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Biblical and Scientific Shortcomings of Flood Geology, Part 1

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September 7, 2012 Tags: Earth, Universe & Time

Today's entry was written by Gregg Davidson and Ken Wolgemuth. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of The BioLogos Foundation. You can read more about what we believe here.

Biblical and Scientific Shortcomings of Flood Geology, Part 1

This is the first in a four part series taken from Gregg Davidson and Ken Wolgemuth's scholarly essay "Christian Geologists on Noah’s Flood: Biblical and Scientific Shortcomings of Flood Geology".

As Christians and geologists, we frequently encounter people with stories of storm tossed and shipwrecked faith that started when they began to wrestle with apparent conflicts between science and the Bible. The stories have a common thread. The Bible, they were told, clearly teaches the earth was created a few thousand years ago with life forms fashioned more or less as we find them today. Because the earth is very young, the incredibly complex sequence of rock, sediment, and fossils found on our planet must have been deposited in a very short period of time. Noah’s Flood, as the only plausible causal agent, was obviously a global and violent event. Theories of an ancient earth and adaptation of life forms, they were further informed, have been constructed on flimsy evidence created by atheistic scientists searching for ways to expunge God from modern culture. But as these sojourners began to explore and understand the actual evidence for an ancient earth, they found themselves increasingly convinced of its legitimacy, and thereby increasingly questioning the veracity of their faith – many to the point of relegating Christ to just another wishful myth.

It is our conviction that these stories of strained or lost faith derive not from an inherent unwillingness to trust the Bible, but rather from misguided teaching on the message of Scripture. Those insisting the earth is young are not simply putting their faith in God’s Word, they are putting their faith in their own particular interpretation of that Word. As such, an entirely unnecessary stumbling block to faith is created, where faith in Christ first requires rejection of sound science.

As we have prayed and studied this subject, we have felt God’s call to speak out against this misplaced stumbling block. We are sensitive, however, to the fact that when scientists speak on issues of faith, there is a natural suspicion that science will be regarded as the ultimate arbiter of truth, and Scripture will have to yield whenever conflict arises. It is thus important for us to state here that both of us ascribe to the authority and inspiration of Scripture, the reality and necessity of Christ’s death and resurrection, the existence of genuine miraculous events, and the truthfulness of the Biblical historical narratives. In our understanding, science will never trump Scripture, but by virtue of science being a study of God’s natural creation, it may occasionally assist in our understanding of God’s written Word. Where this has occurred historically and has been accepted by the Church, the invariable result has been the abandonment of an interpretation of some secondary importance, without any change in our understanding of the intended central message.

This phenomenon is illustrated well by the 17th century clash between Galileo’s claims that the earth revolves around the sun, and the multiple passages in Scripture that appear to clearly present a static earth as the physical center of God’s natural creation. The Bible tells us repeatedly that the earth is fixed upon its foundations (Ps 93:1, 104:5) and the sun rises and sets (Eccl 1:5, Ps 19:6). Within the context of the historical narratives (which we are not accustomed to interpreting in any figurative manner) we read statements about “the sun rising over the land” (Gen 19:23), and a miraculous event during a famous battle where “the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down a full day” (Josh 10:13). Likewise in the Levitical law, we find commands to complete the Passover sacrifice “when the sun goes down” (Deut 16:6).

God’s people had interpreted these verses for thousands of years to be authoritative statements about both spiritual and physical realms, and 17th century believers understandably struggled with allowing science to alter traditional interpretations. If God says the sun rises and the sun sets, how could it be otherwise?

Fast forward a few centuries, and we are now somehow quite content to have allowed science to alter our thinking on these verses, without abandoning notions of inerrancy or inspiration. The reason is simply because it was eventually recognized that the primary message of these verses was never on the nature of nature, but on the nature of man and his experience with his environment and his God. Solomon and Joshua accurately recorded their experience from an earthly perspective (sun rising and setting), and David praised God for holding the earth fixedly in His hand (Ps 93:1, 104:5), without requiring a meaning of fixity in space. The central message of these verses was apparent to readers before and after Galileo. Only a secondary interpretation, likely never intended by the writers, was cast off after scientific advances.

