Hermaneutics, Interpretation of Scripture and General Revelation

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Feb 10, 2015
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Major and bobinfaith and I have been discussing the interpretation of scripture, particularly as formalized as Hermeneutics.

Rather than take that thread farther afield from the original post, I would like to re-start it here and invite whomsoever wishes to participate.

Before I get into it, let you know where I am coming from, I will start with a brief personal history. Actually, it may ramble a bit since I find it helpful to write it all out. Please be patient

I am the son of a missile physicist and was taught to love the sciences from a young age. I was exposed to several discussions for young scientists and found that several aspects of the presentation of aspects of time, as well as atomic theory got me thinking about the relationship between God and creation.

I accepted Christ during High school and started attending church. My congregation included such persons as the head of the astronomy department at the local college, and although he was not my astronomy professor, he was instrumental in defining the curriculum presented to me in class. I did attend one of his lectures concerning possible explanations of the Christmas star. The upshot is that my specific congregation did not look at the sciences as competing with scripture.

If you look at my avatar or icon, you will see symbols for the Cross and Bible and a little (and unrecognizable) detail from a painting of the blind man washing his eyes at the pool of Siloam (John Ch 9). You will also see a depiction of an atom (in this case a lithium atom which has significance), and an hourglass with a sparkle overlaid. The atom reminds me that the movement of everything, including all subatomic particles do so by direct will of the creator. The sparkled hourglass represents creation of time, since one of my realizations was that time was created as part of the creation of things (as was stated in a science presentation). I have found this to be a very helpful in understanding that Gods view of time and history is from the outside (since he created time) and not necessarily moment by moment, yesterday before today and next year, while man is created as a creature within time and cannot understand the universe except as an orderly sequence of events. Many things in scripture that are confusing are made less obscure if one adjusts the supposed point of view to the correct one, which may be different in different passages of scripture. These realizations predated my acceptance of Christ and were indications of the Lord preparing me.

In the 50 or so years since High School and accepting Christ, I have always looked for ways to join my technical education and enjoyment of reading popularizations of physics with my spiritual faith. The Lord made this universe. It came into existence as the Lord spoke, so in that sense it is also quite literally the word of God. The universe bears its makers mark. Romans 1:18-23 shows that God intended us to learn about Him by studying the universe, but we have failed to understand what He placed there. For a Christian, the study of the sciences is an effort to correct this failing.

So when it comes to the interpretation of scripture, I think it is incumbent upon us to employ general revelation through the workings of the world God made as well as special revelation (the Bible). 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 instructs us that by examining everything, particularly our understanding of the scriptures, we do honor to both the Scriptures and to the Lords creation.

However, throughout my 50+ years in Christ, few pastors would agree. This has been the cause for much meditation and has impinged on my fellowship in several congregations. Most hold that the Bible can teach us about the world, but God’s creation should not be used as a check on our understanding of Scripture. I am a lay person, and neither am I a scientist, although I had a career in technology (developing software for military and civilian agencies). So I am an authority on neither side,
 
Sep 3, 2009
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Major and bobinfaith and I have been discussing the interpretation of scripture, particularly as formalized as Hermeneutics.

Rather than take that thread farther afield from the original post, I would like to re-start it here and invite whomsoever wishes to participate.

Before I get into it, let you know where I am coming from, I will start with a brief personal history. Actually, it may ramble a bit since I find it helpful to write it all out. Please be patient

I am the son of a missile physicist and was taught to love the sciences from a young age. I was exposed to several discussions for young scientists and found that several aspects of the presentation of aspects of time, as well as atomic theory got me thinking about the relationship between God and creation.

I accepted Christ during High school and started attending church. My congregation included such persons as the head of the astronomy department at the local college, and although he was not my astronomy professor, he was instrumental in defining the curriculum presented to me in class. I did attend one of his lectures concerning possible explanations of the Christmas star. The upshot is that my specific congregation did not look at the sciences as competing with scripture.

If you look at my avatar or icon, you will see symbols for the Cross and Bible and a little (and unrecognizable) detail from a painting of the blind man washing his eyes at the pool of Siloam (John Ch 9). You will also see a depiction of an atom (in this case a lithium atom which has significance), and an hourglass with a sparkle overlaid. The atom reminds me that the movement of everything, including all subatomic particles do so by direct will of the creator. The sparkled hourglass represents creation of time, since one of my realizations was that time was created as part of the creation of things (as was stated in a science presentation). I have found this to be a very helpful in understanding that Gods view of time and history is from the outside (since he created time) and not necessarily moment by moment, yesterday before today and next year, while man is created as a creature within time and cannot understand the universe except as an orderly sequence of events. Many things in scripture that are confusing are made less obscure if one adjusts the supposed point of view to the correct one, which may be different in different passages of scripture. These realizations predated my acceptance of Christ and were indications of the Lord preparing me.

In the 50 or so years since High School and accepting Christ, I have always looked for ways to join my technical education and enjoyment of reading popularizations of physics with my spiritual faith. The Lord made this universe. It came into existence as the Lord spoke, so in that sense it is also quite literally the word of God. The universe bears its makers mark. Romans 1:18-23 shows that God intended us to learn about Him by studying the universe, but we have failed to understand what He placed there. For a Christian, the study of the sciences is an effort to correct this failing.

So when it comes to the interpretation of scripture, I think it is incumbent upon us to employ general revelation through the workings of the world God made as well as special revelation (the Bible). 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 instructs us that by examining everything, particularly our understanding of the scriptures, we do honor to both the Scriptures and to the Lords creation.

However, throughout my 50+ years in Christ, few pastors would agree. This has been the cause for much meditation and has impinged on my fellowship in several congregations. Most hold that the Bible can teach us about the world, but God’s creation should not be used as a check on our understanding of Scripture. I am a lay person, and neither am I a scientist, although I had a career in technology (developing software for military and civilian agencies). So I am an authority on neither side,
All of that is good to know my friend and anyone reading your post will know that this is a special concern for you.

