13 July 2010

Everyone is an inerrantist

by Dan Phillips

Phil's recent (terrific) posts on BioLogos tangentially raise the issue of inerrancy once again. Many lodge the charge that some or all of the contributors at BioLogos either weaken or deny inerrancy, either openly or tacitly.

My contention is that they affirm inerrancy, every one of them. As surely as Phil does, as surely as I do, as surely as you do.

As surely as Christopher Hitchens does, as surely as Richard Dawkins does, as surely as Paris Hilton (or Perez Hilton, for that matter) does, as surely as the Pope does, as surely as Lindsey Lohan does.

Everyone is an inerrantist.

The only question is where we locate inerrancy.


The glandolatrous hedonist locates inerrancy in his senses; the Papist (and the, er, Pape-er himself) locates it in the teaching office of The Church™.

What of the BioLogos types? One might argue that they locate inerrancy in the scientistic fad du jour, the fad of uniformitarian macroevolutionism with a light dusting of God-talk on the top.

At this juncture, the retort might come "Oh no! All we care about is Science™ and The Evidence. If the Facts led elsewhere, we'd change in a heartbeat."

About that. Is Science a person, a monolith, a thing that speaks or writes? Or is it (as the word is popularly used) actually a particular philosophy? Are there other competing philosophies? Is there only one school of thought?

Are facts self-interpreting? How long has the current fad held the day? How long did previous fads dominate? Did previous generations say they were probably wrong and would likely be undone by the next generation — or did they all lay out their positions in just as absolute and self-assured terms as the current lot is doing?

Yet with all that, let us grant for the sake of argument that the BioLogos types really are sincere in their insistence that they'll go wherever the evidence drives them.  Then we must make three observations:
  1. Given their eagerness to throw out the plain reading of Scripture in Genesis 1-3, they obviously do not locate inerrancy in the text of Scripture.
  2. Given their eagerness to throw out the plain reading of Scripture in Genesis 1-3, they obviously are in fact provisionally locating inerrancy in today's scientistic consensus, over against Scripture. (That is to say: given that there is a push and shove between the majority view created on the assumption that Scripture is untrue on the one hand, and Scripture itself on the other, they are siding with the former against the latter. It is Scripture that must yield, to them.)
  3. Given their eagerness to throw out the plain reading of Scripture in Genesis 1-3, they obviously locate inerrancy in their own personal reason, their own ability to sort things out, their own (if you will) autonomous knowledge of good and evil.
The Christian position is radically different, by definition. It is a chastened epistemology specifically in that it is the way a man will think when God has broken his pride through conviction of sin, through a vision of the massive holiness and rightness and wisdom of God, over against the pervasive moral, spiritual, and noetic effects of human sin. It is the thinking of a man who has come to see that Jesus is Lord, and he isn't; who has come to the cross for life and light and wisdom; who has yoked himself to Jesus and confessed, "I can't see anything rightly unless I see it as You see it, which I learn from Your Word alone."

Creation is a classic He-said/they-said. Listen:
  • We begin our thinking with the premise that God the eyewitness cannot err in His revelation of what happened, or ...
  • We begin our thinking with the premise that man the non-eyewitness cannot err in his reconstruction of what happened.
Because everyone believes in inerrancy.

It's just a matter of where he locates the final authority.

Dan Phillips's signature

62 comments:

Patience said...

Hi Dan,

What you've written is very interesting! I probably shouldn't have read it right before trying to go to sleep.

I have a question. This requires me to go through a much needed shedding of pride!
What does glandolatrous mean?
It looks like idolatrous mixed with something else. I consulted google and checked the dictionary but nothing came up.

Mike said...

Clearly the evidence should bear the note of copyright ©.

DJP said...

Sorry about the sleep-deprivation, Patience. It's a word of my own coinage, meaning gland-worship. In other words, folks who have in effect canonized their feelings, and go wherever they lead.

Rob Bailey said...

This post makes me think of having an argument with my wife. In my pride, I want to make sure she knows I am right and she is wrong. Shameful. Evil. Counterproductive. Lousy dinner. Sleep on the couch.

In the big picture of inerrancy, it is not the biologos types that really worry me. What we have to deal with are the like of Kaiser, Waltke, and Culver. I studied their works for years, and then found out about their views on Gen 1-3. I have yet to be able to reconcile the way they interpret the whole of scripture and the way they interpret Gen 1-3. These men consider those who take a literal reading of the text to be only for idiots, feeble minded, dupes.

Tom Chantry said...

The Christian position is radically different, by definition.

This comment reminded me of a lecture I heard on Machen before I had read Christianity and Liberalism. The lecturer pointed out that the radical statement was embedded in the title. Machen did not write about liberal Christianity, or liberalism within Christianity. Instead, he pointed out that it was a wholly distinct position - incompatible with Christianity.

You seemed to make explicit what Phil has perhaps been hinting at: you could have titled your post "Biologos and Christianity" and meant exactly what Machen meant in his title.

