Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dear Toshido:

Since you've been able to stir up some conversation here at St. Cynic and provoke some thoughtful responses from us, something has come to my attention: you seem to think you understand how Christians ought to be, while not being one yourself. It seems you have taken up a highly presumptuous position wherein you feel free to swing down your gavel in judgement, and "fix" our perspectives with your own.

For example, you consider the notion that understanding the word יוֹם (yowm) as a 'span of time' is a deviation from the English definition 'day'; id est (abbr.: i.e. --> that is), a literal 24 hours. Hence a real Christian can only view God's creative act as happening in 6 successive 24 hour periods. And you think that anyone holding to a different view has deviated from Scripture, and is not listening to the actual words of God.

Meanwhile, almost 2000 years of scholarship from ingenius Christian and Jewish academics have noted the metaphorical nature of Genesis. Their work, based on the ancient Hebrew texts and, in particular, in the past 150-or-so years, has focused largely on the use of the word יוֹם as an indication of the consonance between the historical aspect of the creation story, and scientific data that boldly proclaims a very long creative process via evolution. So, given the fact that textual examinations of Scripture can work in focused purpose with scientific research, are you purposefully putting yourself at cross-purposes with reliable scholarship?

On another note, you seem to have taken it on yourself to adjudicate between what I have come to understand about the context of my Christian life under God, and what you would estimate must be what a real Christian is, or would look like to you. You accuse me (and Sarah) of 'cherry-picking' the Scriptures and importing our own meanings for this-or-that word, or principle. Yet, you fail to realise that part of biblical literalism is mapping out historical contexts, metaphors, and symbolism. I am not cherry-picking if I realise that I don't have to stone my wife if she disobeys me because the Bible, at that point, is quite literally, a historical document. That is (i.e.), Israel, under the expectations of the old covenant, and without a consummate propitiation, had to literally act under such expiatory responses to law-breaking*.

However, since expiatory measures were superceded via Christ's consumate propitiation in the New Testament era (or, 'days', as it were), those particular ordinances were fulfilled. They are no longer necessary under the new covenant. So, am I cherry-picking if I follow the content of Scriptural narrative through its context to its literal conclusion? The only logical answer is 'no'.

However, by speaking out of ignorance and expecting us to cater to your expectations of what it must mean for a Christian to be 'literal', you have actually cherry-picked Scripture yourself -- because you have not taken the time to understand what it says, and therefore have come up with a wrong conclusion due to your faulty premise. And then, on top of that, you have used particular pericopes to back your lack of understanding. That, my friend, is cherry-picking.

So, without taking up too much space on my blog for this, I'd like to invite you to take this one-time opportunity to correct Christianity to your way of thinking. Be prepared to meet some resistance along the way, but if you really think certain Christians are wrong for taking up a view alternate to your interpretation of what you think their view ought to be, then it should be worth it to you to prove yourself against them, yes?

* Theological terms like propitiation and expiatory (expiation) are included for your own personal benefit and learning.

Addendum: Before you address the topic of biblical literalism (if you actually choose to), please be aware that one of the nuances of biblical literalism -- at least since the neo-orthodoxy of Karl Barth -- is that the Bible is not God but contains the word of God. Hence a person doesn't follow the Bible but the Christ to whom the Bible testifies.

5 comments:

suneal said...

I realize that my comment here might be deemed tangential, but since "Occam's razor" has been mentioned at the previous post spawning this one, did anyone hear about the recent 1.5 million year old "human" footprints? Actually they are explained away, contrary Occam's logic, as beloning to "homo erectus," because their brain capacity is in the realm of 1,000 cubic centimeters. The average brain size today lies slightly below 15,000 cubic centimeters, but can also go below 1,000.

This was said in an article regarding the find in Kenya;

"The scientists found a series of footprints, including one apparently left by a child, left by individuals walking on a muddy river bank. Judging from stride length, they estimated the individuals were about 5-foot-9 in height."


"It was kind of creepy excavating these things to see all of a sudden something that looks so dramatically like something that you yourself could have made 20 minutes earlier in some kind of wet sediment just next to the site," archaeologist David Braun of the University of Cape Town in South Africa, one of the researchers, said in a telephone interview."