You said...………..
"Many things in scripture that are confusing are made less obscure if one adjusts the supposed point of view to the correct one, which may be different in different passages of scripture. These realizations predated my acceptance of Christ and were indications of the Lord preparing me."

My experience has been that the more I study and dig deeper into the Bible, my questions of the Bible disappear on any given subject.

I feel like and this is just me, that you are not telling us all that there is to know. I say that because I am confused at how any church would not honor the story of the Creation as found in the Bible.

Now having said that and you are free to disagree with this but let me ask you about a situation that, unfortunately, is more common than it should be and see if this fits your conundrum. To me, the Creation of God is what it is as found in the Bible. Now there is under that umbrella...……."Young Earth Theology" and there is also "Old Earth Theology".

Lets assume that your pastor confidently declares, "the Bible says the earth is young, so you should believe it."
But at another church you've been attending a Sunday School class because it's taught by a close friend, who has explained (as an expert geologist) why science shows the earth is old, and (as a theologically conservative Christian who has studied the Bible carefully) why Genesis does not teach a young earth. But your pastor insists that Genesis 1 must be interpreted as six 24-hour days. And what about the geology? You're not a scientist and neither is your pastor, but when you ask him about this he loans you a book by young-earth scientists, and their arguments seem to make sense. Your pastor wonders why the pastor of the other church lets your friend teach, and you have questions.

Am I getting close to what is your concern??? If this is your concern then you are not alone. If NOT then ignore the rest of this and I will move on.

Again, it is just me , but I do not understand the phrase you used ……………………...
"but God’s creation should not be used as a check on our understanding of Scripture."

First of all may I say that Genesis teaches us about Creation...…...NOT AGE!
I believe that Genesis is Age Neutral.

Second, Is belief in a young or Old earth an essential Christian doctrine? No.

Third, If the earth is billions of years old, and animals died before humans sinned, is this theologically acceptable? Yes.

Remember, the full gospel of Jesus — including His deity, virgin birth, teaching, and miracles, sinless obedience to the Father in life, substitutionary atonement in death, victorious resurrection, ascension into heaven, and second coming — is fully compatible with a young earth or old earth.

Also, the Bible and science cannot be compared. But we can compare our interpretations of the Bible (in theology) with our interpretations of nature (in science). And we can look at the mutual interactions between our views of spiritual reality (in theology) and physical reality (in science).

God has graciously provided us with two sources of information, in scripture and nature. For the most important things in life — for learning about God and how He wants us to live and love — the Bible is much more important. But for other questions we don't have to make an either-or choice; -----instead, we can learn from both scripture and nature, and our understanding of total reality (spiritual plus physical) will be more complete and accurate.

Two good ways to think are in Psalm 19, where an appreciation of God's dual revelations in nature ("the heavens declare the glory of God") and scripture ("the law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul,... giving joy to the heart") inspires a personal dedication:
"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer."
(https://www.asa3.org/ASA/education/origins/ye-cr.htm)
 
Feb 10, 2015
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Am I getting close to what is your concern??? If this is your concern then you are not alone. If NOT then ignore the rest of this and I will move on.
Yes Very close, although of late I have been considering things of more fundamental nature (there is close lock-step between big-bang theory and the first verses of Genesis 1). Also, I have been considering the strange things coming out of Quantum Mechanical research and how that sheds light on aspects of God.

Also, the Bible and science cannot be compared. But we can compare our interpretations of the Bible (in theology) with our interpretations of nature (in science). And we can look at the mutual interactions between our views of spiritual reality (in theology) and physical reality (in science).
The paleontologist Steven Gould (agnostic but of Jewish ancestry) proposed the principle that science and religion are "non-overlapping magestera", meaning that they are alternate but incompatible means of understanding. For awhile, I was content (sort of) with that, but as I watched the antagonism grow between faith and science, I felt that it was ducking the issue.

There are many that will not go near a church because they think it is anti science. There have also been many times that if the faith community showed a little humility, it could have scored points among the scientifically trained if they took that new knowledge and applied it to theology and said in effect "Thank you, we had misunderstood what the Bible was saying but now we can see that this is that this information clears that up".

For example: Christians always knew that there was a beginning. But at the time of Darwin, scientists were trying to treat the Universe as eternal. As late as the early 20 Century, there were debates over steady state universe vs inflationary, Scientists were speculating over how new stars could replace old stars in an unending manner. Evolution was the first scientific theory that pointed to a beginning. That is a great sea-change for science (and they adjusted), but because the faith world could not abide by being critiqued from outside the church, they began a war against science in general and evolution in particular.

Consider what Augustine wrote:
Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful graceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense sense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser
John Hammond Taylor;Augustine. St. Augustine: The Literal Meaning of Genesis (Kindle Locations 496-505). Kindle Edition.​

Now this is not scripture and I would not treat it as such, but I do see wisdom here.
 
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Consider what Augustine wrote:
Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he holds to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful graceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense sense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of the faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser
John Hammond Taylor;Augustine. St. Augustine: The Literal Meaning of Genesis (Kindle Locations 496-505). Kindle Edition.​

Now this is not scripture and I would not treat it as such, but I do see wisdom here.[/QUOTE

I am familiar with what you are saying. It is extremely hard for some to grasp man living along side of dinosaurs in the Early Earth theology.
However, that is exactly what that theology says.

The scientific predictions of young-earth "flood geology" don't match our observations of reality, so young-earth science fails in these reality checks.

1). Abundant evidence from a wide range of fields — studying sedimentary rocks, coral reefs,
2) Geological and biogeographical patterns in the fossil record
3) Sseafloor spreading and magnetic reversals, genetic molecular clocks, radiometric dating, the development of stars,
4). Starlight from faraway galaxies, and more — indicates that the earth and universe are billions of years old.

But the Bible account of generations in Numbers and Genesis date Creation back to only 6000 years ago. THERE is the rub!!!!

