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

From: allenroy (
Date: Wed Mar 19 2003 - 12:00:51 EST

  • Next message: "Re: YEC and interpretations (was: Re: asa-digest V1 #3214)"

    Peter Ruest wrote:

    >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.
    I and most YECs that I know would pretty much agree with this. Except
    that we have supernatural help in understanding (or interpreting) the
    Bible in the form of the promised "Comforter" who Jesus sent to"lead us
    into all truth." As long as we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us, then
    we can arrive at what God means for us to understand from the Bible.
     With that in mind, that is why one should never open the Bible unless
    we first ask God the Spirit to guide and lead our thoughts.

    As for interpreting the data from the natural world, the difference
    between the typical YEC and Evolutionists of all types, is the
    foundational assumptions within which scientific study is done. YECs
    typically start with the stated Biblical points of a creation of the
    Biosphere within a week of 7 planet rotations some 6000 +/- years ago
    and a global cataclysm (typically called Creationism). The typical
    Evolutionist starts with Ontological Naturalism (or its heir
    Methodological Naturalism). The scientific method can be done equally
    well within either viewpoint. When dealing with the here and now, both
    philosophies provide equivalent results. It is when dealing with the
    past that the interpretations of scientific data within the paradigms
    diverge. The real issue is not that one or the other side does not
    understand science or is unable to do proper science. Rather, the real
    issue, the real conflict, is found in the foundational assumptions. Can
    Creationism and Ontological Naturalism be harmonized or are they
    incompatible. Can Creationism and Methodological Naturalism be
    harmonized or are they also incompatible. The typical YEC believe that
    the philosophical differences between Creationism and Naturalism (of
    either form) are completely incompatible. I believe that the typical
    Theistic Evolutionists (and others of similar beliefs) believe that
    Creationism and Natrualism can be harmonized. One can read about such
    attempts at harmonizing on many web pages provided by many members of
    this group. The YECs point out however, that ALL such harmonizing
    involves starting with Naturalism (either form) and interpreting the
    Bible within it. Some might argue that Methodological Naturalism is an
    attempt to harmonize Ontological Naturalism through Biblical eyes.
     However, most YECs will argue that it modifing Ontological Naturalism
    inot Methodological Naturlaism doesn't go far enough and besides that,
    it is completely unnecessary to use any form of Naturalism. All the
    necessary assumptions requried to conduct the scientific method are
    found within Creationism.

    >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).
    In the discussion on "literal" inerpretation of the Bible, many YECs
    find that the term "literal" has been interpreted by critics and skeptic
    to mean that every single word of the Bible is to be taken absolutly
    literal. This is not how most YECs use the term "literal." (but I'm
    sure you can find some who do.) Because the inaccurate definition used
    by the critics is so pervasive in society now, many YECs are now
    beginning to use the term "straight forward reading" rather than
    "literal reading," to describe the common sense method they use to read
    the Bible. Just as we all have learned to communicate, read and write
    using an assortmen of obvious literary methods, the same approach is
    applied to the Bible. It is recognized that the Bible is written in
    obvious literary structures such as prose, poety, prophetic symbolisms,
    metaphores, idoms, etc. It doesn't take a rocket scientist or
    theologian with advanced degrees to get the obvious messages from the Bible.

    I have found that when reading Genesis 1:11 nearly everyone agrees that
    if it is read in a straight forward manner then the interpretation of
    the texts would likely be very similar to the typical YEC
    interpretation. However, when faced with the interpretation of natural
    world through Ontological or Methodological Naturalism which simply does
    not fit the straight forward interpretation of Genesis, that one must
    make some difficult choices. Can one "intellectually" throw out the
    "Science" of Methodological Naturalism? Does one have to make "Faith"
    decision and shut your eyes to 'science?' I believe that there is
    another option, do you science within the philosophical foundation of
    Creationism rather than any form of Naturalism.



    "I have been shown that, without Bible history, geology can prove nothing. Relics found
    in the earth do give evidence of a state of things differing in many respects from the
    present. But the time of their existence, and how long a period these things have been in
    the earth, are only to be understood by Bible history. It may be innocent to conjecture
    beyond Bible history, if our suppositions do not contradict the facts found in the sacred
    Scriptures. But when men leave the word of God in regard to the history of creation, and
    seek to account for God's creative works upon natural principles, they are upon a
    boundless ocean of uncertainty. Just how God accomplished the work of creation in six
    literal days, he has never revealed to mortals. His creative works are just as
    incomprehensible as his existence."  Ellen Gould Harmon White,  1864

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