Comment on If the Creation Account Isn’t True… by Sean Pitman.
The Documentary Hypothesis
Also as a part of history, the book of Genesis began with Chapter two verse three, the seven-day creation story was added by the Deuteronomist at Babylon during the fifth century BC (See Harper’s Bible commentary)
Unfortunately, Yonder’s argument is based on the well-known, still popular, and yet fundamentally flawed “Documentary Hypothesis” of Biblical critics. “The documentary hypothesis (sometimes called the Wellhausen hypothesis), holds that the Pentateuch (the Torah, or the Five Books of Moses) was derived from originally independent, parallel and complete narratives [labeled J, D, E, and P], which were subsequently combined into the current form by a series of redactors (editors).” These editors supposedly compiled these independent accounts into one work some 500 years BC during the time of the Babylonian captivity.
Consider that the documentary hypothesis has been challenged, since it was first proposed in the late 1800s, quite effectively, by numerous Biblical scholars. Consider, for example, the arguments of Rendsburg (1986) where he demonstrates the linguistic unity and artistry of the composer of all of Genesis. For example, the “J” and “E” sections share a large number of theme-words and linking words, puns, etc.
It becomes simply incredulous that J wrote 12.1-4a, 12:6-9 about the start of Abraham’s spiritual odyssey and that E wrote 22:1-19 about the climax of his spiritual odyssey, and that these two authors living approximately 100 years apart and in different parts of ancient Israel time and again chose the same lexical terms. Surely this is too improbable, especially when such examples can be and have been multiplied over and over. Admittedly, a corresponding word here or there could be coincidental, but the cumulative nature of the evidence tips the scales heavily against the usual division of Genesis into JEP…
The evidence presented here points to the following conclusion: there is much more uniformity and much less fragmentation in the book of Genesis than generally assumed. The standard division of Genesis into J, E, and P strands should be discarded. This method of source criticism is a method of an earlier age, predominantly of the 19th century. If new approaches to the text, such as literary criticism of the type advanced here, deem the Documentary Hypothesis unreasonable and invalid, then source critics will have to rethink earlier conclusions and start anew.
– Rendsberg, p. 104-105
It seems then like “the Documentary Hypothesis and the arguments that support it have been effectively demolished by scholars from many different theological perspectives and areas of expertise. Even so, the ghost of Wellhausen hovers over Old Testament studies and symposiums like a thick fog, adding nothing of substance but effectively obscuring vision. Although actually incompatible with form-critical and archaeology-based studies, the Documentary Hypothesis has managed to remain the mainstay of critical orthodoxy.”
For a further review of the fundamental problems with the Documentary Hypothesis here is an interesting introduction: Link
As an interesting aside, note that ‘the documentary hypothesis was originally based on the supposition that the events in the Torah preceded the invention of writing, or at least its use among the Hebrews. This is because Julius Wellhausen lived in the nineteenth-century, but nineteenth-century notions about ancient literacy have been completely refuted by archaeological evidence. The documentarians have not updated the documentary hypothesis to take this into account, so we still find them assigning very late dates to their hypothetical sources of the Torah…. Archaeology has shown that writing was common during the time in which the events of the Torah were to have taken place.’ – Kenneth Collins, The Torah in Modern Scholarship
As evidence of this, consider that the Ebla Tablets, written some 2200 years BC, prove that writing, even alphabetic-type writing, was in existence well before Moses. Some of the statements about creation found on these tablets also seem to parallel the Biblical creation narrative, suggesting that the Genesis creation story, or something very similar to it, was known well before the “Deuteronomists” or even Moses came on the scene. These tablets also speak of a flood story like that of the flood story in the Bible. The Ebla Tablets also mention the names Abraham and Isaac, suggesting that such names were known during this time. They also tell of two sinful cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, and mention all five of the cities of the valley in the same order mentioned in the Bible. This is in the face of “higher critics” who had claimed that Sodom, Gomorrah, Ur and other Canaan cities of the Bible never did exist. However, the Ebla Tablets showed the Bible was correct and that the critics were wrong. And the list goes on and on. The Bible is by far the most accurate history book known to modern man.
