Friday, July 05, 2013

Adam in the balance


A friend asked me to comment on this article:


On thing I'd note at the outset is that Mohler is just a popularizer. If Evans is attempting to mount a takedown of young-earth creationism, he will have to train his guns against its most sophisticated exponents. 
It is not only possible but desirable that advocates of LSDYEC, Day-Agers, Framework proponents, and Analogical Day advocates join together in their common affirmation of the full authority of Scripture and discuss the merits and problems of the various positions—without anathemas and ad hominem arguments...
A problem with that recommendation Evans is oblivious to his own anathemas and ad hominem arguments. His article betrays a bristling animosity towards Mohler and other "fundamentalists." He needs to back up a few paces and cultivate the critical detachment to recognize in himself what he is so quick to fault in his opponents.
Although many young-earth creationists are "fundamentalists," Evans uses the term very loosely. For instance, it's my impression that many confessional Lutherans are young-earth creationists. Does that make Lutherans "fundamentalists"? Likewise, were the Westminster Divines "fundamentalists"? 
In his detailed study of Christian interpretation of the days of creation, Robert W. A. Letham concludes,
Before the Westminster Assembly there were a variety of interpretations of Genesis 1 and its days.  If the text of Genesis is so clear-cut, why did the church down through the centuries not see it that way? 
Well, that's a very broad question. For example, some church fathers espoused instantaneous creation. But isn't that a preconception they were bringing to the text of Genesis rather than a conclusion they were deriving from the text of Genesis? 
As I have argued elsewhere, a consistently intra-biblical hermeneutic is impossible—the biblical writers wrote to people who were expected to bring their knowledge of nature, history, geography, language, and the human condition to bear on the interpretive process.  Or, to phrase it more concretely, they wrote to people who knew what the city of Damascus, acacia trees, the Euphrates River, and human sexuality were, and they assumed that such knowledge would be utilized in interpretation.  At issue here is the crucial question of whether extrabiblical knowledge is relevant to the interpretation of Scripture, and the historic Christian tradition has answered this question with a resounding “Yes.”
There's some truth to that principle. However, there are two basic problems with Evans' appeal to that principle:
i) As we shall see, Evans (as well as Walton) merely pays lip-service to what ancient Near Easterners could know about their world. Evans doesn't make a good faith effort to project himself into the situation of an ancient Near Easterner. 
ii) There is also a bait-and-switch, as Evans substitutes the historical horizon of a modern reader for the historical horizon of the original audience. Take his appeal to "astrophysics, astronomy, geology, paleontology, biology." But it would be grossly anachronistic to bring those considerations to bear on the interpretation of Gen 1, for that's far removed from what the original audience had in mind. Those were not the operating assumptions of the narrator's target audience. 
Second, Mohler vastly underestimates the problems that ANE comparative studies pose for his LSDYEC position.  The problem is not simply that there are some superficial similarities between the creation narratives in the Babylonian Enuma Elish text and Genesis 1.  Rather, both these texts (and many others) assume a cosmology which was quite coherent to the ancients but which we do not (indeed cannot) share.  Wheaton College Old Testament scholar John Walton phrases the matter well:
So what were the cultural ideas behind Genesis 1?  Our first proposition is that Genesis 1 is ancient cosmology.  That is, it does not attempt to describe cosmology in modern terms or address modern questions.  The Israelites received no revelation to update or modify their “scientific” understanding of the cosmos.  They did not know that the stars were suns; they did not know that the earth was spherical and moving through space; they did not know that the sun was much further away than the moon, or even further than the birds flying in the air.  The believe that the sky was material (not vaporous), solid enough to support the residence of deity as well as to hold back waters.  In these ways, and many others, they thought about the cosmos in much the same way that anyone in the ancient world thought, and not at all like anyone thinks today.  And God did not think it important to revise their thinking (John Walton, The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate [IVP, 2009], p. 14). 
In other words, Dr. Mohler doesn’t interpret Genesis 1 in a consistently literal way, and neither does anybody else today as far as I can tell.
i) It's revealing to see Evans quote this passage with evident approval. For Walton's position surrenders the inerrancy of Gen 1. On Walton's view, Gen 1 asserts a false conception of the world. That's because the narrator was scientifically ignorant. He didn't know any better. Likewise, that's the position of Paul Seely and Peter Enns–among others. So Evans is tacitly admitting that he must sacrifice the inspiration of Scripture to defend his alternative. 
ii) Walton is trying to ride two horses. On the one hand, he attributes the depiction of Gen 1 to antiquated cosmological conceptions. On the other hand, he promotes a cosmic temple interpretation. But if the narrator is depicting the world in terms which foreshadow the tabernacle, then isn't that the controlling paradigm rather than ancient cosmology?
iii) Did ancient Israelites not know that the sun and moon were farther away than flying birds? What that claim reveals is not how unobservant ancient Near Easterners were, but how unobservant Walton and Evans are. If you spend much time watching birds in flight, or gazing at the sky,  you'll notice birds flying across the face of the sun. Likewise, at night, you can see bats or nocturnal birds fly across the face of a full moon. Therefore, ancient Near Easterners were certainly in a position to gauge relative distances in that regard. Walton and Evans aren't making a serious effort to see the world through the eyes of an ancient Near Eastern observer. Rather, they make unexamined and untested assumptions about the original audience. Walton and Evans are clearly out of touch with the natural world. 
iv) To take another example, if ancient Near Easterners thought the earth was flat, how did they account for seasonable variations in the angular distance of the sun between sunrise and sunset? 
v) To take another example, wasn't Tiamat a sea goddess? Isn't she a personification of the sea? If so, wasn't she made of salt water? If so, how could a metal dome be constructed from her body? 
Likewise, when ancient Near Easterners looked up at the sky, did they see the naked body of a giant woman overhead? 
vi) You can see rain issuing from rainclouds. When you see rainclouds on the horizon, you can often see clear sky above the clouds. So the rain isn't coming through sluicegates in the sky. 
Likewise, if ancient Near Easterners thought the world was like a fish tank, how did rain water drain away? Wouldn't see level continue to rise after each rain? 
Did ancient Near Easterners really think the "solid dome" of the sky rested on mountain ranges? From certain vantagepoints, it might look that way if you lived in the same place all your life. But, of course, some ancient Near Easterners travelled widely on trade routes. Consider the far-flung travel itinerary of Abraham. Many ancient Near Easterners knew as a matter of experience that the world continued on the other side of the mountain range. It didn't come to an abrupt end at the edge of the mountains. 
Third, as we have seen, Mohler contends that literal six-day creationism necessitates a young earth.  But this is simply not the case—there are those who with perfect consistency hold to LSD and an old earth—unless one also insists that the genealogies in Genesis be interpreted as precise, complete, and sequential (i.e., with no gaps or symbolic numbers).  As William Henry Green, a splendid Old Testament scholar of Old Princeton with a high view of Scripture, demonstrated, such a literalistic reading of the genealogies involves one in many insuperable difficulties. He rightly concluded that the genealogies were simply not intended to provide the basis for a scientific chronology and that interpretations based on such an erroneous expectation were unsound (see William Henry Green, “Primeval Chronology,” Bibliotheca Sacra(April 1890): 285-303. 
That's true as far as it goes. But gaps in the genealogies won't buy millions or billions of extra years. 
Furthermore, Mohler does not shy away from suggesting that those who adopt non-literal interpretations of Genesis 1 do so in order to accommodate Scripture to modern science and the spirit of the age.  But it is at least interesting to note that a good deal of impetus toward the Framework Hypothesis has come from intra-textual exegesis of Genesis 1.  For example, it has long been noted that there is correspondence between days 1-3 and days 4-6 as days of separation followed by days of filling.  Moreover, Meredith Kline’s well-known argument for the Framework Hypothesis is basically an intra-textual argument (see Meredith G. Kline, “Because It Had Not Rained,” WTJ 20 (1958): 146-157).
i) To begin with, the chronological interpretation can easily accommodate that observation. God creates the habitats before he creates the inhabitants. That's perfectly consistent with a chronological sequence.
ii) The framework hypothesis cuts against the aural grain of the text. The text is directed at the ear rather than the eye. Most members of the target audience would hear the text rather than read the text. Hearing is linear, sequential. 
By contrast, proponents of the framework hypothesis rearrange the events to form a vertical pattern of matching pairs rather than a horizontal pattern of successive installments. They even include graphic depictions, in which the days are placed side-by-side in two columns. But that's not how the original audience processed the text. So I find the framework hypothesis psycholinguistically implausible. 
John Walton has begun to address this problem with his interpretation of Genesis 1 as an account of functional rather than material origins, and of the cosmos as God’s temple (see Walton, Lost World of Genesis One, pp. 110-111).
But as many critics have pointed out, it's arbitrary to insist that Gen 1 is only concerned with functionality rather than material origins. Why assume ancient Near Easterners operated with that false dichotomy? 
In fact, the evidence for an old earth is insistent and overwhelming.  It comes to us from astrophysics, astronomy, geology, paleontology, biology, and so on, and simplistic postmodernish appeals to worldview are not sufficient to discount this.
i) One problem with that appeal is that Evans needs to disambiguate the ostensible evidence for an old earth from the ostensible evidence for human evolution. To some degree, the ostensible evidence is intertwined. Inasmuch as both young-earth and old-earth creationists must challenge the scientific establishment, both groups are in the same boat, even if they occupy different–sometimes overlapping–sections.
ii) A basic problem with dating the origin of the universe is that we use natural processes to clock natural processes. If certain cyclical or periodic processes are already in place, then (assuming a uniform rate) we can use these to clock other processes. But when dealing with the absolute origin of the universe, those processes are not a given, for those processes are the result of God's creative fiats. You can use a watch to clock the passage of time if you have a watch, but if the watch is under construction, you can't use the watch to clock itself. 
iii) In addition, if creation ex nihilo is true, then there's no natural starting-point. God could make the world at any stage in the process. So you can't just run the clock backwards in time, for you don't know when God set the clock. 
iv) The measurement of time presupposes a temporal metric. but that, in turn, raises the question of whether time itself has an intrinsic metric, or whether any metric we use will be extrinsic to time. And since you have to use a temporal metric to measure time, you can't derive the temporal metric from time.  Empirical evidence won't settle that question, for the evidence presuppose an operating metric. As one philosopher explains, summarizing the argument of a great physicist and mathematician:
The second half of Poincaré’s essay ‘The measure of time’ is the more famous because of its connection with special relativity. But I will concentrate here on the first half, where Poincaré begins with the problem that we do not and cannot have a direct intuition of the equality of successive time intervals (equality of duration of successive processes). This is not a psychological point. Two successive periods of a clock cannot be compared by placing them temporally side by side, that is why direct perception can’t verify whether they lasted equally long, Bas Van Fraassen, Scientific Representation (Oxford 2008), 130. 

