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Saturday, January 28, 2006

Science in the Bible and the Culture of the Times

The June, 2003 issue of Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith is available on-line. There are several articles that may be of interest. One letter stood out to me. As I read it, I was taken aback.

This is the bibliographic information for the letter: Seely, Paul H., "Beyond the Hills of Concordism and Creation Science," Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith 55:138-9, March 2003. Here are two quotes from it. Seely gives some evidence for his position, but the matter is so important that I decided to think about it for a while.

I think it is time, therefore, to lay aside the assumption that God’s revelations in Scripture could only be given in terms of his omniscient knowledge of history and science and not be accommodated to the cultural understanding of the times.

As to science, a close study of Scripture reveals that the science in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation has been accommodated to the science of the times. The Church in the time of Galileo was correct when it saw in Scripture a geocentric universe with a literally moving sun (Eccl. 1:5). The Church’s mistake did not lie in its exegesis, but in its assumption that the cosmology employed in Scripture is a part of the divine revelation rather than an accommodation to the science of the times.

(Later) I have thought about it for a while, and I believe I agree with Seely. For example, Genesis 1 tells readers some important things about the sun. If this description had included photosynthesis, or warming the earth, which are both probably more important than the things listed, it would have sounded like nonsense to listeners and readers, until fairly recent times.

While I'm musing on this subject, I guess I ought to say that 21st century science doesn't have all the answers, either. If the Bible described, say, the structure of atoms as God knows it, it would probably be as incomprehensible to us as a discussion of photosynthesis would have been to Boaz.

Thanks for reading!

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