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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Better this way...Answers to the same old questions. Hermeneutics

Go here and see what I mean = Fossil questions and answers

The Bible and hermeneutics


Hermeneutics is the formal process by which the interpreter employs certain principles and methods in order to derive the author’s intended meaning. Naturally, this is foundational to all theological studies, and before a biblical theology of creation can be built, it is necessary to discuss the hermeneutical approach that should be utilised and how it should be applied to the text of Scripture, and in particular, the creation account of Genesis

Biblical inerrancy

Presuppositions and prior understandings have always played a significant role in the hermeneutical process, and one such presupposition is biblical inerrancy. Inerrancy is a complex doctrine, but it is internally coherent, and consistent with a perfect and righteous God who has revealed Himself. Broadly speaking, the doctrine of inerrancy identifies Scripture as true and without error in all that it affirms, including its affirmations regarding history and the physical universe.1 Article IX of The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy states:

After Domenichino, Wikipedia.org
Adam and Eve
The biblical account of creation simply assumes that God had endowed man with the faculties to communicate with his Creator.
‘WE AFFIRM that inspiration, though not conferring omniscience, guaranteed true and trustworthy utterance on all matters of which the Biblical authors were moved to speak and write.
WE DENY that the finitude or fallenness of these writers, by necessity or otherwise, introduced distortion or falsehood into God’s Word.’
Concerning the role of history and science in the interpretation of Scripture relating to creation and the Flood, Article XII states:
‘WE AFFIRM that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit.
WE DENY that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.’
Indeed, as Herman Bavinck noted, when Scripture touches on science it does not suddenly cease to be the Word of God.2

Of course, a high view of Scripture is ‘of little value to us if we do not enthusiastically embrace the Scripture’s authority.’3 Indeed, many scholars who claim to be evangelical have either rejected this doctrine outright, or have redefined it to allow for errors in historical and scientific references. Francis Schaeffer described the denial of biblical inerrancy as ‘The great evangelical disaster’. He noted that accommodating Scripture to the current scientific consensus has led many evangelicals to a weakened view of the Bible and to no longer affirm the truth of all that it teaches—not only in regard to theology and morality but also regarding science and history.4 Why, then, have many so-called evangelical historians and theologians denied inerrancy and infallibility in relation to history and science? John D. Woodbridge suggests they believe that if the Bible is only infallible for faith and practice, then it cannot be negatively affected by evolutionary hypotheses.5 The irony of this position is that in trying to defend inerrancy, they have essentially given it up!

But even if one affirms the superiority and inerrancy of the special revelation of Scripture in all areas, what are we to do with science? How does science affect our interpretation of specific passages and our overall theology? These are pertinent questions when constructing a biblical theology of creation.
It is often stated that the theologian is the God-appointed interpreter of Scripture, and the scientist is the God-appointed interpreter of nature. For example, Roger Forster and Paul Marston present the relationship of the Bible and theology, and the relationship of nature and science as follows:
2 Books: Bible Nature
Human Interpretation: Theology Science
The point here is that both books (the Bible and nature) are true and infallible, but their human interpretations are not.6 In other words, interpretation occurs in both theology and science, which means there is also a possibility of making interpretive errors in both fields. Thus, denying a particular interpretation does not necessarily mean or imply that biblical inerrancy is being questioned or denied. In the same way that a scientist may wrongly interpret certain scientific data, the theologian may also incorrectly interpret a particular passage. However, Forster and Marston offer no solution to this problem, nor do they discuss the methodological problems and issues relating to scientific research. They simply dismiss the problems of scientific research by merely stating that there are also problems in biblical interpretation.7 David F. Payne, on the other hand, acknowledges the primacy of biblical revelation when he states:
‘[I]t must be decided what exactly the biblical teaching is before any criticism of its accuracy can be made … The majority of Concordists take the scientific data as their starting-point, and interpret the biblical statements to fit them. But it is essential to achieve first a sound exegesis of the latter; and then, if any rapprochement is necessary, it can be made on a firm basis. Biblical exegesis is paramount, even when the scientific challenge is under consideration.’8
This raises the question of epistemology (the theory of knowledge) and the possibility of knowing. How can the interpreter know whether his exegesis is accurate or whether a particular interpretation is the correct one? Can the interpreter know anything for certain, or should all interpretations be held tentatively? Upon which criteria can such an assessment be made?

Scripture and the problem of interpretation

It is certainly true that different interpretations of Scripture abound, especially for those Scriptures which teach about creation. But are all interpretations valid and equally plausible, or is there only ever one correct interpretation? If there is only ever one correct interpretation, how can it be determined?

Human language as God’s medium of communication

The Bible is God’s special revelation and its purpose is to communicate specific truth to all humanity, past, present and future. In order to accomplish this, God employed common human language as the medium for His message. The biblical account of creation does not discuss the question of whether God can meaningfully speak to mankind or whether mankind can understand God. It is simply assumed as ‘self-evident’ that God and mankind could engage in meaningful linguistic communication.9 Thus, Jack Barentsen concludes that ‘God must have endowed man with adequate faculties to respond to and interact with his Creator.’10 Indeed, ‘Genesis describes God as the first language user … . [He] instituted language as the vehicle of communication between man and himself.’11 Similarly, Packer points out that Genesis ‘shows us that human thought and speech have their counterparts and archetypes in [God]’.12 Furthermore, God continued to employ human language as His medium of communication throughout biblical history. When God spoke directly to Moses, He used intelligible human language; when He spoke to His prophets He used intelligible human language; when Jesus taught He used intelligible human language; when He appeared to Saul, He used intelligible human language.

