Bill Craig, Richard Dawkins and the “Empty Chair”

Later in 2011 William Lane Craig will be visiting Oxford, stomping ground of Richard Dawkins. It’s no secret that Dawkins has quite self consciously presented himself – both in publications like The God Delusion and in public speaking engagements – as an outspoken apologist for atheism. For that reason then it’s a little surprising that he has repeatedly refused to debate probably the best known apologist for Christianity today, William Lane Craig. Craig has made it clear that he is more than happy for that public discussion to take place, and his time in Oxford would present the opportunity for just that.

There’s mounting pressure for Dawkins to take the opportunity – both from Christians and atheists alike. To an extent I confess that I’m in two minds. The fact is, Dawkins’ case against theism is an attempt at philosophy, and it’s really really bad philosophy. I frankly don’t think it deserves a platform like this, and it doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously. However, I’m well aware of the fact that regardless of what scholarly merits his work against theism might have, it has an enthusiastic fan base. Dawkins gets attention that he doesn’t deserve, and for that reason perhaps a public meeting like this is justified.

It’ll be interesting to see if this eventuates!

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230 thoughts on “Bill Craig, Richard Dawkins and the “Empty Chair”

  1. Also, from what I have seen he is not as good at debate as Craig.
    I read an article from Craig where he says Dawkins has told him he will never debate him.

    You also know that even if he was comprehensively and utterly unable to respond to Craig, even if he was struck dumb every time he tried to say anything and a voice from Heaven said “I am God and I have shut his mouth” – his fan-boi’s would still claim he won..

  2. Thanks for hosting this video, Glenn! And I know what you mean about being in two minds. Dawkins’ work is certainly shoddy philosophy, yet he’s managed to gain so much exposure, thus far, it would make sense to see if he could be exposed! 😉

  3. Dawkins would be an easy win for Craig to debate Dawkins on theological or philosophical topics.

    In a debate with Dawkins, Craig will start with his usual shtick – Dawkins will respond with a list of objections, all of which Craig has long practiced rebuttals too (because Dawkins won’t have bothered to much research).

    Craig, I suspect, knows this, and so do most others… so it really seems the hoopla is about feeding Craig’s ambition to publicly slay all the giants of “new atheism” in debate – but honestly, its completely uninteresting and boring at this point.

    It MIGHT be interesting to see Craig debate Dawkins on evolution or intelligent design – but that’s another area where Dawkins doesnt debate, and hasnt for years.

  4. I agree that Craig defeating Dawkins would be mostly symbolic since Dawkins’ arguments are manifestly weak. Still, symbols are important.

  5. Will – I’d say the reason Craig wouldn’t debate evolution or any issue in biology is that he has never claimed any expertise in those areas. Dawkins, on the other hand, has held himself out as a competent authority in philosophy of religion.

  6. Added to which, none of Craig’s arguments depend on evolution being false… or even needing to mention it!

  7. Actually, correction, he mentions it in some cases, but only for things like moral origin theories etc. Ultimately, Craig doesn’t require any premise along the lines of “Darwin was wrong” or “macroevolution is false”.

    This would leave Dawkins a bit short of material!

  8. Craig has, at least in one instance, debated intelligent design – I don’t remember who his opponent was – but in any case, Craig is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, and has made at least a few public comments about his leanings towards ID and evolution.

    In any case, I am only saying it might be a more interesting debate. For one, the debate format is Craig’s home turf, and so is the Kalam – we all know what a debate against Dawkins will look like on that topic.

  9. Will,

    Craig debated whether ID was viable. That is to say, not whether ID was true, but whether it was good enough to be an option for biological study alongside Darwinian theory. Even in that debate, he admitted “I don’t know if intelligent design is true, I’m simply arguing it deserves a place at the table”.

    Don’t know much about his involvement with the DI, but I do know that he’s no further into ID endorsement than John Lennox, who even expressed doubts about darwinism to Dawkins’ face in one of their debates, lol!

  10. I’ve seen Dr. Craig not utterly demolish an opponent only once – when Dr. Shelly Kagan appealed to compatibalism to escape a free-will question.

    I think he needs to take a stand on this age of the Earth thing – the bible clearly eliminates any chance that evolution is true and Dr. Craig need not diversify into the scientific too much more in order to justify that belief.

  11. Grant,

    I think you will find the Bible silent on the issue of evolution.

    Evolution is a modern scientific discovery and the Bible is an ancient Theological text.
    Whether evolution is true or not is up to Science, it matters not to Bible, or the faithful. Evolution being true does not mean there is no God or that there was no creation event.
    This is one of those things that people need to hold loosely, and not dogmatise.

  12. Grant,

    A number of reasons. One; whether evolution is true or not is a scientific not a theological argument.
    two; therefore it does not matter theologically whether evolution is true or not.
    three; It seems illogical to make a theological objection to something that has no effect on “theological truth”.

    If evolution proves true, what effect will it have?

    It proves God does not exist? unlikely, and a weak argument for the non existence of God, especially when it is equally, if not more viable to assume the opposite.

    So then..
    Well, it means the earth is not young… who cares?

    It means that evolution was created and guided by God… so who cares?

    Really, as I said.. unless you have a scientific investment in the argument, as a Christian or Theist, you really dont need to care one way or another.
    Biblical Exegesis, according to Dr Henri Blocher, can be informed by science only AFTER exegesis has been complete. At that point, if ones exegesis disagrees or conflicts with current scientific understanding it only then causes the Exegete to revisit his work to make sure it is done to the highest level possible.

    Since it is unlikely science can ever, or would ever disprove God, since all things are created by God, we have nothing to worry about, right?

  13. Grant, it’s shockingly naive to think that this boils down to two groups: Some willing to believe God’s word and the others unwilling.

  14. Grant,

    Why dont you? Why are you making this about God’s word, when it is not? Why are you trying to “fear” me into your point of view?

    “God’s word” is silent on the issue. So, actually, I would suggest it is YOU who is not believing God’s word as it is presented.

  15. Hi, Glenn. Where did I say there are only two groups? There are fundamental Christians, there are evolutionary atheists, there are theistic evolutionists, there are gap theorists, there are Raelians…

    …and then there are fabulous debaters who do not profess great scientific understanding and whose arguments do not rely on evolution or the age of the Earth in any substantial way.

    The question is – why should a man like this not believe and express the belief that God created the Earth in six days thousands of years ago? Why does he need to leave room for evolution? Because Dawkins won’t debate him if he is a creationist? Are there any good reasons?

  16. Hi, Geoff. I’m trying really hard not to be confrontational on this thread. Please bear with me when I fail in that regard. 🙂

    But I don’t see how I am “fearing you” into anything. It’s a simple question. Genesis presents one story about the history of the Earth. That story is incompatible with evolution.

    So if I am not an overly scientific man, what reason is there for me to arbitrarily disregard evolution and accept a plain reading of Genesis?

    I think Dr. Craig could easily do this at little personal cost.

  17. Grant, that’s still two groups. Some of those people are willing to believe God’s word, the others aren’t (in your view).

    Sure, there are other ways to divide people, but that’s not the issue. the point is, it’s clearly false to say that everyone who doesn’t share your view on creation is unwilling to believe what the Bible teaches. They just disagree with you about what it was meant to teach.

  18. Hi, Glenn. I don’t see any relevance to your posts. Yes, people disagree over what the bible says and what those words mean.

    The question is – what would be wrong with Dr. Craig declaring his belief in a plain reading of Genesis? What would the costs be?

  19. Grant,

    You are trying to frighten me into believing you, by saying things like me not believing in “God’s word” if I should believe evolution to be true.
    That’s the same kind of FUD Answers in Genesis and those kind of (cultish) people use to frighten people into not considering any other position.

    Fact is, nowhere in the Bible does it suggest there can be no evolution. Even if you dont believe in evolution, which is fine, I’m not convinced it is true either way, the Bible does not preclude it. Evolution and the evidence for and against is scientific, not theological. Genesis is a theological recounting of how the universe came to be, not a scientific one.

    Its a bit like arguing that hairy mcleary is a handbook on raising dogs, because it has stories about dogs in it.

  20. Well, in a sense, no, nothing wrong with it. But, you would have to prove that the Bible is in fact a document containing a scientific refutation of the scientific theory of evolution.

    But since the Bible is not a scientific document, nor does it make scientific claims about how things came to be, I would find it hard to believe.

    Feel free to start proving it though. I’m sure Glenn is, as I am, waiting with baited breath.

    (remembering that Evolution is not a theological or philosophical construct, but a scientific one, metaphysical claims resulting from the science are not a part of the discussion)

  21. My problem is this: If people think that others are wrong about what the Bible precludes, then that’s fine.

    But to say that anyone who disagrees with you about the bible precludes is actually unwilling to believe the Bible, that’s a very different claim. That’s the claim that people know that the Bible teaches one thing and yet they reject it and know that they are rejecting what the Bible teaches.

    It’s much clearer – and in my view more honest – to accept that this is a disagreement about what the Bible precludes, and not a debate about whether or not we should accept the Bible.

    Otherwise you are doing exactly what some evolutionists do when they say to creationists: “You reject science.” No, you don’t reject science. You just disagree with them about what the correct scientific conclusions are.

  22. Hi, Geoff. I’m trying really hard to get my point across here, but it doesn’t seem to be working.

    Dr. Craig does not profess to any great scientific ability. Why should he be required to provide a scientific refutation of evolution in order to hold onto a plain reading of Genesis?

    What is wrong with him arbitrarily resisting evolution in favour of a plain reading of Genesis?

  23. Hi, Glenn. The bible says repeatedly, consistently and without equivocation that God created the Earth in six days.

    I know people try to argue that six days doesn’t mean what it plainly says, but it is in no way dishonest to say that six days utterly precludes the theory of evolution.

  24. “it is in no way dishonest to say that six days utterly precludes the theory of evolution.”

    Just so we are clear, I never once called that dishonest. What I did say is that honesty requires us to accept that this is a debate about what the Bible precludes. It’s not a debate about whether we should accept the Bible. Many Christian evolutionists say that they accept the Bible. It’s about what the source means, rather than about whether or not we are all listening to the source.

    In other words: We must be careful to be honest in the way that we portray the claims of others. Their claim is not that the biblical message is false. Their claim is about whether or not the biblical message precludes their view.

  25. Grant,

    I was not talking about Dr Craig, I was talking about/to you. It is you who is posting here claiming the Bible teaches evolution is false.

    The Bible definitely does say “6 days”, but that does not mean that evolution is false. It says nothing at all about evolution.

    You see, you are making scientific claims from a theological statement. Whether or not evolution is true, it is just bad bad bad hermeneutics.

    As I said before, whether or not evolution is true or not is a scientific debate, not a theological one.

  26. There’s simply no need to get distracted by evolution. The Bible says nothing about evolution being false or true. It simply says that, one way or another, God made stuff! This doesn’t have to be suddenly making something appear; it could be the sheer omnipotent genius of starting off the universe in such a way that it’s natural processes would generate the desired result. The whole topic is fascinating, but it’s silly to get heated about it.

    Remember, evolution actually is more important to atheists. It’s the only game in town if they want to drop the hypothesis of agency being behind the universe.

  27. Hi, Peter. I think this is an important issue to get right. You seem to be in the same camp as Geoff and Glenn. Do you see any reasons why Dr. Craig, as a non-scientist, should not arbitrarily reject evolution in favour of a plain reading of Genesis?

  28. Grant why are you asking the same question?

    Peter and I have both said that a “plain reading” of Genesis says NOTHING about evolution, nor should it. Whether or not evolution is real has nothing to do with the bible.

  29. I keep asking it because you have yet to answer it. What might be wrong with Dr. Craig arbitrarily rejecting evolution and declaring belief in a plain reading of Genesis (“Six days” does very much preclude evolution)?

    What does he stand to lose? A Dawkins debate because Dawkins is too scared to debate creationists? Are there any good reasons?

  30. Wow… grant, so you think the reason Craig won’t change his mind and become a young earth creationist is that he fears Dawkins won’t debate him if he does that?

    That’s insulting.

  31. Grant,

    We have answered this several times. A plain reading of Genesis does not preclude evolution at all.
    Dr Craig, my self, and Glenn (I am sure) concur that Genesis 1 DOES say 6 days, and I know for myself, and probably Glenn (And I have no idea about Dr Craig) do not see any issue with Genesis 1 and evolution.

