Author Topic: Bible: "God Created The Universe"  (Read 46916 times)

Mbecker

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Re: Bible: "God Created The Universe"
« Reply #570 on: June 19, 2013, 03:26:42 PM »
The issues at stake concern the very scriptures which inform our faith.  Yes, we hold to the confessions by faith.  That is not in dispute.  What is in dispute is how we interpret the scriptures that inform those confessions.

A person's confidence in Scripture might be challenged by science and higher criticism, especially if they rely on reason rather than faith.  However, neither challenge God's Word.

Personally my confidence in Scripture is not challenged either by science or higher criticism.  However, we still have the issue of how that Scripture is going to be interpreted and whether it is interpreted on its own terms or those set by science and higher criticsm.  For myself I believe God's Word on faith.

Pr. E.,
Do Christians today understand Scripture "on its own terms" when they reject the biblical view that was nearly universally held prior to Galileo and Copernicus, namely, that the earth does not move, that the earth is founded on a foundation, that the sun and all objects above the earth are moving around the earth, that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west only to rise again in the east, that the earth is not spinning on its axis or orbiting the sun, and so on? There are hundreds of such Scripture passages if, "interpreted on their own terms," would lead people to reject the above modern view. There are far more such cosmological passages in Scripture than the few verses that speak of the creation of human beings.

Every biblical passage requires interpretation. No one escapes the challenges of interpretation that are present in every single biblical verse, every biblical word (or variant). If you allow modern science to inform your reading of the above cosmological passages in Scripture that "on their own terms" differ from modern cosmology, why not do so for passages that relate to the expansion of the universe, the natural history of the earth, and the evolution of species over the course of that natural history?

It is true that all biblical passages require interpretation.  "Taken on its own terms" simply implies that this interpretation be done according to the natural meaning of the word and verse.  I do not dispute that some passages in scripture are of a poetic and figurative sense, and that taking such verses in a wooden literal sense would misinterpret them.  The issues you present, I believe, can be well explained, in part, by noting the use of phenomenological language, some of it still used today, such as "sunset" and "sunrise," even in light of our knowledge of how the earth and sun are related in space. Others can be explained by a careful look at the text. I think that assuming that they all simply present a faulty cosmology fails to take into consideration how they should be interpreted according to the original, not necessarily how they are rendered according to a given English translation.  A major issue of difference in this debate is whether the opening chapters of Genesis are to be taken in a purely figurative and poetic sense.  If one holds to the prevailing theories of evolution one has to alter the way the text is translated to make it 'fit.'  I recognize that the modern theory of evolution is not the sole molithic explanation to the workings of the universe.  There are other valid explanations and theories held by equally credentialled scientists.

So do you think the ancient Israelites understood the truths of Copernican cosmology and just chose to represent their cosmological observations phenomenologically, that is, as they observed it on the basis of their earthly perspective? Or do you think they simply represented their understanding phenomenologically (or God allowed them to do so and did not correct their mistaken understanding)? In either case, the Bible does not present scientific information on cosmology but merely reflects the phenomenological perspective of the ancient Israelites.

I'm glad you bring this term "phenomenological" into the conversation, as I think it can also be helpful when considering why the ancient Israelites depicted God as creating the heavens and the earth over the course of six days. That sequence undoubtedly fit well with their phenomenological perspective on work: God the creator works like a good Jewish worker. He makes the heavens and the earth over six days and rests on the seventh.

So why not treat the sequence as a phenomenological description as well (a highly symbolic and figurative one), one based on Jewish assumptions about work and rest, and not as a scientific description? Why assume that the Bible is presenting scientific information on cosmology here in Gen 1, but agree that it is not doing so in other passages that deal with cosmological issues? Why allow phenomenological perspectives of ancient Israelites in those scriptural places, but not in Gen 1?

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Bible: "God Created The Universe"
« Reply #571 on: June 19, 2013, 03:54:52 PM »
Modern scientific theories and biblical criticism highlight the chasm between the limits of human reason and the boundlessness of God's wisdom.  We hold to the historic confessions by faith.  And, if we are to believe them, we have to do so by faith because the confessions are beyond our ability to comprehend by reason.


And yet, didn't Luther defend himself by referring to scripture and right reason? I also do not see us making any claims that our Confessions are from a divine origin devoid of the writers' reasoning abilities. What we have are the words of Luther, Melanchthon, and others in our confessions. We do not claim that they are the words of God.

Pr. Stoffregen - I admit that I struggle with the boundary between faith and reason, which comes first, etc.  I do not think that Luther was making the argument that he could reason his way into faith and that is the only point that I was making with that post.


