Friday, February 09, 2007

Godly men who just don't get it

A very frusterating experience can be to go to a certain section of the TMC library, where the shelves are stacked high with books about the Old Testament. A lot of these books have to do with the historical background, timeline, and archaeology. And it's all messed up. One's opinion of concervative scholarship can rapidly deteriorate. If the book covers all of Old Testament history, you'll find at the beginning (with hardly an exception) an argument for why God did not create in six days (even though He said He did) and an argument for why Noah's flood was probably local (even suggesting that the idea of a global flood is careless scholarship).
The ideas of evolution have really infultrated our minds.
And then, of course, every author assumes that the date of the flood needs to be pushed back. Even though the chronogenealogies in Genesis 11 place the date of the flood about 2,300 BC (300 years before Abram), they ignore this and make the Bible say what they want it to say so that it will fit with their archaeology.
Now, don't get me wrong. Most of these men are godly men who are striving after truth. But they just don't get it. Their apologetics are all backwards; they try to make the Bible fit their "evidence," instead of re-interpretting the evidence to fit with the Bible.


Nathaniel said...

Um, yeah :)

Totally... It's sad....

Mikey said...

hey james! Your name caught my eye! haha
I see what you are saying- it is an interestingly fine line between understanding Scripture and science. Should we wrap science around scripture or wrap scripture around science. The second is extremely dangerous, and leads to denial of physical ressurection (Bruggerman) among other things. However, I cringe at the assumed rivalry of the two. Science is no threat to orthodoxy. After all, all truth is God's truth. The question is whether or not it is good science. I hold to a old earth and a local flood, not based on twisting scripture around science, but using everything God has given us, science, brains, reasoning, scripture and arriving at what I feel is most likely to be truth.

Mikey said...

For example, science is clearer on almost no other thing than it is on the old age of the earth. The hebrew narrative of genesis was an ancient eastern writing. We read it with a western mind. It doesn't work. The hebrews would have had no problems with the idea that the earth was created in more than 6 yom. The point was that Elohim, Yawheh, created it, in the beginning. Once again, am I twisting scripture around science? The argument could be made. I've seen too many people come to Christ after reading Hugh Ross's books on why Christians can be old-earthers and such. Anyways, just thoughts. Great blog!

James Dunn said...

Thank you, Mikey. I appreciate your comments, and especially your politeness. I looked a little around at your blog too -- nice place!
Well, obviously, we disagree on this issue -- and I think that the foundational issue, where we split, is on how to approach the evidence.
It is as you say -- science does not contradict the Bible -- but then, we may be disagreeing on what Science is.
If we are talking about the bare facts, we are only talking about what we can observe, test, and repeat. For example, the geological and fossil records -- we observe billions of dead things buried in rock layers. That's a hard fact.
But how did they get there? That's not observational science. We can't prove how they got there. But we can interpret the evidence, to come up with a story for how they got there. This is what we call historical science. It doesn't consist of hard facts, but rather of an interpretation of the facts.
In short, the idea that the geological layers represent millions of years of deposits is not science in its strictest sence. It is not fact, but rather an interpretation of the facts, built on a set of presuppositions, presuppositions that I would argue are not justifiable. If we start from Scripture, and let it teach us with what it has to say about the history of the world, then we come to the conclusion that there was a world-wide flood. Where is the evidence? Look around -- Billions of dead things, buried in rock layers, laid down by water, all over the earth!
What I have done here, is started with the Scriptural presupposition that there was a world-wide flood, and used it to interpret the "facts" -- that is, the rock layers themselves -- and have come to a completely different conclusion. The issue is a matter of presuppositions. Different presuppositions lead to different conclusions, even though examining the exact same evidence.

James Dunn said...

When we approach the evidence, we do need to consider all of it. However, I would argue that we must consider only the Scripture first, not allowing current interpretations of scientific evidence to determine how we understand a passage. After we determine what Scripture says, from the scripture itself, then we take that and make it our starting point, which we use as the basis for interpreting all the scientific evidence.

It is important to distinguish scientific facts from interpretations thereof. Distant starlight, geological layers, radioactive decay . . . these are all observations, hard scientific facts. But it is not fact that the earth is billions of years old; this is simply an interpretation of the facts.

bard of kepland said...

Good thoughts, mikey.

But you might want to consider that historically, the scientific consensus has been wrong many times. For example, in medical science, Louis Pasteur was ridiculed by his peers when he first preposed the idea of microscopic life. Infact, this incident is not isolated.

Physists once thought that an object likes to revert to motionlessness. Then Newton came along, and changed all of that. But scientists today no longer hold strictly to Newton's laws.

So don't base your interpretation of scripture on the scientific community.