Thursday, December 16, 2010

I Find Myself (Mostly) Agreeing With An Anti-ID Guy

Moses mosaic on display at the Cathedral Basil...                                          Image via Wikipedia
“The problem is that the cosmology in Genesis does not resemble what we know about the origins of the world.... If you believe that the world was created by God in six days because the Bible says so, then you must also believe that the Israelites saw God’s hand, because the Bible says so, and that Moses spoke to God face to face, because the Bible says so, and that God’s feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, because the Bible says so, and so on.... Sanctity is not an excuse for stupidity.” -- Leon Wieseltier, 2005, quoted here.
I had to whittle down the comment to pull it off, but, having done so, I agree with what this anti-ID guy says. The valid point he makes is this: the Bible must be interpreted. Not all statements ought to be understood as historic or scientific or literal.

Examples? The parables of Jesus convey profound truths, but they need not have been the recounting of historical events. The sun rising in the east and setting in the west is true in an anthropic sense, but not in a scientific sense. God's hand, face, arm, etc. convey truth about the deity, but are not literally true, at least, not true in the materialistic sense which is just about the only way we are able to think of hands, faces, and arms.

There is no need for the cosmology in Genesis to be entirely scientifically or historically or literally true in order to be true, and indeed, to communicate indispensable truths about God and the human condition. The literalness of Genesis depends on both the communicative intents of the Author/author(s) of these accounts, and the way in which these accounts would have been understood by their original hearers. As 21st century persons, we are "listening in" on an ancient communication that did and still does communicate vitally relevant and true information to humankind.

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3 comments:

Joe said...

When the Psalmist and St Peter say that to the Lord a thousand years is like a day, maybe we shouldn't be assuming the "day" referred to in Genesis is our 24 hour long day.

However most ID people I spoke with agree on that point as well. However there are those whose touchstone is the Bible and its literal interpretation and a long time ago I came to the conclusion that debating over the Genesis account is unproductive in the extreme. In the main because whether the person believes a genesis day = a modern day or not the important thing is that we agree we are children of the Almighty each groping our way toward the Salvation He has granted us through His Son Jesus Christ.

nunca123 said...

The anti-ID Guy said: "The problem is that the cosmology in Genesis does not resemble what we know about the origins of the world...Sanctity is not an excuse for stupidity.”

Agreeing with the anti-ID guy may be premature, as several things arise here:

1. We "know" very little if anything about the origins of the world. What we have is information gathered relatively recently, interpreted in light of current understanding, and under secular materialist assumptions.

We are never 100% certain of any historical fact. We may be convinced, perhaps, but not certain. The secular materialist viewpoint is also not itself free of contradicting facts and analyses.

2. It is not true that every word of the Genesis creation account is proved false. One must not over claim knowledge in this regard.

3. The author notably resorts to ad hominem ("sanctity," "stupdity") - how does that advance the "scientific" position? Methinks it betrays weakness.

RkBall is certainly correct here: "There is no need for the cosmology in Genesis to be entirely scientifically or historically or literally true in order to be true, and indeed, to communicate indispensable truths about God and the human condition."

To explain what I mean in agreeing: Genesis (in English) says God said "let there be light" -- and sure, God wasn't likely speaking English, and indeed he may not have used a mouth, etc. It might still be true, that God intended an outcome and declared it done -- and it became reality.

The secular materialist view has no physical evidence to counter that foundational creation history. It could therefore be true as Genesis states it, when the context is understood, and factoring that we cannot possibly be positioned to decide what God can and cannot do.

RkBall said...

Nunc Dimittis: Thanks for your great comments. You sound like YEC? Are you the viewer from Chandler AZ by any chance?

If so, just so you know, we're currently on the road from Toronto to Phoenix!

Not sure what you mean by "no physical evidence" in last paragraph. Isn't there, at least, a cumulative case argument for arguing the universe is about 14 billion years old, and earth something like 3 or 4?

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"