Re: sciDocument.rtf

Date: Sat Jul 06 2002 - 17:27:46 EDT

  • Next message: Vernon Jenkins: "Re: Second-hand sign? (was Re: Noahic Covenant)"

    Glenn wrote,

    1. Upon what basis, theological, scriptural or natural do you reject the
    delegation of theological discovery [to man qua man]?
    Ans: I think David Siemens and David Campbell answered this satisfactorily.
    That a true knowledge of God only comes from divine revelation, whether
    general in the creation (which is perceived intuitively) or special in
    Scripture is true by the nature of the case: there is no way man can do
    experiments, as he can in the material world, to find truths about God. That
    the Bible is God's revelation is for Christians part of the package they
    receive when they received Christ. As He said (Jn 4:22) to the Samaritan
    woman (whose religion was not even that much different from the Jews) "Ye
    worship that which ye know not: we worship that which we know; for salvation
    is from the Jews." Paul similarly tells the Athenians that their idols are
    not the true God and that their "unknown god" is the God who made us and who
    raised Christ from the dead (Acts 17:23 ff). Even to his disciple Peter,
    Jesus says, "Flesh and blood (what man qua man can do on his own) did not
    reveal this [the key revelation of God] unto you but my father in
    heaven.(Matt 16:7) In short, man qua man has not been delegated the task of
    theological discovery as he has been delegated the task of scientific

    2. If God did delegate only scientific discovery, where does God tell us
    Ans: It is implicit in the cultural mandate of Gen 1:26-28 where man qua man
    is given the responsibility to "subdue the earth" and the authority to rule
    over the natural world. By the nature of the case, we cannot fulfill this
    responsibility in the natural world unless we understand it. Implicit is the
    whole scientific enterprise. I think it is also significant that God pairs
    the cultural mandate with physical reproduction, putting them both completely
    in the natural realm. The biblical revelation that man has been delegated the
    task of understanding and thereby ruling over the natural world is also seen
    in Gen 2:19, where man is given the job of naming the animals. In our time,
    naming is just assigning arbitrary vocables to objects, but in the ancient
    Near East, naming was thought to involve understanding the true nature of the
    object being named. (See "Name" in Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible vol
    3); so Adam first understands, and then names. This biblical truth is also
    seen in Psa 8:6 "Thou makest him [created man, man qua man] to have dominion
    over the works of thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet."
    This truth incidentally is why the YEC rejection of consensual science is out
    of order biblically.

    The contrast between the ability of man qua man to understand the natural
    world by way of his natural abilities (under common grace) and understanding
    the things of God by way of revelation is seen in Jesus' statement to the
    Pharisees, "Ye know how to discern the face of the heaven; but ye cannot
    discern the signs of the times" (Matt 16:3). In the empirical world, it is
    the advance of science that shows the ability of man qua man to discover the
    truth about the natural world. This contrasts with the inability of the
    natural man to understand God, as shown under #1 above and in the statement
    of 1 Corinthians 2:14 "Now the natural man receiveth not the things of the
    Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them,
    because they are spiritually discerned."

    3. What epistemological basis do we have for saying that all descriptions of
    the natural world in the Bible are not true and only the theological extracts
    are true?
    I don't think we have any basis for saying that, and I for one have never
    said it. My position is that the science in the Bible is the science of the
    times. Even some ancient science is true. For example, the OT (Lev 11:4)
    speaks of the camel chewing the cud and obviously is aware that cows and
    sheep do the same; and this is true. A number of other such natural truths
    could be adduced. On the other side, as recently discussed not all of the
    morals (theology in the broad sense) in the OT are up to God's standards of
    truth, e.g. allowing divorce for any reason whatsoever (Deut 24:1-4) as Jesus
    recognized (Matt 19:8).

    4. And, indeed, if descriptions of the natural world are delegated, how do
    you separate the description of the resurrected body from that delegation?
    Ans: In part, I don't. One of the emphases in the NT is that the apostles
    were eye-witnesses to the resurrection. It is imperative that this use of the
    natural abilities of man to use his eyes to see are not set aside. The
    resurrection is also set forth as involving the natural ability of touch,
    both in the dialog with Thomas (John 20) and with the eating beside the sea
    (Luke 21). In the NT, the historicity of the resurrection rests on the
    natural abilities of man. On the other hand, a one-time event could scarcely
    be called a part of the "_natural_ world." A miracle is clearly indicated.

    5. If people can be wrong about the descriptions of the creation of the
    world, floating axe-heads and other obviously false things, were the apostles
    still allowed the freedom in their description and discovery of the natural
    world when they mistakenly thought they saw Jesus walk through a wall into a
    locked room?
    Ans: As indicated in #4, the historicity of the resurrection is set forth in
    the NT as being dependent upon the apostles' freedom to use their natural
    abilities. Secondly, they were depending directly upon their own personal
    observations, which is in contrast to the description of the creation of the
    world (or the flood) which evidence dependence upon ancient historical
    traditions, at least a thousand years earlier than Moses. As for floating
    axe-heads, I am a bit open to George's disbelief of this as merely a legend,
    but fundamentally I have no problem accepting it as a miracle. In the
    particular case of Jesus walking through the wall, the apostles thought at
    first they were seeing a ghost. It was only as Jesus talked to them and
    showed them his hands and feet (appealing to their natural abilities to see)
    that they drew the conclusion it was the resurrected Lord (Luke 24).

    6. The problem with your view Paul, is that you make an assumption which may
    be correct, may be wrong. But that assumption is so key to your position,
    that it would really be nicer if once could find it stated in Scripture
    rather than only in your books.
    Ans: I showed above and in Chapter One of my book my "assumption" has a
    biblical foundation. Also, my "assumption" is confirmed by the advance of
    science (God has delegated the subduing of the earth to man qua man) and by
    the fact that to a large extent the accommodated science in the Bible is also
    seen in the science of the times---in the ancient Near Eastern literature for
    the OT and in the literature of the Greeks and Romans for the NT. In Chapter
    Three of my book I showed that even in the teachings of Jesus, who is more
    ultimately the revelation of God than even Scripture, one finds the science
    of the times. So, on the basis of both revelation and empirical data, I have
    concluded that the science in the Bible is the science of the times. It is a
    logical conclusion based on objective evidence, not an assumption. Indeed, I
    see my conclusion to be in contrast to the popular assumption that divine
    inspiration excludes divine accommodation to the science of the times. That
    belief really is an assumption, that is, an idea unfounded in Scripture (one
    of the main points of my book is that none of the popular proof texts for the
    scientific inerrancy of Scripture teach any such thing) and in fact falsified
    by the fact that one can find the science of the Bible in the contemporary
    extra-biblical literature.


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