Daily Living on Mount Moriah: An Insight from Jacques Derrida

In his book The Gift of Death or Donner La Morte, Jacques Derrida interacts with Søren Kierkegaard’s pseudonymous work Fear and Trembling in which he examines the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac on Mount Moriah. Spoiler alert: In the end, Abraham does not kill his son. Still, the text suggests that he was willing to do so out of obedience to the God who brought him out of Chaldea and faith in this God’s promises of blessing, land, and abundant offspring through his son Isaac.

While Abraham is often and rightly presented as a hero of faith and even the father of the faithful, he is almost as often presented as an exception and extraordinary individual in extraordinary circumstances. As Kierkegaard’s pseudonym Johannes de Silentio notes after hearing a sermon on Abraham a pastor would be disturbed if one of his congregation told him that he felt called to sacrifice his child. So, yes, Abraham’s circumstances are extraordinary and exceptional.

Nevertheless, as Silentio explains, from an ethical perspective, Abraham is a murderer. Continue reading “Daily Living on Mount Moriah: An Insight from Jacques Derrida”

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Ham-Handed Hermeneutics VI: More Hippo, Less Ham

Or the Harmonization Temptation

This post continues and concludes (for now) my engagement with Augustine’s On the Literal Meaning of Genesis.
I simply want to note some of the intriguing and insightful elements in this work. I will give particular attention to Augustine’s suggestion that Genesis 1 presents God’s causal creation of all things, including human beings, while Genesis 2 describes the formal or material creation of human beings which for Augustine is God’s ongoing creative activity. Finally, I suggest that one of the errors that is common to Ham, Augustine and many errors is the desire to harmonize Genesis 1 and Genesis 2.

[For related Ham-Handed posts follow these links: Augustine IAugustine II, Augustine III)

Continue reading “Ham-Handed Hermeneutics VI: More Hippo, Less Ham”

Ham-Handed Hermeneutics V: Some Inconclusive Thoughts After Reading Augustine’s The Literal Meaning of Genesis

Having just finished reading Augustine’s On the Literal Meaning of Genesis, I offer some inconclusive thoughts on this little work. My comments are inconclusive because Augustine himself is far from conclusive on this subject.

Now, the original impetus for this series of posts was to test the assertion of Ken Ham, founder and spokesperson for the YEC movement Answers in Genesis, that the church has always interpreted the early chapters of Genesis “literally.” In the article that occassioned my response, James R. Mook writes,

In its first 16 centuries the church held to a young earth. Earth was several thousand years old, was created quickly in six 24-hour days, and was later submerged under a worldwide flood. (Page visited 11/23/2015)

Having made this bold claim, Mook immediately acknowledges that three of the most significant and influential church fathers Augustine of Hippo, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen of Alexandria read these passages allegorically. In addition, he notes that from 600-1517, or the Middle Ages, the church largely followed Augustine’s lead. (I will eventually look up Aquinas view, if he gave one.) So, Mook’s bold claim about “the church” holding to young earth and interpreting Genesis 1 as referring to six 24 hour days must be softened a bit, don’t you think? Continue reading “Ham-Handed Hermeneutics V: Some Inconclusive Thoughts After Reading Augustine’s The Literal Meaning of Genesis”

Shh . . . Don’t tell the theists! An Atheistic Evolutionary Argument for the Conspiratorial Perpetuation of Theism

Even in recent history, committed atheists are a relatively small number of the world’s population and some statistics show that as atheism rises in a particular culture so does superstition. Despite their small numbers, some committed atheists are a very vocal minority which in other posts I have referred to as “evangelical atheists” or EAs. That is, some atheists feel it is their duty to spread the good news of atheism.

The assumption is that if theists are awakened from this perceived delusion the world will be a better place, somehow. Public figures like the comedian Bill Maher seem to think that theism is the root of all evil and holds humanity back from our true potential.

Yet, I question the wisdom of awakening humanity from its religious dreams.

For the sake of argument, let us say that the atheists are correct. Let us say, there is no god, there are no gods, etc. Let us say that there is nothing but the material world and that what we call mind is simply an emergent quality that ultimately has a physical explanation.

Of course, if the atheists are correct, then belief in the supernatural, in gods, angels, demons, astrology, ghosts, bodhisattvas, etc. (let’s lump them altogether for the sake of argument) are a byproduct of our biological evolution. Indeed, our imaginations, our ability to imagine the past and future, to think in abstractions, to use metaphor, seems to be something that gives us a distinct advantage as a species.

So, what if theistic beliefs likewise gives us a survival advantage? Are Evangelistic Atheists engaging in a dangerous experiment that could threaten the survival of the human species? Continue reading “Shh . . . Don’t tell the theists! An Atheistic Evolutionary Argument for the Conspiratorial Perpetuation of Theism”

Ken Ham’s Doctrine of Accelerated Evolution or Supranatural Selection

One of the strangest elements of the teaching of Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis (and that’s saying something when you are talking about people who insist human beings and dinosaurs co-existed) is that with all the fuss they make over the theory of evolution, their position entails the acceptance of an accelerated evolutionary model.

