Toeing the Party Line
The following exchange took place on a yahoo group I am on:
The Other Person’s words are in Blue, mine are in Black.
There are two foundational elements which I like to highlight so as to bring clarity into the thinking process.
1. Understand the Genre.
Genesis is written as historical narrative and Psalms is written as poetic expressions. Psalms 19 uses language like …heavens pours forth speech….placed a tent for the sun…its rising is from one end of the heavens. On the other hand, Genesis records the account of origins, genealogical records with figures, names, eyewitness accounts, family names, the origin of the nation of Israel, etc.
A statistical determination (comparing text by text) done by Steven Boyd reveals that Genesis is between 0.999942 and 0.999987 confidence level as a historical narrative. It is statistically indefensible to argue that the Genesis text is poetry.
Well, you know what they say: There are lies, damned lies, and statistics. 😉
I could not find any information on Steven Boyd. Did you mean Stephen Boyd? I notice that in the link, it says:
According to his analysis, the verb forms in Genesis 1 coincide with verb forms from other historical, narrative passages, not poetic passages. Therefore, the Creation story should be taken literally.
But then, the very next paragraph says:
Dr. Boyd emphasizes learning from the original language of the Biblical writings- taking into consideration the historical, religious, and cultural meanings behind the Scripture. [emphasis added]
By taking the historical, religious and cultural meanings behind Scripture into consideration, other theologians have come to a different conclusion.
Just because the language in Genesis is similar to that of a straight, historical narrative does not make it so. Most Creation myths around the world use historical, narrative language. That is one of the characteristics of a myth! What is a Myth?
Dr Boyd is not a very high-profile person. How did you hear about him?
2. Understand the Worldview.
The only one who has complete knowledge and understanding is God himself – that is why all that He says is TRUE. We may not want to accept it as such but it will eventually catch up with us.
The challenge is this – you and I as fallible human beings with limited knowledge and understanding can never proclaim anything with absolute certainty with regards to the truth unless of course it is REVEALED to us. Romans 3:4 – “..let God be found true, though every man be found a liar…”
So, with any *interpretation of origins *- we all have a starting point (worldview) by which we interpret the evidences. In other words, we all have a bias (which is based on faith). That is the reason why we keep having these interesting exchanges in the forum – there are different biases in operation.
How does one determine which bias to hold on to? Well, the ideal way is to have COMPLETE knowledge and understanding – in that way, we know absolutely that our bias is the TRUTH. In the absence of complete knowledge (which only God has), we all start from a position of *reasonable* faith.
My bias is this : It is reasonable for me to interpret the facts and evidences around me with the historical worldview and narrative of Genesis because it is written as such.
I am glad that you have admitted that YECism is based on bias.
Consider the following statement from Answers in Genesis’ Statement of Faith:
By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record.
In other words, the Bible is always right.
The next statement states:
Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.
So, AiG acknowledges that evidence is subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information. But, it does not apply when talking about Biblical interpretation.
Or, consider this statement by the Institute for Creation Research in their tenets:
The creation record is factual, historical and perspicuous; thus all theories of origins or development which involve evolution in any form are false.
So, Creationists have assumptions, namely that anything that smacks of evolution must be wrong. Evidence that does not support a literal reading of Genesis MUST be wrong.
At the end of the day, it is not Science vs the Bible, it is actually Faith vs Faith. What is in question here is not Operational Science (the stuff that can be repeated and tested in the lab) but Historical Science (the interpretation of what happened in the past based on worldview assumptions).
YECism is most definitely a Faith and not a science. Why, then, call it ‘Creation Science‘ when you’ve pretty much admitted that it is not science at all?
Yet, if I am not mistaken, this tactic is tacitly saying that Evolution is a faith, too, and not a Science.
While YECists do interpret the past based on their worldview assumptions (they openly admit this!), the same cannot be said with scientists.
The conclusions of scientists are based on evidence, and the evidence remains for all to see. Scientists know that their ideas must stand the scrutiny of other scientists, who may not share their preconceptions. The best way to do this is to make the case strong enough on the basis of the evidence so that preconceptions do not matter. And scientists themselves condemn preconceptions when they see them.
The history of science is filled with scientists accepting ideas contrary to their preconceptions. Examples include the reality of extinctions, the reality of meteors, meteors as causes of mass extinctions, ice ages, continental drift, transposons, bacteria as the cause of ulcers, the nature of prions, and, of course, evolution itself. Scientists are not immune to being sidetracked by their preconceptions, but they ultimately go where the evidence leads.
Scientists make deliberate efforts to remove subjective influences from their evaluation of conclusions; they do a good job, on the whole, of reducing bias. They do such a good job, in fact, that what creationists really object to is the fact that scientists do not interpret evidence according to certain religious preconceptions.
(taken from here .)
This cartoon says it all:
Since I cannot claim to have absolute knowledge and understanding – in other words, I am not God. The next best thing for me to do is rely on the Word of God … right from the very first verse. I dare not impose my own fallible understanding on what is revealed. That was the serpent’s approach – casting doubt on what is revealed in God’s Word i.e. … “Did God really say?” – that was Adam & Eve’s downfall
So, in summary:
(1) We do not know everything.
(2) God knows everything.
(3) God has revealed knowledge in His Word.
(4) We must understand the Bible correctly, otherwise we will be listening to the Devil.
Even what is ‘revealed’ still has to be interpreted, right? That is why there are so many Christian denominations today.
I’ve lost count how many times I’ve heard the ‘Did God really say…?’ line. Is this something AiG espouses? (Why, yes, I guess it is.)
Here is what one Creationist had to say about this. In other words, if one does not interpret the Bible the way AiG does, then one has succumbed to Satan’s lie.
The question to ask : What is my starting point?
“Is my starting point immovable? If my starting point proves to be untenable, do I have what it takes to re-evaluate my position?”