I suspect historical criticism, form criticism, and redaction criticism are Bible study techniques that Parker hasn't quite gotten into yet. We need to place the Bible in its human context before making the leap to the divine.
I haven't read the book - I'm trying to see if it might be worthwhile. But my understanding is that Parker is a research biologist of good reputation, and with an atheist background. He thinks that what he finds in Genesis can be made to fit in with what he knows as an evolutionary biologist, hence he is thinking again about God. I'm not sure it matters if he understands those literary criticism techniques because he is not (I think) saying he understands Genesis in its original context, only that he thinks it makes sense in a scientific context.
If he is correct (and I have my doubts), his view may be more important for our understanding today than all the literary criticism in the world.
Post by humphreyclarke on Aug 5, 2009 10:56:18 GMT
I'm quite intrigued by the guy. Perhaps he is feeling drawn to religion and is seeking to make sense of it, hence why he is taking Genesis as a literal narrative of events. He would need to be pretty strong in his convictions in order to write a book like this, particularly when he works in a field where most of his colleagues are not going to be best pleased by what he has to say.
why he is taking Genesis as a literal narrative of events.
I'm not sure he is. This website, which is sort of official, says:
"Needless to say, the ‘seven day’ creation story, where the universe and life were supposedly created in seven actual days, along with other irrational ideas will not be entertained in the The Genesis Enigma, with its logical and commonsense rationale."
I think you have to say either it's an over-elaborate spoof by an avid Dawkinista (surely not) or else he has genuinely been struck by some parallels between a loose understanding of Genesis and his scientific understanding. And somewhere he said that Genesis was written in terms understandable to the day, and not scientific by our standards, just indicating a greater degree of knowledge than "bronze age goat herders" (my words not his - and not bronzed age!) could have been expected to have naturally. But as you say, it's intriguing, and somewhat amazing.
He would need to be pretty strong in his convictions in order to write a book like this, particularly when he works in a field where most of his colleagues are not going to be best pleased by what he has to say.
He's already copping it from the internet headbangers - he's in the pay of the Templeton Foundation, he's gone soft in the head like Flew inexplicably did, he's abandoned his science, etc, etc. No-one seems able to cope with the possibility that a person can remain a top class research scientist and question their previous metaphysic.
It will be interesting to watch what happens. (But, as Han Solo said to Luke Skywalker: "I've got a bad feeling about this!")
I also have a bad feeling about this. I don't think Palmer, assuming he's serious, is helpful, maybe the opposite. I also haven't read the book, but if some people can take the seventh word of every seventh line of a book of the Bible and make it predict something that actually happened (so there must be a God!), then Palmer's approach should be a lot easier and about as meaningful. The human capacity for reading in is enormous. The whole point of the literary and other criticisms I mentioned before is to avoid reading in. I think they are very relevant.
It is not a good sign when someone loses a debate in Metro...
Seems like Parker didn't eve quite read Genesis. It all put's in a bad light his presumption about this being "the strongest evidence for the existence of God I’ve come across".
Isn’t this another example of religion masquerading as science?
Absolutely not. I devoted most of my early career to science and leaned toward being an atheist. That’s changed during the writing of this book, which revealed surprising parallels between Genesis and the scientific history of the universe. Not only is the sequence of events in Genesis scientifically correct but some of the events themselves are really quite precise, which would have been impossible for a human to know at that time. You have to conclude that either the author made extremely lucky guesses or something strange was going on: divine inspiration.
That’s a massive leap, isn’t it?
To say there’s something mysterious going on is probably not too great a leap. What I reveal is something beyond human intelligence, beyond testing with scientific equipment.
In Genesis, God creates the earth in six days, makes man out of dust and there’s no mention of the Big Bang. If it was written with God’s help, why is so much wrong?
It’s the authors adding their artistic interpretation, shoehorning the facts into the type of story people would be able to understand.
You say the second ‘Let there be light…’ refers to the evolution of the eye but you edited out the rest of the line, which clearly refers to the Sun, Moon and stars. There’s no mention in Genesis of the evolution of the eye.
Um, OK. I’ll probably have a look at this in more detail again. The first page of the Bible doesn’t spell out the eye but it doesn’t spell out any of the science in detail.
