Saturday, August 17, 2013

Answers in Genesis Responds to my Critique of their Museum

I can't deny.  I dig the beard. 
[Edit 8/19/13: I've introduced some clarifications, stylistic changes and minor marked emendations into this post.] 

Answers in Genesis' Ken Ham and Georgia Purdom have posted these two responses to my blog post critiquing their museum.  I encourage everyone to go read their short token replies.

Let me point out nothing in my original blog post was condemnatory of young earth creationism.  In fact, you could still believe the earth was created 6,000 years ago contemporaneously with Larry King and adhere to all the points I outlined.  I haven’t declared my side in the debate. (I prefer to be obnoxious like that.)  In a glorious plot twist, I may very well rip off my mask at any moment and announce I’m actually a young earther. I understand AiG’s passionate response assumes this is a doctrinal throw down, but the reality is this entire discussion is irrelevant to major articles of doctrine, and young earthers can be assured that it's not my angle to disabuse them of their position on the age of the earth.  I find it much more fun to creep you out in the hermeneutics department.

Speaking of creeping my fellow evangelicals out, I've speculated before that young earthers may do better to search for warrant for their "no pre-fall death" position by juxtaposing texts like Enki and Ninhursag (particularly descriptions of the Eden parallel Dilmun) with Isaiah's descriptions of the eschaton. (See the Electronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature.) There I go again, speculating about all that boring literary-historical context stuff.

Before we respond to this piece from them, let’s take a moment to recall all the things Ham and Purdom simply have not attempted to address that my blog brings up:

1) Anachronistic Moses They were silent about their display with Moses holding the Ten Commandments in a script which wasn’t adopted by the Jews until the 5th century and dotted with vowel points which were invented in the Middle Ages.  A museum should be interested in avoiding anachronisms in their exhibits like this.

2) Leviathan They have not defended or mentioned their identification of Leviathan as a dinosaur [A reader alerts me Ken Ham protests in a short facebook status here that "dinosaurs were technically not sea creatures." So I will instead be using the term plesiosaur]. This is a claim Ham is famed for.  I can’t emphasize enough how much I’ve seen expressions of this idea articulated in evangelical circles.  Leviathan can’t be a dinosaur plesiosaur because the Psalms tell us he has multiple heads (This portion in Psalm 74 sadly doesn't get much lov'n from them for obvious reasons).  Psalm 74 demands Leviathan is a west Semitic chaos deity because it inserts YHWH into the Babylonian account of creation as a literary polemic. Job tells us he breaths fire. Isaiah tells us he was killed in conjunction with the creation of the world but that he will be killed (i.e. “punished”) again at the eschaton. That notion is contradictory if Isaiah has a member of the animal kingdom in mind.

If that isn’t enough, the Ugaritic texts come right out and inform us he is a chaos deity.  This is the sockdolager and should stop being ignored. (See my Leviathan post for an example of the Ugaritic parallels.)  Answers in Genesis would have discovered this years ago if they more highly valued interpreting the Bible in its historical, particularly Babylonian-exilic, context rather than interpreting it to serve modern scientific polemics.  It’s easily accessible in modern commentaries. As an example, I refer readers to the note on Psalm 74 in the NET Bible.

3) Behemoth They did not touch the subject of Behemoth or the semantic range of the word for “tail” in that passage that I raised.  Again, their desire to interpret the Bible through a scientific lens has superseded their evangelical lip service to interpret the text in its historical context.

4) Isaiah’s Flying Serpents They said nothing defending their comical identification of Isaiah’s flying serpents as pterodactyls.  My post gained readership from professors Michael S. Heiser and James McGrath particularly due to this claim by AiG.  Their failure to respond to my exegesis and exhume their “scientific polemic” exegesis indicates to me the obvious.

