Re: [asa] YEC sub-group & fiction

From: Michael Roberts <>
Date: Wed Jan 28 2009 - 17:38:28 EST

Please note that Gosse's father and Son is very inaccurate when it discusses Christianity and science. It is in pure conflict mode.
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Kirk Bertsche
  To: Murray Hogg
  Cc: ASA
  Sent: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 10:33 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] YEC sub-group & fiction


  I agree that Gosse's position sounds inconsistent. Apparently it was mainly his wife's conviction, but he adopted this position as well. Below are some passages from Edmund Gosse's "Father and Son" (which is in the public domain at numerous places on the web).

  From "Father and Son":

  Meanwhile, capable as I was of reading, I found my greatest
  pleasure in the pages of books. The range of these was limited,
  for story-books of every description were sternly excluded. No
  fiction of any kind, religious or secular, was admitted into the
  house. In this it was to my Mother, not to my Father, that the
  prohibition was due. She had a remarkable, I confess to me still
  somewhat unaccountable impression that to 'tell a story', that
  is, to compose fictitious narrative of any kind, was a sin. She
  carried this conviction to extreme lengths. My Father, in later
  years, gave me some interesting examples of her firmness. As a
  young man in America, he had been deeply impressed by
  'Salathiel', a pious prose romance by that then popular writer,
  the Rev. George Croly. When he first met my Mother, he
  recommended it to her, but she would not consent to open it. Nor
  would she read the chivalrous tales in verse of Sir Walter Scott,
  obstinately alleging that they were not 'true'. She would read
  none but lyrical and subjective poetry. Her secret diary reveals
  the history of this singular aversion to the fictitious, although
  it cannot be said to explain the cause of it. As a child,
  however, she had possessed a passion for making up stories, and
  so considerable a skill in it that she was constantly being
  begged to indulge others with its exercise. But I will, on so
  curious a point, leave her to speak for herself:

  'When I was a very little child, I used to amuse myself and my
  brothers with inventing stories, such as I read. Having, as I
  suppose, naturally a restless mind and busy imagination, this
  soon became the chief pleasure of my life. Unfortunately, my
  brothers were always fond of encouraging this propensity, and I
  found in Taylor, my maid, a still greater tempter. I had not
  known there was any harm in it, until Miss Shore [a Calvinist
  governess], finding it out, lectured me severely, and told me it
  was wicked. From that time forth I considered that to invent a
  story of any kind was a sin. But the desire to do so was too
  deeply rooted in my affections to be resisted in my own strength
  [she was at that time nine years of age], and unfortunately I knew
  neither my corruption nor my weakness, nor did I know where to
  gain strength. The longing to invent stories grew with violence;
  everything I heard or read became food for my distemper. The
  simplicity of truth was not sufficient for me; I must needs
  embroider imagination upon it, and the folly, vanity and
  wickedness which disgraced my heart are snore than I am able to
  express. Even now [at the age of twenty-nine], tho' watched,
  prayed and striven against, this is still the sin that most
  easily besets me. It has hindered my prayers and prevented my
  improvement, and therefore, has humbled me very much."

  My Father, by an indulgent act for the caprice of which I cannot
  wholly account, presently let in a flood of imaginative light
  which was certainly hostile to my heavenly calling. ...
  One day, as I multiplied inquiries, he rose in his
  impetuous way, and climbing to the top of a bookcase, brought
  down a thick volume and presented it to me. 'You'll find all
  about the Antilles there,' he said, and left me with Tom
  Cringle's Log in my possession.

  The embargo laid upon every species of fiction by my Mother's
  powerful scruple had never been raised, although she had been
  dead four years. As I have said in an earlier chapter, this was a
  point on which I believe that my Father had never entirely agreed
  with her. He had, however, yielded to her prejudice; and no work
  of romance, no fictitious story, had ever come in my way. It is
  remarkable that among our books, which amounted to many hundreds,
  I had never discovered a single work of fiction until my Father
  himself revealed the existence of Michael Scott's wild
  masterpiece. So little did I understand what was allowable in the
  way of literary invention that I began the story without a doubt
  that it was true, and I think it was my Father himself who, in
  answer to an inquiry, explained to me that it was 'all made up'.
  He advised me to read the descriptions of the sea, and of the
  mountains of Jamaica, and 'skip' the pages which gave imaginary
  adventures and conversations. But I did not take his counsel;
  these latter were the flower of the book to me. I had never read,
  never dreamed of anything like them, and they filled my whole
  horizon with glory and with joy.

  On Jan 28, 2009, at 1:24 PM, Murray Hogg wrote:

    Hi Kirk,

    If I might press you a little on this; how certain are you that the below is actually the case?

    I ask because I find it somewhat ironic that Gosse would, at one and the same time, think fiction is deceptive but creating the world with a false appearance of age is not.

    Now, let me say that I personally don't see how God could create anything ex nihilio which appears as though it has just been created (what does a newly created tree look like?) - so I'm not quite convinced that a false appearance of age actually should be seen as "deceptive". I'm just pointing out what strikes me as an incongruous rejection of fictional literature on the part of an author who is otherwise clearly happy to accept that things are not always what they appear to be.

    This is, to me, very curious BUT if you assure me that it is the case, then I'll happily take your word for it.


    Kirk Bertsche wrote:
      I've never actually met anyone who thought this way. But it was apparently the position of Philip Gosse, who combined YEC with appearance of age in his book "Omphalos" in the 1850's. His son, Edmund, describes his father's anti-fiction views in his own book "Father and Son."

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Received on Wed Jan 28 17:39:26 2009

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