So the we have multiple independent confirmations, and if all of these fields are wrong we must discard much of modern science. When scientists carefully study the wide range of evidence, almost all think this evidence is overwhelming, and an old-earth conclusion is almost certainly true.

This isn't likely to happen, nor does it seem desirable to happen. We just can not live in a world of make Believe and ignore the obvious all in the name of FAITH.


The problem also comes from the obvious. We cannot observe ancient history. Proponents of a young universe ask...……….
"Were you there? Did you see it?", and imply that "no" means "then you can't know much about it."

But scientists can logically evaluate the evidence produced by past events, and historical sciences provide reliable ways to learn about the history of nature and provide a reliable way to learn about the fascinating world that was Created by God, for God.


Colossians 1:16...…...
"For in him (Christ) all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him."

John 1:3...…………………
"Through him (Christ) all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. "[/QUOTE]
 

bobinfaith

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Major and bobinfaith and I have been discussing the interpretation of scripture, particularly as formalized as Hermeneutics.

However, throughout my 50+ years in Christ, few pastors would agree. This has been the cause for much meditation and has impinged on my fellowship in several congregations. Most hold that the Bible can teach us about the world, but God’s creation should not be used as a check on our understanding of Scripture. I am a lay person, and neither am I a scientist, although I had a career in technology (developing software for military and civilian agencies). So I am an authority on neither side,
All of that is good to know my friend and anyone reading your post will know that this is a special concern for you.
Third, If the earth is billions of years old, and animals died before humans sinned, is this theologically acceptable? Yes.
Remember, the full gospel of Jesus — is fully compatible with a young earth or old earth.
Also, the Bible and science cannot be compared. But we can compare our interpretations of the Bible (in theology) with our interpretations of nature (in science). And we can look at the mutual interactions between our views of spiritual reality (in theology) and physical reality (in science).
Hello Siloam;

After reading your thread I wanted to hone in on what I feel you are sharing.

In my study of the doctrine of creation I believe the Bible places great significance on it. The doctrine of creation is an important part of the church's faith, teaching and preaching. Our growing understanding of the doctriine of creation is important because it effects our understanding of other doctrines but my problem is our doctrine should not be limited to one source. This is where the discussion of hermeneutics and interpretation comes in. I don't feel there is a "one statement fits all" and this is my problem with the church and science;

Many doctrines point to Jesus but many pastors/theologians/scholoars and scientist will have disagreements that can be shallow, (or wide open) in the areas of potential dialogue between Christianity and natural science.

I feel that since the time of Augustine and the early church fathers the debate over natural science has been furious leading up to the great evolution of the early 20th century. It has become clear to me that God created science, and though theology and science run in parallel courses, most of the time, the issue of the origin of the world is one point where they encounter one another.

One of the Genesis and science debates which I was a part of two years ago, was defining the theory of days in the creation of the Earth and the Universe.

The first is the young earth view, was that days referred to literal successive twenty-four hour periods, 6 days, therefore, the creation is no more than 10,000 years old.

The second is the day-age (or old earth) view was the days in Genesis 1 is understood as indefinite periods of time. The creation goes beyond 6 days, and is as old as science claims it is at billions of years.

The third is the restoration view (or gap theory) claims that a large gap of time occurred between the first and second verses of Genesis 1.

I debated and supported the young earth view but cannot leave it at that. I need to keep an open heart and mind on the second and third views. This is where we can discuss and learn the interpretion of creation, revelation and modern science.

In my view, I have to accept the hermeneutical (interpretation and deeper study) of the Bible above the interpretation of science. But I also feel that science has advanced since creation not by their own conclusions, but accepting their findings from a higher force and replacing that term with God.

I feel the discussion of both the Bible and science has made progress but the debate still remains ongoing.

What are your responses?

God bless you, brothers, and your families.
 
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Sep 3, 2009
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Hello Siloam;

After reading your thread I wanted to hone in on what I feel you are sharing.

In my study of the doctrine of creation I believe the Bible places great significance on it. The doctrine of creation is an important part of the church's faith, teaching and preaching. Our growing understanding of the doctriine of creation is important because it effects our understanding of other doctrines but my problem is our doctrine should not be limited to one source. This is where the discussion of hermeneutics and interpretation comes in. I don't feel there is a "one statement fits all" and this is my problem with the church and science;

Many doctrines point to Jesus but many pastors/theologians/scholoars and scientist will have disagreements that can be shallow, (or wide open) in the areas of potential dialogue between Christianity and natural science.

I feel that since the time of Augustine and the early church fathers the debate over natural science has been furious leading up to the great evolution of the early 20th century. It has become clear to me that God created science, and though theology and science run in parallel courses, most of the time, the issue of the origin of the world is one point where they encounter one another.

One of the Genesis and science debates which I was a part of two years ago, was defining the theory of days in the creation of the Earth and the Universe.

The first is the young earth view, was that days referred to literal successive twenty-four hour periods, 6 days, therefore, the creation is no more than 10,000 years old.

The second is the day-age (or old earth) view was the days in Genesis 1 is understood as indefinite periods of time. The creation goes beyond 6 days, and is as old as science claims it is at billions of years.

The third is the restoration view (or gap theory) claims that a large gap of time occurred between the first and second verses of Genesis 1.

I debated and supported the young earth view but cannot leave it at that. I need to keep an open heart and mind on the second and third views. This is where we can discuss and learn the interpretion of creation, revelation and modern science.

In my view, I have to accept the hermeneutical (interpretation and deeper study) of the Bible above the interpretation of science. But I also feel that science has advanced since creation not by their own conclusions, but accepting their findings from a higher force and replacing that term with God.

I feel the discussion of both the Bible and science has made progress but the debate still remains ongoing.

What are your responses?

God bless you, brothers, and your families.
Good stuff brother!

