Han Shot First (An Analogy for Creationism)

Bob Cargill has posted a wonderful analogy between reception history of the Bible and Star Wars. He makes great points, such as

The ‘correct’ interpretation of a myth does not necessarily confirm the historicity of the myth.


Arguing over the best way to interpret a story does not prove the story historical, factual, or true…The debate about a text’s interpretation has absolutely no bearing upon whether the claim is, in fact, factual.

This is a crucial point – and the analogy is hopefully clear. I’ve shown elsewhere why young-earth creationism’s treatment of Genesis, and of the Bible in general, is inconsistent and for many other reasons problematic. But even if it could be shown that the young-earth creationists are the most faithful interpreters of the text of Genesis, that would not be the same thing as showing that the text of Genesis corresponds to what actually happened. The tools of literary criticism, of making sense of the inner logic of a text, are not identical to those of historical criticism and other tools which ask about what correspondence there is, if any, between a textual account and actual occurrences.

But, while I greatly appreciate Bob’s post, I think he could have used an even clearer Star Wars analogy than he does.

One can debate whether Han shot first. One can perhaps make the case that the view that Han shot first is the only appropriate way to interpret the original, authentic, Star Wars: A New Hope narrative.

That isn’t the same thing as showing that there was a real Han, a real Greedo, a real Cantina in Mos Eisley, and a real blaster fired by either party. That is a separate question from the question of how to best understand the story.

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  • robert r. cargill

    love it. and love that lucas was wearing one, embracing the criticism of his alteration of the original canon.

  • http://www.dregstudios.com Brandt Hardin

    Here in TN, they have taken steps though new legislation to allow creationism back into the classroom. This law turns the clock back nearly 100 years here in the seemingly unprogressive South and is simply embarrassing. There is no argument against the Theory of Evolution other than that of religious doctrine. The Monkey Law only opens the door for fanatic Christianity to creep its way back into our classrooms. You can see my visual response as a Tennessean to this absurd law on my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2012/04/pulpit-in-classroom-biblical-agenda-in.html with some evolutionary art and a little bit of simple logic.

  • Larry Linn

    Jonas Salk’s definition of a “bio-philosopher” is “Someone who draws upon the
    scriptures of nature, recognizing that we are the product of the process of
    evolution, and understands that we have become the process itself, through the
    emergence and evolution of our consciousness, our awareness, our capacity to
    imagine and anticipate the future, and to choose from among alternatives.”

    evolving”, interview 1985