Your remark on William Craig's latest book In Quest of Historical Adam

My Comments on this book:

He has been a reputed Christian theologian, philosopher and apologist with magnificent contribution in Christian apologetics. This work is really adorable. Honestly, I don’t have any expertise on this subject that makes me capable to comment on his work. Meanwhile, I have noted certain issues that I would like to present as my personal comment on his work.

  • His proposal of Genesis 1-11 as mytho-history seems tenable enough to convince eager minds that Genesis 1-11 is not actually dealing with things that our modern mind is attempting to ask such as making sense of 6 days creation, vegetarian world, talking snake, amazing tree of life and knowledge, unbelievable long life-spans, disputable age of the earth and so on. Seriously, he has made case that we cannot satisfy ourselves intellectually on these topics. They remain fantastic elements for our mind more likely as mythological frameworks.

  • He seems to embrace antiquity of the world but disregards concordist interpretation like day/age and alternative day/age views of Genesis.

  • He seems to reject the view that ancient took their bizarre description of the world literally such as solid dome, flat earth, etc. He insists these were mere figurative languages or to be precise, they were phenomenal description. Ben Stanhope seems to disagree with his assertion. His most recent book ‘(Mis)Interpreting Genesis’ has opposite argument to that of Craig’s.

  • He has spent enough pages to explain and clarify how to understand myth and whether Hebrews borrowed from surrounding cultures just because they have similar accounts.

  • For OECs and YECs, his proposal might seem to be ‘Escaping Approach’ i.e. to escape from challenging questions by simply saying Genesis 1-11 belongs to mytho-history genre. Dr. Kimball has also brought a similar case in his book ‘How (Not) to Read the Bible’.

  • He attempts to make us assure that taking Gen. 1-11 doesn’t demean divine inspiration of the scripture.

  • Christians may misunderstand his work against Sufficiency of scripture dogma as he has admitted one needs to navigate even pagan surrounding cultures to understand the context of early chapter of Genesis. This has been a typical objection from YECs although they have also used surrounding cultures’ data to prove a younger earth.

  • Critics might charge him for forcefully proving Genesis 1-11 as mytho-history using ANE context. This can be a serious allegation for forced compromise to fit modern science.

  • The book can be stumbling block to those who embrace inerrancy and infallibility of scripture since he discusses plenty of inconsistencies in narration.

What shall be your analysis on his assessment?

To me the phenomenological language defense works for some things, such as the movement of the sun, but fails for others, such as Sheol being located underground and pillars that support the earth.

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Having that first ’I’ is sufficient stumbling block. I haven’t encountered an Evangelical yet who can’t have their cake and eat it too with regard to the other two plus your fourth.

I’m not a fan of Bill Craig. He severely mischaracterized Calvinism in a recent debate with James White. It was disappointing White didn’t come out of his chair, but went along with it.

Craig has in my opinion overly complicated discussions on the cosmological argument. He also made an odd (dare I say illogical) comparison when dealing with countable and uncountable sets of numbers.

So when he goes with mytho-history rather than the more helpful theological history, I’m not surprised.

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Some of my thoughts (mostly science-related) on Craig’s book can be found via this link. My main complaint about his book as a sustained argument is that he is not consistent. He investigates at great length how the authors and readers of Genesis might have viewed the primeval history, noting how flexible such cultures are in treating mythological material. But he does not do the same for Paul’s interpretation of Adam or investigate how flexible interpreters like himself were in his cultural context. I.e., he treats Genesis as a culturally situated work to be interpreted contextually but treats Romans as divorced from its culture to be interpreted as if it were a work written by someone like Craig.

Well, that’s the problem with embracing ideas that don’t comport with reality, in this case the reality of what’s in scripture.

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I.e. neither infallible nor inerrant and therefore not inspired.

My impression is that he is trying to have his cake and eat it too. He does not want to alienate his more conservative readers, thus retains a historical Adam and a concordant reading, but in so doing creates more problems, and as you said lacks consistency. It may be a path many may take in the church however, as they realize a young earth is not compatible with reality, yet are not ready to give up on some vestige of a historical reading.

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There are Christians like me who never had anything like YEC view and yet prefer an historical Adam for entirely different reasons.

What is the basis of your claim that Craig has a concordant reading of the story? Just curious.

