Thread: Science and the Bible
March 29th 2012, 06:44 PM #121
Re: Science and the Bible
You still seem hung up on this matter of "who decides".
What is done with what's on the table is another story, but you know... if you're an errantist who's a Universalist, you can take the verses about hell off the table. For gay marriage? Take the verses against homosexuality off the table. Find the OT verses about miraculous deeds too hard to swallow? Take them off the table. Its far far more convenient for the errantist to remove data from the pile than it is for the inerrantist. Now the inerrantist may still come to the same conclusions about hell, homosexuality, and miraculous as the errantist, but in order to do so they must make certain compromises or come to strange conclusions in their interpretation of the text. Inerrantists can't just say "well this author erred when he wrote such and such, so I'm going to dismiss it", no, they're forced to look at the text, admit that the passage was intended, and then they can come to their conclusions. So, their conclusions may still be whacked, but at least inerrancy provides some sort of check.
But Christians have always thought through what is minimally important. That is what our creeds do. And any time any of the NT authors summarise the gospel, they are implicitly making claims about what's central to the gospel.
Note as well that a Christian errantist need not rule out anything uncentral as dubious a priori. They should think that anything in the Bible is potentially something proposed for our belief.
It might eventually be shown that some things are not what God wanted us to learn from the Bible. But we don't need to decide that from the get-go; we don't need to go through the Bible and highlight anything trivial in red as "definitely not true". I've already conceded that some of the claims of Scripture will be ambiguous as to their importance. But not all of them.
You ask how we can know that any seemingly minor errors wouldn't undermine more important doctrines. Well clearly some prima facie trivial Biblical claims indeed could be logically linked to other clearly important claims. Perhaps some YECs are right (for example) when they claim that Genesis teaches a literal 6 day creation and that you can't accept an old earth, even though the age of the earth seems trivial, because an old earth implies animal death prior to the fall and, by their view of the atonement, this renders Christ's atoning death meaningless. These sorts of entailments are possible. But must this be so for any potential error? Would denying literally anything in Scripture create such a knock-on effect? Biblical errancy isn't one uniform view; it is a class of a variety of positions. Some might have such damning conclusions, but must all of them?
Remember I'm only arguing for what God's possibly done. Perhaps it is more probable that God would create an inerrant Bible. But it isn't necessary that he must. Before getting too carried away in this line of thought stop and think about how "obvious" it might seem prima facie that it would make more sense for God to not allow natural disasters, and yet he does. A Christian errantist could even take up the task of providing "theodicies" for why God produced an errant Bible.
Anyway all I'm saying is that, whatever God's done, he's at least guaranteed the transmission of the core gospel message.
The distinction seems to me that most orthodox Christian scholars have proven to have a better grasp on the original author's intent, helped along by Biblical criticism, and to some degree probably church tradition. Spong and Crossan have thrown out the tradition, but they're still applying, to varying degrees, good Biblical criticism (well, sometimes they do).
Okay so what's the criticism of an errantist position supposed be here?
Again I'm struggling to see where exactly the issue is. You've switched from exegesis (who has correctly interpreted the Bible) to truth (who has correctly believed (or not) the claims of the Bible). Sure, the errantist is more open to be tempted to simply reject as false some passage he/she doesn't like. What that got to do with exegesis?
But this would just be a very poor argument. Some Christians think that trusting science is disastrous for the Christian belief. Some skeptics agree. Does that mean that Christians shouldn't trust science?
Moreover, not every errantist inevitably leaves Christianity. That's just a matter of fact. Of course, you might think that do so would be consistent, but then you're right back to needing an argument to demonstrate that.
And btw, Bart doesn't claim that inerrancy was the cause for his loosing faith. In an episode of Unbelievable? where he discussed inerrancy with Mike Licona, he denied that loosing inerrancy was the cause.
But this way I can obscure the obvious failings of my arguments with a pretense of competence. It's fun!
Post Script: A lot of what we're discussing here may sound like I'm going in circles (though I hope that's not the case). And if so, its because a lot of this just seems obvious to me, and it seems weird to have to explain some of these views to a fellow Christian who, I'm assuming, was at one point an inerrantist himself (or may still be). Maybe its your philosophy background that forces you to ask questions that I see as obvious, or maybe I'm missing a bigger picture in all of this. I mean, I'm probably not as smart as I'd like to think I am, and I realize that some topics are over my head, and maybe this is one of those topics.
Last edited by Adrift; March 29th 2012 at 07:05 PM.
"Give the Word a chance to say that the Word is just the Way. It's the Word I'm thinking of, and the only Word is love" - John Lennon
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