After the Bill Nye / Ken Ham Debate – Your Comments?

Well, it was quite a debate! For those who didn’t see the Bill Nye / Ken Ham debate live, it is apparently going to be archived at for a while, so you can still see it.

If you saw it, what are your thoughts? I have some definite opinions, but I’d like to hear from other folks first. I enjoyed a good conversation with Mr. Tyler Wayne from my Cincy congregation who called me immediately after, and I think he made some good points. What are your thoughts? Feel free and leave them below, but be nice and respectful! No need to be uncivil.

I will try to write some of my own thoughts in a later post, perhaps tomorrow, after I’ve heard from you guys. Y’all hear from me all the time. 🙂 What do you have to say?

[And, by the way: I hate to push my “God and the u-bit” post too far down on the list already. Please feel free to visit it, as well, and leave a comment if you like. Apparently, it’s Science Day!]

[Update: While it is still archived, you should be able to view it here, embedded below. If you do, please feel free to leave your comments and observations below. Again, I will try to write my own thoughts later, but I want to hear from you, first! And for those who haven’t been there, you might check out my review of the Creation Museum from our visit about three years back. — WGS]

38 thoughts on “After the Bill Nye / Ken Ham Debate – Your Comments?

  1. My opinion is, I was right to wait for the DVD to come out. My day has been too hectic as it is. 😀

    You can count on Ken Ham and those of like mind also taking away from what the Bible says, and especially right where it counts the most: in Genesis 1:1-2. I understand from one of your fans, er, local members that you recently alluded to some information I’ve passed on to you, and alluded gracefully, without going into too many specifics… well done. Meanwhile, I’ve sought to tip Answers in Genesis off about what I have on this subject – unsurprisingly, to no avail.

  2. Howdy, Mr. Wheeler. He or she might have been referring to my reference to the implication of disjunction between v.1 and v.2, but I didn’t refer to the musical theory at all. I thought that point in my message was based in what I’d read in Custance’s classic paper on the subject. Perhaps he or she got those things confused or perhaps I referenced the music stuff unthinkingly, though I don’t think I did. Anyway, I’m glad that someone mentioned the sermon to you, so hopefully it made a good impression. 🙂

  3. Jean-Paul Landry

    Even being hamstrung with the erroneous young earth theory, I think Dr. Stephen Meyers would have pummeled Mr. Nye with his fossil record stuff and cellular biology.

  4. Thanks for the clarification, and yes, it made an excellent impression on Ms. W.A. 😀

    I have an old article by Arthur Cunstance – the problem with the attempt by him and others to make a disjunction based on the words alone is, it really can’t be done (I have an entire book showing why, and there are essays on the topic too). The most you can say is it’s one of two possibilities, and not even the most obvious one verbally.

    There’s a reason why virtually everyone has gone the other way from at least the Septuagint onward: it fits the much more common analogy of Scripture. Truly the burden of proof is on those who would work against that analogy, and every young-creationist – with virtually every mainstream Hebraist – who’s studied the matter knows it. And believe me, they’ll be glad to tell you so.

    That’s why the accents (an inheritance from the Herodian priests, we are told) have to be taken into account, and in their original meaning. It’s the only way to make the point certain in context. Otherwise one has to back-argue, as Cunstance and others have (and as we have, following their example), from other verses in other contexts, which the original biblical authors and readers obviously didn’t. They understood perfectly well what the context meant, somehow, but they couldn’t from the words alone and I don’t think God just opened their brain pans and poured understanding into them. With that latter kind of reasoning, one can “prove” anything in the Bible he wants.

    But with the accents one can say:

    1) There are two and only two ways of accenting Genesis 1:2a.
    2) One way demands “the earth was formless and void”, the other “the earth had become chaotic and disordered”. There is no third option. (But this point only has meaning if one has an explanation of the accents which fits every feature of the forms and accentual-verbal relationships, one based on “the Bible interpreting the Bible” syntax against syntax, and thus a model which wasn’t extant for 1900 years to the year. Any other model proposed, above all the Masoretic model, can’t explain why either order of accents should make any difference at all.)
    3) Genesis 1:2a has the second accentuation, not the first.
    4) Therefore…

    …I will leave you there. 😀 And return once I see the DVD (assuming I have time to do so anytime soon).