And I entirely agree with what you wrote.

DJP said...

Being compared favorably with my hero Machen is definitely a my-day-maker. Thanks.

(c:

allen said...

Fantastic post, Dan.
"Chastened epistemology"--love that!

Our approach to, and handling of God-breathed scripture says more about us than it does about the scriptures.

"The scripture cannot be broken"_John 10:35; We will be broken--either now or later.

olan strickland said...

Everyone is an inerrantist.

Amen Dan! Our postmodern era gives all the empirical evidence one would ever need to verify even this obvious truth. This is precisely why men can claim to know truth and seek truth when in fact they suppress truth and reject truth.

Outside of having a "chastened epistemology" every inerrantist remains in error!

Merrilee Stevenson said...

What a keen observation you have made in this post! I have not had the luxury of following the comment threads on these posts, but have been encouraged over and over, and continue to be convinced that the Scriptures have authority over our lives, and well should form and inform our world view over everything.

A man (elder) at our former church presented a "talk" once regarding this issue (he teaches biology at a big university around here), and when asked why he believes in an "old earth," his response had something to do with "the overwhelming evidence" and that he didn't believe that God would lie. (Meaning that he believes that a god who would create something with the appearance of age must be tricksy and deceptive, and obviously the God of the Bible isn't tricksy and deceptive, so the world must have gotten that way through millions and millions of years.)

What I didn't pursue was the fact that he was the one deciding what was considered tricksy and deceptive--that the Evidence and Scripture had to match up to his liking, rather than starting from the inerrant and authoritative Scriptures, and understanding the evidence in light of Scripture, and going from there.

bp said...

That the created can think they are more intelligent than the Creator speaks volumes of man's depravity. Reminds me of a joke I read: When two egotists get together, it's an "I" for and "I".

philness said...

"Chastened epistemology" How cool is that. T-shirt, coffee mug, Carla?

Chris said...

Dan:

Great point/post today! While I could have never articulated it the way you have done so concisely, or even landed on this specific point in words, this thought--that everyone is ultimately committed to the inerrancy of those beliefs they pursue with their lives--was somewhere in my thinking yesterday as I was trying to explain to Jordan that we are all finite beings, by God's design, who are inherently dependent on something beyond ourselves (Romans 1). We either put that trust and dependency on the God who created us, by His master plan, and thus see the inerrancy of His word or else find some cheap knock-off brand of belief in which to do this from the vast flea market of religions and philosophies in the world. I like your example of even the hedonists, who may not necessarily appear to pursue academic study of beliefs, yet devote themselves to essentially nothing but pleasure and materialism...with a firm belief in the inerrancy of those things. I love that example!

In light of what you've said today, it makes the scientific lot that much more of a sad case, as their committed stance, they believe, is one of non-commitment until all the facts are in and they can apply the scientific method of repeatability etc. to their observations. How convenient, they delude themselves into thinking, that they are the final authority who have the right to sit and wait; they believe they have the authority to make final conclusions from their (mere) observations of God's created order. Their creed is "open-mindedness," which is simply self-imposed ignorance that does not remove accountability before God.

I was actually saddened yesterday by Jordan's sincere commitment to this sort of neutral zone as one who professes to keep an open mind towards the "merits" of evolution and likewise professing to be a Christian--as though God has allowed this option. I believe he is truly sincere in his research and apparent open-mindedness as a scientist, given the tone of his replies to my (closed-minded) absolutist statements. He seems quite smart, so it is not a matter of not understanding what I was saying in such statements; he never really seemed to be bothered by such statements, which saddened me even more--not because I like confrontation, but because even a sharp negative reaction to the absoluteness of God's truth might make it easier for him to be persuaded to accept it. However, despite his courteous and respectful tone of objective neutrality, his commitment to this principle of (scientific) open mindedness and/or apparent non-commitment (to either science or Christianity) seemed to dominate his thinking. The word "entitled" came to mind frequently yesterday as I read his replies, as scientists like himself display a sense of entitlement when they seem to think they can only commit and believe when they thoroughly understand and know. Of course, this is the complete opposite of God's order throughout the Scriptures (and a thorough understanding of all things is never promised). Hence, your post today makes it clear that people like Jordan believe in the inerrancy of neutrality or open-mindedness, which is such a spiritually dangerous illusion.

Chris said...

P.S. - sorry about the clarity glitches in that long comment; I wrote fast and never read it until after it posted (bad habit I need to stop doing).

Chris said...

While I have not wanted to get entangled in the specifics of the scientific discussions, but have rather wanted to follow Phil's lead of bringing things back to the authority and/or inerrancy of scripture, a thought occurred to me as I was reading particulars in the old/young earth discussions: 6,000 years ("young" earth) is incredibly old. Maybe I'm a simpleton scientifically, but I think the language of "young" and "old" earth create a false impression in the minds of all of us who see a world that obviously wasn't created last week. Because the evolutionists have created and indoctrinated the world with absurd, ideologically-driven time spans in the millions and billions of years is irrelevant. If we are honest, we cannot begin to comprehend or appreciate just how far from us 6,000 years actually is! There is nothing young about that, except in light of God's eternity.

