Hermaneutics, Interpretation of Scripture and General Revelation

Status
Not open for further replies.
Feb 10, 2015
779
945
93
Maryland
I am not suggesting there is no value in the study of the sciences but, all the sciences can do is confirm the truths that are already in scripture.
So, science does have value, even if it is only utilitarian! A strict sola scriptura stance would deny any value in the sciences, and that any utilitarian value would be accidental or incidental.

What I am saying is that the truth about causation and the nature of the natural world does not come from a study of the sciences, it comes from revelation. This always has to be the starting point, and when science comes into conflict with the revealed text, it will invariably be man's limited understanding of his world that is n error.
Or, it may be man's limited understanding of scripture, or our obtuseness in not recognizing where or how there is agreement. (as an aside, in the science world, the mathematics of newton e.g. calculus, competed with the mathematics of Leibniz until they were proved to be equivalent)

Looking at the Galileo matter, one should be able to see that the heliocentric model had many utilitarian features that were absent in the strict letter of only the Bible claim of the church. Of course, the church was trying to apply scripture relating to the earth being created by the omnipotent God standing against any opposing force. This does not preclude the Earth in motion with respect inertial frames, particularly when applied to mere physical properties.

The Church has had an unfortunate legacy of using the historical critical method in its practice of scripture reading. We have routinely chosen to start with human intelligence to create some type of synthesis between the human historical experience and the text of scripture. We start with current human observation and then try to work back in time searching for a point of causation that seems to fit what we think we understand of the universe. We then formulate theories that seem to best fit the evidence at hand and then we rationalize scenarios that satisfy what we will accept as a ‘rational’ view of how scripture fits into our human experience. How absurd is this? We have an insatiable desire to maintain control over the biblical text both logically and psychologically. We want to hold on to a comfortable reading of the text that fits our view of reality; and we have felt confident that such a method of scripture reading can foster a valid interpretation of what we mistakenly regard as a historical document. The problem with this method is that human intelligence does not have the capacity to start with itself in order to synthesize our physical existence with what scripture says about it.
Thank you for restating one of the 'legs' of my thesis. Man, even spirit led Christians come to differing interpretations of many passages. Man, by God's design, must go through a learning process. This is true both in each person, and in terms of mankind. Whatever we learn, we always understand it in terms of what was previously understood, or believed. As you point out, man by nature, does not read the Bible cold but always brings preconceptions into the reading. So, even though the Bible itself is inerrant, we are not. We cannot get past our nature and correctly understand the full meaning in all cases.

The problem at the time of Galileo, which was pre-reformation, was that the church relied to much on a hierarchical clergy who claimed as much, or at times even more authority for truth than scripture.

This authority issue was one of the largest reasons for the reformation which sought to rest ecclesiastical authority from the authoritarian church and restore authority to the Bible. That is the reason for the sola scriptora principle. It was not to preclude God from speaking to us through nature, which would be unBiblical, given the usage the Bible makes of nature to teach us about God, and the fact that Paul decries the fact that we have failed to learn from nature, but it was to preclude men from using personal authority however well meant, to be the final arbiter. When one examines the record, it seems that much of the criticism of Galileo was because he contradicted Arstotle, even though a couple of hundred years earlier the church banned him, but by Galileo's time had deemed hid writings almost on a par with the scriptures.

General revelation
 
Mar 12, 2019
67
38
18
65
Merkel, Texas
So, science does have value, even if it is only utilitarian! A strict sola scriptura stance would deny any value in the sciences, and that any utilitarian value would be accidental or incidental.



Or, it may be man's limited understanding of scripture, or our obtuseness in not recognizing where or how there is agreement. (as an aside, in the science world, the mathematics of newton e.g. calculus, competed with the mathematics of Leibniz until they were proved to be equivalent)

Looking at the Galileo matter, one should be able to see that the heliocentric model had many utilitarian features that were absent in the strict letter of only the Bible claim of the church. Of course, the church was trying to apply scripture relating to the earth being created by the omnipotent God standing against any opposing force. This does not preclude the Earth in motion with respect inertial frames, particularly when applied to mere physical properties.



Thank you for restating one of the 'legs' of my thesis. Man, even spirit led Christians come to differing interpretations of many passages. Man, by God's design, must go through a learning process. This is true both in each person, and in terms of mankind. Whatever we learn, we always understand it in terms of what was previously understood, or believed. As you point out, man by nature, does not read the Bible cold but always brings preconceptions into the reading. So, even though the Bible itself is inerrant, we are not. We cannot get past our nature and correctly understand the full meaning in all cases.

The problem at the time of Galileo, which was pre-reformation, was that the church relied to much on a hierarchical clergy who claimed as much, or at times even more authority for truth than scripture.

