Friday, November 16, 2007

ETS Report

Well, I'm home. Wow, where do I even begin here? It's hard to put the whole experience into words.

First of all, I should probably explain what "ETS" even is. Basically, it is a gathering of professional theologians and Bible scholars. They present papers or new ideas they are working on in order to get feedback from colleagues. It's also a giant social event! Hundreds of people who revel in talking about the wild and wacky world of biblical theology.

For me personally, the coolest part was getting to see, and sometimes meet, the movers and shakers in evangelical academia. Conference particpants wear name tags and I found myself constantly trying to get a glance of people's names as they walked by. I'd be, "Oh! There goes so-and-so!" I saw lots of old professors, some old classmates, and made some new friends. I really hope I get the privilege of going again sometime. It was like a dream that I never wanted to end.

Ok, now down to business. I went to a few papers related death before the fall and the problem of evil. (I also went to some papers related to gender issues, but I won't go into that here since it doesn't really relate to this blog.) Here is a list of the science-related papers I attended, two of which were critiques of an article by William Dembski about death before the fall: Christian Theodicy in Light of Genesis and Modern Science (I wasn't even aware of this article prior to ETS. Now I need to go take some time to read it.)

Harry A. Hahne from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary gave a paper entitled, "Nature and Theodicy in the Book of Job." It was actually a very fine paper. He raised many interesting points about Job that I hadn't considered before. I hope he is able to get the paper published. The only thing I had a disagreement with him on is the general assumption (not just by him, but by many scholars) that the new creation is a return to Eden or reversal of the Fall.

Terry Mortensen from Answers in Genesis presented a paper entitled, "Christian Theodicy in Light of Genesis and Modern Science: A Young-Earth Creationist Response to William Dembski." Apparently, Dembski's article attempts to resolve the death before the fall "problem" by making a distinction between two Greek words for "time" (chronos and kairos). Although I could have lived without Mortensen's sarcasm about old-earth creationists, I thought he made a valid point that Dembski's distinction between these words seems artificial and unwarranted by the biblical text. But I would need to read Dembski's paper and study the matter more closely before giving a final answer. I don't know if Mortensen plans to publish this paper on the AiG web site or some other creationist publication, but it wouldn't surprise me.

I went to a fantastically innovative presentation by Dr. Sarah Sumner about General Revelation. She is working on a new book and wanted to try out some new ideas. I can't even really explain what this presentation was about because it was still in such an embryonic state that it's hard to summarize. But basically, she is trying to develop a more robust theology of General Revelation and then apply these principles to the field of faith integration in academia.

Gregory Scott Smith from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (I can't find him listed on the seminary web site so I don't know if he's a prof or student), did another paper related to Bill Dembski's article: "Death Before the Fall? An Analysis of Bill Dembski's Theodicy and Its Implications on the Current Old-earth and Young-Earth Debate." Smith was trying to expand Dembski's argument. Unfortunately, I don't think Smith's arguments were strong enough and the young-earth people in the audience pretty much nailed him with some rather tough questions.

Lastly, Kurt P. Wise from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary gave a talk called, "Theodicy and the Age of the Earth." Wise is possibly best known for the fact that he earned a Ph.D. in paleontology at Harvard under famous evolutionary biologist, Stephen J. Gould. Wise is also a young-earth creationist. Wise tried to demonstrate that Augustine's theodicy was not compatible with old-earth creationism. I have no idea if his interpretation of Augustine was accurate and he didn't hand out his actual paper so unfortunately I can't check his references. Think he'd send me a copy?

That's it!


Troy said...


wow. Sounds like a great time :)


dbmom said...

Weird. I think Kurt Wise is the example that our AP was using in his sermon I mentioned.