So what is the issue regarding Noah’s Flood? The modern debate centers around two questions. Was it truly global in extent, and can the Flood account for the earth’s complex geologic record? To address the first, it is worth being reminded of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church in Rome where he makes a statement that “your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world” (Rom 1:8). Entire people groups existed at this time in China, Australia, and North and South America who knew nothing of the church in Rome. Though using wording that literally means the entire world population, Paul is clearly referring to the world known to him and his readers at the time.1 Paul speaks truthfully from his experience. Allowing for the possibility that Noah’s Flood encompassed all of known humanity without necessarily covering the entire planet is thus consistent with how other passages in Scripture are interpreted by Christians who believe the Bible is authoritative and trustworthy.

Our primary interest in this blog series is the second question, the widely promulgated notion that the Flood can account for the earth’s complex geology, and that all genuine Christians should accept this viewpoint.

Notes

1. Many Biblical scholars define a literal interpretation as one that takes into account the literary genre, figures of speech, context, and author/audience perspective in deriving the intended meaning. By this definition, poetry and allegory are literally interpreted as figurative. In this blog and in our article, our use of literal conforms to its more common definition where a literal interpretation is one that adheres to the precise definition of words without figurative meaning and without requiring additional context to understand.


Dr. Gregg Davidson is chair of the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering at the University of Mississippi and conducts original research in geochemistry and hydrogeology, often employing radiometric dating methods to determine the age of groundwater and sediments. In 2009 he published a book about his keen interest in integrating a lifetime of studying geology with his firm conviction about the infallibility of God’s Word, When Faith & Science Collide – A Biblical Approach to Evaluating Evolution and the Age of the Earth.
Dr. Ken Wolgemuth is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Tulsa and a Petroleum Consultant teaching short courses on petroleum geology and “Geology for the Non-Geologist.” Over the last 10 years, he has developed a keen interest in sharing the geology of God’s Creation with Christians in churches and seminaries.

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Francis - #72519

September 7th 2012

I’m disappointed. We seem to be getting off to a rough start.

“the multiple passages in Scripture that appear to clearly present a static earth as the physical center of God’s natural creation. The Bible tells us repeatedly that the earth is fixed upon its foundations (Ps 93:1, 104:5) and the sun rises and sets (Eccl 1:5, Ps 19:6)… God’s people had interpreted these verses for thousands of years to be authoritative statements about both spiritual and physical realms”

If God’s people interpreted these verses as literal truth then they didn’t know their Jewish scriptures very well, and probably weren’t too smart. I addressed this “issue” in #70920 & 70921 of http://biologos.org/blog/but-does-it-move-part-2

And do people even today say things like “the sun rises”, “the sun sets”, “the sun goes down”? Do these same people believe the sun actually is doing the moving? Do they believe in geocentrism rather than heliocentrism?

Speaking just for myself, the answers are Yes, No and No.  


Mike Beidler - #72529

September 8th 2012

Francis,

//And do people even today say things like “the sun rises”, “the sun sets”, “the sun goes down”?//

Yes.  But for the ancient Hebrews and their neighbors, what we consider today to be phenomenological language were literal descriptions to them, and delineate quite clearly how they believed the cosmos to operate.  Your hermeneutic has, quite subconsciously, shifted along with our shared cosmological perspective. 

//Do these same people [today] believe the sun actually is doing the moving?//

No.  This is because modern science has informed our hermeneutic.  Both you and I have taken what we’ve learned in school and overlayed our modern cosmological perspective onto the text.  Forgetting who actually wrote the Bible and the cultural context in which it was written, we think to ourselves—quite subconsciously—“everyone knows that the Earth moves around the Sun, so these verses are obviously poetic and merely describing things from the reader’s POV.”