This authority issue was one of the largest reasons for the reformation which sought to rest ecclesiastical authority from the authoritarian church and restore authority to the Bible. That is the reason for the sola scriptora principle. It was not to preclude God from speaking to us through nature, which would be unBiblical, given the usage the Bible makes of nature to teach us about God, and the fact that Paul decries the fact that we have failed to learn from nature, but it was to preclude men from using personal authority however well meant, to be the final arbiter. When one examines the record, it seems that much of the criticism of Galileo was because he contradicted Arstotle, even though a couple of hundred years earlier the church banned him, but by Galileo's time had deemed hid writings almost on a par with the scriptures.

General revelation
I really could not care less what the practices and ideologies of the RCC, early Church fathers, or the reformationists were. This has absolutely no bearing on the grammatical structure of scripture. Perhaps I need to start from the beginning. Let me begin by asking you some questions.
1. What role do you think scripture has in relation to the mind of man?
2. Do you believe the Bible can only be understood in light of the historical and cultural context?
3. Can you explain the act of hermeneutical interpretation? I want to know if you understand what interpretation is.
4. Do you believe interpretation is the only legitimate approach to the biblical text?
 
Feb 10, 2015
779
945
93
Maryland
I really could not care less what the practices and ideologies of the RCC, early Church fathers, or the reformationists were. This has absolutely no bearing on the grammatical structure of scripture. Perhaps I need to start from the beginning. Let me begin by asking you some questions.
1. What role do you think scripture has in relation to the mind of man?
2. Do you believe the Bible can only be understood in light of the historical and cultural context?
3. Can you explain the act of hermeneutical interpretation? I want to know if you understand what interpretation is.
4. Do you believe interpretation is the only legitimate approach to the biblical text?
1: Scripture is Special Revelation. It provides the instruction to man about the relationship between God and man and the Bible uses nature to further this discussion. This does not preclude General Revelation through nature, which is centers about some attributes of God, but also gives insight to Gods providence for man.

2: The Bible can be understood in many lights. Its is multifaceted which also gives insight to God.

3. I am a dilettante. I have, I judge, fairly broad knowledge in a variety of subjects, but little depth in any. For example, just as I noted your mention of dyadic reasoning, and am investigating it, I look into many things. But, deep understanding is often missing.

Biblical Exegesis and Hermeneutics have been cited in many of my discussions with more learned believers, and I am trying to understand them (hence this thread).

4. As opposed to what? If you are asking if I think anything outside of the Bible cannot be legitimately used to broaden our understanding, then I would say no, there is a single underlying reality in Gods creation that will always be beyond mans abilities to grasp. Advances in knowledge are almost always made by those who go deep and narrow, which will probably always be beyond my grasp, but incorporating them into a general world view (understanding) requires less extreme depth, and more breadth. A broad but shallow understanding, incorporating and knitting threads from many viewpoints may be a balanced view.


I appreciate the time and effort people have put into this discussion, and I am not trying to be difficult, nor win arguments, but the sciences brought me to God, if not Christianity, and I cannot discount their place in bringing me to a place where I could accept Christ and become a Christian.
 
Mar 12, 2019
67
38
18
65
Merkel, Texas
1: Scripture is Special Revelation. It provides the instruction to man about the relationship between God and man and the Bible uses nature to further this discussion. This does not preclude General Revelation through nature, which is centers about some attributes of God, but also gives insight to Gods providence for man.

2: The Bible can be understood in many lights. Its is multifaceted which also gives insight to God.

3. I am a dilettante. I have, I judge, fairly broad knowledge in a variety of subjects, but little depth in any. For example, just as I noted your mention of dyadic reasoning, and am investigating it, I look into many things. But, deep understanding is often missing.

Biblical Exegesis and Hermeneutics have been cited in many of my discussions with more learned believers, and I am trying to understand them (hence this thread).

4. As opposed to what? If you are asking if I think anything outside of the Bible cannot be legitimately used to broaden our understanding, then I would say no, there is a single underlying reality in Gods creation that will always be beyond mans abilities to grasp. Advances in knowledge are almost always made by those who go deep and narrow, which will probably always be beyond my grasp, but incorporating them into a general world view (understanding) requires less extreme depth, and more breadth. A broad but shallow understanding, incorporating and knitting threads from many viewpoints may be a balanced view.


I appreciate the time and effort people have put into this discussion, and I am not trying to be difficult, nor win arguments, but the sciences brought me to God, if not Christianity, and I cannot discount their place in bringing me to a place where I could accept Christ and become a Christian.
I see. So the question for me is where to begin. I think I shall begin by combining questions 3 and 4 into a single address. and then work our way back to 1 and 2. You said you are interested in understanding Exegesis and hermeneutics and that you cannot imagine what alternative there might be to the practice of hermeneutics. Would this be a fair assessment of your responses to questions 3 and 4?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Major
Feb 10, 2015
779
945
93
Maryland
I see. So the question for me is where to begin. I think I shall begin by combining questions 3 and 4 into a single address. and then work our way back to 1 and 2. You said you are interested in understanding Exegesis and hermeneutics and that you cannot imagine what alternative there might be to the practice of hermeneutics. Would this be a fair assessment of your responses to questions 3 and 4?
I don't think I said anything regarding alternatives to hermeneutics, or my inability to imagine them, but yes I think a better understanding on my part of these things could help me follow the discussions of others.
 