    The problem is, it appears you do not have much of an idea of what a “plain reading” of the text means. Surely it means the understanding most likely intended by the author, taking into account its text, sociological context, historical context, the effect of redactors, etc etc etc etc…

    I know glenn and I have studied it – we sat a few desks away from each other.. I’m sure Dr Craig has too..

  32. Grant, you too readily assume that your position is the default one.

    Maybe you should contact Dr Craig and offer him some carefully explained reasons why he should adopt your view. Unless someone gives him a reason, why should he?

  33. Hi, Geoff. A plain reading of Genesis says “Six days”. This precludes evolution. But I do understand ideas that are presented to me so if you have a reason why “Six days” does not mean exactly what it says, then I’ll consider it. Until any convincing reasons are presented, the default position must be that “Six days” means exactly what it says.

    But, in the meantime, it seems nobody has any answer for me. I think I will take Glenn’s advice. May I report back with any results?

  34. Here’s what I posted on Dr. Craig’s Q&A page:

    Greetings, Dr. Craig.

    Is it unreasonable for a man who is not much trained in the sciences to arbitrarily reject evolution in favour of a plain reading of Genesis (where in a “plain reading” the words “Six days” obviously preclude evolution).

    Something along the lines of the Existence of God podcast from 2011/04/04 (#26)

    This came from a discussion here:
    http://www.beretta-online.com/wordpress/2011/bill-craig-richard-dawkins-and-the-empty-chair/

    I notice in your guidelines, number 7 says, “7. Questions about Young vs. Old Earth Creationism will not be addressed”. I do not believe I am flouting that guideline. 🙂

    Thank you, sir.

    Hope I get an answer. 😉

  35. And the answer is… “a plain reading of Genesis “6 days” does not preclude evolution”. An over literal misinterpretation of the literary context of Genesis 1 and some extremely bad exegesis does.

    It does not matter whether the earth is young or old, evolution or not… your understanding of a “plain reading” of Genesis is flawed which ever camp you come from.

    Knowing you come from tol does explain why you are flogging a dead horse

  36. 6 days does mean 6 days, I certain do not mean it does mean something else.
    The story is not meant to tell you how many days it took, but from whence, and whom creation originated.

    Go and read some proper biblical scholars on the subject, who are interested in what the text says, without being mislead by their particular metaphysical biases.

  37. Grant, Dr. Craig does a fairly thorough treatment of the doctrine of creation in his first defenders series podcast. He exegetes the passage, talks about different interpretations and then wraps it up with his view. It’s pretty safe to say he doesn’t think a literal reading is tenable. Why are you pressing the issue so hard?

  38. Hi, Matt.

    Thanks for the tip. I’ve been listening to podcasts as they’ve been added since I found the site, but I might have to go back and give that a listen.

    I’m just looking for an answer. I don’t think I’m “pushing” anyone. :idunno:

    Can you give a reason why “Six days” does not mean what it plainly says?

  39. Hi, Geoff. I don’t know what’s got you so worked up, but this is really bizarre behaviour.

    Go and read some proper biblical scholars on the subject, who are interested in what the text says, without being mislead by their particular metaphysical biases.

    Do you really divide between who is “misled” and who is “proper” by looking at their reading of Genesis?

    Thanks for the advice, but I’m not new to this. I know most of the reasons people give why they believe “Six days” does not mean what it says. One of the common responses is something like yours:

    6 days does mean 6 days, I certain do not mean it does mean something else. The story is not meant to tell you how many days it took, but from whence, and whom creation originated.

    …which is a complete self-contradiction. If “Six days” means exactly what it says then evolution is not compatible with the biblical account.

  40. *sigh*.

    You say you’re not new at this, but you certainly are responding as though you are.

    I didnt say “6 days” means anything other than 6 days.. Why are you inferring that I believe anything else?

    The author uses 6 “evening and mornings” as a framework in which the process of creation takes place.

    Now, what is most important, whether it is 6 literal days, or whether God is the one who brought order from the chaos?
    I know which was more important to the author, do you?

  41. This is a familiar pattern. When a six day creationists finds out you’re not, it doesn’t really matter what you say.

    “Ah, so you think each day was a huge long period of time?”

    No.

    “Ah, so you think six days doesn’t mean six days?”

    Where did I…? huh? No.

    “Ah so you think that Genesis is wrong?”

    No! I didn’t say any of this stuff, Stop making stuff up!

    “Why are you getting worked up?”

  42. Glenn, So it seems..

    So what Grant really says is “It doesnt matter what the Author was saying, it only matters what I want him to say”.

  43. Hi Grant, I’m just wondering what’s at stake here, i.e. if people don’t agree with your conclusion that 6 days precludes evolution what effect will that have?

  44. Hi, Nathan. That’s not really much of an issue with me. If people want to believe evolution could have run its course in six days then I’m not going to stop them. 😐

  45. Even a 6 day creationist needs to explain away the 6 days. Ever read “starlight and time”? A very scientific explanation of how 6 days are not really 6 days, because even the most hardened 6 day creation physicist can not deny there are just some things that dont fit.

    NOTICE HOWEVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11
    (did you miss that?)
    NOTICE HOWEVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11
    (or that?)
    IT IS A SCIENTIFIC PROBLEM NOT A THEOLOGICAL PROBLEM.

    The theologian does not really care if the earth is young or old, evolved, or not. All we care about is the reason it is here in the first place. And that is the story of Genesis, and you’re just making christianity look stupid by arguing about stuff that we dont need to argue about. Let the scientists argue about science. Lets stick to theology.

  46. Adam sinned and was removed from relationship and intimacy with God, and no longer had purpose (gen 3) and subsequently all humans are born in his likeness (gen 5) – and are born into the world, purposeless and separated from God.

  47. 3:6 When the woman saw that the tree produced fruit that was good for food, was attractive to the eye, and was desirable for making one wise, she took some of its fruit and ate it. She also gave some of it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. 3:7 Then the eyes of both of them opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

  48. “And can you recount exactly what it was Adam did?”

    Just so no tricks are being played here – I’m assuming that you mean what Adam did in the Genesis 3 account. Not what Adam did in history quite apart from the authorial intent, right?

    Just making sure there’s no question-begging going on.

  49. Yep, what Glenn said.. I knew you were trying something on..

    Both Gen 1 and 3 can only be truly understood in their context. Something that you appear to ignore. Completely.

    Creation was a real event, God really did create. Adam’s Sin was a real event, He really did sin. What is most important is what the author is trying to say about God, creation, and humanity theologically. There is NO SCIENCE HERE.

    Dead horse, flogged.

  50. :chuckle: You dudes need to chill out. I’m not trying to trick yous into anything like that.

    Does Genesis three describe what actually happened or was it something else that happened?

  51. Both chapters now? We know something happened. Is that something described literally by the words we read, or was it likely something else happened and the words we see are meant to convey the truth by other means?

  52. Grant,

    You’re flogging a dead horse. Both chapters tell us what happened. How we understand what happened depends on the literary context, historical and social context, blah blah blah.

    You can NOT just read the words on the page of a several thousand year old document written in a language, and in a culture that no longer exists, even if it has been translated into english. That is why there are countless books on Hermeneutics and interpretative method.

    You just cant. Nothing you can say can change it. No special pleading on yours or any other 6 day, young earth creationist can change it.

    THE BIBLE IS NOT A SCIENTIFIC DOCUMENT. IT IS A THEOLOGICAL DOCUMENT (history, even).
    IT IS MEANT TO TELL YOU ABOUT GOD, AND WHAT GOD DID.. not about science and the mechanics of the universe.

    I am typing this in capitals on purpose. I think I understand what Paul meant when he wrote “see what big letters I make…”

    Have you got it yet? Until you forget about science and read Genesis theologically, you are missing the point of its author, and the great depths of knowledge it has to reveal to you.

  53. I don’t think Genesis 3 describes what actually happened (how would the writer even know?). I think it describes the fact that things are a certain way.

  54. Geoff – calm down, dude. :chuckle:

    I’m going to take Glenn’s answer as yours – Genesis 3 does not describe exactly what happened.

    My question asked for your theology on how sin entered the world and I agree with your answer – through Adam. I think the story of Adam can be read at face value and that the events described actually happened. You disagree.

    Remember this is a theological discussion as you asked for. No need to get all upset about science.

    Next question: What is your theology on how salvation came to the world?

  55. Grant, earlier you were feigning innocence over trying to set people up. It’s not hard to see the very common (but in my view shallow) argument you are bit by bit putting together. It’s not like we’re going to be shocked when you finally get to the point, as though we didn’t see it coming.

    Why not just lay it out all at once in its very well known, well worn form: If Paul said that death came by a man and salvation came by a man, and in the latter case he meant the man who is Jesus, who we agree is a historical man, surely he must have meant that Adam is an historical individual and also that the Garden of Eden narrative in Genesis is literally historically true.

    Is that your argument, Grant?

  56. Not exactly, but close enough. 😉

    I wasn’t going to argue with you. I’m comfortable just reading and accepting what is written. I was going to ask you how it is you know that the story of Adam is not meant to be read as it is written.

  57. Grant,

    My answer is the same as Glenn’s he just put it more succinctly.

    The sin of Adam is a theological reality, whether or not Adam was a real person, head of a group of people, some one who signifies humanity in general, or just some arbitrary representative, it makes no difference. The POINT is what it says THEOLOGICALLY about God and humanity.

    It is not meant to be, nor can it ever be (as Glenn pointed out) an historical, factual recounting of the fall.
    UNLIKE the story of Jesus which is, at least in Luke, intended to be an historical account, and is factually verifiable.

    What you have is an apple and an orange, and saying this apple is round, so is this orange, so therefore they must be the same thing. And the whole time missing the point that the apple and the orange are meant to signify something, not factually represent something.

  58. But Grant, you CAN NOT read it as it is written if you dont read it in context.
    Part of reading it in context is knowing what the author intended, or at least wrestling with it.

    You dont care at all about that, it seems.

  59. Hi, Geoff.

    When I read Romans 5 I get the very real impression that the author would disagree with you. Can you give some reasons why we should accept half rhe comparison as reality and half as an allegory?

  60. See Grant, you either a very simple man, or you just are not interested in finding out for yourself.

    Romans 5 is a completely different kind of document to Genesis, or a gospel, or a Psalm, etc..

    The point IS NOT whether Adam was real or not.. he might have been, I think personally he probably was, HOWEVER, the point of Genesis 3 is “how did human beings get so messed up?” not “was Adam a real person?”.

    Genesis 1 is about how God created order from chaos, an important thing back in the ANE, not “what method did God use to create?”

    Whilst there might be suggestions of these things, they are not the point, and they are largely guess work. It is better to focus on what the story is REALLY about, and leave the science to the scientists.

  61. I’ll post my last comments here by recalling a previous conversation I’ve had about this.

    Recently a friend asked me what I make of someone’s blog post: http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2011/06/06/no-adam-no-eve-no-gospel/

    That blog entry raises the same old concern that you raise, Grant:

    …Yet it is not just Paul’s language that suggests he believed in a historical Adam; his whole argument depends on it. His logic would fall apart if he was comparing a historical man (Christ) to a mythical or symbolic one (Adam). If Adam and his sin were mere symbols, then there would be no need for a historical atonement; a mythical atonement would be necessary to undo a mythical fall. With a mythical Adam, then, Christ might as well be – in fact, would do better to be – a symbol of divine forgiveness and new life. Instead, the story Paul tells is of a historical problem of sin, guilt and death being introduced into the creation, a problem that required a historical solution.

    This was my response:

    Hi ___

    I try not to dogmatise on whether or not there was a literal Adam. Obviously there had to be a human couple somewhere! But I don’t think it matters, whereas a lot of other people – the people you’re quoting here – think that it’s really important.

    In regard to the first point you raise: “Both Paul and Jesus make reference to a real, historical Adam.” – it seems to me that this begs the question. We all agree that Paul (for example) uses the name Adam, but the over whether or not there was an Adam in the historical sense cannot be answered just by the fact that Paul refers to Adam in his theology. I refer to Adam in my theology as well, but that doesn’t mean I must therefore believe in the historical individual called Adam and the Garden of Eden narrative. More on this below.

    In regard to the genealogies, I’ll gladly admit that this is certainly not an area of expertise for me.

    I do have concerns over the long quote you give, however. it’s simply false that “His logic would fall apart if he was comparing a historical man (Christ) to a mythical or symbolic one (Adam).” Why would his logic fall apart? How is it not legitimate to compare the lives of two people, even if one of them is fictional, a work of theology but not history?

