Re: [asa] The ASA and the Soft Sciences (ASA focus for the future)

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Mon Jan 05 2009 - 08:49:19 EST

Bernie -- what Murray is talking about here is exactly the sort of thing I
had in mind by mentioning non-western cultures. Not that some mystical
prophet will arise, but that they might help us see past our Western
black-and-white approach to the ancient texts -- and maybe also help us
better understand the limitations of the authority of the sciences at the
same time.

David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology

On Mon, Jan 5, 2009 at 7:39 AM, Murray Hogg <> wrote:

> Hi All,
> I'll only offer the observation here that the only people I've ever met who
> offer anything like a fully-orbed, theologically orthodox, scientifically
> informed, and biblically literate resolution of the nexus between evolution
> and Christian faith have been Australian Aboriginal Christians.
> This is primarily because of the approach they take to Genesis - treating
> it as "a Dreaming" rather than as a historical narrative. I'm sorry that I
> can't easily flesh that out much more as the Dreaming is a quite profound
> approach to describing reality through the use of narrative which has no
> counterpart in western thought.
> The problem for contemporary westerners is that we tend to have a pretty
> stark dichotomy between the notions of "history" and "myth" - with the
> former being "true" and the later "false." But the Dreaming is quite another
> category altogether - it reads like history, but it has more affinity with
> something like a Platonic plane of forms.
> As such a Dreaming might read to us like a historical narrative, but it's
> actually a description of present reality, of the proper order of things, so
> to speak. As such to ask the question "did it happen?" is actually a
> category error (and will only result in much shaking of heads amongst
> Aboriginals dismayed by white-fella's ignorance). The only proper question
> is "is it so?" -- which one answers by appeal to the power of the Dreaming
> in question. Very powerful Dreamings have a sort of intuitive obviousness
> which can't be gainsaid and in some respects an Aboriginal might appropriate
> the famous words of CS Lewis to say something like: "I know that this
> Dreaming is true, not because I see it, but because by it I see everything
> else".
> As a consequence of this sort of approach to Genesis, Australian
> Aboriginals tend not to find ANY difficulty in holding together evolution
> and the biblical account of creation. The key is not critiquing the science,
> but in understanding the role of creation stories in "ancient" cultures.
> Personally, I think westerners are by and large clueless on this score and,
> as David suggests, we could learn ALOT from our third-world brothers and
> sisters in regards to how creation stories should be appropriated.
> Blessings,
> Murray.
> Dehler, Bernie wrote:
>> David, when you say:
>> "Maybe some of our brothers and sisters from parts of the world that
>> aren't so influenced by rationalism will some day offer some solutions that
>> /we/ will need to integrate"
>> I'm wondering what you could possibly mean by that. It seems to me that
>> the educated western world is at the forefront of integrating science and
>> religion; groups such as the ASA. How could another place come up with
>> better understanding after groups like ASA have been struggling with it for
>> many years- many of the brightest scientists and theologians? Are you
>> thinking maybe a mystic or prophet of God will arise to illuminate all of
>> this?
>> …Bernie
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Received on Mon Jan 5 08:49:28 2009

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