Why I am not a (strong) concordist

Ted Davis (TDavis@mcis.messiah.edu)
Mon, 30 Nov 1998 09:54:25 -0500

The recent departure of Glenn Morton (GM), with whom I have exchanged posts
(both off and on board) several times, always with the "truth" issue
uppermost, leads me to comment briefly as follows. I'm not copying Glenn
because I don't intend for him to be obligated to reply. Further, I hope
it's clear that I am using him as a representative of a certain position I
don't accept, so that my comments are absolutely not ad hominem. Glenn is a
very bright brother in Christ. None of this is "personal," except in the
sense that I believe what I'm saying, and that's personal.

As promised, I'll be very brief: we could go on all year, as we all know by
now because we already have.

I am not a "strong" concordist of the GM variety precisely because I
believe, as Glenn is discovering and Dick Fischer may discover, that close
correspondences between the Bible and science can never be "confirmed" in
anything but the most tenuous possible way, and even then only for a season.
As Asa Gray said (anonymously) in reviewing an edition of James Dwight
Dana's Manual of Geology in the mid-19th century, "We have faith in
revelation, and faith in science, in each after its kind; but, as respects
cosmogony, we are not called upon to yield an implicit assent to any
proposed reconciliation of the two."

Glenn might call this a bold statement of inadequacy or irrelevance, or a
refusal to face the facts. I call it taking Galileo seriously, that the
Bible tells how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go. I also call it a
more sophisticated way of viewing the Bible, in which we don't read it as a
"flat" book with one author for all times in a universal conceptual
language. No one seriously reads Homer or Shakespeare that way, and no one
other than certain American protestants reads the Bible that way anymore.
Nor do historians like myself read Robert Millikan or Charles Darwin that
way, so this has nothing to do with science vs. literature vs. religious
literature. This has to do with hermeneutics, generally speaking.

Moorad has already called (very fittingly) for us to reread Pascal, whose
faith was at once purer and more sophisticated than that of most of us (I
certainly include myself here). I'll close with something from Mr Boyle,
from an early unpublished diary: "He whose faith never doubted, may justly
doubt of his faith."

Ted Davis