In the case of two sticks we can check to see whether they are equally long (at a given time) by placing them side by side; that is we can check spatial congruence (at that time) by an operation that effects spatial coincidence (at that time). We can check whether two clocks run in synchrony during a certain interval if we place them in spatial coincidence. These procedures do not suffice for checking whether two sticks distant from each other in time or space are of equal length, nor whether distant clocks are running in tandem, nor whether a clock’s rate in one time interval is the same as some clock’s rate in a disjoint time interval. But in physics, criteria for spatial and temporal congruence are needed. Poincaré is concentrating on this need, ibid. 130-31. 

What measures duration is a clock, and physics needs a type or class of processes that will play the role of standard clocks. What type or class to choose? One answer might be: the ones that really measure time, that is, mark out equal intervals for processes that really take equally long. While certain philosophers or scientists might count his demand as intelligible, it must be admitted that there could be no experimental test to check on it. We cannot compare two successive processes with respect to duration except with a clock; but clocks present successive processes that are meant to be equal in duration. This is similar to Mach’s point about thermometry: whether the melting of ice always happens at the same temperature, or the volume of a substance expands in proportion to temperature increase, can be checked only with something functioning as a thermometer–and thus cannot be ascertained in order to check whether thermometers are ‘mirroring’ temperature, ibid. 131. 

Poincaré wishes to reveal by these examples two problems that arise in developing a measurement procedure for duration. The first is the initial one, illustrated with the pendulum: we cannot place successive processes side by side so as to check whether their endpoints coincide in time. So there is no independent means for checking whether successive stages of a single process are of equal duration: the question makes sense only after we have accepted one such process as ‘running evenly,’ ibid. 132.

Continuing with Evans:
Or perhaps we could argue, with Bill Dembski in his 2009 book The End of Christianity: Finding a Good God in an Evil World, that “the Fall had retroactive effects in history.” 
Why would Evans oppose mature creation but tout retrocausation? Dembski's retrocausation is designed to save appearances. How is retrocausation essentially different from an omphalism or Last Thursdayism? All these theories go behind the physical record.  
Finally, Mohler’s explanation of the apparent age of the earth as due to God’s having created it with the appearance of age raises more problems than it solves.  The problem here, in short, is that in the cosmos we see not only things in a “mature state,” but also evidence of events in the past.  It is as if God not only created Adam as a mature man, but also created him with the scars incurred during his growing up years (years which never actually happened).  Suggestions of this sort, such as the notion that God embedded fossils in the rock strata in order to create the impression of great antiquity, are unworthy of God and subversive of the doctrine of common grace.  
i) Assuming, for the sake of argument, that mature creation is deceptive, Scripture sometimes depicts God duping humans. Cf. R. Chisholm, "Does God Deceive"? BSac 155:617 (Jan 1998), 11-28. Is that "unworthy of God" according to Biblical standards?
ii) Other than Philip Henry Gosse (or P. G. Nelson), who says "God embedded fossils in the rock strata in order to create the impression of great antiquity"? Evans is conflating omphalism with young-earth creationism, but these are hardly equivalent. Has Evans actually bothered to study the most astute exponents of young-earth creationism, viz. Jay Wile, John Byl, Jason Lisle, Andrew Snelling, Steven Gollmer, Kurt Wise, Todd Wood, John Sanford, Jonathan Sarfati, Marcus Ross?
iii) But let's play along with omphalism for the sake of argument. Would that be "unworthy of God"? Take period dramas. The Western genre is a case in point. Take Pale Rider. The movie jumps right into the 19C, skipping over all of the intervening centuries. It's as if time began in the 19C. There are mountains in the background, but Pale Rider never depicts the origin of the mountains. It's as if they sprang into existence the moment before the director shouted "Lights, camera, action!" Logically speaking, Preacher had to have parents. His parents had parents. Their parents had parents. But in the movie, Preacher rides into town out of the blue, like all the other characters. 
What if the world is like a period drama? What if God wanted to make a world which was set in a particular historical context, even though that's a cosmic stageset which only came into being an instant before? Would that be "unworthy of God"? Or would that be analogous to how many human storytellers begin their stories?
iv) What about miracles like Jesus healing the man born blind (John 9)? By restoring his vision, Jesus erases the prior evidence of his congenital blindness. It now looks like he was born sighted rather than sightless. Is that deceptive? Is that unworthy of God? 
...he would do well to heed these wise words of Herman Bavinck:
It is nevertheless remarkable that not a single confession made a fixed pronouncement about the six-day continuum, and that in theology as well a variety of interpretations were allowed to exist side by side. 
Don't the Westminster Standards pronounce on the timespan? 
Just as the Copernican worldview has pressed theology  to give another and better interpretation of the sun’s “standing still” in Joshua 10...
Remember that the audience to whom Joshua was originally addressed knew nothing of Ptolemaic astronomy. That imports later models of geocentrism into a text that antedates those debates.  Josh 10 doesn't contrast geocentrism with heliocentrism. It isn't based on Greek astronomy.  The "Copernican revolution" simply stripped away an interpretive layer that postdates Josh 10 by centuries.

31 comments:

  1. "It's revealing to see Evans quote this passage with evident approval. For Walton's position surrenders the inerrancy of Gen 1. On Walton's view, Gen 1 asserts a false conception of the world."

    I can't really speak for Walton here, because I've not read him. However, the implication that Dr. Evans has hang ups with inerrancy is simply out of hand. As far as I'm concerned, it seems that Evans is agreeing with Walton on the point that the text of Gen. 1 is not meant to convey or speak of the universe in the form of scientific precision. Evans (along with Walton, Beale, and Kline et. al.) are taking the text and examining it in terms of what the text is saying about the cosmos, and the reason it is doing so. However you beg the question when you say that Walton (and Evans who is quoting him) is saying the text asserts a false conception of the world. You are measuring what they are saying about the text by the lack of modern scientific precision. Perhaps there is a bit of rationalism at play in what you are arguing?

    Not to mention Evans has written a lot on inerrancy and inspiration, and has a high view of it.



    "That's because the narrator was scientifically ignorant. He didn't know any better. Likewise, that's the position of Paul Seely and Peter Enns–among others."

    Inerrancy for Peter Enns is measured by scientific precision. But didn't you just use that same measure to incriminate Walton and Evans? Why the double standard?


    "So Evans is tacitly admitting that he must sacrifice the inspiration of Scripture to defend his alternative. "

    No, Evans is arguing that Scripture isn't giving a scientific depiction of cosmology, but one that has revelational significance, one that speaks of earth as God's temple in which He relates to man and dwells with him there.

    Now, while this could be argued against, I don't think one needs to take the route you did in doing so. If you want to argue with them on exegetical grounds, then that's what you need to do as to not conflate the issue, or poison the well anymore than you've done above. I think you're certainly capable of doing it the right way, as you've demonstrated in the past .

    But what you've done there is move the goal posts, you measured what they said about Genesis by scientific accuracy, compared them to Enns (who does indeed do that) , and then criticized them for measuring inerrancy on the basis of scientific accuracy.

    So you've only attacked a straw-man there.

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    Replies
    1. Resequitur7/07/2013 1:57 PM
      

"I can't really speak for Walton here, because I've not read him."

