Sunday, January 5, 2020

For and Against Greg Koukl

Here is David Wood rooting for him:

The ONE Apologetics Book Every Christian Needs to Read in 2020
Acts17Apologetics | 1.I.2020

I respond to this video on two levels - about the book, and about Greg Koukl's presumable Old Earth stand. For and against.

A. For his tactics, possibly:

0:54 "in a corner" and "woefully unprepared" was a few decades ago. I'm 51, if you flip the integers, happened once in a while back then.

Fair warning : my apologetics is part of what brought me to Catholicism and any dealing with my apologetics other than with the extreme caution of an atheopath (or likeminded) might get you to Catholic.

8:55 I get the gist ... I think if I went through the book, I would find several times over I was reminded of this or that essay or even book chapter in CSL or GKC ... and probably I might learn one or two they didn't use, and be reminded of one or two they used but I so far neglected.

Which means, the level is a totally different one than the one I expected and which prompted my initial comment.

And I could add, I don't mean I always have the answer, but when I haven't, on internet it is no problem to say "wait, I will look it up before tomorrow" or even to admit "I did not actually find the reference I expected". In a conversation with a stranger, orally conducted, you can't.

B. Against his defense of Old Earth:

Let's practise Koukl's tactics against himself. I'm taking this video, and since it has turned off comments, I am commenting here on it:

On an Old Earth View, How Do You Reconcile Animal Death Before the Fall with Genesis 1?
28.VII.2014 | STRvideos

0:39 Koukl : "people in ancient times communicated differently than we communicate today"

What exactly does he mean by "differently"? And how does he know?

0:47 Moses wrote Genesis 3500 years ago, fine, but why would that change how people communicate?

Note, I am not speaking about language, grammar, English didn't exist back then, his Hebrew isn't by itself a living language now, when he says "water" I wonder "does he mean H2O or H2, water or hydrogen?" and a few more.

But this isn't about "how we communicate" in a larger "tactic" sense, this is about our means of communication in translatable grammar and terminology.

So far Koukl gives no reason why "how we communicate" in the larger sense would have changed drastically just because 35 centuries went by, but I am posting this comment and allowing him to go on ...

0:56 Koukl : "there were different methods or sensibilities about recording events"

On some very banale issues, I'll have to agree.

What Moses does between chapters 1 and 2 (after verse 4) would to a modern sensibility take "let's go back to the beginning of day six, when God had created animals, but not yet man, and look in a bit more detail". Such transitional sentences could be left out, but then obviously, they can be figured out.

And if he's going for "no scientific exactitude" - granted. But that's not bc then vs now, it's bc of history vs science. For Ghettysburg, I couldn't care less about exact scientific numbers about how much lead was fired in bullets, I just want to know more men died than usual, it was a longer and deadlier battle, and who won. And this can be got very much without another method than we use now, because we do not always communicate in the science way now. If Moses were trying to teach a lesson on how to produce glass, he would have been sufficiently scientific for his readers to be able to reproduce Egyptian glass production.

1:07 Koukl : "things don't seem to be in the same chronological order"

With routing of merchants in the temple, St. John and the Synoptics are arguably talking of two different occasions, near beginning and near end of Christ's public life.

After the first one, Pharisees and Priests would have said "let's give him a chance to back this gesture up, but let's be critical" (which they were to a fault). After the second one they would have said "oh, he relapsed? and he rode in on a donkey, as Davidic King?" and they were already against Him.

1:30 Koukl : "people were free to shift things around to make a point"

If he means shifting the telling in comparison to the events as presented, agreed. But if he means shift about order of events presented rather than just of presentation, not agreed. Caesar would never have told of his invasion attempt to Britain before telling of how he got involved across the border of Gallia Transalpina with Oregetorix and Ambiorix trying to conquer and him - at first - simply defending allies (Aedui, I seem to recall) against their agression, and then repeat with the German attempt by Ariovistus. And he wrote one century before the Gospels were written, nearly. 80 years, around.