Jordan said...

Chris:
Thank you the kind and concerned tone of your comments here.

I don't think I believe in the inerrancy of neutrality, in an ideal world neutrality is above all a curse. The fact of the matter though, this isn't an ideal world and I'm definitely going through a troubling time of trying to figure out what's what. As I try to understand God more and follow Christ there are lots of questions and confusing things.

I have the highest regard for God's Word but that doesn't mean I always have a firm grasp on what to make of it. I am committed to science to a significant degree because I believe that is what God has called me to be, a scientist. However, I am first and foremost a follower of Christ. In my own line of research there is no real conflict between the two. However, I am interested in two things, first how to reach my colleagues for Christ and second how to help young Christian scientists coming behind me have an easier way of it.

Anyway, I will take your comments to heart and pray about what you're saying. I can see your line of thinking and their may be some validity to it, but I don't think to the degree you ascribe.

Jugulum said...

Dan,

In general, how would you articulate the proper way for a Christian to also take into account our ability to err in our reading of revelation and the implications we draw from it?

(i.e., it's possible for scientific reconstruction or archaeological evidence to get it right, correcting bad Biblical exegesis on our part.)

Obviously, as you say, there's significant danger of handling that badly, where we end up giving a veto power to the current scientific fad--veto over the testimony of God's Word.

What discerning approach do you suggest for giving scientific & archaeological analysis a chance to correct mistaken exegesis, while avoiding the gross error of locating inerrancy in our reconstructions?

Tom Chantry said...

Jug,

I'm not Dan, but I'll say that's a wonderful question. I think the question is this: does the "evidence" point us to recognize exegetical points we never saw before, or does exegesis become the slave of "evidence."

That may not seem clear, so I'll illustrate. My professors were adherents of "Framework Hypothesis" - one of the way-stations on the highway to theistic evolution. FH rejects the duration of the creation just as does the day-age view, but it also rejects the sequence of the creation. It continues to hold to the initial reality of ex nihilo creation and to the uniqueness of Adam's creation - largely for the theological reasons Phil has been focused on here.

But the entire raison d'etre for Framework Hypothesis is a hopelessly muddled attempt to accomodate the Darwinian fad. Its failure is largely to blame for the growing influence of pure theistic evolution like that which is in vogue at Biologos.

I asked repeatedly, "What exegetical reason is there to adopt Framework Hypothesis." But of course there is none, for the simple reason that it is not the meaning of the words in the text.

External "evidence" might cause us to reevaluate and see something which we did not see before, but it ought not make us see what we could never have seen before.

Chris said...

Jordan:

First, I'm sincerely sorry to hear you are going through a difficult time in your life. I'll be praying that the Lord will give you clarity and an increased measure of faith to trust Him through it.

We spent quite a bit of time addressing a number of topics yesterday, so I won't repeat them again. However, what comes to mind in reflecting upon your comments yesterday and your comment today is Ephesians 6:10-18. The devil, whose primary objective is to distort the truth of God and cause confusion, seizes upon opportunities like your current circumstances to further confuse you and, I might add, is equipped with an arsenal of flaming darts--some in the form evolutionary "merits"--to attack your soul. As you have said, you are called to be a follower of Christ first and a scientist second; if God has indeed called you to be a scientist (to glorify God through acute observations of His creation), Satan can likewise make you believe you are shackled to your position as a scientist insomuch as he will attempt to reverse the order you have stated and even pit the one against the other. If that happens in our thoughts, we know we are under spiritual attack. My prayer for you is to be hyper-vigilant in a spiritual territory that is replete with enemy encampments; you cannot survive such a spiritual battlefield without protection. The enemy knows of no such thing as neutrality, although implanting such thoughts in the minds of fallen men and women is one of his greatest strategies of deception.

Mark B. Hanson said...

All three epistemologies Dan mentioned are (or should be) "chastened":

Scripture-based epistemology is chastened because we do not have the "original autographs", nor do we interpret perfectly. Nonetheless, the locus of our knowledge is properly located in the past, in what God has said.

Scientific epistemology should be chastened because no scientist believes all the facts are in yet, and there's always that pesky potential fact that can undo a ton of theories. The locus of scientific certainty is in the future - when we shall "know fully" (in the non-Biblical sense) - which seems a rather tenuous leap of faith to me.

Personal epistemology should be chastened by the simple fact that we do not, and cannot, know everything about anything, which means our current knowledge and beliefs about our world and ourselves are always incomplete. The locus of personal certainty is located in the present, what I know (or believe, or feel) right now. Tomorrow I may be different...

For myself, I much prefer to hang my hat on an imperfect knowledge of the perfect God and His revelation to an imperfect knowledge of myself or the future.

Mark B. Hanson said...

