"John W. Redelfs" wrote:
> Has anyone on the list read GUNS, GERMS AND STEEL by Jared Diamond? It won
> the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction in 1998. I am about half way
> through it, and I'm getting bogged down.
> This guy is a scientist and a historian, but he keeps explaining how
> domesticated plants were developed by man. He also explains how sheep came
> to be domesticated. Now he is talking about how the use of writing originated.
> I thought that Cain raised grain, and Able raised sheep? Am I wrong? And
> I also thought that the language of Adam was the Adamic language, and that
> it is the language that was spoken by all peoples before their tongues were
> confounded at the time of the Tower of Babel. What is wrong with this
> picture. Are the scriptures wrong? Or is this scientist just making
> things up? Maybe the scriptures really are just an ancient collection of
> Hebrew folk talks. Is that possible?
You're asking a question Diamond doesn't attempt to answer, and there's no easy way
to answer this. We've been told by prophets from Brigham Young to John Widtsoe to
Spencer W. Kimball that Genesis is symbolic. A scientist isn't after ultimate truth
in the religious sense, he's after the best explanation that can be used in a
predictive model, or which describes physical evidence. You have to read his book
differently than you read Genesis, imo.
You go too far, imo, when you suggest, even rhetorically, that the scriptures are
just an ancient collection of Hebrew folk tales. That may be their format, but it's
a kind of mythology known as mythopoeia, which means that the narrative isn't the
point -- the symbolism is, and also the way something is written conveys the
message. I believe this is how the temple works, and there's a good explanation
(imo) by Northrop Frye about this that's on my website:
I actually have two items by Frye on my website, but this is the shorter one and it
addresses what it means to say that something is "literal", especially sacred
history (what theologists sometimes call, borrowing from German, Heilsgeschichte).
> The book is very well written, and the ancient scenarios he describes are
> fascinating. But I don't see how he could possibly know these things
> except by conjecture. And if his supposition are correct, then there is
> something dreadfully wrong with the Genesis account of the creation.
I'm not sure what you mean by "conjecture." Diamond has done active research in
many parts of the world, especially in the Indonesian Archipelago, including New
Guinea. It's not an either/or question. Both are right within their appropriate
> He also points out that there was a dearth of large mammals to be used for
> domestication here in the Americas. Sheep were domesticated in
> Eurasia. How could the Garden of Eden have been here in the Americas, if
> Able raised sheep, and sheep were domesticated in Eurasia and completely
> unknown in the Americas until after the first contact with Europe?
> What do you think?
Marc A. Schindler
Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada -- Gateway to the Boreal Parkland
Guns donít kill people; people with guns kill people
Note: This communication represents the informal personal views of the author
solely; its contents do not necessarily reflect those of the authorís employer, nor
those of any organization with which the author may be associated.
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