True, we can't reason our way into faith; but we need "right reason" to properly understand scriptures. We are not the type who says of the Bible: "God said it. I believe it; and that's that." Luther certainly used his reasoning abilities to discover what God is saying to us in his Word. Luther certainly had to use his reasoning abilities when he translated scriptures into German. He used his reasoning abilities when he questioned whether James or Revelation should be part of scriptures.
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

readselerttoo

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Re: Bible: "God Created The Universe"
« Reply #572 on: June 19, 2013, 04:04:31 PM »
Modern scientific theories and biblical criticism highlight the chasm between the limits of human reason and the boundlessness of God's wisdom.  We hold to the historic confessions by faith.  And, if we are to believe them, we have to do so by faith because the confessions are beyond our ability to comprehend by reason.


And yet, didn't Luther defend himself by referring to scripture and right reason? I also do not see us making any claims that our Confessions are from a divine origin devoid of the writers' reasoning abilities. What we have are the words of Luther, Melanchthon, and others in our confessions. We do not claim that they are the words of God.

Pr. Stoffregen - I admit that I struggle with the boundary between faith and reason, which comes first, etc.  I do not think that Luther was making the argument that he could reason his way into faith and that is the only point that I was making with that post.


True, we can't reason our way into faith; but we need "right reason" to properly understand scriptures. We are not the type who says of the Bible: "God said it. I believe it; and that's that." Luther certainly used his reasoning abilities to discover what God is saying to us in his Word. Luther certainly had to use his reasoning abilities when he translated scriptures into German. He used his reasoning abilities when he questioned whether James or Revelation should be part of scriptures.

We confess that Jesus is God.  Do you take Jesus' Word as trustworthy?

John_Hannah

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Re: Bible: "God Created The Universe"
« Reply #573 on: June 19, 2013, 04:23:45 PM »
I am one who has never paid any attention to the classic American debate on evolution and creation. It is part laziness and part too much interest in other theological or scientific subjects.

Why is it not enough for the Church to simply confess the Nicene Creed? That was good enough for centuries and still is everywhere except the United States.

Peace, JOHN

For much of the Church's history it seems that when we said "I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible," there was relative agreement on what it meant for this one God to "make" the "heavens and the earth."  Since that time, with the advent of modern scientific theories and modern critical biblical studies one can no longer take this agreement for granted.  As the discussion here has revealed time and again it affects the very way we read the scriptures and how we interpret them. When we can no longer  agree even on the basic Genesis account as written, needing to reinterpret it in light of its supposed conflict with some prevailing scientific theories, or that we cannot agree even on the order of the Fall and death (did death come long before man's fall into sin, assuming there is agreement on what the "fall into sin" constitutes in light of evolutionary development), or what "death" the scriptures are talking about (physical vs. spiritual), or whether there was an actual "Adam" and "Eve" (as actual historic persons in a place called Eden), I think that this debate has great relevance for the Church.

Still what we believe about sin and death are confessed quite clearly in the Nicene Creed.

Peace, JOHN
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

D. Engebretson

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Re: Bible: "God Created The Universe"
« Reply #574 on: June 19, 2013, 04:40:31 PM »
So why not treat the sequence as a phenomenological description as well (a highly symbolic and figurative one), one based on Jewish assumptions about work and rest, and not as a scientific description? Why assume that the Bible is presenting scientific information on cosmology here in Gen 1, but agree that it is not doing so in other passages that deal with cosmological issues? Why allow phenomenological perspectives of ancient Israelites in those scriptural places, but not in Gen 1?

Taking Genesis 1 & 2 in its intended sense does not presume to provide a "scientific description" as much as it intends to allow the text to speak according to the natural use of the words given.  Why can the text not mean that God created the known world out of nothing by the power of His Word in a period of 6 days as the text naturally reads?  As one who is clearly all-powerful we know that God is capable of creating out of nothing.  We know that His Word is capable of such acts.  Why would it have seemed odd to the average Hebrew that an omnipotent God could do such a thing in the period of time recorded?  What in the text enourages us to take it figuratively since it reads as a straightforward narrative? And if we take the first 2 or 3 chapters figuratively, why not those that follow? If the text intended for these "days" to be seen as long periods of time, why was the Hebrew word for "eon" or "era" not employed to make that clear?  It still seems to me that the scientific theories one adopts, such as evolution, forces one to then determine the way one interprets the text, or reinterpret to make it fit.  Science dictates. 
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Bible: "God Created The Universe"
« Reply #575 on: June 19, 2013, 04:44:13 PM »
Modern scientific theories and biblical criticism highlight the chasm between the limits of human reason and the boundlessness of God's wisdom.  We hold to the historic confessions by faith.  And, if we are to believe them, we have to do so by faith because the confessions are beyond our ability to comprehend by reason.


