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  1. Pushing the argument back to being one of “authority” is, I think, a bit naive and dodges the real complexities of the issue (on both sides).

    I don’t think either side would argue with the idea that the Bible is authoritative. To say that Enns, or any other Christian who accepts some form of evolutionary, does not think the Bible is authoritative is a smoke screen at best and a ad hominem attack at worst. It simply muddles the (already) complex issue.

    The real issue is not about authority, but about how that “authority” has been revealed to humanity. Enns wants to say that the authority has been revealed through some sort of etiological myth that is not meant to be taken as “literal.” You would want to say (as best as I understand you…please correct me if I’m wrong) that the authority has been revealed through the recording of actual events (i.e., Adam and Eve actually existed in history, Eve actually ate the fruit, etc.).

    To be terse: the issue is hermeneutical. The best way to deal with the issue, I think, would be to show why, on hermeneutical grounds, you think the interpretation to which Enns arrives is flawed. To simply state that it’s an issue of authority is a silly way to go about an argument.

    1. It’s an issue of authority because as Enns acknowledges in his lecture, Paul says that Adam was the first man.

      So is Paul authoritative or is the theory of evolution authoritative?

      This is what I mean, too, by the Bible interpreting itself. Paul, the later biblical author, has interpreted Genesis. For me, Paul’s interpretation is authoritative. It shuts down other interpretive possibilities. But not for Enns. For Enns, Paul’s interpretation is one possibility among others, and he wants to say that Paul is being more creative than interpretive. I disagree.

      1. I agree with the Dr. – Hamilton, that is. It is an issue of authority. The issue is whose hermeneutic carries, not just more authority, but infallible authority – Paul’s or Enns’? Another way to put this is – God’s or man’s?

      2. Again, though, the issue isn’t authority. It’s hermeneutics.

        You are saying that Paul, in his reference to Adam, is making an historical statement about Adam existing in history. Enns, I gather, would argue that Paul is not making an historical point, but a theological point. It is not that Paul isn’t authoritative for Enns, it’s simply that he would disagree with how you are interpreting what Paul is saying.

        To continue with this critique by harping on issues of authority is, I think, severely misguided and, again, misses the complexity of the issue. It is also not a very good critique as it makes assumptions about what the “other side” holds to be true. An argument based on assumptions is not really an argument at all.

        Your example proved my point: it’s not really about authority. It’s about hermeneutics.

        1. You obviously didn’t watch the lecture Enns gave. In that lecture Enns says that Paul thought Adam was the first man.

          This means you are the one arguing on the basis of your assumptions.

          1. Ha! Again with your assumptions. I did, in fact, watch the video.

            Enns does think that Paul did think Adam was the first man (as did many Jews of the second Temple period). Of course, these same people thought the earth was flat and that there was a solid dome covering the earth (cf. Gen 1).

            The issue isn’t what Paul “thought” in the abstract. The issue is what Paul was conveying through his use of Adam. This is where it, again, turns to a hermeneutical issue: it is a hermeneutical question to ask whether Paul’s use of Adam was meant to be historical or theological. It’s not about authority; it’s about hermeneutics.

            I’m really quite unsure why you don’t get that point and also unsure as why you would object to confronting this on hermeneutical grounds.

          2. The point that I’m making is that Paul interpreted Genesis and arrived at the hermeneutical conclusion that he was the first man. For me, that settles this hermeneutical issue. If Paul interpreted the OT to mean that Adam was historical, so should we. Not to do that is to reject the authority of Paul’s Spirit inspired interpretation.

  2. [quote]If Paul interpreted the OT to mean that Adam was historical, so should we.[/quote]

    So if Paul interpreted the OT to mean that there was a solid dome covering the earth and that the earth was flat, should we believe in those things as well?

    Not only that, but I think you are missing the subtly here: there is a difference between what Paul may have thought in the abstract and what Paul meant in using Adam as an example. The point Enns and others would make is that Paul’s use of Adam is theological, not historical. Therefore you can take Paul’s use of Adam as authoritative since it is a theological point (not an historical point) that Paul is making. Biblical authority is maintained.

    Again, it is a hermeneutical issue, even if you don’t think there is a difference between what Paul thought in the abstract and what Paul meant in his use of Adam. You still must back up, hermeneutically, your belief that Paul meant his use of Adam to be taken historically.

    1. Show me a text where Paul says there’s a solid dome covering the earth and that the earth was flat.

      Here’s one where he says that Adam was the first man: 1 Cor 15:45, “Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.'” Here Paul is quoting Genesis 2:7, and into the Greek translation of this verse he inserts the words “first” and “Adam,” showing that he thinks Genesis 2:7 is talking about the first man, Adam.

      1. Show me a text where Paul says there’s a solid dome covering the earth and that the earth was flat.

        Again, your question proves my point.

        The point being, of course, that Paul, just like other Jews of the time period and nearly all ancient people would have believed in a solid dome covering a flat earth (see Paul Seely’s excellent article “The Firmament and the Waters Above Part 1: The Meaning of ‘raqia in Gen 1:6–8,” WTJ 53 (1991), 227–40. Paul’s idea of a “third heaven” could also support this, but that argument is a bit overreached, I think). BUT Paul did not convey this belief in his writings.

        The argument that Enns would make is that Paul did believe that Adam was the first man, but that he did not state that in his writings. Rather, Paul was making a theological point. This would mean (yet again) that the issue is hermeneutical, not an issue with authority.

        There are a few issues with your conclusion regarding 1 Cor 15:45. First (pardon the weak pun…or, perhaps “week” pun since we are talking about creationism), you are making a text critical assumption by saying that Paul inserted the term “first” into the text. The best we can say is that so far as we can tell from the extant Greek (either Old Greek, LXX, or Ecclesiastical Greek) texts of the OT, it would seem that Paul inserted the term “first.” That is assuming that he is quoting a Greek OT where he could be quoting from memory or translating a proto-MT Hebrew text. I don’t really think, on scholarly grounds, one can be 100% definitive. To base a belief that you have on something that is possible but not definite is an issue you will have to deal with on your own. Second, the first problem is complex enough and I don’t imagine you will address it (since you continue to respond to my criticisms with simple re-affirmations of your original point and not proper, scholarly argumentation), so I will not bother with a second point.

        Let me re-iterate this once more: the issue is hermeneutics, not authority.