Ham and the folks at AiG insist that the earth (and, indeed, the cosmos) is less than 7,000 years old. The cosmos originated in 4004 BC or 0 anno mundi (See their time-lines.) In keeping with their literalist interpretation of Genesis 1-11 and based on the well-known Noah story, they also insist that there was a global flood in 2348 BC. During this flood, Noah rescued 7,000 “kinds” of animals. Kinds should not be confused with the modern scientifc term species. Nevertheless, from these 7,000 kinds (which included some dinosaurs) all the land animals, aviary animals, and most of the amphibious animals are descended. Continue reading “Ken Ham’s Doctrine of Accelerated Evolution or Supranatural Selection”

An Unhappy Marriage I (or Atheists are from Mars and Young Earthers are from well Earth apparently)

By entering into the discussion of origins and the Bible, I am not particularly interested in addressing those who are actively promoting Young Earth Creationism. Rather, my intended audience consists of those who want to consider these questions and are open to the possibility that other options presented by confessing Christians who are experts in their fields may be viable alternatives to the stark either/or position proferred by people like Ken Ham.

However, as one can imagine, venturing into this conversation sometimes involves attempting to “converse” with YE evangelists on one side and the evangelistic atheists that YECs fear on the other side. What neither of these “groups” realize is how similar they really are. They are in a symbiotic relationship with one another but it is an unhealthy relationship. While they feed off one antother, like parasites they suck the life out of the rest of us and out of the Christianity, Science, and Reason they claim to defend. Continue reading “An Unhappy Marriage I (or Atheists are from Mars and Young Earthers are from well Earth apparently)”

Genesis 3: When is a Snake not merely a Snake?

While I highly recommend Michael Cosby’s Intepreting Biblical Literature (see my post on this textbook), I have yet to read a textbook where I agree with everything in it. In his chapter on the Primeval History or Genesis 1-11, Cosby writes the following, “The talking snake in Genesis 3:1-5 is merely that — a snake.”

So, when we get to this moment in a classroom setting, I usually put this quote on the screen followed by the question in my title:

When is a snake not just a snake?  Continue reading “Genesis 3: When is a Snake not merely a Snake?”

Ken Ham on Homo Naledi: See No Evidence, Hear No Evidence, Speak No Truth

Today’s Reading: Psalm 115 & Jeremiah 7:4

Having read the post on Naturalis Historia about the release of information on H. naledi, I knew it would not be long before Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis (AiG) voiced their collective judgment on the finding. Moreover, I knew what that judgment would be in advance. I am prescient that way. For Ham and AiG, This discovery would change nothing.

So, I was not surprised when Ken Ham released a tweet and a link to an “article” responding to this release of information about H. Naledi. Continue reading “Ken Ham on Homo Naledi: See No Evidence, Hear No Evidence, Speak No Truth”

Mind the Gap I: Diagnosing Split-Brain Syndrome in Young Adults (and the rest of us)

Many Christians seem to suffer from what I am calling “Split-Brain Syndrome”. That is, many Christians seem to switch unwittingly between a Science Brain and a Church Brain. This psychological problem is nurtured by a culture that divides the public and private spheres and is reinforced by a popular polemics that are framed by the conflict models of religion vs. science, faith vs. reason, religion vs. secular, Ham vs. Dawkins, etc. As my own story will demonstrate, this “double-mindedness” is not peculiar to Christians.

Though not a Christian at the time, in my youth, I experienced this split-brain syndrome. Continue reading “Mind the Gap I: Diagnosing Split-Brain Syndrome in Young Adults (and the rest of us)”

Ham-Handed Hermeneutics 2: Reading the Church Fathers II: Theophilus of Antioch (Bishop of Antioch ca. 169-181 AD)

Answers in Genesis (AiG) are consistent in a few things. For instance, they are consistent in their assertions that every geological and archaeological discovery that seems to suggest an old earth can be explained by a global flood. Second, they are consistent in their general inconsistency. (In a future post, I will write about the inconsistency of Ken Ham and AiG with respect to adopting a “biblical scientific worldview”.)

Related Posts & Pages: Ham-Handed Hermeneutics 1: OrigenHeresy of HamHow to Teach Genesis 1Why Seven Days?Cosby’s “Interpreting Biblical Literature”How To Read the Bible for All Its Worth

ken-ham-dinosaur-getty-creation-museumOn the one hand, they decry those who appeal to “the traditions of men” whenever those traditions seem to contradict their raison d’etre. Yet, on the other hand, they are quite prepared to appeal to those same traditions when it suits their purposes. Continue reading “Ham-Handed Hermeneutics 2: Reading the Church Fathers II: Theophilus of Antioch (Bishop of Antioch ca. 169-181 AD)”