A lot of the posts that appear on this listserve seem to have been
with the assumption that all (or most) biblical historical literature
be of type 1, chronicle. That assumption is then often followed by an
attempt (sometimes extremely clever) to harmonize a particular portion
biblical history (presumed to be presented in chronicle style) with a
modern, scientifically-informed understanding of the same event or
The bottom line is that this concordism or harmonization simply won't
Examples of failure abound. More to the point, attempts to force a
harmonization is likely to make the biblical text not more respected or
more valuable, but less. Even good and pious intentions can be misguided
their particular application.
Howard Van Till
Very well. Lets say that a portion of the historical events in the
Bible are simply exaggerations or variations of fact mixed with fiction.
This is a completely logical assumption. I must point out however that
before doing any kind of study a person must start out with a certain
number of assumptions. I think that it is a far better (more
conservative) assumption to start out my search for truth in the Bible
by taking what it says as a historical fact, and then test it for its
historic accuracy. Work for concordism and harmonization first and if
it is not found then admit that it is not a chronicled event (or
continue to search as science expands its knowledge base and the
abilities of the researcher).
For centuries man has looked at the flight of birds and yearned for the
ability to do so. Countless times man has looked the misguided fool by
strapping on wild contraptions to their arms or backs in "extremely
clever" attempts to soar through the sky. Examples of failure abound...
some with loss of life or limb... BUT look what science has led us to
now. Not only do we fly through the air but we now leave the planet
with relative ease. Where would we be if we had simply given up and
assumed man's body was not meant for flight... "One should not assume
that he can do so. Countless people have tried and all have failed. I
declare it is now a fact because of this." Don't you see? All it takes
is a little insight, a mere "eureka!", and man's understanding and life
can be changed forever. What was once feathers glued to a couple of
sticks is now the realization of super sonic flight... give or take a
few hundred years and some rough lessons in aerodynamics.
I hardly believe that science has had its last word as to whether or not
the Bible is historically true or not. You are basically saying that we
have learned all that is possible (or ever will be possible) in the
search for historical truth in the Bible. Not only are you saying that
I should give up my search for historical fact in the Bible you are
proposing something even more damaging to the Scripture. You are taking
away my hope (my assumption, if you will) that it's contents are TRUE
[in every sense of the word] and calling me misguided for even looking.
It is my belief that what you propose is much more damaging to the
Scripture and the role it plays in all Christian's walk with God. I
feel your proposal is much more "likely to make the biblical text not
more respected or more valuable, but less." What good is a book of
truth that speaks lies?
You propose to tell me that "concordism or harmonization simply won't
work". I disagree.
At one point in my life I was told that evolution played no part in
God's creation of man. The theory of evolution was from Satan and
should not even be considered. It takes away from the special creation
of man and the role that God plays in life. On the contrary, thanks to
my studies in science and the Scripture I now see that it *magnifies*
the role that God has played in the creation of not just mankind but
also of all life on this planet. Instead of caring for mankind in a
split second of time... *poof* Adam appeared... God has actually been
carefully and lovingly forming us over billions of years, through
thousands of species and declaring all along... IT IS GOOD. I ask
you... which seems the better representation of the magnitude of the
POWER and KNOWLEDGE of our Lord?
If I had listened to that other person (who seemed to have all the
answers on what the Bible says and is for) and not even allowed myself
to consider the plausibility... THE ASSUMPTION ...of evolution, would I
still have chills run up and down my spine every time I think of the
sheer power God must have to create a creature such as myself by such a
magnificent design? Would I truly be able to understand the depth of
His love and the amount of effort He has taken in each of us simply
In the beginning...
Our Lord, the great _I AM_, whose sheer power dwarfs, in total, all the
stars that will burn in this universe, focuses an absolutely colossal
amount of energy from the infinite depths of a singularity which erupts
into a massive explosion out from "nothing" in what we have called the
"Big Bang". [How pitiful a description in comparison to what it must
have looked like.] As the energy expands, it cools. Gravitational,
electromagnetic, strong and weak nuclear forces form matter (quantum
elements etc.) leading to the creation of the atom, the basic building
block of everything we see and know. Enormous stars burn and explode
forming all the elements in this universe. Additional stars and planets
slowly form from the debris of the dying stars. Billions of years pass
as God watches His creation unfold before Him. It is surely GOOD as He
has said. Galaxies collide, stars form and explode, as heavier elements
continue to be formed and thrown out into the expanding universe.
