Re: Peer review and ID

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Tue Oct 25 2005 - 07:32:33 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: <>
To: "George Murphy" <>
Cc: "Jim Armstrong" <>; <>
Sent: Monday, October 24, 2005 10:37 AM
Subject: Re: Peer review and ID

> This is my first post as a new member, so let me know if any of this is
> out of
> line, or if clicking "reply to all" is not the correct way to post into
> this thread.
> George Murphy states it well. There is an absurdity in our preoccupation
> with
> this. But it is an archetypal concern touching on the surface of
> increasingly
> significant questions. E.g. how far are Christian scholars willing to go
> to
> maintain concordance - or at least a non-contradictory relationship
> between
> Biblical understanding and modern scientific sensibility? The pi
> question is
> probably a "safe" place to gently play this argument out since it is such
> a
> minor detail with no large theological ramifications. Other questions
> would
> encroach in a more threatening way -- "Did the sun really 'stop' in the
> sky for
> 24 hours for Joshua?" This is a much more challenging whopper to the
> physicist
> than the pi dilemma would be to the mathematician (which is easily
> answered
> anyway - and Mr. Murphy answers well.) If we entertain this doubt of an
> incredible miracle (the sun), then we are beginning to go down what many
> see as
> the slippery slope thinking of increasingly larger sections of the Bible
> as
> benevolent mythology. This threatens some Christians, and perhaps rightly
> so -
> because taken to its logical extreme we would end up like Jefferson and
> the
> deists (or the current Jesus Seminar folks) who stab right at the heart of
> the
> whole enterprise by denying all miracles including the resurrection. But
> I
> don't think that those extremes necessarily invalidate the need to
> entertain
> doubts regarding our western Biblical analysis with its scientific
> mindset. I
> think a lot of what C.S. Lewis wrote on these issues ("Reflections on the
> Psalms") gives good insight in how the Bible as literature delivers truth.
> Since literature (and not science) was Lewis' area of expertise, he was,
> perhaps, better equipped to see the Bible for what it is, than we with our
> scientific eyes are. -When all you have is a hammer, everything looks
> like a
> nail (which applies to the literary scholar as much as the scientist --
> but the
> literary tool is probably the more appropriate one for Biblical exegesis).
> But
> we certainly can't escape our own worldview and what it brings to our
> understanding. I think Lewis recognized this as he didn't run from the
> scientific questions, but applied his curiosity on this front as well with
> an
> intriguing "outsider's" perspective.

As Paul Seely has pointed out, Calvin (e.g.) speaks of the "accomodation" of
the biblical text to the state of knowledge of people of its time. This,
IMO, is the key to dealing with the fact that scripture in some places
describes things in ways that are, from the standpoint of modern science,
incorrect, without at the same time having to doubt that the Bible is of any
theological value.

But Calvin's concept of accomodation has to be deepened in a couple of ways.
1st, it is the Holy Spirit, not the human writers of scripture, who should
be seen as accomodating a message to cultural limitations. There is no
reason to think, e.g., that the writer of Genesis 1 really knew about big
bang cosmology & Darwinian evolution but put his creation account in another
form because the common people didn't know the more accurate scientific
theories. & 2d, this willingness of God to accomodate revelation to the
human condition should be seen as the same type of condescension displayed
in the Incarnation, & ultimately understood in terms of a theology of the

Received on Tue Oct 25 07:35:11 2005

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