Kind of creepy if you believe in Evolution. And since the article states that you or I could have created the same prints in the sand 20 minutes prior or so alike atleast as to take ALL the darn effort to make this point(!), why not simply believe it was made by humans?? Occam's razor. Because, Evolution is our doctrine, our belief system, our sacred institution, our creed, and because we are so darn smart when we fit all the data to match a presupposed unprovable and erroneous theory.

But this is nothing really compared to the "lady from Guadeloupe" found in Miocene limestone on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. The skeleton was fully articulate with every bone in its proper position. It was on display at the British Museum for more than half a century. Modern geological dating put the find at 28 million years old and it is undeniable evidence of a modern human being existent during that period. Or, as the Bible seems to me to make abundantly clear, it happened a lot sooner! Also, pretty darn inconvenient to find this so far astray from "Africa," Darwin's place of assumed origin. This was taken off display around the outbreak of Darwin’s theory taking hold. Why was this taken off display? Why are such findings always explained way or just put away from the public’s awareness? Why do I have to even begin to look like a quack for asking very legitimate questions?

(My very biased answer of which at least I can admit to:)

For the same reason that corporations run the world. For the same reason evolution can not accept any opposition. Loss of power, loss of prestige, loss of man thinking they have it figured out, and mostly (excepting Chris and Sarah here as well as such others), loss of keeping God out of the picture of human origins and existence. Hey, God raised Christ from the dead, bodily, He went up into the clouds ascending into heaven. I have no problem with a literal Adam and Eve and Noah and the flood. I don’t think real science does either. Obviously, science in such instances as I have mentioned here has a REAL problem with evolutionary theory.

Anonymous said...

I find myself existing in a strange juxtaposition these days. I once was, not so long ago, a rather rabid proponent of a six-day-creation, and had little trouble exhaustively debating anyone who believed differently. Now, through a somewhat unwanted change of mind, I find myself in a place where I am leaning towards a God-inspired form of evolutionary creation. I say unwanted, because I never set out to challenge any of my beliefs on this topic. Faced with a more historically inspired view of Genesis 1, I have had to reassess my beliefs. It has not been easy as I have had to walk down roads I formally considered to be on par with the darkest evils of the world. Sadly, while I was able to, and indeed encouraged to fight the fight for a six-day-creation stance, I am now no longer welcome to share any other thought then what is approved of the evangelical church state. I once believed evolutionists could not accept any opposition to their beliefs, and for the most part that seems to be true. Both sides, and various versions within either, have unmoving, hard core followers. However, based on the amount of anger I sense whenever I timidly approach the subject with fellow Christians, I now believe most of my spiritual family can not accept opposition to our beliefs. What process God may have used to create the Universe, is just one of these topics, though this one seems to involve a little more bloodletting then say sprinkling versus immersion. How sad.
I appreciate this forum where I can somewhat anonymously explore the outer limits of my faith without fear of having to slash my wrists in repentance.
Cheers
Wyatt

toshido said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
toshido said...

Sunneal i did hear about those footprints. Just briefly on the radio though.

From what I heard the big toe was more opposable then modern man. More ape like.

Chris.

Is the bible the word of god or contains god's word? That is a huge difference.

If it is the word of god then every word in it is irrefutably correct.

if it contains the word of god, then you can reasonably presume it also contains the word of man.
So how do you decide which words belong to whomÉ

Damn annoying keyboard. On a HUGE tangent. Anyone know how to change the language on a keyboardÉ
For example something just happened and now when I type a question mark I get a

É


Annoying.

Christopher said...

Toshido,

"Is the bible the word of god or contains god's word? That is a huge difference."

The bible contains the words of God, which is why Christians say it is the Word of God. I understand the thrust of your distinction, however, and agree with you that it is a huge distinction.

"If it is the word of god then every word in it is irrefutably correct.

if it contains the word of god, then you can reasonably presume it also contains the word of man.
So how do you decide which words belong to whomÉ"


I don't decide which words belong to whom. It's almost entirely irrelevant to me when I'm looking into a topic. What matters to me is whether I'm getting the gist of what Scripture is saying, whether I understand accurately, and whether Scripture itself seems to be accurate.

If Paul, or Luke, or John the Revelator, or Moses, or Joshua, or whoever were inspired by God to write this-or-that, then great! But I have no qualms admitting that the writers of Scripture made mistakes here and there.

As for your keyboard, change your language settings. You're probably in French Canadian settings at the moment. That's the setting my keyboard is usually in when my question marks turn into É's.

Cheers!