And yet, didn't Luther defend himself by referring to scripture and right reason? I also do not see us making any claims that our Confessions are from a divine origin devoid of the writers' reasoning abilities. What we have are the words of Luther, Melanchthon, and others in our confessions. We do not claim that they are the words of God.

Pr. Stoffregen - I admit that I struggle with the boundary between faith and reason, which comes first, etc.  I do not think that Luther was making the argument that he could reason his way into faith and that is the only point that I was making with that post.


True, we can't reason our way into faith; but we need "right reason" to properly understand scriptures. We are not the type who says of the Bible: "God said it. I believe it; and that's that." Luther certainly used his reasoning abilities to discover what God is saying to us in his Word. Luther certainly had to use his reasoning abilities when he translated scriptures into German. He used his reasoning abilities when he questioned whether James or Revelation should be part of scriptures.

We confess that Jesus is God.  Do you take Jesus' Word as trustworthy?


Absolutely. However, what we have in scriptures are people's recollection of Jesus' words. Jesus, himself, didn't write any of the books of the NT. In addition, most people are dependent upon the words of a translator to make those words understandable. It isn't just a matter of trusting Jesus' words, but also trusting the writers of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; and the committees of translators who created the New Testaments that we are reading. When we read two or more translations - or even when we seek to translate from the original Greek (which is likely a translation of Jesus' words in Aramaic) we have to use our human reason to discern what we believe God is saying to us.
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Bible: "God Created The Universe"
« Reply #576 on: June 19, 2013, 04:46:11 PM »
So why not treat the sequence as a phenomenological description as well (a highly symbolic and figurative one), one based on Jewish assumptions about work and rest, and not as a scientific description? Why assume that the Bible is presenting scientific information on cosmology here in Gen 1, but agree that it is not doing so in other passages that deal with cosmological issues? Why allow phenomenological perspectives of ancient Israelites in those scriptural places, but not in Gen 1?

Taking Genesis 1 & 2 in its intended sense does not presume to provide a "scientific description" as much as it intends to allow the text to speak according to the natural use of the words given.  Why can the text not mean that God created the known world out of nothing by the power of His Word in a period of 6 days as the text naturally reads?  As one who is clearly all-powerful we know that God is capable of creating out of nothing.  We know that His Word is capable of such acts.  Why would it have seemed odd to the average Hebrew that an omnipotent God could do such a thing in the period of time recorded?  What in the text enourages us to take it figuratively since it reads as a straightforward narrative? And if we take the first 2 or 3 chapters figuratively, why not those that follow? If the text intended for these "days" to be seen as long periods of time, why was the Hebrew word for "eon" or "era" not employed to make that clear?  It still seems to me that the scientific theories one adopts, such as evolution, forces one to then determine the way one interprets the text, or reinterpret to make it fit.  Science dictates.


I also note that in Genesis 2, God never makes/forms out of nothing; but always uses something.
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

George Erdner

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Re: Bible: "God Created The Universe"
« Reply #577 on: June 19, 2013, 05:00:59 PM »
We confess that Jesus is God.  Do you take Jesus' Word as trustworthy?


Yes, but I recognize that sometimes Jesus uses hyperbole to make a point, so I haven't plucked out my eyes.

readselerttoo

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Re: Bible: "God Created The Universe"
« Reply #578 on: June 19, 2013, 05:10:33 PM »
So why not treat the sequence as a phenomenological description as well (a highly symbolic and figurative one), one based on Jewish assumptions about work and rest, and not as a scientific description? Why assume that the Bible is presenting scientific information on cosmology here in Gen 1, but agree that it is not doing so in other passages that deal with cosmological issues? Why allow phenomenological perspectives of ancient Israelites in those scriptural places, but not in Gen 1?

Taking Genesis 1 & 2 in its intended sense does not presume to provide a "scientific description" as much as it intends to allow the text to speak according to the natural use of the words given.  Why can the text not mean that God created the known world out of nothing by the power of His Word in a period of 6 days as the text naturally reads?  As one who is clearly all-powerful we know that God is capable of creating out of nothing.  We know that His Word is capable of such acts.  Why would it have seemed odd to the average Hebrew that an omnipotent God could do such a thing in the period of time recorded?  What in the text enourages us to take it figuratively since it reads as a straightforward narrative? And if we take the first 2 or 3 chapters figuratively, why not those that follow? If the text intended for these "days" to be seen as long periods of time, why was the Hebrew word for "eon" or "era" not employed to make that clear?  It still seems to me that the scientific theories one adopts, such as evolution, forces one to then determine the way one interprets the text, or reinterpret to make it fit.  Science dictates.