  5. Initial thoughts: pleasant, interesting but not too buzzworthy except that it actually happened. Ham spent too much time on videos, highlighting assumptions and odd cases rather than present a cohesive affirmative case for how creation is a superior model in explaining main evidence than mainstream science. Nye only needed to show why YEC was not viable, which he did by mainly appealing to standard old earth/universe arguments and predictive power of fossil record. Neither of these key points were addressed by Ham. Nye played well by not attacking religious people. Ham must be applauded for presenting the gospel even though it’s framed within a narrow interpretation. I’ll be putting some thoughts together on specific points later. Hope this wasn’t too verbose!

  6. Carolyn Graham

    Hi Mr. Smith,
    I watched the beginning of the debate and parts in between. Perhaps, I will take another look at it later time..
    Even though, I find it refreshing to hear speakers such as Ken Ham support the fact creation has a Creator. I find it frustrating to hear evolutionists such as Bill Nye carrying on about evolution. I doubt such a debate will change too many peoples opinions on the subject. It’s not a question of looking at proof. Bill Nye in essence stated in his introduction why he believes the way he does, and it did not sound like facts had to be part of the equation. But an agenda. He will refuse to consider creation with a Creator, because in his opinion, it will not help further their progress in science and technology, in this country. What Mr. Nye fails to consider, God has blest this country over the years, as long as we were predominately a God fearing nation.
    Will debating this issue change minds, maybe a few physically minded people. But, if a person’s belief in God is based on scientific evidence, it will eventually have to develop into a spiritual relationship, or the relationship will not grow. Although, I find profound physical evidence God exists in all of creation. The beauty of a belief in God is grounded in faith. Hebrews 11 in example after example shows how faith in God produced results, not relying on physical evidence to convince God’s faithful. Heb. 11:1 succinctly puts it, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Also, in John 6:29 Christ said,…. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” To be called blessed by Christ is a good thing.
    Even though, I do not feel it is necessary to find physical evidence, and in some regard I find it arrogant, for man in general, to argue the existence of God. He exists and is Creator whether they decide to believe it or not. I still appreciate Mr. Ham’s efforts to challenge the misguided scientific community to quit pushing the evolution myth in our society. It is nice, he and others are finally trying to stop the lies that are being taught in our schools. But, despite their efforts, we know those lies will not stop until Christ returns to this Earth.
    Thanks, for allowing me to post a comment. I don’t normally do so, but this subject seems to strike a nerve with me.

  7. Pingback: Did Bill Nye Win? Did Ken Ham destroy science or Christianity? | Unsettled Christianity

  8. I would be very interested in seeing that comment if you can find it and if you have time to reproduce and send it. You don’t have to retype it here if sending a scanned page (graphic file, PDF, whatever) to my e-mail addy will do as well.

  9. I should add that by the time of Classical Hebrew (developing into Mishnaic Hebrew) the use of verb tenses was changing and so *haytah in Genesis 1:2 would be taken not in its primary ancient sense but in another. Anciently “fall out, come to pass, become, be” was the priority of meaning of the verb root *hayah (BDBG Lexicon); by that time, the default assumption seems to have become (ironically) the reverse (“be” primarily, the others by extension). As this is something I didn’t recall when I wrote above, I have to examine the purely linguistic arguments and history in that light too. I may not be the only one who forgot this basic point among biblical Hebrew readers. 😀 The difference is that my linguistic betters would have no excuse.

    It seems to be only relatively recently that we’ve recovered this idea: in all three biblical languages, action is the framework in which time happens and not the reverse as in modern English. That makes a difference too.