Sorry - last paragraph should be:

For myself, I much prefer to hang my hat on an imperfect knowledge of the perfect God and His revelation than depend on an imperfect knowledge of myself or the future.

Pooka said...

What I find really hard to take:

I experience heated lashings from people in my life because of the conviction that comes from what I'm learning in the Scriptures. A frequent response is to accuse me of being intolerant to other interpretations of the Word.

I'm guessing others get tagged as X-ites (where X is preacher or teacher or pastor) whenever my beliefs seem to coincide with Biblical teaching that (strangely) coincides with that of a Biblical teacher.

I'm just waiting for somebody to call me a DJP-ite or PJ-ite or, better, a TeamPyro-ite.

Biblical Inerrancy gets attacked ANY time pride feels at risk.

David said...

Jordan,

"I am interested in two things, first how to reach my colleagues for Christ and second how to help young Christian scientists coming behind me have an easier way of it."

If this is your goal, then I would say to you in complete and genuine sincerity, do NOT, repeat, do NOT go around telling them that a given scientific theory is evil, Satanic, the creation of the Enemy, a flaming dart and/or part of a spiritual attack. Trust me. If you take this approach, no one in science is going to listen to a single word you say after that.

You want to shut down the discussion? Then, by all means, go with the "flaming darts" approach.

Jordan said...

Chris:
Thanks for words and prayers. That comment is a real encouragement and I'm sure very Godly advice.

Mark B. Hanson:
Very well said.

Jordan said...

Tom Chantry:
Regarding your last paragraph:

'External "evidence" might cause us to reevaluate and see something which we did not see before, but it ought not make us see what we could never have seen before.'

Is that a difference of degree? I have a hard time seeing the difference because if I see something which I had not seen before doesn't it imply that I couldn't have seen it before?

I'm clearly not a professional theologian, but doesn't exegesis imply the use of analytic tools such as logic and reason? In that case, I could think of a few exegetical reasons why a Framework Hypothesis might be at least considered.

Mike B. said...

Biblical inerrantists believe that the Bible is an infallible source of truth that cannot be wrong on anything about which is speaks. The only thing that limits our ability to know these truths infallibly ourselves is the limits of our own ability to correctly interpret the sacred texts.

Scientists believe that we can know truth about the natural world by empirical observation of that natural world. We can collect data that is, essentially, objective (more complicated discussions of logical positivism aside). What limits our ability to speak infallibly about this truth is our ability to correctly interpret the data.

But there is a very big difference between saying that scientific data is objective and saying that scientists themselves are infallible. You can have great confidence in your conclusions without believing that you can't possibly be wrong.

Look at it his way. You believe that the Bible is inerrant, but I certainly hope that you do not believe that you yourself are inerrant. You would be foolish to think that you could not possibly be wrong about certain things which you assert about the Bible. However, this does not prevent you from having confidence in your conclusions and preaching them as doctrine and truth, especially where they fall within the historical consensus of the Church.

The folks at BioLogos and others are doing nothing more than this with their interpretation of scientific data.

This is where I think you get it wrong: "We begin our thinking with the premise that man the non-eyewitness cannot err in his reconstruction of what happened."

I don't think that anyone believes that our reconstruction of our origins cannot possibly be false. They are simply convinced that it is, in fact, true. There is a big difference.

Tom Chantry said...

To answer simply, exegesis by definition must proceed upon that which is found within the text. The reasons to adopt a reading must be textual, not extra-textual. Logic and reason are tools given to man by God to enable him to receive the truth in the text, not elements which help form the meaning of the text. The latter approach is not exegesis at all. It is either relativism or tri-perspectivalism, if there is indeed any difference. The so-called exegetical reasons for Framework Hypothesis are imported from outside the text because they simply don't exist within the text.

DJP said...

Mark B. Hanson - Scripture-based epistemology is chastened because we do not have the "original autographs", nor do we interpret perfectly. Nonetheless, the locus of our knowledge is properly located in the past, in what God has said.

That isn't what I meant at all, though. I mean it is the epistemology of a man whose self-confidence has been irremediably shattered, who has been surrounded by the truth of Jeremiah 17:9, and who has finally and consciously bowed the knee to God in His Word. He'd never say in effect (as the fellow Phil quoted) "If I find something better, I'll go with that."

It is the man who is chastened. Only thus can he be a disciple.

round.tuit said...

Bias is a given. The thinking of those who profess to be Christian ought to start from the Word of God. The Source of the beliefs of those profess to be Christian ought to be the Word of God.

Mike Riccardi said...

Dan, this was wonderful to read. Like taking a shower. Thanks brother.

recreatedinchrist said...

Of course "their" inerrantism is not exactly the same as our's, or Phil's. Since they start with themselves (Cartesian certainty), and end with themselves. Our inerrancy is grounded in and starts with Christ, and then of course ends with Him.

But I catch your drift.

Bobby G.

Gilbert said...

