This morning, a tweet from Fuz Rana got under my skin. I should begin by saying that he seems like a nice chap and Reasons to Believe is less bad than Answers in Genesis. However, being nice and less-bad cannot save one from the fundamental error of treating the Bible as a confirmatory textbook for 21-century science. Behold:
If Scripture is true then the scientific record and biblical creation narratives should align.
"The Great Unconformity and the Cambrian Explosion Conform to Genesis 1"https://t.co/mGmBrI39KH pic.twitter.com/uJmssSjPrB
— Fazale Rana (@RTB_FRana) January 14, 2020
And now, my rant:
Christian apologists do enormous damage when they teach such facile & erroneous notions. The Bible is a dizzyingly diverse collection of ancient documents written in the worldviews (and obsolete science) of ancient people for the purpose of making us like Jesus (2 Tim. 3:14-17).
Rana’s treatment of the Bible is equivalent to saying the “Norton Anthology of American Literature” must be “true” only if it teaches contemporary science. The category is nonsensical, the demand erroneous, the conclusion bound to fail.
It’s like a chapter from Screwtape Letters: “This is how you undermine the Bible, Wormwood. Insist that for it to be “true” it must be “scientifically true”, the poems, the narrative, the law, the prophets, the proverbs, the epistles, the apocalyptic. All of it! Bwa-ha-ha!”
At that point, I decided that I was on a roll and so I segued to a more general rant pointing out the irony of evangelicals and fundamentalists who purport to defend the authority of the Bible while misinterpreting the Bible and thereby undermining its authority:
Christian evangelicals & fundamentalists are good at pointing out when they believe that Catholics or liberals are undermining “the authority of Scripture.” But the irony is that they undermine that authority all the time.
They do it when they read the Bible in a literalistic fashion which does violence to the varied genres and complex historical and literary contexts in which those texts were written.
They do it when they insist that the Bible must conform to 21st-century science in order to be the “Word of God.” They do it when they persuade themselves that the Bible supports American nationalism, civilian access to military-grade weaponry, opposition to legitimate refugee claimants on the southern border, endless blessings for upper-middle-class suburbanites, and support for (gag) Donald Trump.
So let me suggest that before you lecture others on what it means to undermine the authority of Scripture, you might consider getting your own house in order first.
And to think, all that from a single tweet. Yikes.