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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Genesis: not poetry? not polemic? not . . . not...

I was reading the Creation Ministry site's article of the day treating Genesis as not being poetry. The article was helpful as far as it went (and it only went as far as it needed to, I think), but there is a further issue that needs to be dealt with, to my mind.

Many who put aside the possibility of Genesis 1 (and up to 11, in fact) being factual do so not because of some compulsion in the text; although the documentary school would claim otherwise, but because of a prior philosophical, and then theological, commitment. Their theological position derives, if I am right, from a philosophical underpinning. This is certainly the case with the documentary boys, whose basic commitment is to the materialism at an operational level, but, I think to idealism, in some form, more deeply. And so with the SAD school.

Some posts have touched on these ideas over the past year or so, with recently, may be it was John, or Neil, writing about the split in reality implied in a lot of heterodoxy on this matter: this allows people to say that Genesis is 'true' in a theological sense, but not ground that in a context that is mutually accessible to all (that is, the real world) to say that there is, in the real world, another 'reality' that materialism rightly deals with (they would say 'science'; and in doing so make a whole bunch of other intellectual blunders).

This plays fast and loose with the philosophical structure provided by Genesis 1. A structure that is very helpful in all sorts of discussions with New Ager, post-modernist, neo-romantic and even materialist ideas. This structure is the integrated nature of the real and the continuity between ideas and the concrete, given by God having really created the world into which his word can be spoken to make sense: the meaning he provides is congruent with the system of meaning that emerges from our concrete life-experience.

The second order question as to whether the creation account is factual or not then must evaporate, as its non-facticity would eliminate any role it would have to play in communication between God and man: the question disappears Klein bottle-like into its own premise; the premise undercutting the question.

Of course, on the face of it, to say that God can communicate content using non-content (that is, Genesis 1 is not factual as we know it, but factual in some other way!!) is simply incoherent and provides us with no basis for the formation of a theology. It only gives us the basis for a human-invented fantasy. And thus both old and new liberalisms and the current neo-orthodoxy emerging from Moore.