An Ancient Bible Gives You Ancient “Science,” Not Modern. (I wish we didn’t have to keep saying that.)

Today we continue Denis Lamoureux’s series of brief slide shows on his popular book I Love Jesus & I Accept EvolutionLamoureux covered chapters 1 and 2 in the first post and in today’s (11 minute) presentation he covers chapter 3, where he discusses the nature of “ancient science.”

This book is a great introduction to his view of origins called “evolutionary creation,” a term he will explain in this series, and which he prefers to the more common “theistic evolution.” (The idea is letting the right noun dominate the phrase.)

Lamoureux is associate professor of science and religion at St. Joseph’s College in the University of Alberta. He holds three earned doctoral degrees—dentistry, theology, and biology–which uniquely qualifies him to speak to the issue of human origins and Christian faith. He gets the science, he gets the hermeneutics, and he articulates both clearly for non-specialists (full bio here).

For those of you who are beyond the beginner’s stage, you can read his much thicker book Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution.

Lamoureux has also thrown in chapter 3 of the book, in case you want to look at it.

  • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

    Thanks for sharing Denis Lamoureux’s slideshow. It is a good way to approach the scientific issues of the Bible. I particularly like the concept of ‘Ancient Science’. It was rudimentary, but it was all they had. Their science needed to be adjusted along the way as we learned new things, but our modern science is still being adjusted constantly. In 200 years, I am sure that our science will be seen as inadequate in some aspects.

    Another thing I like is the emphasis that God brought us important insights into deep subjects and not detailed information about the physical world around us. Imagine if it were otherwise: ancient mankind would likely have gotten so involved in the new knowledge and in adjusting to it that the deep subjects would have been neglected.

    Let us accept the ancients as they were and let us accept that God accepted them as they were.

    • Denis O. Lamoureux

      Hey,
      You wrote:
      “Let us accept the ancients as they were and let us accept that God accepted them as they were.”
      What an incredibly brilliant aphorism! I could write a book on that. I’m assuming it’s yours. You should put your real name on it. If all Christians could grasp this essence of your words, most of the hermeneutical headaches would evaporate.
      Thanks!
      Denis

      • http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/ jesuswithoutbaggage

        I am pleased that you like it! The comment is original to me and my name is Tim Chastain; I blog at http://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/.

        • Denis O. Lamoureux

          Thanks Tim. I am bound to use your aphorism someday. And I will do so with proper acknowledgment.
          d

  • norman

    It is indeed important to recognize the cultural times from which the scriptures were written and understanding that ANE people spoke in cosmic descriptions. However there has sometimes been a rush to judgment that has carried this ancient cosmology too far IMHO when attempting to interpret contextually the stories being presented. Understanding ANE cosmology is one thing but to over emphasize it may become a problem when pushed too far. Cosmology is often tied in and used in allegorical and symbolic motif’s which become obvious when we look at its application in Temple design and within OT and NT scripture. A good example that the ancients had a broader interpretation than just basic elements in mind can be seen in Revelation 17 which is just one of many examples.

    Rev 17: 15 And the angel said to me, “The WATERS that you saw, where the prostitute is seated, ARE PEOPLES AND MULTITUDES AND NATIONS AND LANGUAGES.

    You can see that the “waters” were used in a broader allegorical context to define “peoples” than a simplistic ANE cosmological understanding might lead one to conclude. That is why we need to let extensive examinations of scripture help define these contextual applications and understand the patterns in which they are often used. When we do so we may determine that Genesis 1 is not intended as a strict physical ANE cosmology but reflects a Temple Creation cosmological account in which these cosmological motifs employ a broader meaning (like waters in Revelation) and thus the story becomes more theological. At this point the story may not even reflect an ANE physical understanding and thus this recognition would extract us even further from concordism.

    We need to understand ANE cosmology and we can indeed thank Denis for his contributions, but we need to continue sorting out the hybridization of metaphor bound within Hebrew scripture. If we do not we could be in jeopardy of over literalizing the cultural mindset of the ANE. It’s a complex subject that needs a lot more work.

    • TJR

      I don’t see any rush to judgment about ancient cosmology. The idea is still meet with resistance by most Evangelicals.

