Thursday, August 30, 2012

Speaking accurately

In the least surprising news out of our parliament for some time, last night it passed the Louisa Wall marriage amendment bill at its first reading. We should be in no doubt that a huge sentiment is sweeping the country on this matter and that sentiment will drive the bill through its second and third readings. Unless your name is Canute, I wouldn't bother too much resisting the tide on this one.

Nevertheless we are a democracy and it is appropriate to make a few notes while we have freedom to speak about such tidal matters:

(1) I observe that at least one gay MP actually voted against the bill. I wonder why? Whatever the answer, it would be good to tone down thoughts that opposition to the bill is homophobic and bigoted. It wouldn't be fair to that particular MP!

(2) Somewhat plaintively might I appeal for accurate speech when we speak about such matters? Two instances in the past twenty-four hours of inaccurate speaking are these:

(a) Into our Inboxes yesterday popped our weekly diocesan e-news. This included a promotion for Glynn Cardy and St Matthew's-in-the-City billboard in favour of the bill with the following mentioned:

"St Matthew’s looks forward to a time when the barrier of sexual orientation will be removed from the requirement for a church wedding.  “Such prejudice”, says Vicar Glynn Cardy, “is contrary to the good news of Jesus Christ.” "

Accurate speech here would be this: "In my opinion as one individual in the church, and without any official support from any statement of any resolution of General Synod, actually, without even a declaration from the bishops of my church, let alone a 'mind of God' statement from my bishop, I  - Glynn Cardy - declare, simply on my own authority, such prejudice is contrary to the good news of Jesus Christ, even though there is not one statement in the gospels of Jesus Christ which suggests or implies that he would have conceived that marriage was possible for two men or two women." [See Addendum below].

(b) Louisa Wall herself, as cited in the article linked to above, spoke thus:

"‘‘Today is the time to open the institution of marriage to all people who are eligible,’’ Ms Wall told Parliament last night.

‘‘There is no reasonable ground on which the state should deny any citizen the right to enter the institution of marriage if he or she chooses. That is not the process of inclusion.’’


But she said it was ‘‘not the state’s role to sanction heterosexuality or homosexuality.’’
‘‘Nor is it the State’s role to judge the marriages of its citizens.’’"

I find this incredibly sad as an example of reasonable argument within our parliament.

It is logical nonsense to speak of opening the institution of marriage to all people who are 'eligible'. Parliament determines who are eligible for marriage (e.g. the minimum age at which one can marry, the degrees of consanguinity within which one may not marry). No one is 'eligible' to marry without parliament's legislation! Accurate speech here would be 'Today is the time to change the legislation regarding marriage and to broaden the criteria by which we deem people to be eligible to marry, but not so broad that we allow 'all people' to marry, because today we are not going to change the age of eligibility nor the degrees of consanguinity nor the requirement that marriage is monogamous.'

The nonsense continues in the next sentence! There are reasonable grounds on which the state should deny any citizen the right to enter the institution of marriage if he or she wished to make such choice! The state should deny children the right to marry, it should deny brothers the right to marry sisters, and it should deny more than two people the right to marry each other. As I understand parliament's action last night, it was not changing its mind that it is unreasonable to permit children, brothers/sisters, and more than two people the right to marry.

Well, I hardly need go on to the final statements in the citation above. Determining who is and who is not eligible to marry has nothing to do with sanctioning heterosexuality or homosexuality. It is the role of the state to judge it's citizens marriages. Indeed, get married in the wrong way overseas to a non-citizen of NZ and you will find the state is precisely and often immovably judgemental about such marriages should you wish to bring your non-citizen spouse back to these islands. Marry more than one person, or, as we had recent experience here in Canterbury, take a wedding illegally, and you will find the state has quite a bit to say about its citizens marriages!

Just in case readers here think nothing worth saying in favour of the bill can be said and said accurately, I suggest this is accurate speaking:

"National’s Nikki Kaye said the bill would give ‘‘dignity and acceptance’’ to a group in society who had only recently been criminalised for the people they loved."

It is entirely proper for parliament to have a say in the ways laws frame notions of dignity and acceptance of various groups in society. Whether changing the law about marriage is a necessary condition for enhancing dignity and acceptance of gays and lesbians is at the heart of the debate. Whether parliament should stop offering dignity and acceptance via amendments to the marriage law by not going on to provide for those who wish to marry their sisters or marry more than one person is also at the heart of the debate. 

What is not at the heart of the debate is opening the institution of marriage to 'all people' who are eligible etc: that is logical nonsense in the argument from the bill's own promoter which ill-befits our parliament as the highest and most powerful determiner of what is reasonable.

ADDENDUM: Re the St Matt's billboard. At last the Auckland bishops have spoken out against their outspoken cleric/church! As reported at Taonga,

"The Anglican Bishops in Auckland believe a St Matthew-in-the-City billboard about gay marriage leaves a confusing message and does not effectively communicate what good relationships are about.
The billboard shows two bride dolls kissing on top of a wedding cake. The caption reads: "We don't care who's on top."
The Auckland Bishops say the Anglican Church cares about good relationships and so does care about ‘who is on top’ in a relationship.
Bishop Jim White says that oddly the billboard does not convey clearly what St Matthew’s claims are the key foundations of a relationship – mutuality, fidelity and love.
"The billboard is a confusing message trading on clichés that I don’t think St Matthew's actually stands for," he says. 
Bishop Ross Bay is disappointed by the billboard but says he is not surprised because St Matthew’s stance on gay marriage is well known.
He says it adds nothing new to a good understanding of the issue. "This is a time for listening to one another and for careful conversations about a sensitive issue. Those conversations are getting under way in Parliament and wider society and in the church." 
The Bishops say the billboard opinion is that of the St Matthew’s congregation and does not represent the Auckland Diocese or the wider Anglican Church.
The Bishops are encouraging the church and the wider community to have respectful conversations that lead to a greater understanding of the issue currently before Parliament."


Andrei said...

observe that at least one gay MP actually voted against the bill. I wonder why?

Chris Finlayson is a practicing Roman Catholic and celibate.

He is put into the gay box and doesn't seem to balk at that, identity politics is a funny thing especially when it comes to the "sexuality identity".

Peter Carrell said...

Just in case anyone reading here fosters the idea that ADU 'outs' people, I note the following reference in the public domain re Andrei's comment above:

hogsters said...

Thank you Peter for the logic you have shown in your analysis of Ms Walls speech.

Anonymous said...

I'll say it again. Expel St Matthews and it's clergy. It is not a church. It gas rejected Christianity in any discernible form. It's so-called priests are in violation of their vows. At least one I know of dies not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity and preaches against it.

I'll take Ross and Jim seriously when they actually decide to do their job and preserve the orthodoxy of the Church. So far all I have seen is weasel words.

