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AquinasD

Literal Flood?

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There are two problems with this answer.

Firstly, you're begging the question. You're saying:

-All allegories in Scripture identify themselves as such

-Genesis does not identify itself as an allegory

-Therefore Genesis is not an allegory

-Thus, all allegories in Scripture identify themselves as such

The last sentence here isn't actually something I was concluding, but merely restating from earlier.

If you presume that all allegories will say that they are so, then that's a totally insufficient way to determine what's an allegory or not. When you spoke before at great length about the 'grammar and structure' 'demanding' a literal interpretation, I was expecting something a lot more rigorous than, "It doesn't say it's an allegory".
You received something a lot more than "It doesn't say its an allegory".

Essentially, your question was: How can we know Genesis is or isn't an allegory?

My answer was this: "Allegory contains elements X,Y and Z. Allegory is featured in this example from Scripture (Isaiah 5:1-7). Genesis doesn't contain the elements of allegory and it doesn't match the form of allegory from other places in Scripture."

Secondly, even if we were to let this circularity slide, such a definition of allegory is far too stringent. If an allegory has to identify itself as an allegory, then Aesop's fables are not allegories. You're going to have to come up with some way of determining whether something is an allegory when it doesn't identify itself as one; or else you'll be bound to say that Aesop's fables are not allegories.
Aesop's fables aren't allegories anyway--they're parables.
Now you might counter here that the Bible is different since it's inspired by God, and therefore an allegory would identify itself as such. But here we must ask why - this clearly isn't the case in normal human writing, and Scripture was written by humans. That's why we (including you) interpret the Bible using human literary techniques - because it was written by humans. Thus, since humans clearly do not always identify allegories when they write them (in fact, they more or less never do), you're going to need a far less strict condition for allegory.
All I said was this: "In Scripture, allegories tend to identify themselves through their content". Scripture was not written by Shakespeare, ransacking the lexicon. It was written by God, using human literary techniques, without confusion. Humans don't always identify their allegories after they write them--this is a flaw, not a virtue. God, on the other hand, explains His allegories (what few there are), just so the point isn't misconstrued (as it can be with purely human allegory).
My only weakened understanding by a non-literal interpretation of the flood is that I don't think that the event physically occurred 4,000 years ago - if it did, obviously. I can draw any metaphor from it just as easily as a literal interpreter.
I would ask you this: if a person /knew/ the global Flood wasn't real (i.e. a local Flood, or none at all), wouldn't they be tempted to think that warnings in scripture weren't worth anything, precisely because they used a nonexistent threat? (I.e. God warns of judgment by fire, just as it was in the days of Noah and his worldwide Flood--if the Flood isn't literal, then the warning isn't worth anything, since its comparison didn't happen).
I can say with a very high level of certainty that no such secular geologist or converted geologist exists. If they did, they would be paraded around and cited by AnswersInGenesis on every page of their website. Given that this is the case, your personal investigation into the geology of the flood, with little to no academic teaching on the matter, looks very weak compared to the general opinion of basically every geologist. If it was truly objectively true that there was a literal flood, then you would expect <100% of secular geologists to think that there wasn't. It would be the highest degree of absurdity to claim that they're all wrong because of some presuppositions which, conveniently, only Christians have noticed.
Answer me this: is there not a basic difference between Christians and Nonchristians? Romans 1 says two things:

1. All men have knowledge of the truth.

2. Nonchristians suppress this knowledge of the truth.

Therefore, I think it extremely likely that in this suppression, their presuppositions follow it, and are thus faulty. The suppression of truth makes their entire worldview screwy.

I can't see how this is possible. Name an important aspect of the metaphor that I might miss with a non-literal understanding.
The intended, present impact of a metaphor (the warning I talked about earlier).

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Answer me this: is there not a basic difference between Christians and Nonchristians? Romans 1 says two things:

1. All men have knowledge of the truth.

2. Nonchristians suppress this knowledge of the truth.

Therefore, I think it extremely likely that in this suppression, their presuppositions follow it, and are thus faulty. The suppression of truth makes their entire worldview screwy.

But of course, the reason they believe there was no worldwide flood after looking at the evidence is not because they are interested in the truth, but because they are liars only interested in confirming their lies.

If we remember the lesson from Logos about this sort of self-deception, allow me to point out that evidence for a worldwide flood, if it had happened only 4,000 years ago or so would be very great and nigh indubitable. The amount of self-deception to not see something so plain that human reason would otherwise expect to see if there had been just such a worldwide flood is unimaginable and strongly reminiscent of the idea of doublespeak in Orwell's 1984.

Thus, you are contending that all non-Christians who do not believe are using a form of doublespeak in order to deceive themselves from seeing what is supposedly so "obvious" (i.e. a worldwide flood). This is, in itself, strongly conspiratorial. Do you not realize just how implausible your idea here of a vast worldwide conspiracy by geologists, both non-Christian and Christian, is? This is less plausible than believing that man never really landed on the moon, that there was a second sniper on the hill, or that the Holocaust never occurred.

Add the fact that there are Christians who believe there was no literal worldwide flood, and you can't even hide behind this supposed conspiracy, because, supposedly, according to you, Christians are Christians because they aren't engaging in this act of self-deception. How then do you account for the fact that I and ZME (and many other very intelligent Christians) believe there was no worldwide flood?

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But of course, the reason they believe there was no worldwide flood after looking at the evidence is not because they are interested in the truth, but because they are liars only interested in confirming their lies.

Not necessarily. They could fully believe that they desire to advance the truth. Without the correct foundational belief, all of their conclusions will be wrong.

