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Feedback archiveFeedback 2005

Feedback for the week of August 29, 2005

A disservice to humankind?

I find your support of literal interpretation of the bible quite troubling. To dismiss all physical evidence and ignore thousands of years of scientific discovery truly is a disservice to human kind. God gave us a brain with the ability for rational thought. By supporting these obviously false theories and relying solely on what was written in the bible (by people with an agenda and based on verbal communications handed down through several generations) you are perpetrating the greatest sin. You are not using the gifts that god gave you. Just because it is written, does not mean it is true. There are countless passages in the bible that have lost the intended meaning through translation. Genesis is a fun story and a good starting point with many good lessons for children, and if each day in the story were equal to a billion years it comes close to making sense. Maybe it was written at a time when people could not comprehend time existing beyond a couple of generations? Please stop this madness and stop trying to turn science and scientific (synonymous with rational) thought in to the work of the devil.

Kendal Ryter, PhD
USA


I find your support of literal interpretation of the bible quite troubling.

As we’ve pointed out numerous times in our articles and feedback responses, we do not support this straw man of a literal interpretation. Rather, we support a plain understanding of Scripture (the grammatical-historical approach). This includes reading historical narrative (such as Genesis) as it was written, reading poetic books (such as the Psalms) as poetry, etc.—see the difference, as well as the article Should Genesis be taken literally?

To dismiss all physical evidence and ignore thousands of years of scientific discovery truly is a disservice to human kind.

We agree! Since most of us are scientists, we celebrate scientific discovery and encourage the study of physical evidence. We also oppose the suppression of scientific data, including the censorship of scientific interpretations that do not conform to the standards grounded in humanistic bias—which has even been admitted.

Some attempts have been made to paint Pasteur as an evolutionist, pointing to one portion of an unreferenced quote in (a translated version of) Cuny’s biography of Pasteur1—‘… unless nature, in her evolution down the ages (an evolution which, as we now know, has been going on for millions, nay, hundreds of millions of years)’—while ignoring the continuation of that quote which speaks about ‘species of Creation’. Furthermore, we cannot be sure whether the parenthetical remark was actually a quote of Pasteur, or an editorial comment by Cuny. However, Tiner reinforces our knowledge that Pasteur believed in the Creator, by quoting Pasteur saying ‘the more I study nature, the more I stand amazed at the work of the Creator’2 (cf. Romans 1:20) and ‘science brings men nearer to God’.3

  1. Cuny, Hilaire, Louis Pasteur: The man and his theories, Paul S. Eriksson, Inc., New York, USA, 1966.
  2. Tiner, J.H., Louis Pasteur—Founder of Modern Medicine, Mott Media, Milford, Michigan, USA, p. 90, 1990.
  3. Ibid, p. 75.

Conversely, the secular science community has historically dismissed or downplayed Christian contributions to scientific discovery, and has shown resistance to those who fail to ‘toe the line’ of Darwinism. For example, creationist Louis Pasteur who is now hailed as ‘the Father of Modern Medicine’ for his contributions to Immunology (among other achievements), faced opposition to his work in the scientific community. Dr Henry Morris1 believes that this was a reaction to Pasteur’s stand against Darwinism (see inset, right).

God gave us a brain with the ability for rational thought.

He also warned us that our thoughts are corrupted by sin. Therefore, we know that thoughts are not to be trusted when they disagree with Scripture.

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.’ (Hebrews 4:12)

However, evolution cannot coherently explain rational thought, because Darwinian processes select only for survival advantage, not rationality. See my explanation to another critic.

By supporting these obviously false theories …

What theories are you referring to? The Theory of Biogenesis which states that life originates only from pre-existing life? Pasteur’s Germ Theory of Disease? Sorry that your point is less than obvious, but you failed to name any of these supposedly false theories, much less disprove their validity.

… and relying solely on what was written in the bible …

If you had read through our articles before writing to us, as required by our feedback rules, you might have noted that we do not rely solely on Scripture. Instead, we understand that all things necessary for our faith and for obtaining eternal life are either expressly set down in Scripture or may be deduced by good and necessary consequence from Scripture. As Francis Schaeffer said, the Bible is true truth rather than exhaustive truth. Therefore, we subscribe to a magisterial use of Scripture, coupled with a ministerial use of reason. This means that we interpret scientific data in the framework set out by the propositions of Scripture.

… (by people with an agenda …

What was your agenda in writing to us? It is nonsensical to use that phrase as a pejorative, because it can be pointed out that even neutral writings can be said to have the agenda of educating the reader.

… and based on verbal communications handed down through several generations) …

Can you offer one shred of proof that content was lost in communication? As we pointed out in Meeting the ancestors:

‘Adam, who was created on the sixth day of the first year, and died AM 930, could have talked with his descendants all the way down to Noah’s father, Lamech, who was born AM 874. And Noah’s son, Shem, born AM 1558 and died AM 2158, could have talked with his descendants all the way down to and including Abraham (born AM 2008).’

Furthermore, in the section, ‘Are the records accurate?’, we discussed how

‘… the most likely explanation … is that Adam, Noah, Shem, and the others each wrote down on clay tablets an account of the events which occurred during their lifetime, and handed them down from father to son via the line of Adam, Seth …, Noah, Shem …, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc. Moses, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, selected, compiled and edited these, along with his own comments, into the book we now know as Genesis.’