Feb 10, 2015
779
945
93
Maryland
I just reread this thread, and noted that those that are trying to help me (and I do understand that this is their purpose) and would discount evidences in God's physical creation if it appeared at odds with evidences in scripture (and never vice versa) have had very few references to scripture.

My count is 3.
None of them talked about disregarding nature when evaluating scripture.

But, in addition to the list of verses in the Galileo affair have referenced

I Kings 7:23
Acts Ch 17
General reference to both Psalms and Proverbs
Romans 1:20
1 Thessalonians 5:19-21
Ephesians 2:8
James 2:18

This is neither a vote, nor are all my references narrowly on point, but several are.

Now the inspired nature of the Bible is not in question. The correctness of God's message in the Bible is less at issue than our limited understanding. What is at issue is how we can minimize misunderstanding scripture and whether evidences in nature can have any bearing on the meaning of scripture.

Does anyone, particularly from the sola scriptura viewpoint have scripture showing that what we glean from scripture is better understood than what we learn from Gods creation? Or that understanding His works is an impediment to the Holy Spirit in understanding God through His works?
 
Mar 12, 2019
67
38
18
65
Merkel, Texas
I don't think I said anything regarding alternatives to hermeneutics, or my inability to imagine them, but yes I think a better understanding on my part of these things could help me follow the discussions of others.
Let me begin by explaining exegetical hermeneutics. Simply stated, hermeneutics is a human philosophy and method of textual interpretation. Here is how this is employed in the act of Bible reading. Hermeneutics is an inexact science that attempts to bring the accumulation of all human knowledge to bear on a given text. For some reason, we feel that in order to understand scripture, we must know what the scientist, the medical community, the historian, the clergy, the farmer, the educational system, the legal apparatus and others have to say about the text. This is called intertextuality and it regards scripture as only one of many authoritative texts. This is nothing but an attempt to subordinate scripture to human analysis based on all other texts. This will not work because the Bible is stand-alone document that stands over and above all the accumulated lexicon of human knowledge and reason. Its meaning is not contingent upon what the various sciences have to say about its contents.

Interpretation is the act of supplying meaning to the text based on human analysis of the world and human experiences. When we read scripture, we have an unfailing habit of trying to interpret the text based on this method. For some reason, we feel this is the only way we can supply meaning to the text. The problem with interpretation is that it always starts with human reason being force onto the text rather than allowing the language of the test to supply its own meaning. This typically results in the straining of the text to change the meaning of the language. I am sure you recognize the fact that the interpretation of any text is as varied as the number of people who read it. This is why I call it an inexact science. Interpretation is always the product of human intelligence operating on the test. Peter says that we do not have the right to approach scripture in this way, 2 Pet. 1:20. "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation," So, the question is this. What other way is there to approach scripture that will allow the language of the text to supply its own meaning.

What we must learn to do is generalize from the text. When you learn how to do this you will find no end to the things you will discover in scripture. Unlike interpretation, biblical generalization will never contradict another generalization, and it will always hold true across the entire spectrum of scripture. Let me give you one brief example of what I mean by generalizing from a text. When you read the story of Abraham and Sariah you discover that because of certain biological circumstances, they are unable to have children. They are too old and Sariah is too baron. In spite of this, God gives them Isaac. There are many generalizations one can glean from this one example but let me just give you two that are immediately apparent. One immediate generalization from this story is that circumstances do not dictate outcome. Circumstances are never determinate. Only God is determinate. Another good generalization is that God stands over and above time, physics, and physiology. These are truths that emerge from the text itself but are not directly stated in the text. Nowhere in the text does not say that God alone is determinate or that he stands over and above time, physics, and physiology. These are truths that are self-evident in the text.

In order to learn how to use Generalization, it is imperative that we understand that the grammatical structure of the biblical text is not a human contribution. The grammatical structure of revelation is the unique work of the Holy Spirit who ALONE supplies meaning to the text by the way he constructs the language. There are two hard and fast principles of communication that must be honored. 1. Words have meaning. 2. All grammar, no matter what language is represented, has rules that must be adhered to in order for communication to be successful. When these rules are disregarded, then the meaning of the text becomes distorted and unrecognizable. There is a popular saying that "You can make the Bible say anything you want it to." This is patently absurd. Scripture is not the product of the human mind. It is an exclusively divine document and its contents are completely devoid of ANY human contribution. This being true, one cannot make scripture say whatever one wants it to say. It will only say what God intended for it to say. Anything else is a perversion.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Major and Siloam
Feb 10, 2015
779
945
93
Maryland
Let me begin by explaining exegetical hermeneutics. Simply stated, hermeneutics is a human philosophy and method of textual interpretation. Here is how this is employed in the act of Bible reading. Hermeneutics is an inexact science that attempts to bring the accumulation of all human knowledge to bear on a given text. For some reason, we feel that in order to understand scripture, we must know what the scientist, the medical community, the historian, the clergy, the farmer, the educational system, the legal apparatus and others have to say about the text. This is called intertextuality and it regards scripture as only one of many authoritative texts. This is nothing but an attempt to subordinate scripture to human analysis based on all other texts. This will not work because the Bible is stand-alone document that stands over and above all the accumulated lexicon of human knowledge and reason. Its meaning is not contingent upon what the various sciences have to say about its contents.

