This argument is usually used by creationists who believe that since evolution is not directly mentioned in the Bible, it is therefore untrue. What would be your argument against such a belief? Also, what are some examples of beliefs most Christians that actually aren’t in scripture (if any)?
Do you ride in cars or planes? None of the physics or engineering involved in combustion engines or flight is in the Bible either.
If you got a UTI, would you take antibiotics your doctor prescribed? Germ theory is not in the Bible either.
Do you believe microwaves make popcorn? Not in the Bible.
It just seems like kind of a dumb thing to say. Obviously everyone operates on plenty of knowledge and common sense life experience that they did not get from the Bible everyday. And all the Christians I know rely on technological developments and medical expertise that comes from modern science, not biblical knowledge.
For me it depends on if it undermines theology. Such as if someone said Jesus was actually an alien and satan was another species and these two species was at war. I would not believe it. There is not textual reason to.
Evolution though is not undermining theology. It’s undermining a interpretation of over a few chapters. It’s also undermining science to believe in literal creationism.
So it really depends.
But when it gets to accommodation vs concordism I ask these questions.
Is heaven really up above us? Even Jesus floated away, theatrically, behind the clouds. Did he do that because s heavenly portal was up above or because of what the image meant to them seeing it. When it says God came down at the tower of
Babel is it really saying God floated down from the sky because heaven was up there?
I ask them to create the science of metrology using only bible verses and tell me if that matches the weather channel. When we predict the seasons, and we predict rain, are we reading Gods mind or the natural laws?
Germ theory? Heliocentrism? Spherical Earth? Electro-magnetism? Evolution? Psychology?
How about the countless historical and technological and scientific advances that aren’t in the Bible but were already ancient history by the time later canonical texts were written? Should we pretend the Great Pyramids don’t exist because they aren’t in the Bible? The history of cuneiform tablets? The campaigns of Alexander the Great?
Vivi…I believe in ice cream, even though it is not mentioned in the Bible. There are those who believe in the Rapture even though many say IT is not mentioned in the Bible. (That is a whole posting on its own, BTW —won’t go there.) Mt. Everest is not mentioned in the Bible…nor North America, penicillin, spontaneous combustion (another old theory of how-things-happen) are not…
The real assertion being made, I think, is that since the Bible did not say “the universe evolved over a loooooong period of time,” they won’t believe it. But the Bible does not discuss multi-universes or the Solar System (the latter of the two being accepted by Christians as reality), the design of a hummingbird’s wings or the better design of a Boeing 787 either…
Every writer has a purpose. News articles about COVID do not branch off into long discourses on next year’s avocado crop…followed by news of Aunt Sarah’s trip to Antarctica…If they run off onto tangents, then they lose their readers (who wanted to know about COVID, for instance, and not someone’s Aunt Sarah).
If COVID news is the message the publication or writer decided he/she wanted to dispense, then they would do well to forget about mentioning the coming crop of avocadoes, Aunt Sarah, sea salt caramel ice cream and everything else – and just stick to discussing COVID.
In one sense, the Bible is like that. Aside from the likelihood that there are multiple things about plate tectonics that Moses — writing instrument in hand — would have never been able to fathom were God to have mentioned it— I suspect that there are things about plate tectonics and the universe TODAY (or evolution in general) that we do not understand and would be perplexed by had God told Moses to record them.
Bringing them up --even briefly – would have impeded the message that God DID think most important to send to us: His work of redemption, His concept of right and wrong, His acting in human history, His sending of His Messiah… His eventual return to right the wrongs of our world — these are the primary focus of the biblical text.
As @jpm just mentioned in the women as ministers thread. Why do so many people assume that what is in the Bible is prescriptive for our times rather than simply descriptive of the times in which it was written? For that matter why look to the Bible to settle so many questions? Aren’t people today as smart and capable as those who lived in biblical times? If so, why go diving in for scripture at every turn?
There are multiple things that aren’t mentioned in the Bible. For example, the word “Trinity” is not in the Bible. In fact, Trinitarian doctrine is deduced from Scripture. Kind of like a LOT of things we Christians take for granted. So, I mean, what is meant by “if it’s not in the Bible”? Because if they accept Trinitarian doctrine because it’s deduced from Scripture…well then, there’s a lot of stuff that that argument no longer works for. Just remind them of that.
Not only that, but there’s so much in the Bible, and not all of it is straightforward. There are multiple interpretations for passages that many people take for granted, like Calvinists and Romans 9 (i.e. the Calvinist interpretation of Romans 9 is not the only understanding of the passage). And then there are the issues of genre, culture, authorial intent, audience, and so on. What about those?
Biblical interpretation is not as straightforward as “well the Bible says so, that’s the way it is”. Well, does the Bible say that, or is that your interpretation of what the Bible says? The Bible says that women should have head coverings and be silent in service. Does their church hold to that? Do they hold to that? It’s in the Bible, after all.
In utter ignorance of how it got there, and taking all our junk down with us.