    If “Adam” really represents sinful humanity after all, and is not a specific historical figure, then it doesn’t seem to me that Paul’s argument falls down. Now – I am not insisting that this is the case. Maybe it isn’t. But the author of that criticism really isn’t being very reflective as he writes. It may be easier for him to think that there’s just no way to make sense of Paul without a historical Adam, but I don’t see that it’s true. If Paul thought of Adam as a symbol for a corporate body, he can continue to speak of the man, Adam – as though he were one man – without compromising that way of thinking.

    Even if Adam is not a real historical figure, he still stands for historical realities, so it poses no problem that Paul says that Adam’s sin calls for a real historical solution in Christ’s historical work.

    Hopefully this is useful. 🙂
    Glenn

    There you go.

  62. :chuckle:

    When you reject Genesis as historical fact it does not “beg the question” to use Paul and the genealogies as evidence against you. You need actual reasons, firstly for why you reject Genesis as historical and then ad-hoc reasons for also rejecting Paul and the genealogies. Not to mention the fact that in Matthew 19 Jesus also refers to Genesis as a historical legal precedent.

    I need not make an argument nor defend the position that I hold. It is perfectly reasonable to read Genesis and accept it as it is presented. Perhaps it is legitimate to make a comparison between a fictional character and a real one. But that possibility does not mean it is impossible that Paul was referring to the real person of Adam.

    From a theological standpoint, the bible presents Genesis as historical narrative. You need evidence – and very compelling evidence – to show this is not the case. Having responded to this argument in the past is not evidence.

    My whole point in this thread is to show that it is perfectly reasonable to hold Genesis as historical fact despite the protestations of evolutionists. It’s a little bizarre that I would have to defend such a position against Christians!

  63. “From a theological standpoint, the bible presents Genesis as historical narrative”

    The only reasons I have ever heard for this are: Just because. You say you need no argument, so you will not present one. You don’t present one, so you need not wonder why nobody finds your remarks persuasive.

    You can :chuckle: away arguments all you like. If all you’re going to do is assert and chuckle, then that’s fine by me. 🙂

  64. I predict that Grant will reply with something like: But I don’t NEED to defend anything. Surely I get to call my position the default one!

  65. The bible says, “Six days” and the “Whole Earth”. It describes Adam as a real person and regards the things he did as real events. I do not need to defend my position unless you first provide some convincing reasons as to why I should believe otherwise.

    Convincing reasons do not include:
    Having argued your case before,
    Knowing which website I frequent,
    Insisting that the bible is not a science book, or
    Predicting my responses.

    Do you guys have any actual reasons why I should not accept Adam as a real person or why I should not accept the descriptions in Genesis as historical narrative?

  66. Grant,

    Do you agree that for any writing to be considered “historical narrative”, it must conform to the rules of “historical writing” – that is to say, the literary rules?

    And if you agree, can you explain to me what those rules are?

    Then, explain to me how Genesis 1 fits those rules.

  67. So my prediction was correct.

    Grant, are you familiar with the informal fallacy of begging the question? You’re doing it now, but like most who do it, you may not even be aware that it’s happening. Let me show you some examples:

    ‘ The bible says, “Six days” ‘ – Yes it does use those words. And? See, I know what’s going on in the background. You’re thinking – it says six days, therefore it is historical narrative in the ordinary sense. But we can all agree that it uses the phrase “six days” without assuming that it’s normal historical narrative. You’re making that leap in your mind and just assuming that everyone who sees “six days” will make all the same assumptions about genre that you are.

    “It describes Adam as a real person and regards the things he did as real events.” – This is very obvious question begging. Yes, Adam is referred to and his actions are described. But the fact that you regard his actions as absolutely historical does not justify the claim that the Bible says that they were real events.

    Let me ask you, Grant: If these events didn’t literally happen, and this is actually a story to describe theological realities, how do you think it would be written? Do you think after every event the writer would have to add “but not really”? Of course not, it would just be written like a straight forward story.

    In addition to the above (and completely separate from it), Grant, here’s just a random question on one of the issues involved. You say this is normal historical writing. OK, in your zoology (assuming you have some general beliefs about animals), do you think that serpents are more intelligent and crafty than all the other animals, capable of conversing with humans?

  68. Hi, Geoff. I’m sure you have some reasons in mind. Perhaps you might share them. :up:

    Hi, Glenn. I would be begging the question had I done as you said. However my position is this:
    The bible says “six days” and “the whole Earth” and it describes the events associated with Adam. Thus I am justified and it is reasonable to believe that these things are what the bible teaches.

    Now if you have good reasons why I should not believe this way, I’d be happy to hear them. But good reasons do not include:
    Convincing reasons do not include:
    Having argued your case before,
    Knowing which website I frequent,
    Insisting that the bible is not a science book,
    Predicting my responses, or
    Changing what I’m saying into a logical fallacy.

  69. Grant,

    Answer my question, and in doing so you will find the primary “good” reason for not believing the way you do.

    When trying to comprehend ANY literature one first attempts to define the KIND of literature it is.
    So one does not read an encyclopedia expecting a science fiction novel, because one understands the literary form.
    One does not, for example, read an autobiography expecting a detailed medical account of the birth of the subject, or a medical account of how their body changed over time.
    One does not read a science text book on evolution and expect a narrative about the life of Thor.

    So, tell me, what are the rules for determining whether a particular writing is historical narrative? And then, does Genesis 1 meet those criteria?

    If you can not answer this question.. well..

  70. Grant, you have simply re-described the way in which you are begging the question. You basically say that the story must be a straightforward literal history because it’s written as a story with characters and events.

    There’s nothing new to address there. It’s also no good making up rules about other people not being allowed to call you on fallacious reasoning.

    Feel free to reply, but you’re not allowed:
    To show that I’m wrong.

  71. Hi, Glenn.

    You’re wrong. My argument is not a logical fallacy. Here it is again:
    The bible says God spent six days creating the universe. Thus it is reasonable to believe that God made the Earth and all in it in six days.

    Now, if you have good reason for me not to believe what the bible plainly says then feel free to share some good reasons. Good reasons do not include:
    Having argued your case before,
    Knowing which website I frequent,
    Insisting that the bible is not a science book,
    Predicting my responses,
    Changing what I’m saying into a logical fallacy, or
    Insisting that what it a reasonable position is a logical fallacy.

    Hi, Geoff. It sounds like you have some reasons. Let’s hear them! 😉

  72. Grant, another thing you’ve done here is draw some battle lines between your YEC position and “evolutionism”. There are several other Biblical views that involve an old earth, reject a literal reading of the creation account, and so on. These would be things like “day-age theory” or “progressive creation”. Both of those tend to lean more heavily on an exegesis of Genesis than the scientific evidence. While they might be born out of a desire, in some cases, to provide a more science-friendly reading of the Bible, they are not just pulled out of a hat. Dr Craig, for instance, uses science to defend an actual beginning of the universe, but if you listen to his defenders podcast on Creation, he pretty much sticks to scripture when talking about the process of creation. Have you given that series a listen? I’m probably whistling into a tornado at this point, but I thought I’d mention that.

  73. While brushing off my answer (and making up rules against identifying your problematic assumptions), Grant, you also brushed off my question:

    In addition to the above (and completely separate from it), Grant, here’s just a random question on one of the issues involved. You say this is normal historical writing. OK, in your zoology (assuming you have some general beliefs about animals), do you think that serpents are more intelligent and crafty than all the other animals, capable of conversing with humans?

  74. Hi, Matt. I’m listening through the series as you recommended. I’m not overly concerned with the multiplicity of views other than the one I hold. My only question is the one I’ve stuck to. That is how Dr. Craig presents it. The thing that works most in its favour is that the text can be read for what it says. I listened to Dr. Craig’s reasons for then rejecting the literal view. He has reasons. But nobody on this thread does.

    Most importantly, I have not committed a logical fallacy. What I believe is based on reading the text. And like Dr. Craig says, there are no assumptions involved. The text says, “Six days” and “The whole Earth”.

    Can you agree that I am justified in holding to a literal view, even while arbitrarily rejecting evolution, until reasons are given for me to believe otherwise?

  75. Grant, believing that a totally literal interpretation is the correct one is not a fallacy, and nobody ever said it was.

    Believing that we can conclude that a literal interpretation is the right one just because the story is there on the page, and if taken literally then you’re right, now that’s a fallacy. And it is the way you have argued.

  76. Grant, Glenn isn’t saying it’s a fallacy to take the literal view as your default. I hope that’s clear. You’re the only one that is reading his comments that way.

    The problem as I see it is that you are declaring that the genre of Genesis 1-3 is historical narrative, simply because you read it in a literal way. You are also saying that this is the right way, seemingly as a matter of fact, yet you haven’t stated any positive case to show that interpreting Genesis 1-3 in a literal way makes it a historical narrative. You need to be able to do this, irrespective of any evidence you may have against a positive case for an alternative position.

    Now, if you have good reason for believing that Genesis 1-3 is historical narrative then feel free to share some good reasons. Good reasons do not include:
    Having made that statement already,
    Stating that you don’t need to defend your position,
    Insisting that it is historical narrative simply because you say so,
    Evasion,
    Protesting that your questions haven’t been answered,
    A logical fallacy.

  77. Grant that’s a strange response, I never said anything about whether or not “it is reasonable to hold the literal view as the default”. You’re evading my request. You’re not allowed to do that.

    You need to give your positive case for claiming Genesis 1-3 as historical narrative.

    And remember, reading it literally does not mean it is historical narrative. If it is not historical narrative, then a literal reading may not be valid. If you want to take a literal view you need to be able to say why it is historical narrative, and that’s what you’re being asked to do. Nothing more, nothing less.

  78. The passage says, “Six days” and “the whole Earth”. I am not assuming anything by believing this is what the bible teaches. If you have good reason why I should believe otherwise, I’ll happily consider it.

  79. Grant, you say, paraphrased,

    “The bible says god created the earth, etc in 6 days therefore it is reasonable to believe God created,the earth, etc in 6 days”

    I hope dearly that you understand that your argument for a “face value” reading of genesis is missing a premise that might connect the two assertions you made. It isn’t yet an argument. I also hope you’ll be willing to admit that any reading of an English translation, with no cultural context provided is not actually taking the original text at face value.

  80. the question is, what does “literal” mean.

    If I said “grant is a tomato head” do I mean literally Grant has a head that is a tomato? No.
    So reading the words at face value is NOT the literal meaning. Grant has yet to show us HOW Genesis 1 is historical narrative. He has merely claimed it is, and asked me to give a reason why he should. Which I have now done, yet again.

    HOW is Genesis 1 historical narrative, that is, which historical narrative criteria apply and which do not? And then, after that, you can define what and how you can determine a “literal” meaning.

  81. Hi, Matt. Maybe you missed my conclusion. There were two assertions and one conclusion.

    1. The bible says “Six days” and “The whole Earth”.
    2. It is reasonable to assert that the bible teaches those things.
    Therefore:
    3. Until someone presents a good reason why I should not believe as I do, I am justified in believing as I do.

    Now, does anyone have any good reasons?

  82. Damian,
    Why is genesis 5 relevant?

    We are talking specifically about Genesis 1 (and to some extent 3).

    Grant, can you answer the question or not?

  83. Geoff, it’s relevant because, to me, it reads like the author/s intended it to be read as literal fact instead of analogy and I was wondering if that’s how you saw it too. If you see it as historical narrative then we can explore the historicity of the person of Adam, the accounts of his early life and how this might conflict with scientific account of early human origins. If you don’t then we can explore what methods you use to determine what the intentions are of the various authors throughout the Bible and which seemingly outrageous claims we should ignore. And so on.

  84. Hi Damian,

    Whilst that would be interesting, the point at hand is not whether Adam was an actual historical figure, but whether Genesis 1 is a literal word for word detailed historical account of the creation of the universe, which is therefore scientifically verifiable. Or is it a theological recounting, that is, more interested in why (“because God..”) rather than how (the mechanics).
    Grant claims there 6 days means 6 days that the author intended us to understand that this is a literally accurate historic event. He says this is “literal”.
    I claim that to understand it “literally” one needs to understand what the author was really trying to convey, which means understanding its context, and all that entails. If we do that, which is what we HAVE to do with any ancient text, we discover that Grant can not, in any way, be right.