  10. Here you go! “Furthermore, in the Masoretic Text in which the Jewish scholars tried to incorporate enough ‘indicators’ to guide the reader as to correct punctuation there is one small mark which is technically known as Rebhia which is classified as a ‘disjunctive accent’ intended to notify the reader that he should pause before proceeding to the next verse. In short, this mark indicates a ‘break’ in the text. Such a mark appears at the end of Genesis 1.1. This mark has been noted by several scholars including Luther. It is one indication among others, that the initial waw ({character}) which introduces verse 2 should be rendered ‘but’ rather than ‘and’, a disjunctive rather than a conjunctive.” (from Without Form and Void, Chapter 1)

  11. Thanks for that! Now, there is one technical error and it’s a little surprising – revi`a marks the first word of Genesis 1:2, not the last word of Genesis 1:1. But much more critically, I’m afraid Cunstance (with it seems Luther) doesn’t understand the hierarchy of the accents and what it really implies even in the Masoretic paradigm – which is too bad. But then, under the Masoretic paradigm it seems impossible to parse the verse correctly in the first place, even in terms of pure punctuation.

    There is an anomaly which, so far as I’ve seen in the Masoretic-scholarly literature, has never been adequately explained in accentual-verbal cases such as this (which are rather frequent). What should be the punctuation at the end of a clause – revi`a – is taken as the end of a phrase. What should be taken as a connecting accent within a phrase is taken as the punctuation at the end of a clause. (This is true in both Genesis 1:2 and Jonah 3:3, discussed below.) And this “doesn’t follow the rules” of the Masoretic paradigm – one indication out of very many which shows just how arbitrary the paradigm is. But the accents aren’t arbitrary. They’re used as they are for a reason and now we can explain why, anywhere we need to do so.

    Young-earth creationists often cite Jonah 3:3 as a parallel to Genesis 1:2, as they are superficially very similar in both accentual “disjunction” and in verbal grammar. Both “And Nineveh” and “and the earth” are marked with revi`a. Both are followed immediately by the feminine verb haytah. Most of what the Masoretes would consider “accents” (one very important sign is arbitrarily and wrongly excluded as an “accent” proper by their paradigm) are identical, leaving aside adjustments for syllable stress. And that’s as far as young-earth creationists can go, because it’s as far as the Masoretic paradigm can take them. On this limited basis we have no reason to argue that the presence of revi`a alone proves anything in Genesis 1:2. Even in the midst of a verse – Jonah 3:3 – it can introduce a complete break in action, yet one which is nevertheless concurrent in time. This is what most argue is happening in Genesis 1:1-2: the action has a break, but the time is concurrent nevertheless (for the initial, created state of the earth allegedly is being described). In both cases, if mere punctuation is all we have to go on, “was”, not “had become”, is the much preferable option in English translation, even though some sense of “becoming” is inherently present in the verb in both cases.

    I worked out a model of how the accents actually parse the syntax, it’s at once simpler and more complete than the complex charts specialists derived from the Masoretic paradigm, and I might be able to solve part of the problem right here. Let’s see:

    And the earth | had become /
    chaotic | and disordered //
    and darkness (was) | on the face of the deep ///
    and the Spirit of | God ////
    was moving | over the face of the waters /////

    And rose | Jonah /
    and went | to Nineveh //
    according to the word of | the Lord ///
    And Nineveh | was /
    a great city | to God //
    a journey of | three days /////

    The difference is not where and how revi`a is used in these verses (which usage, given what follows it immediately in the sequence of accent signs and how all the accents are connected to the words, is unusual in the first place and beyond the ability of the Masoretic paradigm to explain), but in what signs follow revi`a in the next accentual-verbal clause. In Jonah silluq (redefined by the Masoretes in this position as ga`ya or meteg, a “non-accent” even though it clearly is one) is combined with mehuppakh on the verb, drawing attention to it, and this is the first indication that “was” is the correct sense. In Genesis silluq is combined with merkha and this lends a completely different kind of tension (Suzanne Haik-Vantoura called it tonal “axiality”) to the verb. “Had become” is the sense (the pluperfect being even better than the perfect “became” in expressing the idea). And these are just the first steps in demonstrating the fundamental difference in meaning between two otherwise quite verbally similar constructs.