5) The Voltaire Sign I noticed in the museum that a sign perpetuates the pulpit legend that Voltaire’s mansion was turned into a Bible printing house after his death.  AiG on their own website warns against believers using this very argument.  I don't care to vaunt this mistake in their faces anymore after this post since everyone makes flubs like this, but it would be nice for them to acknowledge the error, and I do hope they change the sign. While they are at it, it would also be nice on that same sign if they would remove the image of Socrates with the accompanying description implying he rejected the afterlife.  Plato (also an Athenian) in his Phaedo happily presents Socrates as convinced in the afterlife.  Again, not a hill to die on and totally ancillary to my hermeneutical focus, but I offer it as a courtesy to the museum.

That’s roughly half of what I wrote.  Now on to the main headings Purdom (a geneticist) raises in her response to me.

Presuppositions about Dragon Legends

I brought up Adrianne Mayor’s influential dissertation as an object lesson demonstrating why modern dinosaur legends should not be used as a weapon to bolster our exegesis.  You can be an old earther, young earther or secularist and still affirm Mayor’s general thesis that dragon myths are the result of ancient paleontology.  The museum parades these legends as scientific evidence of their exegesis when the reality is the data could comfortably be accommodated by an old earth or even secular perspective.  As I said, “In many cases it is certain that ancient people were offering extinct animal fossils as the origin of mythological creatures.”  Purdom takes umbrage with my tone of certainty:
Notice the phrases, “it is certain,” “mainstream view,” and “extremely powerful and convincing.” But Mayor’s views are based on her ideas about the past (she wasn’t there) and she does not presuppose the Bible as truth. She interprets the evidence of fossil beds and dragon legends in light of her presupposition that man’s ideas about the past—including evolution and millions of years—are true and God’s Word is not.
I wan't conjecturing.  There is high certainty this sort of thing was going on in the ancient world, and it’s no accident these legends sometimes correspond with known fossil beds.  Jason Colavito refers me to the case within Pallene, Crete [Colavito corrects himself: the [K]assandra peninsula], “where the giants lost the war against the gods.”  Colavito informs me, “The story is found in Solinus 9.6-7, with lesser references in Pausanias 1.25.2, Apollodorus 1.6.1, Ptolemy Hephaestion in Photius  Photius, Myriobiblon 190, and about a dozen other sources. In 1994, paleontologists decided to go looking for the site and discovered a giant bed of Pleistocene fossils, mostly mastodons.”  It’s likely these sorts of remains informed the Cyclops myths.

There is no reason this same principal of ancient paleontological interpretation should not be entertained in explaining Scythian griffins, early dragons or even North American legends of the thunderbird, and anyone can review Mayor’s arguments for these identifications in her books.  Dong Zhiming and other Chinese paleontologists have even documented the modern continuation of the practice in traditional Chinese medicine.  Don't tell me it never happened in ancient times because the practice is still going on and is inspiring dragon myths today. I’m illustrating an exegetical point. Dinosaur legends are not a sockdolager demonstrating the accuracy of any one particular interpretation of scripture.  This undermines the museum’s entire dragon argument theme.

The Absolute Beginning

I’m not inclined to care what Purdom or Terry Mortenson have to say in their retort against Holmstedt’s thesis because they are bring science to a Hebrew syntax fight. (Is it Christian of me to describe their response here as "fantastically lazy"?) They aren’t trained to interact with the Semitic parallels Holmstedt cites to illustrate the noun-bound-to-clause structure of that passage indicates an unmarked relative clause, and they have provided no grammatical reason to doubt him. (No, you don't need a PhD in languages to understand the basic outline of his argument. He does a great job explaining it in accessible terms.) They haven’t touched the specifics of the grammar with a ten foot pole.

I’m also not inclined to care what an astrophysicist like Jason Lisle says about the ancient Hebrew grammar, or whatever irrelevant list of scientists Mortenson may produce who believe this or that theory about the age of the universe. I trust the infallible, inspired word of God (which comes with its own grammatical rules) over the changing, fallible sciences of Ken Ham. (See what I did there?)