      Unlike you, I've read a lot of Walton. But that's somewhat beside the point, for the immediate point of reference is what Evans quoted, with approval.

      "However, the implication that Dr. Evans has hang ups with inerrancy is simply out of hand. As far as I'm concerned, it seems that Evans is agreeing with Walton on the point that the text of Gen. 1 is not meant to convey or speak of the universe in the form of scientific precision."

      Walton doesn't say Gen 1 lacks scientific precision, as if this is just a matter of approximations. No, he says Gen 1 is operating with an obsolete paradigm. The whole conception of the cosmos is prescientific and false. A flat immobile earth with a solid dome for the sky. This isn't merely a question of what Gen 1 doesn't aim to describe, but what it does describe.

      "Not to mention Evans has written a lot on inerrancy and inspiration, and has a high view of it."

      To judge by his appeal to Walton, his "high view of inspiration" is an exercise in misdirection, to throw the gullible off the scent.

      "Inerrancy for Peter Enns is measured by scientific precision."

      Wrong. For Peter Enns, Biblical errors are more far reaching than lack of scientific precision. Once again, this is not like the use of round numbers or hyperbole. Rather, Enns believes Bible writers like the narrator in Gen 1 were clueless about the actual origin of the world, life on earth, structure of the cosmos, &c. They had a seriously mistaken understanding of the natural world.

      "But didn't you just use that same measure to incriminate Walton and Evans? Why the double standard?"

      No, that was you imputing to your misunderstanding of Evans to me. You then accuse me of a double standard based on your misattribution. A classic example of mirror reading.

      "No, Evans is arguing that Scripture isn't giving a scientific depiction of cosmology, but one that has revelational significance, one that speaks of earth as God's temple in which He relates to man and dwells with him there."

      You're substituting what you wish he said for what he actually said.

      "If you want to argue with them on exegetical grounds, then that's what you need to do as to not conflate the issue, or poison the well anymore than you've done above."

      This is not a question of how to interpret Gen 1, but whether Gen 1, however interpreted, is truthful.

      "But what you've done there is move the goal posts…"

      You need to show what goalpost I began with, then show how I moved it.

      "You measured what they said about Genesis by scientific accuracy…"

      You keep confusing me with the face at the bottom of the well.

      You sound like a student at Erskine College who's loyally defending his favorite religion prof. It would be preferable if you transferred your allegiance from defending a man who attacks the Bible to defending the Bible against the attacker.

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    2. "Walton doesn't say Gen 1 lacks scientific precision, as if this is just a matter of approximations. No, he says Gen 1 is operating with an obsolete paradigm. The whole conception of the cosmos is prescientific and false. A flat immobile earth with a solid dome for the sky. This isn't merely a question of what Gen 1 doesn't aim to describe, but what it does describe. "

      Can you point out where he says this?

      "To judge by his appeal to Walton, his "high view of inspiration" is an exercise in misdirection, to throw the gullible off the scent. "

      I think another way to throw the gullible off the scent is to poison the well. Anyone who has given any honest read to Evans can see for themselves that he is a firm advocate of inerrancy.

      "Wrong. For Peter Enns, Biblical errors are more far reaching than lack of scientific precision. Once again, this is not like the use of round numbers or hyperbole. Rather, Enns believes Bible writers like the narrator in Gen 1 were clueless about the actual origin of the world, life on earth, structure of the cosmos, &c. They had a seriously mistaken understanding of the natural world."

      I agree with you that Enns is in serious error. Where I disagree is that Evans runs into the same problems. Evans has criticized Enns in the past on his low view of scripture, and pointed out some parallels that he has with Barth on the "incarnational model" and has linked to other people who have dealt with Enns on the matter. So I stand by my initial statement that your ruling about Evans is out of hand.

      "No, that was you imputing to your misunderstanding of Evans to me. You then accuse me of a double standard based on your misattribution. A classic example of mirror reading."

      Can you demonstrate how I've misunderstood Evans?

      "You're substituting what you wish he said for what he actually said."

      lol, perhaps. But again, I've only read Evans, and it seems that what he's doing is bringing up challenges to a wooden reading of the text. Would you say that in doing so he is challenging inerrancy? If so, what about Warfield?

      "This is not a question of how to interpret Gen 1, but whether Gen 1, however interpreted, is truthful. "

      Truthful by what set of standards? Wouldn't that depend on the intent of the author?

      "You need to show what goalpost I began with, then show how I moved it."

      Well it seems you were arguing that Evans is wrong because because he doesn't think Scripture is speaking in a scientifically precise model, but had some other significance, and then you from there you went on and compared him to Enns, who thinks the bible is wrong because it was trying to depict a scientific model (among the other things you listed) and failed. That doesn't match up. Nor does the latter follows from the former. So I found that to be an awkward approach.

      "You keep confusing me with the face at the bottom of the well."

      Well, I'm open to correction, but I haven't seen much that has demonstrated my take as being inaccurate.

      "You sound like a student at Erskine College who's loyally defending his favorite religion prof."

      Nope, but I've met Evans, and have read him on inerrancy and infallibility.

      "It would be preferable if you transferred your allegiance from defending a man who attacks the Bible to defending the Bible against the attacker."

      I hear what you are saying, but I'm not as sure as you are that Evans is attacking the bible.


      In any case, thanks for your comments.

      Stay sharp,


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    3. >>Can you point out where he says this?

      How about in the source Steve quotes from in the main post. Walton believes ANE people believed the sky was a solid dome, for instance. Scripture follows the ANE belief system. So Scripture presents us with the sky as a solid dome. We could get that from the quoted section.

      Are you going to suggest, with a straight face, that the original audience wouldn't have taken this as an affirmation of their primitive (and erroneous) cosmology? They already knew the sky was a solid dome. Now God tells Moses that He is the one who made the solid dome sky. That's an affirmation of a falsehood. Thus, Scripture is errant. It affirms things that aren't true. You can fluff it with language of accommodation. Others have already started doing the same with a historical Adam. But it still results in a denial of inerrancy.

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    4. Resequitur

      "Can you point out where he says this?"

      That lies right on the face of the Walton quote, which Evans endorses. And that's elaborated in other presentations that Walton has given of his position.

      "I think another way to throw the gullible off the scent is to poison the well."

      Define what you mean by "poisoning the well," and show how I've done it.

      "Anyone who has given any honest read to Evans can see for themselves that he is a firm advocate of inerrancy."

      I'm judging Evans by his own words in response to Mohler.

      "Can you demonstrate how I've misunderstood Evans?"

      You ignore what Evans actually said in his response to Moher.

      "But again, I've only read Evans, and it seems that what he's doing is bringing up challenges to a wooden reading of the text."

      How did you derive that from the actual wording and specific examples he gave in his response to Mohler?

      "Would you say that in doing so he is challenging inerrancy?"

      When he endorses Walton's position, yes.

      "If so, what about Warfield?"

      Quote a statement from Warfield that parallel's Walton's.

      Truthful by what set of standards? Wouldn't that depend on the intent of the author?

      Presumably you think the narrator of Gen 1 intended to give a true account of who made the world, what he made, and how he made it. And that would be a corrective to popular pagan notions.

      But according to Walton, whose position Evan endorses, the narrator unintentionally gave an erroneous account because he was misinformed by his prescientific blinders.

      "Well it seems you were arguing that Evans is wrong because because he doesn't think Scripture is speaking in a scientifically precise model..."

      I never framed the issue in terms of "scientific precision." You're the one who's stuck on that criterion.

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    5. Can we leave Erskine Bible Majors out of it?

      Delete
    6. "That lies right on the face of the Walton quote, which Evans endorses. And that's elaborated in other presentations that Walton has given of his position. "

      It seems to me that Evans endorses the idea that the Israelites had an idea of cosmology that was built from their point of view, and what they saw and that God's revelation did not contradict it, rather, He used their understanding as a means of telling them something about Himself and His creation. But I'm offering a gracious reading, while you are ascribing malicious intent.

      "Define what you mean by "poisoning the well," and show how I've done it."

      I mean that you are misleading your readers with unbalanced, and false information, that could easily be dismissed if they knew that the context of his statements here are also determined by what he's said about inerrancy elsewhere. For instance you said;

      "So Evans is tacitly admitting that he must sacrifice the inspiration of Scripture to defend his alternative. "

      Which would only be the case if your view is that Genesis 1 is meant to give us a scientifically precise cosmology. He is saying if you read the text under a wooden literalism, then there is no way that you are going to get a correct cosmology out of it, because it was using an ancient understanding to communicate God's redemptive purposes. You said "you wish Evans said that", but reading Evans again, I think you are the one mirror-reading, because you openly ascribed malicious intent.

      "You ignore what Evans actually said in his response to Moher."

      Not only did I not ignore what Evans said in his response to Mohler, I've read what Evans has said about inerrancy, and what he's said about Enns, demonstrating blatant disagreement with him.

      "How did you derive that from the actual wording and specific examples he gave in his response to Mohler?"