Interpretation is the act of supplying meaning to the text based on human analysis of the world and human experiences. When we read scripture, we have an unfailing habit of trying to interpret the text based on this method. For some reason, we feel this is the only way we can supply meaning to the text. The problem with interpretation is that it always starts with human reason being force onto the text rather than allowing the language of the test to supply its own meaning. This typically results in the straining of the text to change the meaning of the language. I am sure you recognize the fact that the interpretation of any text is as varied as the number of people who read it. This is why I call it an inexact science. Interpretation is always the product of human intelligence operating on the test. Peter says that we do not have the right to approach scripture in this way, 2 Pet. 1:20. "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation," So, the question is this. What other way is there to approach scripture that will allow the language of the text to supply its own meaning.

What we must learn to do is generalize from the text. When you learn how to do this you will find no end to the things you will discover in scripture. Unlike interpretation, biblical generalization will never contradict another generalization, and it will always hold true across the entire spectrum of scripture. Let me give you one brief example of what I mean by generalizing from a text. When you read the story of Abraham and Sariah you discover that because of certain biological circumstances, they are unable to have children. They are too old and Sariah is too baron. In spite of this, God gives them Isaac. There are many generalizations one can glean from this one example but let me just give you two that are immediately apparent. One immediate generalization from this story is that circumstances do not dictate outcome. Circumstances are never determinate. Only God is determinate. Another good generalization is that God stands over and above time, physics, and physiology. These are truths that emerge from the text itself but are not directly stated in the text. Nowhere in the text does not say that God alone is determinate or that he stands over and above time, physics, and physiology. These are truths that are self-evident in the text.

In order to learn how to use Generalization, it is imperative that we understand that the grammatical structure of the biblical text is not a human contribution. The grammatical structure of revelation is the unique work of the Holy Spirit who ALONE supplies meaning to the text by the way he constructs the language. There are two hard and fast principles of communication that must be honored. 1. Words have meaning. 2. All grammar, no matter what language is represented, has rules that must be adhered to in order for communication to be successful. When these rules are disregarded, then the meaning of the text becomes distorted and unrecognizable. There is a popular saying that "You can make the Bible say anything you want it to." This is patently absurd. Scripture is not the product of the human mind. It is an exclusively divine document and its contents are completely devoid of ANY human contribution. This being true, one cannot make scripture say whatever one wants it to say. It will only say what God intended for it to say. Anything else is a perversion.
First, I want to thank you for taking the time and effort here.

Second I want to assure you that I am reading and considering this, and will continue as long as you are kind enough to indulge me.

Several statements find resonance with me:

Example: You said: Another good generalization is that God stands over and above time, physics, and physiology.
That hourglass in the bottom-right of my avatar reminds me that time was created by God, and God there-fore stands outside of time. Sometimes the Bible follows events sequentially in 'normal' time. Sometimes the Bible describes things from God's viewpoint where the normal sequence is irrelevant.

However, I wish to point out in regards to the discussion of intertextuality that my thesis fully understands that man's knowledge of the natural world is necessarily faulty, and does not subordinate the scriptures to other texts, or even holds them as equals. It merely points that both the natural world and the Bible are expressions of God's nature and as such neither is subordinate to the other. Our understanding of either in potentially faulty (or why do not all spirit led Christians agree on all points of scripture).

The study of providence through Gods word and the study of providence through creation, when properly understood, will both point back to God, even tough the techniques involved are specific to the kind of revelation being examined. While the answers from the Biblical approach will emphasize God as a person, and the answers from examining creation may not be as explicit, I can tell you that as I was straining to understand some scientific discussion of space and time and that neither empty space nor time would exist without the things within it, I meditated on the person-hood of the Father.
 
Mar 12, 2019
67
38
18
65
Merkel, Texas
First, I want to thank you for taking the time and effort here.

Second I want to assure you that I am reading and considering this, and will continue as long as you are kind enough to indulge me.

Several statements find resonance with me:

Example: You said: Another good generalization is that God stands over and above time, physics, and physiology.
That hourglass in the bottom-right of my avatar reminds me that time was created by God, and God there-fore stands outside of time. Sometimes the Bible follows events sequentially in 'normal' time. Sometimes the Bible describes things from God's viewpoint where the normal sequence is irrelevant.

