On Tuesday, January 20, 2004 Edward Babinski, to: “James Patrick Holding”
Subject: Bob/Ed and the horizon of each individualʼs ignorance
I have a young-earth creationist friend, Paul Nelson, Ph.D., who hails from a long line of young-earth creationists, his great uncle wrote a book advocating “flood geology” that I read back when I was a YEC myself (the book was called The Deluge Story in Stone). Today my friend has a Ph.D. in embryology, has co-authored a chapter in one book in the Zondervan “Views” series (the chapter defended YECism, but only in the most general way), and he gets paid well at the Discovery Institute (The Discovery Institute is the “Intelligent Design” think tank that is trying to get I.D. taught in public schools). I have known Paul for years and discussed many biologically related, and I.D. related topics with him. I have also tried to bring up the question of Flood geology with Paul, but he doesnʼt wish to discuss it. He remains beyond discussing or arguing Flood geology or specific arguments concerning the earthʼs age. Says he doesnʼt know enough about the topics. Yet he remains a firm YEC, believing his very salvation depends on it.
Maybe thatʼs how peopleʼs minds work, mine, yours, everybodyʼs. Nobody can take all the information in, on all topics, so we all have to rely on, or settle for, experts whom we expect to take up the intellectual slack for us and defend positions for us. I have personally tried the broadest approach possible, having investigated matters on every topic possible, to some depth, science, history, theology. But even I havenʼt covered all the ground there is to cover.
You admit yourself that you choose to stick to discussing topics in which you feel you have amassed the most expertise. Well and good. But what does that say about each manʼs horizon of ignorance? And how can people be blamed eternally simply for relying on experts to fill in the gaps concerning things in which none of us has thorough expertise? In other words we each take a lot for granted, other peopleʼs words, other peopleʼs expertise. People in various cults also take for granted their leaderʼs expertise. People in minor sects and denominations take for granted the expertise of fellow believers who produce that sectʼs or that denominationʼs apologetics and theological books. People in major denominations likewise take for granted the expertise of fellow believers who write on a wide variety of subjects related to the beliefs of the major denomination to which they belong. Individuals in each cult, sect or denomination also take for granted that whatever good happens to them is a result of God (as they and their sect define God) doing it, and hence that also helps reinforce their particular array of beliefs, be they YEC Protestant, Mormon, or Church of Christ.
For that reason it remains inconceivable to me that God is going to judge people based on their religious “beliefs.” Because in the end thatʼs like judging people based on the horizons of their ignorance, and such horizons, as I pointed out, depend on many factors, including, which variety of religious beliefs you had been exposed to or not exposed to, which religious persons of good character you were exposed to or not exposed to, which experts filled in your horizons of ignorance, etc.
P.S., If there is one thing I have studied it is the subject of borrowed words and concepts related to the cosmos and creation, that you can literally trace if you compare the Bible with other ancient texts. The “four corners of the earth,” “the ends of the earth,” etc., are phrases/concepts found in ancient flat earth texts that preceded the writing of the Bibleʼs verses that contain the same phrases/concepts. Even the order of creation in Genesis echoes the Babylonian Enuma Elish. The foundation of the earth precedes the creation of the sun moon and stars made and set above it. The borrowing of mythical words and concepts related to creation accounts in the ancient Near East abound. The Egyptians had a firmament. So did the Babylonians. The waters of the deep (way below the surface of the earth), the entrance to the land of the dead lying at the ends of the earth, are other shared phrases/concepts. The list goes on. Compiling such parallels was something I did prior to leaving my YEC beliefs behind. I authored a manuscript with footnotes and pictures of ancient iconography and ancient phrases from creation texts, comparing Genesis with them. The ancient agreed in the creative power of the verbal commands of their gods. They agreed that the basic elements of creation were “wind, water, light/fire, earth.” They agreed they everything had been created as it appeared and that the earth appeared flat. Questions asked to children round the world today showed that they continue to harbor the same concepts the ancients did, viewing the earth as flat.
Moreover, the borrowings do not end with the creation accounts. Borrowings from ancient wisdom literature found in the book of Proverbs have also been documented.
As well as the well documented practice of exaggerations regarding battle victories, or the numbers of enemy slain, or sizes of armies, or amount of booty captured, such exaggerations being rife at that time.
It is likewise true that the Bible contains evidence of differences of opinion among its writers, concerning matters like whether everyone goes down to Sheol after they have died. Sheol appears to have been the old majority opinion that existed right up to the days of the Sadducees, who were the old conservatives of their day. Or the spats between the prophets and the priests on the origins of all of those sacrificial laws, and the necessity or non-necessity of keeping them, and what God “really wants.” Or the opinion held in the Psalms that God will rescue people in this life and bless people in this life who serve him, compared with plenty of examples to the contrary, of good people who served God in this life, like Job, and yet suffered horribly.