Sean Pitman Also Commented
If the Creation Account Isn’t True…
Mark Kellner is right on the money. Upon what basis does one accept the fantastic claims of the Bible regarding the pre-existence, incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of the God-man Jesus but reject biblical claims regarding the origin of life on this planet?
Erv Taylor, in particular, claims that those who believe all of the empirical claims of the Bible are living in Alice’s Wonderland. I don’t get it. If one is living in part of Wonderland, why make fun of those who live in other parts of Wonderland? who accept all of what the Wonderland Book says about the place?
It is fine to appreciate the ethics of Christianity, but Christianity is more than an appeal to good Christian ethics. Christianity is also a promise of a solid hope in a very real, empirically literal, very bright future with the same Jesus who lived and died and was raised again to save us. If you don’t believe what the Wonderland Book says about other empirical realities, why believe what it says about Jesus and our future with Him?
Recent Comments by Sean Pitman
I’m glad you reached the conclusion that the immune system God designed into our bodies gives better protection against infection than vaccines do.
God didn’t “design” COVID-19 derived immunity any more than vaccine-derived immunity. What God designed was an immune system that could learn from past infections (or exposure to foreign antigens) in order to prevent future infections by the same type of invader more effectively.
You see, I’m not sure that we have the same definition of “natural immunity” in the context of COVID-19 here. The human body was designed with two different types of immune systems known as the “innate” and “adaptive” immune systems. Consider, now, that I’m not talking about generalized immunity that isn’t specific or targeted against COVID-19 in particular. In other words, I’m not talking about the “innate” immune system. What I am talking about is the “adaptive” immune system – a type of immunity that can be gained by surviving a “natural infection” to COVID-19 – which then produces “natural immunity” or “naturally-derived immunity” within the adaptive immune system that is specifically targeted against future COVID-19 infections. And, as already mentioned, while this “natural” method of gaining targeted adaptive immunity can be superior to the immunity gained by vaccines, for some people, it is far riskier and is not nearly as consistent as vaccine-derived adaptive immunity.
But, you counter with the argument that vaccines are also not consistent since there are “breakthrough infections”. However, the consistency I’m talking about is in regard to the reduction of and deaths – not just breakthrough nasopharyngeal infections (which aren’t the real problem). As noted in my McCullough article (Link), a fairly new study showed that the “percentage of variant cross-binding memory B cells was higher in vaccinees than individuals who recovered from mild COVID-19.” (Goel, et al., August 23, 2021). In this regard, it seems as though those who were vaccinated have an advantage in that the resulting immunity is more consistent and predictable as compared to natural immunity. These higher levels of memory B-cells within vaccinated people may also be the reason for the long-term protection against hospitalizations and deaths – despite the waining levels of antibody levels against the virus over time. Memory T- and B-cells produced in response to the vaccine can be “awakened” when an infection hits the body, a pre-formed arm that is ready to fight off the repeat offender. This is all right in line with a recent Lancet study:
Researchers in the United Kingdom analyzed data from a project called the ZOE Covid Study, where users report symptoms, vaccination status and other demographic information daily via an app. The researchers looked at data collected on more than 1 million people from December 2020 through July 2021, a period that spanned both the alpha and delta variant waves in the U.K. Participants received two doses of either the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccine. Overall, less than 0.2 percent of the participants reported a breakthrough infection, with such cases more likely in people already considered to be vulnerable, including older adults or people with underlying illnesses. When breakthrough infections did occur, most were mild — just 6 percent of people with breakthrough infections reported symptoms. What’s more, vaccination was shown to cut the risk of hospitalization by more than two-thirds. The study also found that the chances of developing long Covid were cut in half in fully-vaccinated people. Long Covid refers to when people experience symptoms of the illness, such as brain fog, exhaustion and a racing heart, for at least a month after infection, and sometimes much longer. (Link)
Those are AMAZING results – for the vaccinated.