Nevertheless, there are many who claim that language in general, or the biblical languages in particular, are somewhat deficient in that they are unable to communicate with the same precision as modern languages. Hugh Ross, for example, argues that since biblical Hebrew has a much smaller vocabulary than English, Hebrew words can convey many different ‘literal’ meanings.13 This is surely a very naïve view of language. Vocabulary size is irrelevant. Indeed, all languages ‘are quite able to express complex, deep, or subtle ideas. Virtually anything that can be said in one language can be said in another, provided one takes enough time.’14

God is sovereign and He wills to be understood (2 Tim. 3:15–17), and actively reveals Himself to us.15 Human language ‘offers no resistance to his purposes and cannot frustrate his desire to communicate.’16 As E.R. Clendenen succinctly writes: ‘Language works. A skilful reader will experience what a skilful communicator intended to accomplish through the agency of a text as an interface takes place between the worlds of the author, text, and reader.’17 Indeed, everyday human experience confirms this to be so. As innate users of language, human beings readily engage in meaningful linguistic communication. Such communication is not always easy, but it is never impossible.

Propositional revelation and truth

God’s linguistic communication to humanity as recorded in the Bible takes the form of propositional revelation. God supernaturally communicated His message to a chosen spokesperson in the form of explicit cognitive statements of truth, and these statements are recorded in sentences that are not internally contradictory.18 As Carl Henry states, ‘the inspired Scriptures contain a body of divinely given information actually expressed or capable of being expressed in propositions. In brief, the Bible is a propositional revelation of the unchanging truth of God.’18 By ‘proposition’, Henry means ‘a verbal statement that is either true or false; it is a rational declaration capable of being either believed, doubted or denied’,19 and adds that ‘[n]othing can be literally true but a propositional statement’.20 Likewise, Norman Geisler notes that ‘the normal and consistent New Testament usage of “truth” is of truth in the cognitive, propositional sense’.21

Roger Forster and Paul Marston claim that a statement can still have genuine historical content but be allegorical in form.22 In other words, a distinction is made between historical fact and historical event. A particular historical fact may be presented in the form of a non-historical event. But on what basis can one claim that a non-historical event represents a true historical situation? Such distinctions are not only arbitrary; they lack any coherence, and are surely motivated by concerns totally external to the Bible. Mcquilkin and Mullen add:
‘To deny the possibility of words corresponding to reality is ultimately an attack on the nature and activity of God … Evangelical faith is that God can communicate and indeed has communicated in words all the truth about ultimate reality he thinks it necessary for us to know.’23
Viewing the Bible as propositional revelation from God implies there is the possibility of verifiable facts involved. God has verbally communicated in a propositional form to humanity, not just truth about spiritual matters but also truth relating to history and science. If truth was not expressed in this way, then the interpreter can never be sure of anything—even his own salvation.

In Scripture, propositional revelation most often takes the form of historical narrative.24 Indeed, Rodney Decker points out that
‘Scripture employs narrative genre deliberately, but it does so in such a way that the historical basis (event) for the narratival depiction (text) is absolutely essential. The revelation value of the Bible depends on its history value … Historical narrative explicitly appeals to history to verify what it teaches: names, places, events, dates, etc. are cited … . If these references are not trustworthy, it casts grave doubt over the theology being propounded in narrative fashion.’25
Keep in mind that true communication does not necessarily lead to exhaustive knowledge. Francis Schaeffer writes:
‘It is helpful … to distinguish between true communication and exhaustive communication. What we claim as Christians is that when all of the facts are taken into consideration, the Bible gives us true knowledge although not exhaustive knowledge.’26
He adds: ‘… we can have confidence that this is true history, but that does not mean that the situation is exhaustively revealed or that all our questions are answered.’27

The influence of postmodernism

In the 19th century, Søren Kierkegaard, although a deeply religious and apparently pious man, proposed that true knowledge was completely subjective, and that absolute certainty was impossible (one must wonder how he was ‘certain’ that this claim was ‘true’). In other words, it is not possible to express absolute truth in propositional form.28 Thus, Kierkegaard unwittingly became the father of postmodern existentialism. It is unfortunate that this same kind of postmodern thinking has convinced many interpreters that it is virtually impossible to be certain of the meaning of a text, especially the biblical text.29 Many believe that language ‘cannot accurately communicate thought to another person’s mind’, and that meaning is relative, especially in relation to the interpreter’s present subjective perceptions.30 Donald Williams notes that postmodernism ‘manifests itself in literary study that ignores (or “deconstructs”) traditional issues of meaning or even aesthetics … .’31 In effect, language and the communication process is ‘deconstructed’. The usual meaning and implications of common words, grammar, expressions and idiom are rejected, along with normal interpretive procedures. Instead of being a natural and intuitive activity, linguistic communication becomes a problematic task with insurmountable hurdles. This is clearly illustrated by the anti-young-earth-creationist Mark Noll in his critique of the hermeneutics of certain conservative Christian groups. He accuses them of
‘… an overwhelming tendency to “essentialism”, or the conviction that a specific formula could capture for all times and places the essence of Biblical truth for any specific issue concerning God, the human condition, or the fate of the world [and] a corresponding neglect of forces in history that shape perceptions and help define the issues that loom as most important to any particular age.’32
Clearly, Noll thinks that following a systematic procedure when interpreting the Bible in order to accurately determine what God is saying to all men in all times, is somehow presumptuous and negligent. This is surely postmodernist existentialism applied to biblical interpretation!
Bernard Ramm, on the other hand, is more subtle: ‘Revelation is the communication of divine truth; interpretation is the effort to understand it.’33 Nevertheless, the implication is the same. Although God communicates inerrant truth, the interpreter may misunderstand it. Despite God revealing Himself in history as recorded in the Bible, the interpreter can never really be certain about the meaning of this revelation, and must always remain open to alternative interpretations. Unfortunately, those who hold such a view rarely apply it consistently. Their scepticism and uncertainty are almost never applied to scientific interpretations and conclusions.

