Wednesday, August 29, 2012

James takes on Harbinger Seven, The Erez Tree Part 3 continued: taxonomy and evolutionary theory

This is a continuation of the last post.

Now. Even if the trees are each the original created Kind, this does not eliminate all similarities that can be observed among them and anybody can see that ALL conifers have similarities to each other, while experts can apparently see that certain conifers can be grouped together as having more similarities to one another than they do to others outside the group. So presumably the Pinacea family contains conifers that are particularly similar to each other according to expert assessment.

Cahn did his homework and he found scientific and linguistic similarities that ought to be regarded as supporting the harbinger claim. Again, in Hebrew apparently "erez" IS often used to denote different kinds of trees, despite the fact that the English Bibles have chosen to translate it "cedar." Hebrew is the underlying language, or are we to trust a translation over the original? Again, there are at least two places in the Old Testament, when the Israelites were wandering in the desert of Sinai, that the commentators object that the tree so designated could not possibly be a cedar because cedars can't grow there. And again, even the scientific Latin classification system shows a family resemblance between the cedar and the Norway Spruce that ought to confirm the intuitive sense of their similarity.

But the intuitive sense of the similarity is really the main case to be made for it in my opinion. Most of us reading the book simply SEE the similarity between the cedar and the spruce -- tall evergreen trees with needles and cones -- and the sycamores which have the same name and a similar appearance as well -- both being tall wide-branching leafy green trees. It's enough to confirm the connection between the harbingers and Isaiah 9:10 it seems to me. That is, it's enough to point us back to the message of national defiance of God in Isaiah 9:10, which is what it is meant to do IF it is in fact a "harbinger" as Cahn claims it is. The exactness the critics are calling for is inappropriate, it's hairsplitting, it's misleading. The apparent similarities are quite dramatic enough to serve the purpose. The very idea that there should be exactness from an ancient context to a modern one is rather odd. We read the Bible all the time to apply to our current situations without ever suspecting that it can't apply because our situations are not exactly like those of the ancient people.

Let's just finish off this theme from James:
Since The Harbinger purports to convey biblical truth, it seems very misguided to rely on an unbiblical theory of origins and development of life on earth to establish fulfilled prophecy.[THFOF p. 105]
Again, this is simply false, and misleading, like going out of his way to find something, anything, to object to. If there were a contradiction he'd have a point but there is no contradiction. Cahn simply does not use the Linnaean classification system in an evolutionary sense, to imply genetic descent. He never says anything to imply a common ancestor of the trees in question, he ONLY uses it to demonstrate the scientific recognition of similarities between certain trees, which is what the system was originally designed for.

Much of science DOES support the Bible if you are careful to avoid stepping on the semantic land mines planted by the evolutionists. But you have to first interpret the Bible correctly AND the science as well. As I argue in the previous post, reproductive isolation is not a sufficient definition of a Kind, and today representatives of the original Kinds aren't with us -- BECAUSE OF THE DEATH THAT ENTERED THE CREATION AT THE FALL (that's a BIBLICAL principle) -- but are represented by many varieties, some of which are reproductively isolated and some not. To fall into the reproductive-compatibility definition is in fact to fall into the evolutionists' way of thinking because that's how they define a species, although clearly that supposed species is simply a rare variation on the Kind that happens to have become genetically incompatible with the other members of the Kind. I don't claim to know a lot about genetics but I know enough to have an idea how this happens even within a given gene pool and I spend a LOT of time on my creationism blog explaining it. Yes, genetics is an extrabiblical science, but there's nothing in it that is inherently contradictory with the Bible and plenty that can be shown to elaborate Biblical facts. Again, if you are careful to avoid the evolutionist word traps. Same with the simple Latin classification of observed similarities between trees.

OK I'm repeating myself but it is hard to be sure I'm getting this said clearly.

James goes on in the same vein but with a slightly different emphasis:
Biblically, the ultimate question concerns both Isaiah's and the Lord's intent in Isaiah's prophecy. The text makes it clear that Isaiah was referring to replacing one specific kind of tree (fig-mulberry trees) with another specific kind of tree (cedars of Lebanon). He was not prophesying that just any tree that might be called a 'sycamore' in another language would be replaced by just any tree within the taxonomic rank of the Pinacea family, such as a Norway spruce.[THFOF pp. 105-06]
For some reason the phrase just popped into my mind:
The letter kills but the spirit gives life.
I guess I can't make too much of that but did want to report it for its expression of my own feeling as I read James' messages.

But again, the problem here is the recurrent problem with the critical perspective of James and so many of his fellow critics, the insistence that there can be no application of an Old Testament verse outside the context of ancient Israel, the odd insistence that any such application would have to be so exact ancient Israel itself would have to be recreated in the present.
Neither was Isaiah's prophecy a warning to be fulfilled with a couple of relatively insignificant symbolic events such as the exchange of one unimportant tree for another. The Assyrian army totally decimated the countryside, wiping out untold numbers of fig-mulberry trees across the land. In turn, Israel would replace them with the much stronger and more majestic cedars of Lebanon, symbolizing defiance and determination to return to her glory days.

It's puzzling how this could be identified as a precise match and literal fulfillment when there is no amazing scientific coincidence. Again, there is no match. There is no parellel. And there is no harbinger.
[THFOF p. 106]
Nothing Cahn writes implies anything about the PURPOSE of Isaiah's prophecy other than to describe the situation in ancient Israel, nothing to imply he thinks the prophecy itself was intended to be for America whether through "relatively insignificant symbolic events" or not. Again James is requiring an impossible exactness of situation to justify making any claims about the verse's application to America or to anything outside ancient Israel for that matter.

Once you've set such an irrational standard then you can go on to pronounce a failure to meet the standard as he does, as no match, no parallel, no harbinger. This is a sort of straw man. He's set up the argument in order to demolish it, but the truth of the match and the parallel and the harbinger exists in spite of his artificial requirements. This is what most of the book's readers immediately recognize, the matches, the parallels, the harbingers. It takes some strange reasoning to require more of them than is obvious.

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