Zane Elliott said...

in the recent news media has been a story about a father and daughter couple in Dunedin who have been ordered by a judge to stop their relationship.

Should St Matthew's in the City not be putting up a billboard about this and lobbying for their rights to enjoy a relationship of monogomous fidelity?

Shouldn't we have a motion before general Synod to protect them and stand up for their rights to enter into a consensual relationship?

Shouldn't we, in the same spirit of Jesus that the pro-gay lobby continually cite proclaim freedom for this oppressed couple?

I apply two constant arguments to this case that are apllied to the same-sex 'marriage' debate 'Jesus never said anything about incest' the second 'the Old testament says it is wrong, but it also says eating shelfish or wearing mixed fabrics is wrong'.

Doesn'this help us to see just what a farce this debate is? I understand that many people have joined the pro-gay lobby, I understand that many don't see any difference between men and women shacking up, but here we see the vast inadequacies in the arguments from a Christian viewpoint.

The divorce between Word and practice is apalling. the Scriptures, and intent of jesus is misrepresented daily - I join you in crying and weeping for accuracy in what we say, and more importantly in representing what God has said in Holy Writ.

Father Ron Smith said...

Well, Peter, every dog deserves his day. The free speech you allow on your blog is evidence of this.

Perhaps because of the conflicting Christian views on the Gay Marriage issue - with so many 'Christians' against the move, at least charity demands space for a contrary view.

Despite assertions to the contrary, there is no specific scriptural reference to same-sex marriage, so therefore, the ACANZ panel which is currently engaged on this and other similar issues at the moment, needs to be allowed to continue their studies and to be heard. Am I not correct?

Whatever the 'Church' (and there is no united voice) thinks about this, it has obviously become a justice issue for ordinary people in the community. If the public sees this as a justice issue, then the Church - which is committed to justice - must be seen to listen to the arguments and not evade them.

Zane Elliott said...

when will you start to lend your cries of 'Justice' (at any cost) to the cause of incest?

Peter Carrell said...

Ron // Zane (with thanks to others for comments)

I do not disagree with you, Ron, that there should be freedom in society and in the church to debate these issues.

With Zane, I think there should be consistency too: when are we going to take up the cause of practisers of incest? After all, if we cannot rely on Scripture to tell us what is right and wrong re relationships, we have no moral compass to guide us re justice in these matters save for what seems right in our sight!

Anonymous said...

"Everything the State says is a lie, and everything it has it has stolen. The State is the coldest of all cold monsters. Coldly it lies, too; and this is the lie that creeps from it's mouth: 'I, the state, am the people'. Everything about it is false; it bites with stolen teeth." --- Friedrich Nietzsche.

Father Ron Smith said...

"With Zane, I think there should be consistency too: when are we going to take up the cause of practisers of incest?" - Peter Carrell -

Peter, I'm disappointed in you. How can you possibly compare the Gay issue with incest. I don't know of any Gay person who would champion the cause of incest. It is both a crime and an abomination.

Homosexuality is a naturally occurring phenomenon in a small proportion of the human population.
How can you compare the two states - even if you do not agree with the sex lives of Gay people?

Father Ron Smith said...

"Chris Finlayson is a practicing Roman Catholic and celibate."
- Andrei -

And good on him I say, Andrei. He is like many publicly-confessed Roman Catholics, who are careful to be seen to respect the official policy of their faith community.

However, whether, or not, many Roman Catholics choose to follow the Pope's take on contraception, might reveal a very different story. Selective morality would seem to be part and parcel of most religious communities - like with divorce, for instance.

It is very difficult for even avowed Christians to be free from sin. I guess that's why God sent Jesus to redeem us. Mind you, having said that, there are some Christians who feel so sinless that they feel qualified to stone other people, whose sins are more obvious

Saint Paul surely has insight when he said "My righteousness is as filthy rags".

God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

Anonymous said...

"there is no specific scriptural reference to same-sex marriage"

WRONG. There are references to homosexuality, and these are clear enough to cover so-called same-sex "marriage".

Lev. 18:22. Lev. 20:13. 1Cor. 6: 9-10. Rom. 1: 26-28

All of these verses condemn homosexuality. They do not mince words. No exceptions are made . The claim that they do not cover "loving marriage" is dishonest twaddle.

Covenant marriage is God's gift, and God alone can define it. And He has, clearly. One man with one women for life.

hogsters said...

Regarding Ron: Peter, I'm disappointed in you. How can you possibly compare the Gay issue with incest. I don't know of any Gay person who would champion the cause of incest. It is both a crime and an abomination.

Therein lies the rub. People do have opinions.

Anonymous said...

"homosexuality is a naturally occurring phenomenon"

Many things occur "naturally" that were not part of God's design.

The connection between incest and homosexuality is that both are perversions of God's original creation.

Andrei said...

Homosexuality is a naturally occurring phenomenon in a small proportion of the human population.

Maybe maybe not - the answer to this question will be determined by whoever shouts the loudest and not by rational discussion and logic.

But it is a side issue, the real issue is how do we raise the next generation to continue our nation into the future?

Now that incest story notes that it is a natural phenomena that a child raised apart from his or her biological parent of the opposite sex has a strong sexual attraction to that parent when they meet as adults - an attraction that is reciprocated and therefore using the exact same logic that demands same sex marriages we have an argument for incestuous ones.

Indeed this parent/child attraction thing is also well documented in siblings raised apart.

Which begins to suggest a very real dragons lurk in the realms of using "reproductive technology" to provide babies for same sex couples - I was reading not so long ago of a sperm donor in the US who has sired several hundred children, lots of little half siblings unaware of their blood relationship growing up in what may well be the same circles.

Uh oh

zane Elliott said...

on what basis can you claim incest is an abomination? You use such strong langauge, why can't you love these people like you love homosexuals?

I fail to see how you can cry for justice for one group based on freedom and love in Christ, but not another.

This article ( that the attraction between those practising incest may be more natural than you think, and even genetically influenced....

I don't agree obviously, I think that this is shameful and contrary to the intended created order, I think this is a gross perversion of God's intention, and an affront to God's very nature; but I can't see on what grounds you can possibly argue the same viewpoint about this practice as I do.

You have embraced and advocated for one practice called an 'abomination' in Scripture and which is deemed as wrong by the law of Moses and is condemned by Paul, can you really not see how both fit those criteria?

If you truly pursue liberty for one practice that was traditionally considered to be sinful, can you not pursue liberty for the others?

Bryden Black said...

