*in the voice of Ira Glass* Colin Eckstein on “God in Origin Theories”

“Of course. Thank you for having me back. The interview format, while a bit unconventional, certainly lent itself to naturalistic discussion and analysis in week 4. Not to mention meta-commentary, which, speaking of: hello reader.”


“Today I will be applying Harvey’s ‘Elements of the Academic Essay’ to a piece written by some poor, unskilled Theophilus who may very well be Pam. In which case, you’ve made your point, I promise I will stop making religious references in my blogposts and reflections.”


“First, the thesis—which, according to Harvey, should be true but ‘not obviously or patently true.’ Contrary to Harvey’s sage advice, however, dear Theophilus ends his first paragraph by asserting thus: ‘In theories of creationism, intelligent design, and evolution, God plays different roles in the origin of life.’ While true, this argument is certainly no new revelation. One would probably assume that different creation narratives depict God as playing different roles by virtue of the fact that they are different creation narratives.”


“I wish that I were being too harsh! But alas, Theo cannot even deliver on the patently obvious argument set before him. His evidence is entirely inappropriate for his claim. It is not, as Harvey suggests, the ‘right kind of evidence to support the thesis.’ Theo introduces the Hebrew Bible as a singly Christian document and then proceeds to recite the text as if its meaning were self-evident. The early Hebrew people understood the Genesis creation narrative as being figuratively and spiritually (not literally) true. Without ‘breaking down, interpreting, and commenting upon’ the story, Theo is unable to put Genesis chapter 1 into proper historical context—even the literalist context he seems to prefer. By failing to provide proper analysis, Theo grossly misrepresents what the Genesis story ‘means.’”


“Well… Theo’s misuse of keyterms, or, as Harvey describes them ‘the recurring terms or basic oppositions that an argument rests upon,’ dooms his argument from the start. Theo’s paper is divided into three principal sections discussing creationism, intelligent design, and evolution (i.e. his keyterms). By structuring his paper as such, Theo implies that the three categories are somehow distinct. But here’s the problem: there exist old-earth creationists that affirm evolution as God’s process of intelligent design. There are reformed Rabbis that uphold the sacred creation narrative while rejecting intelligent design in favor of evolution. In other words, Theo’s misunderstanding of key terms makes his argument not only untenable, but unintelligible.”


“This, I assume, is because Theo derelicts Harvey’s suggestion on sources. Theo should have compiled not only isolated facts, but ‘opinions or interpretations of [his] topic.’ To be honest, I’m impressed as well as disturbed. Theo MacGyvered a four page essay out of Wikipedia snippets, unconnected Bible verses, and sheer bias. And while it fails to represent any past or present state of affairs, the piece certainly covers a lot of ground in a short space. But then again… that’s what Wikipedia is for.”

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