However, I wish to point out in regards to the discussion of intertextuality that my thesis fully understands that man's knowledge of the natural world is necessarily faulty, and does not subordinate the scriptures to other texts, or even holds them as equals. It merely points that both the natural world and the Bible are expressions of God's nature and as such neither is subordinate to the other. Our understanding of either in potentially faulty (or why do not all spirit led Christians agree on all points of scripture).

The study of providence through Gods word and the study of providence through creation, when properly understood, will both point back to God, even tough the techniques involved are specific to the kind of revelation being examined. While the answers from the Biblical approach will emphasize God as a person, and the answers from examining creation may not be as explicit, I can tell you that as I was straining to understand some scientific discussion of space and time and that neither empty space nor time would exist without the things within it, I meditated on the person-hood of the Father.
You said earlier in post #54 that "the natural laws are consent." Did you mean to say that the natural laws are constant? If so, do you believe that to be true?
 
Mar 12, 2019
67
38
18
65
Merkel, Texas
Incidentally, if you want to see a more in-depth example of biblical generalization from Genesis 3, I would recommend you read post #8 on the thread, "The tree of life/tree of knowledge of good and evil"
 
Feb 10, 2015
779
945
93
Maryland
You said earlier in post #54 that "the natural laws are consent." Did you mean to say that the natural laws are constant? If so, do you believe that to be true?
In that post I was saying that truth of natural laws and truth of Biblical knowledge will be consistent, meaning non contradictor even though they may arrive at truth by different paths.

As to whether the laws are constant:
Scientifis laws reflect their maker. God is unchanging, and fundamental laws of creation seem to reflect that.
 
Mar 12, 2019
67
38
18
65
Merkel, Texas
In that post I was saying that truth of natural laws and truth of Biblical knowledge will be consistent, meaning non contradictor even though they may arrive at truth by different paths.

As to whether the laws are constant:
Scientifis laws reflect their maker. God is unchanging, and fundamental laws of creation seem to reflect that.
I am not suggesting there is any discontinuity between "natural laws" and the truth of scripture. What I am suggesting under no uncertain terms is that there is tremendous discontinuity between scientific "interpretation" of natural evidences and the truth of scripture. These two will never be reconciled as long as scientific interpretation is allowed to overturn the language of scripture.

Just something aside for you to think about. If "natural laws" are fixed and unchanging, then how would you explain the miracles found in scripture?
 
Feb 10, 2015
779
945
93
Maryland
Just something aside for you to think about. If "natural laws" are fixed and unchanging, then how would you explain the miracles found in scripture?
That would also be an interesting thread..

To summarize my thinking, much of what we understand as miracles are just instances where God knows more about His laws than we do.

If, by miracle you require God to violate his own laws that reflect His nature then that kind of miracle never happened. God does not work against himself.

When we know how and the mechanism of action, we may call it providence, but we do not call it a miracle. If we cannot understand it, we call it a miracle. The difference is more a matter of what we know than it is a fundamental difference in the kind of action.

Ancients would call much of modern life miraculous, but we do not because even if we don't personally understand some piece of technology, we are confident that other men understand it. Its still a matter of what is known.

As far as more astonishing occurrences, I would point out that underlying all our muindane existence is an underpinning of probabilistic atomic and subatomic interactions. I would make a conjecture that the various possible outcomes for each action may represent a choice by the creator. An infinite God can do astonishing things by making innumerable decisions that make large scale happenings that are statistically near impossible (vanishingly so), A key thing is the difference between near impossible and absolutely impossible, and the fact that God is infinite and however many choices He needs to make is no 'sweat' to him.

By the way, Look at the bottom right of my Avatar. That is a depiction of an atom. I know it is old style and that the Bohr planetary model has been supplanted by later research, but another of my understandings from my formative years was that whatever electrons are, and however they move, they do so because the Creator is the Sustainer and He individually wills each along its path.

This is kind of applying the concept of knowing the number of hairs on my head to the concept of nuclear actions, combined with the knowledge that God is active (He did not just get things going and sit back and watch). The natural laws are summations and descriptions of the choices of God. The fact that we can deduce laws just shows his consistency and that he is not arbitrary.

The particular atom I depicted (in diagram fashion) is the lithium atom. Lithium is used in many astronomical mirrors ( It is shinny and makes good mirrors, and it is relatively light which simplifies structural requirements ). Astronomical information was also a part of my being drawn to God.
 
Mar 12, 2019
67
38
18
65
Merkel, Texas
That would also be an interesting thread..

To summarize my thinking, much of what we understand as miracles are just instances where God knows more about His laws than we do.

If, by miracle you require God to violate his own laws that reflect His nature then that kind of miracle never happened. God does not work against himself.