        1. IMHO, Jeremiah, you’re arguing in comments in response to a blog post. This is hardly the arena for “proper, scholarly argumentation.”

          Dr. Hamilton, thank you for this post. I, for one, was blessed and instructed by reading it.

          1. Maybe, Noah. I’d like to think that there is a difference between “scholarship” and “proper, scholarly argumentation.”

            The former, I would agree, is not found in blogs or comment strings, but in monographs, articles, and commentaries.

            The latter, I would argue, is a way of doing discourse, or a method, that can be employed in any venue.

            My point was that JMH is simply re-iterating his original point. That’s not worthy of an argument. Quite simply: it isn’t an argument. It’s re-iteration.

          2. You can say whatever you wish.

            The question, I suppose, is whether or not you are correct.

            In this case, you wouldn’t be.

          3. Thanks for pointing that out.

            Here’s what I read:
            JMH writes his article
            JJ disagrees about something and lets JMH know why, saying (a)
            JMH disagrees with you, saying (b)
            JJ disagrees, saying why and, again, saying (a)
            JMH disagrees, saying why
            JJ disagrees, saying why and, again, saying (a)

            You keep saying it’s an issue of hemeneutics instead of authority. JMH disagrees with you and you have a problem with it so you say why you have a problem with it and then you say, again, what you disagree with. JMH replies and you disagree again, so then you accuse JMH of making the same point over and over again, finishing with your original point of disagreement.

            Rest assured, your point has been made and heard, that should be enough in the comment section of a blog post…

        2. Jeremiah,

          What difference would it make if Paul, on his own, added “first” or if he was quoting a translation available to him which had already inserted it, or if his knowledge of Hebrew, no doubt surpassing our own, required the addition of that word into the Greek?

          If it was written into the Greek text when Paul first wrote Romans, then it’s there and it’s God-breathed, and can realistically be taken no other way other than that Adam really was the first man. Period.

          Why do you think it matters whether Paul added “first” or not? It’s there, isn’t it?

        3. Jeremiah,

          Sorry to be just now getting back to you on your comments about the Greek text Paul appears to be quoting. I’m not unaware of the issues you raise, in fact, in God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment on p. 161 n. 44 I make some comments that sound much like yours.

          Having now examined the apparatus in Wevers’ Goettingen LXX on Genesis, I think it’s safe to say that my initial assumption–that Paul inserted the words “first” and “Adam” into his quotation of the Greek Genesis–is not challenged by anything in the manuscript tradition available to Wevers.



      2. I can’t think of a text where Paul explicitly states he believes in the ‘solid dome’. Having said that, it does not mean he did not believe it. I guess an overarching question is: What does it mean for the Bible to be ‘human’? What is God and what is man?

        JMH: Do you believe that the entire culture believed in a flat earth and Paul didn’t or that when he came to write Scripture he all the sudden believed in what we now understand to be true. I guess you could say because he doesn’t say anything about a flat earth then it doesn’t matter. But then that gets back to exactly what truly happened in the writing of Scripture.

        I think that one text that speaks to the general question you are raising is Paul’s thoughts on Christ as the well that followed them. Enns speaks to this in his book. Paul seems to have embraced the ‘tradition’ of the moveable well that followed the people in the wilderness.

        1. Thanks for your note, Tyler, as I indicate in my post, in his lecture at Westmont College, Enns himself acknowledges that plenty of ancient people knew the earth wasn’t flat. So I don’t think we can say that “the entire culture believed in a flat earth.” To draw that conclusion from the statements in the Bible would mean that we could draw the same kinds of conclusions from other pieces of literature that refer to sunsets and sunrises–those authors or the characters in those stories thought the sun revolved around the earth?

          The same kind of treatment of the evidence holds for what Enns says about the “moveable well.” He is selective in his use of the evidence, and while he may not acknowledge this when he addresses the moveable well, I don’t doubt for a second that he knows that the moveable well is not the only ancient explanation for what Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 10. In his reviews of Enns, G. K. Beale has discussed other possible explanations, and the least we can say is that Enns’s view is merely one possibility among many. Given the weak attestation of this “moveable well” tradition (if I recall correctly, it’s in only one significant source), I don’t think Enns’s view is anything close to being the most plausible explanation of what Paul means when he says that Israel drank from the rock that followed them. It seems to me that the explanation provided by Beale is more compelling–see esp. p. 32 ff of this essay:

    2. Jeremiah, there is not need to try and defend what Peter Enns believes on Paul’s Adam. Enns has been very clear that Paul is teaching/means that Adam was historical, and Enns clearly thinks Paul was wrong:

      Of course this is not surprising, since Enns does not hold to the inerrancy of Scripture. Elsewhere, Enns also says “There is really little doubt that Paul understood Adam to be a real person, the first created human from whom all humans descended”.

      And again Enns says,

      “And whatever way forward is chosen, we must be clear on one thing: we have all left “Paul’s Adam.” We are all “creating Adam,” as it were, in an effort to reconcile Scripture and the modern understanding of human origins”.

      Biologos even holds that Jesus was wrong about creation and a historical Adam:

      “If Jesus as a finite human being erred from time to time, there is no reason at all to suppose that Moses, Paul, John wrote Scripture without error. Rather, we are wise to assume that the biblical authors expressed themselves as human beings writing from the perspectives of their own finite, broken horizons.”

  3. I don’t share Enns’ assumptions, hermeneutic, or rejection of the Bible’s authority in favor of science. But the theory of “apparent age” still bothers me. It entails that nearly the whole of science as it’s been practiced for hundreds of years is virtually worthless. Or it very nearly entails that God created the world in such a way as to deceive his creatures deliberately about its natural history. That, to me, gets uncomfortably close to questioning the goodness and truthfulness of God.

    Dr. Hamilton, have you read Bob Godfrey’s book on Genesis 1? If so, what do you think of it?

    1. Jeff,

      If we are to believe that “apparent age” is equal to deception, then we must believe that Adam was 8 lbs and wrinkly when God created him, else God deceived us into believing that he had grown up.

      Not only that but all the animals we created in wet smelly sacs as well…

      Not only that, but the whole thing ignores the same science that evolutionists ignore, whereby rocks really don’t appear as old to scientists who know what old rocks ought to look like.

      But that’s another thing entirely.