It sounds like a tacit admission that the evidence around us in the universe does not match their interpretation of the Bible. If the facts matched the literal creationist Bible then such a statement wouldn’t be needed. Even worse, it forces Christians and honest seekers to have to choose between reason and religion.
I use a lot of colloquialisms myself but unfortunately we don’t use all the same ones. Assuming you mean something like those guys are not good PR for the cause, I agree. However I know that no group of people is homogeneous and every group will contain some weak members and bad apples. Still it seems I rarely interact with enlightened Christians who aren’t well educated, and if they have anything interesting to say about religion they will almost always have been to seminary. I wonder if the mindsets the uneducated acquire from religion are really worth it.
that’s a very interesting question. I hesitate to go that far in one way–the belief by the ordinary man or woman that they have equal worth in front of God is a powerful confidence builder in sticking up for rights of the downtrodden. It seems to have been an impetus to change in the Roman Empire, and again with enslaved Blacks in the US. It seems to me that it’s also possibly a driver to democracy, and in Gibbon’s book on Protestantism, it may be implied in that way. In Noll’s “Scandal of the Evangelical Mind,” he examines how populist, simplified gospel messages spread quickly in the Colonies with the help of Whitfield and other revival meetings, but also lent credibility to anti-intellectualism. I think that may be part of why so many Christians are conspiracy theorists–as a quote by Asimov I read on one of these threads went, something about how democracy empowers folks to say “my ignorance is as good as your knowledge.”
It seems more accurate to agree that God does meet us where we are–that we are not held accountable for what we don’t understand. Thus, there is an ultimate Justice that holds everyone accountable, from great to small; but it doesn’t mean that the plain reading of the Bible is always accurate. In fact, much of what I understood of the Bible when I was a teen, and YEC, has changed; and I have difficulty listening to some preachers who stick to these “read as you would a book” approaches, with fire and brimstone; especially as they seem to be taken out of context. So, I agree with you!–but there is a great leveller in the concept of ultimate, personal Justice, too, I think.
Speaking as someone who’s been to theological college (and was already well educated before I entered theological college in middle age), I’m not able to agree with your comments about what the uneducated acquire from religion (which, I infer from your comment, is very little indeed).
There’s a huge difference between saying that reading the Bible literally causes problems and saying that reading the Bible at all is perhaps not worth it.
I know you’re aware of the many positive contributions made to all fields of study by those who profess a deep belief in God (whether Christians or members of other religions).
Many of the problems that are blamed on religion actually stem from entrenched socio-economic and cultural traditions. Sure, these aspects of human life are often intertwined with religion, but they don’t have to be unless we let them be.
On this site, a lot of members seem to be trying to show the many ways in which religion can be a garden of healing instead of a field full of kudzu roots. It’s all very complicated, of course, but best perhaps not to unnecessarily conflate different strands of human behaviour?
I should also add that my context as a Canadian is different from that of many members of this site, so I acknowledge I don’t have a full understanding of all the issues that some others are dealing with.
The trinity isn’t mentioned in the Bible?
That’s the part I had in mind alright. But belief can still serve the purpose of connecting any who do to something greater than themselves and that of course has value. Today has been busy and I spoke hastily. Thank you and @Realspiritik for bearing with me in my sloppiness.
I think you were perfectly kind, as always. I have to say that I feel the same. Thanks for putting up with my musing. I appreciate your discussion, as always.
The word “trinity” isn’t mentioned in the Bible, but the three persons of the God-head are mentioned, for example:
1 Peter 1:2
according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.
Hi, @MarkD. There are number of good reasons why a “nothing outside of the Bible can be believed” logic does not work very well, thus allowing space for evolution. But I am curious about your specific argument that questions thus: “Why do so many people assume that what is in the Bible is prescriptive for our times rather than simply descriptive of the times in which it was written?”
If someone were to argue that something like the doctrine of the Trinity was simply descriptive for the New Testament era, and therefore not necessarily prescriptive for our times, it would appear problematic for your argument. Am I missing something here? What leads you to believe that this would be a convincing argument?
Hello Mr Moreledge. I didn’t mean that to sound like it should never be prescriptive, but simply not always. The situation I specifically had in mind was another question being discussed here now on another thread, namely the one titled Do you believe women can be preachers/pastors? There, the scripture being cited as prescribing a restricted role for women in churches seemed as though it may merely be describing the role of women at those times in those cultures rather than as directing what women should or shouldn’t do in churches today.
In fairness, I should tell you that while I’m interested in Christianity, I’m not one myself. While I value books I’ve never placed that kind of reliance on the written word. I don’t mean that as a criticism but simply to explain why I am sometimes surprised how quickly discussions go from what and why one of us think what we do to whether or not the Bible supports ones position. My naive, outsider impression is that if God was anything like a good parent, He would want to foster more self reliance than that.
I never want to divert a discussion from where you need or want it to go. But I do appreciate it when some of you help me to understand the differences. I’m not shopping for a religion but I do have a lot of respect for what it is which supports God belief and want to be an ally.