Faith plays no role in literal truth
Published: Monday, February 4, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 4, 2013 20:02
I would like to respond to an article that was published a few days ago in The Reflector titled “Religious truths do not negate scientific information and discovery.” In it the author argues that reality couldn’t possibly conflict with the science-related content in the Bible:
“From a biblical standpoint, religious views must be compatible with rational demonstrations because both come from God. In the case of Christianity, the Holy Spirit’s revelations from scripture and from natural phenomena are not able to disagree except in their interpretation.”
The argument is reality will inevitably line up with biblical revelation and that where we see inconsistencies is just a matter of error in our biblical interpretations.
But the author makes a second argument, stating that it’s unfair to fault the Bible on the basis of science, since it was never intended to be a science textbook.
“Additionally, scriptures should not be read as a textbook on science because much of what was written was not trying to make claims about natural law.”
I would first like to mention that the article focuses on the Judeo-Christian religion, so it’s not addressing a broader form of the issue, which would need to be looked at separately.
Now for the first argument, which sounds like one of those cheap excuses you give to your professor for not doing your homework. It’s very easy for anyone to defend or rationalize his or her faith by deflecting all criticisms with an interpretational argument, which, sadly, isn’t a persuasive form of argumentation.
It isn’t concrete, can be used disingenuously for the sake of argument (which happens a lot in apologetics) and people usually twist it to fit their own interpretation. But this argument in and of itself goes nowhere.
To say that other people are interpreting it incorrectly is to give your own interpretation, which makes your opinion no different from theirs. This isn’t to say that your interpretation is worthless or even incorrect. The point is that you need to give something more than what your counterparts are giving for who has the most accurate interpretation if you are seeking to convince others.
On to the second argument. I would agree that the Bible was intended to be a spiritual text. But it’s easy to show that it was much more than that.
It was meant to establish law, order and rule. It also posited a bunch of world answers, as it purports to have divine knowledge about the world.
Perhaps in this arena is where, even if done unintentionally, it makes bold claims that conflict with what we have observed empirically.
Claims such as the earth being flat and the heavens being what we now know as outer space. Claims such as prayer healing people or people having souls.
Of course, one inaccuracy in the text doesn’t invalidate every other claim in the text, but its scientific inaccuracies do say a lot about how trustworthy it is scientifically and it casts doubt on how much of the text contains any truth. It raises huge challenges to the idea that it was divinely inspired, especially by the supposed Judeo-Christian God.
If I were reading a book that I found to be riddled with inaccuracies, I would put it down. And if I continued reading, I would take everything with a grain of salt. I wouldn’t just absorb everything it was saying. And if I were planning to live my life by a book and found out that some of what it said was demonstrably false, I wouldn’t brush it off so lightly. I would have to critically investigate my faith.
It depends on how much someone values the truth and what they want the truth to be. If you want the “truth” to be that your religion is true, then you will probably find some way to vindicate the “truth” of your faith.
But if you are interested in the literal truth, then you will be willing to discard your faith on the basis of evidence, reason and integrity.