Re: Re: YEC Destroying Faith

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Date: Thu Apr 15 2004 - 09:38:59 EDT

There is a very simple point which I am surprised is not made more often, in response to statements like, "If I must reject one previously universally accepted interpretation of one Biblical text, I can not have the level of confidence in any interpretation of any Biblical text necessary in order to give epistemically warranted assent to the fundamental tenets of Christianity."

Scientists understand perfectly that every statement which is not simply a matter of definition, in every scientific theory, is in principle provisional and subject to rejection or revision in the light of new evidence. This has not led any that I know of to doubt the utter reliability of beliefs like "I cannot fly like a bird by flapping my arms," or "If I surgically remove a patient's heart and do not replace it with some device which duplicates the heart's function, the patient will die." We have all the certainty we need to warrant our belief in the reliability of these statements.

It seems to me that our situation with regard to biblically-based faith is comparable, and ought to be no cause for alarm. On this view, statements like "The world as we know it is a creation of God with features which are only present due to rebellion against God" and "God was present in the person Jesus and Jesus was reconciling the world to God" are analogous to the practically indubitable empirical beliefs mentioned above.

Perhaps a key root of the problem of loss of faith in situations like the one which engendered this thread is a widespread lack of understanding on the part of the public that we have only limited epistemic warrant for even our most "certain" beliefs about the empirical world, and we are not just dealing with a misplaced certainty that specifically Christian faith in God stands or falls with a strictly literal interpretation of biblical texts. Naive "scientism" as a model for belief that absolute epistemic warrant is attainable, as much as "fundamentalism," which may be scientism's offspring, may be the culprit.

Doug Barber
Crisfield, MD
Received on Thu Apr 15 09:39:35 2004

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