Ed Babinski is a man on a mission. His godless-given mission in life is to recruit as many professing Christians as possible to share his pointless outlook on life. After all, there’s no point to a pointless life unless you can get others to share your pointless point of view.
That’s what gives meaning to his meaningless existence. To be is to be meaningless. And his meaningless beingness would be utterly vacuous unless he could convert some others to bask in their equally meaningless beingness. That way, everybody can pool the collective nullity of their sorry existence, of which no greater nullity can be conceived.
Why, isn’t that enough to make you brave the tropical rainforests in search of headhunters who labor in darkness without your gospel of godlessness to illumine their lives?
Pursuant to his glorious mission in life, I see that Ed left one of his core dumps over at Hip & Thigh:
Edward T. Babinski said...
Young-earth creationism is accommodationism. YECs attempt to accommodate whatever modern scientific titbits they can dig up with whatever verses in the Bible sound vaguely like they could match up with them. They are being creative and not giving themselves the credit for being so creative.
This is Ed’s little attempt to be clever. To turn tables on the YECs. Unfortunately for him, Ed’s analogy suffers from a fatal equivocation. As Fred stated in the original post, “However, the position presented by Peter Enns and John Walton and utilized by theistic evolutionists that God used accommodating language to reveal His purposes to primitive minded men create some significant theological difficulties.”
That, however, is a very different definition of “accommodationism” than Ed’s lame comparison. Moving along:
For instance, YEC Russell Humphries imaginatively tries to make Genesis 1 scientifically accurate by positing the following:
"The 'waters above' [the firmament] are beyond the most distant galaxy our telescopes have detected, at least 12 billion light years away (1 light year = 6 trillion miles). . . From my interpretation of the Pioneer data, at that distance the waters would have a total mass of about twenty times the mass of all the stars."
See Humphries' ICR article:
On the "pillars of the earth" question, I suspect something similar is going on, i.e., an imaginative attempt to try and match up the ancient "pillers of the earth" notion with the modern notion of "cratons." But is that what the ancients themselves had in mind? They undoubtedly suspected SOMETHING held the earth above the waters, and being flat earthers there's NOTHING SUPERNATURALLY SURPRISING that flat earthers would consider the idea of "pillars" supporting the earth. Other ancient views included an earth that was established/set above the waters and above the land of sheol directly by divine power. Both of those ideas appear in both the Bible and pre-biblical writings.
(Also take at look at the modern idea of "cratons." They extend to a depth of approximately 200 kilometers. But modern science also reveals that the mantle that supports the cratons extends to a depth of 2,890 kilometers, and there's still 3,470 more kilometers beneath the mantle till you reach the earth's center. So cratons only make up about 3% of what supports the earth.
i) Even if some YEC scientists are at times guilty of fanciful exegesis, that is not distinctive to YEC science. Is Ed claiming that OEC scientists (i.e. Hugh Ross) and TE scientists (e.g. Alister McGrath) are guiltless to fanciful exegesis to square the Bible with science?
ii) In addition, it’s hardly fair to compare YEC scientists with OT scholars. The correct comparison would be to compare different representatives within the same field, viz. compare YEC OT scholars (e.g. Hasel, Currid) with OEC OT scholars (e.g. Kline, Youngblood) and TE scholars (e.g. Waltke).
Also, notice that the Bible never speaks about what supports the oceans or what supports the earth's crust as a whole. The existence of a primordial ocean at the very beginning of creation was simply assumed.
i) To begin with, we wouldn’t expect the Bible to address that question. The Bible is written to, for, and about, land-dwellers. Fallen human beings. Not undersea explorers, &c.
ii) Is “the existence of a primordial ocean at the very beginning of creation was simply assumed”? That depends, in part, on how we construe the syntax of Gen 1:1 in relation to the remainder of the passage.
Furthermore, in the Bible and other ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian texts the earth does not move except during an earthquake.
One incidental consequence of that claim is that Bible verses about the immobility of the earth are irrelevant to the old geocentric/heliocentric controversy. For the motion in view is not the motion of the earth in relation to other celestial bodies, but seismic activity.
Divine power in both cases has both established/set the earth that it may not move, and also is able to move the earth via earthquakes. So, both the immobility of the earth and the occasional earthquake were viewed as signs of direct divine intervention and exhibitions of power.
How would that makes them signs of “direct” divine “intervention”?
And note that in Genesis 1 before the creation of heaven is announced, a raqia has to be created so that heaven might appear at all.
That’s a rather wooden way of handling the sequence. Isn’t creation of the raqia itself a creative means by which the sky made (i.e. creation by division)?
In summation, the imaginative interpreting is being done by YEC's who are the true accommodationists. They attempt to interpret some isolated verses by playing imaginative match up games with only some things that modern scientists have discovered. And they ignore the ancient milieu in which Genesis 1 was originally composed and the primary concerns and worldviews of the ancients who first wrote and read Genesis 1.
Among other things, we need to distinguish between creation science and interpretations of Gen 1 which treat the sequence as calendar days. For example, there’s a sense in which John Currid’s commentary on Genesis is written from a YEC standpoint, yet Currid is writing as an OT scholar, not a creation scientist.
YECs also assume that Gen. 1 was the earliest truest story when there is no evidence it was either.
Since that’s nothing more than a vague assertoric denial, it doesn’t merit a response.
Enns, Walton and other Evangelical OT scholars view Genesis in its milieu, instead of imagining that God spinkled hidden nuggests of modern scientific knowledge here and there throughout the Bible, and that "our job" is to find titbits from modern science that we can use to try and "match up" to such isolated verses.