In his excellent monograph, Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, Wheaton College’s Professor of OT John Walton writes, “In modern cosmic geography, we understand, as a result of the application of science during the past few hundred years, that we live on a sphere marked by land masses that we call continents that themselves are surrounded by bodies of water we call oceans.  We believe that this sphere is a part of a system of planets that revolve around the sun, which is just one of many stars.  Our planet itsel also rotates, and another smaller sphere, the moon, revolves around our planet.  Our solar system is part of a galaxy of many stars and perhaps many planets that, along with many other galaxies, make up the universe.  The stars are very far away, and some are components of other galaxies.  The fact that this cosmic geography seems so elementary and basic reveals just how deeply it is rooted in our self-understanding.  Everyone in every time and place has a cosmic geography and knows what it is—though it is ‘second nature’: no one needs to think about it. ... [However,] if we aspire to understand the comological cognitive environment of the ancient world—whether Canannite, Babylonian, Egyptian, or Israelite—it is therefore essential that we understand their cosmic geography” (pp. 86-87) [emphasis mine]

//Do they [people today] believe in geocentrism rather than heliocentrism?//

Not for the most part (see http://theflatearthsociety.org/cms/).  However, the ancient Hebrews believed that the sun actually moved while the earth remained steadfast, as they possessed a geocentric cosmology just like all of the surrounding cultures of the ancient Near East (ANE).  Such a belief was a part of the ANE cognitive environment in which Israel existed ... and this cognitive environment reveals itself throughout Scripture, both OT and NT.  And, yes, they believed the earth/land rested on pillars and that the “foundations of the earth,” which you mention in the link you provided above, could be shaken by divine power.

I have a feeling that your admirable dedication to biblical inerrancy may be keeping you from reading the text in its original context.  Ironically, such a hermenuetic does a great disservice to the text because it imports foreign meaning into the text that it was never meant to possess.


micahmartin5 - #72532

September 8th 2012

I don’t think it is possible to enter into a discussion on the flood account without noting how Jesus used it when predicting the “end of the age” and destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 (A local Covenant wide judgement.

Creation, the Flood, and Eschatology are so intertwined they can’t be spoken about apart from eachother. 

“Beyond Creation Science” by Tim Martin and Jeff Vaughn is a great primer for anyone wrestling with these questions.

Thanks for the article. I am looking forward to the whole series.

Micah 


wesseldawn - #72549

September 8th 2012

In our understanding, science will never trump Scripture, but by virtue of science being a study of God’s natural creation, it may occasionally assist in our understanding of God’s written Word. Where this has occurred historically and has been accepted by the Church, the invariable result has been the abandonment of an interpretation of some secondary importance, without any change in our understanding of the intended central message.

I beg to differ: I.D. is a big change in understanding from creationism!  As it was scientific evidence that was/is the cause of change that means that science trumped scripture!

Abandonment of one interpretation for another should set off warning bells! Yet instead of questioning the foundation of Biblical interpretation, doctrines are adjusted to suit the times and situations…clearly inconsistent with a perfect God!


Merv - #72553

September 8th 2012

I’m not sure what you mean in saying that “I.D. is a big change ... from creationism”  but regarding science “trumping scripture”—-here is another interpretation:  Creation trumped a faulty interpretation of Scripture.

-Merv


wesseldawn - #72565

September 9th 2012

I.D. is evolution-based, a huge jump from creationism’s, “God went poof”. 

Both creationism and I.D. are faulty (from the Biblical standpoint) but to their credit I.D. people did not reject scientific evidence!


Darwin Guy Dan - #72606

September 10th 2012

Mike Beidler #72529, Francis #72535, #70920-1, darwin dissenters #70849, KevinR #70857; Re: Update to OT, Ptolemaic, and Copernican cosmic geography: 

Concerning the subject of [space-time]-matter and the motions thereof, some passages in Hans Reichenback’s FROM COPERNICUS TO EINSTEIN ([1942], 1970) have often seemed relevant. Reichenback writes (p.82-3): 

“[….] It makes no sense [….] to speak of a difference in truth between Copernicus and Ptolemy: both conceptions are equally permissible descriptions.  [….] The doctrine of relativity does not assert that Ptolemy’s view is correct; it rather contests the absolute meaning of either view. [….]” 

A great difficulty with our modern perceptions of motion is that, even with the recent confirmation of the Higgs boson, we really don’t understand what gravity and mass are.  Thus, is it reasonable to consider the Sun as racing around us at some 24,347,000 mi / hr?  If so, what does this say about the even far more distant stars and such “constants” as the speed of light? Moffat posits that c was once 100,000 trillion trillion times its current value. 

Mathematically, it would seem we ought to be able to collect data as grade school Ptolemaists, do a Lorenz transformation to get to the Moon, then on to Mars, and finally to a Copernican hell. 

