From: Peter Ruest (email@example.com)
Date: Wed Mar 19 2003 - 00:49:24 EST
Gary Collins wrote:
> >From: "Michael Roberts" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> >Subject: Re: test questions-old topic
> >Pray for us Brits Ken Ham is on tour this month and I dont know whether
> >anyone will turn him into a pork pie.
> We need it. He came to Brighton at the Weekend and gave 5 sessions
> co-hosted by two churches, one of which was mine.
> Perhaps the thing I objected to most was his forceful insistence that unless
> you accept literally the words of the Bible - and of Genesis 1 to 11 in particular -
> you are undermining, or not accepting the authority of the scripture. I see this
> as a slight not only on myself, but on respected conservative theologians such
> as J.I. Packer and F.F. Bruce and I'm sure there are many more who could be
> I feel I really need to write something to my pastor, but I'm not sure yet what
> approach I should use. A scientific approach would be of no use, because
> Ken said - and quite correctly - that interpretation of data is theory-laden, and if
> I approach from this angle I expect it would merely be dismissed as "not looking
> through Bible glasses" (any of you who have seen this presentation will know
> all about this, and the emphasis put upon it).
> The only approach I can think of that might be successful is to try to undermine
> Ken's assumption that the literal interpretation is the only valid - or the most valid -
> way to approach Genesis 1 to 11. I am thinking of drawing fairly heavily on Henri
> Blocher's book "In the Beginning" to achieve this. Also, Alan Hayward (sp?) has
> a useful section in his book "Creation and Evolution: The Facts and Fallacies."
> I would value the advice of others, though; and especially if any of you have been
> in this situation, I would love to hear from you and find out the approaches you
> have used, and how effective - or otherwise - they proved to be.
I am in the middle of such a discussion with a young-earth creationist
(who has published a book-long theological defense of the young-earth
The crucial point he doesn't seem to check is that there is a close
parallel between the theological treatment of the Bible and the
scientific treatment of nature (or creation). We have two "books" of
God, his Word (in the Bible), and his work (in creation). The biblical
text (originals) is data, and the creation is data. But theology is
interpretation, and science is interpretation. Data are given - they
are, in a sense, God's truth, which is absolutely reliable (although we
are not able to see all of it directly, both with the biblical originals
and with the realities of creation). We cannot change the data, we can
at most falsify or obscure it. But any interpretation, be it of biblical
texts or of observations in nature, are the work of fallible humans. Its
reliability has certain probabilities, which range from 0 to somewhere
below 100%. Any interpretations must be subject to revision if
necessary. Any pitting of "the Bible" against "science" is therefore a
confusion of categories, and therefore mistaken.
There is no "literal interpretation" of the Bible which would be immune
from human fallibility. I believe we have to take the (original)
biblical text "literally", in the sense of respecting the way the divine
Author led the human authors to formulate and later copyists to transmit
it: we must not change any of it. But we cannot evade interpreting it -
any reading of it automatically is an interpretation, which has to be
evaluated. So I would not discuss whether Gen.1-11 has to be taken
"literally" or not. The question is how these words are meant to be
interpreted. And this cannot be other than "theory-laden", just as with
scientific interpretations. There is no priority of the interpretations
of one type of data (biblical text) over those of another type of data
(creation). There only is priority of God's data (in the Bible and in
creation) over its interpretation (in both domains).
I hope this helps.
-- Dr. Peter Ruest, CH-3148 Lanzenhaeusern, Switzerland <email@example.com> - Biochemistry - Creation and evolution "..the work which God created to evolve it" (Genesis 2:3)
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