Re: YEC and interpretations (was: Re: asa-digest V1 #3214)

From: Jim Armstrong (
Date: Wed Mar 19 2003 - 01:06:04 EST

  • Next message: "Re: Ken Ham"

    Mmm, I suppose one might be led to enquire in such a circumstance, "What
    theory do you follow in interpreting scripture?" Maybe I'll give that a
    try next time the T word comes up in this context! - Jim Armstrong

    Peter Ruest wrote:

    >Gary Collins wrote:
    >>>From: "Michael Roberts" <>
    >>>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
    >creationist postulate).
    >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.

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