> negate/eliminate claims of divine involvement." No, of course not.
> That's what is supposed to demarcate the atheist from the theist. But
> how, in your view, does God enter into the picture with respect to
> _insect metamorphosis_, for example, or provide an explanation for the
> marked absence of intermediates in the fossil record? I guess the life
> cycle and remarkable migratory instincts of the Monarch butterfly must
> present problems even for the TE; clearly, for the likes of Richard
> Dawkins et al, they are, surely, best ignored!

I've had enough experience of this particular line of debate to know that it's intractable. However, for what it's worth;

1) TE's have no more problem than any other theist in explaining how God enters into the picture with respect to natural phenomena. Fortunately, I don't have to elaborate as the comments of David Obderbeck and George Murphy in the current thread entitled "Providence?" state the point nicely.

2) How to explain absent intermediates in the fossil record? Well, one can't even postulate the concept of an intermediary unless one assumes that species either side of the gap are distinct but related. And as that's about all a theory of descent with modification needs, then it follows that one can't even speak of "absent intermediaries" unless one assumes a theory of descent with modification. To put it in terms I'm sure you'll resonate with, the claim that a numerical series has a missing element (an "absent intermediary") only makes sense if one acknowledges the series exists. All that needs to be said, then, is that you need to reformulate the objection without assuming the truth of the theory.

3) Monarch butterflies - no idea (it's simply not my area). That said, if you're going to argue that evolution is false because there are unknowns, well I have nothing to say...

4) Do Richard Dawkins et al avoid such phenomenon -- you'll have to ask Dawkins et al (who's "et al" here, anyway?). Personally, I'd suspect not as its precisely this sort of complex question which scientists delight to investigate. Contrary to the implication that they avoid questions in the "too hard" basket, it's actually the trivial questions they are more likely to avoid.

> Moving on to a critique of my research findings, you say: "...invoking
> God in a claim about origins doesn't give that claim some sort of
> intrinsic authority - so, for instance, my objection to your own rather
> curious mathematical formulations is not that God COULDN'T put a
> numerological code in Scripture, it's based on the view that you haven't
> substantiated that claim." Of course, we shall have to agree to differ
> on whether or not the claim of _miracle_ with respect to the Hebrew of
> Genesis 1:1 is substantiated. But it does help, of course, that people
> examine and consider the details carefully before giving it a 'thumbs
> down'. Rather than rehearse the salient facts here, I invite you to
> access the page to
> confirm that I make no trivial claim. Further, we must surely take note
> of the fact that this dazzling display of numero-geometrical
> pyrotechnics occurs in the very first verse of a Book comprising 31,102
> verses? And, by the way, you'll find the same 7 numbers (which derive
> from the opening Hebrew words) hidden in the metric dimensions of a
> sheet of A4 paper - such as you probably now have before you in the
> printer? [See]

Read 'em Vernon. I read them BEFORE I told you last time that I don't find the entire approach compelling.

I DO find the A4 paper thing quite remarkable -- but that's as much satisfaction as you'll get from me on the subject. Had you merely stopped at declaring "here's a remarkable numerical curiosity" I wouldn't have a problem, but to suggest it proves something?

Sorry, don't see it.

> You joke, surely, when you turn down such evidence of divine
> activity! Given a 'proof ' of this quality, evolutionists would,
> undoubtedly, be 'over the moon'. But they haven't got it; the Bible
> alone has it! Yet many TEs still have the temerity to claim 'game, set
> and match' for this scripture-destroying theory! Murray, these facts
> cannot be lightly dismissed by thinking people - unless, of course, they
> threaten to lead to _unthinkable conclusions_!

Not even a glimmer of a smile, Vernon.

Let me be blunt, ALL you have are a few mathematical curiosities centered around certain linguistic/semantic traits of the Hebrew/Christian scriptures.

How that constitutes a 'proof' of the divine origin of scripture is beyond me.

I'll just let the remark about TE being a "scripture-destroying theory" go through to the keeper.

> However, these matters aside, my main concern centres on the attitude of
> many Christians toward what we may conveniently call the *'satanic
> verses'* of the J-C Scriptures, in particular, Job 1:6-12, 2:1-6; 1Kings
> 22:19-23; John 8:44; and those detailing the ministry of our Lord
> concerning his dealings with evil spirits. These verses raise all kinds
> of interesting questions - not least, those to do with our understanding
> of the truth concerning ultimate origins. [See my email of 7 August for
> a development of this theme which involves neither TE, nor traditional YEC].

All I'll say is that Matt 7:1-5 would be good to keep in mind - one would want to be pretty sure of being wide awake oneself before accusing others of being lulled into "the big sleep".

Murray Hogg
Pastor, East Camberwell Baptist Church, Victoria, Australia
Post-Grad Student (MTh), Australian College of Theology

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Received on Thu Sep 11 03:59:30 2008

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