Is Genesis all literal, all allegory, or somewhere between?

Discussion in 'Sacred Scripture' started by ZachT, Jun 27, 2021.

  1. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Consider Gödel's incompleteness theorem. Number theory is not as concrete as many think it is. You can argue that this does not posit that axiomatic number theory is incorrect so much as it is incomplete, but this seems to me to be a meaningless distinction.

    As for the physical sciences, it all ultimately boils down to physics, and we've known for a long time that physics is not deterministic. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle places a hard limit on how accurately we can describe physical systems. Even the speed of light may not be the same everywhere. There seems to be a granular level of "reality" below which we simply cannot determine anything. Physics is basically the study of how probabilities play out. Wave-particle duality is another mind-bender. It required the invention of a brand-new theoretical model (quantum field theory) to explain it.

    This is all to say: in math and science, any and all claims to truth are conditional and subject to revision. Nothing in math or science is true in the same way that Scripture is true.
     
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  2. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    I know this is probably going to fall on blind eyes and deaf ears Matt.13:13-15 but fictional story and drama are capable of conveying deep spiritual and moral truths, in ways that no other didactic form of teaching can emulate.

    Try viewing and listening to Deep Space Nine episode "In the Hands of the Prophets" and then try to tell me its just lies, fakery and 'fiction'. Of course it's fiction but that doesn't discount it from containing 'truth'. And 'truth' which is rejected and ignored by those who would neither listen, watch or entertain the drama of it, BECAUSE they perceive it to be FICTION.
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  3. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    So according to you God has not given nature an unbreakable law? Ps.148:1-6. The BCP Psalter says of verses 5 and 6, rather more poetically in my opinion. "Let them praise the Name of the Lord ; for he spake the word and they were made ; he commanded, and they were created. He hath made them fast for ever and ever : he hath given them a law which shall not be broken.

    Yet you say natural laws are not deterministic and claim them to be uncertain, i.e. lawless. Are you not in contadiction of the very scripture you claim is beyond contradiction? Have you ever asked yourself if it may be your own assertions which may be in error? I think that is what you are requiring of some of us, isn't it?

    And I find your appeals to quantum physics as a prop to theories of Biblical inerrancy a bit rich in view of the opinions of most Young Earth Biblical Inerrantists, who circulate opinions at considerable variance from the claims and researches of modern science, particularly quantum physics. Perhaps you are not so near the fringes of reason as they are. :)
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  4. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    I think this may be two sides of the one coin.
     
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  5. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    This is a fair point, but I think that the freedom message of Scripture is of the "freedom from" (liberation) rather than "freedom to" (unfettered agency) kind. In accepting the yoke of Christ, we throw off the chains of sin -- and as Christ tells us, "my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matt. 11:30). We pass from a corrupt master (Satan) to a holy one (Christ).
     
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  6. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Either way we are not masters and mistresses of our own destiny, as we like to sometimes think we are. The service of Christ is perfect freedom.

    "O God, who art the author of peace and lover of concord, in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life, whose service is perfect freedom".
    :Morning Prayer The Second Collect, for Peace.

    So you are both right! :laugh:
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  7. ZachT

    ZachT Active Member

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    I think this is a little bit of a misunderstanding.

    Gödel's incompleteness theorem is simply a demonstration that there are some things that number theory (and by consequence, all of Mathematics) cannot prove to be true. That's not evidence that Math gets anything wrong, just that there are some questions Maths cannot answer. "2 + 2 = 4" is provable. "This function will terminate" is unprovable.

    Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle and Quantum Field Theory are related concepts, and it only applies to things that operate on the atomic level or smaller. Wave-particle duality is another product of that - photons operate on the sub-atomic level, so they function in strange ways. Once we release ourselves from the shackles of classical physics, it's not really that much of a mind-bender. I'd agree with you that quantum physics is exclusively the study of how certain probabilities play out. By contrast statics, or thermodynamics, or newtonian physics suffers from no such uncertainty. We can determine for certain the velocity at which an apple will travel if dropped from x-height over y-time. We just know our thinking cannot bind each atom, or electron, or quark within the bounds of what we call the apple. Quantum objects exist in two states at once, and collapse to a single outcome probabilistically when we measure them. An apple does not exist in two states at once, it exists in a single and consistent state, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle does not apply to the apple, it applies to the particles we define within the bounds of the apple.

    There are many things we can claim to be true that are no longer subject to revision, "2 + 2 = 4" being one of those. That's the beauty of a mathematical proof. We have robustly proved addition beyond any doubt, two plus two will always equal four. Naturally there are many things in maths and the sciences we cannot be as certain in as we are in Scripture, but there are some things we have confirmed.

    As an aside, and completely unrelated to the current discussion, I see God's hand in all of these things. There's a reason that a higher proportion of Mathematicians are people of faith than any other scientific field - they operate on the "coal face" of God's Word in nature, and they get to see the works of God more regularly than perhaps even a priest does. And it's not just in quantum-related field of Maths, when we start getting into the spooky coincidences of euler's number, or infinity, or fractals there are so many unexplainable, consistent coincidences it's basically impossible to deny the existence of a creator when you let go of all of your biases.
     
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  8. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    In perfect accord with Anselm, sometime Archbishop of Canterbury.
     
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