1:54 Koukl : "some people have tried to match up [etc] with something which, if they had been there at the time, they would have seen happening"

Beg your pardon, is this supposed to be faulty?

Koukl is basically shifting from saying people were less of sticklers for chronological order than now (even if some still are, due to telling manystranded stories : in Tolkien's magnum opus, books IV and VI tells us what happened to Sam and Frodo and mostly also Gollum, at the same time that books III and V tell what happened to the rest of the Fellowship, and there are more than one strands in these too), so we are very well familiar with situations in which thematic order takes precedence over chronological.

But even in such situations, what happens is not that words don't match up with observations for a timetraveller, it only means the timetraveller's words would be arranged on more than one axis.

And this is definitely not the same thing. Koukl's pretence of being savvy about ancient communication boils down to his ignorance of contemporary one.

2:27 "what if they had a different purpose?"

What difference would the purpose of a text make to its genre, in such an automatic way?

Obviously, an author would decide on genre keeping his purpose in mind, but the genre would be identifiable independently of the author's purpose.

Second, even suppose that Genesis 1 involves no chronological history, which I do not grant, Koukl cannot argue the same for Genesis 5 and Genesis 11. Or Genesis 4. He cannot argue that Cain and Tubal Cain were reversed in order, or that inventions that arose with 2000 years of interval were both attributed to Tubal Cain without accusing Moses (or his sources) of lying.

I can argue the archaeological beginnings of bronze and iron were post-Flood rediscoveries of what some Stone Age men already knew about because Tubal Cain had invented it, and I keep Tubal Cain the inventor of both.

Genesis 5 and 11, depending on texts, put Adam between 2000 and 3300 years before Abraham. We cannot have a communication system in which it doesn't matter if the real genealogic relations would be five times longer, at the very minimum, for Adam to be ancestor to pre-Columbian Americans. And one reason is, we cannot have Genesis 3 having so little guarantee for its historicity before Moses : because in Genesis, Moses writes as a historion transmitting historic knowledge, not as a prophet, transmitting what God told him in a vision. Except possibly, even probably, the six days' account.

2:44 "you guys are reading it the way a 20th C. person is reading .."

Koukl very clearly loses me here.

He is attributing to a shady figment of his imagination or of a collective imagination, "ancient man" the kind of intellectual irresponsability claimed to have been reported among modern savages. His "ancient man" is worth about as much as the "stone age man" who clubbed his "wife" on the head while wooing her, because back in the stone age they didn't have too many expressions for saying things like "I love you, will you marry me".

But we have found exactly zero traces of stone age men guaranteed to have clubbed their wives on the head, and zero traces proving they were not ceremonially married exactly like now, and Koukl has produced zero texts from 2000 or 3500 years ago, except the ones where his interpretation is disputed, where such a lack of consideration for actual events and actual order of events can be proven, to the satisfaction of a Young Earth Creationist like Ken Ham. He hasn't proven any such thing for Homer, even if Homer is 700 years later than Moses. He hasn't proven any such thing for the Ipuwer papyrus.

3:45 Yeah, at least some early Church Fathers took St. Paul's "through one man's sin" to mean exactly that.

We have another problem than animals though.

There is a Cro-Magnon woman carbon dated to 42 000 BP. We have her skeleton, so she died. The carbon date may or may not be identic to the real date of her death, but it is at least related. So, if carbon dates duly reflect real dates, not just their chronology, but the approximate time for each event (event of death and in the case of that woman, of human death), we would either need to assume Adam was 42 000 years before us, which makes historic records from Genesis 3 very moot, or that she died as pre-Adamite, despite sharing to all purposes except very minute detail the human anatomy we deal with today.

He also claimed to be cashing in on neither side, but the fact he is even resorting to this tactic and responding more to YEC shows somewhat otherwise.

