Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Shared Characteristic Between Atheists and Young Earth Creationists

Some atheists and some young earth creationists (people who believe the universe is only about 6000 years old) share a common characteristic: they base their understanding of what the Bible says about creation by interpreting the text simplistically without taking context, language, or culture into account.

The Christian may claim they are simply taking the Bible "literally" and may assume that a literal interpretation is the correct and best interpretation. Of course, that is often not the case. As Tim LaHaye points out in his book How to Study the Bible for Yourself, if you are watching a baseball game and the announcer says that the base runner is hugging the base, then you will be completely wrong about what the announcer means if you take him literally.1 In that case, a literal interpretation of the statement leads to an incorrect understanding of the meaning because you did not consider the context or the culture in which the statement was made. Taking a passage literally does not necessarily mean you are interpreting the text more accurately or being more true to the author's intended meaning. It may mean that you are completely wrong because you have not considered culture, language, and context.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Didn't We Learn Anything from the Galileo Trial?

Do Christians who believe that the story of creation in the Bible is compatible with the big bang twist, distort, and compromise scripture to hold that view? If you read the writings of those who think the universe is only thousands of years old (a "young earth" position), you might conclude that any other belief is heresy. One organization that holds to a young earth writes on their web site, "One must be an exegetical contortionist to stretch the six days of Genesis into millions and billions of years. Such a twisted hermeneutic undermines the authority of the entire Bible by placing what the interpreter wants the text to say above God's Word." A popular book that tries to refute the idea that the big bang coincides with the biblical record (an "old earth" position) is called Refuting Compromise, implying that anyone who holds to an old earth viewpoint must be compromising what the scripture says.

These statements about a proper understanding of Genesis are not only false, but they are making the same mistakes that were made about 400 year ago when the Catholic Church accused Galileo of also distorting the scripture. Although the reasons for the trial of Galileo were varied and complex, the church definitely accused Galileo of not accepting the plain words of scripture. Multiple times the Bible seems to be saying that the earth is immovable and that the sun and moon move around the earth. In fact, the Bible seems to be much more clear on the motion of the heavenly bodies than it is on the age of the universe. Consider these passages of scripture (showing my emphasis):

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Affirming the Truth

What is a "Creationist" and why is there a common perception among many people that creationists blatantly ignore the obvious facts about the universe? How does this perception impact the most important Christian message about the person of Jesus including his death and resurrection which brings reconciliation between God and people?

To most people I talk with, a creationists is someone who believes that God created the universe about 6000 years ago and that the Bible teaches that fact. The perception is that the creationist chooses to ignore the overwhelming evidence about the age and history of the universe, while clinging to an ancient and unreliable book. The obvious conclusion is that if the Bible is completely wrong in its statements that deal with the scientific facts about the origin of the universe, then it is also completely wrong and unreliable when it talks about who Jesus was, his purpose on earth, and his resurrection. Not only have I talked with non-Christians who reject Christianity because the "unreliable" Bible can't be trusted, but I have also talked with Christians who are struggling with whether or not they can trust their Bible and trust God, and with "ex-Christians" who say that they left their faith because of the supposed unreliability of the Bible, pointing particularly to the story of creation which obviously does not align with the overwhelming evidence from nature.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Scientific Predictions and the Bible: Some Internet Examples

The table shown here has circulated for years on the internet and lists certain scientific statements and claims in the left column that were made in The Bible when most people of the time believed the Science Then that is listed in the middle column. With the development of modern science we now know that the truth (Science Now in the right column) agrees with what the Bible said all along. The table is suggesting that these amazing biblical predictions show that the Bible is inspired by an all-knowing God who understood the science long before humans discovered these principles. As a Christian myself I do believe that the Bible is God's inspired word and that its contents can validate that assertion. I also believe that there are certain biblical passages that make clear statements about the universe that have since been validated by science as discussed in a previous blog entry on Scientific Predictions and the Bible. However, a proper understanding of the statements above, and what they indicate about the supernatural origin of the Bible, requires a more detailed and thorough investigation.

In addition to the blog entry mentioned above, two other posts deal with the subject of Scientific Predictions and the Bible in which I have also stated that any scientific statements in the Bible should be consistent with what we know about the character of God: they should be accurate, culturally relevant, and instrumental in God's primary goal of inviting people to have a relationship with him. Finally, I have proposed that some statements in the Bible may have multiple understandings that were a result of God inspiring the authors.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Scientific Predictions and the Bible: Unknown Facts Revealed by God

If the Bible is inspired from the one true God then we would expect its statements about science to be compatible with the characteristics of that God as revealed in the Bible as discussed in the first part of this four part series on Scientific Predictions and the Bible. The scientific statements in the Bible should be accurate, culturally relevant, and instrumental in God's primary goal of redeeming individual people so that they can have a relationship with him. It is also reasonable to propose that scientific statements in the Bible may have a kind of dual understanding just as certain Messianic prophecies have a dual fulfillment as discussed in the second part of this four part series. In this third blog entry on the subject let's look at some cases in the Bible where there is an accurate scientific statement that was not known when the Bible was written but has since been verified.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Scientific Predictions and the Bible: A Dual Fulfillment Proposal

It is often stated by Christians that the Bible contains amazing and accurate scientific predictions that have only been recently discovered by modern science. However, skeptics will claim that these supposed scientific facts were not really recognized in the Bible until after they were discovered by the scientific community. In my previous blog post I began a discussion that addresses the issue of scientific predictions in the Bible. I asked the question of what kind of scientific predictions we should expect to find in the Bible if it is the inspired word from an omniscient God. The only answer we can be sure of is that any scientific predictions should be consistent with God's character so they should at least be (1) accurate, (2) culturally relevant and (3) instrumental in God's primary goal of redeeming individual people so that they can have a relationship with him.

In regards to the third point above, I stated that the Old Testament made accurate predictions about the coming of the Messiah that were fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth. By observing one of those Messianic predictions in some detail, we might be able to get an idea of what to expect when dealing with scientific predictions. Consider the words of the prophet Isaiah who wrote, "The Lord himself will give you a sign. The virgin is going to have a baby. She will give birth to a son. And he will be called Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14, NIV). The gospel of Matthew quotes this prophecy as being fulfilled when Mary gave birth to Jesus when she was still a virgin. Matthew writes, "All this took place to bring about what the Lord had said would happen. He had said through the prophet, 'The virgin is going to have a baby. She will give birth to a son. And he will be called Immanuel.' The name Immanuel means 'God with us'" (Matthew 1:22-23, NIV).