A few key observations:

1. Kierkegaard “is from the very beginning setting his face against some of modernity’s most cherished assumptions. In particular, he is taking issue with the modern aspiration to autonomy, an assumption that, from Kant to Sartre, sees only what we are able to think and do for ourselves as humanly valuable. As Sartre would put it, “You are the sum of your actions” - but for Kierkegaard we are never able to think or to do anything if we have not first been given and accepted the gift of being. We only “are” on the basis of life being given us in the first place. Of course, we must accept the gift and, as these discourses show, Kierkegaard was well aware of the many strategies by which people seek to evade the responsibility involved in such acceptance and how prone they are to indulge more or less disreputable fantasies about how much better life would be if they were somewhere else or someone else. In this Kierkegaardian perspective, then, acceptance is the first and most difficult of all the tasks with which life confronts us.” And: “We don’t want to be as nature intended us to be; instead, we want to choose the values and the projects in which we find
fulfilment so as to be fulfilled only on our own terms.” So George Pattison [current Lady Margaret Prof in Oxford] in his introduction to Søren Kierkegaard, Spiritual Writings: Gift, Creation, Love - Selections from the Upbuilding Discourses (Harper, 2010), pp.xix-xx, xxi.

2. “No reasonable grounds”: Ms Wall. Well, not only has Peter correctly and judiciously pointed out many a non-sequitur in her form of words. There’s the simple and single matter of Reason at all. Hence the quote about Kierkegaard above. For at root, even in our so-called postmodern age, humans need to ground reason itself: by what authority might we/they use it?! Of course the answer lies in some form of transcendental reference to Mind Itself, as the history of philosophy has again and again pointed out. So the Church has an indispensable part to play here - if only it knew how to do so ...

3. Ron; there is MUCH in Scripture that both explicitly and implicitly denies the conjoining of two people of the same gender. In the same way as one establishes the doctrine of the Trinity from off the texts Scripture, constructing a due interpretation of the whole, so too MANY have now formulated a judicious enough view that a homosexual orientation (whatever its exact aetiology) is yet another expression of fallen human nature - even if a very profound and intimate one - so that its fulfilment in same-sex activity is a tragic irony.

Anonymous said...

"Mind you, having said that, there are some Christians who feel so sinless that they feel qualified to stone other people, whose sins are more obvious"

You do a fair bit of verbal stoning yourself against those who oppose homosexual marriage.

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
There are differences between different groups in society (e.g. gay men who wish to 'marry' other men, and brothers who wish to marry sisters). My remarks were not intended to equate one group with another, least of all if each group wishes to identify themselves as different to other potentially comparable groups.

What my remarks (and other comments in this thread) are seeking to do, is to test the ideas being advanced in favour of gay 'marriage': on the one hand there is the question of 'argument' being brought forward in parliament, e.g. by Louisa Wall, with the question whether it is a good argument or not (to the extent that it is about 'inclusion' it is not a good argument as the amendment would still exclude polygamists); on the other hand is the question of 'authorisation' being raised concerning the life of the church. May priests bless relationship X and relationship Y but not Z? If so, what is the authority for this? Once we say that Scripture is not relevant to the possibility of blessing a same sex relationship we move into territory where Scripture is no longer relevant to the possibility of blessing an incestuous relationship or a polygamous one. Thus the need for good authority re 'authorisation' is urgently raised. So far, you have given the reason that some relationships are 'natural' but others are not. On what grounds in your view is incest unnatural?

Rather than being disappointed in me, I would worry about whether your arguments are substantial or not!

Anonymous said...


What Ron is doing is called cherry picking. The irony is that Scripture uses the term abomination for homosexuality.

Your correct to point out the hypocrisy of liberalism on issues it claims are about "justice".

Once we leave behind the objective moral standards of God's Word we are left with nothing more than the constantly shifting sands of public fashion and the propaganda of the State.

Liberals have no logical, rational, objective basis on which to distinguish between incest or homosexuality, or for that matter transgenderism, cross dressing, pedophilia, rape or any other sexual phenomenon.

It is merely a case of selective double standards in the service of a dishonest and Godless ideology.

Andrei said...

However, whether, or not, many Roman Catholics choose to follow the Pope's take on contraception, might reveal a very different story. Selective morality would seem to be part and parcel of most religious communities - like with divorce, for instance.

My only response to that Fr Ron is note that next Sunday in New Zealand there will be more Catholics at mass than Anglicans in their pews.

And despite the fact that Catholics may not strictly adhere to the Churches teaching on contraception almost certainly more Catholic Baptisms take place than Anglican ones, the numbers of Anglican ones may be boosted by cultural Anglicans who will not darken the doors of a church again until the next wedding or funeral occurs in their lives.

The Catholic church despite the use of contraceptives by its members is showing a modest growth - whereas the Anglican Church where their use is blessed is in a state of near collapse. Indeed when the Anglican Church permitted the use of contraceptives in the 1930s, the first major Christian denomination to do so, a stinging editorial in the Washington Post no less, suggested that denominational decline would be the inevitable result of this development.

Dismissed as scaremongering at the time no doubt

Tim Chesterton said...

Ron said, Homosexuality is a naturally occurring phenomenon in a small proportion of the human population.

Ron, I have a great deal of sympathy for your desire to reach out to gay and lesbian people - as you know, I have the best of personal reasons for wanting to do so - but this is not a good argument. After all, sinfulness is also a naturally occurring phenomenon in 100% of the human population, but I do not conclude that this means it is God's desire for us. Rather, I conclude that it is evidence of the brokenness of God's creation due to the power of evil.

Deciding whether or not homosexuality is a part of God's plan or a symptom of fallenness is very important, but the mere fact of its natural occurrence is not a conclusive argument.

Anonymous said...

We keep being told by liberal propagandists that this is just about "two people who love each other wanting to marry".

Oh really?

Children should not be subject to liberal/radical social experiments whos outcomes are totally unknown. They are not pawns to be used in the Liberal-Left's anti-Christian culture war. They are not trophies for liberal homosexuals to parade around Ponsonby or Wellington Central.

Bryden Black said...

Fr Ron: “... it has obviously become a justice issue for ordinary people in the community. If the public sees this as a justice issue, then the Church - which is committed to justice - must be seen to listen to the arguments and not evade them.”

At first blush you are absolutely right Ron; this is how things appear. Yet it is precisely the Church who must also ‘discern’ the authority of the arguments presented, not only the apparent immediate cogency of the arguments themselves.

For latent in that word “authority” is the notion of source. It is not an idle thing to point out that one of Alasdair MacIntyre’s seminal trilogy is entitled Whose Justice? Which Rationality? (1988). Even from this title alone (though I suggest the entire book naturally!) it’s thereafter not hard to see arguments alone will not suffice. One has to examine also - by bringing laboriously to light, which is often something of an archaeological, genealogical task - the very premises of those arguments (part of the role of the book).

In which case, many of those who support gay marriage (and much else besides) do so from the premise of most who inhabit contemporary western culture with its liberal democracy, itself premised nowadays on the autonomy of the individual human subject. It is this bedrock notion that conflicts head-on with the entire Catholic Christian Tradition. “Justice” is simply NOT an unequivocal notion ...

