Sunday, June 20, 2010

Biblical Anthropology is Scientific Study of the Bible

Alice C. Linsley

“There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works.” --Stephen Hawking

Hawking's statement has been criticized as an absurd opposition between religion based solely on authority and science based solely on observation. However, Hawking is correct in asserting this distinction. All religions claim textual authorities or, in the case of pre-literate societies, oral tradition. Science does well to the degree that empirical approaches are necessary to verify laws, patterns and substances of the material world.  However, true religion and true science are not so different in their method.  Both make assertions based on observation.  They simply observe things differently.  The scientist must work with the material world, so I work with the biblical text.  Religion observes the material world and its metaphysical extension.

As a biblical anthropologist, I apply science to the study of the Bible.  I'm seeking data on the pages of the biblical text that either confirm or disprove my hypothesis. When it comes to analysis of the kinship patterns of Abraham's Horite people the results are replicable by anyone and the results would be the same regardless of who, where and when the analysis was done. When something is both replicable and universal it is authoritative.

The ancient Afro-Asiatics layed the foundation for many branches of science.  They made discoveries in animal husbandry, plant cultivation, the discovery of antibiotics, metal work, astronomy, geometry and algebra. For the ancient Afro-Asiatics, who were both scientists and deeply religious, there was never a conflict. They observed patterns in the heavens and on earth and what they observed spoke to them about the Creator. St Paul says that this is how God designed things.  He wrote that God's eternal power and divine nature are clearly perceived by means of what God created. In other words, the order of creation reveals the invisible qualities of the Godhead (Romans 1:20).  Hawking is a very bright man, but he doesn't hold a candle to the Apostle Paul when it comes to understanding of the natural world and antecedents.

Even Jacques Derrida, an Arabic-speaking Jew from Algeria, identified a constant metaphysical presence which has been called by different names. Derrida wrote, “It would be possible to show that all the terms related to fundamentals, to principles, or to the center have always designated the constant of a presence, ... essence, existence, substance, subject, ... transcendentality, consciousness or conscience, god, man, and so forth.”

False science will never succeed in being authoritative because it ignores "the constant of a presence" or makes Man that constant. We might argue with Hawking over the significance of human existence, but his assertion that religion is based on authority and science on observation is mostly true. Ultimately, both true religion and true science seek to encounter and describe what is real and true.  Both bow to "the constant of a presence" at the center.  Unlike religion, however, western science grows frustrated by the necessity of negative definition.  It is an approach more comfortable to the eastern mind. Saying "something isn't" is also a statement about presence, and this is how God's divine nature is most often described in the Semitic world.

Related reading:  Biblical Anthropologists Discuss Darwin; What Does a Biblical Anthropologist Do?;  Is Biblical Anthropology an Oxymoron?; Genesis and Jacques Derrida; Biblical Anthropology and Antecedents


Rupert said...

Oh my goodness! How did you come up with this?

'I apply the study of is replicable and real in that it is universally and objectively observable.' you state this after agreeing with Hawking's statement?

On what basis do you find yourself able to link these statements?

The ancient Afro-Asiatics would have not had a fraction of the evidential knowledge that we possess in this day and age so to cite them as an example of faith and religion not being in conflict is spurious at best.

Every discovery made, every mistake (even scientific) which is rectified, every piece of proof and evidence and every multi-dimensional observation made never, ever finds 'god' as the answer, cause or reason.

Science does not place man at the center, that is a popular misrepresentation. Science believes man to be insignificant in the universe.

Of course science rejects a 'sacred center', there is no evidence for it anymore than there is for the earth being the center of the universe, or flat for that matter.

Why bother declaring that you agree with Hawking if you are then going to proceed to write such an opposing position?

Alice C. Linsley said...

The ancients were great observers of nature. The priests were well informed about the 7 visible planets and their movements. They knew of sidereal astronomy and were aware of what Plato called "Earth's Great Year." Most people today don't even know these terms.

I agree with Hawking that science works. Some people pose all scientists as secular humanists or hostile atheists. I'm sure there are such scientists, but these tend to pursue their ideological ends more than the data. The result is bad science. The same can be said for biblical literalists. They also make poor scientists.

I apply kinship analysis to the Genesis material. The results are replicable by anyone who is given the same information. Further, the kinship pattern of Abraham's ruler-priests ancestors is the same at that of Moses. This authenticates the material because that consistency could not have been written back in to the text at a later date. It is only evident through scientific analysis. In other words, science works. It helps us to discover what is real.

Rupert said...

