Re: [asa] "Evolutionary Creation" book comments - REPOST with corrections

From: Bill Powers <>
Date: Tue Sep 29 2009 - 09:50:35 EDT

Jim & Murray:

I've always found this line of thinking interesting. The idea is to
somehow get into someone else's head. We believe that contemporary
heads had an easier time of it than we. Yet language is in some sense a
public act, making it hermeneutically available to us as well.

It says little to say that they are not us, but, nonetheless, it is
probably a good starting place. You say little of John Walton said. So
I can't comment on that. But I'd like to lay down some cautions in this

1) A lot of how we go about this business has a lot to do with
preconceived notions. Is there a God? Does He communicate to mankind?
In what manner? Who is (are) the Author(s)? What were their intentions
in writing? Who is their audience?
My answer to such questions may be very different than yours, and surely
very different from many commentators.

2) How will we go about trying to answer, not only these questions, but
also be able to try to understand what the "original" hearers heard, and
what the Author(s) intended?

3) We can search for answers to those questions by examining extant
writings, perhaps with cross-cultural confusion. We attempt to devise a
timeline of "common descent," often forgetting the possibility (for our
own sakes) of independent origins. We might attempt to see how a people
act and hope to infer what they took the meaning of words to be.

4) The Bible is an unusual history. Yes, I call it a history. I am
surely naive, but it seems to me that it is distinctly different from any
ancient history. It appears to have a "modern" flair, as, for example,
the histories of Plutarch does. They are not interested in exalting a
person, although the individual person is important. Perhaps this feature
is more clear outside of Genesis, which, as I understand it, is not
recorded by a contemporary author. It almost seems to me that Genesis is
the recording of an oral history. The rest is (roughly speaking) not.


On Mon, 28 Sep 2009, Jim Armstrong

> I think you are dead on. John Walton, OT scholar from Wheaton presented
> a lecture for Canyon Institute for Advanced Studies in Phoenix in 2006
> titled, "Reading Genesis 1 with Ancient Eyes: What Does it Mean to
> Create?" In it, he discussed at some length this matter of ancient
> perspective, and I believe he would agree entirely with your surmise
> that the division implicit in those the two words would be
> incomprehensible to those ancient eyes. Science had neither defined nor
> differentiated itself in those days. Nor did they did think in
> material terms per se, instead understanding everything as a part of
> God's presence and activity in the world, what things and entities did,
> rather than what they were or were composed of. Walton mentions that
> "miracle" is a New Testament word, denoting a significant departure from what
> nature has the capacity to do on its own in the material world. In contrast,
> the OT terms are signs and wonders, and distinctly (he says) not about
> shuffling material things around, again because those ancient eyes and hearts
> (hearts being a western metaphor) do not have a framework at all like western
> material-based terminology and explanation. He suggested our traditional way
> of interpreting much of Gen. 1, for example, would fall on the ancient ears
> about as well as an explanation of daylight saving time.
> JimA [Friend of ASA]
> Murray Hogg wrote:
>> Hi Denis,
>> I actually wonder if using the terms "science" and "history" in this
>> context isn't - in the end analysis - anachronistic.
>> I'd offer the observation that what "pre-modern" societies do is tell
>> stories - they don't do "science", and they don't record "history". And if
>> one can escape the need to force Genesis into either category, then the
>> result is very liberating. One can even begin to read Genesis theologically
>> as per the entire point of the narrative!
>> Here I think much benefit might be gained from a familiarity with the field
>> of ethnohistory - which discipline gives some interesting insights into the
>> way non-Western and pre-modern societies deal with their past. It's on my
>> list of subjects to get around to "one day."
>> Actually, as I think about it, this might be more or less another way of
>> putting your entreaty of "Separate, don't conflate", viz; if one can
>> discriminate between "history", "science", and "story" -- where "story" is
>> a way of conveying meaning (theological meaning in the case of Genesis) --
>> then one is, I think, well on the way to resolving the "problem" which
>> arises in light of our modernist inability to see that there is more than
>> one way of conveying spiritual truth.
>> Blessings,
>> Murray
>> Denis O. Lamoureux wrote:
>>> Dear Bernie,
>>> You are a scrapper my friend!
>>> You write:
>>>> Ancient theological idea:
>>>> Adam was the first human to sin.
>>>> This statement is nothing but theology
>>> NOT true. It's ancient science (creation
>>> and existence of Adam) delivering an inerrant
>>> and Holy Spirit-inspired theology (sin is
>>> very real and humans are sinners).
>>> Bernie: Separate, Don't Conflate!
>>> Best,
>>> Denis
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Received on Tue Sep 29 09:51:35 2009

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