Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I’ve Been Banned

It's never happened to me before. I've been banned from commenting on a blog.

I have to admit it stings a little, particularly when I think I was quite polite in my comments. The web site is a science based web site "Why Evolution is True." It's run by Jerry Coyne, who, I think teaches evolution at the University of Chicago. He must see himself as the master of all domains, and for some reason he sees me as a very rude person. Here's what I wrote in response to post of his in which he called the Genesis creation stories "allegories."

You are very good with your science, but you're lacking a bit on your understanding of literature. An allegory is a very specific type of figure of speech, much beloved by the monks of the Middle ages. Genesis 1:1 to 2:2 (I think that's where story 1 ends) doesn't qualify as allegory, though it is clearly metaphorical. The second creation account presents a different kind of poetry than the first. Accounts in Psalms and Job present yet another kind of metaphor - the storehouse of the snow is one of my favorite pieces of the Job cosmology. These are metaphors, but not allegories. In the allegory there would be some spiritual equivalent of each element of creation.

I appreciate your desire to take to task those who fail to agree with you, but sometimes you get carried away and attempt to demonstrate expertise you do not possess.

I thought I was being quite polite. Coyne thought it incredibly rude of me to point out that he gets carried away and tries to claim literary expertise he does not possess. Yet he's quite willing to point to religionists who claim biological expertise and laugh at them for misunderstanding science. It seems to me that Dr. Coyne doesn't think there are other disciplines as rigorous as his own, and that he might get some things wrong when venturing into unfamiliar disciplines.

As his defense of using allegory to describe Genesis 1 he appeals to the OED, in which he discovers that an allegory is an extended metaphor. Yes, that's correct. But it is a very specific kind of extended metaphor. Not every mythic story is an allegory. Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress is an allegory. The medieval theologians, beginning with Augustine, were quite fond of interpreting scripture allegorically. But in itself the Genesis text does not function as an allegory. It is a mythic text, a metaphoric text: one could call it an extended metaphor. But it isn't an allegory. That was my point. No one in modern interpretation treats it as an allegory.

It also seems to me that he has a very thin skin if he considers this post as "incredibly rude."

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