If we remember the lesson from Logos about this sort of self-deception, allow me to point out that evidence for a worldwide flood, if it had happened only 4,000 years ago or so would be very great and nigh indubitable. The amount of self-deception to not see something so plain that human reason would otherwise expect to see if there had been just such a worldwide flood is unimaginable and strongly reminiscent of the idea of doublespeak in Orwell's 1984.
You greatly underestimate the ability of the human mind to rationalize any explanation which will avoid the concept of God.
Thus, you are contending that all non-Christians who do not believe are using a form of doublespeak in order to deceive themselves from seeing what is supposedly so "obvious" (i.e. a worldwide flood). This is, in itself, strongly conspiratorial. Do you not realize just how implausible your idea here of a vast worldwide conspiracy by geologists, both non-Christian and Christian, is? This is less plausible than believing that man never really landed on the moon, that there was a second sniper on the hill, or that the Holocaust never occurred.
Not a conspiracy, no. Since they don't acknowledge the truth, they have further blinded themselves to even discern truth (i.e. because they reject God and suppress truth, not only can they not discern truth, but they've made it to the point where they genuinely believe the lie).
Add the fact that there are Christians who believe there was no literal worldwide flood, and you can't even hide behind this supposed conspiracy, because, supposedly, according to you, Christians are Christians because they aren't engaging in this act of self-deception. How then do you account for the fact that I and ZME (and many other very intelligent Christians) believe there was no worldwide flood?
Simple misinterpretation of evidence. It's easily done by virtually anyone. All it takes is not fully considering the context and presuppositions around a piece of evidence.

NOTE: By advancing this, I'm not saying I have all the right answers.

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Not necessarily. They could fully believe that they desire to advance the truth. Without the correct foundational belief, all of their conclusions will be wrong

You don't know how science works, do you?

You greatly underestimate the ability of the human mind to rationalize any explanation which will avoid the concept of God.

You fail to realize that since the dawn of man the human mind has been trying to attribute nearly everything to God.

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Without the correct foundational belief, all of their conclusions will be wrong.

So how do you arrive at the correct foundational belief?

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(i.e. because they reject God and suppress truth, not only can they not discern truth, but they've made it to the point where they genuinely believe the lie).

.

Lucifer is a prime example of this in trying to overthrow God in heaven. He deceived himself so much he actually believed he had a chance.

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The last sentence here isn't actually something I was concluding, but merely restating from earlier.

Fine. My point still stands: If you say that, "The test for whether something in Scripture is an allegory is whether it identifies itself as such", and that you know this because, "All allegories in Scripture identify themselves as such", you're begging the question. How do you know that all allegories in Scripture identify themselves as allegories?

You received something a lot more than "It doesn't say its an allegory".

Essentially, your question was: How can we know Genesis is or isn't an allegory?

My answer was this: "Allegory contains elements X,Y and Z. Allegory is featured in this example from Scripture (Isaiah 5:1-7). Genesis doesn't contain the elements of allegory and it doesn't match the form of allegory from other places in Scripture."

Er, no, you only gave me X. Your only element was that allegories identify themselves as such. If there are other conditions, I would love to hear them.

Aesop's fables aren't allegories anyway--they're parables.

Semantics.

All I said was this: "In Scripture, allegories tend to identify themselves through their content".

But, as noted above, you claim this on the basis of the passages which are allegories identifying themselves. This is what you're saying:

"X isn't an allegory"

>How do you know?

"Because X doesn't identify itself as an allegory"

>How do you know that that's the test for allegories?

"Because all allegories in Scripture identify themselves as allegories"

>But what about X?

"That's not a counter example because it isn't an allegory"

>How do you know?

Because...

Scripture was not written by Shakespeare, ransacking the lexicon. It was written by God, using human literary techniques, without confusion. Humans don't always identify their allegories after they write them--this is a flaw, not a virtue. God, on the other hand, explains His allegories (what few there are), just so the point isn't misconstrued (as it can be with purely human allegory).

Obviously this is an insufficient account given the wide variety of interpretations of the Bible. This discussion right now is a clear counter example to the notion that there is no confusion with Scripture.

I would ask you this: if a person /knew/ the global Flood wasn't real (i.e. a local Flood, or none at all), wouldn't they be tempted to think that warnings in scripture weren't worth anything, precisely because they used a nonexistent threat? (I.e. God warns of judgment by fire, just as it was in the days of Noah and his worldwide Flood--if the Flood isn't literal, then the warning isn't worth anything, since its comparison didn't happen).

Good.

I would say that we should fear God because he is omnipotent. Him having actually exercised his omnipotence by flooding the world doesn't tell us anything more than that.

Answer me this: is there not a basic difference between Christians and Nonchristians? Romans 1 says two things:

1. All men have knowledge of the truth.

2. Nonchristians suppress this knowledge of the truth.

Therefore, I think it extremely likely that in this suppression, their presuppositions follow it, and are thus faulty. The suppression of truth makes their entire worldview screwy.

But you agree that non-Christians don't suppress truth in, well, virtually every other area of science - what's different about this one? Even if you were right that non-Christians were deliberately suppressing the truth (and it would be an obvious truth, given how much a worldwide flood just 4000 years ago would have changed the global landscape), to posit that every single non-Christian geologist who has studied the earth chose to suppress the truth rather than declaring a worldwide flood and possibly converting, is plainly absurd. But this, regrettably, is what you're bound to saying by arguing for a literal flood.

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Fine. My point still stands: If you say that, "The test for whether something in Scripture is an allegory is whether it identifies itself as such", and that you know this because, "All allegories in Scripture identify themselves as such", you're begging the question. How do you know that all allegories in Scripture identify themselves as allegories?

