[b-hebrew] Assumptions about ANE ages that just don't work.

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Mon Oct 22 11:48:45 EDT 2007

Dear Yigal:

On 10/21/07, Yigal Levin <leviny1 at mail.biu.ac.il> wrote:
> One of the basic premises of any science, including the study of history and
> of linguistics, is that the laws of nature, and the rules that govern human
> behavior, were always what as the are now.

The basic tenet of modern science is that it is based on observation.
Furthermore, for that observation to be scientifically valid, it has
to be repeatable. Then patterns are sought in collections of
observations, those patterns are tested by making more observations,
which scientists call making hypotheses, testing them and refining
them to theories. (Source: Simpson, George Gaylord and William S Beck
"Life: an introduction to Biology" 1965 as well as many other science
textbooks of that era.) In modern science, observation takes
precedence over theory.

Because modern science is limited to what can be observed, either
directly or indirectly, it cannot study what cannot be observed. One
example of such is the past, which, though once observable, no long

The long lives listed in Genesis are an example of past observation
that cannot be repeated.

We are now in the era of post-modern science where theory takes
precedence over observation. True, there are still scientists who
practice modern science, or a mixture of modern and post-modern
science, which muddies the picture. Your statement above, "were always
what as the are now", otherwise called "the present is the key to the
past", is an example of post-modern science.

> ... This allows scientists to use
> carbon 14, for example, to date organic material - since the C14's rate of
> decomposition has been the same for thousands of years.

The problem with all radiometric dating, C14 being the most well
known, is that it is based on unobservable presuppositions, therefore
cannot be part of modern science. However, it is a central plank of
post-modern science.

> ... Since there is NO
> physical evidence that would show that people's lifespans were ever
> significantly different than they are now, taking the long lives in Genesis
> (or in any other ancient text) literally is a matter of faith, not science.
> Insisting that "everyone" lived longer back then is a leap of faith, not
> even mentioned in the text. Insisting that "it would not be wise to
> contradict Moses" is a statement of faith -

The question is, do we trust the ancient records? Why or why not?

> ... science is built upon
> contradicting and challenging old assumptions.

That is false. Modern science is built on observation, which can
either contradict or substantiate old assumptions. Where observation
is not possible, modern science has nothing to say.

> ... This list is NOT a forum for
> the discussion of faith. Unless anyone has anything really new to contribute
> to the matter, I suggest that we end this thread.
Here is where I can agree with you. And I include post-modern science as faith.
> Yigal Levin
To give an example of modern science vs. post-modern science; science
can tell that there are fossils in rocks, but modern science based on
observation cannot tell how and when those fossils were deposited.
Scientists can speculate based on their presuppositions (a 50¢ word
for "faith") but those speculations are not science because they are
not based on observation. Post-modern science, OTOH, posits, based on
faith, that modern observations can substitute for the missing past
observation making it possible for science to study the past despite
the lack of observability.

Getting back to B-Hebrew, science can study only that which has
survived to the present. It cannot tell when Tanakh was written. I,
Shoshanna and others on this list trust the ancient records mentioning
when Tanakh was written and what was observed was accurate. That is
faith. There are no ancient records contradicting that trust. Others
on this list don't trust ancient observations. That too is faith.

Where problems come in is when people stridently claim that their
faith is the only one to be permitted on this list. I tongue in cheek
have approached this limit, but others have surpassed it at times. As
a group, we have agreed to limit our discussion to that which can be
observed, the linguistics, old manuscripts, etc., and while the faith
claims may be mentioned, let's not hit each other over the head with

Karl W. Randolph.

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