For the unvaccinated, on the other hand, there is also the problem that up to a third of people who were previously infected by COVID-19 don’t develop antibodies against it (Liu et al., September 2021). Ultimately, 36% of those who were infected by COVID-19 remained seronegative, meaning that they never developed detectable levels of such antibodies in their blood, even when multiple blood samples were checked for each person. The study also revealed that people who had lower SARS-CoV-2 viral loads in their respiratory tract were less like to subsequently have antibodies in their blood. This means, of course, that the adaptive immune system was never educated enough to effectively combat future infections by COVID-19.
So, you see, the vaccine may not reach as high a level of immunity as is gained by some who survived a prior infection by COVID-19. However, the level of immunity gained, when it comes to reducing hospitalizations and death, is more consistent for the vaccinated. This is the reason why there are so many stories of those who thought that they were safe, because of some previous mild COVID-19 infection, but then got infected again with COVID-19 and got very sick, particularly with the Delta Variant, with many dying as a result.
As far as your “alternative views” being more hopeful and less scary, that would be the case if they were actually true. The problem is that the conspiracy theorists that you consistently follow paint the vaccines as much more risky and scary than they truly are and the COVID-19 pandemic as much less serious and much less scary than it really is. They also create far more confidence in alternative drugs and therapies, like ivermectin for instance, than is actually supported by the weight of scientific evidence. That’s the problem. They create fear where there shouldn’t be fear and they create confidence where there shouldn’t be so much confidence. They get things exactly backward.
This is not to say that I think things were handled by the government very well at all. I don’t think it was necessary to shut down the government, for one thing. However, this is all 20/20 hindsight of course.
As far as the “miraculous recoveries” you mention, these are far too few. There are far far too many hospitalizations, serious long-term injuries, and deaths to be very comforted by miraculous recoveries. Clearly, these miraculous recoveries aren’t remotely common enough nor are they associated with drugs like ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine which have, so far, not shown a consistently detectable benefit in the best and largest RCTs.
Sure, ivermectin has relatively few side effects (unless you overdose) and a low mortality rate. However, it’s not as though the mortality risk is zero. “Between the years 2003 and 2017, the total average population treated [with Ivermectin] was around 15,552,588 among which 945 cases of SAE [severe adverse effects] were registered in DR Congo, i.e. 6 cases of SAE for 100,000 persons treated per year. 55 deaths related to post-CDTI SAE were recorded, which represents 5.8% of all cases of SAE.” (Link). Still, the point here is that even if the risks for ivermectin were actually zero, there’s still no good evidence that it provides much of a useful benefit – certainly nothing close to the benefits provided by the vaccines against COVID-19.
Yet, you write:
If an alternative drug is safer than aspirin and there are thousands of claimed recoveries resulting from the drug, isn’t it worth a trial, no matter what the “studies” say, considering the alternative is often death after being on a ventilator?
It might be worth a try if that was your only option. However, it isn’t your only option. Now that we have vaccines that provide a very clear and very substantial benefit, it is far far more reasonable to take the vaccines than to trust that ivermectin will save you – when the best scientific studies have yet to detect much of a benefit, even with early treatment, at reducing severe COVID-19 infections or death.
But it’s okay. We each can choose a path that is consistent with the best evidence as we understand it. For that matter, it seems to me that vaccination is the best course for many but not for others. Most don’t bother to understand just what these COVID vaccines do, much less do a benefit-risk analysis. But some of us do, and some of us find that avoiding the COVID vaccine, boosting our immune system and preparing for a possible infection is the best path for us.
You’re certainly free to choose. However, your choice could impact others – in a negative way. If the vaccines really do significantly reduce the odds of transmitting the virus to others (as several studies have shown), the choice of a person not to get vaccinated increases the odds of viral transmission to others who might not do as well against a COVID-19 infection. We aren’t islands here. Our choices have the potential to affect other people.
But, you think you can “boost your immune system” some other way. I wish this were true, but there just isn’t any other way that is as effective as the vaccines at the moment. The problem is that as humans age, our immune systems deteriorate at an almost exponential rate. Diet and healthful living do help, to be sure, but this does not negate the need to take advantage of the additional substantial advantages offered by vaccines – and this becomes more and more true the older and older we get. Add as many layers of protection as you can. Do it all. Be as healthy as you can be – AND take the vaccine.
