Thursday, November 12, 2015

[BTT003] The Wages of Dogmatism

Previous: [BTT002] Biblical Theologies and the Bible

If the explicit teachings of Scripture on the subject are not enough, we also have the example of history to guide us. We live in a world that thinks of Christians as anti-science - and not without reason. While many of the greatest scientific minds of history were Christians, some of the gravest errors of the church were caused by insisting that only one of the possible human interpretations of the Bible was correct.

Need we speak of Galileo and the insistence of the Catholic Church that the sun revolved around the Earth? And lest we put all of the blame on the Catholics, Luther and Calvin insisted on the same. The Geocentric model was thought of as a theological given.

In the defense of these Christian theologians, Galileo's argument was far from air-tight. There were numerous mathematical issues with the Heliocentric model that had not been worked out, many solid scientific reasons for favoring Geocentrism. And yet, as scientific understanding advanced, Galileo proved to be correct and the Christian church ended up on the wrong side of history. And all over an issue that was far from essential Biblical doctrine and far from being explicitly stated in Scripture.

An issue that should have been resolved by love, charity, and a healthy appreciation for the limits of our understanding of Scripture has become an embarrassment that lingers over Christianity to this very day.

This extends to current scientific debates as well. Does the Bible teach a literal six-day creation or is Genesis 1 a poetic allegory? Natural selection and micro-evolution (the belief that wolves and dogs developed from a common canine ancestor, not the idea that humans developed from fish) now accepted by the majority of Christians, was once rejected as anti-Biblical. This despite the fact that the theory of genetics was developed by a Christian monk!

The issue with Christianity is not that it is inherently anti-science, but that we have inherited the attitude of the Pharisees. The Bible is not anti-science, but hating a fellow Christian because they subscribe to a different plausible interpretation of Scripture is without a doubt anti-biblical.

Just as the mathematics of Galileo's day supported the Geocentric model, the science of our day favors an old Earth. I cannot say whether further scientific investigation will disprove macro-evolution, but that which has changed once may yet change again. Instead of insisting on one human-made dogma and hating those who adhere to another, let us love another with sober minds and look past the doctrines of men to the commandments of God.

Next: [BTT004] Faith of Our Fathers

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