"Back off, man, I'm a scientist!"
-Dr. Peter Venkman

Sorry, had to. Anyway...there is Scripture, and then there's everything else, as Mr. Chantry posted. Christians can and do misinterpret Scripture, but they will be open to correction and chastening. That is what separates who is in the Truth, and one who is not in Christ.

Rob Bailey said...

There is truth, there is fact, and there is belief. Our responsibility before God is to get them all right in his eyes, and synthesize the three to His glory.

Chris said...

David:

At least you've made yourself clear that you believe it is far more important to fear man, and thus please him, than to fear God. Check Acts 17 to see that the apostle Paul disagrees ENTIRELY with your misguided words of counter-advice to Jordan. As soon as Paul mentioned the resurrection, the "wise" wrote him off as a crackpot and the party was over. True believers listened, however.

Ron said...

I know a brilliant philosopher and astronomer who contributed a lot in the field of astronomy and philosophy. He’s name was Guillermo Haro.
Guillermo Haro was very famous, and at the same time, very influential in the development of astronomy in Mexico, not only because of his own astronomical research but also by helping in the promotion of the development of new institutions for astronomy. Moreover, he defined modern astrophysical research in Mexico where he paved the way to various initial lines of research and established general scientific policies.

Chris said...

Ron:

It seems as though you have left something out of your comment, as I'm not sure where it is going with regard to Dan's post (on inerrancy) and/or the issues under discussion. Got more on this scientist and his beliefs?

David said...

Chris,

"At least you've made yourself clear that you believe it is far more important to fear man, and thus please him, than to fear God. "

I see that you entirely missed the point of my advice. The question is, does Jordan want to reach and/or communicate with science types or not? I know scientists. I know what turns them off. If Jordan or anyone else doubts the accuracy of what I said, by all means, try the flaming darts approach. See where it gets ya.

Ex N1hilo said...

Very insightful post. Goes to the heart of man's condition as a lost, spiritually blind rebel against God.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

DJP: "Everyone is an inerrantist.

The only question is where we locate inerrancy.
"

Wow. Love that last statement.

But what do we say to the theistic evolutionist or to the staunch egalitarian who responds: "We obviously locate inerrancy in Scripture. What a silly question."

Garrett said...

You made the distinction that Biologos "PROVISIONALLY [locates] inerrancy in today's scientistic consensus."

If that's the case, then is it really analogous to inerrancy, since all theories, to be scientific, must be falsifiable and that's not how us biblical inerrantists arrive at our conclusions? Science is inductive and any theory is provisionally accepted until further notice (subject to revision when more data comes in) yet biblical inerrancy is more deductive/presuppositional in nature. So that weakens the analogy, yet in practice I think science can be treated that way, so your point is definitely still valid in some respects. Some people do wrongly treat the current consensus as if it is inerrant. I think that's real bad science.

A few things caught my eye:

"Are facts self-interpreting?"

No, but they can be corroborated and independently confirmed by repeated testing in light of new data.

Question though (Phil has already helped me out a bit here): does the analogy of faith mean that we don't need to interpret the bible since it is self-interpreting, or merely that scripture itself is the only infallible interpreter of scripture? I mean, don't we still have to interpret scripture's self-interpretation? What do you mean when you say (as I think you would) that scientific facts aren't self-interpreting, but the bible is? I know that's really basic, but could you expand on what you meant by your question?

Garrett said...

Also this:

"How long has the current fad held the day? How long did previous fads dominate?"

Here's my problem with your logic Dan: When relativity and quantum mechanics came around, nobody put Newton in the garbage. Newtonian physics is true and useful, even though it wasn't the whole picture. So when theories that are 100's of years old undergo revision, that doesn't necessarily mean that they got everything wrong, only that they were right in a limited sense.

My point is this: the wide consensus is that common ancestry/old earth/old universe are SO fundamental and so well attested that even if a new revolution were to take place (I think one is already underway) it would be extremely unlikely that those elements would be tossed aside, since they are so basic, so integral, so foundational to so much of the data and the "current fad" shows no indication of that changing. When it does change, there is no reason to believe it will change so drastically that evolution/old-earth will be abandoned. Those seem to be with us for good.

The fact that you refer to the age of the earth/evolution as "fads" is very telling. They are much, much more than that; they are two of the most basic, well-attested ideas of science, period. In fact, you said to me a while back: "How much do you think is certainly known about what has been found? Anyone whose pose (and it is just a pose) is that he has no axe to grind, and is simply driven by the evidence, would be forced by honesty to admit that he has no idea whether the next find or the next method of testing or the next paradigm-shift might actually undo absolutely everything that has been found and thought thus far."