Anonymous said...

Justice is defined by Scripture alone, not by the fashions and delusions of the masses who are easily fooled and, prone to swallowing whatever facile propaganda is fed to them by politicians and the mainstream media.

Anonymous said...

Jacinda Adern predictably trots out the argument that current adoption laws are "discriminatory".

But unless she intends to open adoption up to anyone at all, such as murderers or child molesters, then it will still be discriminatory even if homosexuals are included. Thus her argument is a lie.

Now I expect lies and deception from the Labour party. The nine years of the Clark regime exposed Labour as corrupt, criminal, dishonest, and morally bankrupt. And a Party that gleefully supports the mass murder of children in the womb is hardly going to care about the well-being of children in any circumstances.

Still, is it too much to ask that they at least pretend to have an actual argument, rather than insulting us with facile crap?

As an adopted child myself I take particular and personal offense at this bill. It is evil and indefensible.

There are times when imprecatory prayers are legitimate. We now have two Labour Party bills aimed at the destruction of true marriage and the abuse of children as pawns in Labour's war against the family.

With that in mind perhaps it is time to ask God to curse Labour, root and branch, and make it wither and die, that it's evil may no longer threaten our nation.

Andrei said...

Parliament to debate same sex adoption

What is wrong with this picture - an unmarried mid thirties woman from an electorate that probably has the least number of children in any electorate in the land, along with the highest homosexual population has put before parliament a Bill: "Care of Children Law Reform Bill".

You might ask what does this woman know about the "care of children".

As far as we can tell she has had very little to do with children in the course of her life.

So how can she in all honesty set herself up to dictate how they might be raised?

Anonymous said...

New Zealand has been a largely secular society for a good while now, and the trend has accelerated in the past generation, with most people under 25 being unchurched and drawing their world view from secular education, TV punditry and erotically-charged "entertainment". Whatever their intentions,religious liberals like Glyn Cardy and the more conservative Mr Smith only succeed in carrying water for secular liberalism, without any deep apprehension of the lostness of mankind without the grace of Christ and the urgency of the call to faith and repentance. Does anyone seriously wonder what influence Tim Barnett had on Jonathan Kirkpatrick and how these essentially unbelieving ideas have permeated into church culture? No, this isn't your father's Anglo-Catholicism!

Father Ron Smith said...

"Once we say that Scripture is not relevant to the possibility of blessing a same sex relationship we move into territory where Scripture is no longer relevant to the possibility of blessing an incestuous relationship or a polygamous one."
- Dr. peter Carrell -

Peterm before we progress further on this argument; are there any instances of seemingly-approved polygamy or incest in the old testament?

In fact, if the Creation story is correct, with adam and Eve being the first two human beings on earth,it would seem that Cain, after killing Abel, must have gone away and married his sister. Either that, or Adam and Eve were not the only 'first people' on earth.

And what about all that marrying of a dead brother's wife? Or the many wives of the patriarchs?

One just cannot take the Bible literally. End of story.

Father Ron Smith said...

"You might ask what does this woman know about the "care of children".
- andrei -

Aren't we rather jumping to conclusions here. What do you know, personally, of Ms Wall's family circumstances. Was she, perhaps, brought up in a large family, where she had to help care for children of her whanau. This was my own situation, and I probably know more about bringing up children than some married couples.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron

Andrei is talking about Jacinda Ardern who is well known as both a single woman and as a woman without children. It is Jacinda Ardern who is sponsoring the bill re same sex adoption, not Louisa Wall.

Father Ron Smith said...

"Justice” is simply NOT an unequivocal notion" Bryden Black -

Indeed! One only has to look at the Solomonic decision on the baby who was mistakenly claimed by a bereaved mother.

However, God has challenged his children and the followers of Jesus to 'seek justice' - wherever we find injustice. And the Churches' treatment of intrinsically-ordered LGBT persons seemss to me - and to many other followers of Jesus, to be manifestly unjust.

Even your mentor, Dr. Rowan Williams - at whose feet you once sat as a student - believes that. As witness his seminal essay - published before he became ABC - entitled 'The Body's Grace' in which he affirmed the integrity of same-sex monogamous relationships akin to marriage.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
The use of the Bible as the Holy Scripture of the Christian church means that we read the Bible on matters of Christian living as a whole book, Old Testament and New Testament. While there are instances in the Old Testament in which God approved or at least tolerated polygamy and incest, there are no instances in the New Testament of polygamy being approved, nor of incest (indeed 1 Corinthians 5 is an explicit rejection of incest).

I personally take the Bible quite literally. When the Bible tells me that God is love, I believe it. Do you?

Father Ron Smith said...

"I personally take the Bible quite literally. When the Bible tells me that God is love, I believe it. Do you?" - Dr. Peter Carrell -

Yes, Peter. I would use the same words, here, as you do - excepting that I would omit the full-stop after the word 'literally', continuing with the word 'when' in lower case.

That covered. Do you still think the world was created in 7 days? Literally, I mean?

Peter Carrell said...

Sometimes, Ron, one reading clashes with another reading, so we are invited to move from an initial disposition to take the Bible literally (as we should, for it is God speaking to us, and I think he would get tired if we kept interrupting and asking what he means), to penetrate to a deeper literal reading. In the case of the account of creation in Genesis 1 and 2 we have two perspectives bound into one account. In the first perspective the creation takes place with humanity as its culmination at the end of one unit of time (a week) and in the second perspective the creation is centred on humanity and takes place over a different unit of time (a day). These two perspectives invite us to understand that the literal truth revealed to us does not concern time-keeping, but who the author of time and creation is, God who is God of the universe, as well as of Israel. In other words I have no idea from the Bible how long creation took in respect of time-keeping, but I have a clear idea who the creator is and what the creation is purposed to achieve, humanity.

Anonymous said...


On the issue of Genesis. Contrary to the views of both young earth creationists and liberals Genesis dies not teach that the earth was created in seven solar days. The fact that the sun is not mentioned until the fourth "day" should be a clue.

On your claim that the Bible cannot be " taken literally. End of story" I do not think you understand the implications of that statement. If you choose not to take one part literally then many of the things you claim to believe go out the door.

Thus Jesus did not rise from the dead. The bread and wine do not become the body and blood of Christ. God is not love. And we Christians are just fooling ourselves.

You cannot have it both ways. If you believe that Jesus really, literally rose from the dead, if you believe that the bread and wine really and literally become the body and blood of Christ, if you believe that God is literally a God of love and justice, then you are taking Scripture literally.

Thus your statement to Peter about Scripture is meaningless. The problem is you want to be selective, which does not work. Hack away at the literal truth of one part and ALL of it falls.

