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

From: Murray Hogg <>
Date: Wed Jan 07 2009 - 22:52:54 EST

Hi Dick,

I can only state, once again, that the approach I've been discussing simply doesn't address the question of whether an origins story is "history" in the western sense of the term.

Aboriginals don't think Dreamtime stories are primarily "history" of ANY sort: good, bad, reliable, unreliable, accurate, inaccurate, whatever. "The Dreaming" is simply not an attempt to narrate history after the manner of contemporary western historiography and so the idea that one has to FIRST establish "historical integrity" BEFORE one trusts the narrative is, on such a view, simply misplaced.

So, yeah, there might be untold millions who reject the Bible because of historical concerns - but (1) they're not Australian Aboriginals; and (2) it doesn't demonstrate that a concern that the Bible display historical integrity is legitimate. If anything it might even prove the point I've been making: that one simply shouldn't obsess about historicity.

As to your question about anthropologists - I have no idea why only 5% of Anthropologists are Christians except to suggest that they are perhaps obsessed with asking the wrong questions. If they asked the right questions perhaps adherence to Christianity would run at closer to 65-70% - which is about the percentage of Australian Aboriginals who practice some form of Christianity.

The fact is, Dick, that the Aboriginal world view resonates VERY strongly with the biblical narrative and Aboriginal Christians are spiritually, theologically, and socially deep, well-rounded, and robust Christian believers - amongst the most authentic I've ever met and from whom I've learned a very great deal.

Incidentally, if you want to labour the point about reasons people give for NOT becoming Christians then consider this: the MAJORITY objection to Christianity amongst non-Christian Aboriginals is that Christianity is the religion of oppression which displays nothing but contempt for Aboriginal culture. And amongst Aboriginal Christians the majority objection to western Christians is that they deny Aboriginals the right to formulate their own theological questions and to resolve those questions for themselves in culturally sensitive terms. This might just be worth reflection by certain participants in the current thread.


Dick Fischer wrote:
> Hi Michael and Murray:
> Although various means of accommodation do exist, getting at the heart
> of Genesis I think is important. If your house is on fire and I tell
> you there is a cloud of smoke over your neighborhood, that may be a way
> of looking at it but it might not cause you to call the fire department.
> There are untold millions who reject the Bible as untrustworthy. If the
> beginning is flawed perhaps it is all flawed, so eat, drink and be
> merry, and all that. On the other hand, if it can be demonstrated
> convincingly that Genesis has historical integrity then that gives us
> another reason to accept the entire Bible. Luke says that Christ
> descended from Adam. If we have to waltz around Matilda and say Adam
> was merely a theological construct or the product of Hebrew mythology we
> cast unnecessary doubt on the historicity and legitimacy of Christ
> himself.
> Why do you think only 5% of anthropologists are Christian?
> Dick Fischer, GPA president
> Genesis Proclaimed Association
> "Finding Harmony in Bible, Science and History"
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [] On
> Behalf Of Murray Hogg
> Sent: Wednesday, January 07, 2009 4:46 PM
> To: ASA
> Subject: Re: [asa] The ASA and the Soft Sciences (ASA focus for the
> future- dreaming)
> Hi Michael,
> This is close to what Murray is saying!
> What Murray is actually saying is that there are ways of reading Genesis
> which by-pass the need to debate endlessly over the connection between
> story and history.
> And what Murray likes about the Aboriginal approach (and any approach
> like it) is that it allows us to just READ the text and ask "what is the
> Holy Spirit saying to us?"
> For example: what does science have to contribute to the question of Eve
> being made from the rib of Adam? It seems to me that silly questions
> about whether Adam thereafter had one rib short seem to arise from an
> effort to make some historical/scientific sense of the text.
> But if those concerns are put aside and one takes a purely narrative
> approach one is free to reflect upon the question: what is the
> theological meaning of this detail? I acknowledge that there isn't a
> hard and fast answer to that - one is actually forced to LISTEN to the
> Holy Spirit, to try to find resonance with the rest of Scripure and
> Christian Tradition - the read the text theologically if you like.
> And when one does, one finds gems like the below from Matthew Henry;
> That the woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out
> of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by
> him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be
> protected, and near his heart to be beloved. Adam lost a rib, and
> without any diminution to his strength or comeliness (for, doubtless,
> the flesh was closed without a scar); but in lieu thereof he had a help
> meet for him, which abundantly made up his loss: what God takes away
> from his people he will, one way or other, restore with advantage.
> What I'm advocating, ultimately, is that we don't have to keep having
> the same discussion about Genesis, over, and over, and over, and over,
> and over, but can actually approach it at a text with a story to tell
> that is pregnant with meaning.
> My only reason for introducing the Aboriginal Dreamtime here is that it
> shows how, in practice, some non-western people actually approach the
> telling and retelling of story, how those stories give expression to
> significant aspects of reality, and how those stories concern one's
> present.
> PS: yes, before anybody else points it out: I know that Matthew Henry
> wasn't an Australian Aboriginal - but nor was he a contemporary western
> secularist. And the quote above can be taken as one more example of how
> contemporary westerners could learn from those of a different cultural
> milieu.
> Blessings,
> Murray.
> Michael Roberts wrote:
>> To me this kind of dreaming makes the time factor of Genesis
> irrelevant,
>> as it is not see Genesis as descriptive of the world but evocative.
> Both
>> deal with the real world.
>> I can give a technical description of the bike I would buy if money
> was
>> no object - Reynolds 853 tubing for the frame , Shimano XT gears 12-34
>> block to 24, 36, 48 chainrings , brooks saddle etc.
>> Or I can give an evocative description of the equally real bike. A joy
>> to ride. Finely tuned and responsive. Climbs any hills.
>> Both describe the same reality. What I think Murray is saying is that
>> Genesis is more like the second description than the first.
>> Maybe
>> Michael
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Dehler, Bernie"
>> <>
>> To: "ASA" <>
>> Sent: Wednesday, January 07, 2009 4:57 PM
>> Subject: RE: [asa] The ASA and the Soft Sciences (ASA focus for the
>> future- dreaming)
>> Hi Pastor Murray- I'm trying to understand your "dreaming" application
>> to Genesis. I see lots of generalities from you, but really nothing
>> specific. Just to narrow it down, and to be blunt, and to the point,
> let
>> me focus on just one issue/question.
>> At the last ASA conference, Ted Davis gave a presentation regarding
> how
>> to teach the different views on origins... interpreting Genesis.
> There
>> is the YEC, OEC, TE, ID, etc. views. From what I gather, you are
> saying
>> there is a new and unique way to interpret Genesis that has never been
>> before considered, called "Aboriginal Dreaming." Please answer this
> one
>> specific question: "How does "dreaming" interpret 'day' in the Genesis
>> account of creation in Gen. ch. 1: Day is 24 hr, day-age, figurative,
> or
>> other?"
>> Please give a succinct answer in 1 or 2 paragraphs (5 to 10
> sentences).
>> Please no essay-length response or sermon.
>> I'm just trying to understand your point about the application of
>> "dreaming" to the interpretation of Genesis.
>> ...Bernie
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Received on Wed Jan 7 22:53:33 2009

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