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

From: Michael Roberts (
Date: Sun Mar 23 2003 - 16:53:45 EST

  • Next message: George Murphy: "Re: thought experiment"

    The Comforter the Holy Spirit leads us into alltruth we need about God and
    the gospel, not about science.

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "allenroy" <>
    To: <>; <>
    Sent: Wednesday, March 19, 2003 5:00 PM
    Subject: 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
    > 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.
    > Allen
    > >
    > --
    > "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

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sun Mar 23 2003 - 16:58:13 EST