    2. Jeff,

      I haven’t read that book, but as I said in another one of these comments, I think that Old Earth Creationists and Young Earth Creationists are on one side of the line, with theistic evolutionists on the other side of it. With people like Wayne Grudem holding the Old Earth Creationist position, I think you’re in good company if you go that way. I’m not convinced of that view, but I don’t think it’s beyond the pale like theistic evolution is.

      Hope this helps,


  4. I too have been blessed by Hamilton’s posts and comments. They give me more material to send to my white-coated friends who study in-group boundary policing and enforcement rhetoric.

    Hamilton sounds the classic alarms: “syncretism,” representing the issue as mutually exclusive religious options even though that’s news to people who differ from his point of view, presuming an identity between his views and God’s views while veiling this under the rhetoric of just submitting to and reading the Bible, and so on.

    Strong work by Hamilton in reducing Enns to rejecting the Bible’s authority. Now the potential troops have been notified that it’s time to pick up the guns and view Enns as a threat. More than that, they know that listening to Enns as an intramural conversation participant with a different view is a wrong assessment of the situation. He’s a religious outsider and to be treated as such. Hamilton: well done good and faithful gatekeeper.

    Hamilton’s posts remind me of evangelicals who polemicize against evangelicals who disagree with inerrancy by asserting that these others simply have a lower view of Scripture and “reject” Scripture. This tactic, of course, falls apart if the polemicists allow an actual conversation about the characteristics of Scripture and ways that inerrancy itself might require contortions of the Bible. Thus they refuse to frame the issue as one of, for example, hermeneutics. Instead it’s solely about those who affirm inerrancy accepting Scripture’s authority and those who disagree with inerrancy rejecting it.

    Oh well, nuance and tolerating conversation do not jive with the tactics of gate-keeping and enforcement.

    Steve the Syncretistic Christian

  5. Daryl, where do the scientists who know what old rocks ought to look like get their info? As for Adam and the animals, I think the analogy would be closer if we were told that Adam was created an old gray man. In any case, though, I realize there are problems either way. The problem of the chicken and the egg is a problem because eggs always come from chickens and chickens always come from eggs. Whichever came first, I’m happy to accept it and I don’t see it having much bearing on the way that the earth and the rest of the cosmos appears to be really old.

    Dr. H, thanks.

  6. Jeff,

    Re: Scientists and rocks…from the same place evolutionists get theirs. From a lab. There’s more to it, of course, but I don’t have that info handy and I don’t think we need to chase that rabbit right now.

    Re: Adam. Old man or fully grown man, the point is the same, Adam was created to appear like every other grown man, and not as the 1 hour-old man he was. That, like the rocks, can hardly be used to claim deception and therefore conclude that for God to be honest Adam must’ve been created 30 years previously, as a child.

    The real reason the cosmos appears really old, is that people assume that it is.
    And really, it is very old. 6000 years is not nothing and it doesn’t take a billion of anything to make a lot.

    1. Actually, a bit of clarification from a guy with a physics degree… the reason the cosmos appears really old is because it appears really old. Until the 1800s, most scientists held to one of two views: either the earth and universe were somewhere between 6000 and 10000 years old, or it existed eternally. Then, over the course of the 19th century, as astronomy and geology came into their own, a number of independent discoveries prompted the discussion of the age of the universe – foremost among the scientists Christian men like Lord Kelvin. Now, the fact that they were Christians doesn’t mean they were guaranteed to be right, but the fact of the matter is that there was no Darwinian conspiracy, no philosophically driven agenda to see that the universe appeared old in order to fit evolutionary timescales. The earth looks old, and so does the rest of the universe.

      This only became more apparent in the 1930s as Hubble’s revolutionary work on expansion indicated a finite beginning to the universe (and suggested a time of origin) – a development, I’ll note, that most atheistic scientists found abhorrent. Einstein tried to fudge his own work on general relativity to avoid the same result, only to later backtrack when the experimental evidence was unavoidably clear. When, in the 1960s, Arno and Penzias discovered background radiation that confirmed Hubble’s results and timescale, there was again considerable backlash from atheists in the scientific community, several of whom flatly admitted their dislike of the notion of an absolute beginning, however far back. This remains the case today; many atheists are now grasping at the forever-unattainable straws of multiverse theories in which new universes are continually springing into existence from the quantum foam.

      Whatever explanation is offered for the apparent age of the universe, it’s not some philosophical bias that makes the heavens and the earth look old: for they do indeed look very old to everyone who looks. Whether one offers up apparent age, hypothesizes a forever untestable change in the behavior of the constants of the universe after the Fall, or admits to an old earth position, some explanation must be offered for what is clear on the face of the evidence. It is not naturalistic assumptions that lead here; Godly and God-honoring men were among the first to notice, and others have converted as the evidence pushed them to recognize the handiwork of a creator (see Penzias’ comments on the Big Bang and Genesis, for example), and atheists have always hated the evidence of a beginning. That the evidence of a beginning also indicates that the beginning was long ago should not give us pause; it should simply challenge us to think hard about how we understand that evidence in light of Scripture.

      For the record, I’m an Old Earth Creationist with both sympathy for and profound disagreement with the YEC position. 🙂

  7. What Enns is reflecting is what most of the scholars of the past 150 years reflect, namely, an apprehension that the Bible is wrong in its claims, that science is right, that we have no means by which to answer such evidences as the secular fields offer now, especially in view of their apparent success in taking control of the mass media, politics, education, scientific establishment. It must be that they are right, and the Bible is wrong. This is also the result of a fear that caused biblical christians to retreat from the position of dominance in Western Civilization, and it is also the result of a well-planned attack with evidence that is lacking. Everyone has, for the most part, forgotten that the scientific establishment was once dominated by believing Christians, that, apparently, as Whitehead has pointed out, the doctrine of the immanence of God was the basis for an objective and expected consistency of events to the point that one could speak of natural law. Again, regardless of what is said about Darwinism, there are a number of things that can be said about it, namely, that it has been often repudiated by scientists themselves, that Darwin was not quite the rationally objectivist that many suppose, that there has been a great deal of evil perpetrated upon multitudes due to the dehumanizing effects of evolutionism, viz., Eugenics, Social Darwinism, etc. Also the trail of Scopes was a farce with the education on the side of Bryan and the self-taught being Darrow. My professor in history at one school was nonplussed, when I read the fact that Bryan had three earned degrees. Darrow had none. And then there are the inverted strata, where older strata overlies strata of a younger nature (as determined by the presence of fossils of more complex and developed beings) conformably. Morris and Whitcomb called attention to 100,000 square miles out in the West, i.e., Montana, etc. Few are aware of the assumptions involved in much of the dating of the fossils or of the pressure brought to bear for conformity in the scientific establishment (along with pressure from the media, legal establishment, etc.). There is the refusal to accept the challenges that have been offered, e.g., the formation of haloes in basaltic rock as Robert Gentry proposed for falsification by the appropriate authorities, but his offer was ignored and he was summarily pushed out of the establishment. O yes, and I have not mentioned the problem with the scientific method itself, namely, the paralysis of analysis, the null hypothesis presenting difficulties (like what do you do, when the null hypothesis is also true along with the original hypothesis?), and the fiting of a laboratory experimental method in which one controls every factor to a more general situation where one has little or no control over practically all of the factors.

