Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Biblical longevities

Apostate Ed Babinski emailed me. 
Caught your article about biblical genealogies. 
I also ran across this... 
Creation Research Society Quarterly, "Biblical Longevities: Some Questions and Issues"

And what does Huebner say?

The author also ignores the clear lack of expected randomness in many of the entries of Table 1. In the best example, Noah (ordinal 10) was 500 years old when his sons were born and the Flood followed 100 years later when he was 600. His son Shem (ordinal 11) became a father when he was 100 years old and he lived 500 more years, dying at the age of 600. The chance of this being anything other than a fabricated, symbolic use of special numbers is miniscule.
Well, yes and no. I agree with Huebner that the chances of that pattern randomly popping up are miniscule. However, it hardly follows that the numbers are fabricated. Rather, these are round numbers. Has it never occurred to Huebner that Bible writers sometimes use round numbers? Does he equate round numbers with fabrication?
And, no, I don't think the numerical parallels between Shem and Noaha are random. Rather, the narrator rounded the figures up or down to equalize them so that readers would notice a parallel between Shem and Noah. That's intentional rather than random. But the logical alternatives aren't random selection or fabricated symbolism. Rather, the narrator is using round numbers to create symbolic patterns. The figures are schematized, but that doesn't make them fabricated. Stylized history is still historical. Round numbers are real numbers: just approximations. They have a basis in fact. Sorry if Ed is too dense to grasp these nuances. 
You asked what signs we would need to be able to judge a person's age at death if all we had was the skeleton. 

No, Ed. that's not what I said. Basic reading comprehension has never been Ed's strong suit. This is what I actually said:

Youngblood doesn't bother to explain how paleoanthropologists would be able to determine the age of prediluvians from skeletal remains. If, say, they aged very slowly, could you tell that from skeletal remains? 
Don't we generally determine age of death from skeletal remains by comparison with normal lifespans?
So what would be the frame of reference in the case of prediluvians? By definition, they fall far outside normal standards of comparison. 

Notice how Ed blows right past my carefully qualified statements. Ed then says:

But when you're talking about people who allegedly lived way past 100 some basic considerations come to mind such as the fact that tooth enamel does not grow back but continues to wear out. So do the inside of joints, where the surfaces touch one another, literally wearing down the joint surfaces over time, even in a young healthy person who overuses their joints.  It's true that tortoises can live for 200 years but they have beaks that continue to grow slowly, and they either move slowly, or swim in water which probably slows the deterioration process, but they probably suffer broken down joints all the same once they reach that age.  One could hypothesize that the patriarchs were blessed with genes for growing multiple sets of teeth for as long as they lived, though very few humans are blessed with those same genes today (a few today are blessed with some extra teeth that come in after the second set, but we don't grow teeth as easily as sharks do). As for joints, even young healthy people can wear those out, so people living past 100 would probably have increasingly more trouble with their joints. 

Which totally disregards the qualifications I gave in my original response to Youngblood. Ed has the attention span of a Tweeter. 

I don't doubt that forensic anthropologists can judge roughly how old the decedent was. However, that's based on the normal aging process. Comparing skeletons of 20-somethings with other 20-somethings. Having a large sample from the same age groups. 

The question at issue is what would supply the frame of reference if someone died at 900. Does that mean they mature and age very slowly? Does that mean they mature at a normal rate, but remain in their prime for centuries before senescence sets in? 

Even if we just consider this from a hypothetical standpoint, I'm unclear on how a forensic pathologist would determine the age at death of someone who died at 900. What's the standard of comparison? What's their equivalent of an index fossil in this situation?  


  1. Hey Steve, I fail to understand:

    hoy can Ed be an "apostate" since he wasn't one of the elect in the first place?

    Is it a form of Calvinist new speak?

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son

    1. Calvinism doesn't that nominal Christians can lose their faith. What Calvinism denies is that born-again Christians can lose their salvation.

    2. To echo Steve's response, Calvinism denies that a truly regenerate Christian can fall away permanently.

      My understanding is professing Christians consistent of 1. true Christians who are elect and already regenerate and 2. false Christians a.) some of whom are elect but not yet regenerated, but will be in the future and b.) non-elect persons who profess to be Christian but are either self-deceived or are knowingly/self-consciously fake.

      According to Calvinism, a genuine Christian can temporarily fall away, but will return to the faith before death since God makes sure that all His elect whom He saves by His normative way of saving faith will persevere in faith till death. [I say "normative" way because I'm setting aside issues like infant baptism, the salvation of the mentally handicapped etc.]

      Reformed folk also distinguish between a 1. credible profession of faith and a 2. saving profession of faith. The former has to do with one's profession of faith and whether he has an orthodox understanding of the Gospel and is living a life consistent with it. On the basis of that credible profession of faith, other Christians should acknowledge him as a genuine believer (regardless of whether he is elect or not since no human can infallibly determine whether another person is elect). While the latter saving profession of faith has to do with whether that faith is real or not and is between God and the individual. That is to say, whether the person's faith is genuine and therefore whether the person is genuinely regenerated and saved or not. Only God can tell. No humans. Maybe not even angels.

      Not mere Christian "professors" are saved, only Christian "possessors" are saved (and can't fall away permanently). That is, those who truly possess Christ (or more accurately, are possessed/owned by Christ).

    3. Jesus said in Matt. 7:21-23

      21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.22 Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?'23 And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'- Matt 7:21-23 (NKJV)

    4. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.- 1 John 2:19 (NKJV) cf 1 Cor. 11:19