Nor can you bring your version of "reason" in to justify your selectiveness. A purely rational approach would dismiss the resurrection as myth.

One minute your insisting that we take the Bible literally on God's love and justice and on the Eucharist, the next your insisting that we must not take it literally at all.

Which of these totally contradictory viewpoints do you really believe?

Anonymous said...

People, you allow Mr Smith to set the agenda with his verbal blunderbuss. Noli cibum trollo dare. Solomon was not always wise, but he has some words on answering people.

Bryden, as a (critical) fan of both Kierkegaard and Macintyre, I sense a kindred spirit in you. K. saw beneath the comfortable self-delusions and complacency of respectable, 'Enlightened' society, while Mcintyre, en route back to Christianity, punctured the idea that 'reason' and 'justice' were self-evident 'clear and distinct ideas'. In any case, Aristotelian virtue isn't enough for the world; faith, hope and love are essential for a truly human society. Chesterton has some terrific words on this in ch. 3 (I think) of 'Heretics', which I've been listening to online.
As for 'nature', incest and all the rest, what can one say? Incest is common and 'natural' to all kinds of animals, as any pet owner or farmer knows. Do we draw a moral from this for human beings? Does anyone find animal incest 'abominable'? If not, why? & what does 'nature' denote? Modern secularists are not Platonists or Stoics and wouldn't subscribe to the idea that there is a given order (given by a Mens Creatrix) to the world. If that is so, whatever is found in 'nature' is 'natural'. There is simply Evolution by "Natural Selection", but we mustn't make the mistake of thinking there is some hypostasis called Nature that 'selects' in the way I select breakfast cereal. The whole thing is simply the purposeless and impersonal operation of physical laws.
.....But if our minds are not simply the epiphenomena of our brains and there is a qualitative difference between humans and animals, then discussion of 'nature', 'justice' and 'reason' belongs on a different plane altogether.
As for Chris Finlayson: if he is a 'non-practicing gay', that would make me a 'non-practicing adulterer' and a host of other things.


Anonymous said...

The Bible says God created the world in six days, not seven. I wish people would learn to read it literally.

What does 'literally' mean? Read Augustine, Confessions Bk XI for his *ancient* understanding of Genesis 1 (on the relation of creation to time - Augustine was way ahead of his 'time'!) or his De Genesi ad Literam.
It is tiresome to come across so little understanding of classical hermeneutics. For a fine (and free!) primer in conservative hermeneutics, log on to the lectures by Robert Stein on the website.

hogsters said...

Re Ron: In fact, if the Creation story is correct, with adam and Eve being the first two human beings on earth,it would seem that Cain, after killing Abel, must have gone away and married his sister. Either that, or Adam and Eve were not the only 'first people' on earth.

I find it hard to believe you would even put up that argument. Mind you maybe you are a closet literalist.

Ron Have a close look at the test in Genisis 4 vs 17. Cain knew his wife, and she conceived and bore Enoch: and he built a city and named it after Enoch.

Either: Cain and his wife were very busy indeed, it was a very small city, there were other people around.

Literalism can always be trotted out when convenient.


Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, I must say that I find your explanation of the necessity for a non-literal reading (discernment) of the Scriptures much more credible than others on this thread. I affirm your statement, for instance, that:

"These two (creation) perspectives invite us to understand that the literal truth revealed to us does not concern time-keeping, but who the author of time and creation is"

However, here again, we have real problems with the use of the word 'literal'. To read the two creation stories literally - as some here seem to do - would be to contrast one version of the creation against another, deciding for one's self which to believe.

I agree with you, that discernment of the deeper meaning of the
Scriptures - both OT and NT - requires more than just a quasi-historical 'literal' reading of any passage. It would appear that some of your correspondents have never heard of authentic biblical criticism.

An appreciation of the Bible Message also requires an openness to the 'new revelation' forecast by Jesus in John 16: 8-15. The Holy Spirit is still working to reveal to us the whole Truth about Jesus and about our possibly mistaken ideas of what 'Sin' is all about.

liturgy said...

Sorry, people – but you just cannot have this all both ways.

Peter, you cannot make God speak in contradiction to himself one page directly after the other. "Evening and morning" is a temporal expression which defines each "day" of creation as a literal day. It cannot be made to mean anything else. It is irrelevant that the sun is created on day 4. These people did not know the science of light, its source, the nature of the sun or our solar system and planet. And God, speaking as you say he is, does not enlighten (pun) their confusion.

Where does it say that Genesis 2 is “one day” as you insist – contradicting Genesis 1?!

Please quote a Reformer, of whom many here are so fond, who regards Genesis 1 as speaking of anything other than 24 hour days. Why is their exegesis of Genesis suddenly abandoned when it becomes inconvenient?

Luther: "We assert that Moses spoke in the literal sense, not allegorically or figuratively, i.e., that the world, with all its creatures, was created within six days, as the words read." Lectures on Genesis 1:5. See also 1:42 that these each Genesis 1 day "consists of twenty-four hours".

Honesty and consistency please.



Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
I am not aware of how the Reformers dealt with Genesis 2, even as, clearly, they dealt with Genesis 1 in the way you exemplify through citation.

Agreed, one could take Genesis 2 in a different way to my proposal that it is a 'one day' creation narrative. Nevertheless, whether we do, or do not use the term 'contradiction', I suggest we are presented with two different perspectives on the creation in these two chapters, highlighted by the appearance of humanity in each case (G1: culmination, male and female together; G2: centrepiece, male created separately to female).

The two perspective invite us to probe deeply into the narrative which is presented as one narrative. Even the Reformers, I suggest, had some grasp of the challenge of seeming contradictions within Scripture.

Anonymous said...

Whenevil we get honesty and consistency from liberals Bosco?

One minute Ron claims one part if Scripture must be taken literally, the next ge demands that another part be considered mythical or outdated. Then when that argument fails he trots out "new revelations" by which he really means liberal ideology.

Consistency and honesty? Yeah right.

I have read extensively on the issue of Genesis and creationism and your claim that it does mean seven solar days is simply wrong.

The Church Fathers and Reformers took a variety of views. Demanding that those of us who are Reformed only accept one is rather petulant, and frankly just silly game playing.

I am happy tto take Genesis literally, all of it. But I reject your claim that this requires understanding the "week" as actual solar days.

I don't take demands from liberals. I certainly do not take petulant demands from those who show no honesty or consistency, who do not even respect Scripture, but abuse it in the service if advancing whatever evil or perversion is currently fashionable amongst liberal elites.

When you or Ron can show me one single place where Scripture says anything positive about homosexuality I might take your demands seriously.

I won't hold my breath.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Shawn,
Your comment above just sneaks past moderational editing ... take care re words like 'petulant' (implies a certain judgement which might or might not be borne out by the facts of the state of mind of the other person) ... also re running two people together, one of whom may not have claimed or self-identified as 'liberal' and the other who has done so ...