  8. Again, Daryl, I tend to think that there’s some element of apples and oranges in the comparison. Had Adam been created with a bunch of scars and tattoos and a replaced knee ligament that looked like it’d come from his thigh, then charging God with being deceptive would be justified. Scars, tattoos, and surgeries tell a story about where a person’s been and what’s happened to him, a story that would be untrue in Adam’s case.

    From what I can see, and I admit to being very tentative on all this, the apparent age of the universe is bound up in the geologic and astronomic “scars and tattoos” that tell a story of age and change. Maybe I’m misreading the story, but to press *that* analogy a little further, if I am, I need to start doubting my grasp of language.

  9. There is evidence of one’s life in one’s body, much like scars. For one thing, our noses and nasal passages keep getting larger with time. Each of our DNA chains keeps losing parts from its 2 ends each cell division until it loses too much and then stops working.

    When you tell a biologist that uses evolution every day that if they believe in evolution they cannot be a Christian, guess which choice most of them will take?

    The atheists have a field day nowadays pointing out all the science-deniers among the religious, again trying to force a choice, all the while claiming science is on their side, when it is really just scientism. But when Christians toss out the science with the scientism, what are non-believers to think?

    The Bible says that God commands the weather, does this mean the science of meteorology is blasphemous? No, it means that God can use natural processes to accomplish God’s goals and that God inspired the authors of the Bible in a process of accommodation to their understanding. And we KNOW this is true else they would have had no chance to understand it (God being beyond us and all), it is just a question of how far did God accommodate.

    1. Hey Don,
      We’re not throwing out the science, just the advocates who tell us what to believe based on various theories rather than the word of God.

      For accommodation, read the article that is linked in the words “phenomenologically correct” for some push-back to think about concerning what accommodation implies.

      May we persevere in trusting in the Lord who has graciously given us his sufficient word!

      1. I read the article.

        Here is the basic problem as I see it. Mohler and co. can pick and choose what is phenomenological or metaphoric and then what is left (in their understanding) is what is to be taken “literal”. So another person like Enns comes along and says, why cannot what you take as literal be phenomenlogical or metaphoric and Mohler and co. say for saying that you are off the reservation. I say the latter claim is not fair, both groups are just making different choices about what is phen. or meta. and what is not.

        1. It’s always interesting to read your responses, Don.

          IMO, the issue turns on authorial intent and, as it has to do with the Bible, whether the author was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write what he wrote. That’s where you and I disagree on everything that we have commented on in the past few months, though I’m sure you’ll say you hold to inspiration, just not the same one that I do. For example, if God wanted his creatures to know that he created the world in 6 days, how much clearer could he be? Though I know you disagree, to say otherwise is to force a pre-understanding on the text that is not there and then bring confusion upon that same text because the interpreter, not the text, rules the day (believe me, I am well aware of my sinful propensity and ability to do this and I would like to think that both you and I desire to interpret God’s word correctly since a correct interpretation leads to worship that is in spirit and truth).

          It saddens me that a proper interpretation of the Bible based on the claim it makes that it is God’s sufficient revelation to man can be cast aside in favor of a theory that has no ground for the claims its proponents make. And then those same proponents call for Christians to do the same as they have and pronounce ignorance on those who don’t. It’s truly sad because it’s Satan’s same trick of deception all over again, “Did God really say….?” and we still haven’t learned to say that God indeed has said, therefore, I believe and obey.

          As always, it’s a pleasure interacting with you.

          1. It is fine with me if the 6 days in Genesis are 24 hour days, this is because I follow what John Walton teaches in “The Lost World of Genesis One” which I highly recommend. He teaches it is a functional create rather than a material create that is being discussed. God did create the materials we find in the universe, of course, but Gen 1 is not that story.

            I also want to find truth in the story of God’s works and the story in God’s word. If they do not seem to be saying the same truth, then it can be assumed I am not reading at least one of them correctly. I am just more hesitant to declare the story of God’s works errant than others are.

            Of course it turns on author’s intent as inspired by the Spirit. And it also turns on how much did God accommodate. Today, if a parent tells his child that mommy has a baby in her tummy, are they lying? I think lying is simply too strong a term to use, the loving parent is accommodating to the child’s understanding, and God did and does this for us also, as God is beyond us.

          2. Don,
            You’re right. That is, of course, IF God is accommodating in his revelation to us, yet, to my understanding, we’re never told in Scripture that he does this. And I don’t see how accommodation is present in Genesis 1, unless one pushes the idea on top of the text, if that is what you are saying.

            Until next time, may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ bless you as you gather with the saints this Lord’s Day!

          3. Accommodation by God to the original reader is ALWAYS present in the Bible text, else they would have had no chance to understand it, as God is beyond finite beings. It is just a question of how MUCH accommodation was made.

            As Walton points out in his book, God put things into terms that were current at that time, but took the polytheism out, instead making it anti-polytheistic, as many others have noted before this.

          4. Sorry, Don. I’ll have to look into that more in order to comment. If I am understanding you correctly, that reads more like bringing pre-understanding into the text rather than something that is in the text itself.

            Thanks again for your time.

    1. I do accept the evidence for evolution, but that program is not an accurate simulation of evolution, it is a charicature.

