Bible Science, Philo

Take Back the Bible

The Bible is at the core of many public fights (such as the current debate in Kansas about evolution as portrayed in this article) only because of political ambition and public misunderstanding.

I know that’s a strong statement, but the point here is not to grapple with scientific and academic infighting about evolution concepts – a slippery and contentious field of science even aside from theological disputes.

Rather, this writer would like to see an end to the Bible being held up to public ridicule because of popular misreading often fueled by political ambitions. For certain arguments which have brought the Bible into public dispute do not hold up – namely that all discussion of evolution is categorically contrary to Scripture.

EVENTS IN KANSAS AND FARTHER WEST:

The Kansas “trial” is an example of political disinformation campaigns using the Bible to manipulate voters on the right fringe, which plays absurd to the public and the media. Which of us has not heard the extreme ideas of some media culture Bible politicians/teachers: that there were no dinosaurs; that dinosaurs are a plot by Satan to overthrow God by making the Bible seem false; and that we know this because “the Bible teaches that the world was created in seven days (24 hour days)?”

Well, this writer happens to live in the heart of the ancient sea which shrank down to become the Great Salt Lake. We pick up fossils all over our property and see them on the public lands where we walk. Scientists from everywhere come to dig fossils, and we have watched them do it. Yet as they drive SUV’s around, guzzling fossil fuels, a lot of badly-instructed Christians are telling their children there could be no such thing as dinosaurs “because the Bible says.” Well, the Bible doesn’t say that.

A PROBLEM OF ‘DAYS’:

The Hebrew term for day is yome – a broad term with all shades of meaning – day (as opposed to night); day (24 hour period), days; lifetime; time, period or epoch (general), and so on – but for political leverage the politicians/televangelists insist on the 24 hour day interpretation of “yome.”

What happened on the fourth ‘day’ of creation? The sun and moon were created.

What predicates the 24 hour day, but the rotation of the earth in the light of the sun and the moon? In other words, the terms of the 24-hour day – evening and morning as dictated by the sun and the moon – were created on the fourth ‘day’ of creation. By understanding this, by a strict read of Scripture, it becomes impossible, at a minimum, that the first three ‘days’ of creation were 24-hour days.

This opens up the possibility for scientific inquiry about evolution to have occurred among creatures other than man during those epochs spoken of as ‘days’ in Hebrew. The general concept of ‘evolution’ does not have to be synonymous with ‘Satanism.’

THE MORE CRUCIAL QUESTIONS:

Thus discussion about evolution leads right to this question: what is different about man as against other creatures? The Bible distinguishes man from the rest of creation by explicit and profound Holy intervention in the human case. This opens up an opportunity to talk about God in the context of science, which is going to build stronger understanding in children. They will, in any case, make up their own minds in the end.

SO WHY ALL THESE BIBLE-BATTLES?

Ultimately the political infighting about Biblical text is not about the Bible. Why all the media circus then? Picking fights, drawing lines, taking sides – all of this is what polarizes voters. These kinds of tactics are the way politicians run campaigns – they certainly don’t win by agreeing with their opponents. Tragically, some of them are using the Bible to instigate fights in the name of Christianity.

For if the televangelist/politicians loved Scripture as they pretend to do, wouldn’t they pony up the funds to have channels on television dedicated strictly to reading Scripture or put it into text? Why don’t we see Scripture in text threads on monitors in the airports? Why aren’t people holding services on Sabbath Day, where much Scripture is read – as in Jesus’ day, before the invention of the printing press? People didn’t have Bibles lying around the home. They had to go to Temple to hear the Scriptures read.

How to respond? Study the Bible more. For those who have not tried to do so, learn to look things up in original Hebrew and Aramaic terms on the many excellent online resources now available. Looking up the word “day” in Hebrew could be good practice in using important tools of inquiry. But most of all, let’s recognize when the fighting is in bad spirit, or when the real issues, the issues God stresses all through the Bible, are being ignored or buried in the destructive excitement of another fight.

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7 Comments

  • Ahmen to the distinction between the fall of man, and the earth.
    itself. Creation”ism”….Darwin”ism”…..the devil’s own “ism’s”

    God is a mystery by design….Christ was and is the key to the mystery.

    Come to know Him….and He will show you….happily the answers.

    He only requests this….
    ….that you open your eyes to see…and that you open your ears to hear.

  • Evil existed in Satan’s mind before the fall, or it wouldn’t have happened.

    Death came to man as a result of the fall. It was related to sin. Animals don’t have this problem and never did.

  • I would suggest picking up a copy of “Man’s Origin, Man’s Destiny” by A.E. Wilder-Smith. It explores evolution, the impossibility of darwinism, and many other important topics.

    Something to remember: It is impossible that ‘evolution’ or something like it was used by God to create the flora, fauna, and people that cover the earth. Death and decay did not exist before the fall. God using evolution to create the world is just not biblical.

    This is one of the many ideas that the book explores, and I’d recommend buying a copy. It’s definitley worth it.

  • What I always find ironic about the evolution debate is the number of people from the religious right who I’ve heard say that God’s time is not that same as ours in other circumstances. It appears they know all of this, but like many other things in the Bible have chosen to ignore that which does not fit some pre-conceived notions. I think Ari is absolutely right about this coming from a spirit of fear – but the problem is that this was not created during the Clinton years. In my memory, and I’m older than Ari, it seems to have started in the 1980’s with Jerry Falwell and Ronald Reagan. And I wouldn’t be surprised if someone older than me didn’t remember it starting before that – possibly during the 1950’s that Reaganites wanted to re-create (as if a period known for racism, anti-semitism, and McCarthyism was something to admire). I don’t think it accomplishes anything to look for a person or period to blame. I mostly just pray that at some point they realize that fear is an instrument used by Satan to lead us away from God.

  • While the neo-cons take this as yet another issue from which they can benefit politically by pollarizing us, I think many christians have been afraid of the whole evolution thing for a loooong time. Many feel it threatens their faith. Just as they feel gay people getting married threatens the validity of their marriages.

    It all comes from spirit of fear that has been mistakenly seen as fervor or faithfulness and been nurtured instead of eradicated from our contemporary christianity. I am not saying I necessarily agree with everything thats ever been said or theorized about either evolution or gay marriage, but rather that I dont feel that a diversity of view points being discussed threatens what I believe in any way. Afterall, its irrational to think that any of us, of all the zillions of people in the world that ever existed, are the only ones that “finally got it RIGHT”..

    However, I do have to say that, as many good things as came out the Clinton 90s (I was in college then), there used to be a moral climate that was not very tolerant of any consevative view points in the public arena.

    I know where I attended college, you would only find your christian view points to be respected as long as you kept them to yourself. It was taken for granted that we all had to be pro all things liberal, lefty and politically correct in order to be taken seriously.

    The very real intolerance that many of us faced during those years was interpreted by some as spiritual oppression and persecution and has led many to become the religious base of the right. As wrong as I think they are for thinking that its their christian duty to shove their gospel’s interpretation down people’s throats, this phenomena is in part an effect of preceding common attitudes.

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