Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A creationism vs. evolution discussion,. Part 5

So that's how I got those stripes on my head???

OK, I need to inject a little levity into this discussion...

My Question:
Bacteria and viruses are mentioned in the Bible.

Possible answers: True or false

Correct answer: False

Marcsana’s response:
9. Actually, Scripture mentions round earth ideas, expanding universe, and dark matter.

My response:
Again, a nimble sidestep. The question was whether or not bacteria and viruses are mentioned in the Bible. They aren’t.

Creationists have only two choices when it comes to Biblical inerrancy. Either every single word in the entire Bible is irrefutably, absolutely true, or at least one statement in the Bible is allegorical, exaggerated, or otherwise untrue. If there is at least one untrue statement, then the Bible is not an infallible resource.

If every word in the Bible is true, then much of what we currently believe- inside and outside of the scientific realm- is untrue. Just a few examples of what must be true if every word in the Bible is inerrant fact:
  • If you place mating goats in front of streaked branches, they will produce streaked kids. (Genesis 30:37-39)
  • Rabbits are ruminants that chew the cud. (Leviticus 11:5-6, Deuteronomy 14:17)
  • Ostriches abandon their eggs and do not raise their young (Job 39:13-16)
  • Mustard seeds are the smallest seeds in existence (Mark 4:31)
  • Insects have four legs (Leviticus 11:20-23)

And I could go on, we should all be out killing witches, men should marry those they have raped and never, ever divorce them, it’s OK to set bears upon kids who tease you for baldness…

And let’s not even get into the matter of verses in the Bible that are contradictory (just how many of each kind of animal were on the Ark?)!

Now, of course, Biblical apologeticists come up with counterarguments for most of these…for example, they claim that grasshoppers were stated to have four legs because their hind legs didn’t count as legs or that the Hebrews really didn’t mean to say that rabbits were chewing the cud - but that’s all splitting hares- er, hairs. And no one’s got a really good explanation about those streaky goats…as a goat breeder and student of the genetics of goat color, I’d really like to get that one working for me!

The point still remains. These statements are in the Bible. No matter how you explain them, they are incorrect. If there is some information in the Bible that is not correct, the doctrine of inerrancy fails.

The Bible is full of wonderful allegories and stories that reflect the knowledge of a pastoral people in Mesopotamia. However, it fails utterly as a science textbook.

And I think I'll resort to my studies of the codominance of alleles at the Agouti locus in goats when I want to have some striped kids rather than tossing around some firewood.


Anonymous said...

Today's entry will also be much shorter in length.
There wasn't any sidestepping. When I wrote the critique of that test on FunTriva, I didn't know if I would hear back and if a debate or discussion would ensue. So I wrote in general about everything just to see if a discussion would happen. And, I'm very glad to say, it has. My point in writing that comment wasn't to sidestep an issue; it was to show something that most people would be surprised about. Furthermore, it does not reflect poorly on the Scriptures at all that they don't mention bacteria and viruses. There are a few passages in the Law that indicate their existence, by the way, but do not explicitly say "bacteria and viruses." But again, this is NOT important.
You bring up several alleged discrepancies with the Bible and at one point wrote, "...but that's all splitting hares- er, hairs...The point still remains. These statements are in the Bible. No matter how you explain them, they are incorrect. If there is some information in the Bible that is not correct, the doctrine of inerrancy fails."
It isn't splitting hairs. Unless answering questions is splitting hairs according to you. There is an explanation for everything you mentioned; many explanations can be found in linguistics (my area of expertise). Others, you need to combine a few other factors (like culture and whether or not a passage is a narrative). Considering these things is excessively important when finding answers to questions about the Bible. If someone does not like one of these answers, it doesn't negate the value of it (When I use "answer," I refer to well-established facts). By the way, there is a terrific explanation for the passage in Genesis regarding streaked goats. The Bible is error-free and contradiction-free. One more important point. Let's say I'm writing about a boy named Barnaby. Let's further suppose that I'm writing about a particular nasty habit about him; let's say he likes to kick squirrels. Just because I'm writing about him kicking squirrels doesn't mean I'm encouraging others to do so. I'm recording information about Barnaby. Let's say that what Barnaby does and what my "law" is are in opposition. It shows that Barnaby doesn't follow my "law."
Anyway, this would be a wonderful discussion as well if you ever want to get into it.
I have spoken EXTREMELY generally and I will close with this paragraph. We are discussing scientific considerations of the creation vs. evolution debate. Defending the Bible is a different topic that introduces many other disciplines including linguistics, archaeology, prophecy, etc. If you would like to have this discussion in addition to what we are already doing, I would be more than happy to oblige. If you would like to keep this discussion strictly within the framework of evolution vs. creation, then let's do that. If you would like to discuss the Bible at a later time AFTER we've discussed the topics at hand, we could do that too. What would you like to do?

Cris Waller said...

I will certainly agree not to discuss the Bible in future installments, as long as you don't bring it up either :) It was pretty relevant to this question.

Just to point out though, as in the last question, my original statement is still valid- just as there are still benighted people who think that men do have less ribs, it is also true that the Bible doesn't mention bacteria or viruses. But I am quite happy to not debate Biblical issues further!