Bible

The real literalists

There is a kind of scholarship that starts with a very literalistic reading of a source text, finds contradictions in it, and concludes either that it is a combination of contradictory texts or that a very non-literal reading is justified. This is a method that seeks to justify one extreme by criticizing another extreme. No …

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Apparent age

If someone from an isolated, technologically undeveloped culture sees an electronic gadget, they may think this took a long time to make.  Does the gadget have apparent age?  No, someone is merely ignorant of how it was made. Similarly, Adam and the original creation did not have apparent age.  Some people may be ignorant of …

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Fourfold Gospel

There is one Gospel but four ways of understanding it.  These correspond to the four “Gospels”, that is, the Gospel according to Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John.  They each emphasize different aspects of the good news of Jesus Christ.  For example, see Characteristic Differences of the Four Gospels (which Kregel Publications calls “Four Views of …

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Faith that works

Is this a dispute about words? It could be but these are key terms and so much is bound up with them that it is important to get their meanings right. What is this faith that works? In the first place, this faith always leads to some action, and such action is always more than …

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Reductionism and kinds

Reductionism goes beyond naturalism to say that biology is reducible to chemistry which is reducible to physics.  The acid of reductionism turns fixed kinds into temporary kinds and differences in kind into differences in degree. The paradigmatic example of differences in kind is the periodic table of elements.  This structure is fixed and unchangeable.  But …

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All the literalists

Literalism means adherence to the explicit sense of a given text or doctrine. It is practiced by some Christians, who are called biblical literalists. But as Conrad Hyers (professor of comparative religion at Gustavus Adolphus College) noted, “one often finds a literalist understanding of Bible and faith being assumed by those who have no religious …

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Biblical geocentrism

Since the downfall of Ptolemaic astronomy, the Bible’s geocentric language has been an embarrassment to believers. Unbelievers spin the Galileo affair into a grand struggle between science and religion while believers hesitantly defend the Bible as speaking in prescientific terms. But when understood correctly, geocentrism is a valid position and one which we all use. The key is to …

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The Bible vs. secular historical sciences

The Bible is diachronic but secular historical sciences are synchronic.  Let me explain. The term “diachronic” arose in the study of the development of languages over a long time, which was the focus of linguistics in the 19th century.  But to make linguistics more scientific in the 20th century this changed to study languages as systems during …

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Biblical realism

Philosophical realism basically means that the objects of ordinary perception exist independently of our minds.  We apprehend objects independent of our understanding what happened or how they got here.  This common-sense realism is assumed by most people but denied by most philosophers since Descartes. Observations of objects do not need interpretation for us to record that something is …

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On Galileo’s Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina

Reference: Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo, tr. by Stillman Drake, Anchor Books, 1957 Galileo wrote a letter in 1615 “to the most serene Grand Duchess Christina.”  In his second sentence Galileo notes his opponents were “academic philosophers” who held “physical notions” he contradicted.  They were not ecclesiastical authorities as is so often claimed today.  He asserts …

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