The Relationship Between Math and Physics


(Neil Rickert) #161

You must be reading a very different version of Genesis.

According the version that I read, Adam and Eve were without knowledge. They only gained knowledge when they disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit.

(Antoine Suarez) #162

I am getting the impression you both have not read the standard Commentary of Gordon J. Wenham (Word Biblical Commentary I, Genesis 1–15, Word books: Waco Texas, 1987). Have you? To avoid misunderstandings posting on Genesis it may be useful you read it:

  1. Adam and Eve were perfectly aware of God’s love for them: in this sense they had knowledge about what is good. Nonetheless (tempted by the serpent) they mistrusted God and freely decided to defy God’s commandment: in this sense they knew perfectly well they were doing something bad although they deluded themselves “wishfully thinking” their sin would make them like God. After sinning they realized the delusion and to have done what is bad.
    In any case: They were completely free to NOT sin and hence accountable for their deeds. Otherwise it would have been nonsensical on the part of God to declare them guilty for disobedience, curse them for their sin (Gen 2:16-19), and banish them from the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:23).

  2. It is noteworthy that the phrase “good and evil” used in (Genesis 2:9) to describe God’s commandment, was also used in legal contexts to describe “legal responsibility” (Clark, Malcolin W. 1969. “A legal Background to the Yahwist’s Use of ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’ in Gen 2–3.” Journal of Biblical Literature 88: 266–278. Quoted in Gordon J. Wenham, Word Biblical Commentary I, Genesis 1–15, Word books: Waco Texas, 1987, p. 64). In this sense “knowledge of good and bad” in Genesis means awareness of law and accountability for transgression.

(Antoine Suarez) #163

Could you tell us what does “humanity” mean in this context?

At which time do you think “what is good and bad” becomes well defined?

Thanks in advance.

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #164

humanity is the totality of human culture, society, and families.

Hopefully soon.

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #165

Wow, there is a Waco Texas Bible from the 1980’s. Is it inerrant also?

(John Harshman) #166

Standard, is it? Then whatever is the tree of knowledge of good and evil? And why does God say that Adam has become one of us, knowing good and evil? You and Gordon J. Wenham aren’t making all that much sense here.

(Neil Rickert) #167

Fair enough.

From now on, I shall abandon the idea that Genesis is part of the word of God. I shall instead take the commentary of Gordon J. Wenham (whoever he is) as the word of God.

(sarcasm, in case you could not tell).

I grew up in a church that held to Sola Scriptura. And, according to Sola Scriptura, I should not take Wenham’s commentary as anything more than opinion. The only interpretation of the Adam and Eve story that really mattered was my own, based on my direct reading of the text. Incidentally, my own interpretation was that Adam and Eve was a story and never intended to be taken as history.

We seem to have drifted far from “Math and Physics”.


Free association is a practice in psychoanalytic therapy. In this practice, a therapist asks a person in therapy to freely share thoughts, words, and anything else that comes to mind”

Good description of parts of thread, IMHO. A thread which remains high in entertainment value, if nothing else.

(Antoine Suarez) #169

Wonderful example of “begging the question”!

Amounts to acknowledge you have no alternative sound proposal.
When you find one, we will discuss it with pleasure.
Meanwhile let us keep to cuneiform tablets as earliest vestiges demonstrating “accountability” within a community.

(Dr. Patrick Trischitta) #170

The concepts of what is “good” and what is “evil” is individual, familial, tribal, cultural, and societal. It is forever changing and variable over time and place. Your evil is my good and my good is your evil.

(Antoine Suarez) #171

In Genesis 2:16-17 God gives Adam and Eve a commandment stating clearly they will be punished if they transgress it. This means that Adam and Eve are aware of their accountability.

Accordingly, Adam and Eve knew perfectly well that keeping the commandment was considered “good” by God, while transgressing it “bad”. Nonetheless tempted by the serpent they delude themselves and think that what was “bad” for God, it would be “good” for them.

After transgressing they realize their delusion: God was right and they were wrong. In this sense after sinning they share the same knowledge of God (true knowledge) about what is “good and bad”.

This is exactly what Genesis 3: 22 states: And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.”

In summary, the important point here is that Adam and Eve in defying God’s orders did know they were mistrusting God and were accountable for this, even if they reached true knowledge about “good and bad” only after the fall.