Many young-earth creationists insist that the Bible definitely teaches a young earth that is less than 10,000 years old, so "if the Bible is true, the earth is young." Unfortunately, this claim is logically equivalent to saying ...........
if the earth is not young, the Bible is not true."

As you can see, right there is the problem and it is where we lose a lot of well meaning people.

What happens when a person who thinks "the Bible requires a young earth" examines the scientific evidence and concludes "the universe and earth are old"?

Another conclusion may be that "if the Bible is wrong about the earth's age, maybe it's also wrong about the rest," so the Bible's authority is weakened, and faith is weakened or abandoned and this seems to be where Siloam is coming from.

This is a real dilemma for many of our brothers and sisters in Christ, so we should help them and pray that they emerge from the experience with renewed faith in the Bible and faith in God. As a matter of fact, my church is 2 miles from Stetson University and over the years I have had to deal with the questions coming from college students on this very subject and believe me...…….."Just have faith" is not the answer.

Another problem is that non-Christians who are earnest seekers of spiritual truth — and who think a young earth and Jesus are a "package deal" that includes both or neither — may reject the whole package because, based on their knowledge of science, they think the earth is not young.

Therefore, it seems wise for Christians to not encourage (and not accept) any implication — whether it comes from fellow Christians who want to strengthen the Gospel, or non-Christians who want to discredit the Gospel — that "if the earth is not young, the Bible is not true."
 
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My concerns here are less a matter of old earth vs young earth than is is a matter of the relationship between general revelation (the natural world) and special revelation (the Bible). I merely use that debate as a reference because it seems to be where the different approaches cause the most vocal disagreements, both among believers and, more to the core of my concerns, misconceptions about the Bible and Christianity by the those who have not accepted Christ.

This was also the core of Augustine's concern.

At Augustine's time belief in Christ and the resurrection had spread from the Holy land to a greater geographical area. That brought those that had been schooled in Greek Philosophy, particularly Aristotelian thought to begin to be brothers in Christ.

This started some acrimonious discussions among those that saw no problem with Greek Philosophy, and those that felt that it was irrelevant or even suspect.

In this case, the Greek teachings of the structure of creation, modeled after the concept of the perfection of geometrical shapes, placing the observable universe in a series of concentric spheres.

Augustine’s view war that believers should be more taciturn in supporting or opposing beliefs based on natural observation. But when a given theory was considered ‘proven’ it then becomes the Christians task to show that the theory in question was not contrary to scripture. I suppose if further investigation overturned that theory for a new one, it becomes the Christians duty again to show that this new understanding still did not contradict scripture.

The reason for this is so that secondary doctrine should not become an impediment for belief,

The debate over the structure of the universe is instructive. In the years following Augustine, the Bible has been re-examined from an Aristotelian point of view. They noticed that different words were used for the air, the realm of the planets, and the distant stars. They then applied the concept of concentric spheres to those realms and declared the Aristotelian view correct.

But the Greek natural philosophers thought that the celestial spheres were literal crystal spheres with the planets and stars ‘stuck’ to their inner surfaces (remember that they had little formal appreciation of gravity, nor orbital mechanics). So the Greek thought was not really confirmed, just found to be outwardly compatible. I would not see it as being authoritative in a final sense, though it can be a helpful model.

As an aside, I read (somewhere) that when Thomas Aquinas entered seminary, Aristotle was banned. By the end of his life, Aristotle was held as the authority for the natural world. Even when I was young, people would use Aristotle for an informal authority concerning nature.

If you go into a Christian bookstore, you can probably find a poster entitled “the Biblical view of the Universe” showing such things as the underworld under the surface, the Pillars of Hercules holding up the sky and various spheres for the air, planets, stars. We do not worry that this is far from how NASA depicts the universe.

The Biblical view is quite a good model for many things, but I would not use it either for navigation of the oceans, nor for planning a moon shot.

My feeling is that as we look deeper into the natural world, we should look for ways of coming to a compatible view. There can remain areas of great contradiction without necessitating the demonizing of the other. Nor should we cling to improbable explanations on one side just because it frees us from examining our understandings on another.

Scripture will always tell us about God’s relation to man, Much of that is missing from what science will tell us because it is about what God has made apart from Man. But that does not make the view from examining His world against the view from examining scripture.
 
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My concerns here are less a matter of old earth vs young earth than is is a matter of the relationship between general revelation (the natural world) and special revelation (the Bible). I merely use that debate as a reference because it seems to be where the different approaches cause the most vocal disagreements, both among believers and, more to the core of my concerns, misconceptions about the Bible and Christianity by the those who have not accepted Christ.

This was also the core of Augustine's concern.

At Augustine's time belief in Christ and the resurrection had spread from the Holy land to a greater geographical area. That brought those that had been schooled in Greek Philosophy, particularly Aristotelian thought to begin to be brothers in Christ.

This started some acrimonious discussions among those that saw no problem with Greek Philosophy, and those that felt that it was irrelevant or even suspect.

In this case, the Greek teachings of the structure of creation, modeled after the concept of the perfection of geometrical shapes, placing the observable universe in a series of concentric spheres.

Augustine’s view war that believers should be more taciturn in supporting or opposing beliefs based on natural observation. But when a given theory was considered ‘proven’ it then becomes the Christians task to show that the theory in question was not contrary to scripture. I suppose if further investigation overturned that theory for a new one, it becomes the Christians duty again to show that this new understanding still did not contradict scripture.

The reason for this is so that secondary doctrine should not become an impediment for belief,

The debate over the structure of the universe is instructive. In the years following Augustine, the Bible has been re-examined from an Aristotelian point of view. They noticed that different words were used for the air, the realm of the planets, and the distant stars. They then applied the concept of concentric spheres to those realms and declared the Aristotelian view correct.

But the Greek natural philosophers thought that the celestial spheres were literal crystal spheres with the planets and stars ‘stuck’ to their inner surfaces (remember that they had little formal appreciation of gravity, nor orbital mechanics). So the Greek thought was not really confirmed, just found to be outwardly compatible. I would not see it as being authoritative in a final sense, though it can be a helpful model.