Because it is a characteristic of allegory to be composed of extended metaphor which is also clearly and completely explained (think of a really long parable). If Genesis were allegory, we would see explanations, just as we have in other passages of Scripture. Your point does not stand.

Er, no, you only gave me X. Your only element was that allegories identify themselves as such. If there are other conditions, I would love to hear them.

Read it again. /One/ of the characteristics of biblical allegory is that they identify themselves by explaining what elements in the story mean. There are others, and I have listed them. If you'd like an example, see Isaiah 5:1-7.

Semantics.

Not at all. The two are different literary devices.

But, as noted above, you claim this on the basis of the passages which are allegories identifying themselves. This is what you're saying:

"X isn't an allegory"

>How do you know?

"Because X doesn't identify itself as an allegory"

>How do you know that that's the test for allegories?

That is a characteristic of allegories--in Scripture, they identify themselves.

"Because all allegories in Scripture identify themselves as allegories"

>But what about X?

"That's not a counter example because it isn't an allegory"

>How do you know?

Because...

X isn't an allegory because it doesn't contain the structure, elements or explanation of an allegory. There's only so much I can do to say something /isn't/ until I simply refer you back to the original story to compare it to a known allegory. Do compare Isaiah 5:1-7 to Genesis 7-9 and see if Genesis fits the previously established structure of Isaiah.

Obviously this is an insufficient account given the wide variety of interpretations of the Bible. This discussion right now is a clear counter example to the notion that there is no confusion with Scripture.

If there's any confusion here, its because of /us/, not Scripture.

Good.

I would say that we should fear God because he is omnipotent. Him having actually exercised his omnipotence by flooding the world doesn't tell us anything more than that.

Try saying a parent has authority, but they never exercise such authority. How, besides simply asserting it, are children supposed to know their parents have authority? Only if such authority is exercised. Likewise, the warnings in Scripture do nothing unless the example given as warning actually happened just as stated. If it didn't, then either God is a liar or He isn't omnipotent.

But you agree that non-Christians don't suppress truth in, well, virtually every other area of science - what's different about this one? Even if you were right that non-Christians were deliberately suppressing the truth (and it would be an obvious truth, given how much a worldwide flood just 4000 years ago would have changed the global landscape), to posit that every single non-Christian geologist who has studied the earth chose to suppress the truth rather than declaring a worldwide flood and possibly converting, is plainly absurd. But this, regrettably, is what you're bound to saying by arguing for a literal flood.

I never said this. They may well suppress the truth in other areas (and they do in some, merely because they reject Creationism for atheistic evolutionism). See my comments to Bryce about the truth being "obvious". Furthermore, I said nothing about "choosing" to suppress the truth. They do choose to reject God--inherent in this choice is a rejection of truth, but if they knew and appreciated this, they would not reject truth.

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All i know is that every time science has tried disproving the Bible it has actually proven it it is the most accurate history book we have and as for everything else in there that's why its called faith you believe that Australia is real though youve never been there and seen it with your own eyes but have trouble believing what was written under guidance of the holy spirit.

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Something that surprises me on this forum more and more are the supposed "Christian" members who seem to doubt that their God can do anything.

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Because it is a characteristic of allegory to be composed of extended metaphor which is also clearly and completely explained (think of a really long parable). If Genesis were allegory, we would see explanations, just as we have in other passages of Scripture. Your point does not stand.

So you agree that Aesop's fables aren't allegories. They don't explain that they are; thus, they fail the Jarkai allegory test.

Read it again. /One/ of the characteristics of biblical allegory is that they identify themselves by explaining what elements in the story mean. There are others, and I have listed them. If you'd like an example, see Isaiah 5:1-7.

This is what you said:

A story which uses an extensive amount of symbolism. It has a greater degree of correspondence than a parable and it is sometimes known as an extended metaphor (a string of metaphors which have a deeper unified meaning). Allegory is a literary technique (thus implying that it carries universal characteristics). Sometimes entire books use allegory (Pilgrim's Progress, for example). The few examples of allegory in Scripture do generally identify themselves as such (Isaiah 5:1-7, for example, names what the characters in the allegory stand for--vs. 7). Allegory in itself is not a bad thing--merely another literary device occasionally used in Scripture to convey meaning.

You only gave me X. Unless you're including, "A story which uses an extensive amount of symbolism", but that's not helpful since that's a definition of an allegory rather than a test for one.

Not at all. The two are different literary devices.

... According to your definition. As Yves says, "Dictionary debates are evil!"

That is a characteristic of allegories--in Scripture, they identify themselves.

...

It's getting increasingly frustrating to ask you to provide evidence for this. This is what you're saying:

-We know that Isaiah 5:1-7 is an allegory, because it identifies itself as an allegory

-Therefore, all Scriptural allegories identify themselves as allegories.

That isn't good inductive reasoning, I'm afraid.

X isn't an allegory because it doesn't contain the structure, elements or explanation of an allegory. There's only so much I can do to say something /isn't/ until I simply refer you back to the original story to compare it to a known allegory. Do compare Isaiah 5:1-7 to Genesis 7-9 and see if Genesis fits the previously established structure of Isaiah.

"The previously established structure", consists of "Saying it's an allegory". Hardly a 'structure'!

Once again, according to your test of allegory, Aesop's fable isn't. It's obviously not sufficient. Please provide a test of allegory which will render Isaiah 5:1-7 and Aesop's fables an allegory, and the flood not. And give reasoning for why you choose that test.

