Re: YEC Destroying Faith

From: Douglas Barber <>
Date: Wed Apr 14 2004 - 16:59:48 EDT

Rich Blinne wrote:

>We have discussed ad nauseam the theoretic capability of YEC destroying
>faith, particularly amongst those who are professional scientists. Well,
>I have an example of such a thing concerning someone who is not a
>professional. I had the following comment posted on my weblog:
> I,too, have had a crisis of faith after being presented with facts
> concerning the universe and facts concerning the creation of man. In
> fact, in my college biology class, I asked the instructor if the
> scientific community was positive about the evolution of man as
> presented, and she quietly whispered, "Yes." I still have not been able
> to come to peace with that. I wound up dropping the class. Later, to
> make up for this course, I took a Physical Science course on the
> Universe. Although the material in this class was not totally backed up
> by scripture, the discrepancies between what I had been taught in
> church from the Bible about the creation of the universe could be
> worked through in my mind. But, I too, have said openly, "If the
> creation of man and the earth is disproved with facts, what else can be
> challenged in the scripture." This is a scary place to be when you have
> absolutely believed the Word of God as infallible. Oh, by the way, I am
> not an 18 year old kid. I am a 46 year old woman.
>Any suggestions on how I should respond? If you want to respond directly
>go to:

I have posted this reply:

    Natural science has changed what we ask theology to illuminate.

    More precisely, science has changed our understanding of the natural
    world, and that understanding is one aspect of what we ask our
    understanding of God to illuminate. The most important aspects of
    life that we ask our understanding of God to shed light on are
    anthropologically given by what is common to the situation of human
    beings in the world in every time and place, and those aspects
    haven't changed - the necessity to make choices with incomplete
    knowledge of their possible consequences, and awareness of the
    inevitability of death, to name several - but they are not the only
    aspects of life which we look to theology to illuminate. For
    example, extremely strong empirical evidence that species have
    evolved one from another is something new that we are asking our
    understanding of God to illuminate.

    Perhaps you think that your theology has components less provisional
    than "our understanding of God," that you can make certain
    statements about what God has done or willed that are infallibly
    true, based on an infallible revelation. Tell me the meaning of any
    statement taken from your infallible revelation - tell me what it
    has actually revealed to you. What it means, and reveals, apart from
    your understanding of it, you do not know and cannot say. All you
    can tell me is your understanding of it, and however infallible the
    revelation may be, your understanding of it is no more infallible
    than your understanding of the empirical world.

    It is not my intention in the least to deny the revelatory quality
    of the Holy Bible, nor even its infallibility. Rather, I mean to
    suggest that neither our theories about the empirical world nor our
    interpretations of biblical texts - that is, our theories about what
    sense God intends for us to make of them - merit some special
    warrant of trusworthiness. We are in no position to decide, before
    the fact, that when they come into conflict, we can be so sure of
    one, that we can assume that the other is mistaken. The task of
    forming a coherent view of life from a stance of absolute trust in
    God - for Christian purposes, what Paul called "taking every thought
    captive to the obedience of Christ" - will sometimes require us to
    revise empirical theories, and sometimes to revise our
    interpretation of what God has revealed in sacred scripture. The
    alternatives to such flexibility are idolatry at one extreme,
    atheism at the other, and a perpetual repetition of the church's
    failure to appreciate one of history's great opportunities for
    reverent wonder and awe, when it gave Galileo the back of its hand.

    We need not fear that a frank admission of our thoroughgoing
    fallibility detracts from the glory of God.

Doug Barber
Crisfield, MD
Received on Wed Apr 14 17:00:34 2004

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