Mortenson pronounces Holmstedt “arrogant” and speculates that his interpretation is driven by the influence of secular institutions by reviewing his institutional history. [Edit 8/20/13: Holmstedt was amused by this and has given a response here.] Let me emphasize Holmstedt’s analysis has a long history and is not an idiomatic or “arrogant” view among experts. It is the position professed by grammarians like Martin Baasten at the University of Leiden, Mark Smith (possibly one of the most influential living Semitist in North America), Ellan van Wolde from Radboud University and Michael Heiser, the academic editor of Logos.

Mortenson’s quote concludes with an attempt to circumvent grammatical discussion of Gen. 1.1 with this amazing claim:
But, it should also be pointed out that neither Ken Ham nor any other creationist we know would ever say that we can “date the universe [only] with Genesis 1:1.” It is Genesis 1:1–2:3, Genesis 5 and 11, Exodus 20:8–11, and many other relevant verses that lead to the conclusion of a 6,000-year-old universe. But I guess this seminary student and his Hebrew authorities aren’t too interested in reading young-earth creationist literature carefully. (Bolding of verses mine)
None of those above texts Mortenson cites describes a creation of the universe or provides grounds for dating the universe. His dependence on Gen. 1.1 is palpable. Genesis 1:1-2:3 does not parse whether the earth and sky were made of pre-existent matter. (That’s the whole point of Holmstedt’s expatiation.) You need Gen. 1:1 to be an absolute temporal clause to assert that.  Genesis 5 is a genealogy. Obviously the existence of the universe and the materials of creation predate Adam and so, it is irrelevant to the age of the universe. Genesis 11 is the Babel event followed by a genealogy starting with Shem. (How on earth does this text allow us to date the universe?) Exodus 20.8-11 states, “…For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Again, this text does not tell us if that creation of the heavens and earth was accomplished using preexisting matter (read: preexisting universe).

It’s very likely the formless void of Genesis 1:1-2:3 was preexistent, and we have no way of knowing how long it was there before the creation days. In fact, our evangelical lip service to interpret the Bible in its historical context would bid us to believe that’s what the author had in mind. In Enuma Elish it’s obvious the creation of the heavens and earth is accomplished by Marduk using a parallel preexistent watery chaos. I'm not just some pointy headed liberal making that connection because I believe the Bible is on par with Babylonian myth. That cosmological connection is overtly supplied by the exilic author of Psalm 74 himself.

Reconciling the Two Creation Accounts

Nothing Purdom says addresses Heiser’s blogpost. She only links a possible explanation of the “contradiction” between the two creation accounts in Genesis. I’m fine with that as a competing explanation. Heiser’s point is that it is possible to explain that contradiction in such a way that allows for two creations of man (one outside Eden and the other within Eden). This is a view neither Heiser or I am married to and which has its own history--being held for example by the Medieval Rabbi Rashi. Since she doesn’t offer anything which might exegetically disqualify the possibility, I have nothing to give in response.

A Question of Credentials

I made a mistake when I stated in my original post that Ken has only earned a bachelor in science academically and have since corrected the statement. As an aside, Purdom tells us his Australian diploma in teaching "is roughly equivalent with a Master’s." A kind educator based in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia with the same diploma has emailed me and informed me Purdom is incorrect about this "roughly equivalent with a master's" comment. Though, I don't care to belabor the issue since it's not my point. [1]

I hope the substance of my point is not lost. Ken Ham is not a Biblical scholar. He is not trained to interpret ancient Jewish literature. *I'm not saying* he can't interpret the Bible, but rather, that anytime he does he must, like me, be depending on Semitic and ancient Near Eastern scholars or else he will err. I find it odd and scary we Evangelicals wax eloquently about the need to interpret the Bible in its historical context then turn around and interpret it in our modern scientific context. That has been my remonstration against the scientist dominated origination from the beginning. It’s symptomatic of why we’ve ended up with such wacky interpretations and the evangelical desire to demythologize the Bible in a science polemic.