Try saying a parent has authority, but they never exercise such authority. How, besides simply asserting it, are children supposed to know their parents have authority? Only if such authority is exercised. Likewise, the warnings in Scripture do nothing unless the example given as warning actually happened just as stated. If it didn't, then either God is a liar or He isn't omnipotent.

That's a good example. My parents virtually never exercise their authority, but I know they have it. That's a rather childish way to know that someone or something has authority, expecting it to see it used. I don't think God thinks we're idiots. God, by the Western definition, is omnimax, so has authority. Furthermore, your emboldened sentence is clearly false. The story of the flood could just be equivalent to God saying, "If you do X, Y will happen". Since X (the preconditions for the flood) has not happened, he hasn't done Y (the flood).

Further, given that the warning is part of the allegory, to draw from it that God is a liar or not omnipotent is obviously false.

I never said this. They may well suppress the truth in other areas (and they do in some, merely because they reject Creationism for atheistic evolutionism). See my comments to Bryce about the truth being "obvious". Furthermore, I said nothing about "choosing" to suppress the truth. They do choose to reject God--inherent in this choice is a rejection of truth, but if they knew and appreciated this, they would not reject truth.

The fact of the matter is that secular scientists 'suppress the truth' only in areas which directly contradict a modern/liberal interpretation of the Bible. To quote AquinasD, "All truth is God's truth". If they're so into suppressing truth (a statement yet unproven I might add), then you would expect them to suppress truth all over the place - not just in places where it contradicts this unorthodox interpretation of the Bible.

Something that surprises me on this forum more and more are the supposed "Christian" members who seem to doubt that their God can do anything.

Hey, could you point me to a post in this thread which suggested that God is less than omnipotent?

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So you agree that Aesop's fables aren't allegories. They don't explain that they are; thus, they fail the Jarkai allegory test.

I've already said they were parables, not allegory.

This is what you said:

A story which uses an extensive amount of symbolism. It has a greater degree of correspondence than a parable and it is sometimes known as an extended metaphor (a string of metaphors which have a deeper unified meaning). Allegory is a literary technique (thus implying that it carries universal characteristics). Sometimes entire books use allegory (Pilgrim's Progress, for example). The few examples of allegory in Scripture do generally identify themselves as such (Isaiah 5:1-7, for example, names what the characters in the allegory stand for--vs. 7). Allegory in itself is not a bad thing--merely another literary device occasionally used in Scripture to convey meaning.

You only gave me X. Unless you're including, "A story which uses an extensive amount of symbolism", but that's not helpful since that's a definition of an allegory rather than a test for one.

The test is implicit from the definition. If the definition is X, then look at the story in question to see if it matches X. Genesis does not fit the definition in question, therefore it is not an allegory.

... According to your definition. As Yves says, "Dictionary debates are evil!"

Not my definition. See "How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth" and "Grasping God's Word, 2nd Edition" for the definitions.

...

It's getting increasingly frustrating to ask you to provide evidence for this. This is what you're saying:

-We know that Isaiah 5:1-7 is an allegory, because it identifies itself as an allegory

-Therefore, all Scriptural allegories identify themselves as allegories.

That isn't good inductive reasoning, I'm afraid.

This isn't what I'm saying.

1. Allegory follows a consistent literary pattern.

2. In Scripture, that pattern is exemplified in Isaiah 5:1-7.

3. Therefore, one can use Isaiah 5:1-7 as a test for allegory.

4. Simply compare the story in question and see if it matches the structure of Isaiah 5:1-7.

*As a note, specific to scripture, allegories do seem to identify their symbolism explicitly, thus giving away their status as allegory. This is probably because Genesis was meant to be read and understood by the general audience at the time, not just the uber-intelligent ones. It will have made itself accessible to the general population of the time.

"The previously established structure", consists of "Saying it's an allegory". Hardly a 'structure'!

Once again, according to your test of allegory, Aesop's fable isn't. It's obviously not sufficient. Please provide a test of allegory which will render Isaiah 5:1-7 and Aesop's fables an allegory, and the flood not. And give reasoning for why you choose that test.

Read above. I'm not sure how I'm being unclear now.

That's a good example. My parents virtually never exercise their authority, but I know they have it. That's a rather childish way to know that someone or something has authority, expecting it to see it used.

I agree its childish, but we do it on a daily basis. Remember the stereotypical atheist, "Smite me O mighty smiter!"? That's essentially what some nonbelievers do on a daily basis, but far more subtly.

I don't think God thinks we're idiots. God, by the Western definition, is omnimax, so has authority. Furthermore, your emboldened sentence is clearly false. The story of the flood could just be equivalent to God saying, "If you do X, Y will happen". Since X (the preconditions for the flood) has not happened, he hasn't done Y (the flood).

I maintain that if someone says "I shot one man, so now I'll shoot you if you don't do X", I won't necessarily believe them unless they actually /did/ shoot a man beforehand (or can at least provide reasonable evidence--a gun, for example). Besides that, if they /didn't/ shoot a man, they're lying. Likewise, God wouldn't lie by saying "I did X, so I'll do Y unless you do Z", if He didn't actually do X (a literal, global Flood).

Apply the above example to God and you'll see my point, I think.

Apart from the scriptural proclamations of "You fool!" for various things, I might agree that God doesn't think we're idiots. Intelligent people, however, can certainly /act/ like idiots.

Further, given that the warning is part of the allegory, to draw from it that God is a liar or not omnipotent is obviously false.

Saying the warning is part of allegory is assuming the question. We're discussing whether it is allegory or not.

The fact of the matter is that secular scientists 'suppress the truth' only in areas which directly contradict a modern/liberal interpretation of the Bible. To quote AquinasD, "All truth is God's truth". If they're so into suppressing truth (a statement yet unproven I might add), then you would expect them to suppress truth all over the place - not just in places where it contradicts this unorthodox interpretation of the Bible.