I agree and wish to push forward with these assertions:  Why is it not possible to let the text read as it "comes forth" toward us?  I acknowledge prejudicial arguments and presuppositions when the text "meets" me.  But why not say that coming from the words themselves toward the interpreter is affirming that there is complete unfiltered expression that meets our interpretation but stands outside of that interpretation as what it is.  Heidegger was able to make that step in terms of the horizon coming toward us as alien/separate from subjectivity.  Why not by way of  the scriptural text here specifically in Genesis 1 and 2?  Certainly as one who lives beyond the gate/boundary which God established after the fall, I can only peer back into Genesis 1 and 2.  This is not like subsequent events in history post fall that come forward from Genesis 4 and beyond. 

readselerttoo

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Re: Bible: "God Created The Universe"
« Reply #579 on: June 19, 2013, 05:14:50 PM »
We confess that Jesus is God.  Do you take Jesus' Word as trustworthy?


Yes, but I recognize that sometimes Jesus uses hyperbole to make a point, so I haven't plucked out my eyes.


Do you believe that when Jesus says:  "I am with you always even to the end of the age."  that he can be trusted and that he is addressing you and inviting you to trust in him when he says this?  It is His Word, is it not?  And when Jesus says:  "This is my Body given for you..." do you not believe that he is telling the truth and not lying to you?



By all means, if it offends...pluck away!  But you have to measure that and weigh how much offense is enough to require such drastic measures.  Hyperbole or not Jesus means what he says.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2013, 05:25:35 PM by readselerttoo »

George Erdner

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Re: Bible: "God Created The Universe"
« Reply #580 on: June 19, 2013, 05:35:10 PM »
We confess that Jesus is God.  Do you take Jesus' Word as trustworthy?


Yes, but I recognize that sometimes Jesus uses hyperbole to make a point, so I haven't plucked out my eyes.


Do you believe that when Jesus says:  "I am with you always even to the end of the age."  that he can be trusted and that he is addressing you and inviting you to trust in him when he says this?  It is His Word, is it not?  And when Jesus says:  "This is my Body given for you..." do you not believe that he is telling the truth and not lying to you?



By all means, if it offends...pluck away!  But you have to measure that and weigh how much offense is enough to require such drastic measures.  Hyperbole or not Jesus means what he says.


I believe that Jesus meant that He is eternal, and will therefore be with us "even to the end of the age", and beyond to infinity! I believe that from Jesus' perspective, there is no "end of the age", so that's another example of Jesus making a point without being literal.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2013, 07:45:10 PM by George Erdner »

scott8

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Re: Bible: "God Created The Universe"
« Reply #581 on: August 22, 2013, 07:12:36 PM »
One of the things I like about Peircean pragmatism is that it provides the necessary theoretical framework to investigate things like quantum physics.  I only bring this up because I just watched this short video on quantum computing via "PhD Comics" and realized that this was the type of thought that Peirce was recommending for investigation, even before quantum theory came to any real stage of development.  It is helpful for theology because it begins to explain how the Law/Gospel dynamic should be applied in any given situation and why such application isn't reducible to simple propositions guiding that application.  It is relevant to the debate regarding theology's relation to science because it helps to show how highly contextual factors can and should lead to different conclusions, such that conclusions reached in one field do not dictate how another field solves the problems it encounters.

In any case, if you're interested, enjoy this video...

pearson

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Re: Bible: "God Created The Universe"
« Reply #582 on: August 22, 2013, 07:51:44 PM »

One of the things I like about Peircean pragmatism is that it provides the necessary theoretical framework to investigate things like quantum physics.  I only bring this up because I just watched this short video on quantum computing via "PhD Comics" and realized that this was the type of thought that Peirce was recommending for investigation, even before quantum theory came to any real stage of development.  It is helpful for theology because it begins to explain how the Law/Gospel dynamic should be applied in any given situation and why such application isn't reducible to simple propositions guiding that application.  It is relevant to the debate regarding theology's relation to science because it helps to show how highly contextual factors can and should lead to different conclusions, such that conclusions reached in one field do not dictate how another field solves the problems it encounters.

In any case, if you're interested, enjoy this video...


Thank you for this, Professor Yakimow.  Wonderful.

And as you know perhaps better than I do, your description -- particularly "such application isn't reducible to simple propositions guiding that application" -- also pretty well sums up Aristotle's account of ethics, to which I am gleefully partial.

But who is this Peirce fellow?  (Yes, Scott paid me to ask that).

Tom Pearson

scott8

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Re: Bible: "God Created The Universe"
« Reply #583 on: August 22, 2013, 08:09:37 PM »
But who is this Peirce fellow?  (Yes, Scott paid me to ask that).

The most important and creative thinker in American history.

Weedon

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Re: Bible: "God Created The Universe"
« Reply #584 on: August 22, 2013, 08:23:33 PM »
He just sounds like he's mimicking Luther in his Disputation on the Word Made Flesh... :)