    Genesis 5 (or any other chapter) needs to be investigated on its own merit. For what it’s worth, I believe that the ancient Biblical writers had a habit of writing about “real” people, and in this case Adam may have been a real person or may have been an amalgam of people. I think at the base, it only matters that he was human.. the first human, or the first “representative human”, I dont think it matters.

  85. Thanks Geoff. Do you have some kind of informal description of what rough methods you’d use to discover which texts to take literally and which to interpret as analogy? i.e. “we suppose that the trees of the fields don’t literally have hands to clap because 1. it’s in a poem, 2. there are no other references to people believing in trees with hands but we suppose that the author believed a donkey really actually spoke because the details of the story surrounding it are very specific…” etc

    I’d love it if you could give me a rough outline of what methodology you use to distinguish so that I could go to any story in the Bible and be able to predict how you’d interpret it. Perhaps it would be useful for Grant to give his methodology too (because I’m sure he doesn’t believe in trees with hands and so doesn’t read everything literally)

  86. @Damian.

    I read the bible as historical narrative and when its authors break into song I try to take that in my stride. 😉

    My question is along the lines of the discussion in Dr. Craig’s 2011/04/04 podcast, the Existence of God #26. Is it properly basic to accept what the bible teaches even without arguments against evolution? Or are there good reasons why I should not believe in “Six days” and “The whole Earth”?

  87. “Is it properly basic to accept what the bible teaches even without arguments against evolution?”

    Properly basic? Good lord, no! Even if the literal stance is correct, believing that it is correct could never be a “properly basic belief.”

  88. Damian,

    Do we believe the donkey _actually_ spoke? I dont know about that.

    Books have been written on the subject so how can I do it justice by giving “rough methods”?
    Why not read one of the versions of “How to read the bible for all its worth”, or “The hermeneutical spiral” or any one of those books.

    I could dig out my “interpretative method” notes, but I would have to scan them, and I doubt they are legible.

    I am assuming that you honestly did not know this, rather than dishonestly leading me down into some kind of “trap”.

  89. no one says you shouldnt believe in 6 days or “the whole earth” – the author uses those words.

    Its HOW you understand them that is the question.

  90. @Geoff.

    There is a dramatic difference between reading “Six days” and believing it means what it says and reading “Six days” and believing it means something other than six days.

    Until you produce some good reasons why I should believe otherwise, I am justified in sticking with what I’ve got.

  91. Grant, I have questioned your stance that the literal view is always the default view, and you have declined to give any reasons beyond your claim that you’re justified in seeing it that way, and that is that.

    I’ve also offered a reasonably clear explanation of how a non literal early genesis doesn’t imply the theological disaster in regard to the death of Christ that you appeared to be suggesting.

    Now, in response to a pretty modest question, offered twice, I sense a solid brick wall. I get the feeling that answering this question would force you to reveal something that you don’t want to reveal. I don’t want to get back into the issue of your unwillingness to consider that your rather dogmatic stance on literalism as the default view doesn’t need any justification, because when we reach the point of people saying “just because – and that is that,” it gets a bit pointless.

    I think the fact that you really don’t want to answer the question suggests that it may yield something interesting, so I will merely re-state it and just wait to see if you decide to answer it:

    In addition to the above (and completely separate from it), Grant, here’s just a random question on one of the issues involved. You say this is normal historical writing. OK, in your zoology (assuming you have some general beliefs about animals), do you think that serpents are more intelligent and crafty than all the other animals, capable of conversing with humans?

    If the question seems unfair or too hard then I guess that’s alright, Grant. But I am really curious now that I can see the question seems to bother you.

  92. @Glenn.

    It’s not “Just because…”

    What is wrong with believing “Six days” means six days? With good reason I can consider alternatives. But even if you have no good reasons, I can share good reasons for believing as I do.

  93. Grant, everyone believes that six days means six days.

    On another (familiar) note, does this mean that you aren’t going to answer me?

  94. Geoff, I’m not sure I’m interested enough to read a whole book on hermeneutics but I’ve never had anyone give me a clear definition of how it is they go about deciphering the Bible. Grant’s definition is about the clearest I’ve come across to date. But I do realise that it may be difficult to summarise and that a simple explanation such as Grant’s is not necessarily the most accurate.

    What I do suspect however from talking to some Christians who hold to evolution by natural selection as the best explanation is that they’ve adjusted their hermeneutics around the scientific evidence whilst all the while giving lip service to their belief in the infallibility of scripture. A kind of ‘god-of-the-gaps’ with respect to Biblical claims where anything goes as long as there is no evidence to the contrary.

    I’m interested in the hint you gave that you might not think that the donkey actually spoke. Many Christians I’ve talked to (even the liberal, evolutionary types) seem to accept that as literal. Perhaps this is due to the amount of detail that surrounds the story and the lack of scientific evidence to the contrary. Would you care to share how you interpret that story? I’d like to get an idea of which ‘unusual’ Biblical stories you believe and which ones you don’t and how you draw that line. (if you care to give me the time of course)

    Perhaps these cases:
    – Adam made from dirt
    – the talking donkey
    – the flood
    – the plagues in Egypt
    – the virgin birth (translation error?)
    – ‘camel’ vs ‘rope’ through the eye of the needle (translation error?)
    – Lazarus
    – the dead out of their graves during the crucifixion
    – the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus

  95. Damian – I’m not Geoff, but this is my 2c worth: Often people (not you in this thread, but people I have encountered, but usually only online) get a bit impatient if they’re told that there’s not a two minute summary they can take home with them and apply as a nice easy rule. For some, to be told that they really do need to gain familiarity with the field of study (biblical studies) is really irritating. They complain about the thought that they need a “degree in leprechaunology” or some other such thing in order to understand the ancient literature of the Bible.

    But it’s true. There really is no quick easy test that you can learn immediately and be able to apply without fail for this kind of thing. You really, really do need to know the subject matter well, it’s not going to be an exact science, there’s an inherent degree of subjectivity to a number of such cases, and that’s the annoying truth for a lot of people. The field of biblical studies is like most scholarly fields – you have to either know it fairly well yourself, or else rely on those who do.

  96. @Damian.

    All of those I take as real events apart from the camel through the needle’s eye which is quite obviously a parable of sorts.

    @Glenn.

    Six days precludes evolution and we have no argument.

  97. Grant, I think you’re muddling issues there. The issue is not over the meaning of the words “six days.” The issue is whether or not we’re compelled to accept the account that describes six days as literally true.

    On another note – can you at least give me a hint as to whether or not you’re going to answer my question? About the serpent.

    Thanks.

  98. @Glenn.

    I see no disstinction between my “Six days or not six days” and your “Is six days literal or not”. Either way you need some good reasons, and they’re going to have to be extremely compelling, to convince me that I should not believe the creation week was 6×24 hours.

  99. Grant, my reference to ‘camel’ wasn’t about whether it literally happened but whether one would be prepared to accept that ??????? (camel) was actually originally supposed to be ??????? (rope). i.e. would one accept that the story as you know it is flawed due to mistranslation. The same (but slightly more controversial) goes with Almah. But I think I know pretty much where you stand on your interpretation of most of the Bible. Geoff’s views and where he draws the line and why is what’s of particular interest to me at the moment.

    Glenn, I suspected as much and accept that it might be too much to ask for a short summary of a complex topic. But perhaps having Geoff (or even yourself) tackle those examples with a brief explanation for why you accept/reject each one I might get a feel for your process. I know it feels like baiting but take my request at face value – I’m genuinely interested in the process of interpretation. Why do some people genuinely believe that Adam lived to 930 and some not? Talking donkey? YEC? Virgin birth? etc. Does it start with scientific evidence to the contrary and then do the hermeneutics get adjusted afterwards? Or would good theologians today reject a literal reading of creation if we’d not yet discovered the process of evolution?

  100. Damian,

    To be honest I dont care to comment. I’ve studied Genesis 1-11 pretty much exhaustively, and not that passage, and right now I dont have the time to invest as I am studying James for a preaching series.

    Glenn is right, I have been to seminary (bible college) and studied at bachelor level, and so have been introduced to the disciplines required to make sense of Scripture. Even then, I know very little compared to people like Glenn and Dr Flannagan. I cant just “give 8 simple rules” or make a passing comment on a forum like this. I have to actually go and do some research, and wrestle with the text in order that I get it right. It takes time, and most importantly, skill. Exegesis is an art, not a right.

  101. OK, fair enough Geoff. Thanks for your time anyway. Tell me one thing though, in order to do hermeneutics (in your opinion) do you think it necessary to first assume that the Bible somehow has God’s divine stamp of approval? Is there room to say that perhaps an author was just plain out-and-out wrong, exaggerating or even outright lying?

    (Grant, I just noticed that my clever inclusion of Greek letters in the previous comment resulted in question marks. Here for the Greek I was referring to if you were interested.)

  102. Hi, Damian. The story works fine for me with “camel”, but I’d be willing to discuss the possibility that the author meant “rope”.

    And, upon following your link, I see we have met before!

    Nice to ‘meet’ you again. 😉

  103. Damian,

    The answer is no, hermeneutics can be done by anyone. You should be able to demonstrate your method to anyone..
    If the author was wrong, or lying, or exaggerating there would be room for that, in fact, hyperbole is common. One can not report the facts and lie, but one can use lies, and exaggeration and errors of various kinds for effect in various forms of literature. One needs proper method of hermeutics to determine it, why, how, wherefore etc..

  104. Grant, and you too. 🙂
    I can glean from your answer that you’re not a “King James only” kind of Christian. You allow for the fact that the translation you have in front of you might be slightly flawed even if that flaw may have crept in before the selection of books and letters was given the big Thumbs Up&trad; back in c400AD. But would you go so far as to allow for the possibility of some embellishment around the story of the virgin birth? Or is that a step too far and off the table?

    Geoff, thanks for your time.

  105. Grant: “I see no distinction between my “Six days or not six days” and your “Is six days literal or not”.”

    That’s too bad, because the difference is huge. Those aren’t my quoted words, of course, but the distinction is really obvious. I’m amazed to see you saying this.

    Maybe quite a different kind of example will help – a children’s story: In Aesop’s fable of the dog and his bone, the word “bone” really, truly means bone, and the word “dog” really, truly means dog. The author was not messing with the meaning of those words.

    However, that’s very different from saying that the author was literally teaching us about dogs and bones!

    Are you a little more able now to see the distinction between the meaning of each word and the meaning of the story?

  106. One suspects that Grant is a tad bit confused…

    Grant, the “literal” understanding is the one the author intended.

    Again, if I say “Grant, you’re a tomato head” do I mean you are “literally” a tomato head, or do I “literally” mean something else. My 4 year old daughter understands that if I call her a “tomato head” I am not referring to her head being a tomato, but that I am comforting her after she has hurt herself or if we are joking about together.

    Now, If I wrote in the Bible, “Adam was a tomato head”, you would have, by what you are saying, no other recourse than to believe Adam had a tomato for a head. Of course, that is because I used the words tomato, and head. I used them as a frame work to describe something else, so they do not mean “literally” a “tomato head”, they literally mean “a cute person who did something a bit silly and needs comforting”.

    I really do not know how we can be any clearer… this is just how comprehension works.. at least, it did when I was at school..

  107. Glenn said,

    The issue is not over the meaning of the words “six days.” The issue is whether or not we’re compelled to accept the account that describes six days as literally true.

    I see no distinction in this case. I would most likely see a distinction in the case of an Aesop fable.

    Geoff says,

    the “literal” understanding is the one the author intended.

    I think the author intended to convey that God created the universe in six days.

  108. Now that I’ve gone out of my way again to answer, Grant, I wonder if you would now please answer my question:

    In addition to the above (and completely separate from it), Grant, here’s just a random question on one of the issues involved. You say this is normal historical writing. OK, in your zoology (assuming you have some general beliefs about animals), do you think that serpents are more intelligent and crafty than all the other animals, capable of conversing with humans?

    Hoping you get time to answer this, Grant. It shouldn’t take long.
    Cheers
    Glenn

  109. Hi, Glenn.

    It’d be much nicer if you’d just put your question in the terms of a reason why I should not accept “Six days” as meaning exactly what it says. That would answer my question which has remained unanswered since my first post here.

    My answer is, “No”. And you are right about my reluctance to answer. I’m reluctant to answer because I do know that mamy passages refer to things in non-literal terms.

    But I think that some things referred to in non-literal terms is not reason to believe everything must be the same. And I believe that something referred to in non-literal terms might also have intended literal value. And, most importantly, something referred to in non-literal terms must have definite and explicit meaning outlined in scripture.