Anonymous said...


I'll take your demand for honesty and consistency seriously when I see either from Liberals.

Ron shows neither. Ge demands we take Scripture literally in one place one day, then not in another place te next day, then a day later demands that none of it ge taken literally. When these laughable contradictions are exposed he trots out " new revelations". The fact his "new revelations" contradict Scripture dies not worry him at all. The fact that everyone else can see that his "new revelations" are nothing more than Liberal political ideology also does not seem to concern him.

Honesty and consistency? Please! Pull the other one mate. It has bells on it.

I am happy to take Genesis literally, but contrary to your facile claim this does not require seven solar days, and yes, the fact. that the sun dies not appear until day four IS important. I have read extensively on the subject of creationism for many years, and I feel quite safe in rejecting your claims.

As to the petulant demand that those of us who are Reformed take everything the Reformers said as though it had the same weight as Scripture, I'll take your demand seriously when you can show me one single positive statement about homosexuality in Scripture.

I won't hold my breath.

liturgy said...

Thanks, Peter, for your moderating comments.

Rather than presenting my own position on Genesis I am trying to press through logical consequences of others and I cannot see any justification for altering the understanding of evening/morning/day to be anything other than – a day. Uncomfortable and tirade-inducing though that reading might be in the 21st century [“day” doesn’t mean day; but, and here’s the centrally important thing the Bible is totally clear about, “homosexual” does mean homosexual].

So, Peter, if Genesis 2 is also a day, then I struggle why that’s not just read as detailing day 6 of Genesis 1? Where is this contradiction that you are seeing that leads you “to probe deeply”– following the methodology of your reading.


Anonymous said...

Hi Peter,

No problem. As my wife says, it's time to dial down the caffiene :)

Also sorry for the double post. Something went wrong with the first attempt and I thought it had failed.

I'll be off posting for a few days now as I have assignments to do.

Have a good weekend all.

Paul Powers said...

" "Evening and morning" is a temporal expression which defines each "day" of creation as a literal day. It cannot be made to mean anything else. It is irrelevant that the sun is created on day 4.

Not necessarily. It's possible that there were periods of darkness and light (evening and morning) that were caused by something other than the earth's rotation, in which case a "day" might be several million years long.

That said, I think there's a danger in getting too bogged down with concerns about the historical accuracy of the Genesis account of the Creation and Fall. If we don't see ourselves in Adam (and in Eve), I think we're missing the point.

On the other hand, I must admit to an inconsistency that I haven't figured out how to resolve: I am willing to accept the idea that the story of Adam and Eve is some sort of parable, but I cannot accept the idea that the bodily resurrection of Jesus is anything but a historical fact.

Bryden Black said...

In answer to Ron @ August 30, 2012 9:05 PM

Re RDW. Fortunately, I have been blessed to sit at the feet of a number of excellent teachers amongst whom I’d list Rowan Williams. Thereafter, I have naturally encountered this essay you speak of; it’s often waved around. And I have too my own copy of this “exploration”. Although what exactly it is supposed to prove I am not sure! Sarah’s experience of seduction, and her supposed “discovery”, which gives way to the essay’s title, is hardly an auspicious move, frankly! That said, there is the truth nonetheless, first extensively worked by St Augustine, that we humans are indeed “desired” by the triune God. And so desired that this God should become one with us, one with all our very materiality and even fallenness, that we might become one with him.

However, NONE of this suggests properly the extension of such “desire” and “joy” in ‘self-abandonment to the other’ to same-sexed partnerships. And for one real reason which Williams strenuously avoids in this essay: “a picture of what sexuality might mean at its most comprehensive” is surely reproductive, one where procreation is not sidelined but viewed as a necessary and integral element of the whole - including the discovery of the joy Williams so earnestly desires; to be sure! “Our [human] bodily selves mean” at least this much too, and in countless cultures - surely. For the “language of creation and redemption” is, at the very least, fruitful, both literally and metaphorically. And if it is viewed only so in the latter sense, divorced from the former, then that is precisely Gnostic - ever the temptation of the abstract academic view! For overall, he erects here a strawman view of the heterosexual “norm” which is as bourgeois as it is crass: “Marxist” “material” “production” be damned! It is not for nothing that others in my “list” of mentors have become increasingly “exasperated” (the word used by two of them independently of each other recently!) with him over the years.

Re “justice”. You said earlier, “then the Church - which is committed to justice - must be seen to listen to the arguments and not evade them.” Well; please do not evade the careful work of a MacIntyre quite so glibly ... Which is what your reply surely does ...! What constitutes “injustice” is merely the flip-side of “justice”. And you have argued not at all; only, one more time, asserted!

Anonymous said...

Hi Bosco,

The Hebrew word 'yom' that is translated as day does have several meanings in Scripture. I recommend Francis Schaeffer's book 'Genesis in space and time' for a good exposition on the subject. I don't think anyone could doubt his credentials as a very conservative Reformed theologian.

Thankfully Scripture gives us a very clear definition if "homosexual". In both Leviticus and Romans. It is defined as men lying with men and women lying with women. I do not se how there is any confusion on that.

My "tirade" as you put it was aimed at your demand of honesty and consistency.

I take exception to that as I think it amusing that those who promote Church acceptance of homosexuality are the ones engaging in dishonest and inconsistent approaches to Scripture.

Or in simple terms: Pot. Kettle. Black.

Bryden Black said...

Hi Bosco!

Although frankly, I find this entire debate re “literalism” rather tedious, as it is so trapped by simplistic contemporary views as you say, if you want the Reformers’ views, Calvin is rather helpful I find.

His principle of “accommodation” is the guide here. I quote: “Thus such forms of speaking do not so much express clearly what God is like as accommodate the knowledge of him to our slight capacity. To do this he must descend far beneath his loftiness.” (Institutes I, xiii, 1) I.e. God is gracious in his revelation.

That is, when we examine Genesis 1's depiction of creation, there’s the rather crucial question to ask: what function is the 7 day format performing that God accommodates to such a literary process?! And for my money, two rather helpful answers prevail. (1) John Walton’s The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate (2009). (2) Neil MacDonald’s Metaphysics and the God of Israel: Systematic Theology of the Old and New Testaments (2006).

Talk of “days” might be literal; the week’s Sabbath is literal too! But establishing the form and function of the cosmos by filling the universe and the earth with its functionaries may take ... who knows how long?! (A very modern question ...) The point is we now have God’s temple in place: so get worshiping on that very Sabbath - and beyond! Such is the “theatre of God’s glory” after all - after Calvin once more.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
Other comments made recently here about 'day' noted and appreciated.

