- Adam and Israel 23/10/2017
- At last! An end to not-understanding-evolution misery! 20/10/2017
- If the Universe is flat, is it round? 16/10/2017
- The biblical doctrine of natural evil… not 13/10/2017
- Martin Luther King on mankind 12/10/2017
Author Archives: Jon Garvey
I’ve just finished Seth D Postell’s 2011 book, Adam as Israel: Genesis 1-3 as the Introduction to the Torah and Tanakh, which although perhaps a little scholarly (ie interactive with the “academic literature”) for the average reader is a great eye opener in considering the whole question of understanding the first chapters of Genesis.
I’ve commented more than once on how the accusation “You don’t understand evolution” gets slapped on practically everybody, from Fundamentalists to senior evolutionary biologists. If you already know your ignorance you’ll be used to hearing it should you ask the wrong questions at places like BioLogos (I’ve had it thrown at me there twice this week already, though I’ve studied it a bit over the last 50 years or so). Even if you’re highly trained, though, you are not immune (as my piece linked above demonstrates). In both cases, the ultimate reason is probably the same.
In my last piece I argued that “natural evil” cannot possibly be an Old Testament doctrine because the very concept of “Nature” post-dates the major OT texts by several centuries. I also mentioned in passing that this goes along with the fact that since the idea of a “cosmos”, ie the world seen as a single, “organic” whole, is also a later Greek idea, it’s futile to ask about Israelite “cosmology”. You simply cannot have cosmology without a cosmos. Therefore no bubble floating in a cosmic ocean.
I see Joshua Swamidass posted a link to my Martin Luther King piece on the BioLogos Home School forum (now it can be told – it was he who sent me the link to MLK’s sermon). One of the first responses on his thread there, from a BioLogos moderator, challenged my point that, since Dr King attributes sin to the higher, “spiritual” aspect of man’s nature that includes his will, both the attribution of human sin to evolution, and the presence of evil in non-volitional Nature, cannot be valid. There is indeed, she said, another kind of evil apart from sin, “natural evil”.
In the light of my recent foray into the charge of racism in relation to the genealogical Adam hypothesis, a reader sent me a sermon by Martin Luther King on the nature of man. It doesn’t mention race at all, nor Adam, come to that. But there are some insights well worth drawing out, perhaps partly because of a tenuous link to the former post arising from King’s association with the history of civil rights in relation to race.
I’m pleased to hear that the Nobel Prize for Literature this year has gone to Kazuo Ishiguro. The Nobel Press Release said: “The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2017 is awarded to the English author Kazuo Ishiguro, ‘who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world’”. That description may surprise some unfamiliar with him, when they see the name, but his “Englishness” was stressed with pleasure by an erudite interviewer on the BBC.
Recent internet postings here, here and here make public a disagreement between the movers and shakers at BioLogos and Joshua Swamidass, who of course has posted here and shares our desire to see a genuine rapprochement between historic (particularly Evangelical) Christianity and science. I share his pain in finding his attempt at Peaceful Science being dragged into the culture wars. I regard him as colleague-in-arms on origins and as a brother. I even agree with him sometimes!
In the article linked from my last post, about animal suffering and therefore, by extension, about “natural evil” and theodicy in general, one sentence might have given careful readers pause for thought: It is debatable whether Aquinas understood God’s goodness to entail that He perfectly meets a certain set of moral obligations.
Ian Thompson has kindly pointed me to a brand new paper, happily accessible online, about animal suffering in particular and the perishability of the world in general – a subject that regularly forms the basis of attempts, from deism to atheism, to distance God from nature on the grounds of the latter’s “immorality”. It’s actually an exposition of the thought of Thomas Aquinas on this subject – accurate, as far as my limited knowledge goes – which shows how our modern mindset is simply looking at the problem wrong. Since it is pretty clear and readable, I’ll simply recommend it to your attention without further comment.
My attention has recently been drawn to the work of Olivier Rieppel, a distinguished palaeontologist based at the Field Museum in Chicago, whose writings appear to show a mixture of scientific rigour with the historical and philosophical awareness so rare in scientific writing now. In other words he has the wit and courage to question received wisdom and go where the evidence leads, and moreover to know why he has done so. His latest book is on turtle evolution, provocatively entitled Turtles as Hopeful Monsters, which intrigues me a great deal, but finding its price is above my current budget at Amazon, I browsed some of his other books there … Continue reading