    • PHS

      If the cosmology of Genesis 1 is interpreted in context, it is literal. A telling example is the “waters above the firmament” (Gen 1:7). The earth was originally covered with an ocean, which is called the Deep in Gen 1:2. In Gen 1:7 this ocean is divided into to parts: half is above the firmament, and half is below the firmament (Gen 1:7). On the third day the waters below the firmament were gathered into one place, which was then named the Sea(s) Gen 1:9, 10. Since there is no question that the Sea is literal water, the water below the firmament is literal water. Since the water below the firmament is the lower half of the Deep, and the water above the firmament is the upper half of the Deep, the water above the firmament must also be literal water. The literality of this water is confirmed by the fact that at the time of Noah’s Flood, this water above the firmament fell as rain (Gen 7:11, 12).
      The Hebrew text of Gen 1:20 says the birds fly “in front of the firmament.” There is wide agreement that this means the sky (that blue thing) is the background of the birds. The firmament is thus that “blue thing“ which is also the background of the sun, often of the moon, and sometimes of the stars. The “water above the firmament”is thus above the sun, moon and stars. Yet according to Scripture it fell to earth at the time of the Flood. This is contrary to modern science but is no problem to the ancient science of Genesis and the ANE.

  • Carly

    First of all, thank you so much for these slideshows. Lamoureux explains these concepts better than anything else I’ve read on the subject. Secondly, I recently tried to explain this kind of concept to a friend and he essentially said that we don’t know what kind of science the ancient Egyptians and Hebrews believed. That science was certainly repressed in the dark ages, but that ancient peoples might have known that the Earth revolves around the sun and isn’t flat. I didn’t know enough about the subject to answer, so I was wondering if there’s any possible truth to that?

    • Denis O. Lamoureux

      Dear Carly,
      Thanks for the kind comments. University has just finished up here and my brain is in a complete synaptic meltdown. I wasn’t sure if the slides made sense.
      Now regarding your friend’s comments, the theological discipline of historical criticism explores this very issue to find out what other ancient Near Eastern people believed. And indeed they believed in a 3-tiered universe. I have diagrams of this in my sci-rel course which is nearly all online.
      First go the class audio-slides at:
      http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure/350audioslides.html
      Then scroll to Hermeneutics 13-B, click it and check out slides 10 and 11 for the firmament believed by the Egyptians and Mesopotamians
      Click Hermeneutics 13-C and go to slides 7 and 8 for the heavenly sea which they also accepted.
      I haven’t got the both diagrams online in the handouts yet, but give me a couple weeks and they’ll be there to download.
      Hope this helps,
      Denis

      • Carly

        Thank you so much! I will definitely check out the audio slides. It sounds like exactly what I’m looking for.

  • rvs

    The slide show is great! I’m intrigued by his use of the term inerrant–helpful.

    • Carly

      I agree! I love the idea of the Biblical truths being inerrant but not necessarily the incidentals.

      • Carly

        Sorry, I meant spiritual truths, not Biblical truths.

  • Art

    Denis,

    I really liked your chapter. I am going to have to get the book! However, one thing you may want to look at further is the perception of the “ancients” that the Earth was flat. This isn’t necessarily so. The ancients weren’t stupid, and could see ships disappear over the horizon and then come back. For sure, ancient Mesopotamian’s believed in the flat disk, but Aristotle, Plato, Pythagoras, and others believed the Earth was round (they got the right answer, but their actual logic was faulty). In fact, by 200BC, Eratosthenes actually used trigonometry to calculate the circumference of the Earth (again, he made so many mistakes, but they must have cancelled out because he came very close to the true circumference). All that to say that centuries before Paul was born, most learned people believed the Earth was round, and even had logical guesses as to how large it was.

    Given this background, I don’t think it effects the premise of your argument, but it might be something you want to give as a parenthetical statement in your text.

    Again, a very refreshing chapter to read, it made my day.

    • Denis O. Lamoureux

      Dear Art,
      You are absolutely right. Plato (427-347 BC) & Aristotle (384-322) were geocentrists. But note their dates. They wrote well after Old Testament was written. And I do have a footnote dealing the possibility that Paul was a geocentrist in Phil 2.
      From Evolutionary Creation (2008), page 452
      ENDNOTE #5 The possibility exists that Paul might have held a geocentric (Platonic/Aristotelian) understanding of the cosmos with the “underworld” either in the core of the earth or at the antipode. Nevertheless, my point remains in that he accepted an ancient science. It is interesting to note that in the fifth century, debate existed within the Church regarding whether the structure of the world was 3-tiered or geocentric. See St. Augustine, Literal Meaning of Genesis, John Hammond Taylor, trans. 2 vols. (New York: Newman Press, 1982), 1:58–59.