Back here on Earth, suppose we are sitting in a train with but one window. We look out and see what appears to be another train racing by.  How would we know which train is actually in motion?  Etc.  Unlike Evolutionists, scientists are surely free to consider such matters, and they do, without becoming ideological. 

CONSIDER: Einstein’s THE MEANING OF RELATIVITY ([1922], 1988); astrophysicist Bernard Haisch’s THE GOD THEORY: UNIVERSES, ZERO-POINT FIELDS, AND WHAT’S BEHIND IT ALL (2006); John W. Moffat’s REINVENTING GRAVITY: A PHYSICIST GOES BEYOND EINSTEIN (2008).


Francis - #72809

September 15th 2012

Mike Beidler,

You said of me: “I have a feeling that your admirable dedication to biblical inerrancy may be keeping you from reading the text in its original context… does a great disservice to the text”

I have a feeling that the admirable dedication by some to serpentine Scriptural scholarship does a great disservice to the common sense of the common people, both ancient and modern.


Mike Beidler - #72869

September 17th 2012

Francis,

Could you define “serpentine Scriptural scholarship”?  Once defined, could you explain how exactly it does a great disservice to our collective across-the-ages common sense?

Best,

Mike


Eddie - #72955

September 20th 2012

Hello, Mike.

By “serpentine Scriptural scholarship” Francis means ‘interpretations of the Bible which don’t agree with my literalist-inerrantist conclusions.’  For example, Augustine, the greatest of the Latin Fathers, and a cornerstone of subsequent Roman Catholic theology, thought that creation took place all at once, and that the six-day narration was an accommodation to reader understanding.  Augustine, for Francis, was practising “serpentine” scholarship in coming to that conclusion.  And the current Catechism of the Catholic Church, available online, states that elements of the Fall story are “figurative,” i.e., cannot be taken as photographic representation of things and events of the past, but as figures expressing a deeper reality.  That teaching, for Francis, would be more “serpentine” Scriptural scholarship.  But wait! The Catechism is an official expression of Church teaching!  And Francis tells us that the Roman Church never errs!  So it must be that a teaching can be true and “serpentine” at the same time.  Wow!  We will leave Francis to dope this one out.  I’m sure he will enjoy the challenge.  That is how literalist-inerrantists spend a large part of the their waking time—reconciling logical contradictions inherent in their basic assertions.  (After he has solved that one, we can give him the “waters above the firmament” to work on.  I’ve seen literalist-inerrantists post scores of responses on blog sites, trying to rescue that description from “serpentine” Scriptural scholarship.)   


John Bontius - #74339

November 12th 2012

You know I think that Augustine had it right. Cretion did take place in one instant. The Big Bang theory says all matter  was created in one moment. True, no planets, stars or even atoms but out of that soup came the first stars, galaxies, and then planets. Since that first moment no new matter has ever been created.

John


Francis - #72874

September 17th 2012

Mike Beidler,

“Could you define “serpentine Scriptural scholarship”?”

See “Mike Beidler”, “Eddie”, “Roger”, “Ted Davis”, et al.

 

“Once defined, could you explain how exactly it does a great disservice to our collective across-the-ages common sense?”

If you have to ask that question, I don’t think I, or anyone, can answer.

 


Mike Beidler - #72968

September 20th 2012

“Serpentine Scriptural Scholarship.”  Nice alliteration.  Got a great ring to it.  Hissssssssss ...


Francis - #72938

September 19th 2012

Speaking of serpentine Scriptural scholarship, has Harvard’s Karen King posted here?

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/jesus-married-harvard-scholar-ancient-text-papyrus-refers-wife-article-1.1162571


Francis - #72993

September 21st 2012

Whatever happened to Eddie?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXGMWQPYTJw&NR=1&feature=endscreen

 

Actually, Eddie’s plugging his book. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YazzYJRIcU

Maybe it contains some thoughts on St. Augustine. I don’t know what Eddie thinks about St. Augustine, but here are some thoughts I have.

St. Augustine was great, but he wasn’t perfect.

He had some less than orthodox positions.