  10. I wonder how Enns knew what every Jew thought? Sounds like assumption to me. Beside, Isaiah didn’t think that way, and he was a very well known authority. But that brings up another point, the Jews recorded and looked to history for their theology, irrespective of what the popular opinion might be. It is by the means of history that truth is conveyed, so intimately so, that the Prophets are embedded in it just as their prophecies are and cannot be extracted as independent elements without changing both. There are two things at work in the OT, the Law and the Prophets, as principle means of revelation. The Law is historical, the Prophets its interpretation. Paul is recalling the history of Christ as a prophet, using history as the hermenuetic for his Soteriology, just as the prophets before him, and it makes no sense to exclude a real Adam as history for the sake of a consistent apologetic. History is Paul’s authority. Reducing the hamartiological reference of Adam to an allegorical essence creates more problems than it solves, for as we read allegory in Scripture it is not clear and is open to many diverse interpretations. That would simply not do for an essential doctrine of the faith. If Adam was not truly the first Adam, then neither was Christ the second, historically, or soteriologically, necessarily, but only in a interpretive allegorical sense. Then just as likely, Paul could make his doctrine not truly revelational, and false, for perhaps Jesus wasn’t uniquely incarnated, perhaps he was only one of a series of Christs and in process of becoming. The purpose of history is to anchor the revelation so that it cannot be changed, just as Moses was to make everything exactly a representation of what is in heaven, Paul says that this creation reveals that: His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. And though it is as Law, insufficient with out the revelation of the Grace of God in Christ’s incarnation (history), it remains what it is so that the latter stands upon a rock which cannot be moved.

    1. TT,

      Ironically you criticize Enns for claiming to know what every Jew thought and then, in the following sentences, yourself make claims about what “the Jews” did and how they thought. I’d love to know how you move from your understanding of the claims of a handful of Israelite-Jewish sources to making claims about what the 95% or more of illiterate Israelites/Jews did and thought.

      Thought it would be fun to draw attention to your self defeating rhetoric here…wherein you engage in the exact kind of claims about the extant evidence and ancient Jews for which you dismissively criticize Enns in your opening sentence. But again, in the world of polemics, boundary policing, and enforcement, who needs nuance and critical self-reflection?

      BTW, good job representing “the Jews” in the image of your ideal evangelical: “the Jews recorded and looked to history for their theology, irrespective of what the popular opinion might be.” Got any arguments to show that the sources making up the extant corpus of Israelite/Jewish literature don’t “syncretize” (by Hamilton’s implicit folk-polemical definition of the term) and trade in some of the various cosmological, “scientific,” and the like positions of their times?

      Finally, love how you tagged your post about this and Enns on your own blog under “liberalism,” “Deception,” and “apostasy.” I’m sure if I did something comparable about your blog posts I would never be called out for slander, ad hominem attacks, willingness to sling accusations online while being unwilling to handle such serious matters the way the Bible outlines, and so on. I probably also wouldn’t be accused of polemically misrepresenting a brother in Christ.

      Steve the Syncretistic Christian

  11. Shaman and medicine men?

    It seems naive for a man who uses the lastest in communications technology (a marvel of science one might say), to paint scientists as silly, ignorant witch doctors.

    If you want to believe that the earth was created in 7 days, fair enough. But one can be a Christian and believe in evolution. I will cite myself as an example.

    This is a worthwhile discussion to have, but let’s not make arguments by dehumanizing the other side. We don’t learn anything by assuming those who disagree with us are idiots.

    1. Are you suggesting that Shamans and Medicine Men are idiots?

      I’m suggesting an analogy between the role that certain figures play in wider society, and I don’t mean to demean anyone.

      Scientists are the new Shamans–they provide an explanation of the world and how it works, and that explanation is in many cases (Christians who are scientists being the exceptions largely unwelcome in the scientific community) godless.



      1. “Are you suggesting that Shamans and Medicine Men are idiots?”

        Touche, well parried, sir 😉

        Although I couldn’t help but notice that it is the scientists who are shamans and medicine men. Yet by your definition above Mohler and even the authors of scripture should be labeled as Shamans and Medicine Men. Just better ones, perhaps?

        I still think it’s a little incoherent to be so opposed to the godless scientists worldview, and yet reaping the benefits of it’s wisdom in medicine, technology, etc. You certainly don’t have to agree with everything that comes out of the scientific community, scientists don’t agree on everything either. But I do want to warn you that your post seems to contain some xenophobia that I think is unnecessary. We have no need to fear the scientists Christian or otherwise.

        1. Thanks for your note, Justin,

          In my view, modern science is a cut flower. That is, I think the knowledge that we have of the world and how it works is ultimately due to the Christian world-view that made modern science possible.

          Look at the world: where the gospel has gone you find literacy and science. Where the gospel has not gone you find everything from the inhumane injustice of Sharia law to the stone age lifestyle of the islanders of Papua New Guinea to the brutality shown to the pariahs in India, and on and on.

          So modern science owes its existence to the way of thinking about the world generated by the Bible. It’s the quintessential child who owes everything to the parent they grow up to despise and rebel against.

          Here’s the point I’m pressing by referring to scientists as shamans and medicine men: evolution and the world view that goes with it is a religion.

          I don’t fear the priests of that religion any more than I would fear the voodoo cult leader. They have their explanation, their way of manipulating power, and their way of policing their community.

          Christ is Lord!


          1. I totally agree that science came from the Judeo-Christian worldview.

            Scientism is a religion, as it makes metaphysical claims. Science is not a religion. It is true that Dawkins and similar combine their science with their scientism and claim atheism is the only truth, but that is just scientism run rampant.

            One needs to be able to separate the claims of science from the claims of some science people that believe in scientism.

  12. “explanation is in many cases (Christians who are scientists being the exceptions largely unwelcome in the scientific community) godless.”

    I am curious. Do explanations need to be “god-full” in order to be true? For example, if I explain the recent loss of the New Orleans Saints to the St. Louis Rams due to their inability to block and tackle, have I failed to offer an intellectually virtuous story about how and why the Saints lost? That seems likely to be true regardless of any proposition about what God’s intentions are. Do I need to introduce by conjunction introduction “and God ordained it to be so” to be ‘god-full?’ If so, couldn’t an evolutionary biologist who is a Christian do make this sort of move? It seems that they do, a la Francis Collins.

    1. Adam,

      Thanks for your note. I think there are multiple levels of causality and that people can rightly speak of all of them.

