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

From: Dick Fischer <>
Date: Tue Jan 06 2009 - 01:11:55 EST

Hi Murray:
I've read Sailhamer and we are not on the same page although I don't
attack or defend Genesis 1. Genesis 1 is not the history of a
particular people as it has no descendants. Beginning at Genesis 2:4
and following I believe to be an accurate, abbreviated history of the
covenant race. The Sumerians, for one example, co-existed with the Line
of Promise in the same region and are on both sides of the flood. Sumer
was destroyed at about the time Abraham left Mesopotamia.
Of course, the history is rich with theological significance. The
coming of Christ is prophesied in the judgment on the serpent. I
readily agree there are areas where we could question rather or not some
symbolism is involved. Do snakes talk? How could the God of the
universe be "walking in the garden in the cool of the day"? Did Abel's
blood cry out? What "mark" would have given Cain safe passage?
But the persons named appear to be genuine. The city Cain named for his
son was also known to the Sumerians and was included in their king list.
The area of southern Mesopotamia and the time period from about 7,000 to
about 4,000 years ago, covering the time from Adam to Abraham looks
right. Where we (Christians in general) blundered was in our thinking
the Genesis narrative was a portrayal of human history - the beginnings
of Homo sapiens.
If I can only correct that one error my work on this planet is done.
Dick Fischer, GPA president
Genesis Proclaimed Association
"Finding Harmony in Bible, Science and History" <>
-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of Murray Hogg
Sent: Monday, January 05, 2009 6:51 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] The ASA and the Soft Sciences (ASA focus for the
Hi Dick,
First, a minor linguistic quibble; "Dreaming" and "Aboriginies" are both
proper nouns and should be capitalized in this context.
As for the substantial matters:
I'd be a bit tentative in critiquing your position as I haven't studied
it in any depth. I would like to read your book (although time and
finances are against me!) but I imagine that your position is close to
that of Sailhammer as expressed in "Genesis Unbound" (Multnomah Books,
1996) - i.e. that Gen 1 is a creation account proper with the following
chapters of Genesis being specifically related to issues surrounding
"the land" and God's gift of same to the descendants of Israel.
But let's unpack this a bit.
You say that "we still haven't figured that out" - by which I take you
to be making the claim that while Genesis is history, it's history of a
culturally important sort, and that "we" haven't yet gotten our heads
around the fact that it's NOT simply about historical event. It's not
simply about what happened "back in the day" but grounds present reality
in a significant way. So you ALREADY have at least one significant
parallel with the Dreaming.
Further, unless you want to argue that Genesis has NO contemporary
significance for non-Israelites, that is unless you want to claim that
Genesis tells us nothing about spiritual realities over and above the
mere fact that a certain piece of land belongs to a certain group of
people, then you'd seem to be making the claim that Genesis is in a
other significant ways "more than history". This is particularly so for
those of us who take Genesis as an inspired text through which God can
open our understanding of spiritual realities. So you now have a SECOND
significant parallel with the Dreaming.
I could go on, but the observation to which I wish to draw attention is
this: even in claiming that Genesis is "history" you immediately want to
qualify that term in ways which seek to bring out the fact that the
Genesis text is spiritually significant, and that this spiritual
significance is not a matter simply of historical activity on God's
part, but reflects an ongoing reality in the present.
But to this, I only make the point that this is PRECISELY the sort of
text that Australian Aboriginals regard as "a Dreaming". It grounds
CONTEMPORARY spiritual and earthly realities in a story about the past -
it has the form of history, but it isn't primarily about the past.
But, when it's all said and done, I have no real axe to grind here. I
merely wished to support David O.'s original contention that we might
have something to learn from non-western Christians by means of a
concrete example of how one non-western culture resolves the issues at
hand through a sophisticated approach to narrative. Understand that they
have NO problem with evolution! None! Nada! Nichts! Not a sausage! So
clearly the suggestion that western Christians are going to "resolve"
this issue for non-westerners is simply hubris of the worst kind. They
have ALREADY resolved it using the categories of their own culture. And
that's the only point that needs making.
Dick Fischer wrote:
> Hi Murray:
> Or why not consider Genesis as history? Regarding the Genesis
> as "true" certainly is orthodox, however, some departure from
> is necessary or we remain in the middle of a muddle.
> Try this instead of "dreaming." Consider Moses as the author who knew
> the lineage of the Israelites from literature available to him at the
> time, perhaps in Egypt, or maybe in the hands of the Levites. He
> compiled this history and gave it to his people to tell them where
> came from. When early Christians received Genesis, being ignorant of
> geology, anthropology, etc., they misunderstood Genesis 2-11 as the
> history of the beginnings of the entire human race. Unfortunately,
> 2,000 years later and we still haven't figured that out. Well, some
> us haven't.
> I'll put that scenario up against the Australian aborigines any time.
> Dick Fischer, GPA president
> Genesis Proclaimed Association
> "Finding Harmony in Bible, Science and History"
> -----Original Message-----
> From: []
> Behalf Of Murray Hogg
> Sent: Monday, January 05, 2009 7:40 AM
> To: ASA
> Subject: Re: [asa] The ASA and the Soft Sciences (ASA focus for the
> future)
> Hi All,
> I'll only offer the observation here that the only people I've ever
> who offer anything like a fully-orbed, theologically orthodox,
> scientifically informed, and biblically literate resolution of the
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> large clueless on this score and, as David suggests, we could learn
> 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
>> 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
>> 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 Tue Jan 6 01:12:34 2009

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