Monday, July 24, 2006

An acquired characteristic

“I believe correct reasoning is definitely an acquired characteristic. It is something we develop if only we are fortunate enough to start this life with the basic cognitive abilities nature provided.”

Before Holman places an order for an automated back-patting machine, perhaps we can save him some money by examining how well his cognitive faculties exemplify the acquired characteristic of correct reasoning.

“For me, the findings of assessing Christianity had only one consistent pull -- away from being considered the products of any divine origins at all. The pieces of the puzzle had to fit, and they finally did. I was forced to naturalize what had been pounded into my head as supernatural. Those horses and chariots of fire that took Elijah to heaven had to mean something that would click with my rational mind. Well, in time, they did, but the answer I came to did not bring God any glory. The Bible was a complete work of fiction. That was the answer I came to embrace.”

Speaking for myself, but obviously not for Holman, I’ve always thought one prerequisite of correct reasoning was the “basic cognitive ability” to acquaint yourself with the subject-matter under review. For example:

“Elijah was taken up to heaven in the whirlwind, not in the chariot of fire and horses of fire which merely ‘came between the two of them’ (Heb.) and cut him off from human sight,” D. J. Wiseman, 1 & 2 Kings (IVP 1993), 195.

Continuing with Holman:

“Contemporary apologists want you to forget that it was this same god of old who has been an opponent of science (I Timothy 6:20-21).”

Again, someone with the basic cognitive equipment for correct reasoning should exhibit a modicum of semantic sophistication and thereby know better than to equate an Elizabethan transliteration (“science,” KJV) of a Latin translation (“et oppositiones falsi nominis scientiæ”, Vulgate) of a Koine Greek word (gnosis) with modern science.

“The cause of abortions (Hosea 13:16; Numbers 31:15-18)”

Num 31:15-18 contains no reference to abortion.

And even if it did, is Holman an opponent of Roe v. Wade?

Hos 13:16 refers to the pagan practice of disemboweling pregnant POWs.

“Racism (Genesis 9:24-27).”

Once again, someone with the basic cognitive faculty for correct reasoning would make an informed effort to actually exegete Gen 9:24-27.

“And a fierce bringer of judgment on his many enemies (homosexuals, Leviticus 20:13, witches, Exodus 22:18, Sabbath breakers, Exodus 31:14, and those who worship other gods, Exodus 22:20, see also Luke 19:27).”

Aside from the fact that God has no enemies in the usual sense, seeing as God is impervious to harm, all Holman has illustrated his disapproval of OT ethics.

His cognitive faculties fall short of the basic ability to actually show what is wrong with OT ethics, or furnish a secular alternative.

“Realizing this, I am now compelled to go down the list of less than admirable qualities and fantastic ideas attributed to this deity and accept the biblical testimony about him. The God of the Bible made the sun stand still (Joshua 10:12-13).”

We’ve exegeted this passage over at Triablogue.

“An ax head [to] float (2 Kings 6:6).”

This idea is only fantastic if you don’t believe in miracles, which only makes sense if you’re an atheist. Hence Holman is reasoning in a circle. Another splendid specimen of evolutionary epistemology on display.

“And a chariot of fire, led by actual horses of fire (2 Kings 2:11) to take Elijah to Heaven.”

The idea is only fantastic if you either can’t read the original or are way too lazy to consult a standard commentary.

All said, if correct reasoning is an acquired characteristic, then it’s a characteristic that Holman has yet to acquire. Apparently he got off to a sorry start in life, which accounts for his arrested development. Such are the vicissitudes of naturalistic evolution.

1 comment:

  1. Holman: “Racism (Genesis 9:24-27).”

    Hays: Once again, someone with the basic cognitive faculty for correct reasoning would make an informed effort to actually exegete Gen 9:24-27.

    Since, I'm sure that he won't bother, let's point him in the right direction here. All that Holman has done is assume the interpretation some have placed on it in the past, so his objection is only a defeater for that interpretation, and thus it assumes this spin on the text is the best exegetical look.

    It's easily disproven: How is this text racist? It is, in point of fact, the exact opposite.

