Wrong sources?

From a column in Florida Today: Theology answers ‘why’ and ‘who’ queries

When people are drawn into the science-versus-faith debate, they’re usually seeking answers from the wrong sources. When scientists try to disprove God, they venture outside of their expertise. And when theologians argue how young Earth is, they, too, cross the boundaries of their know-how.

What do you think?

About Brandon Haught

Communications Director for Florida Citizens for Science.
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14 Responses to Wrong sources?

  1. Michael Suttkus, II says:

    Funny, I can’t recall any scientists claiming that science disproves gods. Maybe argue that god is a useless idea, unsupported by the evidence, superfluous, but not disproven. It’s an attempt to build equivalency that doesn’t exist. And it’s annoying.

  2. Ivorygirl says:

    It seems to me that they are propagating Stephen Jay Gould’s (NOMA) Non-overlapping magisteria concept, the view advocating that science and religion each represent different areas of inquiry. This may be true to some extent; however, there are many instances in which science and religion do try to answer the same questions. I would ask in those circumstances how many times science has proved religion wrong and how many times has religion proved science wrong.

  3. Michael Suttkus, II says:

    NOMA always struck me as kinda doing what the reporter quoted above is doing, just in reverse. SJG wants to parcel out “magisteria” so that science has one and religion has one, but the one he gives to science is the one that science has always claimed. It doesn’t restrict science in any way. The one he gives to religion is a vastly restricted one from what religion has traditionally claimed. It’s basically saying, “Keep your nose out of our business, this is our turf now! We’ll cut ya, man, we’ll cut ya!” Just a bit more politely.

    If NOMA is meant descriptively, it fails. Religions simply DO make claims about objective reality that fall into the “magisteria” Gould would give to science. If NOMA is meant prescriptively, then it’s just a scientist telling religion to scurry off and mind what we have decided it’s business shall be. In neither case is it a particularly useful concept.

  4. Pierce R. Butler says:

    A lot of people – mostly unconsciously, I think – treat any “why” question as implicitly requiring a motivation.

    Though just about anybody can produce a long list of examples which don’t work that way – why did a sinkhole form here, why did the hurricane stall there, why did my computer crash, etc, etc – we tend to project personalities onto just about everything and choose our words accordingly.

    Much of theology arises from and relies on this tendency to see faces in the clouds and deliberate “reasons” to fill in gaps in cause/effect sequences. I think the Florida Today writer cited above is working this angle hard. As Michael S points out in the first comment here, he or she also drags in a strawman to beat up on; this combination of tactics leads me to suspect an especially blinkered or frankly manipulative perspective.

  5. Chris says:

    It might be helpful to understand what the authors theistic belief is to determine the value of his comments.

    Normally a theistic evolutionist must remove or ignore scripture and science to combine the two incompatible disciplines, (theism and evolution) in my view. A good example is his own out of context scripture. 2 Peter 3:8: “With God, one day is as good as a thousand years.” This scripture has nothing to do with God guiding evolutions process, science or millions of years. 2 Peter 3:8-9 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

  6. Joe Wolf says:

    Chris, When you say “Normally a theistic evolutionist must remove or ignore scripture and science to combine the two incompatible disciplines…” Are you assuming the only way to understand the scriptures is literally?

  7. Chris says:

    Joe, There is a difference between understanding scripture and rewriting it. Most of scripture is meant to be take literal, along with parables, history and predictions. The scripture in 2 Peter is a literal 24 hour day and a literal thousand years.

    There is also a difference between a box of religion and the bible. The term religion can be all over the place, where the bible and the God of the bible are specific. And it is the bible which conflicts with evolution through out.

    “For Darwin, any evolution that had to be helped over the jumps by God was not evolution at all.” Dawkins

    Christians attempting to reconcile evolution are up against big problems as evolution is essentially and atheistic philosophy.