    The differences between “Six days” and the ssserpent are obvious. That the serpent is not literally wiser than other animals is no evidence that six days is not six days. That the serpent stands for Satan does not eradicate everything of the plain reading. And, most importantly, the serpent is names elsewhere in scripture and it is explicitly stated that Satan has this title.

    I do prefer to keep these discussions simple which also added to my reluctance. We can discuss more in depth the nature of Genesis and its elements, but it would be nice if you could answer my question as I have yours.

    Here it is again:

    What are some good reasons why I should not believe Genesis says and means “Six days” such that six days precludes evolution?

  110. Grant, could you tell me why I’m not justified in believing that Genesis is literally correct when it says that the serpent is craftier than all of God’s other animals, and that it can talk to people? It doesn’t seem very fair to use this double standard. What reasons could exist for such a dual approach?

    I think you already know that the answer to this answers this whole issue.

  111. Yes Grant, I understand that you interpret the text that way. But that’s not the same as having a reason to do so, obviously.

    So just by reading Genesis, what reasons can you find to em not think it means that serpents are craftier than other animals, and that they can talk to people?

    (Telling me what you think it means doesn’t address this.)

  112. Because scripture describes Satan as the serpent and deceiver of old – a liar from the beginning. This is good reason to accept that when Genesis talks of the serpent it is talking about Satan.

    Do you have any good reasons why we should believe “Six days” means something other than what it plainly says?

  113. Grant, I think you’re sneaking out of this one!

    You’re quoting from the New Testament. But you and I know that for centuries people were reading Genesis before the New Testament was even written. Did any of them have a reason to doubt that serpents were craftier than all other animals, and that they could talk to humans?

    Of course they had such a reason. The moment you can admit what that reason was, you will be selling the farm.

  114. I have no idea what you’re talking about. The reasons I have for thinking the serpent refers to Satan were clearly known throughout history. I don’t know what reason you want me to give that will “sell the farm”. The reason I have given you is completely reasonable.

    And still we have no response from your side to my question.

  115. Grant, that’s disappointing.

    The reason you gave was unavailable to readers of genesis for centuries. There’s no reason at all that you can offer for why those readers shouldn’t have taken Genesis 3 literally: That serpents are more clever than all other animals, and can talk to people.

    The story as written simply presents these claims in the story that you accept as literally true, and nobody in the Jewish community had a reason to doubt it.

    Or did they? Maybe, just maybe, grant, they would have thought that it was not literal because they observed that snakes aren’t the cleverest of creatures, and they can’t talk.

    How about that for a suggestion, Grant? Do you think that’s a plausible reason for why they might not have believed that the account was literally true?

    Of course, they couldn’t have appealed to the later Scriptures that your refer to, because they did not have them. They could have inferred that the serpent referred to something else, and they could have later developed the interpretation that this was Satan, but only because they realised that the story, as written, is not literally true.

    OK, so we agree that an interesting part of Genesis 3 isn’t literally true. Boy, it took a long time, but it’s progress!

    Now, Genesis 2:4 has the very familiar toledoth, indicating that an account is beginning. According to verse four, the account that is beginning is the account “of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.” Taken literally, it’s about to give us an account of the events that occurred in the day that God made the heavens and the earth. That’s just what it states – obviously we will agree on that.

    In that account of the events of that day, we read that God made Adam, and God made the animals next, and then God made Eve. Again, that’s just what it states, and if these events occurred literally as written, then that’s what happened on the day that God made the heavens and the earth.

    But you don’t believe that, Grant. You don’t believe that humans and animals were made on the same day, and you also don’t believe that on the day God made the heavens and the earth, he also made humans.

    You can’t really deny that this is what the text plainly states happened, and yet for some reason you don’t believe this happened. This is because you read chapter 1 literally – and chapters 1 and 2 cannot both be literally true in the same way.

    It seems a little arbitrary, Grant, to take one chapter as literal history because you think you have no reason to do otherwise, and then to take the very next chapter is not literal history.

    I suppose I could use your own technique here: I just take chapter 2 literally because I do. I want to and I am justified in just picking literal history as the genre and sticking with it.

    But then, if I used your technique to interpret chapter 2, I would also have a reason for denying that chapter 1 is literal history.

    So why the choice, Grant? Why choose to interpret one account one way and the second account another way? Why not the other way around?

  116. You have no way of knowing that the answer I gave was unavailable. And even if it wasn’t available the truth remains – the serpent was not a simple animal. And the literal reading has some value regardless of the availability of a fuller explanation.

    And without the explanation, what were they to think? What meaning and value does the story have if it does not mean what it says? I believe you’ve shot yourself in the foot here. You deny the full explanation to the ancient Hebrew reader of scripture and advocate – what? Certainly not that they take the words at face value!

    And you’re continuing to ignore the question asked of you in favour of raising every other issue. What is wrong with a man believing six days refers to 6×24 hours?

    We can discuss all these issues in depth if you wish, but only if you give good reason to do so.

  117. If the serpent is not a “simple animal” it can also be assumed that Adam was not simply a man, the tree of knowledge was not simply a tree.. so far so good. You’re getting the idea.

    So, also the 6 days are not simply 6 days. The 6 days are a frame work that was recognisable and comprehensible, used to explain something beyond the experience of humanity.

  118. The bible explicitly describes Satan as the serpent.
    But every time Adam is mentioned he is a real man.
    Every time the tree is mentioned it is a real tree.
    And every time six days is mentioned they are six normal days. And all four are mentioned oitside of Genesis.

    You may well be justified in believing that these things are not what they are always referred to. But to be convincing, you need reasons. And until yoi provide good reasons, I am justified in sticking with what the bible clearly teaches.

  119. Grant, you should be careful about the word “explicit.” You know full well that the Bible nowhere says that the serpent in the Genesis 3 account was Satan. That is an extended inference on your part.

    But as to what I was saying earlier – you seem to believe that actually people in Old Testament (say, 800BC) did have access to this belief, that it wasn’t just an ordinary serpent, but it was Satan. But there are two problems with this:

    First, there’s really no evidence of this. This is pretty important.

    Secondly, Genesis 3 discourages this. The rationale in genesis for the serpent’s ability to trick humans was that serpents are craftier than all other animals!

    So I really think you’re wriggling on this one, Grant. The fact is, the literal story is pretty fantastical. Eve – in this narrative – just accepts it as perfectly ordinary that this serpent should be speaking to her. When she tells Adam what happened, there’s no reaction like “Wait – what? Your feeble claim is that a serpent told you to? Serpents can’t talk!” he accepted it. Of course, why shouldn’t a serpent tell her to do this? Serpents are crafty!”

    For centuries people read this story, with no extra Scripture about Satan being a serpent (something I don’t take literally either). They just had this story. Now, they wouldn’t have taken it literal, because they knew serpents weren’t like this, and the story was really just the backdrop to tell them that humans have rebelled against God.

    But you don’t treat the story that way for some reason.

    What’s more, now that I have pointed out to you that you are arbitrarily choosing to take Genesis one literally, but not the creation of man and animals in the next chapter, you don’t even want to mention the fact that I have pointed this out.

    I wonder why, Grant, you take chapter 1 as literal history but not chapter 2? I wonder…

  120. Interestingly the hebrew word translated “serpent” comes from a root meaning–to hiss, whisper a spell, enchanter. This could give some explanation as to why the ancients hebrews werent objecting to the story by saying “snakes cant talk”, maybe they didnt think the story ever said that snakes do talk.
    While i dont agree with Grant’s tendency to take everything literally as though Genesis was a 21C court report, it seems to me Glenn that your arguments dont leave much room for divine inspiration and/or relevation. So where do we think divine inspiration/relevation fit in when discussing creation, the flood, tower of Babel etc?

  121. Hi, Glenn. The bible carefully, clearly and explicitly describes Satan as the serpent (Rev. 20). Thus, even if ancients weren’t aware of this (something you don’t have evidence for and that Revelation 20 might be evidence against), the fact remains that my explanation has good reason supporting it.

    Do you have any good reasons why I should not accept six days as six days?

  122. Grant, Glenn gave the apparent conflict with chapter 2 to be a reason to revisit your chosen interpretation. I’m not trying to take sides here, I’d really like to see this conversation move forward because it interests me. Grant, how do you reconcile the two accounts, as chapter 2 explicitly contradicts the order of chapter 1, not simply as a convenience or by supposing chapter 1 as I’ve heard the argument go. The second chapter explicitly contradicts the first by saying that the animals were made after Adam, in the “day” that God made the earth, and that they were made after Adam because it was “not good that the man should be alone.” So how do you, in the absence of scientific reasons and using only the text before you, aim to maintain your reading without affirming that the text was not well constructed, or poorly redacted, etc.

  123. Grant, I have already addressed your appeal to Revelation 20 at least twice now.

    I pointed out that until that text was written, thousands of believers had lived and died reading Genesis, and it is very unlikely that they would believe that serpents are naturally craftier than all other animals or that they could talk to people. Moreover, that the serpent is the devil is not the reason given in Genesis 2 for his trickery. Instead, the reason given is that serpents are craftier than all other animals – something you do not believe (you doubter!).

    I now add a second point to this, namely that Revelation 20 does not say anything to connect Satan to the serpent of Genesis 3. The mere appearance of the word “serpent,” needless to say, is not quite enough to make that connection.

    So that reason falls flat for two independent reasons.

    By my count, I am the only one of us who has issued challenges or posed questions that have not yet been addressed. I await your comments on Genesis 1 vs Genesis 2.

    Cheers, I’ll wait.
    Glenn

  124. Jeremy:

    While i dont agree with Grant’s tendency to take everything literally as though Genesis was a 21C court report, it seems to me Glenn that your arguments dont leave much room for divine inspiration and/or relevation.

    Am I hearing you saying that unless the account is literally true then it’s not inspired? I think it’s inspired (and I think that its message is true), but I don’t think it’s literally true.

  125. Sorry to interject again but it seems both sides have reasons to believe that the description of the world being made in six days is literal or that it’s an analogy. It seems that Grant is being coy about why he takes only some things literally. It also seems that others haven’t really given him a clear reason why he shouldn’t (strange that no one has put forward the overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary as a reason to doubt?).

    I personally think it quite reasonable that ancient people wouldn’t have had a clue how things came about and perhaps believed it literally (as well as used the story for getting a moral across) in the absence of the knowledge we now have. Understandable.

    But it seems that the key problem is that the stakeholders in this conversation all seem to be wedded to the fact that the Bible is a special kind of book and one that is in some way approved by a divine being (if not for literal accuracy then for moral teaching). This assumption leaves no room for a very compelling alternative of a mixture of mistakes, exaggeration, truths, half-truths, lies, and everything in between (which is consistent with so many other human narratives).

    When I read the account of Adam (and all the others) living for several hundreds of years in Genesis 5 it automatically goes in the ‘very, very suspect’ bin. Perhaps it was possible that people in those days really *did* live to incredible ages. But until I have extraordinary evidence it seems to me that the most parsimonious explanation is that the accounts got exaggerated somewhere along the way. But is that option available to those committed to scripture as being ‘god-breathed’? If not literal, what creative explanations are required to bend this into an analogy?

    I wonder, who here involved in this discussion believe that Adam really lived to 930? Matt, Glenn, Grant, Geoff and Jeremy?

  126. Glenn, no i am not saying that at all.
    Rather that while i dont think that Genesis teaches that God made the creation in 6 contiguous 24 hr periods i also think that when we get to see things face to face rather than dimly in a mirror [as Paul the Apostle says] we will find that God has been completely honest and factual in His account of creation [within our limited ability as humans to comprehend] and as such the Genesis accounts will be more than just stories carrying some truth.
    I think of Genesis in terms that CS Lewis once used when comparing the veracity of a pen and ink sketch of a landscape with a full colour movie of the same landscape compared again to actually being there. The pen and ink sketch can be completely truthful representation of the landscape but is severely limited by the medium involved. Nevertheless as long as we remember the limitations of the medium we can trust such a sketch to be true provided we have reason to trust the artist.
    Am i making sense? I think Grant limits himself too much to black lines on white paper, but in the same way some of your replies leave me wondering if you cant imagine the full colour landscape. No offense is implied or intended, its just that i have always thought we can give God more credit than having to rely on fiction to carry His truth.