Unlike his teacher, St. Ambrose, and virtually all the other Church fathers, who believed in a literal, six 24-hour days of creation, St. Augustine believed in a sudden/instantaneous creation.

Well, sudden/instantaneous is a lot closer to six days than it is to six thousand days or to six million/billion years. Also, he thought the earth was less than six thousand years old. http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v2/n4/early-church-on-creation

St. Augustine was also less than orthodox on abortion. While he agreed with the Church that abortion was always wrong, he mused that it might be less wrong in the first 40 days after conception. He said this because he speculated that the baby at this stage was not sensate, and speculated further that the non-sensate baby would not have a soul. http://origin.ewtn.com/library/bishops/vasapelosi.htm

Certain scholars of theology and ethics, such as C.I.N.O. Nancy Pelosi (and perhaps Eddie Munster?), cling to such Augustinian idiosyncrasies to justify their positions.

The problem with that is that St. Augustine isn’t the Church. The Church is the Church. Some of what St. Augustine wrote became Church doctrine (as new development/understanding of existing doctrine) or was indistinguishable from existing Church doctrine. Some of what he wrote, but not all.

Because, as I said, St. Augustine was great, but he wasn’t perfect. Augustine was great enough to have “St.” put before his name. We can pray to him for his intercession. Because we know for certain that he is in heaven, he’s a true Saint.

We know he’s a Saint for certain for one reason only: because the Church definitively and authoritatively said so. (cf. Matthew 16:19).

I thank God for the one, true Church! (cf. 1 Timothy 3:15)


Eddie - #72997

September 22nd 2012

Yep, that’s me.  After the Munsters, I could never get any good acting roles (due to typecasting), so I decided to become a scholar of religion, and do odd things like read The City of God in its entirety, and even for a semester teach (under the supervision of a Jesuit-trained priest and theologian) medieval Christian religious thought.

How anyone could think that Augustine’s position on abortion, right or wrong, would invalidate his interpretive conclusions regarding Genesis, is beyond me.   And even if that wasn’t the point, even if the point was merely that Augustine was mortal and could make theological mistakes—which I and everybody else grants about any Catholic theologian  (though there are some Thomists about these days who appear to believe that Thomas never made a theological mistake)—it’s still a shoddy way of arguing.  The proper way of arguing the point would be to show official Church statements condemning Augustine’s view.  Yet last I heard, the Roman Church had never issued an authoritative pronouncement on the meaning of the days in Genesis, which means that Augustine’s proposed meaning is every bit as legitimate as that of the other Fathers.

As for the fact that Augustine was in the minority on the point in question—big deal! There is no Catholic doctrine that the majority of the Fathers is always right, and the Popes have vetoed majority reports before.    

Of course, my other point, concerning the words of the Catechism regarding figurative language in Genesis 2-3, are simply passed over, because, unlike Augustine, the Catechism can’t be dismissed by one who professes ultra-orthodoxy.  Silence is the alternative to admitting that one is wrong.

The continued Bible-quoting, much more typical of Protestant fundamentalists than Catholics, never ceases to amaze me.  As does the audacity of one who would preach that only the Roman Church has true teaching authority, yet, himself being neither trained nor licensed as a clerical or lay teacher by that Church, would offer a steady stream of lone wolf theological opinions on the internet, apparently without the slightest concern that, in his lack of training or authorization, he might err and mislead the Catholic faithful.

The ironical thing is that I am actually very close to Catholic positions on a number of important theological matters—and my mode of reading the Bible is much more in line with Catholic teaching and custom than the Biblicism of Francis—and as someone who respects truly learned Catholics, I’m rather offended by Francis’s theological quackery.  I hope that any Catholic readers here will have enough sense not to take his statements about the Catholic faith seriously, but will seek out learned authors such as Gilson and Copleston, and official Catholic teachers, to learn what their Church really teaches.  It is a wonderful institution, but Francis does not accurately represent it.


Skl - #73008

September 22nd 2012

To Eddie,

You noted that the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) says Genesis 2-3 contains “figurative” language. I find the word “figurative” used only once in the CCC, and it’s regarding the fall in Genesis 3 (para 390). (Personally, I never would have considered things like “he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” to be descriptions of a coming slugfest anyway.) Where does the CCC say Genesis 2 is in essence “figurative”? And haven’t you “passed over” that the CCC says nothing about Genesis 1 being “figurative”?