    Sorry to rattle on so! But this is one example – out of countless examples in 20,000 verses of Hebrew Scripture – which shows me just how seriously we should take the accents as deciphered by “the Bible interpreting the Bible” and starting from the right and traditional premise (the accents are primarily melodic, then syntactic, and not the reverse as the Masoretic paradigm holds). This notation is part of the “oracles of God” which the Jews preserved despite themselves, if necessary (cf. Romans 3:1-3) and as such shares in the Bible’s canonical inspiration. I’m not asking you to accept that thesis via argument by my alleged authority, (yeah, right, as if I had any 😉 ), and obviously neither you nor I can speak for the LCG officially accordingly (even though in the Personal Correspondence Dept. we do make use of SHV’s work when it lends insight as nothing else can). I simply ask you to keep in mind that this kind of precision of exegesis in context is available to us now and no one else in the world, including the rest of the Church of God so far, has it.

  12. I’ve met Ken Ham. And, “debated” one of those who follow him. Both were quite fine fellows, and quite committed to their belief on a young earth. As to the debate with Bill Nye, I watched the whole thing. Was disappointed in both of them. But, considering the situation one has to give Nye some credit for debating since Dawkins is too afraid of doing such. Ken missed some great openings from Bill Nye, and Nye used too many old hackneyed atheist strawmen.
    Neither did a good enough job to change or convict any of their opposition. Status quo continues for lack of real dynamic presenters.

  13. Steve

    You know, the Nye/Ham debate would make a good introduction for a TW program on the subject. And thanks for embedding it. Appreciate that.

  14. Thanks, Steve. Actually, we should have a brand new commentary on the matter out on the TW and LCG websites tomorrow (Thursday) morning. It’s hard to say enough with a 650-word limit, but it makes its points and directs readers to additional resources. Plus, it gets out there much quicker than a magazine article would.

  15. Given the speed and space limit, I thought your Commentary was fine indeed. It spoke to our audience in the terms best grasped by the most people about the most relevant details. God bless you – and rock on, dude. 😉 (Thanks to the Pianist and praise for the quality of the piano, if you like.)

    And now one more thing from Hebraica… a very important thing.

    Young-creationists and mainstream biblical Hebraists would point out that if there really were a straightforward sequence of action through time in Genesis 1:1-2, then the author should’ve penned this:

    1) Bereshit bara Elohim et hashamayim we’et ha’arets.
    2) Wathi ha’arets tohu wavohu…

    “Wathi” involves the “sequential and” combined with a verb and reversing its tense. This is how biblical Hebrew by default portrays sequential action through time. We see this from Genesis 1:3 to the end of the chapter and in 2:1-3. Why not in verses 1-2? Most say the answer is simple: the absence of the “sequential and” in verse 2 shows the action is concurrent in time with verse 1, even as the verbal grammar and syntax and the accentuation alike show there is a break in the narrative action. This, allegedly, is why we actually see this written:

    1) Bereshit bara Elohim et ha-shamayim we’et haarets.
    2) Weha’arets haytah tohu wavohu…

    One normally would expect that the action is concurrent in time with what precedes – so one normally would expect verse 2 to explain the state of the earth as God created it in verse 1: “unformed and unfilled”, as the title of one book I have (seeking to refute Cunstance and everyone else on his side) has it. This would mean that everywhere else tohu wavohu, combined as a phrase or as two separate words, is used, God is returning the earth or a nation to an “unformed and unfilled” state – only the context would tell us that in those instances, punishment for sin is involved. It would prove nothing at all about the intent of Genesis 1:2, which allegedly is perfectly clear in its own context.