In contrast to previous generations,34 we seem to be caught in a state of biblical and theological uncertainty. As Mcquilkin and Mullen poignantly note, ‘we seem to be in the process of losing any assurance of certainty about knowing and communicating objective reality. And many evangelicals are becoming at least moderate relativists.’35 This has serious implications for biblical and theological studies. If the meaning of a text cannot be known for certain because no particular understanding can claim to be authoritive, then there is no basis for integrating it with other related texts in order to produce an overall theological statement or synthesis.

In fact, the problem runs deeper still. Interpretive uncertainty essentially implies that it is meaningless to talk about the authority, infallibility and inerrancy of the Scriptures because the Scriptures do not really tell us anything—or at least anything of which we can be certain. The meaning ascribed to each text is merely a human interpretation which may or may not be correct. This, of course, means that the central pillars of Christianity, the doctrines of sin, atonement and judgment, the virgin birth, and the physical resurrection are mere interpretations which may or may not be correct. Indeed, since historic Christianity is merely a systematic framework of biblical interpretations, it too may not be correct. Therefore, this view of biblical interpretation can only lead to liberalism or agnosticism—and in many cases, it has done exactly this.

Furthermore, arguing that interpretation is always uncertain due to the supposed limitations of language is ultimately self-defeating and incoherent, as Mcquilkin and Mullen point out:
‘If we do not do interpretation on the premise that God has spoken and that he can be understood, that truth about him can be communicated accurately in words, we run the danger of ending up where postmodern thinking has taken some proponents: speaking nonsense. That is, they use words in an attempt to communicate their own thought about how impossible communication with words is.’36
Is it possible, then, to be certain about the meaning of a given text? If we assume that Scripture is revelation from God, that it is the word of God, then it must be possible for any person, regardless of their culture, language or historical situation, to comprehend, at least in a general sense, what Scripture is saying. If God’s communication is not objectively understandable, then He has essentially failed to communicate. In effect, He may as well not have spoken at all! If this is the case, then on what basis can the Bible be regarded as the Word of God? What authority can it possibly have? Indeed, what is the point of having an authoritative, infallible, inerrant message if it is impossible to ascertain its meaning?

Historical-grammatical exegesis

The key to understanding the biblical text is to apply a hermeneutic which takes into account the historical and literary context. This can be done by employing historical-grammatical exegesis. This method presupposes that human beings are rational creatures capable of linguistic communication, and that linguistic communication is meaningful and objective. Historical-grammatical exegesis involves a systematic approach to analyzing in detail the historical situation, events and circumstances surrounding the text, and the semantics and syntactical relationships of the words which comprise the text. In essence, it attempts to formalize what language speakers do automatically and unconsciously whenever they read a book, watch television or engage in conversation.
The importance of a systematic approach to interpreting Scripture cannot be underestimated. Walter Kaiser points out that
‘… the basic teaching of all of sacred theology is inseparably connected with the results of our hermeneutics; for what is that theology except what Scripture teaches? And the way to ascertain what Scripture teaches is to apply the rules and principles of interpretation. Therefore it is imperative that these rules be properly grounded and that their application be skillfully and faithfully applied. If the foundation itself is conjecture, imagination, or error, what more can be hoped for what is built on it?’37
Space does not allow for a detailed exposition of the historical-grammatical method and how it is applied,38 but two articles of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics are worth noting. Article XIV explicitly affirms the historical basis of Scripture:
‘WE AFFIRM that the biblical record of events, discourses and sayings, though presented in a variety of appropriate literary forms, corresponds to historical fact.
WE DENY that any such event, discourse or saying reported in Scripture was invented by the biblical writers or by the traditions they incorporated.’
This is reinforced by Article XX which affirms that the Bible also speaks truly on matters relating to history, science and the natural world:
‘WE AFFIRM that since God is the author of all truth, all truths, biblical and extrabiblical, are consistent and cohere, and that the Bible speaks truth when it touches on matters pertaining to nature, history, or anything else. We further affirm that in some cases extrabiblical data have value for clarifying what Scripture teaches, and for prompting correction of faulty interpretations.
WE DENY that extrabiblical views ever disprove the teaching of Scripture or hold priority over it.’
Note also that the denial explicitly disallows the teachings of other fields, including philosophy and the sciences, to ‘trump’ the teachings of Scripture.
But will the historical-grammatical method bring certainty regarding the teaching of Scripture? There are, of course, numerous difficult passages which can be understood in different ways, and although a good exegetical case can be made for several options, no consensus presently exists. Yet even in such cases it is still possible to be certain of the broad thrust and theological message even though some of the details are difficult to comprehend. As Packer puts it: ‘One can master the argument … and still be unsure of the precise meaning of occasional sentences in it.’39 Nevertheless, the vast majority of biblical teaching is very clear, and even those passages which at first seem confusing, can be more easily understood when the interpreter performs a thorough analysis of the text’s genre, structure, language, and historical and cultural setting.

Indeed, the task of interpreting the Bible is apparently much simpler and less error-prone than interpreting scientific data. Scientist Taylor Jones acknowledges that the ‘Word of God is inherently more reliable than science’, and that Scripture is much easier to interpret than nature.40 Likewise, Robert C. Newman admits that since general revelation is not in human language, ‘it is more liable to misinterpretation than is special revelation’.41 David Diehi also concedes that propositional revelation ‘has a certain advantage over nonpropositional revelation’.42 In any case, all misinterpretations and misunderstandings of Scripture result from false presuppositions, insufficient data, or an inadequate or inconsistent hermeneutic. However, all these problems can be overcome if the interpreter is willing to thoroughly investigate the text’s historical and grammatical context.

