Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Don't read Bible as science

This article interested me, so much so that I'd like to refute it piece-by-piece. It's called ... Don't read Bible as science Though the author of this piece is a rabbi, I believe his worldview, at least as betrayed by this article, is completely secular in nature.

The first two chapters of the book of Genesis have always captivated me. The poetry, the economy of words, the literary flow of the unfolding of creation characterize, as generations of readers have attested, a beautiful and compelling narrative.

Here we wait for the other shoe to drop. The Scriptures are "beautiful poetry" with "literary flow" BUT ...
It is regretful that politicians, members of school boards and religious conservatives are trying to take a theological account about the goodness of life, the dignity of every human being, the sacredness of rest and turn it into a scientific description of the origins of the universe.

This is a common refrain among secularists. Religion is fine, they say, its sacred and good and ... blah, blah ... but keep it out of education and the public square. In other words, people of faith, know your place. Don't try to mess with the secular training of our nation.
Proposals before legislators across the country question the science of evolution and suggest that creationism or intelligent design be taught in schools as an alternative to the evolutionary theory regarding the origins of life. The Washington Post reported that the Discovery Institute in Seattle is spending more than $1 million a year for research, opinion polls and media promotions to promote intelligent design as a credible scientific theory.

It would seem that secularists would welcome a straight-up fight between evolution and intelligent design. Should be an old-fashioned country whuppin', right? After all, they have all the "data" and "science" and what do we have? Oddly, nothing makes a secularist as nervous as putting these two concepts side-by-side. Reminds me of a saying: the scared dog barks the loudest. (See God vs. Nothing, part I)
The issue has come to the surface most recently within the Catholic Church. While the church has embraced evolutionary theory, Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, Archbishop of Vienna and confidant of the new Pope Benedict XVI, suggested last month that 'evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense -- an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection ' is not compatible with Catholic faith. The vice president of the Discovery Institute had urged the cardinal to clarify Catholic doctrine on evolution.

There are a variety of ways in which one can reconcile the Genesis narrative with evolution. But attempting to turn the Bible into a science textbook misses the whole point of the creation story.

What would that point be? That the Almight created all things from nothing? Shouldn't that be where all science begins?
There are a number of differing creation accounts in the Bible, two in the first chapter of Genesis, various references in Psalms, the prophetic and wisdom books. They were not written by scientists but by individuals who stood in awe of the universe and sought to discern the meaning of human existence. What we should learn from these narratives is not primarily how the world came into being or what is the origin of life, but rather what is the value of life and what is the meaning of human existence?

Poppycock. Again, this is straight from the secularist playbook. First, the Bible is untrustworthy because it doesn't agree with itself. This is, of course, utter nonsense. As for the "value of life and ... the meaning of human existance" ... this is true enough as far as it goes. But what Genesis teaches is that the eternal God is the source of everything.
Sometimes to read the Bible literally is not to take it seriously enough.

This kills me. Again, this is something secularists say with impunity all the time. Somehow to believe in the Scriptures as the word of God is to do violence to them. Up is down, black is white ...
People of faith need not be troubled by the science of natural selection and the randomness of evolution.

We're not. Most Christians clearly understand the imperfections of scientific theory and, are therefore, not troubled at all by evolution.
They should rather be concerned about the moral selections we make and the compassionate order we bring to life's tragic chance occurrences. Faith should care less about whether we are descended from monkeys and more about whether we act like humans in the image of God.

This is another version of the above -- "mind your beeswax, bible-thumper" -- thinking, but it also betrays a lack of understanding of why we worship God. The fact that God created us is part of what makes Him God. He is the Creator. Do deny him that place is to be in rebellion to what He has revealed about Himself.
Science and religion need not be at odds with each other. Science can expand what we know; religion can help us decide how to use what we know for good and not for harm.

This should read "Science and politically correct, namby pamby religion ..." ("Let's all be nice.") The minute religion actually tries to impact the public discussion, suddenly secularists cry foul.
To read the Genesis account of creation through the lens of the astronomer, physicist and biologist ruins a perfectly wonderful narrative and uses it for purposes for which it was not intended. It teaches bad science and bad religion.

The Scriptures are revealed to us so that we might properly know how to worship our Creator. For what "purposes" apart from that was it intended? The best religion and the best science work hand-in-hand. A man who studies the universe and gives glory to its Creator is part of a noble calling. A man who studies the universe to attempt to disprove the Creator is a dope ... and blind too.
To read the Genesis account, as it was meant to be read, through the lens of faith and poetry, drama and metaphor, is to come to know the value of human life, the goodness of the universe and to stand in awe of the creative process that continues to renew itself.

I'm all for standing in awe. But, of what? "... the creative process that continues to renew itself." ???? Is this to be the object of our worship? A "process"? No thanks.
Albert Einstein taught that 'religion without science is blind; science without religion is lame.' Centuries before, Galileo, whom church authorities sought to silence, provided wisdom for our contemporary debate, when he said, 'The Bible teaches how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go.'"

They always have to throw Galileo in there, don't they? Fine. But what use is knowing "how the heavens go" if you are in Hell?