"Suppressing truth" isn't just a narrow sense of "covering it up". It also entails revisionism, twisting applications, changing minor details, even intentionally overlooking things. These things, people /do/ perform.

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Jarrax, aside from making a direct storming of your castle as ZME is doing (at which point it seems you're only stating "I am still sitting in my throne" despite the fact that your throne has quite obviously been smashed to pieces after being thrown off the highest tower), allow me a different strategy, namely of challenging your succession to the throne in the first place.

It is a fact of history that it has always been a part of the Christian Tradition in Biblical exegesis and hermeneutics that the allegorical reading is perfectly valid, and often that it offers us a more compelling account of the meaning of some passage than a bare literal interpretation. Further, it has been held by Christian theologians and Biblical scholars of surpassing genius and insight that it is never a problem for a passage of Scripture that doesn't identify itself to be ahistorical to be considered, with good reason, simply ahistorical. Those theologians and Biblical scholars I appeal to, Augustine, Aquinas, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Athanasius, Jerome, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and so on are representative of this very perfectly orthodox method of Biblical interpretation.

What I mean to establish is that a person who vies for an allegorical interpretation of the Flood for no other reason than that it contradicts what we can, and have, scientifically determined is still a Christian indisputably in good standing. I state this because the Tradition I am appealing to exists and is, as a matter of fact, representative not only of Christianity later than the early post-Apostolic age, but is representative of that age of the Church in which there were Biblical scholars who held just such a view I am expounding who personally knew the Apostles. The Christian historians of the Church attest to this consistently, and I would think we have no reason to doubt their sincerity.

Your very method of trying to get at the Scripture is wrong not only in its implicit circularity and question-begging, but because it stands outside of and is contrary to what the historical Christian Tradition mandates as being the way to interpret Scripture.

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It is a fact of history that it has always been a part of the Christian Tradition in Biblical exegesis and hermeneutics that the allegorical reading is perfectly valid,

To an extent, this is true. But the prevalent tradition is to preliminarily seize the literal interpretation ground and then guard this position zealously (In the words of Augustine, “we must prove the demonstrations of physical science as well as we can to be entirely false”) until they could no longer withstand the bombardment of rational criticism and have to fall-back to the allegorical position. By the time St. Thomas Aquinas was writing in the thirteenth century, he noted (slightly to his disappointment) that Ambrose’s understanding of six successive days of Creation was the most popular:

Ambrose and other saints hold that the order of time is saved in the distinction of things [division into days: earth before animals, water before fish]. This is the more common opinion and superficially seems more consonant with the text, but the allegorical method is more reasonable and better protects Sacred Scripture from the derision of infidels, which Augustine teaches is especially to be considered, and so scripture must be explained in such a way that the infidel cannot mock, and this opinion is more pleasing to me. icon_mrgreen.gif
By Thomas' own admission, "the derision of infidels" is a serious consideration in interpreting the bible allegorically. I suspect that's the tradition modern liberal Christians are trying to recapture. icon_mrgreen.gif

Such was the legacy of the tradition, that not too long ago Catholic writer G.K. Chesterton was scoffing at Darwinism:

We have a series of hypotheses so hasty that they may well be called fancies, and cannot in any case be further corrected by facts. The most empirical anthropologist is as limited as an antiquary. He can only cling to a fragment of the past and has no way of increasing it for the future. He can only clutch his fragment of fact, almost as the primitive man clutched his fragment of flint. And indeed he does deal with it in much the same way and for much the same reason. It is his tool and his only tool. It is his weapon and his only weapon. He often wields it with a fanaticism far in excess of anything shown by men of science when they can collect more facts from experience and even add new facts by experiment.
Here's a more recent example from a modern-day Catholic clergyman:

http://www.ewtn.com/vexperts/showresult.asp?RecNum=310315&Forums=0&Experts=0&Days=2002&Author=&Keyword=noah&pgnu=1&groupnum=0&record_bookmark=40&ORDER_BY_TXT=ORDER+BY+ReplyDate+DESC&start_at=

Though it has been popular in some circles to doubt the historicity of the account of the Flood in the time of Noah, I personally accept this as an historical reality. One argument which has been attempted against its historicity has been that there are ancient accounts of floods to be found among other peoples; however, rather than discounting the reality of the Flood I view this as corroborative. In other words, the presence of multiple accounts of some incredible flood in ancient times would argue in favor of such an occurrence, rather than assume they all borrow upon each other.

One thing I look to in affirming the historical existence of figures of the ancient past is to look to the New Testament wherein many of the ancient figures and episodes are affirmed by Jesus and various sacred writers. This, in itself, lends great credibility to the historicity of the matter. For instance, regarding Noah, I note eight references in the NT. If Jesus* believed in Noah and the ark, that is good enough for me.

As to whether or not we must affirm that the flood encompassed the entire orb of the earth, the text would seem to teach this and subsequent texts would tend to corroborate this, but there is some flexibility with regards to the first eleven chapters of the Book of Genesis, as expressed in the encyclical “Humani Generis” of Pope Pius XII:

..the first eleven chapter of Genesis...nevertheless come under the heading of history; in what exact sense, it is for the further study of the exegete to determine. These chapters have a naïve, symbolic way of speaking, well suited to the understanding of primitive people. But they do disclose to us certain important truths, upon which the attainment of our eternal salvation depends, and they do also give a popular description of the origin of the human race and of the chosen people. It may be true that the ancient authors of sacred history drew some of their material from current popular stories. So much may be granted. But it must be remembered that they did so under the impulse of divine inspiration which preserved them from all error in selecting and assessing the material they used….“these excerpts from current stories, which are found in the sacred books, must not be put on a level with mere myths, or with legend in general…In the OT a love of truth and a cult of simplicity shine out in such a way as to put these writers on a distinctly different level from their profane contemporaries.”