Cultural accommodation?

Theologians of a more liberal persuasion have long believed that divine revelation necessitated the use of time-bound and erroneous statements. This position was never held by the Reformers or ascribed to by the protestant scholastics (Lutheran or Reformed), but arose in the eighteenth century in the thought of Semler and his contemporaries.43 Nevertheless, there is now a growing trend among evangelicals to redefine inspiration and inerrancy to allow for errors when Scripture speaks on matters of history and science. Inerrancy is limited to truth concerning spiritual and moral matters. For example, Bernard Ramm, under the influence of German higher critical thinking, was convinced that ‘language of accommodation’ contained errors.44 Such language ‘employs the culture of the times in which it was written as the medium of revelation’,45 and that all direct references to nature are most likely ‘in terms of the prevailing cultural concepts’.46 This is essentially another way of saying that Scripture is always wrong when it contradicts modern scientific conclusions. As Woodbridge points out, Ramm ‘is actually advising [evangelicals] to consider departing from the central tradition of the Christian churches regarding the authority of Scripture’.47 Likewise, Paul Seely believes a ‘more biblical approach’ to relating science and the Bible is to accept the historical-grammatical meaning of Genesis 1 but to acknowledge that
‘it reflects the cosmology of the second millennium BC, and that modern science presents a more valid picture of the universe … there is no biblical reason why the theological message in Genesis 1 cannot be eternally valid, while the package in which it came was a temporal concession to the people of that time.’48
While it true that an infinite God must in some way accommodate Himself to finite human ways of knowing in order to reveal His nature, law and gospel, this does not imply the loss of truth, nor the lessening of Scriptural authority. Accommodation occurs specifically in the use of human words and concepts, and refers to the manner or mode of revelation, not to the quality and integrity of the revelation itself.49 It is adaptation to human finitude, not accommodation to human error.

Communication directed at mankind may involve less precision, but imprecision must not be confused with error. Inerrantists do not require scientific precision in order for a statement to be true.50
In any case, why stop at the possibility of errors in only those texts which relate to history and science? Why not allow for errors in spiritual, moral and ethical matters also? If the language of accommodation does indeed allow for errors, then limiting such errors to nature and history is surely an arbitrary decision. Ramm, Seely and others who adopt the same approach appear to accept that although much of Scripture is true, some parts are false, and the interpreter decides in which category a particular text should be placed. Thus, the standard of truth ultimately becomes whatever the interpreter decides at that time.

The stability of Scripture and theology

Unlike scientific data, theories and conclusions, the Scriptures have remained essentially the same for centuries, with respect to both text and canon. The Old Testament canon has been well known and generally accepted since the beginning of the Christian era, and the New Testament canon was officially recognized by the fourth century (i.e. the Church recognized what had always been authoritative since the Canon was closed by the death of the last Apostle51).

The actual accepted texts (i.e. the current consensus of what the originals said) of both testaments have undergone minor revisions as a result of textual and philological studies of newly discovered manuscripts. But these changes are relatively few in number, and have not caused any significant changes in Christian belief or practice. No doctrine of Christianity rests on a disputed text.
The central doctrines and theological motifs of Christianity have remained remarkably stable and unchanged since the time of the early church. As Michael Bauman points out, ‘[T]he Apostle’s Creed, although it has been refined and expanded over time, has never gone through any extensive and fundamental changes, let alone several’.52

In relation to the doctrine of creation, W.F. Albright notes that it is ‘unique in ancient literature’ and that modern scientific cosmogonies ‘show a disconcerting tendency to be short-lived’. Indeed, he seriously doubted whether science ‘has yet caught up with the Biblical story’.53

Conclusion

If the interpreter begins his task by assuming that the Bible is God’s special, inerrant, propositional revelation to humanity in human language, then most interpretive problems will quickly disappear. Biblical interpretation is sometimes difficult, but careful and judicious exegesis is worth the effort, and gives virtual certainty or at least a very high level of confidence in one’s interpretation.

Yet, so many interpreters continue to be intimidated by the truth claims of modern science, and either deny what the Scriptures apparently teach or stretch them to fit the current scientific consensus. The truth claims of science always seem to trump exegesis, regardless of how thorough it is and how well done. At this point, one would do well to head the warning of John D. Hannah:
‘[In the 19th century] science appeared to speak with the inerrancy that we accord to Scripture alone. It behooves us to remember to be cautious not to neglect the exegesis of Scripture and the qualitative gulf between special and general revelation.’54
E.J. Young asks:
‘Why is it so difficult to [get at the meaning the author sought to convey] with the first chapter of the Bible? The answer, we believe, is that although men pay lip service to the doctrine of creation, in reality they find it a very difficult doctrine to accept.’55
Indeed, it appears that when considering the doctrine of creation, the difficulty is not understanding the teaching of Scripture, but believing it … .

