Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Cuvier's Analogy and Renaissance Humanism

Creation vs. Evolution : Protestant Roots of Old Age / Evolution · Φιλολoγικά/Philologica : Cuvier's Analogy and Renaissance Humanism

I just learned about Cuvier's Analogy in a CMI Article on this topic. In fact, with this title:

CMI : Cuvier’s analogy and its consequences: forensics vs testimony as historical evidence
John Reed

While it was posted on the site in 2012, it was previously published in Journal of Creation 22(3):115–120, December 2008.

Here is a salient little quote:

That shift did not just happen. It was sold to the public by a perceived necessity to investigate the prehuman world of deep time. Obviously, if no one was present to record those epochs, a forensic approach was the only possible key to the past. If that door was opened only by ‘scientific’ evidence, the Bible was irrelevant. This line of reasoning created a crack in the walls of the biblical worldview that opened a breach to the rampaging secular hordes that captured the Western intellectual tradition in the 19th century and destroyed it in the 20th.

In order to understand this methodological flaw, we must first see the logical link between prehistory and forensic evidence. That point was emphasized by the analogy made by Georges Cuvier (1769–1832) between fossils and human artifacts of antiquity. Cuvier argued that fossils opened the door to prehuman history just as ancient coins and pottery opened the door to older human history. This clever metaphor helped elevate forensic natural history at the expense of the Bible.

Actually, there is a precedent for Cuvier. One Lorenzo Valla started collecting ancient Roman and Greek artefacts to piece together as exact an image of Classic Antiquities as possible.

But the point is, this did not really open the door to older human history. Rather, it shut it.

In the Middle Ages, you had books about the War of Troy. They would include authorities like Dictys of Crete or Dares of Phrygia, poets in Homeric style on the Trojan side, which claim in the text to be contemporary but which are by Higher Criticism considered to be Alexandrian in origin.

In Valla's remold of Antiquity studies, this did not fit in. It was some four centuries between the Catholic priest and Heinrich Schliemann who dug out Troy. Whether or not Valla himself did or did not believe the War of Troy happened, some of his successors did not. Valla had initiated a scepsis which dispensed with witness account if it had been passed through sufficient number of intermediates in favour of material pieces of evidence.

This approach erroneously involved doubting Troy had even existed as early as the Iliad is supposed to speak about. In fact, you have to have a very steep rise in Carbon 14 very late for the ruins of Hissarlik not to include at least some layer which fits the time scale of the traditional War of Troy.

Creation vs. Evolution : What about Ussher and Kent Hovind? Checking with Troy

A seventeen step Fibonacci curve adapted even to Ussher's timeline will allow Troy to have been at least inhabited at the time.

Creation vs. Evolution : Around Five Thousand Years Ago, There was a World Wide Flood?

Adapting it to St Jerome's timeline puts real time timing of War of Troy into Troy V.

Creation vs. Evolution : About 5300 Years Ago There was a World Wide Flood? Iffy ...

And yes, Syncellus placing taking of Troy in 1172 will put it into a carbon rise table adapted to his overall timeline between the carbon dates (Cambridge half life) for 1500 BC and 1227 BC and closer to the first. In 1500 BC, Troy was already inhabited, carbon date wise.

So, we can accept Schliemann discovered the site where the War of Troy took place.

This means we can accept Iliad as a kind of testimony. However, it is not first hand eywitness testimony. It is testimony from tradition - precisely as the Genesis material was to Moses.

Some Protestants are reluctant to accept that Moses relied on Oral tradition, he must have found Written material books from back in the times of Adam or Noah or Abraham, and evidence is he credits the works. And how does he do it? By the "toledoth" type colophons.

However, this is eisegesis. The usual interpretation of the toledoth phrase is that they far from closing a book introduce sth shorter, namely a list of generations. That is why the words ... This is the book of the generation of Adam. In the day that God created man, he made him to the likeness of God. ... are Genesis 5:1 and not **Genesis 4:27 (non-extant verse). Note, I am not dismissing all eisegesis as bad or unfounded, just noting that this theory is both eisegesis and far newer than the time of Cuvier. And it could be wrong.

So, we can believe it is quite as possible that Adam and Eve redacted the second, third and beginning of fourth chapter of Genesis as oral performances, perhaps if writing was invented using initial letters as training aid, and handed these down to their descendants, and they arrived orally to Moses.