      My concern is what happens when a proposed explanation contradicts something the Bible says. For me, the Bible is going to have the final word. So if archeology or science or some ancient text seems to contradict what the Bible says, I’ll seek an explanation. If I can’t find an explanation, rather than conclude that the Bible is wrong, I’ll suspend judgment because I believe that when all the facts are known, when all the evidence is brought to light, the Bible will be proven totally true and trustworthy.

      So if the Bible tells me Adam was the first man (see 1 Cor 15:45), and some scientist claims that’s impossible, I’m sticking with the Bible. If the evidence from the scientist seems irrefutable, I’ll suspect that 50 years from now it may not seem so at all, and I think history will bear that suspicion.

      I hope this helps,


  13. It is quite evident tht few who write in this column are acquainted with the reality of brainwashing, propaganda, of science being bought and sold, of people with a hidden motive who want control and will have it at any price. How sure were the scientists of long ago in the steady-state theory, the eternality of matter. And you really need to consider Sir Fred Hoyle’s response to the big bang theory as well as those scientists who happen to be Christian and those who are not who are catastrophists in their view of the past. The evidence of catastrophism is greater by far than any evidence for a progressive evolution by means of present day processes, Yuch! Doesn’t any body have any knowledge of the reality that mdoern evolutionists will not face the fact that the evidence for catastrophism in earth’s past is overwhelming. That means, to say the very least, that there is no real evidence for evolution and especially on the basis of a lack of intermediate links. The reconstruction thus far identified will in the long run and on closer examination be found to be wanting…as they have in the past. It is sort of like the idiocy proposed to Bryan during the scopes trial, when they asked him about the tooth of Nebraska man and he responded, “For all I know it could be a pig’s tooth.” Later, Nebraska man was considered to be an error, and the tooth turned out to be a so-called early form of the peccary. The Scopes trial was a media event, a circus, practically stage produced to make the Christian understanding and the biblical viewpoint reprehensible in the eyes of the public; it was a slick trick, one that has been repeated several times, e.g., the Arkansas trial and the more recent Pennsylvania case, Interestingly enough in the Arkansas trial a scientist did offer his apporach for falsification, but the scientific community, so-called, ignored it and booted him out of the establishment, fulfilling the old saw, “A little intimidation goes a long way.” When the whole world is agreed upon something, you can really begin to question it,

    The fact that one of the missing links showed up and proved that it was not missing, the coelacanth ought to put caution in the mind of the evolutionists, that maybe their case is not as strong as it might seem. Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! And the Christians are afraid to trust that Book written, supposedly, in primitive times and, hence, of necessity, representing primitive understandings. What a hoot! Sold a bill of goods on the Bible. But what if the Book, being inspired by Omniscience reflects, as should be expected, the depth of wisdom and profundity commensurate with such origin, the effect that follows the cause, then what? Maybe, just maybe, the Book is so deep in its limpid, crystal clear teachings, its perspicuity, that man is unable to plumb its depths, to grasp its realities, even its wherewithals to meet human needs and to produce a better future for all of mankind, enough to last for a thousand generations and thousands and thousands of planets and all the inhabitants there for 20,000 years, allowing for a modest 20 years per generation and for the fact that mankind might go to the stars, if it has not already (which I suspect).Wish you fellows would wake up. Wish our so-called Bible scholars knew more about intellectualism. I once taught one of Dr. Enns books in a seminary extension class. Now it grieves me to see how little he really respected the work that speaks so contrary to the spirit of supposedly scientific age. Instead of an age of science, I think it might better be called the age of scientism in order to escape the reality that science is bought and sold just like any other commodity or what not. With his view of the Bible, Dr. Enns like one Dr. Ehrman needs to consider other lines of employment. When I was an atheist, I was openly one. After my conversion, about 12-13 years later, I used to twit my supervising professor in American Social and Intellectual History for his Agnosticism, saying, “Ah, Dr., your just a dishonest Atheist.” He would grin and blush as he knew I was just carrying his views to their logical conclusions, having held those same views at one time.

  14. For example, if God wanted his creatures to know that he created the world in 6 days, how much clearer could he be?

    This is a great question. I wish a biologist, chemist, geologist or astrophysicist would drop in and answer it. I can think of a few ways:

    1. Not leave fossils around that are tens and hundreds of millions of years old.

    2. Not allow light to arrive on earth that emanated from stars millions of years ago.

    3. Not allow different dating methods pointing to an old earth and life on earth for eons – for example: radioactivity, tree rings, ice cores, corals and supernovas.

    4. Not allow the tracing of mitochondrial DNA to establish staggeringly accurate genetic lineages among species, to the point where we can now predict what new fossils will look like before they are discovered.

    5. Not leave a rabbit (or human) in the pre-Cambrian shield.

    I trust you get my point and I’m a scientific dummy.

    1. It appears you’re reading my words out of context. I wrote that in regards to Genesis 1. If you want a discussion about that, we can talk, but I’m not going to get pulled into man’s “scientific” opinion on the universe when we have the Creator’s word on the matter.

      I encourage you to go to

      When you read that you’ll see that many men and women did outrageous things simply based on the rock solid promise that is God’s word. You’ll even notice that verse 3 says a lot about how Christians are to look at creation, namely, that it is “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.”

      So I concur with JMH and his words to you that we are both men of faith, for it is by faith that you ignore the sure word of God and trust upon your own understanding or that of another, and you do this in blatant disregard for the God to whom you will give an account.

      I beg you, consider what I am saying, more than that, consider what the word of God commands and repent of your sin! Place your faith in Christ who alone bore the punishment for sin and in him alone is forgiveness and righteousness found.

  15. Dr. Willingham writes: “there is no real evidence for evolution and especially on the basis of a lack of intermediate links”.

    This is a statement of staggering ignorance. As noted above, I am not a scientist and rely on the overwhelming weight of consensus to arrive at my conclusions. Please provide me with the name of one (I ask for only one) biologist or chemist with a doctorate in their field of discipline that agree with the statement you made and point me to a published, peer-reviewed paper where they set out their position. Thanks. TAM.

    1. This is a statement of staggering ignorance.

      Oh, of course it is. I’m sure you are just dying to straighten out us poor backward hill billies.

      I am not a scientist and rely on the overwhelming weight of consensus to arrive at my conclusions.

      You mean like that overwhelming weight of scientific consensus that told us that man-made global warming is absolute certain and to deny it is like denying the holocaust?