References and notes

  1. For detailed expositions of inerrancy see: ‘The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy’ J. Evangelical Theological Society21(4):289–296, 1978; Geisler, N.L. (Ed.), Innerrancy, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1980; Carson, D.A. and Woodbridge, J.D. (Eds.), Scripture and Truth, 2nd edition, Baker, Grand Rapids, MI, 1992; Carson, D.A. and Woodbridge, J.D. (Eds.), Hermeneutics, Authority and Canon, Baker, Grand Rapids, MI, 1995. Return to text.
  2. See: Young, E.J., Studies in Genesis One, Baker, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 43, 1964. Return to text.
  3. Carson, D.A., Recent developments in the doctrine of Scripture, in: Carson, and Woodbridge, Hermeneutics, Authority and Canon, ref. 1, p. 46. Return to text.
  4. Schaeffer, F.A., The Great Evangelical Disaster, Crossway, Westchester, IL, p. 37, 1984. Return to text.
  5. Woodbridge, J.D., Some misconceptions of the impact of the ‘Enlightenment’ on the doctrine of Scripture; in: Carson and Woodbridge, Hermeneutics, Authority and Canon, ref. 1, p. 269. Return to text.
  6. Forster, R. and Marston, P., Reason, Science and Faith, Monarch, Crowborough, East Sussex, p. 322, 1999. Return to text.
  7. Forster, R. and Marston, P., Reason and Faith, Monarch, Eastborne, UK, p. 267, 1989. Return to text.
  8. Payne, D.F., Genesis One Reconsidered, Tyndale, London, pp. 6, 8, 1964. Return to text.
  9. Barentsen, J., The validity of human language: a vehicle for Divine truth, Grace Theological Journal 9:30–31, Spring 1988. Return to text.
  10. Barentsen, ref. 9, p. 31. Return to text.
  11. Barentsen, ref. 9, p. 38. Return to text.
  12. Packer, J.I., The adequacy of human language, in: Geisler, ref. 1, p. 214. Return to text.
  13. Ross, H.N., Stanley Lecture Series, Toccoa Falls College, 19–20 March, 1997. Return to text.
  14. Poythress, V.S., Adequacy of language and accommodation, in: Radmacher E.D. and Preus R.D. (Eds.), Hermeneutics, Inerrancy and the Bible, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 360, 1984. Return to text.
  15. Bauman, M., Between Jerusalem and the laboratory: a theologian looks at science, Journal of Creation 11(1):19, 1997. Return to text.
  16. Poythress, ref. 14, p. 352. Return to text.
  17. Clendenen, E.R., Postholes, postmodernism, and the prophets: toward a textlinguistic paradigm, in: Dockery, D.S. (Ed.), The Challenge of Postmodernism, Victor, Wheaton, IL, p. 144, 1995. Return to text.
  18. Henry, C.F.H., God, Revelation and Authority, 6 vols., Word, Waco, TX, vol. 3, p. 457, 1976–1983. Return to text.
  19. Henry, ref. 18, p. 456. Return to text.
  20. Henry, ref. 18, p. 430. Return to text.
  21. Geisler, N.L., The concept of truth in the inerrancy debate, Bibliotheca Sacra 137:333, October-December 1980. Return to text.
  22. Forster and Marston, ref. 7, p. 217. They cite John 4:38 in support, but this verse is clearly a metaphor. In commanding the disciples to reach out to the Samaritan people, Jesus employed a common saying as an illustrative metaphor. While Jesus’ command relates to a real and actual situation, the individual elements of the metaphor are not referring to real and historical people, places and events. In other words, Jesus did not have a literal reaper and a literal field in mind. Return to text.
  23. Mcquilkin, R. and Mullen, B., The impact of postmodern thinking on evangelical hermeneutics, J. Evangelical Theological Society 40(1):71, 1997. Return to text.
  24. This does not mean that other biblical genres do not contain propositional statements, or that statements from these genres cannot be rephrased or transformed into propositional statements. Return to text.
  25. Decker, R.J., Realistic or historical narrative? J. Ministry and Theology 4(1):59–60, 2000. Return to text.
  26. Schaeffer, F.A., Genesis in Space and Time, in: The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer, 2nd edition, 5 vols, Crossway, Wheaton, IL, 2:22–23, 1985. Return to text.
  27. Schaeffer, ref. 26, pp. 23–24. Return to text.
  28. Barentsen, ref. 9, p. 27. Return to text.
  29. Stallard, M., Literal interpretation: the key to understanding the Bible, J. Ministry and Theology 4(1):14, 2000. Return to text.
  30. See Mcquilkin and Mullen, ref. 23, p. 71. Return to text.
  31. Williams, D.T., The great divide: the church and the post-modernist challenge, paper presented at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, Colorado Springs, CO, p. 2, 14 November 2001. Return to text.
  32. Noll, M.A., The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 127, 1994. Return to text.
  33. Ramm, B., The Christian View of Science and Scripture, Paternoster Press, London, p. 31, 1955. Return to text.
  34. Luther, for example, held that it was possible to be certain about the meaning of Scripture. Thomas, R.L., General revelation and biblical hermeneutics, The Master’s Seminary Journal 9:16, Spring 1998. Return to text.
  35. Mcquilkin and Mullen, ref. 23, p. 71. Return to text.
  36. Mcquilkin and Mullen, ref. 23, p. 75. Return to text.
  37. Kaiser, W.C., Legitimate hermeneutics, in: Geisler, ref. 1, p. 119. Return to text.
  38. For detailed expositions of the historical-grammatical method from an evangelical perspective see: The Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics, J. Evangelical Theological Society 25(4): 397–401, 1982; Radmacher, E.D. and Preus, R.D. (Eds.), Hermeneutics, Inerrancy and the Bible, Academie, Grand Rapids, MI, 1984; Fee, G. and Stuart, D., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, 2nd edition, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1993; Osborne, G.R., The Hermeneutical Spiral, IVP, Downers Grove, IL, 1991; Klein, W.M., Blomberg, C.L. and Hubbard, R.L., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, Word, Dallas, TX, 1993. Return to text.
  39. Packer, J.I., Infallible Scripture and the role of hermeneutics, in: Carson and Woodbridge, Scripture and Truth, ref. 1, p. 330. Return to text.
  40. Jones, T., Science and the Bible: guidelines for harmonization, The Master’s Current 4:2, Fall 1997. Return to text.
  41. Newman, R.C., Progressive creationism, in: Moreland, J.P. and Reynolds, J.M. (Eds.), Three Views on Creation and Evolution, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 131, 1999. Return to text.
  42. Diehi, D.W., Evangelicalism and general revelation: an unfinished agenda, J. Evangelical Theological Society 30:448, December 1987. However, he attempts to nullify this concession by claiming the advantage ‘is easily exaggerated’. Nevertheless, his concession is still an admission that the authority of Scripture is greater than that of general revelation. Return to text.
  43. Muller, R.A., Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms, Baker, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 19, 1985. Return to text.
  44. Woodbridge, ref. 5, pp. 264–266. Return to text.
  45. Ramm, ref. 33, p. 48. Return to text.
  46. Ramm, ref. 33, p. 53. Ramm actually seems to be a bit confused on this point. He states elsewhere (Ramm, ref. 33, p. 51) that he believes the biblical writers ‘do not teach any cosmological system or follow any cosmogony, ancient or modern. Rather their writings are prescientific and phenomenal or non-postulational’ (my emphasis). Ramm’s belief that Scripture is ‘prescientific’ is surely an attempt to insulate it from scientific criticisms, since (despite Ramm’s claims to the contrary) ‘prescientific’ is another way of saying it is not correct. Return to text.
  47. Woodbridge, ref. 5, p. 267. Return to text.
  48. Seely, P.H., The first four days of Genesis in concordist theory and biblical context, Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith 49(2):95, 1997. Return to text.
  49. Note that verses such as Isa 55:8–9 do not imply that God’s thoughts cannot be expressed in human language because they are so much higher than our own. As Carson (ref. 3, p. 37) points out, the context shows that God’s thoughts are ‘higher’ in the moral realm, and therefore ‘our response must be repentance, not some kind of awareness of the ineffable’. Return to text.
  50. E.g., stating that the approximate value of p (pi) is 3 is no less truthful than saying it is 3.1415926535897932384626. Both values are approximations but the latter is more precise. See also Grigg, R., Does the Bible say pi equals 3.0? Creation 17(2):24–25, 1995. Return to text.
  51. The NT scholar F.F. Bruce writes (The New Testament Documents: Are they reliable? IVP, Downers Grove, IL, 1960): ‘The NT books did not become authoritative for the Church because they were formally included in a canonical list; on the contrary, the Church included them in her canon because she already regarded them as divinely inspired, recognising their innate worth and generally apostolic authority, direct or indirect … . [Church] councils [did] not impose something new upon the Christian communities but codif[ied] what was already the general practice of those communities.’ Return to text.
  52. Bauman, M., Between Jerusalem and the laboratory, Journal of Creation11(1):19, 1997; my emphasis. Return to text.
  53. As cited by Ramm, ref. 33, p. 120. Return to text.
  54. Hannah, J.D., Bibliotheca Sacra and Darwinism: an analysis of the nineteenth-century conflict between science and theology, Grace Theological Journal 4(1):57, 58, 1983. Return to text.
  55. Young, ref. 2, p. 101. Return to text.

