[b-hebrew] Genesis 1:2 - And the earth was without form, and void

Karl Randolph kwrandolph at email.com
Sat Apr 15 19:51:44 EDT 2006

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Peter Kirk" <peter at qaya.org>
> >> ...
> > Peter, that characterization of creationists is not like the normal you.
> >
> Well, I don't want to get into mud slinging, but this is factually 
> true, at least if I replace "incompetent" by "unqualified". For 
> example, the recently deceased "Dr. Henry Morris, founder and 
> president emeritus of the Institute for Creation Research and the 
> “father” of the modern creationist movement" (see 
> http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2006/0225morris.asp), was a 
> hydraulic engineer, with no qualifications in theology - although 
> according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_M._Morris he did 
> have a "minor" in geology, so he was not completely scientifically 
> illiterate.
Peter: Dr. Morris jump started the creationist 
movement with his book "The Genesis Flood" with a 
co-author who was a theologian. In other words, he 
didn't presume theological expertise when he didn't 
have it. Further, Dr. Morris' textbook on hydrology 
was a standard text used at secular universities 
for their hydrology classes for many years. And to 
get a PhD, a "minor" is the equivalent of a 
master's degree in a second field, at least that 
was the case at the universities where I studied. I 
doubt your scientific qualifications come anywhere 
close to Dr. Morris'. The same is true of a 
majority of other scientists.

Peter, in the past I respected you because it was 
not your wont to make personal slights against 
other people, even when you disagree with them. 
Thus this is out of character.

> I don't want to defend evolution as an explanatory framework 
> either, although (as someone qualified in both science and 
> theology) I accept that the general scientific picture of the 
> history of the universe and the earth is generally true, although 
> no doubt in need of refinement of some details.
> ...
My main area of study at the university was logic 
and philosophy, the latter with an emphasis on 
comparative religions. Thus I am in no position to 
argue outside of my field.

However, when I looked at evolution, I found 
something within my field, namely logic. Evolution 
cannot be a scientific study because of the 
definition of science given in the same textbooks, 
never was and never will be. There is a logical 
contradiction at the heart of the claim that 
evolution can be a scientific study. When I ask 
scientists, evolutionists, if the definition for 
science has changed since I learned the definition 
from Dr. George Gaylord Simpson, they assure me 
that it has not.

I found that same logical contradiction at the 
heart of "creation science".

This is not in need of refinement of some details, 
the whole structure is flawed at its foundation.

"Intelligent Design" is different from both 
evolution and "creation science" as it has been 
explained to me in that it stays within the realm 
of science.

> > I will not think the less of you if you reject Genesis 1 and are 
> > honest about it. It is part of life to disagree with others. But 
> > I find this reinterpretation of the text not supported by 
> > linguistic principles to be intellectual dishonesty and it is 
> > that intellectual dishonesty that I despise. ...
> The intellectual dishonesty which I despise is of those who think 
> they know better than the experts in a field when they haven't even 
> looked properly at the evidence on which the experts base their 
> conclusions.
Those people I don't consider worthy to despise.

> > ... You claim that "day", when acted on by a number can mean 
> > something other than the equivalent of a 24 hour day? The onus in 
> > on you to demonstrate other examples where that occurs, ...
> I don't accept that onus. But, quite apart from the verses I 
> mentioned and concerning which you have not yet answered me, I can 
> validly appeal to historical facts. There are many places where we 
> allow our interpretation of the biblical text to be informed by 
> what we know to be true from external history. And by that same 
> principle, there is ample historical evidence that the world was 
> not created in 6 days 6000 years ago and so we need to interpret 
> the biblical records in the light of that apparent fact.
What historical evidence?

Do you reject the historical evidence that 
genealogical records were kept by a number of 
peoples tracing their ancestry back to a certain 
Noah of big boat fame? Do you reject the historical 
records that dinosaurs (then called dragons), even 
large terrestrial ones, were still found in many 
parts of the world as little as a couple of 
thousands of years ago or much later?

If by "historical evidence" you mean evolution, 
that is not historical, rather extrapolations based 
on modern religious beliefs.
> -- Peter Kirk
> peter at qaya.org (personal)
> peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
> http://www.qaya.org/

In another message you write:

>>No, Karl. You don't know anything about logic, it seems.<<

Now you lecture me on logic???

As for your limited observations argument, all we 
can say is that from all the observations we have, 
we have a certain result. Only after and not before 
a counter example has been found can one work from 
the supposition that a counter example exists. One 
can note a pattern after a few observations, then 
10k observations later if no counter examples are 
found, a scientist who assumed a counter example 
will look somewhat foolish.

Your reading assumes a counter example before the 
counter example is found.

>>So, the criterion for a day is not 24 hours, as measured by a clock, 
but a period of daylight and a period of night? That redefinition 
might have some interesting corollaries for Genesis 1. I note that 
the whole of Zechariah 14 describes events "in that day", and that 
includes in v.16 things which happen year after year!<<

Here you conflate different contexts and claim that 
they are the same. Only one place in the passage is 
the word "day" modified by a number, and that is 
for the city of Jerusalem where there will be no 
darkness to usher in a new day. It is possible, and 
I have done it myself, to use a word in radically 
different meanings, e.g. once literally and once as 
part of an idiomatic phrase, close together, rarely 
even within the same sentence. (No examples come to 
mind at this moment.) Your conflation is not right.

As for a redefinition of "day", it has always been 
defined as a cycle of darkness and light. Our 24 
hour clock has been calibrated to that cycle, not 
the other way around. Should something cause the 
world to speed up or slow down, our 24 hour clock 
would either have to be recalibrated to the new 
dark/light cycle, or we get a new clock.

I have always allowed for an idiomatic use of the 
word "day", as I have repeatedly said in this 
discussion. The idiomatic use always occurs apart 
from a numeric modifier in the observed examples 
that we have.

>>It seems we have a fundamental disagreement here. What criteria of 
what is poetic are you using when you write the above?<<

Genesis 1:1 - 2:4 are written in a terse prose with 
few extraneous words, not unlike other prose 
sections in Tanakh. Having read the whole Tanakh 
numerous times in Hebrew, I have learned to equate 
poetry with meter (almost totally lacking in 
Genesis 1), repetition (again almost totally 
lacking here) and parallelism (almost totally 
lacking here). Where God is directly quoted, as 
when he blessed the animals and people, there is a 
semi-poetic element though not consistent through 
the whole statements but not the full blown poetry 
as found in Psalms. Poetic meter and parallelism 
are found in only two verses: 1:27 and 2:4.

An example of semi-poetic speech are the statements 
of the treaty quoted in Exodus 20 where poetic 
elements are inserted into strict prose.

In closing, the text and linguistics of Genesis 1 
give a record of creation within six dark and light 
periods of the earth. Those dark and light periods 
are commonly called "days". Where the light came 
from for the first two and a half days is not 
explained and I found it is dangerous to speculate.  
But it is clear that darkness preceded the light.

Now I am not asking you to accept this record as 
being a true history, rather all I ask is that you 
back up your claim that it is not by providing good 
linguistic reasons why this prose document should 
be read other than as it is written. So far you 
have not provided that evidence.

Karl W. Randolph.

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