Wednesday, February 20, 2019

A Genesis Axiom to Grind

An axiom is a statement that is assumed to be true without evidence, and often used as a starting point in arguments or discussions. We all use them whether we know it or not, and they make up our worldviews. They are important in logic and mathematics. The word is based on the Greek for value or worth, and the area of philosophy called axiology can be traced back to the same word.

An Old Testament scholar wanted to use humanist philosophy to judge the declaration of God that creation is good. He is horribly mistaken.
Garden of Eden image credit: Free Christian Illustrations
Jaco Gericke, an Old Testament scholar, took a notion to do some axiology on Genesis 1. God called everything good, and he seemed to take exception to that. He says it makes no sense to call something good without an axiological frame of reference. Philosophy (and its related categories of logic and ethics) is good to study in principle, but the "great thinkers" and their philosophies are brought to nothing by the Word of God (1 Cor. 1:19-25). Christians should know that there is no one greater than God. When we take an oath, we swear by God, who is the greatest. Who does God swear by? Himself (Heb. 6:13, Jer. 44:26, Deut. 1:8).

I reckon that Gericke is on the prod about God not having a frame of reference based on humanistic philosophy. He needs to read Job 38-41, because God is sovereign and doesn't need to consult with humans. God is good (Psalm 34:8, Mark 10:18). It is his nature, and what he does is good (see "The Goodness of God"). Yes, some things are "good" in different ways. Chocolate tastes good to me, but it's not good for my waistline, and it is lethal to Basement Cat. Other things are good in some ways but not so good (or even bad) in others. God's declaration that his finished work of creation is a different matter.
What God created in the beginning was “very good.” Old Testament scholar professor Jaco Gericke does not believe that: God creating things for the first time and calling them good without an axiological frame of reference is unintelligible. His philosophical reconstruction of the Most High and the axiology of Genesis 1 leads him to claim, among other things, that the “character” in the text was a realist, naturalist, and subjectivist; none of the things that God created had any objective value; nothing was assumed to be perfect; and what was good depended on whether or how much it was desired. The aim of this paper is to show that it is not unintelligible that God created everything good from the beginning; it is only unintelligible to the person who makes the claim.
It's a bit of a long paper, but worth your time. To finish reading, click on "The Most High and the Axiology of Genesis 1: Could God Create Everything Good from the Beginning?"