60 comments:

Jon Woolf said...

The Bible says that π is exactly equal to 3. This is not a minor error.

The Bible says that Earth is flat. This is not a minor error.

Other examples are available. They all lead to the same conclusion: the doctrine of 'biblical inerrancy' is a falsehood which only a True Believer can adhere to, and then only by sacrificing his reason on the altar of his faith.

I knew this fifteen years ago. Why haven't you figured it out yet?

Anonymous said...

No doubt Highboy and/or Radar will claim Jon Woolf's examples have been debunked, without offering details.

They have not been debunked.

highboy said...

"No doubt Highboy and/or Radar will claim Jon Woolf's examples have been debunked, without offering details.

They have not been debunked."

That's because those who request an explanation have pretty much stuck their fingers in their ears while screaming "la la la" you're wrong". First, the Bible never says the earth is flat, unless you take the metaphor of the "four corners of the earth" quite literally. Isaiah says God looks upon the "round" of the earth.

Second, as for pi, a simple google: http://www.purplemath.com/modules/bibleval.htm

radar said...

Yes, Woolf comes up with Kindergarten questions when it comes to the Bible. The Bible declares that the Earth is a round object hanging apparently on nothing. I have posted the verses several times. The PI reference is a matter of whether you are measuring inside or outside of the object. All Woolf has figured out is that those who do no research at all can be fooled.

Woolf's examples have been disproven. They only fool those with little Bible knowledge and those hoping to be fooled. Of course they have been debunked!

Jon Woolf said...

Well, Radar, I always try to consider my audience.

"The Bible declares that the Earth is a round object hanging apparently on nothing."

Earth isn't round, though. It's (roughly) spherical. The wording of Isaiah 40:22 is clear: the circle of the earth, the heavens as a curtain, the heavens as a tent covering the earth. All very consistent with the science of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, where the Second Isaiah grew up and was educated. To Babylonian science, the Earth was a flat disk covered by a thin, solid sky.

"The PI reference is a matter of whether you are measuring inside or outside of the object."

This makes no sense. The wording in I Kings 7:23 is clear and simple: "He made also a molten sea, of ten cubits, from brim to brim, round all about; the height of it was five cubits, and a line of thirty cubits compassed it round about." Ten cubits across, thirty cubits around. That's simply impossible. It had to be at least 31 cubits around.

highboy said...

"Earth isn't round, though. It's (roughly) spherical. The wording of Isaiah 40:22 is clear: the circle of the earth, the heavens as a curtain, the heavens as a tent covering the earth."

A sphere is round. If all you can do prove this "fallacy" is play a childish game of word salad then you lose this argument out right.

As for Pi:http://www.purplemath.com/modules/bibleval.htm

Anonymous said...

Isaiah 40:22 does speak of a "circle of the earth", not a sphere, so I'm not sure where this alleged debunking is supposed to have taken place. Further, as Jon already pointed out, there's mention of the "canopy of the heavens" above the earth, which is likened to a tent, further enhancing the image of a flat Earth.

