Re: Only Myths?

George Andrews (gandrews@as.wm.edu)
Wed, 10 Nov 1999 09:47:44 -0500

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Hi Glenn;

You responded:

> At 10:19 AM 11/01/1999 -0500, George Andrews wrote:
> >
>
> >
> >As I see it, the article you point to reveals the potential for disaster
> when an
> >extreme concordistic approach to hermeneutics is adopted. The article
> indicates
> >archeological evidence exists that shows elements of the Biblical account of
> >Israeli history are false or exaggerated; thus, if Herzog's findings are
> >correct, then is it not the concordanist's imperative, that we accept the
> >evidence and admit Herzog's conclusions? To do otherwise is to ignore the
> >evidence; which is something that is not acceptable to the rationalistic
> >presuppositions that concordism subscribes to.
>
> Before I say this, let me preface something that should be obvious. I
> believe the Bible. But lets assume that we find out that the Bible is
> false. Is that a disaster? NO IT IS TRUTH in that case. If we fear the
> truth to the extent that we will allow a false book to be believed as true
> then we are creating the disaster. It means that we are willing to believe
> the Bible regardless of whether or not it is true. What kind of religion is
> that?

The disaster inherent in jettisoning the Bible is indeed genuine to the
communities of faith that base their world views on the Bible. In fact, a "false
Bible" - as you view the Bible and define falsehood above - devastates your own
faith claim found in your opening sentence. It is such a disaster, as some Israeli
officials seem to fear it to be, that constitutes a main point in the article you
pointed us to.

But - more importantly - you illustrate my main philosophical concern. Only to a
secular thinker, or to a theist who has accepted the secular presuppositions of
autonomous rationality, would it appear a positive to find out the Bible is
"false" - again using a simplistic definition of falsehood. Thus your
hypothetical above underscores my contention already outlined as follows:

> Such attempts to provide the
> >Bible with an evidential foundation - as surly concordism does - actually has
> >the effect of undermining Biblical truth assertions by conceding the
> autonomy of
> >man at the outset; i.e. the notion that human intellect is able to discern
> >reality without the work of The Holy Spirit ( a la Dutch Reformed
> Apologetics).
> >This is the fallacy of the YEC movement too.
>
> No, the fallacy of the YEC movement is to preach a false science. The
> fallacy of the theological liberals is to preach a false Bible.

Taking the word fallacy to connote self dilution, I maintain the false science of
YEC is merely a consequence of the more fundamental assumptions I referred to
above - coupled with a genuine desire to avoid the disaster of jettisoning the
Bible. I believe there are many YEC who are legitimately using the scientific
method in attempting to support their theories; whether or not they are successful
or whether of not the established scientific community accepts such theories is a
different, secondary issue. Ignoring falsification of evidence, which occurs in
all camps, I believe it better to classify YEC as poor science.

However, it is not at all illegitimate to return such accusations as you make upon
your own attempts at concordism. To claim that the Bible accords with
neo-Darwinian evolution is deemed by many of us as to be, to use your own words:
"preaching a false Bible". I prefer to use my less inclusive verbiage by
maintaining that your concordistic position is "undermining Biblical truth
assertions."

> >A less stringent hermeneutic, which allows for myths to be embedded in the
> Bible
> >-- not to compose it as this thread's subject title implies -- along with
> >historically accurate and factual accounts supported by scientific
> discovery --
> >does not suffer the potential for complete biblical rejection.
>
> If the Bible is false, then it deserves to be rejected as does phlogiston
> theory, geosynclinal theory, and the theory that rags give rise to mice.
> You want a bible that is true regardless of how false it might be. No
> amount of wishing can make the Bible true if it is false.
> glenn

Again you make my point by listing the Bible along with failed scientific
theories. Such thinking is a result of your accepting the rationalistic
presupposition of an autonomy of reason which is a hold-over from the
Enlightenment; i.e., that humanity is able to discern "truth" from "falsehood" by
logic and scientific enterprise. In so doing, you are in contradiction to St. Paul
in Romans 1, and have already conceded the apologetic higher ground to the enemies
of our faith.

Your hypothetical in your first paragraph above and your accusation concerning my
desires in the last, betray the very problems I have with the evidential
assumptions inherent in your brand of concordism.
(i) You speak of the Bible as a coherent whole rather than what it is: a
collection of manuscripts possessing commonality of subject matter that has
undergone judicious editing over millennia by different faith systems and
denominations.
(ii) You state in simplistic terms that the Bible is either true in that it is
devoid of myth and monsters and true in a rationalistic and modern scientific
sense in that it withstands the scrutiny of higher criticism; or false in mass in
the same senses.

Both of these assumptions are shared by YEC, OEC and your brand of concordistic
TE. However, these assumptions are not forced upon a religion that has as its
foundation a present and abiding personal savior - despite the fact that precious
little was written about or by him; not a logically consistent collection of
sacred writings that fits modern scientific discovery and - most importantly -
scientific presuppositions. Such a faith allows for a Bible that is simply as it
appears to be: a collection of writings concerning the sacred history of Israel
and first century christianity along with Judeo - Christian - Islamic theology. A
collection that spans the literary spectrum of human literature; including among
other modes, history, poetry, myth and - antiquated (Mesopotamian) science.

Are we not admonished to "trust in the Lord and lean not on thine own
understanding...". And did not Jesus chastise the pharisaical intelligentsia of
his day with "you search the scriptures, for in them you think you have life, but
it is they that speak of me." I do not include these verses as proof texts or to
preach to you; but I believe such admonitions are pertinent to this discourse.

Rationality is indispensable for precision in verbal communication and
interpretation of sense data; however, it is always a function of the data set at
hand and - most importantly - inherently unsuited for discernment of absolute
certainty about anything (as Russell and Godel have shown us). This points to the
primacy of faith coupled to grace.

Sincerely, and in God's Grace

George A.

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