This is the reason why: The Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3: 23)

This is a very interesting point:

Effectively the Genesis narrative clearly distinguishes between “man being creating by God in his image” , and “man becoming accountable” .

This supports my interpretation that in a first moment God declares humankind in his Image but makes accountable only a little population. It is at the end of the Flood, at the moment referred to in Genesis 9: 5-6, when God makes accountable the whole humankind.

This is not quite correct:
The reason God gives in Genesis 9:6 for the universal ban of homicide is: “for in the image of God
has God made mankind.”

(John Harshman) #172

No, the reason the Lord God banished him is so he won’t eat from the Tree of Life and live forever. Are you sure you read the story?

(Antoine Suarez) #173

Precisely in “Sola Scriptura” it is crucial to assume the following principle:

Scripture is itself interpretation: “Scripture must be interpreted mainly through Scripture”, and this means that your own interpretation, to be sound, should not only be “based on your direct reading of a particular text”, but take account of other possibly related texts in Scripture, and first of all what Jesus Christ himself teaches in this context.

For doing this, and so facilitating to build an informed opinion, it may be helpful to read the Commentaries by experts like Gordon Wenham as well.

If you dismiss this principle you may ending by deserving John’s blame that:

In the light of Jesus Christ’s teaching in Matthew 19:3-6 and Mark 10:2-9 one can very well interpret “Adam and Eve” as referring to a primeval population of accountable Image Bearers. In this sense “Adam and Eve” should not be interpreted literally but rather be taken as “a story”.

However, Jesus makes it clear that in the beginning God ordered to keep to unity of marriage and do not divorce: “what God has joined together, let no one separate.” So the Genesis account that “there was a primeval commandment of God, which was transgressed by the first accountable Image Bearers (or part of them)” seems intended to be taken as history.

Not necessarily, in my view:

We started referring to theorems stating that in Arithmetics there always will be unsolved solvable problems . And we discussed the possibility of linking these results to an omniscient mind containing the answers to all possible sound questions.

We then referred to quantum experiments demonstrating that not all what matters for physical phenomena is contained in space-time . And we discussed whether these experiments support the existence of an author who shapes the world from beyond space-time.

We finally referred to as an object lesson we are taught by evolution that humanity cannot be defined by means of biological terms alone, not even as species . And we are now discussing whether this strong fact of evolution leads us to a better understanding of the Genesis’ word about the creation of humanity “in the image of God”.

In my view what we are doing in this thread is not merely “free association” but bringing to light that science and faith are deeper entangled to each other as it may seem, and both have to be intended as parts of the search for the universal happiness of humanity.

That the thread “remains high in entertainment value” (as @BruceS remarks) is enjoyable and I thank you all for contributing to this.


Fair enough. One person’s free association is another’s claim to a logically connected series of premises, I suppose.

Although each premise is doubtful on its own, IMHO as I stated (way) upthread for the first and second paragraphs of your post

As for the third paragraph, unless I missed some other definition upthread, ‘human’ as in “human animal” is based on a biological species definition. But I do agree that ‘persons’ would not be. Although why we need Genesis to do philosophical analysis of the concept of persons is, unsurprisingly, beyond my understanding of reasonableness and so seems to be another free association to me


But its good we agree on the entertainment value, regardless.


How am I meant to understand this claim? Modern Homo sapiens is one of the most sharply delineated examples of the biological species definition in the whole of nature. It is only as we venture back into our lineage’s history that we encounter the familiar lumping versus splitting problem.

In any case, the fossil evidence does not require any moment of the “creation of humanity” at all, if what you mean is some unitary time when the population became fully human.

The evidence certainly does not support choosing writing as the marker. If you mean writing as communication, then it was predated by communicative cave art by many millenia. If you mean writing as the first instance of human accountability, then you need to explain the presence of family and clan “accountability” in modern non-literate humans, and the clear evidence of the same type of bonding in early hominid types, hundreds of thousands of years before writing was invented.

(Antoine Suarez) #176

Exactly! You cannot determine by biological means (skull and bones evidence, computational analysis of genetic divergence, or similar) the beginning of Homo sapiens, and even less the moment when a population became “fully human”.

First of all, you have to define what you mean by “fully human”.

For me this term means a population such that:

  • It is possible to sharp distinguishing whether or not a creature is member of the population on the basis of its body (as sharp as it is possible today to distinguish which creature is human and which is not).