Even while acknowledging some latitude in these early chapters, it appears that science is increasingly able to corroborate what we have held in faith based upon biblical texts, including bases for such matters as an ancient deluge, genetic linking back to one mother and possible on father, and the possibility of extended life-spans prior to the deluge.

*I wonder, is he referring to Matthew 24:38?

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Something that surprises me on this forum more and more are the supposed "Christian" members who seem to doubt that their God can do anything.

No one is doubting that God *could* do it. They are merely stating that he *didn't* do it.

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It is a fact of history that it has always been a part of the Christian Tradition in Biblical exegesis and hermeneutics that the allegorical reading is perfectly valid, and often that it offers us a more compelling account of the meaning of some passage than a bare literal interpretation. Further, it has been held by Christian theologians and Biblical scholars of surpassing genius and insight that it is never a problem for a passage of Scripture that doesn't identify itself to be ahistorical to be considered, with good reason, simply ahistorical. Those theologians and Biblical scholars I appeal to, Augustine, Aquinas, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Athanasius, Jerome, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and so on are representative of this very perfectly orthodox method of Biblical interpretation.

Generally, orthodox doesn't necessarily mean correct. Accepted, yes. Correct, no--just as "heresy" doesn't mean incorrect.

Furthermore, even if people are intelligent, they can still draw wrong conclusions. I submit that even when the early church fathers used the allegorical interpretation on non-allegorical books of Scripture, they did so errantly, disregarding the genres of Scripture, possibly in pursuit of a conclusion they preferred.

Note that this isn't a blanket statement. I'm qualifying it right now: Some church fathers may have been right. I hardly think that simply listing them and saying "they did this so it must be right" qualifies as conclusive proof. Why? Precisely because the early church fathers were human and thus completely fallible.

What I mean to establish is that a person who vies for an allegorical interpretation of the Flood for no other reason than that it contradicts what we can, and have, scientifically determined is still a Christian indisputably in good standing. I state this because the Tradition I am appealing to exists and is, as a matter of fact, representative not only of Christianity later than the early post-Apostolic age, but is representative of that age of the Church in which there were Biblical scholars who held just such a view I am expounding who personally knew the Apostles. The Christian historians of the Church attest to this consistently, and I would think we have no reason to doubt their sincerity.
This isn't about /being/ a Christian per se (one can be a Christian and a Theistic Evolutionist, for example), but is about the proper understanding of Scripture. If the Apostles themselves (and Christ) did not hold such allegorical views over non-allegorical Scripture (for them, the OT), then such views are not acceptable. Whether they did hold such views or not is open to discussion.
Your very method of trying to get at the Scripture is wrong not only in its implicit circularity and question-begging, but because it stands outside of and is contrary to what the historical Christian Tradition mandates as being the way to interpret Scripture.
Tradition (in both the RCC and normative sense) is not necessarily correct, outside of Scripture. Do yourself a favor: don't rely on Tradition when dealing with a Protestant. Use only the 66 books of Scripture and genre-specific interpretive methods.

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No one is doubting that God *could* do it. They are merely stating that he *didn't* do it.

Fair enough... a question I'd like answered though, is at what point do you start actually taking Genesis at its word? The end of the Creation account? The end of the flood story? The end of Abraham's story? Isaac's? Jacob's? Joseph's? Or do you treat the entire book of Genesis as a big fairy tale?

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Generally, orthodox doesn't necessarily mean correct. Accepted, yes. Correct, no--just as "heresy" doesn't mean incorrect.

lolwut

I believe that orthodox does mean "correct" and heresy means "incorrect."

Furthermore, even if people are intelligent, they can still draw wrong conclusions. I submit that even when the early church fathers used the allegorical interpretation on non-allegorical books of Scripture, they did so errantly, disregarding the genres of Scripture, possibly in pursuit of a conclusion they preferred.

Note that this isn't a blanket statement. I'm qualifying it right now: Some church fathers may have been right. I hardly think that simply listing them and saying "they did this so it must be right" qualifies as conclusive proof. Why? Precisely because the early church fathers were human and thus completely fallible.

But this isn't about any individual Church Father's ability, its about the cumulative evidence they present. They undeniably stand as representative of the corpus of Christian teachings received from the Apostles, and from the Apostles, Jesus. It is this fact of reception that I am referring to, and by what I mean "Tradition." "Tradition" just refers to the received corpus. You cannot operate apart from a received corpus; I am stipulating not merely that you are working from the Tradition wrongly, but that you have the wrong Tradition entirely, namely a Protestant fundamentalist Biblical-literalist Tradition completely alien from that Tradition received by the Church Fathers from the Apostles.

Tradition (in both the RCC and normative sense) is not necessarily correct, outside of Scripture. Do yourself a favor: don't rely on Tradition when dealing with a Protestant. Use only the 66 books of Scripture and genre-specific interpretive methods.

Why must it be only the 66 books and not the 73 books which the Catholic and Church Fathers Tradition accepts? Why your specific interpretive methods? You are just a fallible, non-authoritative man, and thus I am under no obligation to accept what you say as true.

---------- Post added at 06:34 PM ---------- Previous post was at 06:32 PM ----------

Fair enough... a question I'd like answered though, is at what point do you start actually taking Genesis at its word? The end of the Creation account? The end of the flood story? The end of Abraham's story? Isaac's? Jacob's? Joseph's? Or do you treat the entire book of Genesis as a big fairy tale?