      Best,
      Denis

      • art

        thanks for the reply. Excellent handling of the situation. I guess because I am a geographer, that was an observation I made :-)

        Nonetheless, you have one of the freshest views on this that I’ve heard. And here is why (and, what I appreciate about your chapter). Your quote:

        “However, this speaks of the amazing power of the Word of God. You do not need a specialized
        education in theology to know Jesus. You just need to get down on your knees and open Scripture, and you will meet the Lord.”

        is the money-shot. In discussions like these, I see some much snarking, and condescending views toward YECs – its sad to see fellow Christians mock the YECs and view themselves as so intellectually superior. Those YECs are doing some really great things for the Kingdom of God: opening homeless shelters, working in food kitchens, giving money to famine relief, helping battered women, crisis pregnancy counseling, dentistry missions, praying for the sick, etc.

        So, their faith, informs their actions. Yes, for sure, these “hayseeds” may have their science wrong, but the power of God is demonstrated that even if they interpret Genesis incorrectly, God’s life transforming power is evident in their lives in a big way.

        I hope that as we all dialogue about science and theology, we can tone down the snarkyness, and not treat our brothers and sisters in Christ as dumb, but appreciate that God can and does work in all of us, even though our knowledge is incomplete.

        It might be a fun post for Peter to discuss how we “scientifically and theologically enlightened” folk set up our own “Shibboleth” toward “plain, ordinary, backward” folk, and can be guilty of creating our own “we’re in the club, and you are not” mentality. In a sense, pointing the mirror back at us to give us something to reflect upon.

        • susan

          YEC aren’t a separate group like the Amish. They are doctors and seminary graduates, carpet layers and teachers, programmers and bloggers, PhD’s in literature/writers, graphic designers, concert pianists… those are only a few that I know. None of them are involved in the activities you describe. Who is being condescending towards these people? Christians do the work you describe; Christians of all types.

          • art

            who is being condescending toward these people? Have you read most of the blogs on Patheos :-) I say that in jest, sort of…. As much as the people on this blog talk about how traditional evangelicals ostracize those thinking outside the fundamental mainstream, these folks give as good as they get. I personally don’t have the time to go back through the last bunch of posts and quote mine, but my general perspective in reading this blog over the last two months and many others on patheos is that they are snarky, and especially toward fundamental evangelicals (and I’m a TE!!!).

            And yes, Christians of all types do the work I describe, as you indicate. YEC, TE, and others. That is my point. Neither should snark at the other. I think an open forum of ideas is great, and debate is great. But, I don’t like Fundamentalists questioning the faith of TEs or old earth folks, in the same way that I don’t like the TE crowd snarking at the fundamentalists.

          • susan

            Art, there’s no reply button on your post, so I’ll reply here. I thought (perhaps mistakenly) that it was *you* who were being condescending. I know the faith of the YEC I know is real, but you point to them as to a saintly group, which they are not. They are just in the brotherhood of believers. But there are fanatics in this group (as in maybe all groups) who do make the group as a whole look bad. I don’t want to be snarky about YECs, I belonged to that group once. I don’t want to be snarky about anyone’s real faith. Even the faith of the Heaven’s Gate cult (the Hale Bopp comet group) was something to feel sad about, not snarky.

        • Carly

          I agree. That’s one of the things I have really enjoyed about Denis’ slideshows, and why I’m going to buy his book. I love it when people can teach without condescension, present their views without being pushy or argumentative, and who treat others with grace and respect. I follow several blogs, but I often avoid the comment sections altogether because of “snarkiness” on both sides. I love a good discussion, but only when people treat each other respectfully.

          • Andrew

            While all people should be treated with respect, I think the harm YECs and their like brethren are doing to the public perception of Christianity is being severely under-stated. It’s a blatant rejection of scientific consensus, and it’s no coincidence that many a YECer also believe climate change is a hoax and that Obama faked his birth certificate (also witness the incredibly harmful block of Americans not vaccinating their children due to the many times over dis-proven link to autism). For a society to effectively function and not stagnate we need to agree that where the evidence takes us is where it takes us, regardless of preconcieved notions or beliefs. Supporting the blatant rejection of the scientific method should be routinely discouraged in a democratic society. Not meanly or antagonistically, but it shouldn’t be just accepted as “another point of view.”

          • Mary

            I agree with Andrew on this. The implications of rejecting science out of hand is really what is at stake here, particularly when we see a push for creationism in school. The other problem I see with the YEC movement is that many times they simply do not take the time to understand the science that they are trying to disprove. If they want to be taken seriously, then they need to make serious arguments. There is a book out now that claims that evolution is wrong because we can’t make chimp and human hybrids! I will not take the time to discuss that here, but anyone with even a basic knowledge of evolutionary principles could easily rufute this. Even if you have never taken a class, you can read up on it, it is not complicated. This is dumb and arguments like this DESERVE to be snarked at.