As an aside, I read (somewhere) that when Thomas Aquinas entered seminary, Aristotle was banned. By the end of his life, Aristotle was held as the authority for the natural world. Even when I was young, people would use Aristotle for an informal authority concerning nature.

If you go into a Christian bookstore, you can probably find a poster entitled “the Biblical view of the Universe” showing such things as the underworld under the surface, the Pillars of Hercules holding up the sky and various spheres for the air, planets, stars. We do not worry that this is far from how NASA depicts the universe.

The Biblical view is quite a good model for many things, but I would not use it either for navigation of the oceans, nor for planning a moon shot.

My feeling is that as we look deeper into the natural world, we should look for ways of coming to a compatible view. There can remain areas of great contradiction without necessitating the demonizing of the other. Nor should we cling to improbable explanations on one side just because it frees us from examining our understandings on another.

Scripture will always tell us about God’s relation to man, Much of that is missing from what science will tell us because it is about what God has made apart from Man. But that does not make the view from examining His world against the view from examining scripture.
The Bible is NOT a book of biology, but it has biology in it.
The Bible is NOT a book of Philosophy, but it has philosophy in it.
The Bile is NOT a book of mathematics, but it has math in it.
The Bible is NOT a book of geology, but it has geology in it.
The Bible is NOT a book of marriage counseling, but it has that in it.
The Bible is NOT a book of Creation, but it has creation in it.
The Bible is NOT a book on science, but it has science in it.

First and formost, God reveals Himself in His Word, the Bible.

The Bible is a book about God and His relationship with human beings. The Scriptures contain a long history of God’s revelation of Himself to man—from the first man Adam to the prophet and lawgiver Moses down through the apostles of Jesus Christ and the early Church.

One of the most fundamental principles to keep in mind regarding proper understanding of God’s Word is simply this: The Bible interprets the Bible.
 
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The Bible is NOT a book of biology, but it has biology in it.
The Bible is NOT a book of Philosophy, but it has philosophy in it.
The Bile is NOT a book of mathematics, but it has math in it.
The Bible is NOT a book of geology, but it has geology in it.
The Bible is NOT a book of marriage counseling, but it has that in it.
The Bible is NOT a book of Creation, but it has creation in it.
The Bible is NOT a book on science, but it has science in it.

First and formost, God reveals Himself in His Word, the Bible.

The Bible is a book about God and His relationship with human beings. The Scriptures contain a long history of God’s revelation of Himself to man—from the first man Adam to the prophet and lawgiver Moses down through the apostles of Jesus Christ and the early Church.

One of the most fundamental principles to keep in mind regarding proper understanding of God’s Word is simply this: The Bible interprets the Bible.
Of course, the Bible is not designed to be a textbook on Biology, Philosophy... But has all those things in it.

However if something is true. It is true.

It is not a book of Mathematics, but Math knowledge applies...

There is a very bad joke meant to deride faith in the Bible saying that some state declared that the value of PI shall be taught to be exactly 3 because of I Kings 7:23. Now, few believers would argue this point.

The thing is, years ago I did see a young (high school aged) believer start arguing this in a group study, insisting that if the Bible says the pool was 10 cubits across and 30 cubits around, that was exactly right, and since we couldn't measure the pool, we couldn't know.

There are also believers who say that the speed of light began infinite and has been slowing down, despite that astronomers commonly measure the speed of light as the light from a nova passed through a dust nebula. That light originated thousands of years ago and traversed the dust cloud nearly that long ago, and the measured speed was the same. I can still remember the lecture in my astronomy class 45 years ago, and the accompanying astronomical photographs showing the burst of light from a nova starting at one edge and moving accross over several years of observation. There are many other ways that the constancy of the speed of light has been confirmed, But still those believers insist that the speed is not constant so that their universe chronology does not need to be rethought.

I have also had many discussions with scientifically oriented persons, and can say that a lot of them dismiss the faith out of hand because they think it requires doubting the witness of science, which for the Christian is the study of God's Creation.

There are several ways of understanding Genesis that does not require warring against God's witness through nature. Rather than dismissing anything that requires some rethinking, we should look for agreement between the witness of His Word, and the witness of His Works.
 

bobinfaith

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Of course, the Bible is not designed to be a textbook on Biology, Philosophy... But has all those things in it.
However if something is true. It is true. It is not a book of Mathematics, but Math knowledge applies...I have also had many discussions with scientifically oriented persons, and can say that a lot of them dismiss the faith out of hand because they think it requires doubting the witness of science, which for the Christian is the study of God's Creation.
Hello Siloam;

This reminds me of other fierce debates of Christology versus overwhelming ism doctrines such as Arianism, Docetism, Gnosticism, Patripassianism that would discredit the Christ. This has been going on for centuries back to the Apostolic Age, the Patristic Fathers, the Ante-Nicene, the First Council of Nicaea, to the later Enlightenment.

Christianity teaching has always been compromised with intellectual or philosophical worldly views. In today’s Liberal Christianity where culture, for example, still attempt to influence the Christian church.

At the same time, we should not "doubt" or "extract" all that scientists, biologists, philosophers, etc...hold what they claim is true that may be contrary to the Bible, instead, put it into service of preaching the Gospel.

It goes both ways.

What God's Word perfectly reveals in the fields of science, biology, philosophy, etc...should be received wholly since they are included in the Scriptures. Continue the humanity work of research for mankind, moral values and cures.

Christians must continue the work of discussion, eventually separating Truth from false teachings and putting them in the proper use for proclaiming the Gospel.

Since the beginning of time and time again, the proclamation of Jesus Christ would overcome these heresies, human mis-understanding of science, biology, philosophy, even shallow Christian doctrine, with sound apologetics, reference 1 Peter 3:15.

God bless you and your family, brother.
 
