Scripture and the Pre-Scientific Worldview

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.