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):