RE: Response to Keith

Pete Pretorius (
Mon, 08 Apr 1996 10:42:56 -0700

Keith B Miller wrote,
>I would argue that you are confusing a committment to the truth of
>scripture and its consistency with all other truth which I fully share,
>with a belief that scripture speaks in a consistent voice. You seem to
>want scripture to always communicate truth is the same manner - to have a
>uniform and a single hermeneutic for all scripture. Perhaps I am
>misreading your position, but it also seems that, for you, truth
>expressable in scientific (or historical) terms holds an elevated position.
>I would argue that truth can be apprehended and communicated in a great
>variety of ways. An artist, poet, dancer, etc can communicate truth just
>as surely as a scientist - and can communicate some truths with much
>greater clarity. The truth I discover as a scientist is not more sure or
>higher than that grasped and communicated by the artist. God is so beyond
>my grasp that to understand Him even in part would require all forms of
>human expression available. I view the great variety of literary styles
>and cultural contexts present in scripture as giving a richer more complete
>picture of God than I could obtain from my own culture, literature,
>science, etc. To argue that a given scriptural passage is not historical
>or scientific in content is not to make it less true, or to give up the
>belief that all truth is God's truth and must be consistent. A poet does
>not deny scientific truth by speaking in non-scientific terms - or even by
>using images that run contrary to scientific descriptions. A scientist and
>poet simply are not speaking the same language! But they may both be
>faithfully communicating truth. Since the type of communication does not
>determine whether something is true or not, I am free to examine each
>scriptural passage with an openess to the type of literature that may be
>involved. And the type of literature that is being used will affect how I
>read it. If I read poetry as a piece of scientific literature I am bound
>to miss at least something of what was meant - as well as being open to
>drawing false conclusions. The converse is of course also true.

The thoughts of Keith, here above, inspired me to respond. I think that the
ideas about scientific truth, so called facts and laws should be seen in the
light of what the Bible tells us and not as absolute 'objective' truth. The
way in which scientific information is obtained is complex .New information
is contextual, provisory,temporary and incomplete, it is never final and
allways subjected to change (How fast a textbook needs revision!).
If one think about the complex process of obtaining scientific information
it is clear that there are at least two categories of processes involved. In
category 1, well known factors, such as testing a hypothesis, devising
experiments, performing measurements, precise observation with or without
instrumental aid, calculations,strict logical deductions within the scope
of the predetirmened isolated or limited reduction, and at last,
mathematical description etc.This is all very exact, precise, objective and
the scientist act as a more or less objective, detached observer like a
spectator. He may be exited, enthusiastic, disappointed etc about his
findings but he should not allow eg. emotional or " wishful thinking", to
interfere with this part of the scientific process.

In category 2, one can place the process of developing a thought framework
for a specific field of work, reading publications developing ideas, a
hypothesis or model, comparing new data with a hypothesis, reflecting on the
discrepances between new findings and hypotheses, modifying a hypothesis
,also aspects such as creavity, intuition, imagination, and subjective,
unique human processes. This category of processes is not bound to a
laboratory or certain hours of the day or night. It cannot be fully
programmed, the scientist is involved as a total human being ( a unit with
ous aspects), cognitive, emotional, social, cultural, ethical, ultimate
meaning, belief, and faith factors are involved. He is not an objective
observer but a participating actor.He is motivated to direct his talents to
do science by several factors. He is inspired to discover new information,
to obtain the power of knowlege, fame or wealth, or to serve humanity,
improve society etc. The total context in which the scientist work and live
influences him, shapes his world and life view, his work and life. The
scientist have freedom as well as responsibility.

Is category 1 exact science and category 2 more artistic ? Both are equally
important and science is dependent on the dynamic interaction of both. The
two, form a unity of functional, interlinked, parts and are never totally
separated. The two categories or their parts should not be
confused.Scientists who tend to over emphasize ( even absolutize) the so
called exact part ( category 1) ,may then confuse scienctific "facts and
laws" with belief or faith truths. The meaning and purpose of the Bible will
then become confused with that of a scietific textbook and vice versa.

Pieter Pretorius,PO Box 43530, 1625 Robson Street, Vancouver,V6G 1C0, Canada