A modern, dramaticized recreation of what could have been an historical conversation:
Man 1: Do you want to know what's awesome?
Man 2: I'd love to.
Man 1: The sky.
Man 2: You're so right! It really does a spectacular job of showcasing God's majesty.
Man 1: I couldn't agree more, Man 2. I've actually been pretty obsessed with it lately.
Man 2: Is that so?
Man 1: It is. In fact, I've been so fascinated by it that I've been carefully noting all of my observations and have been drawing some pretty interesting conclusions.
Man 2: Oh?
Man 1: Yes. Here; I've compiled them into a book, as a matter of fact.
Man 1 hands Man 2 a conveniently produced book from his knapsack.
Man 2: It says here that you see strange movement far away. What is that about?
Man 1: Now THAT is fascinating. There is activity millions of miles away that suggests stars and bodies moving around each other.
Man 2: Around each other?
Man 1: Yes. They have orbits that are completely out of sych with stuff around them.
Man 2: Well surely you can't know it, especially when it's (Man 2 makes air quotes with his fingers) "millions" of miles away.
Man 1: But I can! I've measured and taken careful note over the past several years. If you look on page 46...
Man 2: (shutting the book) I thought you were a man of faith.
Man 1: I'm sorry?
Man 2: You realize that what you're saying is blasphemy, right?
Man 1: Blasphemy?
Man 2: Celestial bodies off somewhere, "millions" of miles away doing their own thing in the sea of God's cosmos?
Man 1: I mean, it's not that it's their own thing, there's order...
Man 2: Did you not know that Earth and those who inhabit it are the pinnacle of Creation?
Man 1: What does that have to do with...
Man 2: All things were created for man, because man was created last, with everything he needs provided for him. It's God's plan, because man is the most important.
Man 1: I thought that all things were created for the Creator?
Man 2: Yes, and humans are the most important! That's why everything moves around us. It's important that your "research" does not contradict the will of God.
Man 1: Well, that's funny too, because I'm not sure that everything does revolve around us. See, over here, I have some proofs and math that show...
Man 2: I have all the math I need here! (Holds up a worn KJV 1611)
Man 1: Just look at these equations for a second...
Man 2: Day one plus day two plus day three leads to day four, which is when God made the stars. That's how he did it, and it's all leading up to man!
Man 1: I'm not saying God didn't do that; I merely want to understand how it all works!
Man 2: I'll tell you how it works: Colossians 1:17.
Man 1: Of course I believe that God holdeth everything together. But just because we know screws hold furniture together doesn't mean we shouldn't understand how screws work!
Man 2: And now you're comparing the Creator to tools. Unbelievable.
Man 1: I mean nothing harmful by my inquiries; I merely want to take apart the watch to understand the watchmaker! I want to peel back the paint layers to understand the painter! I want to look at the things around me and see that they're moving and understand why it is that they move!
Man 2: They move because it's the will of God. Do you have no faith? Do you only trust your "research"? What about Scripture!? What about the inerrant word of God? What happens when your "numbers" and "science" contradict it?
Man 1: They don't, though!
Man 2: They exactly do. That's where you're wrong, out of line, and misguided.
Man 1: My numbers only show how! They don't show the why or the who, but just the how! How is this out of line?
Man 2: Guards!
Enter big, burly men in courtly robes who begin to drag Man 1 away.
Man 1: What are you doing? What is wrong? These are my observations; this is just how things are!
Man 2: Your "observations" are heresies and have no business in this, a holy court of the Inquisition. You can continue your research and your path to hell from your home, but it will be under house arrest. You'll no longer profane this place with your "science."
Man 1: (being drug away) They move! The stars move and dance and grow and die quite far away from us and with little concern of our existence, and they have been doing that since God got them there! You can take me away, but that does not change the fact that they move. You can restrain me and immobilize me and cut me off from research and do whatever, but nothing will stop their motion. You and I will die; nevertheless, they move!
What never fails to raise my blood pressure is when "Christians" start debating "scientists" in public forums. It's almost like the two cannot coincide, but when they do, the terms must be combined: "Christian Scientist."
Once upon a time, scientists were merely God-lovers who wanted to understand how the stuff God made worked. "You've given us some awesome stuff here; mind if we open it up and take a look at how You've wound the gears?" we asked.
"Go ahead," God said.
And then something happened.