      Please provide me with the name of one (I ask for only one) biologist or chemist with a doctorate in their field of discipline that agree with the statement you made and point me to a published, peer-reviewed paper where they set out their position.

      Why are atheists so lazy? Dr. John Sanford, Dr Felix Konotey-Ahulu, Dr. John Harnett that’s three to get you started.

    2. “I am not a scientist and rely on the overwhelming weight of consensus to arrive at my conclusions.”

      If I may, fundamentally, the conclusions of scientific research are based on facts, not consensus of opinion by scientists, if that is what you mean. This is why Christians have a problem with being told what to believe about the Bible by evolutionary scientists: they turn theory into law based on their opinion of what they observe instead of deriving their conclusions from what they observe in the scientific method and leaving their opinions out of it. Fundamentally, there are no opinions in science.

  16. I apologize for the multiple posts but I have a couple follow-up questions for Dr. Willingham. I see from your website that you “Converted 12-7-57 from atheism to Christ by a vision/hallucination”. I have also had visions/hallucinations – what do you rely on to assure yourself that your vision was not simply the product of your mind? If you had another vision similar to what Abraham experienced during the binding of Isaac and were commanded to kill someone dear to you, how would you tell if the direction was an authentic divine command or simply the product of your mind?

  17. I did my own online research to see if I could find a Ph.D. biologist who disavowed the theory of evolution. I found this quote by Dr. David N. Menton from an article he wrote in 1993: “In conclusion, evolution is not observable, repeatable, or refutable and thus does not qualify as either a scientific fact or theory. ” I guess that settles it.

  18. I’m sure I will add nothing new to this discussion, but I wanted to write my opinions of the lecture that Enns gave. I finally watched it today. I was open to hearing from Enns and what his points were. I reject evolution, but I’m not afraid of science.

    My real objection to his message came at the point when he discusses Paul (roughly at the 30-minute mark). It’s hard for me, as a Christian who believes God’s word and admires Paul, to hear the way he described Paul. He described Paul as an ancient man, one who wasn’t scientifically-minded, as if to say, “Paul was such an idiot.” And then as he discusses Paul, it’s as if Enns does not believe that Paul was inspired by God. Rather, his attitude suggests that Paul was just a normal man who had his own opinions. He read the Old Testament creatively, so that it was about Jesus. (Though Jesus claimed that the entire OT was about himself.) Oh, and other people read the OT and saw Adam as a hero, didn’t you know? This attitude towards the authority of the Bible is not helpful. It makes us judge God’s word, instead of allowing God’s word to judge us. It’s a slippery slope that I don’t care to tread. We can discuss how science and the Bible interact, but once we question the inspiration of the Bible, we can no longer read it in faith. It’s just another ancient book among many.

    Enns offers no proof of evolution (over against intelligent design or any other theories of human origins), but he dogmatically asserts it. But he is willing to question the Bible. Perhaps he should reverse his thinking and accept the Bible on faith and question evolution. Or, at the least, he should apply the same methods to both. If he questioned evolution as much as he questioned the Bible, his message might be different.

  19. One thing I’d point out is that Enns is drawing a false dichotomy. It’s not just Mohler who distinguishes between appearance and reality. Astronomers tell us that when we look at stars, we’re not seeing the star as it is, but as it was, many millions or even billions of years ago. The star is actually far older than it looks, if you factor in the amount of time it took for that image to reach us.

    Although we see the star now, we’re not seeing the star as it is right now. There’s a vast time lag. So, according to modern astronomy, appearances are deceptive.

    Enns, no less that Mohler, must distinguish between appearance and reality: apparent age and real age.

    1. That’s really a false analogy. (I’m nearer Mohler than Enns here, though an OEC myself, for the record.) But that’s like saying that watching an accurate video of something that happened five years ago forces us to distinguish between appearance and reality in the same way that watching a video of today that has been enhanced digitally and had some special effects added in requires us to distinguish between appearance and reality. The explosions in Transformers (terrible movies, but you take my meaning) are apparent but not real in a very different way than my appearance but not current reality in a video clip taken five years ago.

      Yes, both require distinguishing between what is observed and what the present state is, but they are very different kinds of distinguishing involved.

      In the case of the unaltered video, we are seeing things as they actually were, though they are not that way any longer. In the case of the altered video, we are seeing things that never were. Likewise, in the case of astronomical observations, in the old earth picture, we are seeing things as they actually were (though we know they are no longer that way); whereas in the young earth picture, we are seeing things that never were.

      The only alternative is to propose that the means of seeing have changed so drastically as to make it impossible to know how things actually were (if you offer up the Haginesque approach of saying the rules of physics changed so fundamentally after the Fall that we cannot trust the evidence astronomy offers).

      Again: I’m with Mohler on Paul and Adam, but your analogy doesn’t hold up under closer examination. I hope you don’t perceive this as an attack so much as an attempt to sharpen your thought so you can argue your point of view more clearly. I suspect (having seen you here and there about the interwebs) that we will not see eye to eye on this, but I hope my little critique here will at least sharpen your own thinking as you argue for YEC. Better arguments are good for all of us, even where we disagree.

  20. Seely’s article has been countered here:

    Noel K Weeks, “Cosmology in Historical Context,” Westminster Theological Journal 68.2 (Fall 2006): 283-293.

  21. Yawn. Glad atheistic missionary did my work for me, citing the biologist whoever he is. He glibly overlooked some real problems with radioactive dating that I shall not bother to discuss as any one can go look up the stuff, probably on the net. Then he pays no attention to inverted layers, the older overlying the younger conformably, with a nice water laid seam of silt in between, covering a hundred thousand square miles. And, o yes, he surely is aware of the nature of the scientific method which can not be applied to such a subject. After all, the thing was designed for laboratory experiments where the factors can be controlled. And it still has the problem of being analytic, needing a synthetic (I prefer the term synthetical) aspect in order to handle situations where the null hypothesis is also true along with the original thesis that the null was supposed to contradict. The latter occurring in more human and historical situations which can not be contained in a lab. Tsk! Tsk! Tsk!

  22. Enns says apparent age makes the facts fit the theory. I’d simply point out that when both naturalistic evolution and theistic evolution employ methodological naturalism, that methodology also makes the facts fit the theory. The only facts that are allowed to count as evidence for a scientific theory are naturalistic facts.