God's attention is drawn to a relatively small planet that has recently
formed orbiting a relatively small sun, just as He had planned. It is
at just the right distance from the sun giving it a temperature range at
which water is found in both solid, liquid, and gaseous states. It's
solid iron core forms an electromagnetic field which protects it from
the radiation of the sun. The atmosphere forms as the planet cools and
the nutrient-rich water which covers two thirds of the surface helps to
regulate the temperature. Compounds form as the Creator carefully
guides the process. The compounds interact as they were designed and
once again God creates a new building block, the cell. The cell
reproduces itself and, in accordance with the Creator's command, slowly
evolves towards more complex systems. Life teams in the waters and
eventually moves to the air and on to the land. Life flourishes under
His guidance as more complex systems continue to form. Finally, a
vessel is formed, after millions of years of systematically increasing
complexity, which has enough of the systems required in order for it to
recognize God and His wonderful works. God places within this vessel a
soul, the link between Creator and His creation. And He saw that it was
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the
stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of
him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower
than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made
him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his
feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of
the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. O
LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Would I still have this awe at how He has waited literally BILLIONS of
years in making me so that I could know Him personally? "What is man
that you are mindful of him,... ?" It truly speaks to me of the vast
depth of His love for us. It shows me the deep rooted link we have with
nature and what it means to be a good steward of His creation.
Now this is my own opinion that I have formed out of what I see in
Scripture and in science. Where there was once seen to be a conflict I
have found an explanation/interpretation that I feel holds true to both
what the Bible says as well as what science says. I have found a
"concordism or harmonization" as you put it. If that can happen for me
on one topic, why can I not assume (and hope) that it can happen for the
rest if I search hard enough or wait for the Lord's direction long
If you choose to give up on the search for historical truth in the
Bible, that's fine. But please don't try to tell me what I may, or may
not, assume and call me "misguided" for doing so. I'm more than willing
to look the fool if there is a chance that out of all my failures I can
eventually find a peace of mind to know that the Bible speaks the
truth... to know that Jesus wasn't lying when he is quoted in Matthew
"As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son
of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and
drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered
the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood
came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the
Son of Man."
One man's truth can always be another man's lie. I pray that God
reveals to us the real truth in our searching for continued
harmonization between science and Scripture. And I hope that all here
on this list focus just as much attention on living a good life in
Christ as we do on finding this harmonization. Because, in the end, it
is usually love that leads people to Christ... not science.
"There is a mine for silver and a place where gold is refined. Iron is
taken from the earth, and copper is smelted from ore. Man puts an end to
the darkness; he searches the farthest recesses for ore in the blackest
darkness. Far from where people dwell he cuts a shaft, in places
forgotten by the foot of man; far from men he dangles and sways. The
earth, from which food comes, is transformed below as by fire; sapphires
come from its rocks, and its dust contains nuggets of gold. No bird of
prey knows that hidden path, no falcon's eye has seen it.
Proud beasts do not set foot on it, and no lion prowls there. Man's hand
assaults the flinty rock and lays bare the roots of the mountains. He
tunnels through the rock; his eyes see all its treasures. He searches
the sources of the rivers and brings hidden things to light.
"But where can wisdom be found? Where does understanding dwell?
Man does not comprehend its worth; it cannot be found in the land of the
living. The deep says, `It is not in me'; the sea says, `It is not with
me.' It cannot be bought with the finest gold, nor can its price be
weighed in silver. It cannot be bought with the gold of Ophir, with
precious onyx or sapphires. Neither gold nor crystal can compare with
it, nor can it be had for jewels of gold. Coral and jasper are not
worthy of mention; the price of wisdom is beyond rubies. The topaz of
Cush cannot compare with it; it cannot be bought with pure gold. "Where
then does wisdom come from? Where does understanding dwell?
It is hidden from the eyes of every living thing, concealed even from
the birds of the air. Destruction and Death say, `Only a rumor of it has
reached our ears.' God understands the way to it and he alone knows
where it dwells, for he views the ends of the earth and sees everything
under the heavens. When he established the force of the wind and
measured out the waters, when he made a decree for the rain and a path
for the thunderstorm, then he looked at wisdom and appraised it; he
confirmed it and tested it.
And he said to man, `The fear of the Lord--that is wisdom, and to shun
evil is understanding."