  127. Damian, Parsimony may be a good criterion but it is not necessarily the truth. And yes i guess all four of us accept the Bible as the Word of God spoken to us

  128. Damian:

    It also seems that others haven’t really given him a clear reason why he shouldn’t (strange that no one has put forward the overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary as a reason to doubt?).

    On the contrary. So far there have been two quite compelling (in my view) reasons. I am assuming that Grant wouldn’t accept the scientific case, so it would be worthless for me to appeal to that.

    Here are the two strong reasons I have given – Reasons that appeal to grant’s own worldview:

    1) Reducto ad absurdum.

    In the first line of reasoning, I have argued that to read Genesis in the way that Grant is reading it leads to unacceptable conclusions; conclusions that Grant would never accept. This strikes me as a good reason for Grant to be less certain in his almost dogmatic stance.

    I pointed out to him that even without any coded references to the serpent being Satan, Old Testament believers did not literally think that serpents are craftier than all other animals or that they can talk to humans. This is because they knew full well by observation that this is not true. I didn’t get to bring this point out because Grant was throwing up unsuccessful objections that had to be addressed first (e.g. from much later Scripture in Revelation 20, which is a very unclear case at best), but the point here is that if we can observe facts that show an account isn’t literally true, then we should not believe that it is.

    2) Parsimony / arbitrariness

    In the second line of reasoning, I have pointed out that if grant interprets Genesis 2 in the same way that he interprets Genesis 1, then his version of the creation story loses parsimony, since those two accounts simply cannot both be literally true. Therefore he is being arbitrary to take one as literal history but not the other.

    You may not consider these reasons clear or persuasive, but I do.

  129. Rather that while i dont think that Genesis teaches that God made the creation in 6 contiguous 24 hr periods i also think that when we get to see things face to face rather than dimly in a mirror [as Paul the Apostle says] we will find that God has been completely honest and factual in His account of creation [within our limited ability as humans to comprehend] and as such the Genesis accounts will be more than just stories carrying some truth.

    See, all I see here, again, is that either it’s literal or it’s not true.

    Nobody has ever accused a storyteller of being “dishonest” by conveying truths in a story that’s not literally true, so I don’t see why you bring God’s honesty into it. The questions are: 1) What does it teach, and 2) is what it teaches really true?

    If the answer to the second question is Yes, then how have I impugned God’s honesty?

  130. Ugh, damien. No psychoanalyses please. In the interest of full disclosure, I do believe the bible is special, but my reasons for raking the line of thinking that I do is that I’d prefer to avoid being culturally chauvinistic in my interpretations of ancient writings. Perhaps these ancients didake the scripture the way you suggest, but it stands to reason that they wouldn’t as well. It’s probably more reasonable to think that they didn’t. Glenn, please correct me if I’m wrong, here, but socrates use and critique of myth might be one good example of how at least one important old guy tended to read stories like those in the early parts of genesis. Since genesis contains conflicting accounts, and stories that parallel other ANE myths, it is more probable that these folks thought these stories served a different purpose than a historic one. We mustn’t be so quick to write off these past folks as such a credulous bunch. Presupposing higher levels of credulity in the past is probably a bad place to start your hermeneutic.

    And Jeremy, I don’t think the issue would be god relying on fiction, as such, but He did have to communicate some things to pre-scientific folk that had a different way of talking about things (sometimes in a way we think of as “lying” or fictitious). That’s my quick take on the issue.

  131. OK Glenn, I take back that you haven’t given him a clear reason (but then I also have to allow that he’s given you a clear reason by saying, effectively, “it says six days”). I agree that Grant is unlikely to be persuaded by the science that shows an old earth. But I believe this is down to a combination of his precommitment to the Bible being ‘God-breathed’ and a particularly literal reading of it. The precommitment being a common and fatal error that I suspect everyone is making here with relation to other outlandish claims.

    Which is why I’m interested in whether anyone here believes that Adam really lived to 930 (I can see very little wriggle-room for a creative interpretation of these numbers). Straight answers anyone?

  132. Glenn i was trying to be very careful not to imply that you impugned God’s honesty.
    So i agree Genesis is not a scientific treatise on creation, that is has as its primary purpose to reveal to us how we come to be in the relationship to God and each other that we are, and that this is the truth.
    However and also, i believe Genesis to be literally true in the same way that a pen and ink sketch can be a true [but clearly thoroughly limited]representation of a 3D full colour landscape. I see Grant missing the picture because he is fixated on the idea that black lines must be the whole and only truth, but given divine inspiration and revelation by God i am confidant that what limited facts are presented will turn out to be correct rather than fictional when we have full knowledge and context.

  133. Damian, well we all agree that “it says six days.” But that doesn’t give us a reason to take the account literally. The question is whether or not there are reasons to doubt that the account where it says this is literal. And there are indeed such reasons.

  134. Closer. I was just discussing this with Alex who suggested that in a way a pen and ink sketch has nothing about it that is physically correct while still managing to be truthfull concerning the landscape. So to continue the sketch analogy, it is showing us the truth, teaching us the truth, telling the truth, and is totally wrong yet is not in any way fictional. No one believes [or shouldnt] that the landscape comprises black lines on white paper yet at the same time we can recognise the sketch as a fair and honest representation of the landscape. The difference is a lot more than just detail.

  135. Sometimes metaphors, clarify, and other times…. they do something else. 🙂

    I would say that Genesis 1 as well as the Garden of Eden story actually don’t tell us (literally) how things got the way they are, but they do literally tell us that they are this way, by way of a story.

  136. Here are the two strong reasons I have given – Reasons that appeal to grant’s own worldview:

    :BRAVO:

    1) Reducto ad absurdum.

    In the first line of reasoning, I have argued that to read Genesis in the way that Grant is reading it leads to unacceptable conclusions; conclusions that Grant would never accept. This strikes me as a good reason for Grant to be less certain in his almost dogmatic stance.

    I pointed out to him that even without any coded references to the serpent being Satan, Old Testament believers did not literally think that serpents are craftier than all other animals or that they can talk to humans. This is because they knew full well by observation that this is not true. I didn’t get to bring this point out because Grant was throwing up unsuccessful objections that had to be addressed first (e.g. from much later Scripture in Revelation 20, which is a very unclear case at best), but the point here is that if we can observe facts that show an account isn’t literally true, then we should not believe that it is.

    Glenn is misrepresenting me here. Nowhere have I claimed that Genesis must be read, line for line and word for word, literally. In fact I said the exact opposite.

    If we have good reason to believe a passage or a phrase refers to something other than what it plainly says then we are justified in going with that.

    Which leads back to the actual question which is why it is wrong to believe the bible means six days when it says six days.

    2) Parsimony / arbitrariness

    In the second line of reasoning, I have pointed out that if grant interprets Genesis 2 in the same way that he interprets Genesis 1, then his version of the creation story loses parsimony, since those two accounts simply cannot both be literally true. Therefore he is being arbitrary to take one as literal history but not the other.

    Genesis 1 is a chronological account.
    Genesis 2 analyses a few details in a non-chronological account.

    That’s for Matt as well. 😉

  137. Grant, how can chapter 2 simply be analyzing chapter 1 when it describes god as creating the animals subsequently, and for a reason (that it was not good that man should be alone). There’s nothing in the text to suggest that God foreknew Adam would be lonely or something, it says he was alone, and in keeping with a motif of the story, God sees it as “not good.”

  138. Hi, Matt. I don’t see any necessary contradiction as there are not any rigid constraints placed upon the chronology in Ch2. Check out vv8-9:

    8 The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.
    9 And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

    God planted a garden, God made man then God made trees? Clearly this is not a chronological account. But not everything has to be chronological, right? 😉

    Now in the case of naming the animals, we have this:

    18 And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
    19 Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.
    20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.
    21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

    Now if we understand the difference in style between ch1 & ch2 we can easily infer a couple of things. We can infer that God’s consideration of what is “not good” to be a consideration made before He created man. We can infer there is no chronological meaning to the order of things presented in v19 as we know Adam was made last.

    Can you see anything wrong with my reading?

  139. Genesis 1 is a chronological account.
    Genesis 2 analyses a few details in a non-chronological account.

    Well no, you certainly do not have that option.

    Chapter two gives clear explanations of why the animals cam after Adam, and then for why Eve came next. This reply clearly fails.

    If anything, the facts would make chapter two a less likely candidate for a chronological account. So you’re still in a position where you have very obvious reasons for not taking Genesis 1 literally, with no clear rationale for your hermeneutical choice (and it really is a choice you’ve made – a choice in need of excellent justification).

  140. Which is why I’m interested in whether anyone here believes that Adam really lived to 930 (I can see very little wriggle-room for a creative interpretation of these numbers). Straight answers anyone?

    Well if you insist on claiming in advance that these must be literal and also that the author (divine or human or both) intends to describe what actually happens, and that anything else is merely being “creative” then you have closed your mind from the outset.

    But in fact your quite mistaken about the prospects here, Assyrian and Babylonian flood stories and king lists also show massive numbers, often in the tune of several thousand years for the ages and reigns of there kings. I know of Eygptologists and Assyriologists who think these numbers have been rounded up symbolically to emphasise how long ago this was. These are not judgements by theologians about the bible, but judgements by Eygptologist’s about ancient Assyrian texts of a similar Genre. There is also the fact the ages seem to fit a common numerological pattern which makes some sense on this hypothesis.

    Do you consider these people to be simply doing “creative wiggling” to try and defend the inerrancy of Assyria perhaps? Obviously they have not frequented enough Richard Dawkins cites where they can learn how to read ancient Assyrian texts properly.

  141. Hi Matt and thanks for taking the time to answer my question.
    But first, a personal note. It seems that any time we interact you take quite an aggressive stance but there’s really no need to. You and I are just two people trying to make sense of the world and civility helps.

    Now for some perspective on the reason for my question in the first place. I see in front of me a panel of five people (now six if I include you) who seem to have slightly (or vastly in some cases) different takes on just how to interpret the stories and characters and author’s intent in the book of Genesis. The ‘six days’ is taken literally at one end and as an analogy at the other. It seems that some at the analogy end don’t even see Adam as an actual historical person but more as a representation of mankind.

    I then read later in Genesis an account of Adam and his offspring and the ages at which they had children and at which they died. The problem is that these ages are way out of whack with how we understand the way in which biology and the world works. Perhaps not impossible but to most people very, very unlikely to be literally true.

    My hunch about how these ages came about is that the story got exaggerated along the way. (i.e. “my grandpappy was a miner and was 7 feet tall with shoulders as wide as a pickaxe”, “my great-grandpappy was 8 feet tall and had hands as big as shovels”, etc). Of course I don’t know much about interpreting ancient writings so it’s quite possible there are other more parsimonious explanations.

    Most (all?) Christians I’ve come across believe the Bible to have a kind of divine stamp of approval and balk at the idea that it might contain the very human and un-godlike attribute of exaggeration, lies or mistakes. If true, this creates a bit of a problem for those Christians who have interpreted the creation story non-literally and then face the prospect of a fairly black and white account of a literal person who seemed to live for a literal age (albeit incredibly long). I’m interested in who here actually believes that Adam lived for 930 years. It seems that you don’t and that your explanation for why you don’t is because the writers were trying to indicate that he lived a long time ago? Am I interpreting you correctly? Or are you saying that they were boosting the numbers to give them importance?

    If you’ve got time to spare I’d be interested in hearing a little more detail of your explanation for your belief that Adam didn’t actually live for 930 years (or are you one who doesn’t believe that there was a literal Adam too?).

    And I’m still interested in whether the other Matt, Glenn, Grant, Geoff and Jeremy believe that Adam lived for 930 years.

  142. Damian, my position isn’t that there definitely was nobody called Adam. All I have argued for is that there actually aren’t good reasons to take Genesis 1 as literal history and there are reasons not to – and I’ve said that nothing problematic follows if the Garden of Eden story isn’t literal history, and I don’t think it is.

    Assuming there was an historical Adam, no, I don’t think he lived 930 years. But to write all such views off as wriggling or creativity seems a little unfair, and doesn’t set the scene for cordiality (which I am sure is the reason for Matt’s response to you). I see no evidence of people not giving straight answers (with the exception of one person, who I have found it very difficult to get any answers from until I have asked multiple times). So I don’t think the “straight answers” quip is fair either.

    No, I don’t think that there was an Adam who lived 930 years.