Consider also that even a very healthy young person, who personally might have a very low risk of serious sickness or death, can still get infected and transmit the virus to others who might not do so well with an infection.
I suspect everyone will be exposed to this corona virus sooner or later, just as we have been to other corona viruses.
Indeed. However, the faster we can achieve herd immunity, as a community, the more those who are most vulnerable among us will be protected. And, the fastest and safest way to do this is via vaccines.
What concerns me most is the lack of respect among Christians for those with opposing views. While I don’t see vaccination as a salvation matter, an attitude of forcing others into agreement with our views is not an attitude born of the Spirit of God but of the enemy. I believe we can agree on that.
Love and respect never go out of style. However, there are times when the most loving thing to do is to protect those who are most vulnerable from those who are unwilling to act in a way that best protects the most vulnerable – particularly, say, in a hospital or nursing home setting. This isn’t to say that I’m a fan of government mandates for the general population. I’m not. I think that such mandates are largely counterproductive. Given that the vaccines are generally available for those who want them now, it seems best to me to limit mandates to those who work in settings where people are sick or old or otherwise vulnerable.
Natural Immunity vs. Vaccines vs. the Delta Variant
You’re commenting on an older post regarding natural immunity. Since then, additional evidence has indeed come to light showing that natural immunity goes well beyond antibody production and is therefore generally superior to vaccine-based immunity. Of course, vaccine-based immunity does have a couple of advantages over natural immunity. The most obvious advantage, of course, is that vaccine-based immunity is gained without having to take on the significant risks associated with getting infected by COVID-19. The additional advantage of vaccine-based immunity is that it seems to offer more consistent immunity compared to natural immunity (i.e., some who were infected don’t gain significant immunity following infection).
I discuss all of this in much more detail here: Link
As far as being more critical of evolutionists, look, I’ve reviewed a great many conspiracy claims. I usually get several sent to me every day. It’s not like I haven’t reviewed these claims you’re sending my way. It’s just that they almost always turn out to be completely false or misleading. It’s the same thing as with the evolutionary arguments I get – except it’s now on the other foot. What you believe regarding COVID-19 and vaccines simply doesn’t have the weight of empirical evidence to back it up. I know the claims of conspiracy theorists can be scary and worrisome. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re true. They just aren’t true. The minority opinion isn’t always true. In fact, the majority of experts are usually right – as in this case.
COVID Vaccine Myths, Questions, and Rumors with Drs. Rhonda Patrick and Roger Seheult
There are always rogue doctors around selling snake oil remedies and forwarding a host of conspiracy theories. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a strong consensus in the medical community regarding COVID-19 and the efficacy and relative safety of the vaccines. A handful of doctors spreading conspiracy theories shouldn’t overcome one’s ability to see that the significant weight of empirical scientific evidence strongly supports the consensus conclusion in this case. After all, over 98% of medical doctors in this country are now vaccinated – particularly those working in ICUs who see that the unvaccinated are by far more likely to end up in the ICU and die with COVID compared to the vaccinated – by a ratio of more than 10:1 for any given age category.
COVID Vaccine Myths, Questions, and Rumors with Drs. Rhonda Patrick and Roger Seheult
While I agree, part of the problem is that people, in general in this country, simply don’t want to live healthful lives despite actually knowing that what they are doing isn’t healthy or good for them. When I was doing primary care, this was a constant frustration. You could tell people all day long what they should be doing, and they would usually even agree, but they just wouldn’t actually do what they knew they should be doing…
COVID Vaccine Myths, Questions, and Rumors with Drs. Rhonda Patrick and Roger Seheult
Sure, it’s very unfortunate that this pandemic has been so politicized. However, just because we know the final outcome doesn’t mean that this is it. We shouldn’t bring on the “Time of Trouble” before it’s actually here. During this particular pandemic we, particularly as Christians, should strive to separate medical science from politics. Merging them will only cause more harm. Many people really are suffering and dying due to COVID-19 and the mRNA vaccines have proven themselves to be very effective at preventing serious sickness and death.