Thursday, June 21, 2012

Old earth vs Young earth vs Infallible bible...

I've just listened to a debate between old earth and young earth creationists on the Unbelievable podcast feed. Fascinating stuff. But I think the debate helped reinforce my belief that both sides are wrong.

All four speakers in the debate were well educated, intelligent and erudite people. They all knew an awful lot of science and an awful lot of theology, and all of them could quote and cite loads of appropriate scientific studies and bible verses to support their side in the debate. Their performance in the debate was excellent. I have no doubt that I'd lose a debate against any one of them!

And yet, the thing that clearly shone out of the debate for me was the amount of intellectual acrobatics all four of them had to go through to get their presuppositions to fit with the facts of science and the verses in the bible.

I'll leave their thoughts on science to the side and focus on their attitude to the bible, as that was what fascinated me the most. All of them believe the bible to be the Infallible Word of God, and yet all of them accept that the Infallible Word is subject to flawed human interpretation. In other words, all of them accept that the Infallible Word does not speak clearly on any of the issues on which the debate touched.

This brought me back to a question that has troubled me for some time. How can anyone believe that the bible is infallible when they admit that it doesn't speak clearly?

This set me wondering, if the old earth vs young earth thing is totally open to interpretation, and things like the global (or local?) flood are totally open to interpretation, then what is there in the bible that actually isn't totally open to interpretation? What did Jesus' death on the cross actually achieve? Well, there's at least four incompatible schools of thought on that one. How and when will the world end? Again, several different schools of thought.

If you were to take away all the things that different groups of Christians interpret in incompatible ways, what would you be left with? Not much, I suspect. Would it actually be enough to build a belief system on? Well, given that there appears to be no such belief system built upon it, I suspect not.

All different systems of Christian belief are built on the shaky foundations of interpretations which some other Christians will disagree with. I'm sorry, but that's not good enough for me anymore. I can't find one system which appears more justifiable than the others.


Anonymous said...

Only leaving this because of the title of your blog...."Doubting Thomas". If you haven't already, read a copy of "Beyond Belief, The Secret Gospel of Thomas', by Elaine Pagels. Probably is in your local library, where I got it. It blew me away, if you are thinking about infallibility. God comes from within each of us...also rather interesting history of Irenaeus slamming Thomas to the dirt pile, while elevating John. If there was so much manipulation to get certain popular writings trashed, and certain writings elevated, who can justify infallibility?...more politics than the 2012 election. Especially considering that the Gospel of Thomas didn't view the established "clergy" a necessary part of your search for God. Thomas's author was one of the first anti-establishment revolutionaries in the Christian church.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to mention, and John is the only Gospel that slams Thomas...three times. Doubting Thomas, no wonder he might have packed up and went to India. Loads of fun reading the book.

Anonymous said...

I may not know the bible that well but I can easily read big bang and evolution into genesis 1. How much of the history that we read is true and how much is guesswork? We are all doubting Thomases. We have been conditioned from the time we start our education that science tells the truth. Yet are we so sure that the theories are not based on erroneous assumptions? Just face it, man may think he is smart but he is only the smartest among the creatures he knows. In the absolute sense man is pretty dumb as there are far more things he does not know than does. There are many things that we do not see but choose to believe. Like the physics of the universe is governed by a couple of mathematical formulas, or maybe just one. We just can't answer why and yet why is the very first question that a child who learn to speak ask. Old earth and young earth bible scholars have the same conclusion as to why and the debates is on how. Life is short and you will find out soon enough who is right or if anyone is right, if you are meant to. I don't believe I need to makeup my mind about anything as I have doubts about everything.