Your argument seems full of holes.
I would say it’s the best guess with the best fit.
Is there any real evidence, or just speculation?
If you want to say it’s 100 per cent evidence for God, no. With this book, there might be indirect evidence – it’s the strongest evidence for the existence of God I’ve come across. I’m not sure how you would describe it.
Why didn't anyone challenge him about this before the book was printed? Or did he have the same editor as Dawkins had on The God Delusion?
It's time to resurrect this old thread, because The Genesis Enigma came into our local library and I borrowed it, thinking I would at least have a look at what the fuss was all about.
I have now read it. And I find it isn't nearly as bad as all the reviews said, in fact it was interesting enough for me to read it right through when I didn't intend to. So what's it about? And what's he about?
He is quite definitely an evolutionary biologist who scorns both creationism and ID. He treats science as the main way to know truth, he says quite definitely that evolution is a fact, and he says he formerly was mildly opposed to the idea of God. He is a scientist writing about science for laypeople.
And the book is mostly science - an account of the history of the universe, earth and life from the big bang until now. And so he explains a wide range of scientific ideas, with particular emphasis on the stories of how the discoveries were made, the different lines of thought, and the main characters: cosmology and astronomy; the geological formation of the earth; the beginnings of life; and the various states in the evolution of life. I presume his account is accurate.
Sandwiching this material are chapters and an appendix on the type of truth found in the Old Testament, the authorship of Genesis and the idea of God and its compatibility with science. These chapters are perhaps a little naive and rambling, but there's nothing all that exceptionable there.
He has two main theses: (1) That there need be no conflict between science and the existence of a somewhat deistic or non-anthropomorphic God, and (2) the sequence of creation in Genesis 1 if read as poetic, and if one accepts the limitations of language and thought forms of the day, can be read as following a similar sequence to that now revealed by science.
This isn't as silly as some reviewers have said. Some of Genesis 1 obviously fits ("Let there be light" can easily be read as poetically describing the sudden release of energy at the big bang), other bits are more of a stretch ("let there be lights in the firmament" is poetically describing the evolution of sight??? - Parker's own research speciality). The problem lies more in Parker's naive expression of the idea. He should have claimed a little less. When compared to many other creation myths, the Genesis account is quite sober and sensible, and while not as closely parallel to science as Parker suggests, is still closer and more believable than myths of other cultures that I have read.
Some reviewers have suggested that Parker needed to be better advised before he wrote. That may be true, but he does appear to have been encouraged by John Lennox, Alister McGrath and others at Oxford Uni. I think the problem lies more in the editing (or lack of it) of the book. Tighter editing could have removed some rambling and repetitive sections and tempered the naivety of some of his conclusions.
He doesn't take the argument very far - he simply suggests that the author of Genesis got so many things right (in Parker's view) that he couldn't have known naturally, that he can only conclude he received divine revelation. He goes no further than that. But I think a useful argument could be made out of the contents of this book. If one takes a more realistic attitude to the parallels between Science and Genesis, there is still something left to explain.
Finally, it is easy to understand the strident and mocking response by unbelievers, scientists and Old Testament scholars to this book. Yes it is naive. It does push beyond what science can demonstrate into speculative areas, which he as a well credentialled scientist is not supposed to do (??). And of course the strong atheists will readily ignore a person's scientific credentials if God gets so much as a whiff of a mention, and attack unmercifully - which they did.
In a way, I feel sorry for Andrew. He seems to have copped it from all sides, and received little comfort even from believers. I think he is an honest, though perhaps naive, person who almost unwittingly ventured into a minefield, perhaps unaware of the passions his ideas would arouse in closed minds and the invective that would come his way as a result. But then, maybe this has been part of his path to find the truth, in which case it will all have been worth it.
So that's what I think. Has anyone else here read this book?
Post by perplexedseeker on Jun 2, 2010 9:15:08 GMT
I feel pretty sorry for the guy too. Perhaps he was just so out of it that he hadn't realised how contentious this area has become in the last few years. Still, I guess this is what you sign up for if you decide to publish your intellectual ramblings...