    1. This is because this is the way science works. A “poof” explanation is not an explanation in science. If a Crime Scene Investigator said that a miracle occured as part of a crime, that would not be allowed in court as it is not science. For the same reason they do not allow so-called spectral evidence in court since the Salem witch trials. It may or may not be true, but it cannot be proved with science.

  23. Don,

    So on your philosophy of science, the aim of the scientific method is not to discover the true cause of some effect, but to stipulate in advance of the evidence what the world can or can’t be like.

    On your view, even if a miracle was the true explanation for the crime, your methodology commits you to excluding the true explanation.

    1. This is because a miracle by its very nature cannot be reliably repeated.

      What science will do in that case is be silent. That is allowed, in some cases they have nothing to say. But in many cases science does have something to say.

      1. P.S. I accept that miracles can happen, but that does not mean that miracles are a part of science.

  24. Don,

    So you’re telling us that cosmology and paleontology are unscientific inasmuch as they reconstruct the past, which is unrepeatable.

    1. No, the preferred way to do science is to do repeatable experiments, but sometimes that is not possible. But there are other ways to do science. I think you know this.

  25. Don,

    How does your criterion of repeatability square with your hypothetical regarding the crime scene? Say a murder occurred. Is the murder repeatable?

  26. Don Johnson

    “This is because a miracle by its very nature cannot be reliably repeated. What science will do in that case is be silent.”

    How can science know ahead of time what is or isn’t repeatable? You’re assuming the future resembles the past, but, of course, that’s not something you can inductively establish.

    1. I think you have a problem with epistemology. Working scientists are not as skeptical as you.

  27. Don Johnson

    “No, the preferred way to do science is to do repeatable experiments, but sometimes that is not possible. But there are other ways to do science. I think you know this.”

    If there are other ways to do science, then your repeatability criterion was not a scientific criterion in the first place.

    You keep making armchair claims about science, then introducing ad hoc caveats when challenged. You’re making up the definition as you go along.

    1. No, I just did not know I would get into a discussion on epistemology. You want to play a game by asking questions where I think you already know the answer.

      If you are actually not playing games, you can find answers here.

  28. Don,

    Here is how it works. You raise an objection, I answer you on your own terms.

    For instance, the Blackwell Companion to the Philosophy of Science has an entry on “induction and the uniformity of nature” in which the contributor admits that the problem of induction remains an insoluble conundrum in the philosophy of science.

    So your dismissive statement about my “skepticism” indicates that you’re the one who’s not up on the issues.

    Yes, I’m asking you leading questions to expose your inadequate philosophy of science. Yes, I know how to answer my own questions because the answers make a hash of your position. It’s called the Socratic method.

    Finally, you’re the one who’s reducing science to a game with arbitrary, made-up rules that don’t correspond to reality. Science is supposed to be a descriptive discipline. Based on observation. Methodological naturalism is prescriptive. It’s fundamentally unscientific.

    1. I declare you the winner of your game.

      If you really believe what you are saying, then you should live it and decline to use the advances of science. Otherwise, I think you are just playing a narcissistic game with yourself, which of course you are free to do.

  29. Don Johnson

    “If you really believe what you are saying, then you should live it and decline to use the advances of science.”

    That reflects a terribly naive philosophy of science on your part. I’d suggest you read somebody like Bas van Fraassen.

  30. Dr. Willingham writes:

    “[TAM] glibly overlooked some real problems with radioactive dating that I shall not bother to discuss as any one can go look up the stuff, probably on the net. Then he pays no attention to inverted layers, the older overlying the younger conformably, with a nice water laid seam of silt in between, covering a hundred thousand square miles. And, o yes, he surely is aware of the nature of the scientific method which can not be applied to such a subject. After all, the thing was designed for laboratory experiments where the factors can be controlled. And it still has the problem of being analytic, needing a synthetic (I prefer the term synthetical) aspect in order to handle situations where the null hypothesis is also true along with the original thesis that the null was supposed to contradict. The latter occurring in more human and historical situations which can not be contained in a lab. Tsk! Tsk! Tsk!”

    If there is anyone sitting on the fence reading this thread, rest assured of one thing: neither I nor Dr. Willingham nor Steve Hayes* are qualified to offer you a useful opinion on the credible scientific evidence relating to the age of the earth and radiometric dating. Educate yourself on these issues. Heck, take a college course on geology and/or paleontology. Talk to people with Ph.D.’s in these disciplines and ask them to respond to any “scholarly” articles you can find supporting a 6000 year old earth or the suggestion that people roamed the earth with dinosaurs. Use the brain that God supposedly gave you and draw your own conclusions.

  31. Were Jesus’ disciples capable of differentiating between a vivid dream and reality?

    In the Gospel of Matthew, an angel appears to Joseph twice, once to tell him that he should go ahead and marry Mary, even though she is pregnant (not by him), and then again a couple of years later to warn him of Herod’s plan to kill Jesus and that he should take the family to Egypt. The author of Matthew tells us that both of these “appearances” occurred in dreams.

    The question is: Did Joseph believe that God had sent a real angel to him to give him real messages?

    If first century Jews were truly able to distinguish dreams/visions from reality, why would Joseph marry a woman who had been impregnated by someone else just because an angel “appeared” to him in a dream? If first century Jews knew that dreams are not reality, Joseph would have ignored the imaginary angel and his imaginary message. For Joseph to go through with his marriage to a pregnant Mary was a very rare exception to the behavior of people in an Honor-Shame society. His act of obeying an angel in a dream is solid proof that he believed that the angel was real and the message was real.

    And if Joseph understood that dreams are not reality, why would he move his family to a foreign country based only on a dream?

    And how about Paul’s dream/vision? Paul saw and heard a talking bright light in a dream. Paul saw the men accompanying him to Damascus collapse to the ground with him…in a dream. Paul reported that these men also saw the light but didn’t hear the voice…or heard some kind of noise but didn’t see the light…in a dream….depending which passage of Acts you read.

    So it is obvious that first century Jews were just as likely to believe that a dream is reality as some people do today! People have been seeing angels, bright lights and dead people for thousands of years…in their dreams…and have believed that these events are reality.

    So the fact that four, anonymous, first century books contain stories of people “seeing” dead people and even “seeing” large groups of people “seeing” dead people, should come as no surprise.

    They were vivid dreams. Visions. Nothing more.

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