      Because he said as much, for example,

      "In other words, Dr. Mohler doesn’t interpret Genesis 1 in a consistently literal way, and neither does anybody else today as far as I can tell." - Evans

      "When he endorses Walton's position, yes. "

      I'm not sure that given the context, that anything in what he quoted from Walton denies inerrancy. Could you distinguish what the scripture is teaching and distinguish it between a prima facie, consistently literal, reading of the text.

      "As we read and heard the text Genesis 1 through the first three verses of Genesis 2, the most natural understanding of the text would be that what is being presented here by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is a sequential pattern of 24-hour days."

      and

      "It certainly seems by any common sense natural reading of the text that it is making historical and sequential claims."(Mohler)

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    7. Taking that view and pushing it to read it as naturally and literally as it says it does isn't denying inerrancy, it's denying that rule of interpretation.

      "It must be confessed, indeed, that the impression is readily taken from a prima facie view of the biblical record of the course of human history, that the human race is of comparatively recent origin. It has been the the usual supposition of simple bible readers, therefore, that the biblical data allows for the duration of the life of the human race on earth only a paltry six thousand years or so: an this supposition has become fixed in formal chronological schemes which *have become traditional and have even been given a place in margins of our bibles to supply the chronological framework of the Scriptural narrative"

      "In a word, the Scriptural data leave us wholly without guidance in estimating the time which elapsed between the creation of the world and the deluge and between the deluge and the call of Abraham. So far as the Scripture assertions are concerned, we may suppose any length of time to have intervened between these events which may otherwise appear reasonable. The question of the antiquity of man is accordingly a purely scientific one, in which the theologian as such has no concern."

      (On the Antiquity and the Unity of the Human Race, Benjamin B. Warfield, The Princeton Theological Review, 1911)

      "But according to Walton, whose position Evan endorses, the narrator unintentionally gave an erroneous account because he was misinformed by his prescientific blinders."

      No, he gave an account which paralleled the ancient accounts, for purposes that are beyond the scope of scientific accuracy. YEC hermeneutics say "no, that can't be it, because then the bible would be in error"., and have drawn an unnecessary line in the sand that, when crossed, you are denying inerrancy.

      "I never framed the issue in terms of "scientific precision." You're the one who's stuck on that criterion."

      You didn't? So you really don't have any problem with the statement:

      "They did not know that the stars were suns; they did not know that the earth was spherical and moving through space; they did not know that the sun was much further away than the moon, or even further than the birds flying in the air."

      Did I misread you when you took issue with Evans quoting that?

      Delete
    8. Resequitur7/08/2013 3:07 PM

"It seems to me that Evans endorses the idea that the Israelites had an idea of cosmology that was built from their point of view, and what they saw and that God's revelation did not contradict it, rather, He used their understanding as a means of telling them something about Himself and His creation. But I'm offering a gracious reading, while you are ascribing malicious intent."

      According to the Walton quote, the narrator of Gen 1 shared the common ANE belief that precipitation came from reservoirs above the firmament. The sky itself was a solid dome, which served as a physical water barrier to keep the waters above from emptying onto the earth. Rather, precipitation was regulated by sluicegates in the dome.

      Walton alludes to other ANE cosmological beliefs, viz. the stars were embedded in the solid dome of the sky. And he spells that out in other writings.

      According to Walton, that's what the narrator of Gen 1 is claiming to be the case. The narrator is claiming that that's how God made the world, and what the world is like. His claims are false, because God did not correct that misconception.

      Evans says agrees with Walton's approach. You're not offering a "gracious" reading, but a face-saving reading. You're covering for Evans. I'm letting Evans speak for himself.

      Now, Evans is always free to retract his endorsement. He could say that on second thought, quoting Walton was shortsighted. That he failed to consider the full implications of the quote. But as it stands, that's what the words mean.

      "I mean that you are misleading your readers with unbalanced, and false information…"

      I didn't give the readers false information. Your allegation is defamatory. I extensively quoted Evans verbatim, and hyperlinked the full text.

      "Which would only be the case if your view is that Genesis 1 is meant to give us a scientifically precise cosmology."

      For some reason you're stuck on the phrase "scientific precision," which you repeat ad nauseum. You keep imputing that to me, without justifying your attribution.

      "He is saying if you read the text under a wooden literalism…"

      Walton thinks the narrator literally believed in a solid dome, &c.

      "…because it was using an ancient understanding to communicate God's redemptive purposes."

      No, that would be an ancient misunderstanding.

      Delete
    9. Cont. "…because you openly ascribed malicious intent."

      It's a pity that you'd rather defend the word of Evans than defend the word of God. God doesn't share your partisan priorities.

      "In other words, Dr. Mohler doesn’t interpret Genesis 1 in a consistently literal way, and neither does anybody else today as far as I can tell (Evans). "

      That's because Evans is construing "consistently literal interpretation" with the way Walton views Gen 1. Evans is using that filter.

      "I'm not sure that given the context, that anything in what he quoted from Walton denies inerrancy. Could you distinguish what the scripture is teaching and distinguish it between a prima facie, consistently literal, reading of the text. "

      According to Walton's view of Gen 1, the narrator meant to teach something that we now know to be false.

      You then proceed to quote two statements by Mohler, which is a red herring, since my post is not an evaluation of Mohler's arguments, but an evaluation of Evans' arguments. Keep your eye on the ball.

      Your quote from Warfield is irrelevant, in part because I wasn't assessing Warfield's approach to Genesis, and in part because your Warfield quote doesn't cover the same ground as the Walton quote.

      "No, he gave an account which paralleled the ancient accounts, for purposes that are beyond the scope of scientific accuracy."

      According to Walton, Gen 1 gives a systematically false account because the narrator was in the dark regarding the true origins and structure of the universe.

      "Did I misread you when you took issue with Evans quoting that?"

      For some reason, you lack the ability to distinguish between "imprecision" and blatant error.

      Delete
    10. Resequitur,

      >>It seems to me that Evans endorses the idea that the Israelites had an idea of cosmology that was built from their point of view, and what they saw and that God's revelation did not contradict it, rather, He used their understanding as a means of telling them something about Himself and His creation.

      That doesn't even absolve Evans of the charge, as far as I can see. Suppose you're correct that Evans believes God's revelation didn't contradict the errors of ANE cosmology. Suppose you're correct that Evans believes God used erroneous cosmological understanding as a means of telling them something about Himself. Does that somehow save inerrancy? I can't see how. On that reading, God inscripturates errors, which would only ensure the propagation of a false cosmological system for generations.

      Steve points out that you're giving a face-saving reading. But I don't even see that you succeed in saving Evans from the charge even if we assume your reading.

      >>that could easily be dismissed if they knew that the context of his statements here are also determined by what he's said about inerrancy elsewhere

      Whatever Evans has said elsewhere, what he has said here undercuts inerrancy. Steve has pointed this out to you before. You're non-responsive. You just circle back to your original language game about scientific precision.

      Is that sort of intellectual behavior polite?

      >> He is saying if you read the text under a wooden literalism, then there is no way that you are going to get a correct cosmology out of it, because it was using an ancient understanding to communicate God's redemptive purposes.

      In this case "wooden literalism" turns out to be the way the original audience would have read the text. And "using an ancient understanding to communicate God's redemptive purposes" turns out to be "using error to communicate God's redemptive purposes." So it turns out you still lose inerrancy.

      >>Not only did I not ignore what Evans said in his response to Mohler, I've read what Evans has said about inerrancy, and what he's said about Enns, demonstrating blatant disagreement with him.

      Too bad you can't bring yourself to come to terms with what Evans has said here.

      >>Could you distinguish what the scripture is teaching and distinguish it between a prima facie, consistently literal, reading of the text.

      Apparently you can't distinguish the overall point of a passage or pericope from the explicit and implicit affirmations of the parts. Saving the overall point or the theological point isn't sufficient to save the doctrine of inerrancy.

      >>Taking that view and pushing it to read it as naturally and literally as it says it does isn't denying inerrancy, it's denying that rule of interpretation.

      You say this in response to two quotes from Mohler. But I'm not sure what you're trying to say here. But anyway wouldn't you agree with Mohler? I've heard several OEC admit what Mohler says in the sections you quote too. They just believe there are other issues which drive them to reject the natural and plain reading. And if they are correct in their assessment of those other issues then I would agree with them. So I'm not sure why you would find that objectionable or if in fact you do.

      Delete
    11. >>Re: your Warfield quote.

      Warfield says Scripture doesn't give us information sufficient to determine the age of the earth (or, specifically, humanity). (I would actually with him in regards to that specific issue.) Walton says Scripture gives us information embedded in an erroneous cosmology.

      Warfield and Walton's positions are not parallel and so you failed to produce what Steve requested.

      >>No, he gave an account which paralleled the ancient accounts, for purposes that are beyond the scope of scientific accuracy.

      In other words, he gave an account which mapped onto an erroneous account. Thus, God gave us an erroneous account. Explaining *why* God gave us an erroneous account (e.g., to have fun or to teach us something about redemption) doesn't escape the fact that we are left with errors in Scripture. You refuse to even attempt dealing with that point.