Dan, that is simply not so. Really. I am honestly forced to admit (yes, against all prior inclination as I was once a VERY committed YEC) that the next "paradigm-shift" will almost certainly not undo "absolutely everything that has been found and thought thus far." That WILL NOT happen, not to the extent you imagine. We have an extremely good idea that the evidence will not shift to the extent that common ancestry/old earth/old universe will be rejected, let alone "absolutely everything that has been found and thought thus far." To say otherwise, for me, would be took look you, a brother in Christ, in the eyes and tell a bald-faced lie, or, at the very least, give you a very misleading and ultimately false hope. There is no reason to expect that that scenario will ever pan out. And I'm NOT overselling it a bit. You reject core, foundational aspects that will, in all likelihood, never significantly change. Aspects will be revised, but not on the wholesale level you propose.

Here's why your statement is damaging: because kids like me go into the biological sciences thinking, as you do, "How could the most knowledgeable scientists actually believe this unsupported junk? Must be because they hate God." Oops. Maybe, just maybe, they've got some good evidence on their side. I felt like was set up for failure as I VASTLY underestimated what I was up against, thanks in part to the rhetoric of AiG and Kent Hovind. When you said "I'm puzzled that someone as knowledgeable as I'd assume you to be, and not wed to evolutionism as you aren't, objecting to my remark about evidence," I can completely relate, since I used to think the same thing. And it's NOT because you aren't familiar with the basics (trust me, I've still got tons to learn myself), but just because you're probably much more familiar with apologetics that purportedly refute the facts than the fine points of the facts themselves and why biologists interpret them the way they do.

Garrett said...
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Garrett said...
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one busy mom said...

they obviously locate inerrancy in their own personal reason, their own ability to sort things out, their own (if you will) autonomous knowledge of good and evil

Amen!!

That's really at the heart of everything isn't it? At some point we've all gotta decide who's boss - God or us. Fence sitting is a de-facto decision against God. If God is the boss, our imaginings don't judge His Word; His Word judges our thoughts.

recreatedinchrist said...

Garrett said:

". . . but just because you're probably much more familiar with apologetics that purportedly refute the facts than the fine points of the facts themselves and why biologists interpret them the way they do."

And yet this is the point, Garrett! The issue is certainly one of interpretation. Why do "biologists" interpret the *facts* the way they do? What is informing the way they interpret the facts? Why have ID biologists interpreted the facts differently than "mainline" biologists? Why do theologians come to different conclusions about the same Scriptures? Why do some theologians interpret passages in universal senses (like Jn 3:16); and others interpret them in particular senses?

There is something that is informing and shaping the interpretation; it is an a priori commitment to a certain framework --- the deduction is there with "science" as much as it is with certain theological loci. Of course there is a give and take dialectic that takes place between the deduction and induction relative to the interpretive process. Nevertheless, to me the question is why you've placed so much trust in the conclusions of these "smart" biologists who are clearly committed to an epistemological framework that is grounded in an metaphysic that is necessarily at odds with the Christian one?

I don't think "appeal to the peer" or the "people" makes anything "true," and yet this seems to be the basis for your idea on the longevity of neo-Darwinism --- indeed, I see it continuing on (but only insofar as I see atheism continuing until Christ comes back and every knee will bow).

Bobby Grow

SPQR said...

Rob Bailey wrote: "In the big picture of inerrancy, it is not the biologos types that really worry me. What we have to deal with are the like of Kaiser, Waltke, and Culver."

Great series, DJP and Phil. I appreciate the clear thinking about the authority of Scripture even in God being to tell us what He does and how long He does it.

Regarding the brother's quote above, what about John Piper and Tim Keller? They express doubts about the young earth made in 6 days:

http://www.edstetzer.com/2008/02/tim_keller_on_evolution_and_ot.html

http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/2445_what_should_we_teach_about_creation/

recreatedinchrist said...

Garrett,

One more point on my same line of thought. Why is it okay for there to be divergence and dissent amongst theologians; and yet within the realm of "science" it's not --- instead we have a supposed magesterium --- sure there can be dissent amongst scientists, but apparently only within the continuum of neo-Darwinian thought.

Bobby Grow

Pooka said...

Garrett,

The "current fad" that lasts so long and should persevere through the next paradigm shift is pretty simple: man-centered thinking. Of course it's going to last. It'll go as long as there are men trusting their own thinking.

There is one paradigm shift that has hit and will fully complete hitting in the future. That one is currently hitting people one at a time, blasting through the "laws of science and reason." That paradigm shift is Christ. And when He comes back in person, Everybody will get hit, even those who "successfully" held out for the fad until the end.

Don't they teach anything in Humanism 101 anymore? When I was in class, the 1st rule was DON'T TRUST ANYONE! And yet all these evolutioldearthists are trusting to their dying breath every stitch of their own medicine. So much for objectivity.

naturgesetz said...

" [T]he Papist (and the, er, Pape-er himself) locates it [inerrancy} in the teaching office of The Church™."

Not quite true.

The Catholic Church clearly holds sacred scripture teaches the truth of revelation "without error." Cf. CCC No. 107, quoting Vatican II Constitution on Sacred Scripture ¶11. So the Papist believes that Scripture is inerrant.

But of course Dan Phillips and I are not inerrant. So the teaching office of the Church is the instrument the Holy Spirit uses (John 14:26) to correctly interpret what he has inspired.