Jon Woolf said...

Words mean things, highboy. I know you subscribe to the Humpty Dumpty theory of philology, but those of us who live in the real world have to take 'em as they're given.

A sphere is a three-dimensional shape. A circle is a two-dimensional shape. The Hebrews knew the difference, as did the Greeks and the Romans who translated the Bible form the original Hebrew. They all had different words for 'circle' and 'sphere,' and they all use the word for 'circle' in Isaiah 40:22.

"As for Pi:http://www.purplemath.com/modules/bibleval.htm"

A better example of "special pleading" I've rarely seen. If someone offered an argument like that as a defense of any position you didn't like, you wouldn't believe a word of it.

Anonymous said...

-- "Do these come in funny shapes at all?"

-- "Not unless round is funny."

- The Coen Bros., "Raising Arizona"

Anonymous said...

No matter how much Highboy and Radar fervently wish it to be the case, the pi story is far from debunked. It is possible to fudge the numbers around a little by claiming that an inner diameter was intended, but the text makes no such indication.

On the contrary - check this out: http://www.abarim-publications.com/Bible_Commentary/Pi_In_The_Bible.html

The original Hebrew: "and a line thirty by the cubit went around it all about".

"A line went around it", a line that was thirty cubits long.

Even your creationist buddies at ICR - John Morris, PhD himself - are on board with that being the outer diameter, not an inner diameter. The tree they're barking up, however, is also a faulty one - the old rounding error mistake.

Anonymous said...

The pi story is also far from debunked, no matter how much Highboy and Radar fervently wish that to be the case. It is possible to fudge the numbers around a little by claiming that an inner diameter was intended, but the text makes no such indication.

On the contrary - check this out: www DOT abarim-publications DOT com/Bible_Commentary/Pi_In_The_Bible DOT html

The original Hebrew: "and a line thirty by the cubit went around it all about".

"A line went around it", a line that was thirty cubits long.

Even your creationist buddies at ICR - John Morris, PhD himself - are on board with that being the outer diameter, not an inner diameter, not least because it was measured by a rope. You don't measure the circumference of something by a rope by painstakingly holding it up against the inside of the container. You wrap it around the outside.

Anonymous said...

The tree that John Morris, PhD was barking up was also erroneous - the old "rounding-off" explanation.

Any rounding explanation is simply wrong, because 30/10 may seem like 3 to you and me, but in mathematics is actually 3.0, and it is not possible to round pi to 3.0. You can round it to 3, you can round it to 3.1, but not to 3.0. Once you include that extra digit (courtesy of those 30 cubits), it has to be 3.1. That's why Jon correctly pointed out that it would have to be 31 cubits.

Sorry to burst your bubble, fellas, but the Bible is not inerrant, not by a long shot.

highboy said...

No apologies necessary anonymous, you didn't burst anything. You did exactly what I predicted. Stuck your fingers in your ears and ignored perfectly valid explanations. In another post long while ago creeper did the same thing on this very blog when we posted the same argument concerning pi from an actual mathmatician and a hebrew scholar. Your insistence on being ignorant is nothing new.

As for "circle" and "sphere", again, you're reaching. The verse clearly says "round", and a sphere is round. If it wasn't round, it wouldn't be a sphere. In any event, what we see very clearly is NO statement in the Bible that the earth if flat, and many verses that clearly imply it being rounded and spherical. http://www.geocentricity.com/astronomy_of_bible/flatearth/doesbibleteach.html

Anonymous said...

"In another post long while ago creeper did the same thing on this very blog when we posted the same argument concerning pi from an actual mathmatician and a hebrew scholar."

Yeah, I saw that when I googled pi on this blog. Except you're not telling the truth here. First, rounding something to 3.0 is not a "perfectly valid explanation" - that's the part where you're consistently sticking your fingers in your ears. And which makes it clear that the guy is not an "actual mathematician". This is the guy who was calling people who didn't agree with him "infidels", is that the same guy? Very objective of him.

highboy said...

That's where you're just factually wrong anonymous, the guy is a mathmatician, whether you like it or not, with credentials that far exceed yours. You can question objectivity all you want but you have no answer in response that is very compelling.

Anonymous said...

Highboy, why do you ignore the fact that the fudged explanation your're proposing involves someone using a line rope to measure the diameter of something by holding it up to the inside of the vessel? Considering that this would be a much more laborious process than running a line around the outside.

If someone used this argument in relation to something you didn't agree with, you'd laugh them out of the room.

Anonymous said...

And no, Highboy and Radar, that hasn't been explained.

Even John Morris PhD disagrees with you on that issue. And you know what an infidel he is.

Anonymous said...

"That's where you're just factually wrong anonymous, the guy is a mathmatician, whether you like it or not, with credentials that far exceed yours."

Now you're just down to an argument from authority: "But he's a mathematician, his credentials exceed yours!"

That doesn't mean he's right when he claims you can round pi to 3.0.

Anonymous said...

"As for "circle" and "sphere", again, you're reaching. The verse clearly says "round", and a sphere is round."

The verse clearly doesn't say "round" - Highboy, did you even read the verse? It's repeated several times in the discussion above.

It says "chug", a Hebrew word meaning circle, vault, compass, to draw a circle around.

If you can provide evidence that "chug" is used to mean sphere, please do so.

Anonymous whatsit said...

"Highboy, why do you ignore the fact that the fudged explanation your're proposing involves someone using a line rope to measure the diameter of something by holding it up to the inside of the vessel?"

And let's not forget: "a line went around it all about".

Anonymous whatsit said...

I was most amused by a mention somewhere that if the Bible did say pi was 3, then why not just make pi 3 so that it's consistent.

Captain Stubing said...

Man, it's a hoot watching Radar and Highboy accusing others of sticking fingers in their ears and still they can't address the points.

