The article does a good job pointing out the inherent contradictions in Ken Ham’s “man’s word/God’s word” dichotomy.
I don’t quite agree with Tucker’s alternative to Ham’s perspective though.
First, I don’t think he deals with the essential question of “how is the Bible authoritative”? It seems like he would pretty much agree with Ham that the Bible’s authority lies in its words somehow, and our job as Christians it to somehow possess the truth of those words. I think this is a problematic position in light of soft postmodernism or perspectivalism that almost everyone accepts nowadays.
Almost everyone is going to grant that the way we interpret words is influenced by our cultural worldview. We can’t ever completely step outside of our perspectives and gain that “worldview neutral” objectivity that he mentions. If biblical authority resides in the words and therefore in our interpretation of the words, it can be deconstructed just like anything else. I still haven’t found anything I think addresses biblical authority better than this 1991 lecture by N. T. Wright. Part of his proposal is the idea that we move away from seeing the point of Scripture and it’s authority being knowing true information and instead see its authority in terms of how God uses it to shape his people to act righteously in the world. The point of it all is not to know “what Scripture teaches” it’s to know God. The Bible is authoritative not because it passes some kind of objective truth test, but because God, the source of ultimate authority, speaks through it and relates to us, and uses it to change our lives.
I agree with Tucker that it is incoherent to say we get our worldview from Scripture. (“How do I know my current worldview is not skewing my thoughts about what the Bible says? If I do not currently have a “biblical worldview,” how can I ever arrive at one if I have to start with the Bible in order to know anything properly?”) We get our worldview from our world (which, depending on our communities, may be more or less influenced by ideas people have gotten from Scripture). Then God (through Scripture) challenges that worldview to bring it more in line with his reality.
Tucker poses the question: “How then can we overcome these issues and say, in agreement with Mr. Ham, that we can know the truth about God and what He teaches us in His Word?” He affirms we cannot totally escape our perspectives (which are fallible) but also that objective truth exists and is knowable. I have no argument with that. I really like his assertion that we don’t start with God’s word or man’s word, but with reality. However I don’t really understand or resonate with his idea that logic is the key that unlocks reality for all cultures everywhere.
Really? Logic? “Furthermore, it is also undeniably the case that things like the laws of logic apply equally to everyone in all places and at all times. The laws of logic are the same for everyone regardless of their worldview.” Well, that may be true, but logic needs propositions to work on, and propositions rest on presuppositions or “givens”, and I think you would be hard pressed to show that all cultures everywhere are going to come up with the same givens. Logic may adjudicate between true and false propositions once your givens are established, but it’s not going to help you evaluate your givens, and those are what worldviews are all about. Yes, we all live in the same reality, but we don’t all share the same concepts about that reality.
I think logic is the wrong place to hang your hat in this debate. I’m not a philosopher and epistemology is an intimidating subject, but I don’t think we arrive at knowledge/truth via logic. Logic seems to me to be a way of manipulating and organizing and evaluating what we already know instead of a way of discovering something new. We experience the world and that gives us concepts. Our concepts then form an ongoing feedback loop with our experience. Some experiences challenge or expand our concepts, but our concepts also make sense of our experiences.
For example, I was reading the other day on NPR about this study on taste. Some college students were given clear flavored soda and asked to identify the flavor (grape, lemon, orange, apple). They did great. But then the “wrong” color was added to the soda (purple lemon and orange grape) and students could no longer correctly identify the flavors. The concept that yellow goes with lemon was so strong that it changed their perception of reality. They insisted they tasted lemon because it was yellow, even though it was grape. Even when they were specifically told what was going on, they could not do what Tucker suggested and “know truths about aspects of reality” by using laws of logic to “take the glasses off and see reality for what it is.”
We all bring some powerful “yellow equals lemon” presuppositions to Scripture, and I don’t see how logic is going to help us taste it right.