    But the argument misses something. It’s when the “sequential and” is missing in biblical Hebrew narrative, not when it’s present, that one must pay close attention because some important turn of action through time is involved. One can’t infer just what is so important using argument from silence, though. It could be simply starting the description of Creation Week from the top, with verse 1 being a summary of all that follows. Or there really could be a significance change of state (action through time), by which the earth became (not merely “was”) tohu wavohu. That’s why “how the author says what he says” is so important. And that’s what the accents are for – in their original meaning, that is. 😀

    And that’s all for now. I hope that helps! 😉

  16. I’ve read your newest commentary on Tomorrow’s World of the subject matter at hand. It’s stirred up quite a fuss on Tomorrow’s World Facebook page! You ought to check out some of the heated comments by the detractors of the old earth / 6,000 re-creation position you and the Church of God historically has had on this topic. Thanks for the fine commentary as well! – Wade

  17. That sort of counterpoint is exactly why I say the things I do, Mr. Smith. The detractors don’t know it yet, but their case has now been completely undercut. It is not a “gap theory”, it is a “gap fact”. It is “how the Bible says what it says”. We can’t help it if people don’t want to follow the evidence where it leads, but given what you talked about in your Commentary alone, they ought to know by now they’re arguing uphill.

  18. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve seen this video before now, but other readers may not have done so. Here is the whole creation narrative from the Hebrew Masoretic Text, after a methodology which starts from the right premise (the Masoretic accents are primarily musical) and which uses the right analytical method (comparing the accentual syntax with the verbal syntax, taking them as a “virtual bilingual”, a sort of “Rosetta Stone” in combination). Whether young-earth creationists like it or not, the final nail in the coffin of their wrong theology has been hammered into place. (My judgment of course, based on the simplest and most complete explanation of all the facts – not something we state officially, so far, as empirical data confirming a theological position we already hold for other reasons…)

  19. I also just read the “negative” comments on FB. This is part of what I meant in a former comment that the answers given by believers to atheists did not satisfy atheists. Part of the problem I believe is this. The writers opposing atheistic ideas, and false “Christian” ideas write their articles and books for the wrong audience.

    For example: a minister speaks before the congregation and tells the accepted version of creation vs creation to that audience. They already believe that and or understand the stance being taught. BUT, that is not talking to an atheist, or other Bible believers who do not accept the explanation. That minister will never make a dent with an atheist.

    Part of the key to convicting, not converting, an atheist or a bible believer of a different believer, is to show them their own weaknesses first. That’s how Nye attacked Ham.

    Ham never showed Nye how false his statement was that believing what Ham taught would cause failure in the creation of new technology. He should have made that a major response. Showing how Nye actually built his stance on a lie.

    Also, Nye’s lie that “building an interpretation on an English translation” somehow distorted what Ham read from the Bible. Ken Ham never really attacked that for what it was, a lie.

    Virtually none of the teachings opposing evolution will ever work if believers continue to respond with “Biblical logic.” All should read a couple books called “How to Win Every Argument.” It is based on telling lies, labeling the opponent, such as “homophobic” which is actually instructed to be done in one of those books.

    People do not understand what “logic” and “reason” are. Remember how Mr. Nye kept saying he was a “reasonable man?” Another lie, if one understands the idea behind “How to Win Every Argument.”

    So, what is logic and reason? Doing a little research, one finds that “logic” was a game played by the Greeks to, in my paraphrase, “prove another person’s argument wrong even though it may be right.” That is how the atheist and others against the Bible, a Diving Being, and their teachings attack them. With “logic” that is a game that makes the truth seem like a false understanding.

    As I’ve mentioned before, I deliberately spent a full year in daily arguments with atheists, which I called a-theists, to see how much they followed the “logic” of “How to Win Every Argument.” You can practically see a verbatim use of those books and ideas. And, it seems their opponents never use, or even know about “logic” and what it is, and how the atheists, and pseudo-scientists, and legal profession uses this system.

    Wish I could explain the whole thing, but this is probably not the place to do it.

    Oh, if you really want to get atheists going, call them a_theists. Some go right through the ceiling with that.

    Bill Nye seemed to slam “poor Mr. Ham” because he used against him the tactics of a child’s game called “logic” specifically designed to make truth appear to be false. “Logic” was not developed to find truth, but to overcome it. I think there is a book somewhere that calls that, “calling good evil” etc.

