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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Back up the Trees

In an opinion piece by Maurice Whelan in the Sydney Morning Herald today this little statement was made:

"Darwin sent us back up the trees to consider the origin of our species, and Freud gave us that new mirror"

Nothing dramatic about that, I suppose (Whelan is a Freud booster so has an obligation to think he's great), but the unspoken speaks volumes. He takes Darwin's views about origins as scene-setting, I think: where did we come from? Its the whole materialist saga that he invokes by his 'up the trees' phrase. Our connection with the real world in this saga is not a connection with the ultimately personal, but with the finally material: dust without the breath of God; just dust.

SADists, in their rejection of Genesis 1 (let's not beat about the bush: its rejection, after all their prolixity has evaporated) cannot effectively overcome or rebut this. All they have to offer in their proclamatory stream is a wordy metaphysic that you can have it both ways: the world made itself (world 1), and God made the world (world 2) both at the same time. There is not one 'real', there are two! But this pushes God away from us, it doesn't bring him closer, and it makes the incarnation and resurrection of a piece with the fantasy they've reduced Genesis 1 to, because of its disjuncture with origins as known in 'world 1': the world they endorse along with the world 2 they espouse.

This is not like Barth's rejection of con-joining theological creation and scientific treatments of origins (which are inextricably materialist today and so not scientific purely . . . but then, we have nothing 'pure' of an underlying philosophy or religion). As I understand him (which I must admit might not be the case) Barth wants to isolate the grandeur of creation from the details of the mechanics and so doesn't really pave the way for any particular position (which I think is the point of criticism of Barth, not that Barth needs to be worried that EP criticises him, of course).

[Barth in in his preface to Church Dogmatics 111/1, 1945: said that there are "absolutely no scientific questions, objections or supports concerning what Scripture and the Christian Church understand to be God's work of creation."]

My take on Barth is stimulated by my reading of Hebrews 1:1-3, where the staggering drama of God creating in Christ lifts the conceptualisation of origins far above the mechanical details. Materialist reading of the details of course undoes the theological prolegomena that is the revelation of creation, but that is a separate matter.