We suddenly were seeing things in a way that had been previously unheard of. Stars were at once as big as a room, measurable, and able to be "mathed". Micro-organisms and the things that made them up became entire fields of study. The way developed humanity understood the world fundamentally changed, which created a significant problem for those whose world was simultaneously defined by an interpretation of Scripture.
The question: "Well, if we are wrong about what the Bible says about _______, what else are we wrong about?"
They were scared of that question, and we've been scared of questions ever since. Even though we'd moved on from the Geocentric model of the solar system, we've never moved away from our Homocentric model of existence. We've never shaken the idea that perhaps it's all about us. We continued reading the Book for understanding of things it never tried to teach us, and in doing so, have missed something pretty spectacular.
"The Bible is the only textbook I'll ever need" - a legitimate, not kidding, no fooling bumper sticker I saw on a car on the road.
Some clarification about my stance on Scripture.
Scripture is what it says it is (I realize this is self-referential and a logical inconsistency; but so is faith, and faith is quite superlogical). It is Divine, breathed by the Spirit to the pens of dozens of men scattered throughout different regions of time and globe, and kept by devout men whose lives were dedicated to solitude and its faithful copying and preserving. The canonized Bible we hold today is not the product of conspiracy (though its history has narrowly escaped it) or agenda (those who argue so have read surprisingly little of it; it's actually perhaps the most dangerous book in the world), but of both Divinely inspired discernment and passionate dedication of countless individuals who will joyfully remain relatively nameless for generations to come.
Discounting the Divine nature of the book we can buy for a dollar at a thrift shop is to fundamentally misunderstand what it says; denying the other-worldly consistency that at least 39 individuals kept over the course of a millennium a half (without communication between them) is using the wood to disprove the pencil. Scripture is inerrant because it originates from a singular source somewhere beyond human comprehension and is endowed with a unified Spirit that does nothing but point to Itself.
I believe it is to be taken literally, as I believe all written word is to be taken literally: it is to be interpreted with the end in mind for which it was written.
As far as contradictions: I've not found a list that prove anything but textual ignorance. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it's the most thematically, narratively, personally consistent work that's ever been bound. The things it has actually claimed to be real events can be verified through extra-Biblical sources. The history it details pertaining to kings and rulers and droughts and famines, the encounters it claims to be actual, personal encounters, and its accounts of the death of a man who claimed to be the Son of God deal with real individuals in actual circumstances, which is an exceedingly terrible move if you're trying to found a religion.
Let's just say nobody spends their time trying to disprove Hinduism's 330 million gods, because there's nothing to disprove. If you want to believe in something 100% impervious to disproof, even Scientology would probably be a better bet, because Christianity is the most falsifiable religion available on the spectrum of what is offered on the planet.
And so what we've done is to take the God of this religion, give Him a walkie-talkie so we can still ask Him for stuff, shut the lid, and bury it inside of a secret vault behind a big sign that says, "This is what we believe." We read the stuff He said and say, "How can this be about me?" rather than "How can I see God better through this, and adjust my life accordingly?"
Some Related Things
Allow a question: What was the purpose of God delivering to Moses the words for what became the Torah?
Was it to detail the process by which the Universe was created?
Was it to deliver under what conditions one may judge his neighbor?
Was it to instill a coded message onto paper that is to remain secreted until the end of days?
Probably not. He's God, so He can do what He wants, but that's most likely not the purpose; otherwise, when Jesus came, He would have been doing the same thing (since He and God were the same).
The Torah was written for a nomadic people wandering about the desert. They were used to hearing a smattering of other groups of people talk about Baals and worshipping all manner of idols, and they needed direction. God led them out, yes, but the direction that they needed was how to get to Him. There is an entire section about stuff that they needed to do to remain holy, not because it was the stuff that made them holy, but because they'd proven that unless there were stringent guidelines placed on their lives to keep them focused on God, they were going to galavant about and make idols out of melted earrings.
What did Jesus say about these volumes of laws? It wasn't that you should quote them at people who want to get tattoos or that you should use it as proof against bacon or that you should use it to justify not shaving for a while; He said that the point was to get you to love God with everything that you have and then show the same love you'd use for yourself to others.
The point of God's word is the same thing as the point of Creation (and Salvation, for that matter): it is to draw the set apart humanity to the One who created them, that they might bring Him glory.
"Science" and Responses
So this brings us to the biggest question of the day: what happens when Science starts claiming things that contradict what the Bible says?
To this, I would offer two responses.