  • This population ought to behave according to the following rule: Every member of the population is accountable for killing a creature of this population, but not for killing creatures of another population for the sake of food (the same way as today homicide is forbidden but humans are allowed to kill cows or pigs for producing food).

This is the reason why I relate the definition of humanity mainly to Genesis 9:5-6, and from here back to Genesis 2:16-17, and 1:26-27.

Notice that my definition is very much in agreement with Richard Dawkins declaration:

“We should not live by Darwinian principles […] one of the reasons for learning about Darwinian evolution is as an object lesson in how not to set up our values and social lives… [We should] despise Darwinian natural selection as a motto for how we should live.”

Excellent argument! Thanks for it.

If you define “humanity” as I have done before then writing is a sure marker:

  • Writing appears at a time when it is possible to sharp distinguishing between human and non-human on the basis of the anatomic modern human body: All intermediate varieties between humans and chimps did already disappear.

  • The first cuneiform tablets demonstrate sense for “accountability” and sense for “moral and legal responsibility” within a population of anatomic modern humans.

Does “cave art” 30,000 years ago demonstrate moral and legal responsibility? If you can convincingly answer this question by YES, then I will enjoy taking “cave art” as marker. As long as you don’t do it, let us keep to writing.

The presence of “family and clan “accountability” in modern non-literate humans” is predated by the presence of writing in humanity by about 5,200 years. Accordingly, the bonding these “non-literate humans” exhibit may very well be accompanied by a sense for moral and legal responsibility early hominid types did not have. Suppose this sense is endowed by God at the moment referred to in Genesis 2:16-17. This may have catalyzed the emergence of writing from existing proto-writing in Sumer, while in other populations this happened later or didn’t happen at all. In other words, the creation of humanity in the Image of God took place at latest at the moment when writing appears. And so, for drawing theological conclusions, it is safe to take 3,200 BC as the date when the first accountable Image Bearers are created.

Once again, if you can provide vestiges demonstrating that “early hominid types, hundreds of thousands of years before writing” had sense for moral and legal responsibility, as strongly as writing does, I am ready to accept such vestiges as marker for the beginning of humanity. Note however, that then you would have another big problem to solve: the lack of a cut off bodily separation allowing you to define which creature is “human” and which is not. You will find a lot of intermediate varieties filling the gap between Homo and Pan with pervasive hybridization between them!

(Antoine Suarez) #177

There is no imperative in biology to introduce the category of species. As Mark Thomas from University College London puts it: “Categories are useful nonsense”. Useful for whom? For humans to the aim of distinguishing humans from non-humans, and assigning rights coherently.

This means that the concepts of “human species” and “non-human species” make sense only to describe animal life once creatures with moral and legal responsibility appear. Going back in evolution they get fuzzier and fuzzier.

In other words, you cannot define “human animals” without first acknowledging “human persons”: To well define the biological “human species” some authority has to declare that creatures sharing an anatomic modern human body have special dignity and therefore each human is accountable for killing another human, and the same authority empowers humans to eat non-human animals.

This is the reason why I say that evolution is a strong proof of God’s existence.

The best philosophical analysis of the concept of person is provided in Genesis 9:5-6, and can be deepened with Genesis 1:26-27; 2: 16-17; and 5:1-3.

It amounts to state that one should not try to explain humanity on the basis of evolving animals but rather the other way around: to explain evolution outgoing from “accountable” humanity.

What holds for the category “species” in biology, holds similarly for the concept “time arrow” in physics. This concept cannot be sharp defined by physical means. So for instance it cannot be derived from “Boltzmann formulation” of the Second Law of thermodynamics in terms of entropy. The “time arrow” is rather a physical postulate we derive from the sense of history we humans have, and the feeling one-day humanity will come to an end. This feeling led Lord Kelvin to the idea of the “thermal-dead” of the universe and used it to formulate the Second Law.

All this means that the basic physical laws make sense only with relation to human history after all, and this leads us again to human accountability and writing.

In conclusion: Genesis seems to be by far the best foundation for both science and moral philosophy.

(Neil Rickert) #178

Having categories is fundamental to having information. And without information, we might as well be inert rocks.

(John Harshman) #179

Can anyone here make sense out of anything Mr. Suarez says?


Not me. But I admire his creativity. And he does know how to write a grammatical sentence and punctuate it properly, unlike other commentators whose logic also escapes me (eg Byers).