You said you were amazed that Francis, who says he’s Catholic and reveres the CCC, frequently quotes the Bible. I wouldn’t think this surprising. The CCC quotes from Scripture about 2,500 to 3,000 times. 

You referred to Francis’ lone wolf theological opinions and theological quackery. Could you give one or two examples?

 


Eddie - #73009

September 22nd 2012

Ski:

Here’s an interesting, hypothetical ethical question:  If I promise not to reply to Francis again, but Francis, after being banned, comes back under a new name, does my promise still hold?  Or should I respect the concealed identity, and pretend that the new person is not Francis, and therefore freely respond?  

I continue.  First of all, the generalization “all swans are white” is disproved by even a single example of a black swan.  So also, the generalization “All narrative statements in the Bible must be interpreted historically” is a false generalization if even one narrative statement is not to be interpreted historically.  Now, the Catholic Catechism is an official teaching of the Catholic Church, the Church which (according to Francis) never errs in its official teachings, and therefore everything in the Catholic Catechism will be correct—including the statement that the Garden story contains figurative elements, i.e., elements not to be taken historically.  Therefore, if Francis holds firm to his view of the inerrancy of the Roman Church, he cannot hang onto the fundamentalist-style Biblical literalism which characterizes virtually every argument he has posted here.  That is basic logic.

I never claimed that the Catholic catechism said that Genesis 1 is figurative.  However, it is manifestly the case that Genesis 1 is not meant to be read as historical chronicle; 99% of the serious Biblical scholars in the world—including the serious Catholic Biblical scholars—do not read Genesis 1 as historical chronicle.  (I’d bet a large sum of money most of the Catholic Cardinals don’t read it as historical chronicle either.  And when John Paul II said that evolution was “more than an hypothesis,” does anyone imagine that he was thinking that Genesis 1—which according to Francis is incompatible with evolution—should be read literally?)  If Francis doesn’t agree with the majority of learned Catholics on this point, he has the option of obtaining the same training as those learned Catholics, and refuting them in proper scholarly circles.  He can let us know when he has accomplished these tasks.  I promise to buy his first scholarly tome published by a standard academic publisher. 

As for quackery:  anyone who tries to settle a theological point by quickly typing in something on Google, picking the first hit, skimming it, not bothering to check out the theological credentials of the writer (an engineer with an incomplete diploma in theology from a third-rate fundamentalist school), judging that it’s pretty good, and then presenting it as evidence in an argument—without even realizing that it contains an error in Hebrew grammar—is a theological quack.  A trained theologian would first of all know the ancient languages, and second of all would use good sources, not amateur rubbish pulled off the web sites of fundamentalist engineers from the Carolinas.  A trained theologian would go to a good university or seminary library, or a large public library with a good portion of truly academic books, would carefully review the history of interpretation on the verse in question, would cite recognized scholarship in a way that reveals that he has read and digested it (not just looked it up for the first time 5 minutes ago on the internet), etc.  I know this because I’m a trained scholar myself and have spent most of my life in close proximity to other such scholars.  Francis’s writing on religious matters shows no such training.  He is, from all appearances, an autodidact.   And what do we call a medical doctor who has no training or certification, but, after skimming a few books from the profession, sets up practice anyway?  If the label fits, Francis must wear it.


Skl - #73013

September 22nd 2012

To Eddie,

You seem to know a lot about Francis. What is his background? Did he tell you he wasn’t trained or licensed as a clerical or lay teacher? How do you know he was banned? If he was banned, why was he banned? If he was banned, do you think it OK that he was banned?

I’m not following your basic logic about the swans and the narrative statements. While the CCC says Genesis 3 uses figurative language, it does not say Genesis 3 is not historical. Quite the contrary. Paragraph 390 says Genesis 3 “affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man. Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.”

Regardless of whether some consider someone a Catholic theological lone wolf, the real question is whether the theology comports with official Church teaching. Some Catholic Biblical scholars espouse opinions contrary to Church teaching. Even Jesuits. I’ve read that more than a few bishops disagreed with Pope Paul VI’s confirming the condemnation of contraception in Humanae Vitae in 1968. Likewise, the media often says that over 90% of Catholic women think contraception is OK. Even if that figure is accurate, it doesn’t change the fact that what they think is OK is not OK with the Catholic Church.