1. I would like you to examine just what a contradiction is. A contradiction would be if you read, "Then God created man with two arms and two legs and a pair of wings, with which to fly," but frequently examined your back and found it quite absent of feathers. A contradiction is not: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth," paired with, "We think that the entire Universe spawned from one central point at one specific moment of time in the most cataclysmic, unexplainable burst of energy ever recorded or most likely ever possible again. Look, here's our proof."
A contradiction is when two things are claimed to be true, which cannot coexist with each other. Think: "The sky is blue" and "The sky doesn't exist."
The one you've probably been waiting for me to mention so that you can get angry in my favorite of all internet inventions, the comments section: "If you add up all of the genealogies and timelines given to us in the infallible Word of God and believe that He's never wrong, then you can bet that anybody who tells you that the Universe is older than give or take 6,000 years is wrong. Any evidence that goes against this is misinterpreted; any 'science' that proves otherwise has been misapplied or is wrong, for 'science' is CONSTANTLY disproving itself. Any word against God's is wrong."
This is said in defiance of the opposition, which claims: "We've taken core samplings, measured half-lives of radioactive signatures in the stars, charted galaxies in excess of 13.3 billion light-years away from earth (if 6,000 years is the cap, then nothing could be farther away than 6,000 light-years. Just for reference), and we've discovered rather consequential proof of eons of development and catastrophe that have led to the Universe, much less the earth, that we see today."
What is at stake here is not reality, but interpretation. The Word of God will be consistent with the World of God every single time; what is fallible is fallible man.
I believe the theories of macro, cosmic, and organic evolution, for instance, to be just as incorrect and erroneously founded as the theory of Geocentricity. However, constructon of the age of the Universe based on geneological records and non-literal (read: out of the context for which it was written) interpretations of Scripture are equally fallacious.
Arguing for large-scale macro-and-cosmic-evolution requires the tabling of entirely too many logical fallacies than should be allowed in any textbook; arguing for Universe age based on Hebraic genealogies (which were often "telescoped," or abbreviated, for any number of reasons) in a text written for or based on nomadic desert-dwellers is based on misunderstanding of how genealogies were historically and regionally used. (*Please see the link at the bottom of this page for more on genealogies)
My second response is a question, and is more important:
2. What happens to your faith if you're proven wrong?
If you are a God-fearer, what's going to happen if one day it is revealed to you that the Universe is actually 13.7 billion human years old? If you are not one, what's going to happen should you find out that an omnipotent Creator sprang life into existence with inherent, measurable age and history a mere 6,004 years ago? What's at stake for you, personally?
In preparation for this article, I read a crap ton (that's the scientific measurement) of evolution materials: source texts, number reports, commentaries on theories, arguments for and against it... I've by no means studied it exhaustively, nor am I fit to cast judgements on it save for my personal feeling that it requires as much faith as believing in a Creator, but I've seen a lot of stuff.
But do you know what I've found? I would have no problem with it turning out to be the actual, literal truth of the history of reproducible life, so long as the One who set it it motion is the One guiding it today. I've found that I couldn't give a rip if God made everything 5 minutes ago or 13.7 billion years ago, because the idea of His creating it for the sole purpose of bringing Himself glory is overwhelming, and my gall to get mad at somebody for noticing something that disproves my opinion is insulting to Him. If my faith is shaken by my opinion about something inconsequential being wrong, what kind of faith did I have to begin with?
I need to learn to quit making everything, including the fact of the existence of every conceivable living thing, about me.
Young-earth believer? Rejoice in how grand your King is and how intricately He's made you.
Old-earth believer? Rejoice in how grand your King is and how intricately He's made you.
Do you disagree with each other? I'm sorry.
Does it change your God?
There is a cacophony of well-thought out and exceptional reasoning on both sides of any issue along these "Science vs. Christianity" lines. What remains when we rid ourselves of the self-serving need to be right?
We discover faith.
I've expressed it before, but the beauty of Truth is that it cannot be understood; that's why Truth took the form of a Man so we could follow Him instead.
It is the Truth, not your understanding of it, that sets you free.
Several hours' worth of reading/watching material that, should you be interested in this stuff, you'll find super interesting:
1. Dr. John Lennox lecture from Socrates in the City: "The Seven Days That Divided the World."
2. Is the Earth 6,000 years old? An article from the magazine that has a magnificient 7-part refutation of the theory of Evolution
3. An article to aid in understanding Biblical geneologies.