When or whether one must read Genesis the way you do is asking the wrong question. Further, an allegorical reading of Genesis is not the same as regarding it to be a "fairy tale."

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I believe that orthodox does mean "correct" and heresy means "incorrect."

Heresy means "to choose"

Orthodox means "right teaching"

Heterodox means "choose teaching" or something.

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lolwut

When or whether one must read Genesis the way you do is asking the wrong question. Further, an allegorical reading of Genesis is not the same as regarding it to be a "fairy tale."

Kinda seemed like you dodged the real question there. I'll rephrase it though. At what point do you stop reading Genesis allegorically? How do you deal with all the other stories in Genesis, like the ones I already mentioned?

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lolwut

I believe that orthodox does mean "correct" and heresy means "incorrect."

See Selah's post on this.

But this isn't about any individual Church Father's ability, its about the cumulative evidence they present. They undeniably stand as representative of the corpus of Christian teachings received from the Apostles, and from the Apostles, Jesus. It is this fact of reception that I am referring to, and by what I mean "Tradition." "Tradition" just refers to the received corpus.

You know I don't believe the Early Church Fathers were infallible, or that they were necessarily correct in everything. Why are you operating off that assumption in order to try and convince me? As far as I'm concerned, Church authority starts and stops with the 66 books of Scripture.

You cannot operate apart from a received corpus; I am stipulating not merely that you are working from the Tradition wrongly, but that you have the wrong Tradition entirely, namely a Protestant fundamentalist Biblical-literalist Tradition completely alien from that Tradition received by the Church Fathers from the Apostles.

You mean I'm not RCC (assuming, of course, you believe the RCC is descended from the Apostles and Fathers), so I must be wrong? Believe what you like, but this is a sad, sad way to try and distract from the topic at hand.

t it be only the 66 books and not the 73 books which the Catholic and Church Fathers Tradition accepts? Why your specific interpretive methods? You are just a fallible, non-authoritative man, and thus I am under no obligation to accept what you say as true.

Because only the 66 have the evidence and authority to be counted as Scripture. Why the grammatico-historical method? Because it best fits each genre of Scripture and leads to the best conclusions about meanings. I'm not trying to convince you personally, so feel free to believe whatever you like. All I'm saying is that in order to be sure of your own belief, you need to examine every other possibility first--including the one I'm proposing.

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You know I don't believe the Early Church Fathers were infallible, or that they were necessarily correct in everything. Why are you operating off that assumption in order to try and convince me?

Its not an assumption of mine. All I'm assuming is that what the Apostles taught was propagated, and that what the Church Fathers propagated was in line with what the Apostles propagated. So, the Church Fathers propagated an allegorical reading of Scripture as being perfectly descriptive and sufficient, therefore the Apostles taught what at least implied the same.

As far as I'm concerned, Church authority starts and stops with the 66 books of Scripture.

By whose authority?

You mean I'm not RCC (assuming, of course, you believe the RCC is descended from the Apostles and Fathers), so I must be wrong? Believe what you like, but this is a sad, sad way to try and distract from the topic at hand.

That's not precisely what I'm saying. All I'm saying is that you repudiate the Church Fathers. Why this is a bad thing, see above.

Because only the 66 have the evidence and authority to be counted as Scripture.

How do you know what counts as evidence and authority for a text to be counted as Scripture?

Why the grammatico-historical method? Because it best fits each genre of Scripture and leads to the best conclusions about meanings.

How do you know it arrives at the best conclusions about the meaning of Scripture, considering you only arrive at the conclusions you do (supposedly) by using this method?

I'm not trying to convince you personally, so feel free to believe whatever you like. All I'm saying is that in order to be sure of your own belief, you need to examine every other possibility first--including the one I'm proposing.

Except that what you propose stands outside of the Tradition of the Church Fathers; and note, I'm not saying they were infallible, I'm only trusting that the Holy Spirit didn't allow the light of the Gospel to be blighted from history for any period of time.

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Its not an assumption of mine. All I'm assuming is that what the Apostles taught was propagated, and that what the Church Fathers propagated was in line with what the Apostles propagated. So, the Church Fathers propagated an allegorical reading of Scripture as being perfectly descriptive and sufficient, therefore the Apostles taught what at least implied the same.

The weak part here is assuming that the Church Fathers propagated /everything/ which was in line with the Apostles, and/or /only/ propagated what was in line with the Apostles. Human nature and the fundamental way we communicate do not change from era to era. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe (also with other evidence) that the laws of communication work the same way now as they did with the Apostles, and also that Scripture was inspired with these laws of communication in mind.

By whose authority?

Christ's authority, plus the lack of other capable authority. He didn't give the Church authority to designate what was and was not Scripture. He did not give the Church authority to declare things outside of His own written record (the 66 books of Scripture) essential for faith or doctrine. The Church, therefore, only has authority as far as it is in line with the teachings of Christ as revealed through a /normal/ reading of Scripture, not an allegorical one. Its authority stops as soon as it advances beyond scripture or attempts to change scripture.

That's not precisely what I'm saying. All I'm saying is that you repudiate the Church Fathers. Why this is a bad thing, see above.

I deny that they were authoritative in the sense that 1. Their interpretation was entirely correct, 2. That their interpretation was best, and 3. That their interpretation was the same one the Apostles used. Given these three things, repudiation (if this is even true) isn't a big consequence.

Doctrine and history have their place, but only supplementally to Scripture, not overridingly as teaching.

How do you know what counts as evidence and authority for a text to be counted as Scripture?