Excuse me if I am interpreting on too simplistic a level, but are you saying that 'creation' is replicable?

And why would it be that '... consistency could not have been written back in to the text at a later date'?

Alice C. Linsley said...

The results of analysis of the kinship pattern of Abraham's ancestors will always be the same regardless of who does the analysis. Anthropological science shows them to be historical persons and can determine when they lived.

The kinship pattern of Horite priests is unique, like a cultural signature, and is found throughout the Bible though the books of the Bible were written by many different people over about 1200 years.

Rupert said...

I would still appreciate an answer in regard to your 'replicable' claims.

Anthropological science does not prove the stories. It shows that some aspects may be possible.

So between various translations from Hebrew, to Greek, to Roman; the alteration of the number of books and various rewrites and misinterpretations preclude the possibility that kinship patterns became aligned?

Alice C. Linsley said...

Kinship analysis is a science like chemistry. There is only one meaning for each symbol used in kinship diagrams. My research shows that the persons listed in the genealogies are historical.

You can replicate the research by diagramming the Genesis genealogies. Use E.L. Schusky's Manual for Kinship Analysis. Once the diagrams are complete you find the characteristics of the kinship pattern.

"Anthropological science does not prove the stories. It shows that some aspects may be possible."

Anthropology has done more to open the Genesis text than any other science. An anthropologist reads the Bible differently than a pastor or a theologian. We look for data. Comparative linguistics, archaeology and genetic studies have made significant contributions as well. The data in all these fields reveals the existence of Afro-Asiatic kingdom builders and a vast Afro-Asiatic dominion between 12,000 and 10,000 years ago. The point of origin of this movement east and north appears to have been the Upper Nile/Sudan. I'm researching what may be the antecedents in southern Africa where the oldest man-made ruins have been found. These include ancient roads, temples astronomically aligned (like Stonehenge) towns, and mining operations. There is a good deal of research yet to do and I'm not getting any younger! :)

All my research is available at this site. Click on the INDEX. Topics are arranged alphabetically.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rupert,
I'd like to keep your discussion points going, as I think they're very interesting.

"Excuse me if I am interpreting on too simplistic a level, but are you saying that 'creation' is replicable?"
I think creation is not replicable. But doesn't that mean that its not approachable scientifically?

"Science believes man to be insignificant in the universe."
Is anthropology a science? Sociology? Political Science? Are you perhaps referring instead to astrophysics or something very specific?

I love the comments section on this site! Thank you Alice for your regular posts and wonderful responses in your comments.

Rupert said...

Gees Alice, you are going to annoy the heck out of some people. 12,000 years ago! So what of creation?

The clarity is still somewhat dubious though Alice, due to the questionable sources and accuracy of the texts themselves.

Yes it is approachable scientifically JT. And so far the answer has never been 'god'.

The sciences I refer to include biology, archeology, anthropology, astrophysics, physics, medicine (DNA etc.) and so on.

Alice C. Linsley said...

The creation is billions of years old. Humans are relative newcomers having been here only a few million years. Of the ancient human populations the Afro-Asiatics are the oldest. This doesn't mean however that all human populations came "out of Africa."

I find very little in Genesis that is dubious or questionable. The questionable parts are easy to detect since they are either anachronism or post-exilic attempts to cover up the fact that Abraham had 8 sons and that both Jews and Arabs are descendents of Abraham by his 2 wives, Sarah and Keturah. In order to refute this, Jews have to reject portions of their own Scriptures. Zionism pretends that all Jews are descended from Isaac and Rebecca and that their descendents alone have a legitimate claim to the Land. However, Genesis shows that the ruler-priest lines intermarried, so Arabs and Jews have common ancestors and are of the same blood.

Rupert said...

I appreciate your information, it really is interesting. Particularly in regard to the issue of scriptures being rejected.

Of course there is the fact that I find the whole 'bible' thing to be a fabrication based on 'some' events that 'may' have occurred at 'certain' times. As an historical tome evincing any 'god' or 'jesus' its not all that convincing.

Alice C. Linsley said...

"As an historical tome evincing any 'god' or 'jesus' its not all that convincing."

That's because the whole Bible is ultimately about one thing: the Incarnation of the Son of God. The book’s purpose is to tell of the Horite ancestors of Abraham and David whose worldview and pattern of marriage indicates that THEY believed that the Son of God would be born of their priestly lines. This is why the priestly lines intermarried exclusively.

Unknown said...

Hi I wanted to read some books on Anthropology that would aid my understanding of Genesis and the OT, what would you recommend?