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While I truly appreciate the efforts of both bobinfaith and Major, what I wished to get at is why God's witness through His Creation cannot be employed in understanding His Word, which is why I specified hermaneutics in the thread title.

From my view, not allowing the things God Created to inform us concerning His Word:

is contrary to the example in scripture (look at the way the natural world is used to declare the glory of God).
It perpetuates a failing of man in general as decried by Paul in Romans 1:18-23
fails in heeding Paul's admonition to not despise scripture, and instead examine everything (particularly, but not exclusively scripture) and keeping interpretations which are shown to be true.
Despite my venting my frustration (I apologize), the various Young Earth Creation viewpoint positions represent a minority Christian opinion.

For more concerning creation & evolution, see my posts under the thread:
Is a day a day or a thousand years or a million? | Christian Forum Site

Again, my purpose here is more for my understanding on why we must close our eyes and cover our ears when God speaks to us through His Creation and less about the specific merits of any particular theory.

At the same time, we should not "doubt" or "extract" all that scientists, biologists, philosophers, etc...hold what they claim is true that may be contrary to the Bible, instead, put it into service of preaching the Gospel.

It goes both ways.
Amen!

This is really a great part of what I am saying. The big issue I have witnessed is that those with a technical education reject the gospel out of hand because the debate is faith vs science. When it should be a conversation regarding how does either shed light on the other.

The historical record when preachers and theologians extend their understanding of the scriptures far beyond the purpose God has in those scriptures has not been good.
 
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Of course, the Bible is not designed to be a textbook on Biology, Philosophy... But has all those things in it.

However if something is true. It is true.

It is not a book of Mathematics, but Math knowledge applies...

There is a very bad joke meant to deride faith in the Bible saying that some state declared that the value of PI shall be taught to be exactly 3 because of I Kings 7:23. Now, few believers would argue this point.

The thing is, years ago I did see a young (high school aged) believer start arguing this in a group study, insisting that if the Bible says the pool was 10 cubits across and 30 cubits around, that was exactly right, and since we couldn't measure the pool, we couldn't know.

There are also believers who say that the speed of light began infinite and has been slowing down, despite that astronomers commonly measure the speed of light as the light from a nova passed through a dust nebula. That light originated thousands of years ago and traversed the dust cloud nearly that long ago, and the measured speed was the same. I can still remember the lecture in my astronomy class 45 years ago, and the accompanying astronomical photographs showing the burst of light from a nova starting at one edge and moving accross over several years of observation. There are many other ways that the constancy of the speed of light has been confirmed, But still those believers insist that the speed is not constant so that their universe chronology does not need to be rethought.

I have also had many discussions with scientifically oriented persons, and can say that a lot of them dismiss the faith out of hand because they think it requires doubting the witness of science, which for the Christian is the study of God's Creation.

There are several ways of understanding Genesis that does not require warring against God's witness through nature. Rather than dismissing anything that requires some rethinking, we should look for agreement between the witness of His Word, and the witness of His Works.
I agree with you. I do not think that "scientifically oriented persons" dismss our faith but they do what they do and think what they think because they DO NOT HAVE our Faith. They are lost and undone .

Personally I belive science in fact proves the Bible Creation story of an Old Earth.

I know of a web site that I think would be of great help to you and it is...…….www.Icr.org
 
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Personally I belive science in fact proves the Bible Creation story of an Old Earth.

I know of a web site that I think would be of great help to you and it is...…….www.Icr.org
I assume you meant Young Earth, not Old Earth. ICR is certainly a YE oriented site.

Since this issue, as I have said seems to be where the most vocal issues are apparent, I have over the years watched with much interest the various sides.

I have read about coral growth rates
The peat deposits of Europe
The formation of ice cores
man tracks
pictures of dinosaurs carved in stone
ancient clay models of dinosaurs
pollen
whales
horses
crabs
ancient hominids
various papers concerning the flood

I have tried to understand radio-logic dating, including carbon decay and proton resonance.

What I have found is that the word 'prove' should be used very sparingly, at least by untrained persons who rely on issue oriented outlets that promote any specific point of view for the lay person.

As I said, I am not an expert. I am no more than a dilettante. No one should care one whit what Siloam thinks on these things, but what I cannot understand is why the witness of Gods Creation cannot be used to understand scripture.
 
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I assume you meant Young Earth, not Old Earth. ICR is certainly a YE oriented site.

Since this issue, as I have said seems to be where the most vocal issues are apparent, I have over the years watched with much interest the various sides.

I have read about coral growth rates
The peat deposits of Europe
The formation of ice cores
man tracks
pictures of dinosaurs carved in stone
ancient clay models of dinosaurs
pollen
whales
horses
crabs
ancient hominids
various papers concerning the flood

I have tried to understand radio-logic dating, including carbon decay and proton resonance.

What I have found is that the word 'prove' should be used very sparingly, at least by untrained persons who rely on issue oriented outlets that promote any specific point of view for the lay person.

As I said, I am not an expert. I am no more than a dilettante. No one should care one whit what Siloam thinks on these things, but what I cannot understand is why the witness of Gods Creation cannot be used to understand scripture.
My mistake.
 
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I do not think that "scientifically oriented persons" dismss our faith but they do what they do and think what they think because they DO NOT HAVE our Faith. They are lost and undone .
In my experience ad hominem dismissals of those whom you would tell about Christ are unproductive.

Consider how Paul ministered to the men of Athens on Mars hill (Acts Ch 17).

He could have condemned them since Luke (author of Acts) records that he was dismayed at all the idolatry in the city. Instead, he sought productive conversation with those around him including the philosophers (Epicureans on one side and Stoics on the other). He apparently made enough of an positive impression on them that he was brought to the Greek Council (Areopagus).

There, instead of condemning them for idolatry, Paul used the alter to the unknown god to build a bridge to them.

In the same way I seem from time to time to have conversations with technically trained individuals.