When we know how and the mechanism of action, we may call it providence, but we do not call it a miracle. If we cannot understand it, we call it a miracle. The difference is more a matter of what we know than it is a fundamental difference in the kind of action.

Ancients would call much of modern life miraculous, but we do not because even if we don't personally understand some piece of technology, we are confident that other men understand it. Its still a matter of what is known.

As far as more astonishing occurrences, I would point out that underlying all our muindane existence is an underpinning of probabilistic atomic and subatomic interactions. I would make a conjecture that the various possible outcomes for each action may represent a choice by the creator. An infinite God can do astonishing things by making innumerable decisions that make large scale happenings that are statistically near impossible (vanishingly so), A key thing is the difference between near impossible and absolutely impossible, and the fact that God is infinite and however many choices He needs to make is no 'sweat' to him.

By the way, Look at the bottom right of my Avatar. That is a depiction of an atom. I know it is old style and that the Bohr planetary model has been supplanted by later research, but another of my understandings from my formative years was that whatever electrons are, and however they move, they do so because the Creator is the Sustainer and He individually wills each along its path.

This is kind of applying the concept of knowing the number of hairs on my head to the concept of nuclear actions, combined with the knowledge that God is active (He did not just get things going and sit back and watch). The natural laws are summations and descriptions of the choices of God. The fact that we can deduce laws just shows his consistency and that he is not arbitrary.

The particular atom I depicted (in diagram fashion) is the lithium atom. Lithium is used in many astronomical mirrors ( It is shinny and makes good mirrors, and it is relatively light which simplifies structural requirements ). Astronomical information was also a part of my being drawn to God.
Let me give you something to think about here with respect to the so-called "laws of nature".

Our bodies are so order by the Creator that we must depend upon our five senses to tell us certain truths about our world. This is well and good because these things allow us to function within the confines of our natural surroundings. Our understanding of certain conditions allow us to protect ourselves from potential harm. For example, I do not stick my hand in the fire because I know that heat radiation is painfully destructive to human tissue. I do not walk off the top of a twenty-story building because I know that the impact at the bottom will undoubtedly be fatal. I do not knowingly step out in front of a speeding vehicle because I know there is a determined relationship between my body and mass in motion that does not work in my favor. These facts are certainly real and cannot simply be ignored.

Our senses are instilled within each of us by the Creator and are indeed a necessary component of our material existence. We cannot however, trust ourunderstanding of material conditions to tell us all the truth about reality. These conditions do not tell me that the power of God manipulates, overrules, and overturns natural processes. I can only know this from revelation. Scripture shows us that in human history, God has repeatedly contravened and overturned established determined relations, which we generally refer to as “laws” of nature. By its very nature, the idea of law suggests something that cannot be countermanded or violated without consequences. This is how we understand what we regard as “natural laws,” but just what is law?
I mentioned John Barrow earlier. If you are not familiar with him, he is the one who set forth the five propositions of how we should understand the relationship between the universe and natural laws. I will not take the time to go into each of these points individually. I only want to make you aware of them.

In his first proposition, Barrow suggested that law is preexistent and stands outside the natural universe. His second proposition says that the universe is preexistent and law exists only as a product of rational human invention. What this means is that the concept of law is man's attempt to explain a set of observable regularities and answer the question of causation. His third proposition states that law and the universe are contiguous regularities in time and space. In other words, both law and the universe have always co-existed in an eternal relationship. His fourth possibility suggests that the universe is all there is and that law is nonexistent. His fifth proposition (and the most absurd) suggests that law is all there is and that the universe is actually nonexistent.

If revelation is true concerning the nature of the universe, then all things on the natural side of reality owes its existence exclusively to the presence, power, and reality of God. Matter has no power to exist in and of its self, nor does the universe have within it the power to establish laws to govern its behavior. Law is an abstract and by its very nature requires the presence of a dependent entity upon which to act, something outside of itself that is dependent upon its power to govern. Without something upon which to act, would not law then cease to be law? If such a law existed before and outside of the universe it would, of necessity, exist in a vacuum. I maintain this is not possible. I would have to insist that, apart from the existence of God, there can be no law. Law can only exist as a means to establish order and organization for something that is concrete. Law requires the function of an administrator to enforce it. Since law has no power to create something beyond itself, there must be a power beyond law that is causative. Since the universe and universal law cannot exist apart from one another, neither can be causative of the other. This means that natural law must be subordinate to powers beyond itself. Law is neither self-existing nor self-sustaining. What man generally considers as “laws of nature” exist not as laws but rather as a set of determined relations that allow man to function within the confines of the natural world. It is a mistake to think that man can come to an accurate understanding of the universe on his own terms through a rational observation of his experiences within it.