Conclusion

There are a lot of other methodological subjects I could clamor about like their assumption of comprehensive mosaic authorship of the Torah, their inability to accommodate prescientific divine condescension in their doctrine of inerrancy (see my post on evil eye magic) or their assumption that the Holy Spirit operates to supply believers with the meaning as well as the significance of the text. (See my post "The Holy Spirit and Interpretation" which based on the Daniel P. Fuller article.) However, my message here has been much more simple: Evangelicals must learn to recognize the ancient Near East as the matrix for Bible interpretation and study. Not modern science and scientists.

[1] The reader informs me the Australian Qualifications Framework, available here states Ham’s diploma it is a level 5 qualification (p.38).  A Master’s is a level 9 (p. 59). To be regarded as being equivalent to a Graduate Diploma it must level to an 8 qualification (p. 56).

42 comments:

  1. If it takes a Ph.D. to understand the Bible, should the common layman even be reading it? Does God, then, experience a difficulty communicating effectively to a different culture through the Bible? Or is the Bible crafted so that it can be understood and interpreted coherently in a variety of cultures in different times? If the answer is the latter then does a Ph.D. just add seasoning to the message or does it add something fundamentally greater?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comment. It lets me know I'm not being clear enough. Let me assuage you. If you go read the post and you will see I am emphatically *not* claiming you need a PhD to understand your Bible. (I don't have even one, and I am not a scholar.) I am saying the second we pick up an English translation we are indebted to a massive effort of men with PhDs in the body of Christ. Without these experts we would have no way of even reading the text for ourselves and the church devalues their necessity. The post is based off of Daniel P. Fuller's article on the Holy Spirit's role in interpretation: http://www.ijfm.org/PDFs_IJFM/14_2_PDFs/14_2%20Fuller%20Holy%20Spirit.pdf

      Delete
    2. Ben,

      Do you believe in the infallibility of the Bible... that it was Authored by God according to II Timothy 3:16?

      Terry Kott

      Delete
    3. Thanks Ben! That makes it much clearer. As a side note, did you realize your email link on your profile page doesn't work? Is that by design? lol

      Delete
    4. Anonymous, I do.

      Charley, I can't find a problem with it. Perhaps it was a temporary glitch.

      Delete
  2. As in science, ISTM that the correct response is, as in science, a culture of information sharing and mutual benefit where the information gathered is available to all and dissemination to the non-specialists by educators is attempted.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I mistakenly wrote to you that Pallene was in Crete. It's actually one of the three fingers of Chalcidice now known as the Cassandra peninsula. I apologize for the error.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, I've updated that portion.

      Delete
  4. Biblical interpretation is guided by the Holy Spirit, not by credentials.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is a false understanding of what 1 Corinthians 2.14 teaches. The Holy Spirit does not supply the *meaning* of the text to the believer. He supplies the *significance* of the text. See Daniel P. Fuller's article, "The Holy Spirit's Role in Biblical Interpretation." http://www.ijfm.org/PDFs_IJFM/14_2_PDFs/14_2%20Fuller%20Holy%20Spirit.pdf

      Delete
    2. Anonymous,

      By saying that the Holy Spirit guides interpretation you make the Bible worthless, since everyone claims that and yet they come up with different interpretations anyway. The value of the Bible is in learning what it actually says, rather than what we want it to mean. The only way we can know this is by listening to what the writers were trying to say in their own language and in their own cultural context. There is nothing wrong in improving our understanding of the Bible.

      Delete
    3. It's refreshing to know at least someone out there doesn't think I'm a total nut on this subject.

      Delete
    4. Not a "total" nut anyway. LOL just kidding! Actually you make a lot of sense and the people who don't get how valuable Bible scholarship and discussion are, are operating from a place of fear. I am at a place in my life where I don't believe at all that God throws down lightening bolts everytime someone asks a question. What is very sad are those people who actually think that believing in fire-breathing dragons is a NECESSARY component of their faith! This is where Ken Ham fails utterly because he forces people down a road of having to choose between things that make sense and things that don't. What he is doing is making Christianity irrelevant and meaningless to the average person who of course would never actually believe in dragons or all the other idiotic stuff he comes up with.