There are a few that have remained in my heart over the years, including 4 who I still pray for, even though I have not seen them for a while, and will not probably meet again in this life.

None of this would have been possible if I had either offered condemnation to them or keep quiet.

As I have explained on more than one occasion, I refuse to short-change either the spiritual view or the scientific, since science is the study of the world God made. It is a hard path, and I there are many aspects that I must be content with not understanding, but I can not believe God lies either in His Word, or in His works. Where they seem to be in contradiction, I know that that is in my limited view, but I cannot dismiss one because of the other. That is always a false choice.
 
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In my experience ad hominem dismissals of those whom you would tell about Christ are unproductive.

Consider how Paul ministered to the men of Athens on Mars hill (Acts Ch 17).

He could have condemned them since Luke (author of Acts) records that he was dismayed at all the idolatry in the city. Instead, he sought productive conversation with those around him including the philosophers (Epicureans on one side and Stoics on the other). He apparently made enough of an positive impression on them that he was brought to the Greek Council (Areopagus).

There, instead of condemning them for idolatry, Paul used the alter to the unknown god to build a bridge to them.

In the same way I seem from time to time to have conversations with technically trained individuals.

There are a few that have remained in my heart over the years, including 4 who I still pray for, even though I have not seen them for a while, and will not probably meet again in this life.

None of this would have been possible if I had either offered condemnation to them or keep quiet.

As I have explained on more than one occasion, I refuse to short-change either the spiritual view or the scientific, since science is the study of the world God made. It is a hard path, and I there are many aspects that I must be content with not understanding, but I can not believe God lies either in His Word, or in His works. Where they seem to be in contradiction, I know that that is in my limited view, but I cannot dismiss one because of the other. That is always a false choice.
If you believe that I was making an attack on an someone's character rather than responding to the question you posed, I certainly apologize to you.

When you said.…………….
"I have also had many discussions with scientifically oriented persons, and can say that a lot of them dismiss the faith out of hand because they think it requires doubting the witness of science, which for the Christian is the study of God's Creation."

I am sure that is true, and I as well have done the same thin, but all I meant was that it seems to me that ALL lost people do that very same thing.
That was not being dismissive and was certainly not being condemnatory, but instead was simply a statement of what I have experienced.

I do hope that you find some answers to your questions but it does not seem that it will happen from anything I can say to you.

So then, may the Lord bless you my brother.
 
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To All (rather than replying to specific posts):

I consider myself to be a "scientifically minded person" and one with Faith. I checked the rules of the Forum and I didn't see that it is forbidden to question the Bible. I am not doing so, but mention it in case I missed something and a Moderator wants to clarify this before someone is considering posting a reply that does question the Bible.

So, how would a person of Faith, including belief in the Bible, and of a scientific mind reconcile apparent contradictions? Here is how I do it and I will give an example of how it is possible. Considering that the first word in the Topic is "hermeneutics" (the branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation, especially of the Bible or literary texts) we should be able to acknowledge that even when a text is absolutely correct, we may not understand it, or apply it appropriately. Likewise, when presented with a scientific observation, it may be in error or the conclusion formed from the observation can be wrong. After all, we are imperfect humans. I believe that every word in the Bible is true and that every observation we can make should tell us something true about God's creation. Any contradictions would then be due to either our misinterpreting the Bible or misinterpreting our observations.

Here is an example from something posted earlier: "... the value of PI shall be taught to be exactly 3 because of I Kings 7:23." (Now he made the sea of cast metal ten cubits from brim to brim, circular in form, and its height was five cubits, and thirty cubits in circumference. NASB) As a refresher, pi is an "irrational" number, meaning that it cannot be defined as a fraction. 3/1 is rough, 22/7 is better, 355/113 is better yet, but no fraction and no amount of decimal places have been able to precisely define pi. Yet here we are faced with scripture pretty much saying pi equals 3/1, or does it say that? When they measured the "sea of cast metal" they may have done so with a string that had a knot every cubit. ( I would have ...) They measured across and it was a bit closer to the 10 cubit knot than the 9 cubit knot, so they called it 10 cubits. Then they measured around the the circumference and it was a bit closer to the 30 cubit knot than the 31 cubit knot, so they called it 30 cubits. (I will leave it to others to check if this could be the case mathematically.) This seems a reasonable explanation as I don't recall measurements being given in fractions of cubits in the Bible. Maybe somewhere, but I will leave it to someone else to find it.

As far as the old earth vs the young earth, well, I don't know and I don't really care. The reason is neither way can or will change my Faith that the Bible is true nor that scientific observations are valid, let alone affect my relationship with my Sovereign Lord and Savior. All it means is we either are misinterpreting the science or we are misinterpreting the scripture. Anyhoo, that's how this scientifically minded man of Faith deals with seeming contradictions. :)
 
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I'm sorry if I seem a little testy, but I really think that the approach of a plurality of preachers today in treating the sciences as 'atheistic humanism' does a disservice to the acceptance of the Gospel just as Augustine warned. Certainly, there are atheists in the sciences, just as there are in other walks of life. But we should remember Paul in Athens. Yes, many sneered and derided him, but Paul persisted and spoke separately with those that would accept. Many who follow the sciences may listen if they are presented the things of Christ without first telling them that things they have been studying are trash.

In this thread, I have been trying to understand why it would be incorrect to expect God’s word and His works to be in agreement. And, if we hold that when properly understood that they will ultimately be fully reconciled why the witness of God’s creation may not be used to shed light on the meaning of the Bible. Or, conversely, if we hold that they are too dissimilar approaches, why Biblical scholars then feel justified in passing judgement on the things of science.

For me, the ‘non-overlapping magestera’ approach advocated by Steven Gould just ducks the issue and we are poorer for it.

There has been advice such as that the Bible is best interpreted by the Bible. I understand and agree that for learning about the person of God, the Bible is its own best commentary, but there is much about God that is shown by His creation, which is why Paul uses the witness of what God has made to show that all men should have knowledge of God.