Rationality depends upon the consistency of observable regularities. For example, I know that every time I throw a rock into the air it will inevitably come down because it always has. It has never just kept on going and going or stopped in mid-air. Any expectation that these “laws” can be overturned is generally regarded as irrational and not to be given serious consideration. Yet, scripture is replete with examples of the “irrational.” It is not rational to believe that three men can be thrown into a furnace of fire for an extended period and emerge unharmed and with not even so much as the smell of smoke on them, Daniel 3:24-27. It is patently absurd to believe that the earth can suddenly and instantaneously cease its rotational pattern for several hours without dramatically disturbing gravitational forces, Joshua 10:12-14. There is nothing in our experience within the field of human biology to suggest that a virgin can conceive a child , or that an metal ax head can float, or that an man can walk on water, or that someone who had been dead and entombed for four days can be raised simply by verbal command to rejoin the living.

All of these examples are certainly inconsistent with our experiences in observable regularities. These things cannot be rationalized based upon natural processes. What these things serve to demonstrate is that God is not bound by the so-called "laws of nature" or constrained by natural process, nor is the universe governed by such. We live in a non-linear reality because our world does not exist as a closed system. Our world is governed and controlled by powers that are outside of our normal field of observation. If man is to properly context his world of experience, he must learn to link what he can see to the reality and the power of God whom he cannot see.

When we approach scripture in just this way, we find that certain conclusions about Barrow’s five possibilities must be recognized. 1) All of his possibilities are dependent upon natural process that scripture reveals are non-determinate. 2) He places causation strictly within the natural realm. 3) Absolute intelligence, which is demonstrated in the power to govern, control and organize, is somehow the product of material reality. 4) He divorces causation from any external source of intelligence. When we attempt to rationalize creation based on our own understand of the natural world, no matter how educated one's analysis may be, we will invariably come to the wrong conclusions about creation. If we want to understand the point of causation, we must defer to the one who framed creation and then provided us an inspired written record of that event.
 
Feb 10, 2015
779
945
93
Maryland
I do not see where anything I posted regarding the laws of nature contradict anything you have said.

I must also point out that just as our understanding of nature is limited, so is our understanding of scripture, and of God himself.

If anything, my formulation puts God at the center of natural laws, as He surely is. And I also point out in regard to miracles that I don't deny their facts, it is just a matter of classification.

My formulation confirms and requires an omnipotent God and denys that the natural laws are apart from Him, since He is actively the source of them.

Maybe you could focus on:
So, the question is this. What other way is there to approach scripture that will allow the language of the text to supply its own meaning.
And also, since I do not recognize a dichotomy between natural laws and the actions of God, even on the level of the actions of subatomic particles, I cannot see how studying them and reflecting on what they teach us about God can negatively impact our understanding of Scripture. They may point up a misunderstanding, and we must then understand that the error is in our understanding.

To suggest that it is always misunderstanding of nature (which I contend is an understanding of Him) ignores the fact that our understanding of scripture is always limited.
 
Mar 12, 2019
67
38
18
65
Merkel, Texas
I do not see where anything I posted regarding the laws of nature contradict anything you have said.

I must also point out that just as our understanding of nature is limited, so is our understanding of scripture, and of God himself.

If anything, my formulation puts God at the center of natural laws, as He surely is. And I also point out in regard to miracles that I don't deny their facts, it is just a matter of classification.

My formulation confirms and requires an omnipotent God and denys that the natural laws are apart from Him, since He is actively the source of them.

Maybe you could focus on:


And also, since I do not recognize a dichotomy between natural laws and the actions of God, even on the level of the actions of subatomic particles, I cannot see how studying them and reflecting on what they teach us about God can negatively impact our understanding of Scripture. They may point up a misunderstanding, and we must then understand that the error is in our understanding.

To suggest that it is always misunderstanding of nature (which I contend is an understanding of Him) ignores the fact that our understanding of scripture is always limited.
Of course our understanding of both are limited. I am sure you are probably reading my posts but for some reason, the implications of what I am saying are getting lost. Perhaps we should get down to cases so I can better demonstrate what I am trying to get across. Since this thread started with the question of causation in the creation account, perhaps we should begin there. What I would like you to do is demonstrate to me how scientific interpretation of physical evidences, which imagines millions and billions of years of evolution, can have any degree of synthases with the account of creation given in Genesis 1 and 2.
 
Feb 10, 2015
779
945
93
Maryland
Rather than get into Genesis at this point, I would like to discuss where you seem to make assumptions regarding how I approach the miraculous. For example you mention:

There is nothing in our experience within the field of human biology to suggest that a virgin can conceive a child
I would not have you think that I do not accept the virgin birth of our Lord. The way you stated this subject implied that I may have a problem with it.

But if you read my post #74 I say specifically, that what appears miraculous is merely something that is highly improbable which does happen by direct action of the sovereign God. Whatever was required to start the life in Mary’s body could be accomplished by direct action of God in terms of choosing which of all possible interactions actually occurred. It may be a series of highly improbable actions.