  8. Chris says:

    Joe, this is pretty good. ‘How the Bible and Evolution Conflict’

  9. Ivorygirl says:

    Not wishing to interject my comments between your conversation with Joe, so I will make a one and only observation.
    First, I would agree with you that the bible is open to interpretation and therein lays the dichotomy. As you said, some of the bible is to be taken literally other parts allegorically; hence always open to personal understanding. Unfortunately your interpretation or personal understanding is no more valid than the Popes, Billy Graham, or the guy that deliver’s your pizza.
    Secondly, claiming that the theory of evolution is a philosophy or a metaphysical equivalent to a religion is simply false. It’s a common ploy used by critics of evolution to present evolution as a “worldview” that competes with their “world view” We all know creationism is not scientific, hence creationists try to convince others that evolution isn’t either. Any theory that committed itself to a metaphysical conclusion as a logical inference would be almost certainly false.
    I would agree the evolution does undercut a literal interpretation of some religious texts; however it should not preclude any further moral or spiritual purpose

  10. Joe Wolf says:

    Chris, I had a hunch that your basic issue in this discussion was because you insist on a literal interpretation of scripture. I don’t. From what I know about Christians most do not believe in a literal interpretation either. As evidence of this I will point to Catholic Church. The Catholic Church has never taught that the bible is to be understood literally. I was raised Catholic and studied Catholic theology for several years. Never was the scriptures ever understood literally. That is also true of any of the mail-line Protestant church to which I have belonged.

    All of the bibles I have ever seen are translations, often translations of translations. I have read different translations of scriptures which differ in detail. Personally I do not see how any one of these can be read literally, and if you do, which one?

    But we are off into theology here, not science. But many of your comments are also theology.

  11. Chris says:

    Joe, I know we are off into theology here, but it seems to be the topic of this post.

    You’ve brought up one of the main sources of today’s confusion. Bible translations are not created equally and many have an agenda other than translation.

    Recently I rented a house to a Jehovah Witness. Naturally she thinks the JW message is the only truth. It is considered apostasy for a JW to study their own religion objectively. This is in direct conflict with scripture which says to prove all things. I was surprised at the inaccuracy of the New World Translation bible they use in comparison to other translations especially the King James. Scriptures are omitted, changed and added to support their doctrine. It is said there are some 6,000 changes making the NWT a rewrite, not a translation.

    One of the most revealing attributes of all cults is their insistence that they and only they have the true message and are bound to it and unable to question it. Some put evolution in that box. Being raised a Catholic you may have experienced the same thing. From my view, Catholicism’s hidden goal is not to promote the gospel of Jesus Christ but rather to promote the gospel of the Catholic Church.

    Personally, I feel the KJV is the closest translation to the original. There’s lots of eye opening information on the subject including alterations from bias. Here’s a few examples: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSM0sclQTTg https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HA3GRy7znbA

    What I said was, “most of scripture is to be taken literally.” Jesus talks about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, being born again, and giving living water. Obviously, his comments are not literal but relay a different or spiritual meaning.

    Jesus’s indicates he took the Old Testament literally. When answering the pharisees about divorce, “Jesus replied. But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mk 10:6-9 In the beginning of creation, Jesus alludes to Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

    You’ll notice the male and female were created (made) as male and female, not a blob of gunk. Their creation was at the beginning, not billions of years later. And the two becoming one flesh, which is not literal, but they were bound together. Easy to understand. Without tearing out loads of scripture from both Old and New Testament, I’m not sure where you can get evolution out of this or any other part of the bible.

    From what I’ve found, you can’t have your cake and eat it too on this. Theistic evolution doesn’t work. If evolution is true it should be able to stand on it’s own of necessity and eliminate criticism and references to the bible all together, in my view.

  12. Chris says:

    Ivorygirl, Believe it or not I can agree with some of what you’ve said. I’m familiar with the Pope’s and Billy Graham’s interpretation of the bible. I’m not familiar with the Pizza guy’s interpretation or yours.