We've been over this before. Please see one of our previous conversations on the subject.

How do you know it arrives at the best conclusions about the meaning of Scripture, considering you only arrive at the conclusions you do (supposedly) by using this method?

I don't use the method to find the method, if that's what you're implying. The grammatico-historical method best fits the nature (read: laws) of communication, therefore it is best fit to find out what an author actually means. It also works for any form of communication, not just Scripture.

Except that what you propose stands outside of the Tradition of the Church Fathers; and note, I'm not saying they were infallible, I'm only trusting that the Holy Spirit didn't allow the light of the Gospel to be blighted from history for any period of time.

I would deny both your definition of "Tradition" and the implied belief that the Gospel includes anything other than what is strictly stated in Scripture as Gospel.

----

Now, after all this . . . let's please stick to the actual subject of the thread? I'll be glad to talk about the finer points of doctrine, church history and interpretation with you in another thread, just not this one.

At what point do you stop reading Genesis allegorically? How do you deal with all the other stories in Genesis, like the ones I already mentioned?

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The weak part here is assuming that the Church Fathers propagated /everything/ which was in line with the Apostles, and/or /only/ propagated what was in line with the Apostles. Human nature and the fundamental way we communicate do not change from era to era. Therefore, it is reasonable to believe (also with other evidence) that the laws of communication work the same way now as they did with the Apostles, and also that Scripture was inspired with these laws of communication in mind.

Fine. Then why should I believe that essentially all the Church Fathers were wrong about the allegorical possibilities of interpreting Scripture?

Christ's authority, plus the lack of other capable authority.

But He never anywhere stated "And this shall be accepted by Christian people as being inerrant, authoritative Scripture to which they must refer about Christian doctrine; The Gospel According to Matthew, [etc]." So either He gave you some secret message He's not giving to me, or else He gave His authority to someone else to exercise in His visible absence.

Of course, here again I would defer to the Church Fathers, and presume that it is you who has the burden to demonstrate why I shouldn't believe they were in line with the teachings of the Apostles and you managed to rescue the meaning of Scripture despite them and how they had everything to do with what you consider Scripture, excluding considerations about how your own Tradition about the canon of Scripture takes a break from them with Luther and Calvin.

He didn't give the Church authority to designate what was and was not Scripture. He did not give the Church authority to declare things outside of His own written record (the 66 books of Scripture) essential for faith or doctrine. The Church, therefore, only has authority as far as it is in line with the teachings of Christ as revealed through a /normal/ reading of Scripture, not an allegorical one. Its authority stops as soon as it advances beyond scripture or attempts to change scripture.

But how do you know this? From Scripture? Since you denigrate the Church so much, why do you believe that the canon of the New Testament they gave you is correct, that it is authoritative, that it is inerrant, and so on?

I deny that they were authoritative in the sense that 1. Their interpretation was entirely correct, 2. That their interpretation was best, and 3. That their interpretation was the same one the Apostles used. Given these three things, repudiation (if this is even true) isn't a big consequence.

You are missing the trees for the forest. Certainly, if they were overtly wrong, repudiating them is no problem, just as repudiating Arius or Nestorius is no problem. However, you aren't doing anything to demonstrate that they were even likely to be wrong. I would believe its the default position that they are more or less forwarding what is in line with the teachings of the Apostles unless you can demonstrate where any foreign stream of the Tradition intervened to disconnect them from the received corpus of teachings they had from the Apostles.

We've been over this before. Please see one of our previous conversations on the subject.

But you were never persuasive. Your defense always amounted to "Its just common sense, its obvious to me."

I don't use the method to find the method, if that's what you're implying. The grammatico-historical method best fits the nature (read: laws) of communication, therefore it is best fit to find out what an author actually means. It also works for any form of communication, not just Scripture.

So when you read Aesop's fables, do you conclude that they are false because of how improbable it is that an ass and an ox ever spoke? Because its very obvious to me that Aesop's fables aren't intended to be read in such a way, and in just the same way, when I read Genesis or Job, I see that they are meant to be read in a way similar to how I read Aesop's fables, or the Chronicles of Narnia, or Pilgrim's Progress.

I would deny both your definition of "Tradition" and the implied belief that the Gospel includes anything other than what is strictly stated in Scripture as Gospel.

You can't "deny" my definition of Tradition because it stands within common usage within ecclesiological context, as it is being used here. That's just silly, I don't see what you're trying to accomplish there.

Also, whether or not the Gospel includes anything more than what is "strictly stated in Scripture" doesn't matter; do you, or do you not contend that the Holy Spirit wouldn't allow the light of the Gospel (whatever it truly is) to be blighted from history? Do you believe that a "true doctrine of Christianity," whatever it may be, could be totally foreign to what is already accepted by some Christian group as being a "true doctrine of Christianity?"

Now, after all this . . . let's please stick to the actual subject of the thread? I'll be glad to talk about the finer points of doctrine, church history and interpretation with you in another thread, just not this one.

But our "tangents" here have everything to do with whether or not the Flood must be interpreted literally. Apart from our discussion about ecclesiology, Tradition, and the Church Fathers, your whole argument amounts to "Its just obvious to me that its supposed to be interpreted as literal history, therefore you're wrong." Seeing as you're unreflexive and unwilling to allow that any other person could honestly come to different conclusions, there's no point following that trail any further down the forest of fundamentalism.

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Didn't I just say I would discuss the related issues with you in a different thread? Now, I believe you have a question to answer (one you have repeatedly avoided). Please do so:

"At what point do you stop reading Genesis allegorically? How do you deal with all the other stories in Genesis, like the ones I already mentioned?"

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