(For more on this topic, see Did Moses really write Genesis? Also, a more comprehensive timeline can be found in The Annals of the World.)

Also, our modern emphasis on writing should not result in disparaging oral transmission of information. Jesus’ sayings for example were repeated hundreds of times with minor variations, and they had a structure designed for easy memorization. See On the Reliability of Oral Tradition.

… you are perpetrating the greatest sin.

It continues to amaze that some people will issue judgments about Christian morality on one hand, while disparaging God’s Word on the other (see What basis, morality?). And note that no follower of Christ should call this the ‘greatest sin’—this is hardly what Jesus called the ‘unforgivable sin’, and it is logical to assume that a forgivable sin is not as great as an unforgivable one.

You are not using the gifts that god [sic] gave you.

Vague generalities are ineffective as constructive criticism. There are many gifts given to the members of the body of Christ:

For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. And since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let each exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.’ (Romans 12:4–8)

However, the greatest gift that God gave was His only begotten Son (John 3:16) and the free gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:23). Are you taking advantage of that gift?

Just because it is written, does not mean it is true.

I would, of course, agree that this general statement is true; however, that statement has no bearing on Scripture which has stood up against thousands of years of textual criticism and has been supported by a multitude of historical/archeological discoveries.

There are countless passages in the bible that have lost the intended meaning through translation.

Which passages? What intended meaning was lost? If there are ‘countless passages’, surely you could have illustrated your point with one of them. Moreover, where is your proof? Can you produce or point to ancient biblical manuscripts in the original languages with a different intended meaning? While there are many atheists that try to press that canard, there is an overwhelming amount of manuscript evidence supporting the reliability of Scripture.

The famous Dead Sea Scrolls, which contained many fragments of ancient manuscripts, included a copy of the entire book of Isaiah (dated 150 B.C.) that was essentially identical (no loss of ‘intended meaning’) to the earliest copy that had been in possession prior to the discovery (dated to AD 900). There are also thousands of partial and complete ancient New Testament manuscripts. Since these ancient manuscripts can be inspected, you may want to consider that there would be a deafening outcry of ‘fraud’, by biblical scholars who can read the original languages, if there were linguistic deviations in the more recent manuscripts. Therefore, I would kindly suggest that you rely on the results of reliable scholarship rather than the oft-refuted assertions of pedantic atheists who neither exhibit interest in learning the ancient languages themselves nor offer proof of their fabrications. See also The Textual Reliability of the New Testament.

Genesis is a fun story and a good starting point with many good lessons for children,

Which parts of Genesis did you find ‘fun’? Shifting away from ‘lessons for children’ toward a thorough examination of Scripture and respected Bible commentary is a more advantageous approach to scholarship. Actually, I would recommend discarding most modern children’s ‘Bibles’, geared more toward entertainment than education, that present sanitized Bible stories. These caricatures of history reduce Noah’s Ark and the Deluge, for example, from a chronicle of sin, punishment, and redemption to a tale more in line with Ol’ MacDonald’s Farm, complete with ‘bathtub ark’ illustrations showing protruding giraffe necks and lacking dinosaurs. Consequently, when the children become adults, they erroneously believe that the Bible is disconnected from the real world.

Conversely, Jesus straightforwardly refers to Noah as a real person (who was His ancestor—Luke 3:36), the Ark as a real vessel, and the Flood as a real event:

Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the Ark. Then the Flood came and destroyed them all.’ (Luke 17:26–27)

By teaching children properly from an early age, they will find themselves equipped to follow the Great Commission:

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”’ (Matthew 28:18–20)

and if each day in the story were equal to a billion years it comes close to making sense.

There is direct conflict between evolution and Scripture—see Two world-views in conflict: Evolution is absolutely opposed to the Bible. Therefore, logically only one worldview can be correct. The Bible’s teaching is usually modified to fit evolution whenever compromise is sought, and acceptance of that compromise has the repercussion of compromise in other biblical teachings (see chart). It means that those that compromise have to also believe that the order of creation in Genesis is incorrect, and they show dependence on the teachings of the world to tell them what God really meant, rather than believing what God told us in His Word.

If the six days is compromised to mean billions of years and the Bible is incorrect on scientific (worldly) things, then how can the compromiser be sure of heavenly things (John 3:12) like the Virginal Conception or Jesus rising from the dead? These too can be explained away as ‘scientifically impossible’. If we can’t trust the Bible on the crucial matters in Genesis, how can we trust God about redemption and salvation?

Maybe it was written at a time when people could not comprehend time existing beyond a couple of generations?

God, not man, inspired all Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16). God is eternal (Hebrews 13:8, 1 Timothy 1:17, & Psalm 90:1–2), and He has told us that His words would not become outdated (Matthew 24:35). It is chronocentric bigotry to assume that ancient man was not intelligent or advanced.

See:

In fact, God could easily have taught long ages or evolution in simple Hebrew if that is what He had intended to teach. See How long were the days of Genesis 1? and Genesis according to evolution.

Please stop this madness and stop trying to turn science and scientific (synonymous with rational) thought in to [sic] the work of the devil.

Please stop trying to turn man’s fallible (synonymous with sinful) thought into a condemnation of God (by denying the validity of His Word).

Kendal Ryter, PhD
USA

Jonathan Sarfati, PhD
Brisbane, Australia

Reference

  1. H.M. Morris, Men of Science, Men of God, Master Books, El Cajon, California, USA, p. 62, 1999. Return to text.

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