Ham-Handed Hermeneutics VIII: The Hexæmeron of Basil of Cæsarea – Preface

IN his Hexæmeron, a Lenten series of homilies on the six days of creation, Basil of Caesarea provides us with his interpretation of Genesis 1. In contrast to the default practice of reading Genesis 1 metaphorically or allegorically, Basil insists upon a literal reading of Genesis 1.

As I am writing this series of posts, in the season of Lent, I plan to proceed by giving each Homily its own separate post. Hopefully, at the end of this series, I will be able to write a post summarizing the Hexameron as a whole and its relation to modern YECism. So, what you will see in this series of posts is my own grappling with Basil’s exegesis of Genesis 1 as kind of a running but far from exhaustive commentary.

You can find the full text of Basil’s Hexameron and other extant writings of the Church Fathers on CCEL.org. Continue reading “Ham-Handed Hermeneutics VIII: The Hexæmeron of Basil of Cæsarea – Preface”

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Four-Legged Insects and the Genesis Flood

Source: Four-Legged Insects and the Genesis Flood Follow this link to my Baylor blog Christianity and Creation. From time to time, I will post science related articles on Christianity and Creation.

Consider the Ant!? Answers in Genesis suggests Invertebrates May Not Be Alive in the “Biblical Sense” or Whaaaat the Sheol?!?!

I can’t make this stuff up. Okay, I could. But I don’t have to because Answers in Genesis has a whole staff of writers who make this stuff up.

In order to defend AiG’s assertion that death only entered the world when ha’adam ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil and following a typical AiG strategy, Avery Foley suggests that ants and other insects are not living things[1],

Aside from the possibility that ants, and other insects, are not even alive in the biblical sense . . .

What does “not even alive in the biblical sense” even mean, is it like “knowing someone in the biblical sense”? “Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well.”[2] Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.[3] Well, under the veneer of real research, AiG often includes footnotes [of course, footnote 1 is the only footnote but surely this indicates that this “scientifically” or “biblically” grounded article must have data to back up such a bold and paradigm shifting claim], let’s scroll down, shall we? Continue reading “Consider the Ant!? Answers in Genesis suggests Invertebrates May Not Be Alive in the “Biblical Sense” or Whaaaat the Sheol?!?!”

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”

What Motivates N.T. Wright? Well, Why not Ask Him? So, I Did.

A Brief Interview with N.T. Wright

As I was writing my previous post, What Motivates Ken Ham? or What AiG Gets Wrong about N.T. Wright, I thought to myself maybe I should just ask Dr. Wright myself.

I wonder if the folks at Answers in Genesis have thought of this radical off the wall approach to dialogue. Do the writers at AiG consider actually engaging in conversation with the scholars that they so readily judge and condemn? I have it on good authority that Wright and other scholars do receive mail from Young Earthers, hate mail, that is.

In my view, scholarship is engaging in an ongoing conversation. Conversation requires listening and responding. Moreover, as the word itself suggests true conversation allows for the possibility of conversion. That is, when one enters into a conversation it is possible that you or your conversation partner may have a change of mind. (see “The Discipline of Study” in Richard Foster’s The Celebration of Discipline) In Academics, this dialogue is often carried out by reading one another’s writings and seriously engaging with and responding to each other’s arguments and thoughts.

Now, I have met Wright a few times at Regent College and at Society of Biblical Literature meetings. He likely does not remember me but we do have some mutual friends who could vouch for me. So, I re-introduced myself and asked him the following questions:

1. What motivates you to engage the Academy?

2. What motivated you to accept the theory of evolution (if indeed you have)? Continue reading “What Motivates N.T. Wright? Well, Why not Ask Him? So, I Did.”

What Motivates Ken Ham? or What Answers in Genesis gets Wrong about N.T. Wright

A common tactic of Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis (AiG) is to attack fellow Christians and accuse them of being “compromised Christians.” In the process, if they don’t outright misrepresent these men and women (mostly men), then they most certainly under represent their significant and valuable contributions to the Church and yes, even to, the Academy.

Most recently, Simon Turpin, one of the UK spokespeople for AiG, has aimed his crosshairs at the distinguished Biblical scholar and former Bishop of Durham, N.T. Wright. (Click for AiG article.) Wright has devoted his entire life to the service of the Church and the Academy. Moreover, he is of that all too rare and special breed of scholar who is not only able to write to his academic peers but to translate that work into simpler, more accessible, popular books. Indeed, he helps his reader by using the name N.T. Wright on his more difficult and erudite books and Tom Wright on his more popular works. In addition, he is an incredible public speaker and is among the best preachers I have had the privilege to hear.

Later in this post, I will address Turpin’s misleading portrayal of Wright. For now, it is enough to suggest that even Wright’s “secular” colleagues and critics would be amused to hear him described as compromising and seeking their approval. Indeed, if they read Turpin’s descriptions, they would likely mistake his descriptions as ironic or satirical like when you name an elephant Tiny. Having met Wright myself, I suspect this description would be met with a chuckle. Continue reading “What Motivates Ken Ham? or What Answers in Genesis gets Wrong about N.T. Wright”

Too Fast to Fossilize and Anarchic Abstinence: Answers in Genesis’s Bodie Hodge Explains the Fossil Record

Those like Bill Nye who bother to engage with Young Earth Creationists will often refer to the fossil record as evidence for both the age of the earth and to discount the contemporary co-existence of human beings and dinosaurs. On the AiG website, to explain the absence of human fossils that one might expect to find as result of a catastrophic flood and the absence of coinciding human and dinosaur remains, Bodie Hodge, Ken Ham’s son-in-law, has offered what he and apparently others at AiG take as a reasonable solution to this problem.

Sit Still, Fossilize and Think About What You’ve Done  Continue reading “Too Fast to Fossilize and Anarchic Abstinence: Answers in Genesis’s Bodie Hodge Explains the Fossil Record”

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)”