      I am also interested in learning more about the influence and ideology of the other ANE cultures around as you have brought up the interesting point that they often fill in the puzzling blanks in the Bible. So I hope I have time soon to take a closer look at your blog.

      Delete
    5. "By saying that the Holy Spirit guides interpretation you make the Bible worthless", wrong, we don't.

      It is indeed the Holy Spirit who guides interpretation, and that interpretation proclaims the truth, for the Holy Spirit will not guide you to a wrong interpretation, people who claim they have the Spirit and produce a wrong interpretation and don't preach the true Gospel, don't have the Spirit in the first place.

      That is why you shall know them by their fruits, if you have believed Christ to be your Lord and confessed Him to be your Saviour and that He rose from the dead, you will be saved.

      There is indeed nothing wrong in improving our understanding of the Bible, but there is much wrong when you say 'the only way we can know this is by listening to what the writers were trying to say in their own language', what the writers were trying to say is what the Holy Spirit said, and that is how we know the truth, God Himself makes His Words live by His Spirit, for it is not through any human wisdom that these words have been proclaimed, but by God Himself.

      It is sad that brother Ben here, instead of rebutling you on some of your comments like he does with the other servants of God, replies with a rack of support because your statement supports his.

      Truly, this is not how the Body of Christ functions, but at least I am glad there is a bit of curiosity and meekness in the conversation between brother Ken and the author here, after reading a prior article I was appalled at the ungodly behavior of many 'Christians' here.

      Delete
  5. Ken Ham has replied to you: https://www.facebook.com/aigkenham/posts/614467545250272

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much for informing me. Due to your reply, I have since made notes in this post correcting my non-technical use of the term dinosaur.

      Delete
  6. Ham always states Behemoth is a dinosaur and if you read the description that is the only thing it could be. He never equates Leviathan to a dinosaur.

    On the subject of degrees, there have been and there will continue to be great expositors of the Bible that do not have a degree. In fact, there are a lot of false teachers out there that do have a degree. It sure isn't helping them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1) You will notice I have since corrected the "dinosaur" technicality in both my posts.

      2) I agree you don't need a degree to understand your Bible. I myself am not a Bible scholar with degrees. My point is a good expositor *must* consult experts with degrees to understand the text. Our utter dependence on experts is proven anytime we pick up and English translation.

      Delete
    2. Scripture was given so that any person in any culture at any time period would get the gist of what it is all about. Does that mean that all the nuances, etc. will be understood? No, because like an onion, each layer understood, brings one to another layer to study. And that is the job of the Holy Spirit - taking one deeper and deeper one layer at a time. However, as 2 Timothy 3:15-17 tells us, "...and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." That is to say 1) that one can be saved through faith in Christ through an acceptance of plain teaching in Scripture and 2) that it is beneficial for one to live a godly life. No PhD or expert opinion is necessary. Yes experts translated the Bible so that we could read it and there are good expositors with degrees to help us understand the more difficult passages but they are not necessary for salvation and spiritual growth which comes only from the work of the Spirit through Scripture.

      Delete
  7. And what are YOUR credentials sir? Did you first take your concerns to the Creation Museum before you made the matter public? That would be the Biblical manner of handling a dispute? You do claim to be a fellow brother in Christ, right? My guess? You're interested in making a "name" for yourself and you have gotten your 5 minutes of fame, happy? Arrogance is an ugly thing isn't it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually. . .

      While I completely and utterly disagree with the assertions outlined in this post and am in fact on the side of Ham on this issue, your comment is incorrect in suggesting that in order to address the public teaching of another, one must first go privately to that individual. This is simply not the case Biblically.

      The passage in Matthew speaks of when one has been privately, personally offended by a brother--not when one's public assertion has been disputed by a brother.