BTW I am not a fan of Craig either. And I don’t like his use of biology to date Adam as if biology were the sum and essence of our humanity. It invariably leads to putting Adam so far in the past that you end up doing far more damage to the significance of the story than a metaphorical view.

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I wonder when conservative Christians like Craig and Piper will ever show the way in social justice? You know, real Christianity?

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Thanks for this discussion of Craig’s book. You (Ye/You guys/Y’all) have saved me a good deal of time.

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That was using the term very loosely and sloppily on my part, referring to his desire to make a historical Adam concordant with a biologic Adam.

I personally don’t mind the Adam story, it was the true meaning if any, I was after and I would not let it go.

Personally, during the 40+ years of revisiting this story, I’ve noted a number of extremely interesting empirically matched analogies. Especially one that doesn’t need the included sin narrative as it looks to pre-date evil, and instead serves as the foundation for both good and evil. I was long looking for an answer to the evil question that was predominant in my surroundings and was very much on my mind, which I eventually phrased as; How can imperfection enter perfection?

In contrast to the boring and dumb [lit.] possibility of the universe having no knowledge in the beginning, the garden story concept starts with an all-knowing God and is a continuation of the prior divisions, adding the separation of knowledge.

I discovered the division of knowledge is the act from which naivete is even able to manifest and persist. Playfully I have tried to cut to the point with analogies of being all-knowing below in defense of naivete (aka innocence).

If we were all-knowing, is there no surprise followed by laughter?
Where has awe and wonderment gone? Curiosity and achievement?
Why do we say; “shhh! Don’t tell me how it ends”?
Is there a choice when the best is obvious and singular?

Naivete may make us prone to errors, but it is also a precious and needed gift for eternity. May there always be something new to discover and experience. A little good/bad action happening. Evil seems a separate manifestation as judgment is based on poor intent towards others, while good intent in error deserves mercy as the sermon on the mount claims. Naivete may be a primal foundation for evil such as lies to manifest, whereas truth and knowledge dispersed our naivete as well as the falseness preying upon it much like proper scientific test results do. Results trump all theories. But naivete by its nature is considered innocent, not evil. To error with good intent doesn’t deserve punishment else our kids would hate us.

Personally, it’s the natural concept of division (the how) that attracts me and the innocence of naivete that makes the whole thing empirically fit as a good description of the human condition. I enjoyed the beauty and function of the idea. Starting with the concept of all-knowing, through natural division of knowledge, naivete, diversity, and how it could have been done, I find beauty and awe. Personally, starting out with everything dumb is as Klax puts it, not inspiring. grin

Equating omniscience to all-knowing is much like equating omnipotence to all-doing, which is absurd. I insist that omniscience means God can know whatever He chooses just as omnipotence means He can do whatever He chooses (with logical coherence simply being the difference between reality and dreams). I am forced to such a conclusion by quantum physics which shows that knowledge is an action of interference and imposition - because measurements alter what they measure. Until you measure it, what you measure may not even exist. So talking like just God knows everything just doesn’t agree with a reality where some things simply do not exist to be known. Thus saying God must know the future equates to saying God must absolutely control the future. And that doesn’t agree with either the Bible or our experience of life, where plenty of things do not happen according to the will of God.

Since God is not time-bound, what is there that he cannot know?

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…end of conversation,

Aye, aye captain.

Nothing.

Omniscient means God CAN know whatever He chooses to know.

The question is, can God not know something if He chooses not to. I think it is the essence of free will that God does not choose to know what we will do before we do it. It is a little like having a book and choosing to read it in order rather than looking at the ending ahead of time. Only in this case it the book isn’t already written and we are writing it together.

If God looks ahead then what is it that He sees? Does he only see what will happen if He stops participating? In that case, either He will follow through with not participating or what He saw wasn’t the future… or do you think He has no choice? In which case how is that different from simply jumping forward in time and seeing only the past.

He doesn’t look ahead. He is not bound by time, he is already there. ‘Look ahead’ is time-bound language.

Then we are just characters in a book and I don’t believe characters in a book are alive or conscious.

There is a wonderful (or terrible) mystery in how God orchestrates his providential interventions of timing and placing in the lives of his children without violating anyone’s free will and without breaking any natural laws. He is also not bound by your characterization, nor are we.

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Don’t believe it. That’s the dream world again where the dreamer isn’t bound by any rationality. And you know what I think of the dreamer god – no better than any other dreamer.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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