I want to touch on this again… dead horse and all…
When you begin to read Scripture with presuppositions, you are essentially shaping Scripture to how you want to see it. Further, to deny the ancient authors their culture and social standing by accusing them of being just like you or else their work is somehow absurd, then you are living in a ethnocentric world. The idea that many today believe that their understanding is the exact same one as the original author’s is ludicrous. The fact is, is that our understanding of the text today is often deprived of the ancient mythos of the author, and we can thank the Enlightenment for that. Gone is superstition, legend, myth, sacred propaganda, and even shadows of interpretation and replaced is the cold, methodical technical manual produced by Western minds for the past few hundred years. It is anti-Semitic to deny the authors their socio-context. Further, it is anachronistic to suggest that our understanding of ethics and the such is the same as the ancient authors.
Later, as we get into Tony Breeden’s response, he notes that “liberal theology” postulates that the ancient Jews were plagiarists because they used the structure of, for the story of the Deluge, the Epic of Gilgamesh. This is like saying that the Gospels must be independent of one another because Matthew and Luke didn’t cite their use of Mark, and if you don’t cite, then you are plagiarizing. This anachronistic view unveils a certain arrogance of place found among those who simply do not understand that the world has existed before them and will continue to do so after them. Just as Genesis 1 made use of existing source materials to tell a story, so does Genesis 6-8. This is not plagiarism, but a common practice found among the ancients. We see this lauded when Virgil borrows Homer and when Lucan borrows Virgil, Homer, and Seneca. The use of source material, mimetics, helps us to understand the story better. But, then again, I don’t think that many YECers want us to understand the story better.
Jason postulates that the debate of evolution vs. young earth creationism is one of Scriptural authority. He writes,
The true issue with the whole creation vs. evolution discussion is one of authority. Who is the authority? God is. That is not something created by man, but belongs to God by virtue of being God. This is not something that is imposed upon the text of Scripture, but is inherent within Scripture by virtue of its being the Word ofGod. What we must do is approach the biblical text with reverence, humility, and awe, because it is God’s Word. We must then submit to what God is saying to us in Scripture. He is the final authority, and His Word is true.
The problem is, is that this is a straw man for one, and second, still removes Scripture from authority. Why? First, many scholars believe that Genesis 1 is not talking about physical creation. A better reading of Isaiah shows that Creation, through the lens of the New Creation, is not about physical life, but something else. To cast the current scientific debate into the idea that unless one accepts the bad theology of Young Earth Creationism then one is somehow questioning God is completely false and arrogant. (I’ve met Jason – this is not a word I would use to describe him. Neither would I use the word ignorant, my friend.) The fact is, is that Young Earth Creationists have set perimeters for what is ‘true.’ It’s not surprising, then, that these perimeters confirm only what the YECer believes. Ham and others have regularly stated that if Genesis 1 is not followed according to their reading, then it breaks down into absurdity, or worse, that if Genesis 1 is not true according to their perimeters, then nothing in Scripture is true. Do you not see the arrogance in those statements?
Further, Scripture is not God’s Word. Nor is it God’s Revelation. Nothing in Scripture supports these two statements. Instead, Scripture is what it says it is. To infer upon it more than that is to require something of it that it doesn’t provide, as if it is lacking something. To then suggest that those who accept the theory of evolution as compatible with Christian theology is somehow not approaching Scripture with humility is to once again build an argument based only on the ad hom. principle. The fact is, is that those who take Scripture seriously have no need to prove that it is true, approaching it as if it is indeed true. Who decides what is Truth? Is it us? If not, then we cannot so easily give into the so-called “plain sense” reading of Scripture, because this style of reading moves the reader into the pivotal point of deciding what is Truth. Again, this is a problem which we inherited from the Enlightenment. We are taught that what we can discern with the senses is what is truth. We read Genesis 1 as if it is a science text, given in a technical vocabulary. Why? Because our senses, our reason and intellect, confirm it to be so. Yet, this is not how or why it was composed. When we strip Scripture of its majestic mythos, even of the so-called historical narrative, we undermine Scripture. I would go so far as to say that when we read Scripture through the lens of the Enlightenment, we prevent the Spirit guiding us. (I note, that if the author of Hebrews had written after the Enlightenment, that epistle wouldn’t have been written.)