      Delete
    2. AIG is a public institution and the Creation Museum is also. It is utterly ridiculous that they should be immune to public criticism and many, many people have made these same criticisms. Bible scholars, scientists and lay people who have a good grasp on these things have been trying to get through to Ham for years. Ham is nothing more than a con-artist. He acknowledges nothing that anyone else has to say because he thinks he is right about everything. On his website he does not allow comments while most reputable people do. He does not want people to be exposed to any point of view other than his own.

      Notice that the responses were not about trying to actually address any of the problems that were brought up. It was simply character assasination. Is that a Christian response? They were trying to do damage control rather than have an honest conversation.

      I doubt that Ben's motive is to make a name for himself. He is just joining the long chorus of more famous people who have been on Ham's back for years. And he has some very good points, if you actually take the time to read them.

      Delete
    3. I actually believe I did, but the museum didn't respond to my email. I don't blame them. I'm sure they get a ton of critical emails a day.

      Delete
  8. I think they did you a favor by not responding to (3 Behemoth's tail. Anyone who can read a concordence can see that 'zanab' means 'tail' as used in the scriptures. See Exodus 4:4, Deuteronomy 28:13, Judges 15:4. What difference would the "semantic range" make if the context clearly means 'Tail'? Anything else would fall under the heading of 'profane and vain babblings' that Paul warns Timothy against in 1 Timothy 6:20. I'm afraid that too many in academia can't resist.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The term translated "thighs" in most versions is the same for "testicle" in verse 17 (sorry to gross you out). Hence the King James translation: "The sinews of his stones are wrapped together." It is very easy to get a depiction of the creature's...errr virility when you look at the original text.

      Delete
    2. Yes the KJV is famous for its use of euphemisms, such as "knowing" someone in "the biblical sense."

      But of course we should bow down and worship it as the PERFECT TRANSLATION that floated down from the heavens, straight from God (sigh..)

      Delete
  9. Hi Ben, first off, for someone who is just an undergraduate I'm amazed at the sophistication of your writing and your level of understanding of material in the Ancient world. I graduated from college back in 2010 and wish I was able to study more about this area of research. Secondly, I'm very interested in Holmstedt's argument and am wondering if this is the same argument as one made by a guy named John Sailhamer (I haven't read it, by heard about it in a video). Do you have kind of a "CliffsNotes" version of the Holmstedt argument that someone like me could understand (who has no training on languages)? Does Holmstedt's argument leave open the door for positions other than creatio ex nihilo?

    Also, it's interesting you bring up the importance of Semitic study. I have a book called "Fabricating Jesus" by Craig A. Evans, where he discusses his feeling that the Jesus Seminar has a lack of understanding about Semitic origins. Maybe there is a lack of Semitic work done in general? Do you know of any good introductory textbooks that you would recommend for a layman like myself for studying Ancient origins? I live in Massachusetts and there's not many people that I can hash out these issues with. With thanks, Mike

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the comment, Mike. I'm not a language guru either and don't make any claim to be. At this link you can read an accessible overview of Holmstedt's thesis. Just have an internet dictionary handy for the grammar terms: (http://ancienthebrewgrammar.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/genesis-1-hebrew-grammar-translation/).

      If that explanation isn't your style and you want a very simple explanation taught in baby steps Michael Heiser has a video online explaining this to his church study. I believe it's called "Genesis 1:1 and Creation." Heiser and Holmstedt were doctoral classmates.

      I know Heiser (and I'm sure Holmstedt also) believe in creatio ex nihilo because other passages in the Bible outside Genesis teach it (not to mention there are all the classic philosophical reasons the universe can't be eternal).

