- Secularism, autonomy and the loss of self 21/03/2017
- How I became a societal misfit 18/03/2017
- The distinguishing marks of the impossible 15/03/2017
- Minor Theological Footnote to a Good Series on BioLogos from Snobelen and Davis 12/03/2017
- Why robot? 11/03/2017
Category Archives: Creation
Over at BioLogos, a vigorous discussion is going on under the column entitled “Signal and Noise”. Cornelius Hunter has returned to debate the soundness of evolutionary theory, and, predictably, he is being ganged up on by all the usual suspects.
The excellent Preston Garrison, apart from alerting me to the review of a new book on Babylonian science that led me to a whole series of posts on the ANE and Hebrew pictures of the world, recommended an old and little-read book by C S Lewis. Studies in Words, published in 1960 just three years before his death, is a philology text for students, so not the most obviously relevant book for thinking about either “biblical science” or modern science. But it actually has some useful light to cast on both.
Herbert McCabe, and other philosophers for whom I have a lot of respect overall, suggest from time to time that according to classical theology à la Thomas Aquinas we shouldn’t expect to see any signs of God’s handiwork in creation, even though it is all utterly dependent on him ontologically. This is because he creates secondary causes to be sufficient explanations in themselves – there are no gaps for God to fill. This argument is used by them and, derivatively, by Evolutionary Creationists to dismiss not only ID but all natural theology (and, strictly speaking, an active theology of nature too) on principle.
In the early days of Internet for the masses I wrote a website for my church at the time, including transcripts of sermon series. One day I discovered Google Translate, and thought what fun it would be to see my sermon on Job in French. The algorithm, bless its heart, translated “Job” as “métier” throughout. That’s irrelevant to this continuation of the series on the Bible’s treatment of Genesis 1, but a bit of humour helps get the Job done.
The first chapters of the Book of Proverbs include a paean to the supremacy of wisdom. I’ve already commented, in my recent piece on “the deep”, on the brief passage in Prov. 3:
Given the modern interpretations of “which cosmology Genesis 1 teaches” (which I’ve argued is “no cosmology at all”), it can be quite instructive to see how other writers of the Hebrew Bible interpret the creation story when they use it themselves.
Just one more piece on detailed linguistic objections to the “goldfish bowl” cosmology so frequently attributed to the Old Testament. I’ve still one or two more generalised arguments to come, so if you’re not interested you’d better go off to the bar! This one is about the idea that the Hebrews believed that there were windows in the solid raqia of the heavens which God habitually opened to let in the cosmic ocean as rain. I’ll restrict myself to the negative case against this, rather than the positive, but surprisingly controversial, case for rain actually coming from clouds because I’ve dealt with it before here .
Last time I looked at one passage often trotted out as overwhelming evidence for a solid raqia or firmament in the Genesis creation story, and showed, I hope, that another interpretation fits the context far better. As threatened, here’s a second post (and not the last, I fear) challenging the general conception of the “goldfish bowl universe” by debunking its details. In this case I want to look at the connotations of the word tehom, or “deep”, with which the supposed “primordial ocean” stretching boundlessly in all directions is often identified.
Having had my mind drawn back to “Genesis cosmology” in the last post (which showed that cosmology is actually culturally impossible in Genesis!) I might spend a few posts boring you all with some further observations seeking to undermine the detail of what, as far as I can see, is an entirely spurious idea of “ancient science”, which I call the “goldfish bowl cosmos”.
Preston Garrison recently sent me (courtesy of Ted Davis) an interesting review (limited access – sorry) for a forthcoming academic tome on Babylonian science, knowing I’d be interested both because of my musings on what science is, and what it isn’t, and also because it has implications for interpreting the early chapters of Genesis. I’m tempted to buy it when it comes out, despite the price and having to learn cuneiform(!), but meanwhile some thoughts.