Which of Francis’ statements about the Catholic faith should readers not take seriously?


Eddie - #73020

September 23rd 2012

To “Ski”:

I know Francis was banned, because of the highly visible red light next to his name on his postings.  If you pass your cursor over the light, you will understand.  As for why he was banned, I’m not privy to that information, but the smart money is on the steady stream of belittling comments he directed at those who disagreed with him, even after being banned once before and later put on probation (as marked by the yellow warning light).  And yes, if that was the reason he was banned, I wholeheartedly approve.  Someone who cannot discuss things in a civilized manner should be barred from participating.

I know that Francis isn’t academically trained in theology, for the reasons that I gave in my last reply (which you apparently did not read very carefully), and also because his one-sided manner of argument is not that of the student who has been disciplined by years of essay-writing, and thus has learned to deal fairly with positions different from one’s own.  And I know he wouldn’t be licensed to teach, because his confused mixture of Catholic teaching with Protestant bibliolatry would never pass muster with Catholic authorities.  

I have read paragraph 390 of the Catechism.  It affirms a primeval “event”; it denies (by implication) that the story told in Genesis 2-3 is a photographic representation of that event; the story employs “figurative language.”  The “event” is a “fault freely committed by our first parents.”  The Catechism commits itself to nothing beyond that.  If the writers of the Catechism had wanted to make sure that Catholics affirmed the existence of a talking snake, they would have written the article differently.

On another point, I am not arguing that Church teaching should be decided by show of hands.   But the decision whether certain Catholic scholars are in violation of Church teaching is not one to be made by untrained people like Francis.  Only people with advanced knowledge of theology are qualified to assess the orthodoxy of, say, liberation theology.  When the Pope has a decision to make concerning Church doctrine, and seeks advice, he calls for reports from learned Cardinals and wise Catholic scholars, not for the opinions of pseudonymous Catholic bloggers.

I am also saying that the literalist mode of interpretation employed by Francis is not the traditional Catholic mode.  It is more of an American fundamentalist mode.  The Catholic Church has never endorsed that mode of reading Scripture.  It has always had a much more subtle understanding of how to read Scripture.  Francis could learn something of that, if he would go to a Catholic seminary and be trained, instead of trying to teach himself Catholic theology off the internet.  

As for your last question, my specific theological disagreements with Francis are recorded in the appropriate places on this site.  You can find them if you wish; just follow the string of red lights and look for my comments afterward.  I’m not going to discuss Francis’s contributions here any longer.  He’s gone.  If you want to lead a crusade to rehabilitate his theological credentials here, you will have to find another conversation partner.


Skl - #73025

September 23rd 2012

To Eddie,

You noted that Francis should be barred for what you say are his belittling comments and for his lack of a civilized manner. How would you characterize your comments above about Francis, where you referred to him or his ways as “dope”,“shoddy”,“quack”, a peddler of “amateur rubbish”? Would you say such wording could be considered belittling and uncivilized?

You say you know Francis isn’t trained in theology. How do you know this? Maybe he is trained but he’s just not a very good theologian. Just as some with doctorates aren’t very good PhDs.

Regarding your view of Genesis, you seem to be conflating “historical” and “photographic”. But they are not the same. If you want to say the CCC says Genesis 3 is not “photographic” because it uses the term “figurative”, fine. But the CCC does say Genesis 3 is historical and has historic consequences. Read some more, above and below paragraph 390:

388: “the pathos of the human condition in the light of the history of the fall narrated in Genesis”

416 “By his sin Adam, as the first man, lost the original holiness and justice he had received from God, not only for himself but for all human beings.”

417 “Adam and Eve transmitted to their descendants human nature wounded by their own first sin and hence deprived of original holiness and justice; this deprivation is called “original sin”.”

419 “We therefore hold, with the Council of Trent, that original sin is transmitted with human nature, “by propagation, not by imitation””.

I might not be able to find a photograph of Bubba Watson “hitting the ball a mile”, but I bet I could find a photo or at least a factual historical report of him driving the golf ball 340 yards.