          • Mary

            One other problem with the YEC’s is when they try to read into the bible modern science. For instance I have heard the statement that the Bible says that the universe is expanding. They base it on a passage that refers to God “stretching out the heavens like a tent.” Well, a tent only expands to a certain point and it is a fabric and a covering, which means that this refers to a solid enclosure over the earth. When these people want to push this stuff as science in the classroom, then I think it is appropriate to object to this. I have no problem with others believing what they want, but when they can’t come up with good arguments and yet still insist that this is “science” then they need to be called on it. Basically they have an agenda, which is to force religion back into the schools.

          • http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure Denis O. Lamoureux

            Dear Andrew,
            I see the damage anti-evolution causes in every class I teach. Evangelical churches are packaging these kids for a pastoral disaster. Standard stat is 50% of evangelicals entering public university lose their faith upon graduation.
            And the sad thing is that the leaders know it, and aren’t doing anything about it.
            Best,
            Denis

          • susan

            Andrew, I agree. Denis, I love your work and am following it eagerly. The problem with YEC (am I preaching to the choir?) is that “Science” is incompatible with their understanding of Scripture and threatens their faith, therefore it’s Science vs. Faith for them, and of course they’ll choose faith. But, Denis, you say that the leaders “know” it, and aren’t doing anything about it. Do you really believe that? I don’t. I don’t know the stats, but I think many kids of all Protestant faiths, maybe Catholic, too, lose their faith in college. I think this is a time of questioning authority in general, and that includes the beliefs their parents(hopefully)/church taught them.
            I agree YEC make believers in general look bad. But you make them sound like they are engaging in depraved indifference with their kids. Again, I used to belong to this group in spite of a strong background in Science, because it was within this group that I was led to Christ. Young in the faith, I’m older now with more time to think on my own. My children survived Christian colleges with their faith matured and mostly intact, but I didn’t expect that. No parent/pastor wants their kids to lose their faith. God help us if we are setting them up for it (better a millstone be tied around our necks that to keep one of these from coming to Christ.)

  • Susan Burns

    How could we possibly discuss scientific theories or ideas without the language to describe them? Name ONE WORD with a scientific connotation that does not have the etymology of myth. There are none. Zero . zip. nada.

    • susan

      I don’t understand your statement. for example, Biology, From Greek: “Bio”= life, “(o)logy”= the study of, hence biology is the study of life processes and living organisms. No etymology of myth here that I see. I am missing your point, I fear.

      • http://craigvick.wordpress.com Craig Vick

        “(o)logy” is from ‘logos’. I suspect you may find some myths there.

        • susan

          logos means word in greek. it was modified in o(logos) to mean study. To point to the word”logos” and say there is myth behind it is like saying “English” has myth behind it. Be specific if you want recognition for your claims (from me). Say, e.g., “Thursday” has myth behind it (Norse, Thor’s day). This is true, even if we would no longer think of Thor when referencing Thursday in conversation. I am a physician, and before that, a molecular biologist. There is myth in some scientific nomenclature (recently two newly discovered microorganisms, bacteria, were named after creatures in pulp sci-fi literature, and the enzyme which allows fireflies to glow was snarkily named “luciferin”, a name whose etymology I need not explain further.) But to say that all of our scientific language comes from myth is inaccurate to a very high degree. Where is the myth in logos?

          • http://craigvick.wordpress.com Craig Vick

            The myth is found in connecting word with knowledge. ‘Word’ by itself doesn’t mean ‘study’. It has to get there somehow. The myth or myths I have in mind would be those relating the Truth to the Word. I might say, for example, that as a biologist I’m looking for the logos with respect to life. I hope that’s specific enough. I find Susan Burns comment to be worthy of conversation and thought. I’m not sure I agree with it, but I don’t want to see it dismissed too quickly.

          • susan

            I’m still missing Susan Burns’ point, and maybe yours, too, Craig, though I *think* I can relate better to your statement that to Susan’s original claim.

          • TJR

            If anyone wanted to check Susan Burns claim they could get a dictionary of scientific terms. Pick out a few words. Then look them up in a dictionary that gives etymologies like the OED. As for, ” Name ONE WORD with a scientific connotation that does not have the etymology of myth”. I looked up evolution in the OED and didn’t see anything about myth.

