No, the Bible Isn’t a Science Book – So Stop It

bible scienceFor many of us, the reality that the Bible isn’t a science book basically goes without saying.

Even if the Bible had been intended to be a science book (it wasn’t), it would now be a couple of millennium out of date. Not to mention the fact that it was written in a prescientific age, so any passages which may seem to be about science are really not much more than brush strokes in the story the writer was trying to tell.

Just a few short years ago, I would have never felt like this was a problem that really needed to be addressed. I mean, sure, there were people who felt like the Bible was the “inerrant Word of God” and because of it dedicated themselves to some pretty spectacular high-wire tomfoolery just to make what they wanted to be true and reality kinda’ sorta’ match. But the reality was that they really weren’t much of a concern.

After all, people can believe what they want to as long as it’s not hurting other people – right?

Enter Trump.

There are actually several concerns related to Trump that now make me feel like it needs to be addressed again. One is the heavy Evangelical support Trump received during the election and continues to carry. A sizable portion of that community are the very people I spoke of earlier who have dedicated themselves to the “inerrant Word of God” even at the cost of basic logic.

Trump’s appointment of Betsy DeVoss as Secretary of Education also makes me concerned. Most folks probably remember that she has said pretty clearly that she wants to use America’s schools to build “God’s Kingdom.” Add to that her history of financially supporting groups that support various forms of Creationism as scientific fact and you get a formula that could set American scientific education back hundreds of years.

Why hundreds of years?

Because that’s when people first started believing in a literal interpretation of the Bible as it applied to science – in the 19th century. That’s right, the Christian Bible was complied about 1,692 years ago and it has only been in the last 300ish years (or about 17% of the time it has existed) that folks have found it necessary to use it as science book.

So, what could have necessitated this non-traditional move?

Science.

Specifically, a scientific theory that emerged in the 19th century: Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.

Think about that. Using a prescientific age book as a science book began in an effort to discredit actual science.

If it wasn’t for the serious damage that the current administration could inflect on the budding scientific minds of America, I’d laugh.

It’s strange, isn’t it? Folks who see themselves as conservatives and traditionalists in both politics in religion, are promoting something counter to the long standing traditional understanding of what the Bible is and isn’t.

It isn’t and never has been meant to be used as a science book.

Those who insist on the Bible being a reliable science book are actually making a mockery out of it and its original intent which was to tell the story of a remarkable teacher, known as the Son of God, and to guide his followers in how to relate to God and one another.

As a minister, I find the idea offensive.

As a bit of a science geek, I find it insulting.

As an American, I find it repulsive and dangerous.

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10 comments

  1. Having been raised in a church that holds fast to the inerrant Word, I was surprised to read about the “long standing tradition” of reading the Bible as a story about a teacher rather than a story about God’s promises to save His people through the Messiah, Jesus. I’ve always been taught that your interpretation of the Bible is a relatively”new” heresy that rejects the deity, and therefore the Passion, of Christ. Could you offer some further explanation or commentary that discusses this tradition (pre-Darwin) of not reading the Bible as inerrant? I haven’t looked at your website, but came across this post via The Christian Left on Facebook. Thank you.

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  2. You might begin by getting hold of the very readable book “The Bible Tells Me So” by Peter Enns. He was raised in a biblical-literalist tradition and discovered from his college studies that the ancient traditional Jewish approach to scripture, up to and including (and way beyond) the time of Jesus, involves argument and interpretation, not literal unquestioning acceptance; and that Jesus and Paul were themselves in that tradition; that the early church “fathers” interpreted much of scripture as allegory and myth, and that the fundamentalist insistence that every word was flatly and literally true as “history” and “fact” is, as this post explains, a modern fear-reaction rather than the actual way the Church approached the Bible for the first 1800 or so years of its existence.

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  3. Yes. It amazes me that so many Calvinist literalists are unaware that Calvin himself told his followers not to look to Genesis 1 as a literal creation account, but that God was merely accommodating humanity by speaking to them in a way they would understand.

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  4. Reverend, your closed-minded acceptance of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, the atheists’ hideyhole against Creationism, shows me that you should be doing something else to earn your living,

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    • Dennis, why must it be one-or-the-other? Is theistic evolution not an option for you? I see no reason why evolution and creationism need to be separate ideas.

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      • I can’t speak on Dennis’ behalf, but I would guess that he would agree that they need not stand at odds. I think the point he was trying to make is that by definition, Creationism is not scientific (a conclusion reached by repeated hypothesizing and experimentation), so it should not be treated as such. Rather, it and other teachings in the Bible are more appropriately thought of as being teachings about the nature of God, divinity, love, Jesus, Christ, etc. In fact, it seems like the only reason it’s brought up in this article at all is because the way people interpret the Bible changed drastically when the Theory of Evolution was proposed. That doesn’t mean that the two ideas about evolution are mutually exclusive, but rather that at the time (and today), some people treat them like they are in an attempt to discredit one or the other. In my opinion, it is wise of you to propose that we try to accept both, since they’re really just two different ways of looking at the Universe.

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    • Hi Dennis. I was wondering if you could elaborate a little bit about the Reverend being close-minded in his acceptance of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. What is it about this idea that is contrary to Creationism?

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      • My apologies. I mixed myself up with the formatting of this comment section and people’s names. Please go ahead and disregard the first part of my first comment. For some reason, I thought that was a response to Rev. Mark, but I see my mistake now.

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  5. Folks, I have been an “evolutionist” all of my life, just like we were taught in school as children, until I read “Tornado in a Junkyard”, about a month ago. I recommend it and “What Is Creation Science” by Morris and Parker. I’m 72 and don’t change my view of the world, easily, but my view of “Creationism” vs.”Evolution” has changed my view of the world and how it came about. . Best wishes to Reverend Mark, and to you all.

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