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About The Author
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May 21, 2017
Naked Bible Podcast Episode 136: Ezekiel 21-22
December 10, 2016
Naked Bible Podcast Episode 172: Melchizedek Q & A
August 19, 2017
Naked Bible Podcast Episode 42
March 27, 2015
As a what I guess would fit best with “full-inerrancy” proponent, I have a couple points to be made in the defense of the scientific credibility of the bible:
1. Why can’t God have inspired the bible to get it’s scientific and historical statements right? You acknowledge that God providentially ensured the bible made correct truth-claims with regard to the spiritual realities and theology. Why can’t he do that for every truth claim? You don’t need some crazy X-files view of inspiration to get a scientifically accurate bible. God can easily ensure through providence that author never writes “the earth is flat and domed” even if the author believes it. I simply do not see any reason to make distinctions between different types of truth (science, history, theology, geography, etc.).
2. The cosmic tree would be, both to the modern reader and the original audience, obviously non-literal. No such tree physically exists, you don’t need science for that, nobody in Assyria, the Levant, or Mesopotamia ever saw this tree. They weren’t stupid, they can use metaphors and phenomenological language to describe things. They could look up in the sky and plainly see there is no giant tree extending throughout the clouds and down into the depths of the earth.
3. The sky being a “solid dome” doesn’t seem to have much of a case either. For instance Job 37:18 “Can you, with Him, spread out the skies, strong as a molten mirror?” does not in any way have to be a statement of the state of matter of the sky (solid, liquid, gas) the “strength” could be a reference to how strong the sky is, it doesn’t wither away, fall, etc. it is strong and does not fail day or night. Genesis 1:6-8 has waters above and below the “rakia”, so? That’s not untrue, it still corresponds to reality. There are waters above and below the atmosphere. Even if the author believed the “rakia” was a solid dome, the bible isn’t describing it as such simply by using the word “rakia”.
4. I doubt the original audience actually believed that mountains were literally pillars holding up the sky. At most it’s phenomenological language based on appearance. But they could climb some mountains, they had been to the top of the mount of olives and Hermon. It is also plainly obvious to anyone looking at a mountain range that the mountains differ radically in height. So they would have to be pretty spotty support-devices in that case.
5. Lastly, on Hebrews 7, allegedly claiming the whole person lies in the lions of a man, they would also know that wasn’t literally true because to any people, at any time it is clear that children bear traits from both the mother and the father. I think this was always intended to be taken as poetic language, not scientific language.
Ultimately I see no reason to reject a full view of inerrant, i see no verse that describes the world in a way that does not correspond to reality (though is sometimes consistent with many different cosmologies, including actual cosmology), and see many verses that do indeed correspond to reality quite well. (clouds being made of water, the earth being suspended over nothing, there being valleys, springs, and mountains underwater, etc.) and indeed a quite strong apologetic can be made from it.
1. The problem is that there are things in the Bible that aren’t sustainable as science, like its cosmology. It’s demonstrably untrue. For me, that doesn’t undermine biblical inspiration or even inerrancy (both terms require definition and, like lots of other scholars and non-specialists, I have definitions I use), but it does undermine the premise that the Bible is scientifically accurate. When we can shoot probe to Mars and it doesn’t crash through a dome (and when thousands of satellites don’t crash into one), there’s no dome.
2. I’m not sure why you’re assuming it’s non-literal to the ancient. The idea is that such a tree once was, and was toppled. Other mythologies have the mountains being “made” of such a tree. In biblical thought (note Ezekiel), the tree is now home to the birds and animals — i.e., it’s part of terra firma. So even if we say you wouldn’t expect to see the remnants of this tree, the idea that (a) there was such a thing and (b) that it in part explains the earth’s composition are both unscientific. Biblical thinking also has Jerusalem as the navel (center) of the earth. It isn’t.
3. Then what’s the raqia? Some other solid object besides the dome? It’s there and is called “sky”. God walks upon it. Job 37:18 says the skies are “hard as cast metal” (you picked a translation that fudges the lemmas). So does Prov 8:28 – “he made the skies firm.” Firm is firm. There’s no ambiguity about these Hebrew lemmas.
4. You doubt it because you’re modern. It’s phenomenological language to you because you know better. Have you ever been to the “mount” of Olives? Calling it a hill is generous. That isn’t what we (or they) were talking about. And what about what they couldn’t see — the pillars under the earth? The “foundation” on which the earth was set. It’s not set on a foundation. It just isn’t.
5. They’d presume that shared traits were the result of the father’s planting the seed and the growing process inside the womb. The point isn’t that they thought the woman played no role. It’s that they didn’t understand what that role was scientifically. They weren’t doing genetics either (or even doing what Gregor Mendel did).
Also in order:
1, I dispute the claim that the bible teaches a fallible cosmology. I think looking for alternate interpretations of the bible or science is a better way to go than weakening the doctrine of inerrancy,
2. Why assume that because it’s ancient it’s literal? They weren’t stupid. And neither is God. They know how to use metaphor. Like with the tree. And is the bible claiming Jerusalem as the center of the earth? Not really, it’s claiming it’s the most important. It doesn’t have to be the center in a literal, physical sense.
3. The raqia defined in Genesis 1 as the sky or atmosphere. I dispute that it is literally claimed to be solid. All the language you quoted “hard’ and “firm”, especially the latter, can refer to strength. The sky is strong and unbroken. Atleast according to biblehub “firm” is not a reference to the physical state of matter, but of strength. http://biblehub.com/hebrew/553.htm , I really see no reason the “hard” language should be taken as literally expressing the physical nature of the raqia. But than, you know more hebrew than me, so feel free to demonstrate why it absolutely must be taken that way.
4, Same word isn’t it? Hill/Mountain = “har”. And again I point out, even with the larger mounts, they can still see that they are pointed and of varying heights, not protruding through a dome. The pillar language can be taken as metaphorical. Ancient people were capable of metaphor and phenomenological language too. And since the “Eretz” at it’s maximum extent appears to be refering to the surface of the earth (what we would call the crust), the “foundation” could easily be viewed as everything below that.
5. They may have presumed that, but even that is still a role in the process. Sure they didn’t understand genetics, but we they understood isn’t relevant to the text, the text only says “for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.”, it seems a wild leap from that to say the text is describing the entirety of a person within the loins of the man. “he” doesn’t need to refer to the whole person. Both we and they sometimes use the same pronouns to refer to dead bodies and disembodied spirits, neither of which are the whole person. Even if they believed the whole person came from the man, it isn’t in the text.
Sorry to be so lengthy, but I am very passionate about this issue, because I have seen many credible apologetics from the scientific validity of the bible. And I also think once we start arbitrarily limiting inerrancy to specific categories of knowledge (science, history, etc.), it’s a very slippery slope to denying inerrancy altogether. Then we just have feeling-based Christianity because you can’t believe anything in the text.
I can’t recall where we’ve even at here. There is simply more than one way to define inerrancy. That’s always been the case. Neither you nor I can rewrite the history of the discussion.