    First, if it is "racist" it would be for the Jews reading what it says about the curse on Canaan, because it would give them some reason to destroy the Canaanites that refused to leave the land when they entered it. Yet the Law tells them not to hate their enemies simply because they are their enemies and are not Jews, which are the heart of racism.(Exodus 23: 3 - 5). In fact, they are told to be kind to the foreigners living among them and show kindness to the stranger, especially to those who wish to worship their God. When they eliminate the Canaanites, it is because (a) the land belongs to the Israelites anyway, the Canaanites are the squatters, and (b) the Canaanites refuse to leave after being warned, and (c) the abominations of the Canaanites themselves defile the land. They are not hated because they are Canaanites, but for the abominations they produce. In fact, Israel is treated like the Canaanites by God in the Exile itself. How is it racist of God to treat the Canaanites they we he tells the Israelites to do this, when God does the same thing to the Israelites in 2 Kings?

    Second, the text does not, as some have said in the past, curse "black people" ("Hamites.") As Vos, notes, only Canaan is cursed, and that is because Ham's punishment for his shaming his father is that one of his son's shame him, so the punishment fits the crime. The rest of Ham's descendents receive neither blessing nor curse, contrary to the view that the text curses all black folks, especially since Canaanites were't black.

    Third, the text is the very opposite of racism in the overall trajectory of redemptive history and the claim that the text promotes racism displays the manifest ignorance of those who say it is "racist." You'd have to have never cracked a book on Biblical Theology or Covenant Theology or, heck, a standard commentary to miss this.

    The God of Shem is identified here as Yahve, the covenant name of God. This forshadows the Abrahamic covenant in the next covenantal unit of Genesis. That in turn alludes to the Davidic Covenant in the iteration of Gen. 17, and both the Mosaic and New Covenants are appended administration of the Abrahamic.

    Note that Ham will serve Japet and Shem, and this includes Canaan. Ham's descendents in the table of nations wind up in Africa and Asia. They produce great civilizations, but in their relation to the covenant people, they are servants. It is this appellation of servitude that gets read back as "racism" because late Europeans from the Enlightenment to the 19th century (so who is really "racist" here...this came from the Enlightenment, not the text itself) used this to justify slavery. But this text is not about slavery. It's about serving in the tent, because Ham serves Shem and Japheth in relation involving the tent. So we need to figure out what it means to serve in the tent.

    This was certainly the case, as they were often the foreigners that would serve in Israel and proselytize. Rahab and Ruth both stand in direct relation to the line of David and the Davidic kings. This makes them, in NT terms, ancestors of Jesus. How then is serving in the tent a bad thing? Ethiopia through the Queen of Sheba will share a special relationship with Israel and become, historically, an outpost of Judaism. Since Shem receives the covenant first, Ham thus serves Shem in that Shem administers the covenant for Ham. As a result, some of Ham's descendents wind up in the Davidic line itself!

    As far as the curse on Canaan goes, those descendents of Canaan living like Carthagians and Phoenicians lived in sexual depravity that is noticed even by those that the Bible would label as Japhethites (Greeks, Romans, etc.) This is provable from archaelogy as well as the Bible.

    Shem has a "tent." He has a God, Yahve, in a covenant relationship with him in that tent. So, in the tent is the God of Israel, the One True, living God. To serve in that tent is to serve that God. How is this "racist?"

    Japet will be enlarged, indicating he will conquer Shem's tents and dwell in them, thus administrating the tents (Vos, BT, 58). It's very obvious that from the middle of the Book of Acts to the present day, Japhet is administering the covenant, but at the same time, there is no distinction between Shem, Ham, and Japhet in the New Covenant tent. We are all considered Jews if we are in that tent and serving that God. So, far from being racist, in the scope of redemptive history both Ham and Japet find the God of Shem in the tents of Shem (the covenant people with the tents and with Yahve as God is of course Israel).

    What do we find in Scripture: Judaism spreads into Ethiopia in Solomon's day. History and archaeloogy affirm it went to Egypt too. Japhet conquers the tents of Shem through the Greeks and Romans, and then in Scripture, we find the New Covenant spreading into Ethiopia, all through Asia Minor, into North Africa, and into Europe. By the 5th or 6th century it reaches China, and perhaps as early as the 1st and certainly the 2nd it was likely in India. At present, it has encircled the globe and every, tribe, tongue, and nation is now included in the tents of Shem with Yahve their God, just like Gen. 9 said. How, exactly, then, is this "racist?" It is the very opposite.