Professing Christians: ‘the Bible isn’t factual’
Answering religious critics who deny that Genesis gives reliable history
Published: 29 November 2014 (GMT+10)
In today’s feedback, Keaton Halley answers two complaints alleging that creationists misinterpret the Bible when we read Genesis as factual history. First, R. M. from the United States writes:
I write to you as a practicing Roman Catholic, Physicist, and Science Educator in a Catholic School. I find it very disheartening that the different denominations of Christianity are opposing each other so much. I also find it disheartening that you are propagating a false myth about Galileo’s issues with the Roman Catholic Church. I am also surprised that in your discussion about the Big Bang, that you did not discuss the fact that it was originally proposed by Monseigneur Lemaître, a Jesuit priest in the 1930s, and that he had to defend that theory against the scientists of his day (Hubble and Einstein).
As a Catholic, I believe that the Bible is inspired by God and that we only stand by the fact that the Religious truths are 100% true, and that the authors have the ability to get science and other facts as wrong (or else, how do you deal with the mustard seed or the Crab Nebula crisis). I believe that the Creator gave us the ability to reason and attempt to understand His work.
Keaton Halley, CMI–US responds:
Hi R. M.,
It seems we are coming from very different perspectives, so your attempt to establish common ground with your religious bona fides doesn’t carry as much weight with us as you might have hoped.
Frankly, I’m not sure why you’re complaining to us about disunity like it’s our fault when you wrote in to oppose what we stand for. We’re all for unity, but the way to achieve this is to be united in the truth, not error. Jesus prayed to the Father for his followers to be “one even as we are one” (John 17:22). In the same context, he said to the Father: “your word is truth” (John 17:17). But you have denied this, claiming that the Bible is both inspired by God and in error.
A little effort using our search engine would show that we have addressed your concerns with the mustard seed and the Crab Nebula (presuming you mean the light-travel-time difficulty). In reality, there is no way to separate the religious truths from the factual and historical ones, since many religious truths like Jesus’ resurrection happened in history. Also, Jesus said that it makes no sense to trust his testimony about “heavenly things” if one doubts his claims about “earthly things” (John 3:12). Plus, the New Testament authors frequently made theological arguments on the basis of historical events. See Genesis: Bible authors believed it to be history.
Unfortunately, you don’t say what you believe is false in our treatment of the Galileo affair, so I’ll bypass that comment.
As for Lemaître, we do in fact mention him in several of our articles. But he reasoned according to methodological naturalism, not the Bible. The fact that he defended his ideas against Hubble and Einstein does nothing to show that the Big Bang is compatible with Genesis. That would be like claiming neo-Darwinism is biblical since it has been defended against Lamarckian critics, advocates of Punctuated Equilibrium, or proponents of Self-Organization theory.
So, respectfully, we do not find your criticisms to be well founded. But we hope you will become more familiar with our website and other materials. If you write back, perhaps you could explain how you get around the points made in the article mentioned above: Genesis: Bible authors believed it to be history.
Also, C. M. from the United States writes:
Why do you confuse questioning the Bible with questioning an interpretation of the Bible that was discarded by Christians 200 years ago? Creationism is neither Biblical nor science—it is an outdated concept that was the consequence of poor scholarship that overlooked the fact that the western concept of history as an objective, factual discipline did not exist until nearly two millennia after the canonization of the Old Testament. Genesis 1–11 is not an objective, factual account of historic events.
Can you name even one living scientist who earned a Ph.D. or equivalent degree from a real college or university who believes in a young earth and who does not so believe BECAUSE of his religious beliefs rather than science?
Keaton Halley responds:
Hi C. M.,
If Genesis 1–11 is not giving us real history, why did all the New Testament authors treat it as such? See Genesis: Bible authors believed it to be history, The use of Genesis in the New Testament, and Jesus on the age of the earth. The NT authors knew perfectly well how to distinguish myths from real, historical events (2 Peter 1:16). But you have not explained why our interpretation is wrong, just asserted that it is.
The reasons creationists hold their convictions are complex, and do not fit your simplistic dichotomy between religion and science. Do you think that science is the only valid way of knowing anything? If so, what is the scientific evidence for that belief? But in reality, we believe creation to be true because it makes the most sense of all the facts. We don’t arbitrarily limit ourselves to naturalistic explanations even before considering the facts, as evolutionists do. See, for example, Amazing admission.
If you want to show that we are wrong, you will need to actually engage our arguments rather than trying to invalidate our beliefs by merely pointing out that they are religious in nature. After all, that form of argument commits the genetic fallacy.