Guess the author

I came across these paragraphs, excerpted from an essay about possible conflicts between science and a literalistic interpretation of the Bible. Your job is to guess (no Googling!) whether the author was:

a. a sociologist

b. a liberal, non-literalist theologican

c. a creationist

d. an atheist scientist

e. a non-theological religious scholar

f. none of the above


The Bible seems to teach that there was a global flood in the days of Noah.  This was the universal teaching of the Fathers of the church.  Though not directly linked to the issue of the age of the earth, one’s position on the historical nature of the Flood and its extent are still important.  The response one gives to this question will indicate important core religious ideas.

The sorts of issues that flow from the idea of a global flood are critical to a religious believer.  What will control the biblical exegesis of the Christian? Will they forever be engaged in an exegesis of the moment? Later in this essay we will suggest an answer to these questions.  For now, it is sufficient to make one simple point.  Every Christian from the founding of the church until the advent of modern science believed Noah was a real person.  The Catholic and Orthodox Churches venerate Noah as a saint with the other patriarchs.

Modern naturalistic science has found no room for a flood, global or local.  Many Christians, even those otherwise quite conservative, suggest the Noah story is a myth.  It contains important theological truth, but no history.  The church was wrong. Noah never existed.

This is a serious move for the church to make.  Do the considered opinions of scientists now have the last say in important religious matters that touch on history? To a secular person, Noah’s disappearance looks very convenient. If a Bible story contains details that are contrary to science, then the Bible story is a “myth.” If the Bible story is fortunate enough to be unverifiable, like that of Abraham, it is allowed to function as history.

UPDATE:  Answer goes up at 11 am CST Sunday, Feb. 21


  1. Posted February 21, 2010 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    My choice would be b. This looks more like a theologian to me.

  2. Posted February 21, 2010 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    I’ll vote for creationist, and add: rather YEC and/or IDiot one.

  3. DavidB
    Posted February 21, 2010 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Whoever wrote it, the sentence ‘Modern naturalistic science has found no room for a flood, global or local’ is very careless. Local floods are commonplace, and any ‘scientific’ interpreter of ancient myths might well invoke some local or regional flood to account for the Noah story.

    I Googled the phrase ‘modern naturalistic science’, and it does seem to be used mainly by Christian propagandists, including ID’ers.

  4. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted February 21, 2010 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Not exactly a fun game on this side, as there is too little to make a test or even place likelihoods, say on word counts.

    [Chooses linear #1 - a mapping, spins random number generator] Random outcome 30 % #2, so b it is.

    • Occam
      Posted February 21, 2010 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      With a Fog index of 9.92 and a Lexical Density of 52.82%, this excerpt ranks below the average theological, philosophical, or scientific text. Paul Nelson’s texts at Discovery have an even lower Lexical Density (46-49%) but occasionally a higher Fog index. No time for serious statistical work, but randomly selected creationist-cum-pseudoscientific texts of comparable length and import match this rough pattern. Visual inspection of Word Clouds generated from these texts tends to support this impression. So, c. But there’s something not quite kosher here, to judge by the Word Clouds: as if it was co-authored or co-edited. (I’m growing a giraffe’s neck for sticking it out so far; waiting for the chop.)

      • Posted February 21, 2010 at 10:48 am | Permalink

        Occam, that’s the name: Paul Nelson! Maybe not alone, which could explain the Δ you observe.

  5. Richie P
    Posted February 21, 2010 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Ken Ham possibly? I reckon it’s going to end up being somebody stupid like that.

  6. David Ratnasabapathy
    Posted February 21, 2010 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    The first sentence, “The Bible seems to teach that there was a global flood…” lets us dismiss c, d and e (Creationist, atheist scientist and non-theological religious scholar). The Bible doesn’t “seem” to teach a global flood. It does teach a global flood; and these groups admit it.

    Paragraph 2 describes the historical position of Christianity and implies that it has weight. This rules out b, the liberal non-literalist theologian. Paragraph 3 also rules out the liberal theologian. The phrase “Modern naturalistic science” is typically used to disparage science, which isn’t completely characteristic of a liberal theologian.

    That leaves “a”, a sociologist. But sociologists (the bad ones) use words like “narrative” and “paradigm” and “praxis”; the good ones are scientists, and are already ruled out. Also, bad sociologists can’t write plain English. So it can’t be a sociologist.

    So, f. None of the above.

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  1. [...] the author: answer Yesterday I asked people to guess the author of a couple of paragraphs about reconciling science with Christian scripture.  Here are the guesses: as of 10:30 CST, Feb. 21 a. a sociologist   [...]

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