      >>YEC hermeneutics say "no, that can't be it, because then the bible would be in error"., and have drawn an unnecessary line in the sand that, when crossed, you are denying inerrancy.

      I doubt that it's only "YEC hermeneutics" (since you view that so pejoratively, isn't this your own attempt to poison the well?) that could recognize the point. At any rate, you've failed to set forth any argument showing that one can preserve inerrancy while maintaining Walton's (and apparently Evans') position. At this point you're basically just stomping your foot and saying it's impossible because of what Evans has said elsewhere and then throwing around some pejoratives.

      >>Did I misread you when you took issue with Evans quoting that?

      Aside from the fact that you remain willfully ignorant of what Steve has said several times now regarding your use of "scientific precision", the problem isn't directly related to what ANE people believed. Rather, it's whether God inscripturates the ANE errors.

      Delete
    12. "According to the Walton quote, the narrator of Gen 1 shared the common ANE belief that precipitation came from reservoirs above the firmament. The sky itself was a solid dome, which served as a physical water barrier to keep the waters above from emptying onto the earth. Rather, precipitation was regulated by sluicegates in the dome.

      Walton alludes to other ANE cosmological beliefs, viz. the stars were embedded in the solid dome of the sky. And he spells that out in other writings.

      According to Walton, that's what the narrator of Gen 1 is claiming to be the case. The narrator is claiming that that's how God made the world, and what the world is like. His claims are false, because God did not correct that misconception."

      I see what you are saying, and I think Walton is radical and what he is claiming. However I don't think it would be wrong to say that Moses was working with a knowledge of ancient cosmology, of which they acquired from the correct, and revelatory account. Now, I don't see how the quote from Walton, as is, denies inerrancy. If we took the cosmic temple language, applied it woodenly to the universe, then we would have an incomplete view of the universe, because it did not mean to serve that point, and so cannot serve that purpose.

      So we have a couple of options,

      1) That Moses intended to convey literal imagery, and so believed a falsehood

      2) That Moses intended to convey imagery that had the significance of revealing that the Earth was God's cosmic temple.


      I think a prima facie reading of Gen 1 could probably give one the impression that Moses was communicating falsehood, and I think that is just the logical consistency of trying to read Genesis in a chronological, and woodenly literal fashion. What is different from this an how we'd read Revelation? or Daniel? Or some of the genealogies? Perhaps Walton would say that Moses was an idiot, I don't think Evans would go that far.




      "It's a pity that you'd rather defend the word of Evans than defend the word of God. God doesn't share your partisan priorities."

      It's a pity that you would rather represent people dishonestly. Talk about partisan priorities, you can't even distinguish a particular approach to Genesis 1 from denying inerrancy.

      Delete
    13. "That's because Evans is construing "consistently literal interpretation" with the way Walton views Gen 1. Evans is using that filter."

      So do you or do you not think that one could read Genesis and get the same model (give or take) that us modern day folk get? I'm not sure where you keep getting held up and shouting "inerrancy denial". Where did Evans say the bible was wrong about such and such? Isn't he just saying that the rendering that Mohler (and others) are wrong?

      "According to Walton's view of Gen 1, the narrator meant to teach something that we now know to be false. "

      He *meant* to teach something that we know now to be false? Or he meant to use the style and literature and prose, as an accommodation?

      "You then proceed to quote two statements by Mohler, which is a red herring, since my post is not an evaluation of Mohler's arguments, but an evaluation of Evans' arguments. Keep your eye on the ball."

      Evans was responding to Mohler, and the context would make sense only in light of what Mohler said, get the tree limb out of your eyes, Steve.

      "Your quote from Warfield is irrelevant, in part because I wasn't assessing Warfield's approach to Genesis, and in part because your Warfield quote doesn't cover the same ground as the Walton quote."

      "Evans says agrees with Walton's approach. You're not offering a "gracious" reading, but a face-saving reading. You're covering for Evans. I'm letting Evans speak for himself."

      Where did Evans say that he agrees with Walton's approach? I think he is saying that the hermeneutic being employed would render a defunct view of cosmology, because Moses *used* it, to communicate, obviously correcting the pagan notions.

      "I didn't give the readers false information. Your allegation is defamatory. I extensively quoted Evans verbatim, and hyperlinked the full text. "

      You did when ascribed malicious intent, quit trying to avoid what my allegation actually was. "Denying inerrancy" is a serious charge, and that was what I was referring to. When you make the issue about "hyperlinking" or not, you misconstrue my point.

      If it were the case then I could simply slip by your description of my remark being "defamatory", because I quoted you, right?

      "For some reason you're stuck on the phrase "scientific precision," which you repeat ad nauseum. You keep imputing that to me, without justifying your attribution."

      That's the concept that Evans is concerned with, if you missed that in the post then you didn't understand it.

      "Walton thinks the narrator literally believed in a solid dome, &c. "

      I'm not so sure Evans believes that though.

      "For some reason, you lack the ability to distinguish between "imprecision" and blatant error."

      You lack the ability to suspend your habit of over-exaggeration.

      Delete
    14. Resequitur,

      Suppose that we lived in a parallel universe to our own. In this parallel universe everything is the same except there are no YEC and God has not yet revealed himself. So we have no book of Genesis. However, we still have our current scientific theories about origins. We believe the Universe came into existence about 14 billion years ago. Life on earth arose 3.4 billion years ago. Life is a product of neo-Darwinian forces. Humans have a universal common ancestry, etc.

      God breaks onto the scene in the year 2013 and tells us he made everything. Amazingly enough, he tells us that he made everything via the same basic cosmological and biological scheme we already hold to. So for instance, God tells us that he made the universe about 14 billion years ago via a big bang. The only significant difference is that now our cosmology and biology are imbued with theological significance. He tells Shmoses to record all this in the book of Jenesis.

      How could we tell (both from the vantage point of our contemporary parallel Moses and from the vantage point of the audience--us--that he is writing to that God isn't actually affirming that the universe came into existence about 14 billion years ago via a big bang? Is it reasonable to think anyone would read the book of Jenesis and not find in there an affirmation of their scientific paradigms?

      It seems like the only way we could possibly come to know (and be reasonable expected to believe) that Jenesis really isn't saying anything about science is once we have debunked the scientific framework in which Jenesis is constructed. So for instance, once scientists in our parallel world have proven Steady State Theory, now everyone can see that Jenesis is actually just a literary framework that wasn't even try to make statements about the world.

      Now back to reality. It seems to me that Moses and everyone who read Genesis in the ANE was in the same situation as Schmoses and his audience according to the way you've cast the Framework Hypothesis. People in the ANE held to the belief that the sky was a solid dome in the same way that we hold to the belief that the sky is vaporous. If God therefore has Moses inscripturate that He made the sky a solid dome, it's not rational to expect them to take that as anything other than a factual statement about material creation in the same way it wouldn't be rational to expect us to take Schmoses as giving us a factual statement about material creation of the vaporous sky.

      I would want to flush out an argument then (but I don't have much time now) to the effect that under such conditions where there is no rational reason to expect one's perlocution to not result in error that one has spoken erroneously or, rather, one's locution can't be divorced from the foreseen perlocutionary effects. So basically God affirms for the Israelites a false cosmology. And we end up with errant Scripture. And you can't get around this by saying God didn't *mean* for people to take it that way. Indeed, God would seem to be irrational under such conditions were that his intention.

      Delete
    15. Resequitur7/09/2013 3:50 PM
      

"I see what you are saying, and I think Walton is radical and what he is claiming."

      Which make Evans' agreement radical.

      "However I don't think it would be wrong to say that Moses was working with a knowledge of ancient cosmology, of which they acquired from the correct, and revelatory account."

      Which Walton specifically denies: "The Israelites received no revelation to update or modify their 'scientific' understanding of the cosmos." So you're postulating the polar opposite of what he claims to be the case.

      "Now, I don't see how the quote from Walton, as is, denies inerrancy."

      You don't see what you don't want to see, because your overarching agenda is to defend Evans at all cost.

      "If we took the cosmic temple language, applied it woodenly to the universe, then we would have an incomplete view of the universe, because it did not mean to serve that point, and so cannot serve that purpose. "

      You have a habit of substituting your own formulations for what was actually said. The Walton quote doesn't say anything about cosmic temple language. Rather, it talks about obsolete cosmology.

      As I've pointed out, Walton seems to be operating with two different paradigms.

      "It's a pity that you would rather represent people dishonestly. Talk about partisan priorities, you can't even distinguish a particular approach to Genesis 1 from denying inerrancy."

      i) I'm defending the Bible, you're defending a man (Evans). Defending the Bible isn't partisan. Try to master that rudimentary distinction.

      ii) The approach Walton takes in the statement that Evans quoted approvingly denies inerrancy. If you're going to claim that's consistent with inerrancy, then you're operating with a Pickwickian definition of inerrancy.

      "So do you or do you not think that one could read Genesis and get the same model (give or take) that us modern day folk get?"