          • http://craigvick.wordpress.com Craig Vick

            I should probably let Susan Burns comment for herself. I read her challenge, which is perhaps a little overly dramatic, as a check on the view that when we do science we have a pure and precise language that at its best gives us absolute truth. Historically, attempts at such a purification of language find it difficult or even impossible to break away from ordinary language (with all of its impurities and mythological commitments). ‘Evolution’ is from a Latin word which means to unroll like a scroll. To see all of life as unrolling like one would unroll and read a scroll seems pretty mythological to me.

          • susan

            I am grateful to the powers that be for the avatar I was assigned because it pretty accurately reflects how I feel about this now. Either I’m dense (a possibility), too concrete (also a possibility), or this conversation is absurd. And I’m pretty sure that when I say avatar, people will not mistake it for the Hindu deity that comes down incarnate. You are making discourse impossible.

          • http://craigvick.wordpress.com Craig Vick

            Susan, you’re clearly not dense. I’m sorry that I’m not writing more clearly.

  • Craig Wright

    Wow! Thank you, Dr. Lamoureux, for providing those notes from your sic-rel course (350 slides). I got some good information from them. I teach adult bible studies at my church, and this is a lively topic.

  • James

    Not having read the book, I find the slide presentation reductionistic–no doubt dumbing down for common consumption. For example, “scientific concordism” doesn’t work considering the “ancient science” of the Bible. So, “don’t conflate but separate.” If only the truth was that dualistic, even Gnostic. Maybe the author is aware of recent efforts to resurrect a natural theology that allows the bible to speak in subtle ways to the way things are in nature–after all. Evolutionary Convergence may be an example of scientific concordism at a deeper level. Simon Conway Morris defines EC as “the propensity for biological forms to navigate repeatedly to the same solution…this must include intelligence.” Thus modern science may be shown to support (concord with) the biblical assertion: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

    • Nancy Rosenzweig

      James, I think you’re using a broader definition of scientific concordism than Lamoureux is using. Any evolutionary creationist would agree with the general concordance that you’re speaking of – that God is the creator, and His creation points to a Creator. But scientific concordism as it is used here is the assumption (or perhaps the requirement) that every statement in the Bible about the natural world directly corresponds with reality. It assumes a literalist reading, in which the universe was created in a week, and in which the flood covered the entire surface of the earth. This strict concordism warps the thinking of both Christians and non-believers – the first group often rejects modern science because a literalist reading of Bible appears to preclude an ancient universe and evolution; the second group rejects the Bible and religious faith in part because they see that this scientific concordism is not possible.

    • http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure Denis O. Lamoureux

      Dear James,
      A small suggestion:
      Before you criticize anyone, have common courtesy of at least knowing what that person’s views are.

      Here are two pages of Simon’s 417 convergences from my class handouts:
      http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure/h17.pdf
      http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure/h18.pdf

      On page 86 of my class notes I deal with Simon’s work:
      http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure/350notes.html

      On slides 10 to 12 I refer to Simon in my class audio-slides:
      http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure/as86/index.html

      Cordially,
      Denis

  • Pingback: A (Failed) Argument Against Biblical Inerrancy « Every Thought Captive

  • Jeff

    I also think the Bible reflects ancient theology, morals, and beliefs. I’ve given up trying to find creative ways to apply the term inerrant.

    Thanks for your great blog, I look forward to every post.

  • Mary

    Oh geez how embarrassing. I repeated a point made in that sample chapter. I didn’t see the link at first. I’ve started reading it and it really is clarifying things for me. Thank you!

    • Mary

      Okay I finished the chapter and I learned quite a bit more about ancient cosmology than I knew before. However to simply say that while the science may not be inerrant, but the message is does not sit well with me because there is ample evidence that in fact the message is not inerrant either. You have a brutal warrier God telling his followers to break his own commandments. You also have changing theological viewpoints within the OT and the NT theology claims to be based on interpretations of the Torah that the writers never intended and was never interpreted that way by its own scholars. Christian theology says that they misinterpreted their own scriptures and yet what you find is “quote mining” by the gospel writers, ripping them out of their natural context and even mistranslating the words. In one case they quote a passage that doesn’t exist. Can you explain the fact that what is considered the biggest proof of Jesus’ divinity, a prophecy that said he would be born from a virgin, is a mistranslated text and was a prediction meant to apply to a situation that existed at the time not in the future? As I understand it, what was translated as “virgin” simply means “young woman.” No, I am sorry, not only is the science not inerrant, the “message” is not either.