4:13 He claims to see no place either in Genesis 1 excluding animal death before the fall and no place in St. Paul either.

And God said: Behold I have given you every herb bearing seed upon the earth, and all trees that have in themselves seed of their own kind, to be your meat: And to all beasts of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to all that move upon the earth, and wherein there is life, that they may have to feed upon. And it was so done.

All beasts created to eat vegetable food seems to exclude at least one type of animal death from before the fall : carnivourism.

Obviously a T Rex biting a chunk of another dinosaur (forget which one) is not clearly reconcileable with this. But Koukl doesn't care for going into detail.

But supposing one can have animal death and even carnivourism, we still have the anatomically modern human skeleta carbon dated to 42 000 BP.

And even the Church fathers who accept carnivorousness before the fall would certainly not have accepted it would be as wasteful as some things we see in the palaeontological record, like a T. Rex with ribs missing fitting the size of a chunk taken out with another T. Rex' mouth.

But in fact, the palaeontological record very well fits a flood model which takes into account ...

Thou by thy strength didst make the sea firm: thou didst crush the heads of the dragons in the waters.
[Psalms 73:13]

Sure, the traditional view of what it refers to is march through Red Sea and Egyptians drowning in it, but King David can have had a vision of what happened in the Flood as a parallel to what happened to Egyptians.

AND lots of dinos are in fact found either head without torso or legs or torso and legs with no head - or lots less than either.

Also, in Romans 8 Paul is talking about even non-human creation:

[19] For the expectation of the creature waiteth for the revelation of the sons of God. [20] For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him that made it subject, in hope: [21] Because the creature also itself shall be delivered from the servitude of corruption, into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. [22] For we know that every creature groaneth and travaileth in pain, even till now.

Here Bishop Challoner confirms that St. Paul is not talking of human creatures only:

[19] "The expectation of the creature": He speaks of the corporeal creation, made for the use and service of man; and, by occasion of his sin, made subject to vanity, that is, to a perpetual instability, tending to corruption and other defects; so that by a figure of speech it is here said to groan and be in labour, and to long for its deliverance, which is then to come, when sin shall reign no more; and God shall raise the bodies and unite them to their souls never more to separate, and to be in everlasting happiness in heaven.

This means, either animal death as such, or at least the more gruesome modes of it would be due to Adam's sin.

5:21 Koukl : "well justified examination of the natural world"

Does not seem to indicate any animal died within the hours between when they were created and when Adam was created, no.

Koukl is dismissing without even examining the evidence or the cases - other than the one he favours - the idea that the palaeontological evidence is evidence of the Flood of Noah.

5:42 Koukl comes off as Antisemite : "Hebrew genealogies are wildly incomplete"

No, not really.

If the main reading of LXX and the main reading of Luke 3 is correct, the Masoretic reading of Genesis 11 is incomplete by exactly one man : second Cainan. There seems to be some Jewish traditions (not Josephus) which favour the view that he was an evil man, and that would mean that he was left out deliberately of a genealogy with ritual value, similar as to the 3 generations around Jezebel's daughter Athaliah are left out from the genealogy of Matthew.

5:52 "that was not their style to be complete"

Again false. Here is the Haydock commentary on Matthew 1:

Ver. 8. Joram begot Ozias, three generations are omitted, as we find 2 Paralip. xxii; for there, Joram begot Ochozias, and Ochozias begot Joas, and Joas begot Amazias, and Amazias begot Ozias. This omission is not material, the design of S. Matthew being only to shew the Jews that Jesus, their Messias, was of the family of David; and he is equally the son, or the descendent of David, though the said three generations be left out: for Ozias may be called the son of Joram, though Joram was his great-grandfather. Wi. — It is thought that S. Matt. omitted these three kings, Ochozias, Joas, and Amazias, to preserve the distribution of his genealogy into three parts, each of fourteen generations; and, perhaps, also on account of their impiety, or rather on account of the sentence pronounced against the house of Achab, from which they were descended by their mother Athalia. 3 Kings xxi. 21. C.