Tim Bushong said...

"So the teaching office of the Church is the instrument the Holy Spirit uses (John 14:26) to correctly interpret what he has inspired."

At least until the teaching office changes its mind...

Tom Chantry said...

At least until the teaching office changes its mind...

No kidding! "We can interpret however we want, and you must accept whatever we say, because we can interpret, not you!"

All your hermeneutics are belong to us!

The end result is a "church" which always agrees with its own contemporary manifestation, but never with its own history. And they're the ones constantly squawking about history!

Jugulum said...

Tom,

That's a good first draft--it gives "science" a voice without giving it a veto over Scripture. And I agree with your analysis of the problem with the Framework Hypothesis. But I'd have to modify your standard.

Background: We're talking about how to handle apparent conflict, where "I thought Scripture pointed me to X. But some physical evidence is pointing me to Y. But X & Y aren't compatible." I think everyone would agree that an acceptable response is, "So I reexamined Scripture, to double-check my exegesis."

Your standard: And during that reexamination, you're saying the standard should be, "If I discover that Scripture actually did point to Y, then I'll change to Y. If I find nothing in Scripture that would have pointed me to Y, then I'll stick with X."

Counterexample: I don't see anything in Scripture that points to heliocentrism. But I don't have to. Scripture doesn't have to teach heliocentrism, it simply has to be consistent with heliocentrism. (When I return to any passages that had seemingly taught geocentrism, I at least have to be able to legitimately say, "Hang on... It's reasonable to read that a different way," or "It turns out I was making an unnecessary inference, but the text wasn't actually saying X.")

My modification of your standard: "If I discover that Scripture actually did point to Y, then I'll change to Y. If I discover the Scripture says something other than X and is silent on Y, I'll be free to change to Y. If I discover legitimate ambiguity, I'll be free to change to Y. But if I can't identify any legitimate way to read Scripture other than X, I'll stick with X."

Pitfall: It's going to be very easy to deceive yourself--finding "ambiguity" in passages that really are clear. (Of course, that danger isn't unique to this situation. It's easy to let our preexisting theology/traditions/assumptions trick us into misreading clear texts.)

Part of the reason I bring this up: I've seen Christians say something like, "They don't get millions of year out of the text--they have to read that in." But that wouldn't be a problem if Scripture were consistent with millions of years--silent on the issue.

And incidentally: I haven't seen a reasonable alternate reading of Genesis 1-3, either. I'm just talking about the basic approach to resolving apparent conflict, with a high view of Scripture--because this aspect of the issue is important, it's relevant, and it's at the forefront of the minds of any theistic evolutionists reading Dan's post. And the post didn't even give a nod to the existence of a legitimate way to let scientific analysis correct our exegesis, without locating inerrancy in our scientific analysis.

Tom Chantry said...

Jug,

Good clarifications, and on first reading I think I agree.

The question is not just, "Does the Bible teach heliocentrism?" but "Is it silent on the issue?" or "Does it explicitly teach geocentrism?"

I would argue that it does not, but it does teach a six day creation quite explicitly.

naturgesetz said...

"The end result is a 'church' which always agrees with its own contemporary manifestation, but never with its own history."

Does this mean that there is something wrong with a church that agrees with its contemporary manifestation? Do you belong to a church that disagrees with its contemporary manifestation? Is "frequently disagrees with its contemporary manifestation, but always agrees with its history" one of the things that people should be looking for when they need to find a new church?

Actually, I didn't come here to debate the teaching office, just to point out that that, contrary to what Dan said, the Catholic Church believes in and teaches scriptural inerrancy. But since Dan had mentioned the teaching office, I thought it worthwhile to say a word about its role, which is clearly not superior to scripture. I think further discussion of the teaching office would be off topic.

DJP said...

We're not going to get into endless clarifications about each cult I've mentioned or am about to mention. The RCC may theoretically ascribe to "inerrancy" as it theoretically ascribes to monotheism and grace; then it undoes it by all the additional codiciles, decrees, and ever-growing layers of destructive dogmas.

Tom Chantry said...

My point was rather that the Catholic claim at absolute unanimity is purely spacial and not temporal. Rome can claim that all Catholics everywhere believe the same thing, because all agree with whatever the magesterium says today, but it cannot hope to claim that all Catholics ever believe the same thing, because yesterday's magesterium and today's magesterium are not in agreement.

That's a rather thin unanimity, if you ask me. We agree with everyone who is equally far from the source of wisdom (Christ Himself) as ourselves, but not with those who went before.

Now, I fully expect Dan to delete this comment, as indeed he should, since we're not going to talk about your cult any more. I promise not to write another word on the subject.

Solameanie said...

To say that John 14:26 gives biblical grounds for the Magisterium is really, really a stretch.

AJ said...

I just watched a video by Wretched that shows some guy from Biologos compromising Genesis, and trying to explain that he's not compromising the gospel.

