Author Archives: Jon Garvey
Continuing my attempts to place the early chapters of Genesis within some historical context, I noticed for the first time this week that Genesis doesn’t mention any foreign gods at all in its fifty chapters. That seems remarkable to me, for I’ve never heard mention of it before, though it must undoubtedly have been noticed by someone over the last three thousand years. I look to the scholars to explain it.
In a recent post I argued for the case that Genesis 2 intends us to take the garden of Eden as a real place set in geography and history. I want to take that idea a bit further, and draw some conclusions on what we are intended to understand about the “very good” nature of the Creation before the Fall.
There’s an election campaign on at the moment here, and it’s amusing how, whatever questions politicans are asked in an interview, they’ll make sure they get one of their chosen manifesto slogans or buzzwords into the answer. It’s laughably transparent, but presumably it works because we are all depressingly gullible. For light relief, my wife and I relaxed over a wildlife documentary last evening.
Over at “the other place” I’ve been in conversation with Richard Wright about divine action, and one of his points, all too common in the science-faith discussion, is that science has increasingly shown nature to operate through natural causes (and hence the accusations of invoking the “God of the Gaps” in any consideration of design). So divine action is to be sought (at least in Richard’s rather more positive view, compared to some others) in answered prayer, biblical miracles and so on, but not in nature.
Carrying on the theme of biblical archaeology, Kenneth Kitchen’s book On the Reliability of the Old Testament takes a general overview of the “proto-historic” first 11 chapters of Genesis, but there have been some interesting developments since he wrote it that are worth considering, with regard both to the Flood and to the Eden narrative.
This year’s BioLogos conference was addressed by N T Wright, and his talk was praised by Hump writer Sy Garte on his own website. A clip, basically showing that one might expect an evolutionary process if one sees Christ as the creative Logos of God, appeared later at BioLogos. You can see the four minute clip here.
I like to keep tabs on Biblical archaeology from time to time, not only because I wanted to be an archaeologist till my Auntie Dorothy put me off by saying they spend all day down a hole, but because it’s fun to see 19th century mythology about the Bible writers slowly being eroded by a steady trickle of confirmatory evidence (by which you can tell that I’m not sympathetic to the archaeological “minimalists” of the last couple of decades).
As C P Snow observed in 1959, there indeed appear to be two cultures at work in our society, one striving for fresh insights into the world, and one bound in dogma and tradition. Let me tell you about two recent conversations that exemplify this sad state of affairs.
Yet another “unexpected” piece of news on evolution was carried by the Washington Post, though here’s a link to the version in The Independent. As you will see, it concerns the remarkable degree to which cephalopod mollusks like octopi recode their RNA for a number of important functions, including (as the relevant study shows) their nervous system. It appears that their proverbial intelligence is not in the genes, but in their editing (the article contrasts them with the Nautilus, a cephalopod that doesn’t recode, and doesn’t therefore predict election results, escape down pipes and so on).
Preston Garrison has been sending me a trickle of articles on structuralism since I did a piece (primarily) on the vertebrate pentadactyl limb, let’s see, nearly four years ago. He recently sent me a good Nature piece marking the centenary of D’Arcy Thompson’s book on the mathematical basis of form, On Growth and Form.