Yes, it is possible to think of G2 as an expansion of D6 of the week of creation. But if it is it does offer some differences about the coming into being of creation which are not easy (in my view) to reconcile with the coming into being of creation according to G1. Thus G2:4 offers 'in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens ...' with no plants etc, but man appears quickly on the scene.

Another observation: in contrast to some other commenters here, I do take the 'day/night' of G1 (and the six/seven days) as days/nights/a week within the narrative itself (whether or not sun or more is yet created). The question is whether this particular narrative is then also intended to be understood as a chronologically accurate account, and the question arises, not simply because of subsequent developments in science, but also because of G2:4 onwards.

That time gets played around a bit in Scripture is not confined to these two chapters. Luke offers Luke 24 as a 'long day' re resurrection-ascension, and then in Acts 1 tells us that there were 40 days from resurrection to ascension!

None of this 'play' on words, stops the Bible being quite clear and specific on other matters. 'Do not commit adultery' means what it says: I should not be unfaithful to my wife. No excuses and explanations relying on a metaphorical understanding of the commandment apply.

Father Ron Smith said...

" I am willing to accept the idea that the story of Adam and Eve is some sort of parable, but I cannot accept the idea that the bodily resurrection of Jesus is anything but a historical fact."
- Paul Powers -

In this statement, Paul, I am your ally. I believe in the creedal statements about the conception; life and death; bodily resurrection and ascension of Jesus. I have problems with the literal reality of Adam and Eve - except as a paradigm of human beginnings.

Father Ron Smith said...

Having gone over this conversation again, Peter, I noticed this remark from you:

" In the case of the account of creation in Genesis 1 and 2 we have two perspectives bound into one account." - P.C. -

And is this not the problem with the literal reading of Scriptures: the fact that ALL of it is written from a particular perspective - which may, or may not, fit in with what we now know about the cosmos, about human biology, and about own developing experience of the life of God within.

It is not as though we Christians are just interested bystanders. Many of us have a life-or-death need to actually experience the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We are not all intellectual dilettantes or masters of scholarly didactic.

Many of us help to struggle with the day-to-day difficulties and trials of other persons' lives - trying to make sense of them, in the light of our personal Faith mechanisms - a task which needs more than just 'human wisdom'.

Sometimes, 'scholarly wisdom' - often obtained through reading the 'wisdom' of our favourite model - just does not 'cut the mustard'. as Saint Paul reminds us in today's Epistle:

'If anyone thinks of himself as wise, in the ordinary sense of the word, then he must learn to be a fool before he really can be wise. Why? Because the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God'. -
(1 Corinthians 3:18-19)

Today's Saint in our lectionary, is none other than St.Aidan, who is described as "a gentle, ascetic and humble man, whose unassuming holiness readily won him the respect of others".

If only we were able to emulate such a model! The world might be won for Christ!

Anonymous said...

Bosco writes: "Please quote a Reformer, of whom many here are so fond, who regards Genesis 1 as speaking of anything other than 24 hour days. Why is their exegesis of Genesis suddenly abandoned when it becomes inconvenient?"

I don't think the Reformers differed much, if at all, from the Church Fathers, of which a few hgere are so fond, as regards Genesis 1 - look at the various Hexamera since Basil.
But as I've pointed out, Augustine (a man well versed in the rhetoric of antiquity) believed in instantaneous creation (not evolution) and didn't take Genesis 1 as 'literal' but as the poetic expression of a theological truth; have a look at Confessions XI-XII (the chapters nobody reads today!). Which is to say: within Gen 1, a day means a day, but Gen 1 has a larger context for interpretation. Look at the notes in the NIV Study Bible or the Word Commentary of Prof Gordon McConville for how contemporary evangelicals respond to the evident poetics of the text (and I say this as a Hebraist).
Still, Luther was not Calvin. Already in his commentary on Genesis Calvin was responding to the findings of astronomy about the mass of planets and their revolution, and he was exploring the phenomenological character of language. He wasn't so different from Galileo in his letter to the Grand Duchess Christina.
Questions about the actual age of the earth didn't impinge on men for another two centuries or more.
Two questions still remain which can't be dismissed easily.
1. Did Adam and Eve exist as historical persons?
2. Was there a historical 'Fall'?
Christian theology has historically answered yes to both questions.

Father Ron Smith said...

"Two questions still remain which can't be dismissed easily.
1. Did Adam and Eve exist as historical persons?
2. Was there a historical 'Fall'?
Christian theology has historically answered yes to both questions."
- Martin -

I would remind Martin that myth is not necessarily untruth. The word simply helps us understand the real facts of how humanity has found the mystery of God's activity in the cosmos. This is perhaps the reason why Jesus mostly taught in parables - to avoid the possiblity of some future theologian wanting to set in concrete the elements of what was intended to be the lesson taught.

Of course, the Christian message is predicated on the need for God's redemption of the fallen. Why else would the Gospel of Christ have become necessary? The Adam and Eve myth is the best way to tell the story of how the Fall happened.

The great blessing out of all of this, is not how humanity fell from grace, but how God set about redeeming us

Father Ron Smith said...

I have noted your dismissal of the real substance of ++Rowans's essay on 'The body's Grace', Bryden; but perhaps you'll forgive me if I accept the author's version rather than your own. My opinion is that he has not changed his mind on the substance of his acceptance of the integrity of Same-Sex relationships

I believe - together with many others in the Church - that, in the light of objections voiced by certain Global South prelates; ++Rowan felt he had to defer to their specific cultural objections in the interests of maintaining ecclesial unity - at the cost of his own theological opinion!

I'm sure we haven't heard the last from ++Rowan on this issue. Having decided to step down from being Primus-inter-pares, he may feel more able to speak his true mind, from the less-fraught background of the academic world.

Bryden Black said...

Two brief responses, Ron.

1. And so, what then is the “real substance” of Williams’ exploratory essay?

2. Are the “objections” of the grand majority of the GSA world merely “cultural”? I ask, because might they not say the same of your own “views”? In which case, what’s to decide between their culture and your own?

Anonymous said...

Ron once again trots out his selective approach to Scripture. And once again I point out that one casnit pick and choose what is true and what is myth. Because it is nothing more than a self-serving abuse of God's Word.

How does Ron, or any liberal, decide that Adam and Eve are a myth, but the resurrection is not?

How? By elevating themselves above God. By elevating their own wisdom above that of the Holy Spirit. This arrogance and self-idolatry is breathtaking.

For it is God Himself who "breathed out" every word of Scripture. It is the Holy Spirit who speaks in every word.

The Liberal approach to Scripture promoted by Ron turns God into a liar, whose lies have to be corrected by the oh so very wise and enlightened "reason" of Western urban latte liberals.

We will nit win the world fir Christ by promoting the failed ideology of arrogant and idolatrous Liberalusm.

It us a cancer and it does what all cancers do, it kills it's host body.