Dr. McGrath, one of the most intelligent people that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting wrote a post regarding the Answers in Racketeering in Kentucky. He, of course, didn’t have much to say positive about the money pit that it is and he is right to perceive the nature of the deity in Genesis 6. Of course, I would like to have had Dr. McGrath point out the fact that the Flood is itself another Creation story (also, get this book), but nevertheless, his short post has already engendered a torrent of responses, namely from my dear friend, Tony Breeden. He, of course, likes the deity who judges everyone based on 16th century Reformed Doctrine.
Besides not knowing the state of the ancient economy (um, no one could have been a millionaire until relatively recently), he doesn’t understand Scriptural theology. Besides the usual proof-texting (Really? That’s how you interpret John 3.12?), Tony goes on to make a mockery of himself but not getting the fullest extent of Dr. McGrath’s post. He tries to defend against the humorous take given by Dr. McGrath on the building of the ark and why it costs so much, and in a very real way, proves Dr. McGrath’s point. Further, Tony goes on, as Ham and others do, to add to Scripture, suggesting that the Noah could act differently than what God told him to do, in being ‘creative’ when building the Ark. Just like the fact that nowhere does Scripture actually say that water was created (or in trying to suggest that Scriptural writers were advanced biologists who had developed structural taxons of animals), but this doesn’t stop YECers from saying it does. He then goes on to, again, use outdated facts in suggesting that we have yet to be able to determine how the pyramids and Stonehenge were built given their respective times in history. This hasn’t actually been true for years. Of course, this doesn’t stop Tony from saying that Dr. McGrath has committed logical errors. Ironic, don’t you think?
He goes on to commit several logical fallacies. First, he argues from authority, namely his own, in treating the Scriptural text as if he wrote it. Simply because the Flood story was retold by later authors (narrative theology anyone?) doesn’t mean that they vouchsafed it’s historicity. He uses the Burden of Proof fallacy, suppressed correlative, fallacy of composition, fallacy of division, fallacy of dilemma, the historian’s fallacy, incomplete comparison, mind projection fallacy, and reification. I could go on, but you get the point. The fact remains is that Tony is reading the Text through his lens. He starts with the assumption of C, that the Flood actually happened the way he believes it happened. Then, he reads A, Genesis 6-8. This confirms his opinion. He reads B, that others confirms exactly what he thought they would, and then, appealing to a certain fallacy, makes the notion, himself, that if the flood didn’t happen exactly as he believes it did, then A and B are wrong and his entire worldview is gone. In other words, he reads Scripture only to confirm his notions.
Since that doesn’t work, he turns to insults and lies, which aren’t worthy to be answered. This is the very thing that YEC apologists do. When they run out of facts, they start fighting like little children! Further, they start to use ‘threats’ of ‘you’re going to hell’ to, I guess, scare people into believing that God would condemn a soul because they disagreed with Ken Ham. Further, because McGrath objects to the God necessary to complete the interpretation by the YEC group, he is depraved and obviously doesn’t know God. Like they do with Scripture, Tony and others see theology, God, Christ, and salvation only through a lens which is self-affirming. As I wrote earlier, the Evangelical Narrative is not the Gospel. Tony’s narrative isn’t either. That narrative, and Tony’s mischaracterizations of Dr. McGrath, aren’t honest. Further, the presuppositions which Tony uses aren’t filled with intellectual integrity and is blatantly anti-intellectual replete with false accusations, definitions and flat out falsehoods.
What he does to Job is worse than the cosmic bet that YHWH and Satan had on his life….
But, lastly, Tony needs the flood because of his own moral short comings. He has expressed in his own testimony that for him, humanity is a cesspool of depravity, contrary to Scripture. If the flood didn’t happen, then perhaps humanity is not as depraved as he thought. What a wretched view this is of God’s Creation…. and unscriptural.