      What model are you alluding to now?

      "I'm not sure where you keep getting held up and shouting 'inerrancy denial'. Where did Evans say the bible was wrong about such and such?"

      He endorses a statement (indeed, a whole approach) that impugns the inerrancy of Scripture.

      "Isn't he just saying that the rendering that Mohler (and others) are wrong?"

      You consistently disregard what was actually said. He did more than say Mohler's interpretation is wrong. He countered Mohler's interpretation by supporting Walton's approach.

      "He *meant* to teach something that we know now to be false?"

      That's exactly what Walton is saying.

      "Or he meant to use the style and literature and prose, as an accommodation?"

      Now you're resorting to the same obfuscatory tactics as Peter Enns. Indeed, the Walton quote is interchangeable with the position Enns took in Inspiration & Inerrancy, pp54-55.

      Delete
    16. Cont. "Evans was responding to Mohler, and the context would make sense only in light of what Mohler said, get the tree limb out of your eyes, Steve. "

      And he responds to Mohler by adopting Walton's alternative.

      "Where did Evans say that he agrees with Walton's approach?"

      You're in willful denial of the obvious.

      "I think he is saying that the hermeneutic being employed would render a defunct view of cosmology, because Moses *used* it, to communicate, obviously correcting the pagan notions. "

      Walton specifically said Gen 1 does *not* correct ANE cosmology: "The Israelites received no revelation to update or modify their 'scientific' understanding of the cosmos.". You always begin with your agenda of running interference for Evans, and that in turn forces you to concoct explanations in the teeth of what was actually said.

      "You did when ascribed malicious intent"

      "Malicious intent" is another one of your buzzwords which you impute to me imputing to Evans. What I actually did was to hold Evans to his own words.

      "'Denying inerrancy' is a serious charge"

      You don't take inerrancy seriously. You just carry water for Evans.

      "That's the concept that Evans is concerned with, if you missed that in the post then you didn't understand it."

      You're not my superior when it comes to understanding.

      "I'm not so sure Evans believes that though."

      Because you ignore his approving quote of Walton.

      "You lack the ability to suspend your habit of over-exaggeration."

      Because you're so deeply invested in Evans, you make excuses for Walton's statement.

      Delete
  2. One of the things that convinced me to move more in the direction of YEC was actually studying theological/philosophical objections to YEC.

    Resequitur,

    >>As far as I'm concerned, it seems that Evans is agreeing with Walton on the point that the text of Gen. 1 is not meant to convey or speak of the universe in the form of scientific precision.

    Even if the point of Walton/Evans is that the text isn't meant to speak of the universe in the form of scientific precision and even if they were correct in that point, I don't see that this does anything to undercut a YEC reading of the text. I've already pointed you to this once: http://janitorialmusings.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/youre-missing-the-big-picture-baayec-6/

    >>Evans (along with Walton, Beale, and Kline et. al.) are taking the text and examining it in terms of what the text is saying about the cosmos

    If Evans et al are saying the text of Scripture is saying that "the sky was material (not vaporous), solid enough to support the residence of deity as well as to hold back waters" then how can they hold to inerrancy since the text of Scripture is obviously in error when it says the sky is a solid dome etc?

    >>However you beg the question when you say that Walton (and Evans who is quoting him) is saying the text asserts a false conception of the world. You are measuring what they are saying about the text by the lack of modern scientific precision.

    To say the sky is a solid dome or holds back waters is not a lack of scientific precision. It's a false statement entirely.

    >>Inerrancy for Peter Enns is measured by scientific precision. But didn't you just use that same measure to incriminate Walton and Evans? Why the double standard?

    How is it a double standard for Steve to "incriminate" Enns, Walton, and Seely on the same grounds? But it looks like you're retreating into a definition of inerrancy that has little resemblance to how it's been understood historically. And if we can call any position consistent with inerrancy so long as we affirm the theological point of the text, then we could deny the historicity of much of the gospels too couldn't we?

    >>No, Evans is arguing that Scripture isn't giving a scientific depiction of cosmology

    If Evans affirms what Walton is affirming, and Walton is affirming that Scripture teaches the sky is a solid dome, then Scripture is giving a false depiction of the world. The only way in which that may not qualify as "scientific" would be that it's been falsified. But the claim that the sky is a solid dome falls under the domain of science in the sense that it is a testable statement about the way the world is.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Even if the point of Walton/Evans is that the text isn't meant to speak of the universe in the form of scientific precision and even if they were correct in that point, I don't see that this does anything to undercut a YEC reading of the text."

    Thanks for your observation.

    "If Evans et al are saying the text of Scripture is saying that "the sky was material (not vaporous), solid enough to support the residence of deity as well as to hold back waters" then how can they hold to inerrancy since the text of Scripture is obviously in error when it says the sky is a solid dome etc?"

    As far as I know they are saying that the text of scripture wasn't speaking to that. Moreover that modern scientific discussions are being imposed on Genesis at this point. When this is done, the pattern of Genesis as to what the mosaic temple illustrates is being missed. Obviously Enns takes this another route, to deny inerrancy, because he is using the same "scientific precision" model that most YECers use.

    But like I said, I haven't read a lot of Walton. Only Evans, Kline, and Letham.

    "To say the sky is a solid dome or holds back waters is not a lack of scientific precision. It's a false statement entirely."

    Yes, that was the ancient view of cosmology, and there were *superficial* similarities between those models and the narratives in genesis. But again, it's surface level similarity, and that it would only be problematic under a YEC hermeneutic where Genesis 1 and 2 is giving us an exhaustive view of the cosmos in precise scientific form. Do you really want to affirm that model? The point is that God's revelation did not affirm a false view of the universe, because even though it was addressing the ancient models, and teaching historical facts, it wasn't doing so in a way that those of us on this side of the enlightenment and Darwin would expect. Enns actually takes the same wooden approach that a lot of YECers do, only to deny inerrancy. Framework is saying no, that wooden approach is alien to authorial intent.


    "How is it a double standard for Steve to "incriminate" Enns, Walton, and Seely on the same grounds? But it looks like you're retreating into a definition of inerrancy that has little resemblance to how it's been understood historically."

    Understood historically by who? Have you read the article being criticized?




    "And if we can call any position consistent with inerrancy so long as we affirm the theological point of the text,"

    There is a historical feature to the text as well. Just because one isn't following the unreasonable standard that you are following doesn't mean we are denying that aspect. Even if you can't agree, the least you can do is represent accurately.


    "then we could deny the historicity of much of the gospels too couldn't we?"

    No one is denying the historicity of anything. Just because something isn't in chronological sequence doesn't mean it isn't historical.

    Do you think all of the gospels are in chronological sequence? If you think they are meant to be strictly chronological, would you say that someone who says the gospels are put in a framework that has theological implications is denying it's historicity? Because the only people I know who hold that kind of unreasonable standard are those of the liberal theological camp.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Resequitur,

    >>As far as I know they are saying that the text of scripture wasn't speaking to that.

    You say "thanks for that observation"... not sure if you're trying to be cheeky or just not getting it. Either way, you're missing the point. Read the post I linked you to (twice now). Even if the text of Scripture "wasn't speaking to that" it can still make incidental observations about it or give us information about it. For instance, I Paul wasn't speaking to the topic of atonement when he said Christ gave himself for the church in Ephesians 5:2, but we can still gather information about the atonement from that verse and Calvinists have always appealed to it as support for limited atonement.

    >>Moreover that modern scientific discussions are being imposed on Genesis at this point.

    How?

    >>When this is done, the pattern of Genesis as to what the mosaic temple illustrates is being missed

    False. That's like saying if we derive some support for Limited Atonement from Eph. 5:2 then we necessarily miss the point about husband and wives. This is one of the things my post address, but you apparently haven't read yet. No one's forcing you to read it, of course... but it looks like you just want to shoot off your talking points.

    >>Obviously Enns takes this another route, to deny inerrancy, because he is using the same "scientific precision" model that most YECers use.

    One doesn't need to have the "scientific precision" model to deny inerrancy. Evans and Walton show us how you can do it too. And if you want to talk about a scientific precision model, how about OEC like Hugh Ross, Ken Samples, Fuz Rana, etc.

    >>Yes, that was the ancient view of cosmology, and there were *superficial* similarities between those models and the narratives in genesis. But again, it's surface level similarity, and that it would only be problematic under a YEC hermeneutic where Genesis 1 and 2 is giving us an exhaustive view of the cosmos in precise scientific form.

    No, it's a problem for anyone who thinks Genesis 1 and 2 agree with the ANE view that the sky was a solid dome (assuming they held to such a belief).

    >>Do you really want to affirm that model?

    Do you really not realize what Evans, Walton, and yourself are saying doesn't get you out of the boat?

    >>The point is that God's revelation did not affirm a false view of the universe, because even though it was addressing the ancient models, and teaching historical facts, it wasn't doing so in a way that those of us on this side of the enlightenment and Darwin would expect.

    And what do those of us on this side of the enlightenment and Darwin expect? Statements about the world having a positive truth value? Gee, I didn't know those prior to the enlightenment didn't expect for Scriptural propositions to be true...