In every church and every denomination in which Liberalism has gained sway it has emptied churches. Liberalism lost the Western world. It has had no success in bringing new people to Christ.

Throughout the world, in Asia, in Africa, and in the West, it is those churches who take the conservative Evangelical understanding of Scripture that are expanding and bringing millions to Christ, while dying liberal churches spend resources and mission work on advancing homosexuality and liberal politics.

It takes a special level of self-delusion to pretend otherwise. As we saw with the current leader of TEC, when confronted with the truth that her Church us broke and dying, she had no answer, only delusional fantasies.

Ron talks about the need to experience the Holy Spirit.

But how can anyone do so when they reject the very words the Holy Spirit breathed out? Why would the Spirit even bother to dwell in such people?

God us not mocked.

Father Ron Smith said...

"How does Ron, or any liberal, decide that Adam and Eve are a myth, but the resurrection is not?"

From the old hymn, Shawn:

"Experience will decide, how blest are they, and only they, who in the Lord confide"

At the risk of sounding a wee bit superior. I have actually lived a pretty long life - much of it is service of 'The Master'. I don't claim any credit for myself - but only for "Christ dwelling in me".

Oh, and a few years of the active Franciscan Life - together will a little formal theological education, and lots of praxis. But most of all, in prayer, praise and thanksgiving. Pax et Bonum!

Oh yes! I too am beginning to tire of the constant battle to deal with
the sort of ad hominem that is constantly poured out on 'liberals'

'Mine Host', Peter, is generally courteous, but I. Like Bosco, am weary of constant political clap-trap. This is not serious theology.

Anonymous said...

"How does Ron, or any liberal, decide that Adam and Eve are a myth, but the resurrection is not?"

With difficulty, or perhaps by not thinking things through but preserving a fundamentalist mind on this question.
If the study of science, history and philosophy convinces you that that Adam and Eve are mythological, it could (though I don't think it necessarily would) lead to the same conclusion, on the same principles, about the resurrection - as it did for Bultmann.
I know very little about anthropology but I understand that geneticists believe we all have a common ancestress at least.
BTW, I don't find 'myth' a very useful term for describing Gen 1-11 - as a teacher of classics, I find it carries too much freight from classical antiquity.

Father Ron Smith said...

"BTW, I don't find 'myth' a very useful term for describing Gen 1-11 - as a teacher of classics, I find it carries too much freight from classical antiquity."
- Martin -

For someone who had 'given up on conversing with me on this site, you're not doing too badly - except that a classical education doesn't necessarily make anyone an expert in theological praxis - where 'the rubber hits the road'. Pax et Bonum

Anonymous said...

"At the risk of sounding a wee bit superior"

That ship gas king since sailed Ron. Every post you make drips with your own self-proclaimed sense of superiority.

I don't fare how long you gave lived or what you have done. It proves nothing. I know plenty of Consevatives around your age who do not share your view, so what does your age prove?

I am weary of Liberal political clap-trap and the ad Hominem that YOU constantly pour out on us. THAT is not serious theology.

And you have failed to answer my question about how you decide what is myth and what is not in Scripture. Your "experience is not an answer, but merely convenient avoidance of the issue.

Do you have a serious theological answer to that question or not?

On the issue of ad Hominem. Pot. Kettle. Black.

If you don't like it, don't dish it out.

Nobody is forcing you or Bosco to post here. There are plenty of Liberal blogs on which you can rant about us ignorant and hateful fundamentalists to your hearts content.

Janice said...

Regarding age, all I can say for myself is that the older I get the less I know I know, the more I know I don't know and as for the stuff I don't know I don't know, well, I don't know anything about that at all.

Of course, all that depends on the meaning of the word 'know'. Do I 'know' the sun will come up tomorrow? According to some that is something I can't 'know' until after it happens. (It's a handy debating point for those who wish to offer a form of intellectual justification for agnosticism.) According to others it is something I can 'know' because the sun comes up every day and we have no reason to believe anything will happen between now and tomorrow to prevent that.

If to 'know' is to have a justified true belief then there are things I used to think I knew but now I don't know them anymore because what I thought was a justified true belief has turned out not to be that at all. For instance, I used to 'know' that the creation story in Genesis was no more than "a tale told round a camp fire", or a myth if you like. But that was when I used to 'know' that 'science' had demonstrated that human beings descended from ape-like creatures, who had descended from some other sort of creature, all the way back to the first living cell which arose as the result of some fortuitous accident involving natural processes operating on lifeless matter. (This is what Kerkut called the General Theory of Evolution, as opposed to the Special Theory of Evolution which merely states that living creatures can undergo change sufficient to form new 'species'. And that's another word the meaning of which is unclear.)

Now I 'know', on the basis of logic, that 'science' can't demonstrate anything of the sort. That's assuming that 'science' means the investigation of indefinitely repeating natural events or processes in order to provide a description of how the event or process occurs. You know, the sort of investigations that gave us useful drugs and vaccines, electric lights, non-stick cookware, computers and space ships, the sort of investigations that most people think of when they think of 'science', and the ones that gave the word 'science' such cachet that everyone wants to, and does, use it to describe their own research causing philosophers of science such difficulty in deciding what is 'science' and what is not that they gave up on the "Demarcation Problem" decades ago.

There would be no talk of Adam and Eve being a myth but for the General Theory of Evolution which so many people, for so many years, have believed is a 'scientific' theory (and therefore given credence to) when, in fact, it is a theory about history. Yes, it uses evidence from 'science' but so do the theories that Abraham Lincoln had Marfan's Syndrome, that the Black Death was caused by Yersinia pestis (some now think it was caused by an Ebola-like virus) and that Jesus did not rise bodily from the grave.

As for the Special Theory of Evolution, it's only results are either trivial ('species' change) or they falsify the theory (there are limits to how much change can occur).

And as for Augustine, I know he said that God could have created in an instant, rather than in 6 days, but he also said this:
[W]hen they [non-believers] produce from any of their books a theory contrary to Scripture, and therefore contrary to the Catholic faith, either we shall have some ability to demonstrate that it is absolutely false, or at least we ourselves will hold it so without any shadow of a doubt. And we will so cling to our Mediator, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, that we will not be led astray by the glib talk of false philosophy or frightened by the superstition of false religion. (The Literal Meaning of Genesis. Book 1.)

Anonymous said...

Mr Smith, I asked you out of charity to ignore me and to cease passing personal comments about me. You have been unable or unwilling to do so, and I've found your responses frankly embarrassing, and unworthy of a senior minister. None of this helps me spiritually, so I'm going to drop out of this blog.
Thank you for hosting it, Peter.

Bryden Black said...

Shalom! Martin

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Martin,
I hope you might reconsider ... at least one day in the future, as I personally have valued your erudition and eloquence here immensely.
With warm regards