Wi = bishop Witham, C = bishop Challoner.

Haydock Comment on Matthew 1

6:29 Koukl : "not really discussed until modern times"

Actually St. Thomas would agree on that one : since any times after Christ and after He founded the Church are "modern". One is the faith of ancients and moderns = one is the faith of OT Jews and NT Christians.

However, that is not really what Koukl meant, and as to what he meant, he is wrong.

Biblical inerrancy was attacked in scholastic times and defended by St. Thomas in argument and by bishop Tempier in condemnation.

6:39 Koukl claims "from what we can tell, what would be considered now an old earther"

Oh, very clear fact error, Koukl! St. Augustin was not a six literal days creationist, since he promoted the idea of compressing the six days into one moment, but as to Genesis 5 and 11 he very clearly does defend both long lives of individual patriarchs and comparatively short overall chronology in the face of pagan old earth scenarios (Egyptian, Babylonian).

No, St. Augustin was a Young Earth Creationist and so were the rest. The other opponent of six literal days, Origen, also was an opponent of long Egyptian chronologies. So he was a Young Earth Creationist too.

7:10 He is somewhat falsely paraphrasing St. Vincent.

In necessariis unitas, in non necessariis libertas, in omnibus caritas.

So, essentials or non-essentials, charity applies to both. But what Koukl considers charity is the liberty applying to non-essentials.

It is in fact (I'll believe St. Vincent of Lérins over Koukl) charitable to clamour for unity in essentials.

And if genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11 are not essentials in and of themselves, they become essential by what their credibility does to the credibility of Genesis 3.

As I mentioned against certain Catholics (we are very fond of Genesis 3 when it comes to defending the privileges of the Blessed Virgin Mary), if the real genealogies are at least five times longer (in time) than the recorded ones, this damages the realistic claim for facts from before them to have been correctly transmitted doubly : by adding very much time in which errors could have crept in but also by showing error as having crept in.

So, by extension to Genesis 3 being reliably transmitted history, Genesis 5 and 11 do become essentials.

7:18 Genesis 3 and therefore Romans 5 depend on the correct historic transmission of Genesis 3 which in two ways depends on the overall correct transmission of Genesis 5 and 11.

PLUS he misunderstands what the genetic analyses of Neanderthals show.

On an Old Earth View, How Are Neanderthals Accounted For?
26.IX.2014 | STRvideos

They do show a mainly human genome, they show some genes are not found anywhere among modern humans (Y-chromosomes and mitochondria) and these mean the analysed Neanderthals are no man's father's father's father twenty - forty - sixty generations back purely patrilinear and no man's mother's mother's mother and so on either. But they also show they had genes in common with some and not other human populations today.

Meaning, while we do not have them as genetic ancestors all of us, we arguably do have them as actual ancestors.

The speech gene clearly shows they could learn language. Some anatomic evidence suggests they might have had speech handicaps, communicating with men having exactly our thoraces or our skull floors, but this would only mean they spoke another dialect (of presumably Hebrew) where these handicaps are compensated for.

When they had art and buried their dead, it is immensely patronising of him to pretend that they could have not been made in the image of God.

This also makes the Old Earth View heretical on an essential.

Cro-Magnon are not a dead race. He gets that wrong too.

We are all Cro-Magnon.

Black, White, Yellow, these are subgroups of Cro-Magnon.

Post-Flood man is essentially Cro-Magnon with admixture of the pre-Flood races Neanderthal and Denisovan.

Overall, his view of genealogies (apparently - since he is defending it) makes Biblical historic inerrance a pure mystery of faith instead of a clear-cut credible thing and the idea Neanderthals could have art and make burials without being images of God makes the idea of a human soul different from brute souls also a pure mystery of faith.

While the faith has its mysteries, these two are not meant to be so.

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