Earlier I asked you which of Francis’ statements about the Catholic faith should readers not take seriously, and you suggested I go searching for a back and forth between you and him. I looked through all the articles going back to the beginning of September but I didn’t find anything. Could you help me with the search or just recall some statement of his about the Catholic faith which is false?

Also, my name is SKL, not Ski. Yes, it’s a pseudonym. You seemed to disparage the use of pseudonyms earlier when you referred to “pseudonymous Catholic bloggers”. I guess that would now include me. But aren’t you “guilty” as well, Eddie? I have no idea whether that’s your real name. You could be a female high school drop out for all I really know. Not that being an HS flunky would have to be a curse. An autodidact can learn much, even some fancy words. Just look at Abraham Lincoln.


Eddie - #73030

September 23rd 2012

SKL: 

Regarding your complaints about my language: “amateur rubbish” referred to some of Francis’s internet sources, not Francis’s own words, so there was no violation of BioLogos conversational decorum in speaking of it; “dope something out” is an idiomatic phrase (you do know American English, don’t you?), and does not imply that anyone is a “dope”; “shoddy” described an argument, not a person, and such criticisms are common and acceptable in academic and generally in public debate; and “quack” refers to a person who purports to have authoritative knowledge in a field but is uncertified in that field—which describes Francis as I have perceived him.  If I am wrong on the last point, all Francis has to do is, through an intermediary posting here—perhaps yourself, since you seem to take a great personal interest in his reputation— reveal to us his theological credentials, and I will—after verifying them with the appropriate authorities—retract the characterization. 

As I said, I won’t discuss Francis’s inadequate theology further, but on the theological point you raise:  not one of your passages from the Catechism defended the historicity of talking serpents or magic trees (or most of the other details in the Garden story).  If you cannot grasp the distinction between “the Fall happened, and therefore every event narrated in Genesis 2-3 happened as described” and “the Fall happened, but not literally in the way it is described in the Garden story, which is told in figures rather than in the language of eyewitness narration,” then you have little aptitude for theology, and there is no point in my having a conversation with you about it.  

Goodbye, SKL.  And say goodbye to Francis for me the next time you see him—whether that be when you shave in the morning, or at some other time.


Skl - #73031

September 23rd 2012

To Eddie,

I must admit I never before heard the idiom “dope out”. At least I learned one thing today.

As far as revealing his theological credentials, that’s up to Francis.

Do you think any of those possessing legitimate J.D. or M.D. or M.B.A. or PhD degrees can do shoddy work? Do you think some could be judged negligent or incompetent? I do.

If “shoddy” is an acceptable adjective in this forum, then I’ll go on record as saying I think your thought processes and your arguments are very “shoddy”, especially for someone claiming to have a PhD. (Just to be crystal clear, I’m NOT saying YOU are shoddy. Just your work as reflected here.)

You continue to pull in Genesis 2 in your “figuring”, where the CCC does not. Also, you continue to confuse the terms “photographic”,“figurative” and “historical”. Maybe you actually do have a photo of Bubba Watson “hitting the ball a mile”. If so, could you provide a hyperlink?

You say you won’t discuss Francis’s inadequate theology further. But you haven’t discussed it at all! I asked you for just one example of some statement of his about the Catholic faith which is false. You provided nothing. The only thing you’re doing further is avoiding and obfuscating.

 

P.S.

Since you said you won’t be discussing Francis’ inadequate theology further and have said goodbye to me, I really don’t expect you to provide the Bubba Watson hyperlink, or respond about anything else above that might have bothered you. (I’m assuming, of course, that you meant what you said.)  


W W W - #76421

February 7th 2013

A great difficulty with our modern perceptions of motion is that, even with the recent confirmation of the Higgs boson, we really don’t understand what gravity and mass (masini) are.  Thus, is it reasonable to consider the Sun as racing around us at some 24,347,000 mi / hr?  If so, what does this say about the even far more distant stars and such “constants” as the speed of light? (rent) Moffat posits that c was once 100,000 trillion trillion times its current value.   Mathematically, it would seem we ought to be able to collect data as grade school Ptolemaists, do a Lorenz transformation to get to the Moon, then on to Mars, and finally to a Copernican hell. 


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