Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Sunday, October 31, 2010

More on Newman's Adventist Today Article

After my last post I have been having a bit of an E-mail correspondence with Adventist Today Editor J. David Newman. In that dialog I perceived that the basic problem in our presuppositions is that the literalist creation side has taken upon themselves a very fundamentalist view of scriptures. Fundamentalists have dominated much of Christianity in 20th century as it was the Christian response to modernist reason, that reason gave us the disciplines of Higher and Lower Biblical Criticism. The Fundamentalist could not argue with the reality of Lower Criticism but they found that the more subjective ideas of higher criticism was to be decried. In Higher criticism we could see an advance in understanding through the timeline of the Bible. That the writers could actually insert their own ideas into the Bible books, that we don’t have to accept the idea that just because a text says that God said or did something it may not in fact be God who did or said what the author claims. Did God really kill thousands of Israelites for David’s transgression, did God really want to destroy Israel and Moses showed God the faulty logic of God’s intention, or that God really was sorry for creating mankind as the flood story says. The Traditionalist side of Adventism on the other hand does not seem to comprehend this idea very well. For them tradition decides their interpretations. For example the Jews have a tradition that the first five books of the Bible are the law of Moses and therefore written by Moses. Apparently even the material that describes the death of Moses, which rather makes the assumption false on it’s face. But with the Jewish tradition the Adventists prophet maintained the same tradition that Moses wrote Genesis and the other 4 books. If Moses the greatest of the prophets wrote the Genesis story it must be from God, though of course the book itself makes no such claims.

On top of this assumption Adventist have added many other traditions, mostly they can be laid at the feet of Ellen White but in most cases they were not ultimately developed by Ellen White but they became incorporated into Adventism through Ellen White. It is one of these that we find mentioned by David Newman toward the end of his Adventist Today article. He writes:

But there is an even bigger curse to come. Genesis tells us that God did not create the world to experience rain. We read in Genesis: “When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up; the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground” (Gen. 2:4-6, NIV).

It was not until the time of the great Flood in Noah’s day that rain began to fall. “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights” (Gen. 7:11-12, NIV).

Of course the Gen 2 text is not about rain falling after the creation it is the beginning statement of the alternate creation account of Genesis 2 describing the earth before anything was created. The flood account says nothing about there never being rain before but by placing the two verses together the Adventist tradition becomes there had been no rain before the flood. The creationists then will take this insertion of meaning into the Bible as one of their tools to say that physical laws have changed.

Interestingly enough in my conversation with Newman while he has no problem inserting such meaning as no rain before the flood he does not really want to deal with the idea that the Genesis story includes the law of entropy and the law of conservation. The story of creation talks about eating food, after all that is the meaning of the beasts of the field; the animals that forage on grass.

Genesis 1:30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground--everything that has the breath of life in it--I give every green plant for food." And it was so.

Food implies entropy and conservation of energy. So you can’t simply pretend it is not there. It is there and an animal like an Elephant would eat a lot of it not to mention what a dinosaur would eat or a whale, and these big mammals are kind of indiscriminant eaters. They aren’t going to be checking for crickets in their clump of grass. Did they just not eat until after Adam sinned even though in the creation account food is mentioned in both Genesis 1 and 2? If an animal was to eat but was not losing energy in someway what would be the purpose of food? It tastes good yes but if the idea was just to give a pleasurable sensation why not just use smell? Were they just to eat until they reached maturity and then stop their lifelong habits? With the ploy to changed natural laws the creationist asserts the change but has no evidence to support the claim and when ideas counter to their claims are made they can simply say the laws were different so it does not matter that they ate the law of conservation did not exist or entropy, a type of magical thinking which always solves any problem because they believe in a circular fashion and their belief is their evidence to support their belief.

In his article Newman writes:

I believe this law [law of entropy]—along with other laws that lead to decay and death—did not exist before sin entered the universe. Let’s take a look at Scripture to see when God changed fundamental laws under which our Earth operates.

He then quotes the curse that God declared on the ground, thorns and thistles. But as is the way of the traditionalists who think they are literalists Newman then adds material that is not found in the Bible, he writes:

All animals were vegetarians, but now some could prey on other animals for their food. This meant a change in how they processed food. Microevolution comes into play. And Satan can use all of his skills to help evil develop.

All that from thorns and thistles, vegetarians yes we could determine that from the story but there is nothing there about predation, nothing there about Satan using his skills, of course the idea of Satan is of much later development. But what of microevolution why did it suddenly appear or was it as the theistic evolutionists believe always a part of the natural laws of God, no change needed?

It always amazes me when listening to the creationists who pretend that they are accepting the literal story of creation and when you really look at it they are inserting all kinds of details to make the story work…the details which the story does not have at all yet for some reason they still think their view is the literal historical view and that anyone who interprets the story differently is not taking the Bible literally enough.

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