Wednesday, July 08, 2020

What? Me wrong?! No way!

The lesson we should derive from these examples, particularly the Galileo incident, is that the church should not respond with a knee-jerk negative reaction to scientific discoveries that appear to question our interpretation of the Bible. If they are accurate descriptions of reality, they are not going to conflict with the Bible. Rather, our reaction should be to go back to Scripture and see if we understood the text correctly or whether there might be a better reading in the sense that it takes us back to the intention of the author.

We should take Augustine’s admonition, worth quoting at length, to heart:

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 posotions, 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 disraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense 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 faith think our sacred writers held such opinions and to the great loss for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scriptures 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 and 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 brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books.—Lost World of the Flood, 173–74

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