      As for books, check this out: http://www.michaelsheiser.com/shelfaribooks.html

      Delete
  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  11. You may also wish to see this:
    http://thenaturalhistorian.com/2013/08/19/dinosaurs-dragons-and-ken-ham-the-literal-reality-of-mythological-creatures/

    ReplyDelete
  12. PS
    The blog is not mine.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Ben,
    I tried to comment on your initial post when I wrote my little blog response to Purdom's AiG post, but for some reason my Wordpress credentials weren't working.
    Anyway, keep up the clear thinking. But try not to get bogged down in this quagmire, unless you're going to follow McGrath and consider combatting young-earth creationism as one of your vocations. Otherwise it's just not worth the headache.
    (And to confirm a guess in one of your comments here, I have no problem with creation ex nihilo in general; it's just not presumed in Gen 1.)
    Robert Holmstedt

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry I dragged your name into wacko-land. The Genesis politics script is so trite it bores me to tears, and I find it funny the thing I’m passionately apathetic about happens to be the one everyone paid attention to. (For some weird reason people apparently don’t find Mesopotamian evil eye magic as saucy as all that AiG stuff.) I’m sure this post will be dug up years from now by some conservative institution I’m applying for and disqualify me from job considerations. I’m masochistic like that.

      Delete
  14. Here go's. I'm really looking forward to an opportunity to visit the AIG museum. I think Ken's done a nice job of interpreting Genesis. I like the KJV too. I'll admit that my imagination see's Moses with tablets that look more like the cuneiform tablets found at various archeological sites, but that's my interpretation. It's not unusual to find mistakes at just about any museum.
    It's only the past year or so that I've begun to look at ANE languages and history. Fascinating stuff. The reason I'm a young earther is because I managed to get a chemistry degree. Then, spent just 18 mos. in a pharma research lab. If you look at basic biochem, you'll see eventually, the unbelievable biochem complexity of living organisms. You'll know that 'random' process produces racemic products, and living organisms do not. It's almost as if living things are 'made' from a highly specific recipe or template, they're designed, as some might say, by an intelligence far superior to human intelligence. By 'highly specific', I mean that they can't even be produced in a modern lab. Bottom line - we didn't get here by accident, zero probability, not even in trillions of years. The best 'scientific' explanation is that there IS an original Adam and Eve. Both sexes, appeared at the same place and time. They had to. Six thousand years ago is in the right ballpark. It's supernatural. Holy scripture tells it as it is. Problem is, everyone has their agenda. It looks like it's always been that way. Man is ever preoccupied with rebuilding Babel (confusion).

    Mark C.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Ben - to quote The Truth Project, "how do you know that what you believe is really real?" To apply this thought to one of your comments, how do you know that the "major articles of doctrine" are really real? jb

    ReplyDelete
  16. Anonymous, I just wonder how it is that you think you read the Bible at all. What Ben is trying to tell you is that you could not read the Bible unless some *expert* had translated it. You rely on experts whether you like it or not. God could have enabled you to read Greek and Hebrew directly (without training) or even have channeled the Bible directly into your head . . . but is that a reason for you to throw away your English translation? And do you think that knowing your English translation will make you more competent than the person who knows the original languages? People who can actually tell when the text is ambiguous or not? Anyways, while I personally am not yet convinced that Holmstedt is right, his argument is cogent. (BTW I am a teacher of Greek and Latin with some background in Hebrew, though I'm sure I rely on the experts for Hebrew far more than Holmstedt has to.)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Anachronistic Moses - True, the script used should not even technically be referred to as "Hebrew", since it is Aramaic. It was adopted by the house of Yahudah as they were exposed to it during the 70-year captivity in Babel, beginning in 586 BCE.
    In the 6th through 11th centuries (CE), the Karaite sect known as "Masoretes" (traditionalists) sought to alter the utterance of specific Hebrew words, and used the Aramaic text as the basis for their "Masoretic Text". The invented vowel-points were especially malicious to the Hebrew letters AYIN, ALEF, and UAU (aka "WAW", although there is no "double-U" in Hebrew). Their work altered "YAHU" to "YEHO", ALAHIM to ELOHIM (note the changes to E,O from A,U). Also, the name "ALI" became "ELI", as if the ALEF took the sound of an AYIN. ABRAHIM, which begins with ALEF, escaped their terror; otherwise it would be seen today as "EBRAHIM". Yahuah preserved His pure lip among a numerous group that never went into captivity nor had corrupting "Masoretes" befouling the sound of words. That group names their children ABRAM, MIRYAM, AISHAH (meaning woman), DAUD (not "David"), YAKUB (not "Jacob"), YUSEF (not "Joseph"), and QUAH (not "Eve"). Their current religious culture is based on a former pagan culture having about 360 deities, among which is ASHURA (Asherah), for whom they cut themselves even today as the priests of Baal and Asherah did at Mt. Karmel in the days of ALIYAHU (corrupted to "Elijah" today). Yes, I'm referring to their language only - Arabic.