    >>Framework is saying no, that wooden approach is alien to authorial intent.

    That's nice rhetoric. Too bad it doesn't pan out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "False. That's like saying if we derive some support for Limited Atonement from Eph. 5:2 then we necessarily miss the point about husband and wives"

      I don't see how that follows, given that the text specifically uses that analogy, and that the purpose and scope of marriage was of eschatological significance.


      "This is one of the things my post address, but you apparently haven't read yet. No one's forcing you to read it, of course... but it looks like you just want to shoot off your talking points."

      Well, when I commented on this blog, the comment was directed at the post here. Your comments, which came later, were directed at me. So could it really be said that I'm shooting off my talking points? To be honest I don't think it's really appropriate for us to use this as a platform to argue our points toward one another, it is quite impolite.


      "One doesn't need to have the "scientific precision" model to deny inerrancy. Evans and Walton show us how you can do it too."

      It's careless generalizations like these that show that you really need to consider the article on it's own terms.

      "And if you want to talk about a scientific precision model, how about OEC like Hugh Ross, Ken Samples, Fuz Rana, etc."

      okay, but I don't want to talk about that. My point is just that inerrancy isn't weighed by scientific precision, especially when the point of the text isn't even in the same ball park.

      "No, it's a problem for anyone who thinks Genesis 1 and 2 agree with the ANE view that the sky was a solid dome (assuming they held to such a belief). "

      I don't think it's problematic to say that if Framework theory advocates, on exegetical grounds, that God is using ancient cosmology accounts as a model to accommodate Himself to Israel, that inerrancy is being denied. But again, I don't know much about Walton, just Evans. And I know he has a high view of scripture, and anyone who has read his work would know that.

      "Do you really not realize what Evans, Walton, and yourself are saying doesn't get you out of the boat?"

      What boat? The one in the middle of a false dilemma?

      "And what do those of us on this side of the enlightenment and Darwin expect?"

      Well, with all of the knee jerk reaction against anything that may give someone somewhere the idea that the earth could be old. Rationalists and Darwin brought up questions that produced some amount of fear into a majority of the church, all based on asking questions based on a limited understanding of Scripture. So in the pushback, there was a great deal of accepting the misinterpretation in the answers given to the unbelieving objections. It happens all the time as the pendulum swings.

      "Statements about the world having a positive truth value? Gee, I didn't know those prior to the enlightenment didn't expect for Scriptural propositions to be true..."

      Well, you may not know this but I don't deny that the statements about the world had positive truth value. I'm just saying that a lot of folks, in the name of YEC, have a wooden literalism that goes outside the bounds of the text, just to be contrarian to modern science. That being said, as one who disagrees with a lot of modern science, we need to respect the text, and consider on it's own terms. Now, I'm not going to respond anymore on here. Because I don't think it would be respecting the scope of the blog. But if you wish to carry on a discussion, then it is best if we do so elsewhere.

      Thanks!

      Delete
    2. >>I don't see how that follows, given that the text specifically uses that analogy, and that the purpose and scope of marriage was of eschatological significance.

      I was predicting you would try that line. But it doesn't change the point. The topic of the pericope isn't the atonement. That's not what the passage is about, in the same way Framework Hypothesis proponents like to say that the text of Genesis 1 & 2 isn't about a science of origins. But when it comes to Ephesians 5 you realize you can say "Okay, Paul's broader point may be about marriage, but in making his point about marriage he makes a statement on the atonement and the passage contains information relevant to that." But somehow it escapes you that I can say the same about Genesis 1 & 2. Okay, so the text is about whatever Walton et al say it is about. But while Moses' broader point may be about that he makes statements on the firmament etc. and the chapters contain information relevant to that."

      Your failure to grasp this is also why you tried to say deriving YEC from Gen. misses the point of temple imagery. Yet if I said deriving Limited Atonement from Ephesians 5 misses the point of marriage commitment you would immediately be able to spot the fallaciousness of that, even if you couldn't fall back on "Nuh uh! Because marriage is a picture of Christ!"

      >>Well, when I commented on this blog, the comment was directed at the post here. Your comments, which came later, were directed at me.

      My comments were relevant to the comments you were making to Steve.

      >>So could it really be said that I'm shooting off my talking points?

      Yes. You're going through the script you repeated last time I talked to you and which I've heard from just about every other OEC I've talked to.

      >>To be honest I don't think it's really appropriate for us to use this as a platform to argue our points toward one another, it is quite impolite.

      You raise points in response to Steve. I address those points. How is that impolite? And since you don't seem to be open to discussing this in other forums, it seems like you just don't want to deal with my responses to you period. I've invited you to comment on the relevant post on my blog. You haven't. I responded to you in your chat-channel, you kicked me. So if you don't want to dialogue with me on it, fine. But I'm free to respond publicly to anything you post publicly.

      Besides, if this is really your concern, why are you writing me such lengthy responses? You say you think this is impolite, then continue to engage in your impolite behavior at length. Nice.

      >>It's careless generalizations like these that show that you really need to consider the article on it's own terms.

      You keep asserting and implying that I'm missing something in the article. Well go ahead and point out what I'm missing. You've spent some time responding almost point-by-point to me now three times. Within that time surely you could have copy and pasted something from the article that shows I'm in error.

      >>okay, but I don't want to talk about that.

      Instead you want to talk about how YEC do? Look, you're the one who pinned a scientific precision model on YEC. So it's fair for me to point out when OEC can easily be charged with the same thing. If you say "I don't want to talk about that." Fine, then I don't want to talk about YEC's scientific precision model.

      >>especially when the point of the text isn't even in the same ball park.

      This is a clear example of how you just keep going over your talking points.

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    3. cont...

      >>I don't think it's problematic to say that if Framework theory advocates, on exegetical grounds, that God is using ancient cosmology accounts as a model to accommodate Himself to Israel, that inerrancy is being denied.

      Inerrancy is being denied because God is inscripturating false statements. I don't know why that is hard for you to understand. Calling it "God accommodating himself" may be sweet and flowery, but the product of errant Scripture is still the same.

      >>What boat? The one in the middle of a false dilemma?

      Spell out the false dilemma for me.

      >>Well, with all of the knee jerk reaction against anything that may give someone somewhere the idea that the earth could be old.

      No idea what you're referring to.

      >>Rationalists and Darwin brought up questions that produced some amount of fear into a majority of the church, all based on asking questions based on a limited understanding of Scripture. So in the pushback, there was a great deal of accepting the misinterpretation in the answers given to the unbelieving objections. It happens all the time as the pendulum swings.

      I'm skeptical of that historical framing, but I don't think it matters anyway. The point is ad hominem.

      >> I'm just saying that a lot of folks, in the name of YEC, have a wooden literalism that goes outside the bounds of the text, just to be contrarian to modern science.

      Well you can assert whatever you want. "Wooden literalism" is really just a "boo" word that OEC like to substitute for arguments in my experience.

      >>But if you wish to carry on a discussion, then it is best if we do so elsewhere.

      I've already invited you to comment on any of the relevant posts on my blog. You never did so. I tried to engage you in your channel, you kicked me out. I'm a bit skeptical of your "open-to-dialogue-elsewhere" demeanor.

      Delete
  5. >>Understood historically by who?

    Historical persons.

    >>Have you read the article being criticized?

    Are you saying there is something in the article that proves me wrong? If so, point it out.

    >>Just because one isn't following the unreasonable standard that you are following doesn't mean we are denying that aspect.

    How is it unreasonable?

    >>Even if you can't agree, the least you can do is represent accurately.

    So far, you haven't shown how I have misrepresented it.

    >>No one is denying the historicity of anything. Just because something isn't in chronological sequence doesn't mean it isn't historical.

    Not sure you're following the conversation. Walton and, apparently, Evans, affirm that Scripture teaches God created the sky as a solid dome. What part of that is historical? Or do you just have a really funny definition of chronological?

    >>Do you think all of the gospels are in chronological sequence?

    No. But if Jesus' affirmed that the sky was a solid dome then he wasn't inerrant. Why have you tried to shift the topic to a narrow chronological focus? Is that just the next point on your list?

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  6. "You say "thanks for that observation"... not sure if you're trying to be cheeky or just not getting it. "

    I said thanks for your observation because that's what it was, nothing more nothing less.

    "Either way, you're missing the point. Read the post I linked you to (twice now). "

    Okay, Thanks.

    "Even if the text of Scripture "wasn't speaking to that" it can still make incidental observations about it or give us information about it. For instance, I Paul wasn't speaking to the topic of atonement when he said Christ gave himself for the church in Ephesians 5:2, but we can still gather information about the atonement from that verse and Calvinists have always appealed to it as support for limited atonement. "

    Sure it can make "incidental observations" but as was already pointed out, you will misread the text if the "observations" are read in a wooden fashion. For instance, using your analogy, if I took "us" to mean "every single human being", and then said that you denied inerrancy because you said the text reads another way.

    "How?"