      • Andrew

        Mary,
        It depends on what is considered “the” message of Christianity. For many (if the main point is the Reformation focus of Jesus as the ‘perfect’ sacrifice for humanity’s sin) the historicity of the Virgin Birth is a major issue (just like if you believe in a literal fall leading to sin and death, the historicity of Adam becomes central). For others, including myself, the Virgin Birth stories are lovely allegories but they are not faith essentials (meaning not essential to believe it actually happened).

        And for me, the ‘message’ of the Virgin Birth stories are true even if they didn’t actually happen. That’s how one should look at the Bible IMO . . it’s fun to debate and attempt to decipher what is or isn’t historical, but the fundamental question for each passage should be is it TRUE, and truth IMO is not bound by the limits of historical inquiry. What determines the truth? Well, that’s been the subject of a 2000 year and going debate and I don’t think it will be settled anytime soon . . . but the Great Commandment and the ideal of sacrificial love is really the mortar holding the bricks together.

        • Mary

          Actually I agree with you Andrew. My reaction is to those who insist on an inerrant Bible when it is obvious that it is not. The reason why I get upset is simply that there is a certain camp who wants to use this inerrancy garbage as an excuse to dominate political decisions. Now I am not saying this of the professor here, however these blanket statements about inerrancy is what has led to a lot of injustice in the past and is true even today. If more people were like you then I would not have a problem.

      • http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure Denis O. Lamoureux

        Mary,
        It “does not sit well with” you because you are not born-again. You’ve never experienced the Holy Spirit speaking through the Bible. And ironically you’re “brutal warrier [sic] God” is a classic case of your mining the Text.
        d

        • Mary

          First of all, I converted to Christianity when I was a child. Second of all, the argument that the Holy Spirit can help interpret is flawed since there are many, many people who claim this and yet come up with different interpretations. Third of all, my arguments cannot be dismissed simply because you are offended. When you publically promote yourself then people have a right to challenge you. The fact is that the bible condones and in many cases demands things like murder, slavery, rape and even human sacrifice (and I am not talking about Abraham and Isaac). A biblical scholar knows these things and should be prepared to respond. Whether you believe I have the Holy Spirit is beside the point.

          • http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure Denis O. Lamoureux

            Mary,
            I’m not offended, trust me. And your answer here only confirms that you are not born-again. A born-again Christian would never answer as you have. My work is intended for born-again Christians, not you.
            Denis

          • norman

            Mary,

            I hear you and I’m not quite comfortable with Denis imploring “inerrancy” and “born again Christian” as an exclusive determination for understanding. Christ discussion with Nicodemus (a ruler of the Jews) regarding “Born Again” is used in a corporate application context of Israel needing to be born again as she was at Sinai or Adam in the Garden. Thus it’s not an individual contextual application but a covenant corporate framework for Israel. I believe Denis is reflecting an exclusive individual view that is built upon evangelical hermeneutics that need to be corrected just as their YEC hermeneutic approach often does.

            It just goes to show that learned teachers can still carry acquired heritage background while still trying to work within it. We all do this so please don’t think that there is an exclusive “born again” insight in which one must encompass in order to validate ones questions.

            It’s alright to ask the hard intellectual question as that is what Denis and Pete have done regarding Genesis and their ideas which I often agree with are born from that inquiring mindset.

          • http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure Denis O. Lamoureux

            Dear Norm,
            That was great comment. And it should be painfully obvious that I am an evangelical (33 yrs of fellowship in Alliance, Pentecostal, and Baptists churches). I use evangelical language and categories (eg, inerrancy), and like Pete Enns, my job is to interact with both the tradition and current ideas (eg evolution).

            Make it clear: there is no such thing as a purely objective individual. However, what we can do is try to identify as many of our assumptions as possible, and then try to justify our holding them.
            Best,
            Denis

      • Leo

        The biggest proof of Jesus’ divinity was the resurrection. We have good historical grounds for believing that Jesus was raised from the dead.
        If you’re talking about God using Israel to wipe out the Canaanites, and if these are literal historical events, what we have is more along the lines of “capital punishment” than murder. If you would like to learn more about the OT “warrior God” then a good book to read would be “Is God a Moral Monster?” by Paul Copan.