Why classify Enns as an “Evangelical” rather than a standard-issue liberal? Is this Babinski’s attempt to give Enns more street cred with conservative Christians? But anyone who has witnessed his performance over at BioLogos can see that Enns no longer takes the inspiration of Scripture at all seriously–assuming he ever did.
Also, Walton clearly has a far higher view of Scripture than Babinski. So isn’t that appeal a two-edged sword? Remember, Babinski isn’t arguing for OED or even TE. Babinski is a militant apostate.
Noel Weeks isn't an expert in ancient cosmologies.
Here’s his CV:
“Dr Noel Weeks earned a B.Sc. (Honors in Zoology) from the University of New England, Armidale (Australia), a B.D. and Th.M. from Westminster Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. (Mediterranean Studies, dealing with some of the Nuzi texts) from Brandeis University, Massachusetts. He is a Senior Lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Sydney, and is an Associate of their Department of Classics and Ancient History, with an interest in the Ancient Near East, specializing in Mesopotamia and Israel, and the Akkadian Language."
What are Babinski’s credentials?
Experts agree the 3-tier view was held for thousands of years in both ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. See, Wayne Horowitz, Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1998), and John A.Wilson, “Egypt,” Before Philosophy, ed. H. Frankfort (Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1967).
I also heartily suggest Mark S. Smith's new book, The Priestly Origin of Genesis 1.
And, Othmar Keel's works:
Creation: Biblical Theology in the Context of Ancient Near Eastern Religion (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, Forthcoming Spring 2010).
The Symbolism of the Biblical World: Ancient Near Eastern Iconography and the Book of Psalms (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1997).
Several basic problems:
i) To my knowledge, Mark Smith never wrote a book entitled The Priestly Origin of Genesis 1. Smith has written a book entitled The Priestly Vision of Genesis 1.
The fact that Babinski apparently got the title wrong raises the awkward question of whether he ever read the book.
ii) According to a book review, “Building off the scholarly consensus that Genesis 1 is a creation text of the sixth century written from a priestly perspective, Smith explores the significance that lies behind this priestly vision and how it functions as a part of the larger biblical witness to the creative activity of God.”
So Smith’s priestly angle is only as good as his 6C sitz-im-leben.
iii) Babinski also refers to a forthcoming book by Keel. That’s a revealing window into Babinski’s evidentiary standards. First make up your mind, then wait for confirmatory evidence.
iv) With reference to Keel’s other book, let’s make allowance for the genre of the Psalms. The Psalter contains a lot of poetic imagery.
v) Do “experts agree the 3-tier view was held for thousands of years in both ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia”?
a) According to Keel, “As indicated above, the world can be described not only as the sum of two parts, but of three or more as well,” The Symbolism of the Biblical World, 35.
Sounds pretty flexible to me. Also makes me wonder if Babinski actually read the book.
b) According to Horowitz, “Enuma Elish includes seven cosmic regions…When considered by themselves, the Heavens, Esarra, the earth’s surface, and Apsu/Esgalla provide a cosmography of two heavens and two earths that may be compared with the three heavens and earths of KAR 307,” Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography, 123.
So instead of a 3-tier universe, that would give us, by turns, a 4-tier universe, 6-tier universe, and 7-tier universe. Once again, that sounds pretty flexible to me. And, once again, I have to wonder if Babinski actually read the book.
vi) There is also the question of whether these ANE cosmologies represent popular belief. For instance, this is what Walton has to say about the Enuma Elish:
“Enuma Elish recounts Marduk’s emergence as the head of the Babylonian pantheon. He is patron of the city of Babylon and begins his rise to prominence early in the second millennium…Whatever cosmic associations Marduk may have had, they were subordinate to his political role, which did not reach its climax until the Kassite period or the second dynasty of Isin (12th century),” Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament, 337-38.
And this is what another leading scholar has to say:
“The central figure is Marduk, chief god of Babylon; however, in the early part of the first millennium when Assyria rose to become the dominant power in the world, an Assyrian scribe apparently replaced Marduk with his own god, Ashur, and made a few changes to let the story fit its new hero,” T. Jacobsen, Treasures of Darkness, 167.
“It is a mythopoeic adumbration of Babylon’s and Marduk’s rise to rulership over a united Babylonia, but projected back to mythical times and made universal…Thus was the world established as a state, a well-run paternalistic monarchy with permanent king, capital, parliament, and royal palace in Babylon,” ibid. 191.
So here we’re dealing, not with popular, perennial belief–but with a political document which fabricates a backstory to legitimate the current regime.
Of course, this doesn’t prove that various cosmographical details couldn’t be more primitive or widespread. However, it ought to caution us against assuming that official accounts represent a cultural consensus. These are polemical instruments which could be manipulated at will to serve a sectarian or partisan political agenda. Rival factions have rival etiologies to justify their superior pedigree.
Experts also agree that animism was probably the earliest religion. The earliest human artworks feature animal images and carvings, and sometimes humans with animal heads (and Rubenesque female figurines).
Playboy magazine also contains voluptuous women.
For more information please see my article, "The Cosmology of the Bible" in The Christian Delusion. Some of it may be available for viewing online via amazon.com's "look inside feature." One may also order the book via interlibrary loan.
In other words, this whole thing is just a way for Ed to hawk his new book.
All and all, Ed’s exercise says less about the Biblical shape of the earth in than it does about the shape of his head (think: Kryten 2X4B-523P).