    If you read the article it would bring you up to speed "how". Not going to use this as a means of repeating, it's not my blog.

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    1. >>Sure it can make "incidental observations" but as was already pointed out, you will misread the text if the "observations" are read in a wooden fashion.

      Like I said, the "wooden" charge is more rhetoric than substance. Isn't it just begging the question anyway? I can just come up with a counter-boo word for your position: treating Scripture like putty.

      >>For instance, using your analogy, if I took "us" to mean "every single human being", and then said that you denied inerrancy because you said the text reads another way.

      Your analogy doesn't accomplish what you want it to because in either case we would agree that Scripture would be affirming a truth if we correctly identified the referent. But in the context of the origins debate Scripture would be affirming a falsehood if adopt Walton et al's position. That's why in the "us" vs. "every single human being" analogy it's ridiculous to say someone is denying inerrancy, but in the real-life origins case it's obvious some are denying inerrancy.

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  7. I read both Mohler's article and Evan's response with interest.

    I must say it seems rather poor form to try and denigrate Dr Evan's position on the Bible or pull someone like Enns in the argument. Thankfully amongst the ranks of YECs, Dr Mohler acknowledges that adhering to an old earth doesn’t preclude one from being an inerrantist in regard to Scripture. More positively I, as an undogmatic old earth creationist who is willing to concede some place to evolution, though at the micro level, willingly, gladly affirm an inerrant Bible and in particular an historical Adam and Eve, even though tidying up all the aspects of this lies beyond any of us whether trying to understand how death came to be prior to the Fall, or how for that matter Adam could name all the animals in a single 24 hr day and just how many animals did Noah fit into the Ark given 5 million known species today (though you may take out the fish).. Yes I know YECs people have explanations how these things might happen, but it is conjecture, certainly not explained in the Word, and I wish they would acknowledge that with at least a modicum of humility (I'm reflecting here on past conversations!).

    I think without being terrible certain about it that the framework view of the creation days is the best understanding on offer. I note Dr Mohler wants to argue that according to the framework view the sequence of the days doesn’t matter – that’s not the way I learnt it from Henri Blocher: Days 1, 2 and 3 are clearly sequential matched in a clear movement through Days 4,5,6.

    Against the necessity of linking Biblical fidelity to the YEC - I'll revert to naming YEC as the 6 day/24 hr interpretation, the classical Reformed view on the place of the Scriptures is that the sufficiency of Scripture is for “faith and life” (WCF 1.6). More particularly regarding life in the world and its right understanding, Scripture establishes the general theological principles (e.g. the divine attributes, the Creator/creature distinction, the cultural mandate, love of God and neighbour) that become the lens through which we interpret and apply the knowledge found in general revelation. General revelation provides the scientific particulars that enable us to better understand the world in order that we might fulfil the cultural mandate of Genesis 1:26f. In other words, the Scriptures, while being the infallible and inerrant revelation of God’s saving work in human history, are not a textbook for the various disciplines of botany, zoology, geology, astronomy, mathematical computation nor a manual for architects, parents, mechanics or school teachers. To learn the age of the universe is properly the study of geology, astronomy and cosmology. The unequivocal testimony of such study is that the universe and the earth are very old, even billions of years old. (I know some creation scientists are trying scientifically to demonstrate a young earth, and good for them trying: the point I make is that it does indicate some at least in the YEC camp acknowledge that natural/general and special revelation must be brought into harmony)

    A couple of other points: first the failure of proponents of the 6 day/24 hr view to acknowledge the way God accommodates himself to the immediate audience being addressed. In this regard there is the more general point as Calvin expresses it that the mode of accommodation that God employs in His Word is for Him to represent Himself not as He is in Himself, but as He seems to us (Institutes I.XVII.13) or even more to the point Calvin likening God’s speech to us as ‘lisping’ much as a mother to her child, by which Calvin means God in His Word finds it necessary to accommodate the knowledge of Him (including by extension His creative work) to our slight capacity – to do this, says Calvin, He must descend far beneath His loftiness (Institutes I.XII.1).

    To be continued

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    1. David,

      Clearly you haven't read Steve's post very carefully or the discussion which followed if you think, as the context of your statement implies, that Steve believes or that anything he said implied that OEC precludes one from being an inerrantist. Your misreading of Steve doesn't give me much confidence in your reading of other issues in the debate, and your response comes off as towing the party line with canned talking points. This is also evidenced in your misunderstanding what Mohler is talking about in the sequence of days, where he is clearly addressing the question of whether the days were actually sequential and not just put into a literary sequence.

      >>Scripture establishes the general theological principles (e.g. the divine attributes, the Creator/creature distinction, the cultural mandate, love of God and neighbour) that become the lens through which we interpret and apply the knowledge found in general revelation.

      Wouldn't the Westminster divines have gone further than that too? If Scripture affirmed some historical fact, e.g., that there was a place called Jerusalem, then if in fact there was no place called Jerusalem then Scripture is in error. Trying to push inerrancy or the significance of Scripture to "general theological principles" looks suspiciously like a belief-preserving mechanism in the face of actual or potential defeaters.

      >>In other words, the Scriptures, while being the infallible and inerrant revelation of God’s saving work in human history, are not a textbook for the various disciplines of botany, zoology, geology, astronomy, mathematical computation nor a manual for architects, parents, mechanics or school teachers.

      Of course YEC can affirm this too. If you think it somehow necessitates treating Genesis like a science textbook you don't show us *how* and I can't see how it would for myself.

      >>To learn the age of the universe is properly the study of geology, astronomy and cosmology.

      To some degree a YEC can also agree with this. For instance, I don't think Scripture gives us enough information to date the age of the earth in the same way Ussher or Lightfoot did. I wouldn't even commit myself to 6k or 10k years. But it seems to me, based on other Scriptural factors, that the earth is relatively young. If that's correct then Scripture gives us some boundaries to work in geology, astronomy, and cosmology. For instance, I assume you would agree that Scripture gives us enough data relevant to science that precludes geology, astronomy, and cosmology from determining the cosmos came into existence 30 years ago. That wouldn't be treating Genesis like a science textbook on your part. So then hopefully you can see why it's not necessarily treating Genesis like a science textbook on the YEC part.

      >>The unequivocal testimony of such study is that...

      Which ignores the testimony of YEC scientists.

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    2. Part 2,

      >>the failure of proponents of the 6 day/24 hr view to acknowledge the way God accommodates himself to the immediate audience being addressed.

      John Calvin, who you then marshal in support of God's accommodation, was a YEC. Did he fail to acknowledge the way God accommodates himself to the immediate audience being addressed? It looks like you're either begging the question (by taking the accommodation to be acknowledged to be that God is using a literary framework, or something along those lines) or giving us insignificant statements based on your limited interactions (so what if you can find some YEC who fails to acknowledge that? I can find some OEC who fails to acknowledge that too).

      >>Calvin likening God’s speech to us as ‘lisping’

      Some having apparently misread Calvin to say God's speech is to us as lying.

      >>God in His Word finds it necessary to accommodate the knowledge of Him (including by extension His creative work) to our slight capacity

      At anyrate, I don't see any necessity to extend this to God's creative work. And if we are going to extend it to His creative work why not to his ordinary work or all his works? Either this would somehow throw all our knowledge of God's work in history into some sort of factual agnosticism or else it would leave us pretty much where we already are and so be irrelevant as a club to hit YEC over the head with.

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  8. Second, Dr Mohler’s statement that the 6 day/24 hr view was “the untroubled consensus of the Christian church until early in the 19th century” glosses over the considerable discussion that existed over Genesis 1&2 in the early and later church. To point to Calvin again, it is worth noting that in the one chapter in Calvin’s Institutes (Institutes 1.14) where Calvin references God’s work of creation “in six days” and an age of the world extending back 6,000 years, he also states that God “could have made (the world) very many millenniums earlier”.

    Not only so, but Calvin offers a very positive view of human competence in art and science: “…if the Lord has willed that we be helped in physics, dialectics, mathematics, and other like disciplines, by the work and ministry of the ungodly, let us use this assistance. For if we neglect God’s gift freely offered in these arts, we ought to suffer just punishment for our sloths”. (Institutes 2.2.16)

    The very least we can say is that whilst Calvin affirmed creation in six days and 6,000 years for the age of the world during his lifetime, we are not entitled to say that would be his view if he lived today.

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    1. >>Second, Dr Mohler’s statement that the 6 day/24 hr view was “the untroubled consensus of the Christian church until early in the 19th century” glosses over the considerable discussion that existed over Genesis 1&2 in the early and later church.

      This shows just how dishonest/partisan your reading of Dr. Mohler is. What is the very next sentence that Dr. Mohler gives, which you omit? Dr. Mohler says, "It was not absolutely unanimous. It was not always without controversy."

      >>To point to Calvin again,

      You Calvin quote does nothing to overturn Dr. Mohler's statement.

      >>we are not entitled to say that would be his view if he lived today.

      That's right. For all we know Calvin may have had some Mormon knock on his door and convert him to Mormonism! So what?

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