Monthly Archives: December 2017
Did you know that the etymology of “etymology” is the Greek etumon = “true”? That’s ironic because one of the basic Exegetical Fallacies Don Carson highlights to preachers in his excellent book of that name is the etymological fallacy. Etymologies often deceive because words, in fact, constantly change their meaning, as I began to discuss in relation to their inherent metaphoric nature here.
One of the less obvious blessings from which we benefit not only here at the Hump of the Camel, but more widely, is that creation is seriously on the theological agenda at all. Wherever we stand on origins, it’s hard to remember that for much of the twentieth century, creation doctrine was sidelined in most branches of the Church.
Someone has lent me Creation by Claus Westermann, a name familiar to me from my days of biblical studies in the psalms. In some ways it’s a bit disappointing, dating from 1971 and therefore, hailing from Germany, rather too assured of the “assured” results of the documentary hypothesis and history of religions theory. He actually uses that adjective “assured” – I’ve been looking for some source that didn’t use it merely ironically for years!
At the beginning of last month I did a brief series exploring how, expanding an existing modern account of biblical theology, there is really no conflict with the general outline of human history uncovered by the sciences. I particularly suggested how the writer of Genesis might have fully intended 1:1-2:4 to speak of creation, and Genesis 2:5ff to move the subject on to a new initiative of God towards man.
One interesting aspect of Dante’s Divine Comedy (around which to reading I’ve finally got…) is to see the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas being applied just a few decades after his death, when it was still new and controversial. Thomas actually makes an appearance in heaven, but spends the majority of his speech eulogising St Francis of Assisi, which is not improbable given the priority he put on faith over philosophyat the close of his life. One thing that Dante deals with is the Great Chain of Being, a key mediaeval idea which I wrote about here.
All the main participants in the “two person bottleneck” thread on BioLogos have, as I write, gone to lick their wounds in teaching or research. It’s going about as inconclusively as I predicted here.
One of the several taboos that appears to separate theistic evolution (in its modern, “Evolutionary Creation”, form) from the “uncleanness” of Intelligent Design is the idea that God could not be “just another cause within the universe”. This precludes at a stroke allowing God to be involved in any chain of efficient causation amenable to observation (and particularly, of course, scientific observation).
I mentioned briefly in my last post one of the things that struck me most from reading Perry Marshall’s Evolution 2.0. And that was the fact that intrinsic teleology and external teleology are not mutually exclusive, and yet might not be easy to distinguish.
One of the frustrations of web discussions about theology and science is that so many of the participants in the discussions choose to argue with a vigor all out of proportion to their knowledge of the subject at hand. It is easy enough to summon examples of individuals from all camps (YEC, OEC, atheist/materialist, TE/EC, and ID) and from all sites (such as Uncommon Descent, The Skeptical Zone, BioLogos, and Panda’s Thumb) who are guilty of forming opinions about authors they have not read, of taking strong positions in advance of learning the subject-matter, of affecting to more knowledge than they have, etc.