‘Induction over the history of science suggests that the best theories we have today will prove more or less untrue at the latest by tomorrow afternoon.’ Fodor, J. ‘Why Pigs don’t have wings,’ London Review of Books, 18th Oct 2007

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

‘God is not the Creator’, claims academic

The Daily Telegraph has reported the work of a Dutch academic who claims the first verse of the Bible has been wrongly translated. Why we should believe a 21st century academic over traditional biblical teaching, where the writers were understood the Hebrew language much better than westerners do, I don’t know.

The paper reports Prof Ellen Van Wolde as claiming that the Hebrew verb "bara", does not mean "to create" but to "spatially separate". The first sentence should now read "in the beginning God separated the Heaven and the Earth" according to her.

There is incidentally a lot of harmony with this view and pagan beliefs, where Plato’s demiurge was for instance said to have created the world out of a pre existing chaos. Traditional scholars consider that Genesis was written in a style by Moses that was diametrically opposed to the beliefs of the pagan nations that surrounded Israel at the time, thus giving ‘clear blue water’ between the work of the one true God, and the gods the other nations considered to be divine. Genesis presents an ordered creation spoken into existence at God’s direct command.

Old Testament scholar Alistair McKitterick writes; “The word 'bara' certainly does mean create, if you read it in the context of the rest of the Bible. There is a perfectly good Hebrew word for 'to divide', namely the Hiphil form of the verb 'badal', which occurs a number of times in the first chapter of Genesis. What Professor Van Wolde seems to be doing is to take the Ancient Near Eastern myths and try to squeeze the Genesis account into conformity with them. But if the only way you can do this is to distort the Genesis account, then it is a pretty good sign that the endeavour is doomed to fail.

Genesis is different to the ANE accounts. God is certainly depicted as creating everything from nothing in the first verse, and that is the kind of thing that the Biblical God does. It is much better practice to read Genesis 1 in light of John 1, where we read that through God the Logos 'all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.'

If Prof Van Wolde were interested in the Biblical teaching about creation then she should have turned to the rest of the Bible to help her understand the meanings of such words, rather than to a collection of polytheistic texts. Polytheism will forever have a problem with creation because they will always have difficulty answering the important question 'which god came first?' and 'which god made the other gods?' The Bible has no such difficulties; it is the consistent teaching of the whole of Scripture that the one holy Lord God made all things.”

Source: Richard Alleyne, God is not the Creator, claims academic, Daily Telegraph, 8th October 2009

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