Sunday, October 20, 2013

Response to Joel Anderson's Critique of My Book, Part 3

Dr. Joel Anderson, ever the prolific author, has written a third post critiquing my book "God Is: Exploring the Nature of the Biblical God". Below is my response.

I enjoyed Joel's discussion about the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas. It is amazing that after all these years people are still discussing the same issues that were discussed back then.

Briefly, I just wanted to say that I do not believe that the following statement from Joel is necessarily true: "But since we cannot cause our own change, our becoming must be caused by someone or something else—but that someone or something else must be pure actuality, without any potentiality." If the Universe is eternal, then it seems quite possible that the ability to move from a potential to an actual could be a part of its inherent nature.

I mainly wanted to touch on the difference between Joel and I concerning the Adam and Eve story being "fiction". It puzzled me at first, but I believe I know what's happening. When I said that the Adam and Eve story was fiction, I was speaking to reality rather than literature. I believe that events of the past and the present have either actually happened or they have not. I divide these into fact and fiction. So, my calling early Genesis fiction was intended solely as a statement about its actually happening, not what category of literature it belongs to. So, I believe Joel and I are mostly in agreement on this issue. I believe that early Genesis is an attempt on the author's part to create a narrative about the origins of the cosmos and man and how man first came to do evil. I believe that Joel believes this also. He can correct me if I am wrong on this.

I see two problems with early Genesis being myth rather than fact. First, there are many people who believe that the Adam and Eve story is literally true. How does one convince them otherwise? Secondly, given that the narrative is myth, it leaves the story open to many interpretations. For instance, what is to be made of the serpent given that the we are told that God had created a very good world, yet a part of that creation is an animal that can lead man astray? I can see many differing meanings one can draw. Perhaps Joel can enlighten me on that one given his more extensive study of the era in which Genesis was written.

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