    ReplyDelete
  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  19. AiG's allegation that the blog post of Ben, a seminary student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), was in disagreement with the seminary's president appears like an attempt to restrict Ben's right to free speech.

    In order to increase pressure on the president of the seminary and sanction the behaviour of a simple student, AiG declared that the president "has spoken at one of our conferences and written several articles for Answers magazine. (His wife Mary has also spoken several times at our Answers for Women conferences, and we have many friends on the SBTS faculty.) It is sad to see the claims this student makes against our Creation Museum which are clearly contrary to the teachings of the president of the seminary."

    AiG obviously tries to silence Ben's critique of the Creation Museum. For German citizens like me, who still haven't forgotten that our democracy could be established thanks to America, the behavior of AiG against a student who detected obvious blunders in some exhibits of the Creation Museum seems not only inappropriate but also un-American.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, much like Paul tries to silence the Sadducee's 'right to free speech' in the Bible, or Christ tries to silence the Pharisees' 'critique' of the truth.

      Twisting words has become the norm hasn't it? This is usually what the unbelieving populace does, but I guess there are many who are either wolves in sheeps clothing, or in this case fans of someone that they are blinded to what is being said and what is being implied.

      If you could use this much energy and critique to proclaim the Gospel, how much of a blessing would that be, as it would truly bless the populace, but instead you use it to create division, recite things against servants of God truly serving Him, but are mumb against those who are dishonoring Him.

      By your words you are justified, and by your words you will be condemned, remember this, and the bulk of the responsibility falls on your role-model, Mr. Ben here, who is supposed to correct you on this, but I guess he rather spend his time criticizing other servants of God, rather than sharpening you. Truly an odd generation.

      Delete
  20. I'm pleased to see you noticed the anachronism of the Mosheh display. The script the museum used on the tablets is Aramaic, not Hebrew. The word "Aramaic" is not even found in the Natsarim Writings, but the language "Hebrew" is described eleven times. Most revisionist scholars like to promote the Natsarim wrote in Greek, but even the Greek language in the mouth of Paul was shocking to the Roman officer (Acts 21:37).
    My biggest criticism of the AIG museum is their handling of creation week. They skip the 7th day, yet they claim to follow the One Who said He is "Master of the Shabath." Yahusha's Name is nowhere to be found in their museum or publications, only the post-17th century anachronism, Jesus.

    ReplyDelete
  21. i think your arguments are helpful. however, i think they could be streamlined if you didn't imply that science and historical context may be so easily parsed. you write, for example, "[AIG's] desire to interpret the Bible through a scientific lens" and "Evangelicals must learn to recognize the Ancient Near East as the matrix for Bible interpretation and study. Not modern science and scientists." i would make this case more strongly. Science attempts to evaluate assumptions empirically. The cultural, including linguistic, evidence you mention _is_ relevant to claims about the meaning of Biblical texts. Hence, a scientific perspective will necessarily require consideration of the evidence you mention. in fact, i will be surprised if linguists and archaeologists don't consider their disciplines as "scientific." perhaps your point is that some in certain religious circles are prone to separate "natural" from "cultural" evidence. however, given the texts you are discussing, such a separation seems inappropriate.

    ReplyDelete