Your description of the happening is that there is “nothing in our experience within the field of human biology to suggest that a virgin can conceive a child”. I do not limit the scientific to our current understanding.

Second you stated that there was nothing in our experience allowing this. If I may point out, my formulation of the apparent miracles only required that it be statistically possible, even if extremely unlikely. In this case, it need have happened only once in all of human history, and that could be a statistical fluke, meaning that even if the required happening would statistically have only one chance in a hundred times the length of all time, it would be enough to allow an infinite God to so manipulate things to bring it about in the person as He chose, in the manner He chose.

In reality, the only real limit to anything that God may do is the nature of God Himself. There are some things He just cannot do. Not that any fundamentally physical thing is beyond Him but He cannot do anything that violates His own nature. It is not that natural law prevents God, it is that the nature of God Himself defines the nature of physical laws. As a trivial example, He cannot sin. Against whom would He sin? He cannot do anything pointless (even if no other being could see the point). He cannot deny Himself. He cannot be deceitful, though his ways are sometimes inscrutable.

So My formulation of the miraculous does not place any happening described in the Bible necessarily in jeopardy. But I would state (by faith, it not by other means) that the deviation from straight-forward application of true natural laws is as little as necessary to accomplish the goals of God. This is because God is not gratuitously arbitrary.
 
Mar 12, 2019
67
38
18
65
Merkel, Texas
You are trying to explain miraculous event by appealing to natural processes and this is an impossibility. Scripture shows us that God in no was bound or limited by the so-called natural laws. Scripture confirms over and over that God created the universe out of nothing simply by the power of his will and verbal command.

"By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.7He gathers the waters of the sea together as an heap: he lays up the depth in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast." Psalms 33:6-9

"By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible." Hebrews 11:3.

You simply cannot explain a non-natural event by appealing to natural processes. Creation, like all other recorded miracles was a non-natural event. The only causal factor was God. There were no other antecedents.

I realize I have given you a great deal of information and this is a lot to take in. So, I am going to give you some time to process this and perhaps we can discuss this some other time. I have enjoyed our discussion.
 
Feb 10, 2015
779
945
93
Maryland
So lets see how I approach the scriptures and the sciences. And here I am not trying to convince anyone. I am just trying to illustrate that applying the sciences to the scriptures is not denying the scriptures.

Let’s start with Genesis 1. No, I am not going for the ‘E’ word (biological evolution), but rather how there came to be something rather than nothing.


I usually study using New American Standard and compare with others after reading there, but the wording in King James will be more familiar with most and you can spend less time analyzing words.

Genesis 1:1-5

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.


Most of us are familiar with this and take note of such things as the universe was created out of nothing (ex Nihilo), that it started out without form, and it was dark. Then God spoke, and there was light. It doesn’t seem to be like turning a dimmer up (slowly by increments), but immediately the universe as it existed at that point was flooded with light. God named locations that are lit to be day, while those in shadow were in night. Then evening (end of day) followed buy morning (beginning of day).

Note that there were no planets at this time to have mornings and evenings in the current sense, but there was a change in day (YOM in Hebrew). Now for those that insist on a YOM, particularly one preceded with a number being the same length as our solar day, I would have you look at Zechariah 14:6-8

But it shall be one day which shall be known to the Lord,
not day, nor night:
but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.
And it shall be in that day,
that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem;
half of them toward the former sea,
and half of them toward the hinder sea:
in summer and in winter shall it be.



Now, I am not a language scholar but according to several, the words translated as “first day” in Genesis one are translated as one day in Zechariah 14:7, without regard to day nor night. If you look at that day refers to when the living waters would proceed from Jerusalem. That day includes both summer and winter. Surely a period of time longer than a single solar (or sidereal) day. This is not an unassailable position, but it does have some weight.

Now, lets see what the scientific cosmologists say:

Although there is some speculation (Brane Theory) attempting to push back the beginning beyond the ‘big bang’, scientists contend that there wasn’t a before. That for whatever unexplained or unknown ‘reason’, the universe came into being as a exceedingly small point of exceedingly hot and dense matter, sometimes called the cosmic egg. Now this wasn’t stuff inserted into pre-existing vacuum, the very dimensions of reality and the start of time came into existence as matter expanded. Sound a little like Ex Nihlo? This is not the matter we see today (which is largely made up of what is called baryons and is called baryonic matter), but fundamental particles and precursors to baryonic mater. Sounds kind of without form to me.

At first, photons could not exist (it was too hot and dense), a little later and any photons that did condense out of the protomatter would immediately be absorbed. Sounds kind of dark to me.

As the universe expanded (and space expanded with it), if cooled and became less dense. Photons existed throughout the small universe, but were absorbed almost as soon as they were created. Then when the universe’s density became small enough, it underwent a phase change, which is a sudden change in properties. It became largely transparent to light, and the universe was flooded with light. Remember when God said Let There Be Light”.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.