At the 2013 SALT Conference in Birmingham I presented on the implications of Scripture having originated in a pre-scientific era. I argued that the Bible often speaks in accordance with pre-scientific views that are not literally correct, and that it is a mistake for Christians to expect the Bible to make literally correct statements about science two thousand years before the advent of modern science. The finitude and historical placement of the original receptor audience precluded the feasibility of God giving Scripture that speaks in accordance with science knowledge that is counter intuitive and based on explorations and methodologies of which the Hebrews could not have dreamed. In summary, a revelation from God must be given in terms that are comprehensible, and thus in principle we should not expect that the Bible outpaces ancient, pre-scientific concepts about the structure, function, or age of nature. Further, it is clear that the Bible in fact speaks only in accordance with ancient views that, while once held to be incontestably true by many peoples, are now proven incorrect. The most suitable Christian assessment of this situation is to conclude that biblical alignment with pre-scientific views is incidental to the point(s) being made in the text, and that our science views should be shaped by the scientific method, not by a literalistic reading of Scripture.

Scripture and the Pre-Scientific Worldview

2 thoughts on “Scripture and the Pre-Scientific Worldview

  1. Jeremy, well done!

    Until the evangelical mindset embraces the rather sweeping implications of the pre-scientific world-view of scripture, we will never be able to come to terms with correctly understanding the Bible IN the scientific era. We are immersed in the emergent era of burgeoning knowledge informed not only by science, but by culture/history itself as we are exposed to it on a worldwide scale never comprehended or reflected in our Bibles.

    NDEs – don’t get me started. Widespread embrace of NDEs in the Christian community just shows how uncritically atuned the evangelical mind is. Mark Noll – “The scandal of the evangelical mind: there isn’t one.” Well, thanks for putting out a reasoned critical view of NDEs.

    Hill Roberts

    • Thanks, Hill. And it’s no surprise that I agree with your comment about the need for evangelicals to grasp the importance of the pre-scientific era in which Scripture was given. Fascinating topic, and there is a great richness therein for those intrepid souls who undertake to study it.

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