But this puts Moses as final redactor in a position analogous to Homer, whose distance from Trojan War was about as many centuries as Moses at Exodus from promise given to Abraham. In fact, between Adam's fall and Moses, the distance in time was greater (though that in generations was smaller) between Odin's arrival in Uppsala region (some say Uppsala itself was founded by his stepson Frey, so it couldn't have been there when he came if so) and Snorre.

This means that the criterium which was, if not exactly Lorenzo Valla's at least the one he helped to bring about, through the remote disciples of his remote disciples by the time of Cuvier and well a generation or two before him at least, is a criterium which humanly speaking tends to destroy the authority of Moses. In such a position, some will take the position "Genesis is in the Bible, hence it is word of God, hence God's verbal inspiration will have taken care of any errors which would normally certainly have turned up". Some will take the opposite position "Genesis is the word of God because Moses was a man of God, so while we can rely on Moses' intentions as being God's, we can't rely on his information". And that was the position obviously of Cuvier.

Now, who of Protestants and Catholics would normally have been going the furthest along this road by the time of Cuvier? Obviously Protestants.

A Catholic, even if he had tended to side with Wolf in making existence of Homer doubtful, and had tended to deny the War of Troy (unlike St Augustine whose De Civitate basically opens with "look, the Pagan gods were not much use to the Trojans, as we know from the Aeneid"), would at least have agreed on St Augustine that there always was a Church or People of God, from Adam to Moses too, and that its transmission of early material was guaranteed by infallibility of the Church, like the Jewish Church had from Aaron to Kaiaphas, like the Catholic Church has had from Pentecost to the Present. So they could say Genesis 1 to 11, while transmitted in a naturally not too reliable matter, was protected, like the full doctrines of the Mass or of Mary have been protected in the Catholic Church, though not all details are directly attested in the Bible in its literal sense. Something which the transmission between Trojan War and Homer would have lacked.

But Protestants would not be believing in the special protection of that particular tradition or paradosis which belongs to the Church of God, therefore they would also tend to have less confidence in Genesis 1 to 11. Which Cuvier had.

Even more, there is a correlation between the Renaissance Humanism of Valla and Protestantism. When Calvin accused Catholics of worshipping "Venus and Bacchus" (honouring the Blessed Virgin, blessing grapes on day of Transfiguration, August 6th, I presume), he was bypassing factors like narrative what Pagan Romans said about Venus and Bacchus and what Catholics said about honouring the Blessed Virgin and blessing grapes on August 6th. He was looking at, as if all important, the general shape or procedure of statues and of ceremonies. Like he had been taught by successors of Lorenzo Valla.

While Luther had less of that kind of learning (his Humanism was more about accurate Greek and Latin, and even some Church Fathers like Sts Ausgustine and Jerome - Erasmus was using Terence and Jerome as models of Latin, in the sense that I have used C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, King James and Shakespear as models for my English, while learning it), his disciple Philip Melanchthon must have picked up some and his disciples must have picked up even more. By the time of Cuvier, this kind of thing would have been as commonplace among Lutherans of Montbéliard (theretofore Mömpelgard) as it was among Zwinglians in Zurich or Calvinists in Geneva or Edinburgh.

So, it is really not a big problem to reason out why Deep Time and the archaeological error about both history and ultimately even "pre-human earth history" should have come from Modernist Protestants rather than from Catholics.

And that is why, when I was defending a Young Earth Creationist understanding of both Genesis and Earth Sciences was getting more and more away from Protestantism and more and more into Catholicism - which I had never been strongly against anyway. Funny why John Reed never mentions that Cuvier was a Protestant in the article ... did I just miss it?

And for similar reasons of revived Ciceronianism and divorce from the Catholic dogma, Protestants were also more likely to be racist. In Antiquity, Egyptians had been anti-black racialists pretty much of the time (to the point that to one Monastic Father the devil appeared in the shape of a black boy - not meaning that black boys are diabolical, just that to his culture, the black boy was a sufficiently suspicious symbol so he could be detected, like God requires the devil to do when tempting His Saints). Egyptians had also been famous for being wise, profound, knowledgeable. Among the neo-Ciceronians of the 15th and 16th Centuries, this could spill over into accepting the Pagan Egyptians's assessment of black men - and looking for Biblical justifications, however flimsy, as long as the Bible at least was still an authority. And Protestantism took over much more of this Humanism and its divorce from the Christian tradition.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Wednesday in
First Passion Week

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