It's kinda funny:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zSHecXK9Co

Kirby L. Wallace said...

Coming in late, here, but can anyone tell me what is meant by the term "locate inerrancy?"

Every time I try to insert a possible translation into "They clearly do not [locate inerrancy] at...", I come up with nonsense.

Someone help me out with the definition of this term. Thanks.

DJP said...

Taking that, against my first impulse, as a serious question:

locate: "to identify or discover the place or location of."

Instead of using "at," do as I do over and over and over again in the post: "in." In what does X locate inerrancy? In his feelings? His personal judgment? His church tradition? The moment's scientistic majority-vote?

DJP said...

Clearing up some loose threads.

So once again, here comes Garrett singing his usual song: "Really, really, I'm with you -- but the Amalekites are huge! We're going to get creamed! I mean, I believe just like you do, God and all that great stuff, go God... but seriously, they're so HUGE, and we're so SMALL! Just because God said to do it, doesn't mean we should actually do it! Look, there's got to be some other way, because, did I mention? They're HUGE!"

Nope, if you're a Christian, Garrett, the inerrancy of Scripture is not at all analogous to the pagan's claim (or location) of inerrancy. The Christian locates inerrancy in God's Word, because of God's character, and because he wants God to be God. The materialistic atheistic Darwinite locates it in himself because he wants to be God.

You are (as you have been shown repeatedly) dead-wrong about the nature of what is called "Science" today. It is far from inductive. Facts are not self-interpreting. The fad you find so alluring rests on a series of sheer assumptions, then cobbles together the facts accordingly. We have the same pieces, but it throws aside the "lid" that shows us what the correctly-assembled finished product would look like.

The Bible is communication, not a rock. God made us in His image so that we could know Him through His word, and He communicates just fine, to us and not in code. You really should have figured that out when you professed faith in Christ; you also really should have figured out that the "consensus" of God-haters always and definitionally will be that they are right and God is wrong. This was something that should have been settled in your conversion.

But now you keep looking back longingly at Egypt. I will do you the favor of telling you candidly that you do not at all come across as you insist on viewing yourself. You do not at all strike me as desperately wanting to believe the Bible, but being compelled by really terrific and unimpeachable Science to twist it or cast it aside. You come across as star-struck,desperately wanting the world's approval and acceptance, cowed by the world's publicity about itself. Every "ad" they put out, no matter how palpably false, gives you the trembles. I mean, good heavens, you still refuse to deal with the fact that on their own premises they do not and can never know enough to warrant the arrogant braggodocio that is their characteristic.

I'll just put it to you in closing. You need to deal with the central truth: is Jesus Lord, or is He not?

If you believe that He is, then He is your "overwhelming consensus," and you are sure He will prove correct in the end.

If you do not believe that He is Lord, then there is your issue.

DJP said...

Clearing up some loose threads.

So once again, here comes Garrett singing his usual song: "Really, really, I'm with you -- but the Amalekites are huge! We're going to get creamed! I mean, I believe just like you do, God and all that great stuff, go God... but seriously, they're so HUGE, and we're so SMALL! Just because God said to do it, doesn't mean we should actually do it! Look, there's got to be some other way, because, did I mention? They're HUGE!"

Nope, if you're a Christian, Garrett, the inerrancy of Scripture is not at all analogous to the pagan's claim (or location) of inerrancy. The Christian locates inerrancy in God's Word, because of God's character, and because he wants God to be God. The materialistic atheistic Darwinite locates it in himself because he wants to be God.

You are (as you have been shown repeatedly) dead-wrong about the nature of what is called "Science" today. It is far from inductive. Facts are not self-interpreting. The fad you find so alluring rests on a series of sheer assumptions, then cobbles together the facts accordingly. We have the same pieces, but it throws aside the "lid" that shows us what the correctly-assembled finished product would look like.

The Bible is communication, not a rock. God made us in His image so that we could know Him through His word, and He communicates just fine, to us and not in code. You really should have figured that out when you professed faith in Christ; you also really should have figured out that the "consensus" of God-haters always and definitionally will be that they are right and God is wrong. This was something that should have been settled in your conversion.

(to be continued)

DJP said...

(conclusion)

But now you keep looking back longingly at Egypt. I will do you the favor of telling you candidly that you do not at all come across as you insist on viewing yourself. You do not at all strike me as desperately wanting to believe the Bible, but being compelled by really terrific and unimpeachable Science to twist it or cast it aside. You come across as star-struck,desperately wanting the world's approval and acceptance, cowed by the world's publicity about itself. Every "ad" they put out, no matter how palpably false, gives you the trembles. I mean, good heavens, you still refuse to deal with the fact that on their own premises they do not and can never know enough to warrant the arrogant braggodocio that is their characteristic.

I'll just put it to you in closing. You need to deal with the central truth: is Jesus Lord, or is He not?

If you believe that He is, then He is your "overwhelming consensus," and you are sure He will prove correct in the end.

If you do not believe that He is Lord, then there is your issue.