  143. Damian … what law of biology is broken by having people live for up to a thousand years?

    It was you who suggested science as a good reason not to accept Genesis as it is written, right? I know why theology students would not want to jump straight to this reason with me, but it is the discussion that would crop up immediately with an atheist.

    For all my reading I’ve only come across a few things that could be called “laws” of biology. Life always comes from life being one and the first axiom of biology being the other. But nothing that says people could not have lived for 900+ years.

    Cheers.

  144. Thank you Glenn, Matt and Grant.
    (Glenn, the ‘straight answers’ wasn’t a quip, it was because when I originally asked I wasn’t able to discern from the answers whether they were yeses or nos i.e. Jeremy’s “And yes i guess all four of us accept the Bible as the Word of God spoken to us”)
    (Grant, “law”? Who said anything about “law”? I said it could well be possible but very, very unlikely to be literally true and not at all in keeping with how we currently understand biology. To me in this situation I’m left to balance the possibility that someone might have exaggerated against our best understanding of mammalian lifespans and in the absence of more compelling evidence I’ve got to side with the exaggeration [or similar] explanation.)
    (Also, Grant, your “life from life” doesn’t really work in the same way that “Englishman from Englishman” isn’t sufficient to describe English culture. It’s a kind of parochial understanding of how ‘life’ works.)

  145. Grant,

    There aren’t really any laws in biology (I tell undergrads there is one law: organisms don’t care about what you think they should do), even “life from life” has exceptions (viruses aren’t alive most of the time, certain organisms have evolved from cancer cells…) and there is nothing called the 1st axiom of biology.

    But you can’t leap from “not impossible” to “justified to believe” – at least not on scientific grounds. The fact that no one lives to more than ~ 120 in modern times is pretty good evidence that individuals living to ~950 is extremely unlikely (about 50 standard deviations away from life expectancy today, which would be about a 1/10^500 chance of happening if we were being generous as saying life expectancy was normally distributed, it’s not).

    Now, of course you can say that Adam was created especially to live for a long time and entropy didn’t work in the garden of eden and he had all these other biological systems to deal with cancer or whatever. But that’s nothing to do with biology, the truth is you believe these things (Adam being real, the earth being 6000 years old etc etc) in spite of science ( you must, because scientific evidence makes them extremely unlikely) so why try and justify these beliefs?

  146. Hi, Damian and David.

    I asked for a law that might preclude men living up to a thousand years. There are only two in biology that I’ve ever read. Life from life I see as a good start for a law – cancer cells and viruses are easily shown dependent on larger organisms (or cancer patients). And there is a first axiom of biology. It’s just not very well known nor widely accepted. 😉

    And, you’re right. I am not justified in leaping from “not impossible” to “justified to believe”. Not without evidence.

  147. Life from life I see as a good start for a law – cancer cells and viruses are easily shown dependent on larger organisms (or cancer patients)

    Most wasps are utterly dependent on caterpillars to live. But they are still alive all the time. Viruses aren’t alive all the time. Cancer cells aren’t dependent on cancer patients to live, some have escaped mammaliam bodies and become new forms of life (this one starts a definition war I have no desire to get into, I’m just trying to show you it’s not as clear cut as you think).

    And there is a first axiom of biology. It’s just not very well known nor widely accepted.

    Well, what is it?

    There are probably a couple of others contenders. Crick’s terribly named “Central Dogma” seems to be true for all life, and I’d argue change and perhaps even increases to complexity are bound to happen when biology is left to itself.

  148. OK, so we disagree. No worries. It was a bit of a tangent as you say.

    But there’s nothing in biology you know of that would exclude the possibility of a thousand year span for a human. So what do you think Damian was referring to when he said there was overwhelming scientific evidence against the notion that God created the world in six days as He described?

  149. I’m not sure I can answer for David as to what he thinks I was referring to when I said that there was overwhelming scientific evidence but I can tell you what I was referring to when I said that: the overwhelming scientific evidence.

    Of course if there is an all-powerful God then it’s entirely possible that it made everything in a very short amount of time with the appearance of age. But then it’s also possible that it made everything 100 years ago and we’d all be none the wiser too. The overwhelming scientific evidence would still point to an earth that was over 100 years old. And over 10,000 years old.

  150. Something that is not old, but has been “made to look old” is actually faked, duplicitous, non factual, and in reality, a lie.

    Dr Humphries of the creation research institute has written a book to explain away, among other things, the fact that we have light reaching earth that has taken many thousands of light years.. hundreds of thousands.
    Now, because he is a young earth creationist, and takes Genesis 1 the same way Grant does, he has a conundrum. Either the creation is young and God has purposely mislead us by making it _appear_ old. Or it is actually old.

    Ps 19:1-2
    The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the sky displays his handiwork.
    Day after day it speaks out;
    night after night it reveals his greatness.

    Do the heavens declare the handiwork of God? Is his handiwork misleading us?

  151. Yes, further to Geoff’s point about the problem of light taking hundreds of thousands (even billions in some cases) of years to reach us some YECs will try to claim that perhaps light was faster back then. But SN1987a completely demolishes that attempt to shorten the age of the universe.

  152. Damian,

    That was the point of Humphries book. There are some other issues he deals with as well, that I did not really understand, blue light shifts or something.

  153. Seems an earlier comment of mine was eaten by wordpress. Here’s the short version.

    Grant, your reading of Genesis makes claims about the physical world. Science is the way we learn about the physical world, and, to the extend that it’s possible to do so, those claims have been disproved (examples being the age of the universe, the age of the earth, our relationship to chimps and the rest of life, the fact we don’t descend from only two ancestors who were the only people alive at the time…). It’s up to you to decide if a god that is trying to trick us all with these facts is good theology.

    And I’ve always wondered if literalists think that god was actually tired from all his creating and had to take a day off after it? Seems a bit… odd.

  154. Well – to be fair, David, Genesis doesn’t actually say God was tired. It just says that he was finished doing his work and so he rested.

  155. Hi, Damian and David.

    I’m sure you’d both agree that it’d be unbecoming of me if I were to answer your question, why is it unreasonable to believe in billions of years with, “All the evidence is against it”. Thankfully you also gave a reason – the starlight problem. I reckon that is about the most compelling reasons there is against the YEC model.

  156. So Grant, getting back to your inconsistency with interpreting Genesis 1 & 2, can you please tell us why Genesis 2 isn’t chronological in the same way you understand Genesis 1 to be? What exegetical basis do you have for that conclusion?

    If you could just clear that up for us that would be great.

  157. Grant, no I didn’t miss that at all, it seems you may have missed posts #32 and #33. What I missed from post #31 was an actual argument to support your case.

    God planted a garden, God made man then God made trees? Clearly this is not a chronological account.

    This is not a valid argument. Even your paraphrase shows a sequence, so on that basis alone, the simple literal reading you want everyone to use of Genesis 1 requires us to conclude that Genesis 2 is in fact chronological also.

    So as Glenn and Geoff have both asked, why take Genesis 1 literally but not 2?

  158. Hi, Nathan.

    Post 32 suggested I had to take everything literally when I have never said any such thing. Post 33 I couldn’t really understand so I left it alone.

    To clarify again – I read the bible and accept the plain meaning unless there is good reason to do otherwise.

    Genesis 1 describes six days with evenings and mornings. If you have good reason why I should not adhere to this simple understanding then let’s hear it.

    Genesis 2 describes some of the days from ch1 in more detail and in what is clearly not meant to be a chronological account. If you have good reason why I should believe it describes something else then let’s hear it.

    Got any good reasons?

  159. You are so evasive! You still haven’t given any reasoning at all, you have simply re-stated your conclusion, i.e. that Genesis 2 is ‘clearly not meant to be a chronological account’, as if it were obvious.

    If it’s so clear to you, then it won’t be hard for you to explain how you arrive at that conclusion. Please do, because I can’t see how you get there, irrespective of what I think about those chapters (or anyone else for that matter).

  160. It is obvious, Nathan. Genesis 2:8-9 says:

    The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.

    If we read that chronologically it goes:
    God made a garden.
    God put man in the garden.
    God made trees.

    Not to mention the fact that God puts Adam in the garden again in v15.

    It just doesn’t work chronologically and I’m fairly bemused at all the insistence that it must be. O_o

  161. @ David
    Just to stir a little, science does in fact confirm that we all descend from two common ancestors.
    Mitichondrial DNA analysis leads to a common female ancestor approx 200000 years ago [i think] while y chromosome analysis points to a choke point in male lineage some tens of thousands of years later.
    Assuming Biblical accuracy but not contemporary literalness this matches nicely with biblical Eve and the later biblical Noah.

  162. Did you know.. that the dating of the earth at 6000 years is based on the faulty calculations of an archbishop who did not understand how the Toledoth works? (He assumed it is a family tree, as we understand it in modern times).

    Grant appears to be unaware that modern evolutionary science does not say we descended from apes, just that we share common DNA. The old image of apes turning into humans in a progression is false.

  163. Grant, you can have a garden without trees (I have one), so that’s no barrier to taking chapter 2 literally. Garden first, then trees later, no problem there.

    Come on, just say it. The reason that you don’t take chapter 2 as literal history is that would ruin your ability to take chapter 1 literally.

    Or you could come up with a good reason.

  164. Jeremy.

    This is a common misunderstanding. You can always copy all the copies, of every gene back to shared common ancestor – that just they way populations. Mitochondrial Eve and Y-Chromosome Adam are interesting because their history is easy to recreate since those sequences don’t recombine with others. But they weren’t the only people alive a the time, and they weren’t the only people alive at the time to leave descendents in modern populations (in fact, different copies of the genes that make up out immune system response and blood typing genes – you may well have shared a blood type with Lucy! In large populations the title of Eve can only applied to someone that has been dead for a long time (because it takes a long while for here genes to get through the population) and in time someone else will become the ‘new Eve’ when some of the lineages in our population today die off.

    If you are interesting in this stuff, I’ve written a little about it (it’s very long but only an intro really)

  165. Hi, Glenn – yeah, you could have a garden without trees. But I don’t find that a very convincing reason to overthrow the plain meaning and to introduce doubt to what I understand.

    Do you really think the possibility that a garden does not have trees is a good reason to reject the plain reading of a whole two chapters?

    I don’t.

  166. @David

    “In the field of human genetics, Mitochondrial Eve refers to the matrilineal “MRCA” (most recent common ancestor). In other words, she was the woman from whom all living humans today descend, on their mother’s side, and through the mothers of those mothers and so on, back until all lines converge on one person. Because all mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is generally passed from mother to offspring without recombination, all mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in every living person is directly descended from hers by definition. Mitochondrial Eve is the female counterpart of Y-chromosomal Adam, the patrilineal most recent common ancestor, although they lived thousands of years apart.”

    I do understand that this doesnt preclude the existance of other people, but it is still interesting. All women alive today descend from one woman, and likewise all men alive today descend from one man who lived much later than the woman. May not be right but still sounds like Eve and Noah.

  167. So Grant, you admit then that Genesis 2 can’t mean what it plainly says. Why is that Grant?

    PS. the irony in your response to Glenn is subtle, but very amusing 🙂

  168. Do you really think the possibility that a garden does not have trees is a good reason to reject the plain reading of a whole two chapters?

    No, when did I ever suggest anything so silly?

    That was your idea, not mine. You were claiming that the plain, chronological history given in chapter 2 should be rejected because gardens (in your view) must have trees, so it didn’t make sense for God to make a garden, then place Adam in it, then to plant trees.

    But now you’ve changed your mind on that. Great, we’re making progress. Now, can you find a new reason to say that Genesis 2 isn’t meant as chronological, literal history? By my count, your reasons are now at zero, and you’ve got a problem. See, if you don’t have any reason to deny that Genesis 2 is literal chronological history, then you do have a reason to deny that Genesis 1 is.

    I’ll wait for your reason.

  169. Uh, Glenn. I never claimed there was any “plain, chronological history given in chapter 2”.

    I claimed exactly the opposite.

    I said it is patently obvious that chapter 2 is not chronological. Do you have any good reason why I should think it is chronological?

  170. Jeremy,

    Maybe, but

    (a) there were other people alive at the same time as mtEve who have descendants today
    (b) there were people alive before mtEve who have descendants today
    (c) Coalescence to a single shared common ancestor is an inevitable result for any gene in any population. So it’s hard to see how the coalescence of mtDNA or Y-chromosomal DNA to a single individual is evidence of… well anything really.