        • http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure Denis O. Lamoureux

          Yup,
          It’s all hermeneutics. And the question that should be asked (but never is by those who criticize the Bible) is: What is the literary genre of the conquest passages? The irony of the skeptics is that they have a hermeneutical skill set similar to YEC.
          d

          • Nancy Rosenzweig

            Leo, I’ve heard good things about Capon’s book and I’ve just now downloaded it. These issues – of a God who orders his people to utterly destroy their neighboring tribes – are challenging for believers as well as a stumbling block for skeptics. I can understand that pacifism wouldn’t work here, that the survival of the Israelites as a distinct people was crucial in the fulfillment of God’s plan, and that tribal warfare was commonplace in the ancient near east. Even so, it is troubling to read in Numbers, Deuteronomy and Joshua these passages in which The Lord is explaining His plans to Moses and Joshua. Should these texts be read as literal, historical truth; as invented conversations used as justification after the fact; or as something else entirely? Denis, what is the genre of these passages, and how should we best interpret them?

        • Mary

          What historical grounds???

          • Leo

            Hi Mary, I was going to type out the answer, but the case is made so powerful by William Lane Craig at http://www.reasonablefaith.org. You can watch one of his debates, talks or lectures on the subject and he also has a great Q and A section. I’ve learned a lot from him and from Peter and now Denis. It’s great to see scholars on these forums.

        • Mary

          I do not consider “capital punishment” to be a good explanation, especially since I don’t agree with it anyway. To attack those who have done nothing to you is wrong period. You also have to consider that these are the same people had laws such as killing women for being raped. If fact one of their favorite activities was to stone people to death for minor offenses such as a child speaking back to his parents. Now I can hear the argument that Jesus did away with all that but it doesn’t explain why God would command this in the first place.

          • Leo

            Mary, Either way you look at it, the Canaanites were unquestionably wicked. You don’t really say why it’s not a good explanation other than to say they did nothing wrong to the Israelites. I guess child sacrifice and ritual prostitution is just groovy in your view? God gives them plenty of time to repent (400 years according to Genesis 15). Is that not enough?

          • Nancy Rosenzweig

            I’ve just started looking into this, but it appears that at some of the Canaanite cities that the Israelites claimed to have wiped out under God’s orders had already been destroyed or abandoned long before the Israelites entered the area. These stories of conquest could have been written long afterwards as a way of solidifying national identity, epic accounts of how the nation came to be. If we accept that we will not find strict scientific concordance in scripture, it’s reasonable to assume that the Biblical historical record also does not conform to our standards of accuracy. But we can see how views of God matured and evolved throughout scripture, culminating in the Gospels and epistles.

      • Nancy Rosenzweig

        Mary, I’m curious. Leaving aside the charged meanings of “inerrancy,” in what ways do you believe the Bible is true?

  • Leo

    Denis, I have tried on numerous occasions to get our church to move away from a “God said it, that settles it” mentality regarding Genesis 1-3 (literal 6 Day Creation event) to a more reasonable Evolutionary Creationism, but with zero success. Most of the kids in our church are home-schooled and are taught the 6 Day (Ken Ham view….Hammites?) and are fire breathing literalists. They even go on twice yearly bus trips to the Answers Museum. Ugh. I’ve tried to persuade them that from an apologetic view, the CE view is needed and I appealed to 1 Cor 9:19-23 so that even if they don’t believe in CE, they can still reach those who understand how overwhelming the evidence is for evolution and an old earth. How do you handle this topic with the strict literalist?

    • http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure Denis O. Lamoureux

      Dear Leo,
      You’re a man of my heart. YEC is a completely pastoral disaster. In many ways you can’t blame them because most have only been taught YEC. And this the same with the pastors. I was blocked from teaching at my Baptist college and seminary. I was told they would lose financial supporters. So it ain’t about truth, it’s about good old fashion $$$$$. My solution is to focus on the undergrads to equip them, and that’s why I put my materials online for free.
      Best,
      Denis
      PS If someone is there who wants to take my course for university credit, it can done online. And if there are enough students we could hire someone to do it as a flip class.

      • Micky Jones

        I am starting seminary in the fall and would like to take your class for credit. How would I arange that as a single student or a group? Please let me know whom to contact. Thank you.

  • Nancy Rosenzweig

    As Andrew suggested in an earlier comment, there’s a strong conspiracy-theory element to YEC. Have a look at some of their publications and videos; listen to Ken Ham’s speeches. They blame Hitler’s genocide of the Jews on evolutionary theory; they blame evolution for racism, abortion, and a host of other societal evils. Their rejection of modern science is tightly woven with a somewhat paranoid “us vs. them” mindset. And when it has been convenient, they appropriate bits and pieces of modern science while rejecting its foundation. Terry Mortensen of Answers in Genesis put on a 2-day presentation at my church. He claimed that of course he believes in evolution – but just in micro evolution, not macro (I do wonder how organisms understand just how far they are permitted to evolve). They believe in continental drift and fossil formation – just that these things happened far more rapidly than scientists claim. And I’m sure as you’ve seen, Leo, YEC education is a major industry. Mortensen spent a good half hour each night promoting all their books and DVD series; their resources are very popular with home schoolers. Convincing fellow Christians that the YEC approach does more harm than good is a huge challenge. They have way too much invested in their misguided interpretation of scripture that is rotting the faith from the inside.

