Re: [asa] Re: Eccliesiastes and other Biblical books on chance and necessity (was Re: [asa] historical versus experimental sciences)

From: <>
Date: Tue Aug 25 2009 - 08:38:25 EDT

Karl, my reference to the Eccl. passage must have been in another subject
thread, so I guess you wouldn't have seen it. Sorry.

I wasn't so much responding to you as to Bernie. Since I'm someone who has
learned to live with (perhaps even revel in, a little too much) the many
paradoxes in life and in Scriptures themselves, I t end to be a bit reactionary
with those who gravitate toward the simple cut & dried answers. There is a
place for those too, so it is probably a healthy tension.

p.s. I don't consider myself a Calvinist, but my "non-embrasure" of that is
more out of ignorance than out of deeply studied choice. Perhaps I qualify as
an Armenian. I certainly do embrace the concept of free-will anyway.
Quick joke (I think I posted this a year or two ago, but I'll repeat it here
again) A Calvinist and an Armenian were having lunch together in an upper room
happily debating the philosophies of life, when unbeknownst to either of them, a
workman came and removed the stairway leading up to the doorway of their room.
When they left, they both stepped out of the door and fell all the way to the
ground. The Armenian got up, dusted himself off, and exclaimed: "Wow! I'm
really going to be more careful next time I step out." The Calvinist likewise
picked himself up and exclaimed: "Whew! I'm glad that's over with!"



> Merv,
> I didn't realize that you had brought up the Ecclesiastes passage before.?
> Guess I missed that email.? Anyway, I was not trying to proof text, but to
> simply give an example of "chance" in scripture.? And contrary to the sea of
> Calvinism which ASA tends to be, I think there is plenty of it; especially
> exemplified throughout the O.T. stories.? Not least in Zechariah where God
> has used another nation (either Babylon or Persia, I forget) as a tool.? But
> then He complains, 'I was only a little angry, but you [Babylon or Persia]
> made things worse.'?? Everything that happens is not God's will.? Chance
> things do happen.? Elsewhere God "changes his mind" etc.? Some of this may be
> accomodating human language to the divine, but the overall impression
> remains.? I'm neither a theologian nor exegete, but God seems perfectly
> willing to use chance.
> Polkinghorne for instance argues for laws of nature (necessity) and free
> process of the creation to explore what might be called possibility space
> (chance).?? This hardly seems earthshaking to me.? God as primary cause is no
> less cause just because he uses secondary causes, including chance.? Do I
> think the O.T. was talking about modern biological evolution?? No.?? Do I
> think it's a possible inference?? Probably.
> Karl
> **********************
> Karl V. Evans (ASA member)
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Merv Bitikofer <>
> To: Cameron Wybrow <>; asa <>
> Sent: Sun, Aug 23, 2009 4:00 pm
> Subject: [asa] Re: Eccliesiastes and other Biblical books on chance and
> necessity (was Re: [asa] historical versus experimental sciences)
> I agree that proof-texting to find support for our favorite pre-accepted
> notions is a dangerous habit, but I think you over-react here. Nobody was
> claiming this as representative of some over-arching thematic summary of
> Scriptures --neither Karl, as I read him below, nor myself when I brought the
> same passage up earlier. But it does serve to inform us that we moderns are
> not observing anything new that ancients hadn't already observed and wrestled
> with. Whether or not you accept that Solomon was the author or whether it was
> added to what we call the O.T. much later, either way it comes from an
> ancient source ---and one with wisdom that anticipates questions we would
> still be asking three millenia later at that! ?
> Even though I earlier expressed my own sympathies with the notion that the
> end of Job was "tacked on", nevertheless I do accept Scripture as being
> ultimately Divinely directed both to them now and to us today both in content
> and in the whole messy process of what got canonized at all the various
> points. So despite my own complaints, I do accept that in the end, the book
> of Job is what it is in its entirety. I think the content of Ecclesiastes
> also speaks for itself as a deeply profound book in the Bible --partly for
> its difference (as you so noted) from all the other books. That book alone is
> a lofty answer to any of us would-be proof-texters who want straightforward
> short answers found in one or two verses. One look at such a phrase as this:
> "everything is futility" or "vanity" should make anyone realize that this
> isn't even attempting to match any larger Biblical themes. But even within
> this book, the author doesn't let his conclusions rest there. His final
> words, are much
> more blended with the entire Biblical theme. I'm glad this book is there
> since it matches so many questions that still get asked today. The fact that
> we can see that they wondered also, that alone makes this a uniquely valuable
> contribution.
> As for Proverbs, granted some of them are culturally quaint and fun to read.
> Did you know that also stuck in the middle of them you find gems like 16:7 or
> 24:17 (regarding enemies)
> or even best of all: 25:21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; If
> he is thirsty, give him water to drink:
> So apparently a couple of key figures we could all name from the N.T. must
> have paid attention to what was in the Proverbs as well. Not everything in
> Jesus' time was so revolutionary that it had never been suggested before.
> What was revolutionary was to have somebody actually live it and challenge us
> to do likewise.
> --Merv

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Tue Aug 25 08:39:19 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Aug 25 2009 - 08:39:19 EDT