Category Archives: Science
The main burden of today’s post has to do with the firmament and the cosmic ocean, since these are the controversial assumptions in the “normal” (goldfish-bowl) view of Hebrew cosmology, to some extent based on the evidence that the Septuagint Greek translators, who knew a thing or two, insisted that the Hebrew raqia meant something very solid, a στερεωμα (translated into Latin as “firmamentum”). But before I go there, let’s look at what St Basil says about the creation of light on Day 2 of the creation account, before the sun.
I thought I’d about wrapped up writing on ANE “cosmology” for now, with a three part series on Wayne Horowitz’s magnum opus in the can. But I got into e-mail conversation with Eddie about a remark I’d made in reply to a BioLogos comment. The comment had suggested that accommodation of the Genesis creation story to everyday knowledge only became necessary with the insights gained through modern science. I had replied that the Church Fathers, mainly raised in a Greek Ptolemaic kind of worldview with a round earth surrounded by crystal spheres, would have maybe had to do plenty of work to harmonize that and Scripture. My discussion with Eddie … Continue reading
Today I want to tie up a couple of loose ends with reference to Wayne Horowitz’s Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography as it relates to the Hebrew understanding of the world that appears in Genesis 1 and elsewhere in the Bible. The main themes, the non-existence of a heavenly ocean, and the non-existence of a solid vaulted heaven, in “ANE cosmology” I dealt with here and here.
Last time I described how Wayne Horowitz’s authoritative book on Mesopotamian Cosmic Geography has no room for the infinite abyss of waters so often claimed to lie above and below the world in “the ANE cosmology”. He stresses this in another passage: In Enuma Elish, KAR 307 and AO 8196, the highest level of heaven belongs to Anu. Elsewhere, this heaven is identified as the “Heaven of Anu” (šamȗ ša danim; šamȗ danim). Additional evidence that the Heaven of Anu is the highest heaven is found in The Gilgamesh Epic and The Erra Epic, In Gilg. XI 113-14, gods ascend to the Heaven of Anu in order to escape the … Continue reading
I’ve been having a long, but mainly cordial, discussion on BioLogos on the old questions about whether Genesis 1 is really, as Peter Enns and, earlier, Paul H Seely maintain, teaching “old science” that is erroneous. Regular readers will know there are too many posts about that on The Hump to list easily. Why it even matters is well-expressed in a long article by Vern Poythress, to which I would add that, simply in principle, true interpretations lead to truer applications for life and so justify themselves. Poythress also has a couple of more detailed articles on specific issues here and here. Good stuff.
The Intelligent Design biochemist Michael Behe not long ago critiqued laboratory evidence for evolution, based on instances of loss of function, as “devolution”, and as a result brought the disdain of many Evolutionary Creationists down on himself because, you see, “there is no such thing as devolution in science.” One poster at BioLogos escalated that by saying that nearly all ID scientists believe (equally stupidly) in devolution. We’ll pass by that entirely baseless hyperbole as typical of the man, but Behe did use the word, so let’s think about it.
The Gallup organization has put out the results of another survey of American public opinion on human origins. The question allowed those surveyed to choose from the same three options that Gallup has offered since 1982: Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin and development of human beings?: 1) Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process; 2) Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process; 3) God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one … Continue reading
Regarding tone, and often regarding contents, one of the more reasonable commenters on BioLogos is Chris Falter. He tries to at least listen to those who disagree with the TE/EC party line, and (with one exception which I will refrain from mentioning here, as it concerns a science other than evolutionary biology), he tends to engage constructively with critics of his views.
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.