In the realm of science, there is much effort trying to define a unified Theory of Everything (TOE). This is an overarching set of principles that encompass the whole of nature from the sciences of the very small (Quantum Theory) to the sciences of the very large (Relativity) and everything in between. Goidels Theorem shows that this is fundamentally unattainable, but the search yields much.

In an analogous way, I would work toward a unification of the view of God as a Person interacting with us (Bible) with a view of fundamental attributes of God as expressed in His world. This cannot happen (or be approached) unless both aspects are treated with reverence.

We, the Christian community, must be willing to actually learn rather than just cherry-pick things that do not challenge what we heard from the pulpit. This does not mean that we should be blown to and fro by whatever theory is currently popular, but as the body of scientific knowledge grows, its view of the universe becomes clearer. I would have us be slow to pass judgement on the sciences, but to search for correspondence between those things that are confirmed and the scriptures.

In this thread I have been trying to get at one of the issues that hinder a true discussion. I wish to thank all and apologize again, if I seem truculent. I really don’t feel animosity, just frustrated.
 
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To All (rather than replying to specific posts):

I consider myself to be a "scientifically minded person" and one with Faith. I checked the rules of the Forum and I didn't see that it is forbidden to question the Bible. I am not doing so, but mention it in case I missed something and a Moderator wants to clarify this before someone is considering posting a reply that does question the Bible.

So, how would a person of Faith, including belief in the Bible, and of a scientific mind reconcile apparent contradictions? Here is how I do it and I will give an example of how it is possible. Considering that the first word in the Topic is "hermeneutics" (the branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation, especially of the Bible or literary texts) we should be able to acknowledge that even when a text is absolutely correct, we may not understand it, or apply it appropriately. Likewise, when presented with a scientific observation, it may be in error or the conclusion formed from the observation can be wrong. After all, we are imperfect humans. I believe that every word in the Bible is true and that every observation we can make should tell us something true about God's creation. Any contradictions would then be due to either our misinterpreting the Bible or misinterpreting our observations.

Here is an example from something posted earlier: "... the value of PI shall be taught to be exactly 3 because of I Kings 7:23." (Now he made the sea of cast metal ten cubits from brim to brim, circular in form, and its height was five cubits, and thirty cubits in circumference. NASB) As a refresher, pi is an "irrational" number, meaning that it cannot be defined as a fraction. 3/1 is rough, 22/7 is better, 355/113 is better yet, but no fraction and no amount of decimal places have been able to precisely define pi. Yet here we are faced with scripture pretty much saying pi equals 3/1, or does it say that? When they measured the "sea of cast metal" they may have done so with a string that had a knot every cubit. ( I would have ...) They measured across and it was a bit closer to the 10 cubit knot than the 9 cubit knot, so they called it 10 cubits. Then they measured around the the circumference and it was a bit closer to the 30 cubit knot than the 31 cubit knot, so they called it 30 cubits. (I will leave it to others to check if this could be the case mathematically.) This seems a reasonable explanation as I don't recall measurements being given in fractions of cubits in the Bible. Maybe somewhere, but I will leave it to someone else to find it.

As far as the old earth vs the young earth, well, I don't know and I don't really care. The reason is neither way can or will change my Faith that the Bible is true nor that scientific observations are valid, let alone affect my relationship with my Sovereign Lord and Savior. All it means is we either are misinterpreting the science or we are misinterpreting the scripture. Anyhoo, that's how this scientifically minded man of Faith deals with seeming contradictions. :)
Good comment and well stated and easy to understand.

My experience over the years has been when an apparent contradiction is asked of me, it can be resolved by proper exegesis and closer examination and just digging into the Word a little deeper.

Contrary to the many charges of Bible Contradictions, many very haphazardly, those accusations of biblical contradictions usually fall flat once the biblical text is carefully examined. What’s most telling is the desperation and grasping at straws of skeptics trying, by all means necessary, to seek to undermine the authority and trustworthiness of the Bible.

You see, if that can be done then it brings in the logical conclusion that if the Word of God is wrong, then God must be wrong.

To the dismay of those claiming biblical contradictions, no adequately unresolvable actual contradiction has been found in the Bible that I know of.

As for Old Earth-Young Earth, I also agree with you......Who cares?

But in reality, I personally have had many "intellectuals" use the argument of Creation verse evolution in order to reject God.
In every single case where that has happened, it allways comes down to their real problem which is the sin that that want to keep doing.

You see...……..evolution means NO GOD and No God means I am not going to be judged for my sin. So lets party, and party with no worries!
 
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...

In this thread, I have been trying to understand why it would be incorrect to expect God’s word and His works to be in agreement. And, if we hold that when properly understood that they will ultimately be fully reconciled why the witness of God’s creation may not be used to shed light on the meaning of the Bible. Or, conversely, if we hold that they are too dissimilar approaches, why Biblical scholars then feel justified in passing judgement on the things of science.

...
Siloam, your questioning makes me think of last Summer's family trip to the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter. I felt both of these sister exhibits were kinda pretending to do what you propose: use the witness of God's creation to shed light on the meaning of the Bible. But bills must be paid and the attractions seemed more like a Genesis theme-park, preaching to choir, reassuring insecure Bible believers that the big, bad sciences won't undermine a Saving Faith based on the Bible. There was even a section discouraging any cartoonish depictions of Noah's Ark because it is Satan's plan (really!) to get teens to reject Biblical salvation because they see Noah's Ark as just a fairy tale - so Christ must be one, too! (Of course the antidote is to take the teens to see the full-sized Ark Encounter...) But there wasn't much science to it, really. There were fabulous displays of insects, but without any identification of what they were, where they were from, or why they were displayed. The theme of Christ's Salvation was the binding thread, but proved by the Bible, rather than by the personal sin conviction of the Holy Spirit.

So I question whether what you propose will lead to what is most important, or lead some astray.
 
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