  20. There is also a book which defines so-called “logic” as sophism. The dictionary, as I recall. 😀

    My radar is always on the lookout for such abuse of logic in debates. If Mr. Nye had tried that on me I would’ve been all over it like white on rice (so much for my decorum, though – maybe Mr. Ham overcompensated for the sake of keeping the peace). Likewise with Mr. Ham, if he’d claimed that the “gap theory” was a recent invention of theistic evolutionists and they only.

  21. Thanks Mr. Smith. Here is a quote you might find interesting. Hope it is OK to give quotes for edification. This is a picture I believe of what Mr. Nye did, among other suggestions from this book “How to Win Every Argument” by Nicholas Capaldi.

    “The third possibility is what to do if your opponent has been successful. To begin with, MORAL POSTURING calculated to shame your opponent and audience is VERY EFFECTIVE WHEN YOU ARE THE OBVIOUS UNDERDOG in a dispute. Now if your opponent’s success is owing to HIS use of techniques of DECEPTION, such as those we are discussing, you can probably win points by exposing this fact and accusing him (more or less gently) of being a trickster. But if your audience is so dimwitted that it would not see what you are driving at, you should stick to using the DECEPTIVE tricks yourself.”

    “If your audience is somewhat sophisticated, but perhaps taken in by your opponent’s skillful presentation, then you should expose him as a sophist and a trickster who is insulting the intelligence of the audience.”

    All caps are emphasized in the book, except for the words deception and deceptive, which are mine.

    Again, if one reviews Mr. Nye’s handling of himself, the above was used by him. However, Mr. Ham seemed oblivious of these tactics. If I gave others you would recognize immediately what Mr. Nye was doing.

    If one knows these “techniques” one would recognize what Richard Dawkins is doing also. That is, his excuse for not debating creationists. He in essence says he doesn’t debate with ignoramuses. I have the very quote in one of my articles. And, here is the explanation of using that very put down.

    “… a teacher may reply that he does not discuss such serious matters with a bunch of ignoramuses.” p. 93

    These methods of winning arguments are quite fascinating, and I was never taught them at college. But, now it is easy to see through these false worldly methods of confusing truth, whether Biblical or secular.

  22. Mr. Smith, I don’t believe Mr. Nye is insincere. He is sincerely using these techniques, and more. After dealing with a few hundred atheists over the past 20 years, I have found in challenging them on these techniques they sincerely believe they are legit.

    Even the writer of the book says they are deceptive.

    You might also like the next book “How to WIN EVERY ARGUMENT, The Use and Abuse of Logic” by Madsen Pirie.

    All I am saying is that these kinds of techniques are what the world is taught, and use. They do not get at the truth, but make the truth appear to be something else.

    And that one sees them in use by those who debate Christians, while the Christians seem not to know what is going on, and try to respond with what they believe is the truth. These methods denigrate and degrade the truth in the public audience. Anyway, I’ve presented the point I wanted to make. Thanks for letting me.

  23. Indeed! That verse is a staple in my sermons, to the point my congregations probably tire of it! We all deal with the difficult truth of Jer. 17:9, so let’s all be thankful for v.10. 🙂 Have a good evening, sir!

  24. John from Australia

    John Wheeler writes:

    “It could be simply starting the description of Creation Week from the top, with verse 1 being a summary of all that follows. Or there really could be a significance change of state (action through time), by which the earth became (not merely “was”) tohu wavohu.”

    I prefer option 1, as a heading:

    Genesis 1:1a In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (NIV).

    for it best complements:

    Genesis 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array (NIV).

    Adding a time gap would seem to complicate the ‘matter’.

    I prefer to see verse 2 as a description of the chaotic state of the earth before God began to create. How it got to be in that state was not an issue – God was creating order out of chaos.

  25. I’m curious. Why so much emphasis on only Gen. 1:1 and 1:2 in trying to explain creation? What happened to “line upon line, line upon line, here a little there a little>” I thought the Bible explained itself. There are other verses in the Book that also speak to creation, which seem to be left out in this conversation.