    (and it’s all humans alive today that descend from mtEve, we all have mitochondria even if you and I won’t pass ours on)

  171. “Mitochondrial DNA appears to mutate much faster than expected, prompting new DNA forensics procedures and raising troubling questions about the dating of evolutionary events. …Regardless of the cause, evolutionists are most concerned about the effect of a faster mutation rate. For example, researchers have calculated that “mitochondrial Eve”–the woman whose mtDNA was ancestral to that in all living people–lived 100,000 to 200,000 years ago in Africa. Using the new clock, she would be a mere 6000 years old.”

    A. Gibbons, Calibrating the Mitochondrial Clock, Science, Vol 279, No. 5347, Jan 1998, pp. 28 – 29.

  172. Grant, you are not reading before responding. Take the time to see precisely what is being said here:

    I have pointed out that You can’t take Genesis 1 and 2 both literally, so you’re being selective to just choose to take 1 literally for no reason.

    You said that you’re justified doing this because chapter 2 isn’t chronological.

    You were then asked for reasons for saying this.

    You then said (you – not I) that because chapter 2 said that God made a garden, then put Adam in it, then planted trees, chapter 2 can’t be chronological (commennt #57).

    I pointed out that you can have a garden with no trees, so this is not a good enough reason not to take chapter 2 as not being chronological (comment #61).

    All clear so far.

    But then things got wonky. In comment 64 you changed your stance, and now accepted that OK, you can have a garden without trees after all, but that’s not a good enough reason to overthrow the plain meaning. Wow – that was so left field it was surprising. After all, you were the one who was trying to overthrow the plain meaning of chapter 2 because of the alleged problem of having a garden without trees (before you accepted that this was not a problem).

    I tried to point this out to you in comment 67. I pointed out that you have surrendered you argument about the order of the garden and the trees, so you needed a new reason to overthrow the plain chronology of chapter 2.

    And now you come back to me saying that you don’t accept that there is a plain, chronological history given in chapter 2.

    Grant – I know you don’t. That is the whole point of our conversation at this point. I have been repeatedly asking you to give reasons for saying that genesis 2 is not plain, chronological history. You’re rejecting the plain reading, and you are refusing to give any reasons. OK, you did give one, but you’ve now agreed with me that that’s not a good reason anymore, so I’m still waiting for a reason.

    Now we’re in a hilarious situation. You’ve got zero reasons for denying that Genesis 2 is normal history, yet you challenge me: “Do you have any good reason why I should think it is chronological?” However, you seem to be absolutely dogmatic in believing that genesis one is normal literal history, and yet you haven’t given one single reason for that stance.

    This is just crazy.

  173. Grant,

    First, have you actually read that commentary? It’s hard to see how your statement jibes with the whole article in context…

    Second, would you say mutations are usually beneficial, bad or good? The standard YEC argument is that they are usually bad news, and of course, bad mutations don’t survive. So, for instance, if you measured the rate at which new mutations arose in a population it’d be much larger than the rate at which new mutations take over the population (the mutation v the substitution rate). So, are most mutations are bad or did ‘Eve’ live more recently that we thought?

  174. Grant, many times in this discussion you have claimed that you are justified in reading Genesis 1 according to the plain meaning – the literal one – unless there are some reasons to do otherwise. You’ve added to this by stressing that you indeed read Genesis 1 as chronological history.

    What I have been waiting to see is what reasons you have for not reading Genesis 2 in the same way. Just some reasons. This is important, because if you can’t give any such reasons, then you have an excellent reason to stop reading Genesis 1 as chronological history.

  175. I think I’m justified in accepting ch2 as a analysis of some details from ch1. I think you’ve used too many words to describe my approach that simply need not apply.

  176. Grant, but the question still remains: Why?

    If chapter 2 analysis the details of chapter 1, then why is it written like a continuous narrative that is in a totally different order from chapter 1?

    None of this has been answered. How are you justified in overlooking this?

    The score is still zero.

  177. Why?

    Why not? Ch2 is clearly a quite different style to ch1. Why should I accept your assertion that it is “written like a continuous narrative” when it changes style so dramatically?

  178. Grant, chapter 2 is written like a continuous narrative:God makes Adam, makes a garden, puts Adam in it, then makes animals, then makes Eve etc. That’s just how it reads. Based on your own standards, it’s up to you to overturn this. I’ll just keep waiting.

  179. @Glenn. You’re a real patient guy. 🙂

    @David.

    First, have you actually read that commentary? It’s hard to see how your statement jibes with the whole article in context…

    The author doesn’t accept the 6,000 year figure because she has further studies that incorporate ape DNA that yield the 200,000 year results you referred to.

    Yeah, the article is 99% against what I would say. But that’s not really relevant, is it?

    Second, would you say mutations are usually beneficial, bad or good? The standard YEC argument is that they are usually bad news, and of course, bad mutations don’t survive. So, for instance, if you measured the rate at which new mutations arose in a population it’d be much larger than the rate at which new mutations take over the population (the mutation v the substitution rate). So, are most mutations are bad or did ‘Eve’ live more recently that we thought?

    Depends what you mean by mutation. If you’re talking about any and every alteration in the genome from parent to child then the vast majority of them are not properly defined by the term mutation.

    I would first suggest that the actual number of random changes, changes that are not intended or accommodated for by the genome, is much smaller than what is generally accepted.

    If mutations are defined as random and unplanned changes to the genome, they are always bad for the child populations. They are never good or neutral.

  180. The author doesn’t accept the 6,000 year figure because she has further studies that incorporate ape DNA that yield the 200,000 year results you referred to.

    No. The author doesn’t express an opinion on the date but makes it clear that most many human studies (10 years ago…) wouldn’t support the 6 000 year data. Modern studies really don’t support that date, even if taken on face value.

    Depends what you mean by mutation.

    Well, I meant mutation in the way every single person that uses the term means it. And also the way papers you tried to use as evidence for a 6 000 year old mtEve use it. Which seems to be the relevant point. If, as you say

    I would first suggest that the actual number of random changes, changes that are not intended or accommodated for by the genome [?], is much smaller than what is generally accepted.

    Then the measured rate in populations (remember, your argument is based on the idea this is large) would be much greater than the rate at which new mutations were fixed. This is what we’ve found in real populations.

  181. Hi, David.

    It might help if you do not fall into the trap of over-attributing the things I present as being set in stone for me.

    If the 6,000 year old number from Ann Gibbons is based on faulty analysis then I’ll happily concede the point. I just thought it was an interesting addition to your discussion.

    And you say you meant mutation in the way every single person that uses the term means it. Does that mean you agree with what I said?

  182. Grant, it’s obvious to me that you can only interpret Genesis 2 the way you do if you presuppose the order and timing of Genesis 1 into the Genesis 2 account. I can see no other way for you to take the stance that you do on interpreting the Genesis 2 account.

    You surely cannot deny in good conscience that the plain reading of the Genesis 2 account presents us with a sequence of actions by God, linked by connecting events/thoughts/reasons, in the same way that a plain reading of Genesis 1 presents us with a sequence of actions by God, linked by connecting events/thoughts/reasons. That both accounts have this structure is obvious, you only have to read them both to see that.

    The question that yet remains unanswered by you, is why you can ignore the “plain reading” of Genesis 2 and use a different hermeneutic when it represents the same literary genre as Genesis 1, all the while insisting that Genesis 1 must be taken to mean what the “plain reading” says.

    You are welcome to your conclusions. No one is going to say that you aren’t allowed to draw them. I for one probably won’t agree with you, BUT if you gave me suitable justification for using a different hermeneutic for the Genesis 2 account, then perhaps I would be swayed. If it’s the truth then that will come through with full force in your case.

    As it stands, you are simply saying it is what it is and refuse to provide valid reasons for your case. Presenting a view in public and then not presenting valid reasons to justify your own view is just plain ridiculous, especially when you demand reasons from others on why you shouldn’t hold that view.

  183. Hi, Nathan. And contrary to your analysis, I think Genesis 1 is very obviously a chronological account and it is very obvious that Genesis 2 is not chronological. I don’t see any reason to question the veracity of my hermeneutic over this.

    Genesis 1 – In the beginning…
    God sees the light is good, Evening and morning for Day 1.
    Evening and morning for Day 2.
    God sees the dry land is good, Evening and morning for Day 3.
    God sees the plants are good, Evening and morning for Day 4.
    God sees the sun and moon are good, Evening and morning for Day 5.
    God sees the animals are good, and that the completed work is very good, Evening and morning for Day 6.

    Genesis 2 – The history of the heavens and the earth when they were created…
    There was no rain, only mist, God made man, God planted a garden, God put man in the garden, God made trees grow, There were four rivers going out from Eden, God put man in the garden again and said not to eat of the tree, God made animals and asked Adam to name them, God made Eve and they were not ashamed.

    Clearly the only way all this can make for rational reading is if ch2 is a non-chronological retelling of ch1 with more details. It seems very obvious that these two accounts are from different original sources. These distinctions would justify a different hermeneutic for each. But, note! I do not have a different standard for reading each. For both I say I accept what they plainly teach, unless there is good reason to think otherwise.

    Both chapters explicitly or implicitly support creation in six, 24 hour days. And so we return to the question that started this all – How am I not justified in sticking to a plain reading of Genesis and rejecting out of hand the case for evolution?

  184. So genesis 2 is not chronological because genesis 1 is? That sounds like a faulty conclusion. You’re saying (implicitly) that the text has a plain meaning to a 21st century westerner and then assuming that stance is a valid place to begin your interpretation.

  185. So genesis 2 is not chronological because genesis 1 is?

    Nope.

    You’re saying (implicitly) that the text has a plain meaning to a 21st century westerner and then assuming that stance is a valid place to begin your interpretation.

    I think it’s OK to assume we might be able to make sense of God’s word. Is there something wrong with that assumption?

  186. Yes Grant, you’ll have to excuse me for thinking that you’d only make arguments you thought stood a good chance of being true, rather than throwing up any old idea to waste people’s time in a sort of intellectual Fabian strategy. I can’t see it happening again.

  187. OK Grant, so now you say that clearly chapter 2 can’t be chronological history, because if it were, then chapter 1 wouldn’t be!

    That’s all I was looking for. Thanks.

  188. Grant, you’re still evading that which you are being asked to show.

    contrary to your analysis, I think Genesis 1 is very obviously a chronological account

    Absolutely agree with you there. That’s what I said. A sequence of events, interconnected with each other (i.e. chronological).

    it is very obvious that Genesis 2 is not chronological

    again you simply state that it is what it is, and don’t provide reasons why. Why is it obvious Grant?? Just like chapter 1, chapter 2 is a sequence of events, interconnected with each other (i.e. chronological).

    Clearly the only way all this can make for rational reading is if ch2 is a non-chronological retelling of ch1 with more details. It seems very obvious that these two accounts are from different original sources. These distinctions would justify a different hermeneutic for each. But, note! I do not have a different standard for reading each.

    Yes you do have a different standard. If you treated Genesis 2 alone, the plain reading would tell you that the creation events didn’t take six literal 24 hour days. What you are saying is that Genesis 2 is only rational if read it as non-chronological with Genesis 1 as its basis. And in doing that you have to put aside the plain reading, which is nothing short of hermeneutical hypocrisy when you demand a plain reading of Genesis 1. Why? Because they are the same kind of writings, and therefore must be treated the same when interpreting them. Yet you want to interpret them differently. Perhaps now you can see why I question “the veracity of your hermeneutic”?

    How am I not justified in sticking to a plain reading of Genesis and rejecting out of hand the case for evolution?

    Until you overcome your interpretation problem, you should put that question aside. Once you do work it out, you’ll see that when it comes to Genesis 1 & 2, evolution is irrelevant. I’m not saying that we should accept evolution, not by any stretch. Whether evolution is true or not is not determined by Genesis 1 & 2. Remember Geoff’s one liner about Hairy Maclary?

  189. Well I don’t know what to say, Nathan. When we have a clear chronological basis for a story, I see no reason to get all confused when details get added to it in a non-chronological manner.

    For me, it just makes sense that ch1 is chronological and ch2 is not. And I have given some reasons for this – but it seems kinda like explaining why water is wet.

    The plain reading leaves me with no terminal conclusions to a plain reading. If you’ve got some reasons then I’m willing to hear them. But it seems I have my work cut out trying to convince you that I’m just reading and accepting what I read.

    Peace. 😉

  190. “Well I don’t know what to say, Nathan. When we have a clear chronological basis for a story”

    Wait, you’re talking about chapter 2, right?

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