  • Marshall

    Not trying to make trouble here, but I don’t know why God wouldn’t intend to reveal physical truths as well as moral truths. Where did science come from, do you think? Since [most] everybody here believes in revelation. People have been very slow at picking up on the moral truths, it is to be expected that they would tend to misunderstand the physical revelation as well, and misrepresent it or ignore it. So the religious question would be, what did God say that the ancients interpreted as they did. Then we don’t need to say “Now that we know the right answer … “, eg, that the sun really stands still. Then likewise we ought to be saying, what is God saying/doing that modern science interprets as … evolution, the inflationary cosmos, erroneous data.

    So why is it invalid to say “the sun rises”? From my human viewpoint (even today), Ecclesiastes is quite literally true and correct, overnight the sun comes back to the place where I saw it rise. It’s just a matter of selecting a frame of reference: none are always good for everything. There isn’t any reason to be stuck with an astronomical frame as we arrange our daily activity.

    • http://www.ualberta.ca/~dlamoure Denis O. Lamoureux

      Dear Marshall,
      I fully appreciate what you are saying here. But consider going back to my first episode in this series and check out the categorical differentiation I make between the ANCIENT phenomenological perspective and our MODERN phenomenological perspective.
      Best,
      Denis

      • Marshall

        Hi Denis,

        I did listen to the first segment and I was struck by your closing remarks that “obviously … ancient science is not going to align with the facts of nature”, as if [modern] science had complete control of “the facts”. And here you are saying that the farmer out standing in his field is mistaken in saying that the sun is rising, whereas precisely what’s involved is differing phenomenological perspectives.

        I am suspicious of dividing Biblical content into “stuff that fits ‘the facts’ ” and “stuff that don’t”, as if we could tell the difference. (One favorite example … the News sometimes point out that light was created on Day 1, the sun not until Day 4, how silly. But the Big Bang theory says, yes, that is correct: there was a time before the suns formed when the Cosmos was filled with light. Not that one can predict the Big Bang from reading Genesis, but now that we know about the Big Bang we can say (if we like) … Oho, So that’s what He meant!! My God, how beautiful. … Through a glass darkly, and all that.)

        (BTW, I believe in quantum fields, cosmological inflation, macro evolution in geologic time, all that stuff. And a Creator.)

  • Russ

    Denis,

    Did u really say:

    “Mary,
    I’m not offended, trust me. And your answer here only confirms that you are not born-again. A born-again Christian would never answer as you have. My work is intended for born-again Christians, not you.”

    Or was that a troll who hijacked your handle? If it was you, please take a deep breath, and then apologize to Mary. Neither you, me, or anyone else has the authority to make that claim.

    • Andrew

      I wasn’t going to say anything but I have to say, I think Denis’s response is quite telling of a much larger issue within the entire evangelical framework. Here is someone, within some circles, who would be viewed as a ‘cutting edge’ evangelical scholar and he responds to a post by simply dismissing the person as not “born again” and that someone who was born again “would never answer as you have” . . .’
      Echoing Russ, I mean . . . . .REALLY?

  • Derek

    Denis how positive are you regarding the Greek for “underworld”?

    According to BDAG: The word is καταχθόνιος (katachthonios), which means ‘under the earth’:

    καταχθόνιος, ον (χθών ‘earth’, i.e. the surface; Hom. et al.; Dionys. Hal. 2, 10; Strabo 6, 2, 11; Cornutus 34 p. 72, 18; IG III/2, 1423; 1424; XIV, 1660; OGI 382, 1; Sb 5762; PGM 4, 1918 mostly θεοὶ κ.; PGM 4, 2088 κ. δαίμων; IDefixAudollent 74, 1 ἄγγελοι κ.; TestSol 16:3 al. τῶν ἀερίων καὶ ἐπιγείων καὶ καταχθονίων πνευμάτων) under the earth, subterranean οἱ καταχθόνιοι beings or powers under the earth (w. ἐπουράνιοι, ἐπίγειοι) Phil 2:10 (s. ἐπίγειος 2b).—DELG s.v. χθών. M-M. TW.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X