    Another thing, the present LCG and those who preceded it were not the only ones that taught a time period between verse 1 and 2. Besides, it is not a “gap theory” it is a “time period.” And, it has absolutely nothing to do with promoting evolution. Evolution is a separate issue. I mention this since many say the “time period” supports the need to give evolution time to develop.

    And, another thing I’ve wondered why no one at least “speculates” on it. That is, the Bible says every thing was created out of the Father. If that is so, then all creation would mimic Him to some degree in this sense. He is called the Ancient of Days. Thus, was is of Him would appear to be ancient also, would it not?

    Further, no one mentions the fact that Genesis 1 uses both the words create and make. Something “made” is not the same as “create” since one word, according the the standard, means “out of nothing” and the other means to make out of something already there.

    For instance: “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters…” Or, let there be(come)? And, that firmament comes from what was already there. The earth was already created right?

    “Let there be lights in the firmament.” Is that not a statement connected to the idea of ‘for” a certain purpose. So, can anyone say that means create them at that moment, or cannot one say that they were just “let them be for this purpose” so position them for that?

    “And Elohim made two great lights” is not “And Elohim bara two great lights.” They were there and now were being reformed or repositioned for the purpose now set for them.

    “And Elohim set them?” Is that a word for “create” them? or, a word implying positioning?

    “And Elohim saw everything that he had made…” Is that the word bara?

    Gen. 2:1-3 no one explains much. What did Elohim rest from doing? Only bara(ing)? Or, something else?

    Just some thots. And, not including comments about this time from other of the Books like Psalms, Isa., etc.

  26. John from Australia: No point of view appeals to me which simply doesn’t fit all the facts at hand. As Albert Einstein allegedly paraphrased Occam’s Razor, “Our explanations of reality should be as simple as possible, but not simpler than reality itself.” And I have not even begun to give all of what the biblical reality states on this topic. Comparing these verses alone (the first contains *tohu and *bohu, and also a scribal error in the accentuation has been corrected by the RSV) should prove the point by itself, but so long as local context in Genesis 1:1-2 isn’t explained, there’s always someone saying “yeah, but”:

    (Isaiah 34:11 RSV) But the hawk and the porcupine shall possess it [Edom], the owl and the raven shall dwell in it. He shall stretch the line of confusion [tohu] over it, and the plummet of chaos [bohu] over its nobles.
    (2 Kings 21:13 RSV) And I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria [destroyed – parallel to tohu above], and the plummet of the house of Ahab [also destroyed – parallel to bohu above]; and I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down [explaining the whole idiom of “tohu wavohu”, which is like our “topsy-turvy” or its French equivalent, not at all meaning primeval chaos but rather the removal of pre-existing order].

    John, Carl Jung warned us all against what he called “Thinking in the service of Feeling” for a reason. If we have a conclusion we prefer out of personal value judgment to such an extent that it warps our logical judgment, we are in real trouble. There is a word in the biblical dictionary for this kind of reasoning too: haresis (cf. Galatians 5:20-21). I once gave a sermonette about the pattern of thinking involved. It’s not the greatness or the smallness of the subject being abused, it’s the “opinionatedness” of the reasoning itself which Paul warns against. (A really great description of the implications of the word is found in Vine’s Expository Dictionary.)

  27. Thanks, all. I won’t add much more than to say: (1) Mr. Wheeler: I edited out the part of your comment that you seemed to address directly to me. Thanks. (2) Mr. Petry: Actually, many of the things you say “no one” mentions, we do, actually, mention. I spoke to someone just this morning about the uses of bara and asah, for instance, and the sermon I gave last week (and will, again, tomorrow) mentions even more, such as bringing in the additional passages you allude to and more (in fact, Isa 28:9-10 is the first passage I read). There is a lot going on—not just what one would see in a personal blog post or in a necessarily limited commentary.

    Thanks, again.

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