  13. Joe Wolf says:

    Originally this blog was about science and not religion, but like you I will leave that aside for a good discussion.
    I do not agree with you about the goal of Catholicism, but I will leave someone much better informed about such things to discuss that. Personally, I think you are framing the question wrong. Perhaps there is a Catholic scholar out there that could comment? You are looking at this question as a bible Protestant, not a Catholic.
    I appreciate your discussion about some parts of the bible being literal and some figurative. You are the first person I have heard make that distinction. The big question here would then be how you distinguish the two. Why do you say this section is literal and that not? But I believe the bible is much more complex that that and your paradigm is way to limiting. In other words there is much more than literal and figurative meaning in the bible.
    The other area that I can’t understand or agree is why the KJV is the best translation. Certainly the biblical and linguistics scholarship is far better today than is 1611.

  14. Chris says:

    Joe, you’re correct, I am looking at the these issues as a Protestant. My father’s side of the family was Catholic and my mother’s side was Pentacostle. Having a little understanding of both, I’m neither. I suppose my comments of Catholics were in part influenced by an old uncle of mine who said to me that the Catholic Church was the oldest church and the only church and that’s the end of the discussion. And it was. I’m not sure if he ever read the bible or had anything to do with it, but he was a Catholic.

    Among Catholicism’s long list of unbiblical doctrine, praying the dead from purgatory to heaven and the pope as the Vicar of Christ, with the authority of Jesus in the church are issues that are beyond bazaar. On the subject of literalism at communion, the bread and wine are not just a remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice, it is considered real blood and real flesh. This change of bread and wine to real flesh and blood happens during the eucharistic prayer of the Mass. While there may be various interpretations of John 6:53-56 and many disciples said, “This is a hard teaching . Who can accept it?”, it’s explained in John 6:61-64 as spirit not flesh. I’m sure God can change flesh and blood or to anything he wants but it would appear these two elements have a spiritual significance not physical.

    Roman Catholicism has a bloody past of keeping the word of God from the world. http://amazingdiscoveries.org/R-Roman_Catholic_Inquisition_Jews_Protestant

    Another false teaching from Catholicism is that the church is the only one who can interpret scripture and of course the reason for this is Catholicism doesn’t follow scripture. “An authentic interpretation of the Bible must always be in harmony with the faith of the Catholic Church,” Benedict XVI This is clearly a false teaching. “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” 2 Peter 1:20

    Are you familiar with St. Malachy’s predictions of the 112 popes? It’s not a bible prediction, but so far it seems to be valid. According to him, the present pope is the last at the end of the age. “In the final persecution of the Holy Roman Church there will reign Peter the Roman, who will feed his flock amid many tribulations, after which the seven-hilled city will be destroyed and the dreadful Judge will judge the people. The End.” True or false, we both may live to see it.

    Don’t get me wrong; I’m not bashing Catholics. There are many wonderful people who are Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Baptists, etc, but that’s not the issue. But for me, much of the doctrine in Catholicism is religious hoodoo voodoo.

    I agree the bible goes far beyond literal or figurative meanings. I would say it goes beyond normal human comprehension. 1st Corinthians 2:6-16 explains the spiritual origin of scripture; 1 Cor 2:14 “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Without the Holy Spirt I don’t see how anyone can make an honest or accurate assessment of the book. When critics analyze the bible, it seems in most cases, they have no knowledge of the customs, language, day to day living conditions, or the ability to comprehend what is said without twisting it.

    I would think you would be correct with the todays linguistics. But unless we can read Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic we’ll be reading a translation. The problem lies with many of todays translation where the translators have attempted to interpret the meaning of scripture, not just translation what it says. The KJV does have its problems but most translators feel it is the closest in meaning.

    There is a lot of information on there subject.
    http://www.baptisttranslators.com/content/view/51/50/ http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Bible/kjb_only.htm

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