Captain Stubing said...

Yo Highboy, could you back up your claim that this guy is a mathematician and has credentials in the field? Googling him indicates otherwise, but hey, maybe you're privy to some hot insider info.

Captain Stubing said...

I mean, if you're going to try for an argument from authority, first thing you need is, you know... authority.

Captain Stubing said...

BTW, Highboy, have you actually read the infidel-basher's arguments? Peculiar indeed. Wanna go through them?

highboy said...

"Even John Morris PhD disagrees with you on that issue. And you know what an infidel he is."

Yeah this hangup you have with "infidel" is really pretty irrelevant. Not to mention the guy you're referring to isn't the mathmetician I referenced. LOL. Maybe you should try reading a little further.

"Now you're just down to an argument from authority:"

Interesting that you guys love to accuse people of all these logical fallacies, when you don't even grasp the description of the fallacy you're accusing me of. The appeal to authority argument is based on appealing to an authority that has no authority on the subject at hand.

"Yo Highboy, could you back up your claim that this guy is a mathematician and has credentials in the field? Googling him indicates otherwise, but hey, maybe you're privy to some hot insider info."

You betcha I am. Like the information about the actual reference from the mathmatician I posted in the thread in question.

Anonymous said...

"A sphere is round. If all you can do prove this "fallacy" is play a childish game of word salad then you lose this argument out right."

This from the undisputed king of "childish games of word salad". Didn't you major in biblical semantics at bible college, hb? Anyway, you seem to be in a bit of a hypocritical mood these days. Out there accusing others of behaviors that you display all the time on this blog. Like you telling someone else that they are "sticking their fingers in their ears", as if it wasn't completely obvious to everyone that that is exactly what you (and Radar) are doing when it comes to biblical contradictions, science, reality, etc, etc, etc. Weird, wacky stuff, really.

So are you saying that the bible does not describe the earth as a "circle"? Or are you actually trying to say that a circle and a sphere are the same things? Would you describe the shape of a single die as "a square". Do you think saying a "Rubic's Square" makes any sense? Nary a definition of a circle exist that doesn't mention a 2 dimensional plane or ring. Like Jon said above, words mean things, hb. Try to keep up.

Oh and relative to the Pi discussion, this is awesome sauce, right here,

"Even your creationist buddies at ICR - John Morris, PhD himself - are on board with that being the outer diameter, not an inner diameter, not least because it was measured by a rope. You don't measure the circumference of something by a rope by painstakingly holding it up against the inside of the container. You wrap it around the outside."

And no, hb, that's not how your argument with creeper, concerning Pi went. I think it actually went something like this, first, you made some bold unsupported statements, they were countered, then your posts quickly devolved into personal attacks (including calling people "slick", obviously), your behavior gets pointed out to you, then you post angrily in response and then abandon the discussion altogether, only to come back much later claiming victory in said "argument". You know, just like practically every other "argument" you have on this site.

Finally, why can't you just google "appeal to authority", hb? From Wiki,

"Argument from authority (also known as appeal to authority) is a fallacy of defective induction, where it is argued that a statement is correct because the statement is made by a person or source that is commonly regarded as authoritative. The most general structure of this argument is:

1. Source A says that p is true.
2. Source A is authoritative.
3. Therefore, p is true."

Now, does this look anything like what you wrote above when it comes to the "appeal to authority" logical fallacy? Come on buddy, work with us here.

- Canucklehead.

Anonymous said...

"A sphere is round. If all you can do prove this "fallacy" is play a childish game of word salad then you lose this argument out right."

This from the undisputed king of "childish games of word salad". Didn't you major in biblical semantics at bible college, hb? Anyway, you seem to be in a bit of a hypocritical mood these days. Out there accusing others of behaviors that you display all the time on this blog. Like you telling someone else that they are "sticking their fingers in their ears", as if it wasn't completely obvious to everyone that that is exactly what you (and Radar) are doing when it comes to biblical contradictions, science, reality, etc, etc, etc. Weird, wacky stuff, really.

So are you saying that the bible does not describe the earth as a "circle"? Or are you actually trying to say that a circle and a sphere are the same things? Would you describe the shape of a single die as "a square". Do you think saying a "Rubic's Square" makes any sense? Nary a definition of a circle exist that doesn't mention a 2 dimensional plane or ring. Like Jon said above, words mean things, hb. Try to keep up.

Oh and relative to the Pi discussion, this is awesome sauce, right here,

"Even your creationist buddies at ICR - John Morris, PhD himself - are on board with that being the outer diameter, not an inner diameter, not least because it was measured by a rope. You don't measure the circumference of something by a rope by painstakingly holding it up against the inside of the container. You wrap it around the outside."

- Canucklehead

Anonymous said...

And no, hb, that's not how your argument with creeper, concerning Pi went. I think it actually went something like this, first, you made some bold unsupported statements, they were quickly countered, then your posts devolved into personal attacks (including calling people "slick", obviously), your behavior gets pointed out to you, then you post angrily in response and then abandon the discussion altogether, only to come back much later claiming victory in said "argument". You know, just like practically every other "argument" you have on this site.

Finally, why can't you just google "appeal to authority", hb? From Wiki,

"Argument from authority (also known as appeal to authority) is a fallacy of defective induction, where it is argued that a statement is correct because the statement is made by a person or source that is commonly regarded as authoritative. The most general structure of this argument is:

1. Source A says that p is true.
2. Source A is authoritative.
3. Therefore, p is true."

Now, does this look anything like what you wrote above when it comes to the "appeal to authority" logical fallacy? Come on buddy, work with us here.

- Canucklehead.

Captain Stubing said...

"The appeal to authority argument is based on appealing to an authority that has no authority on the subject at hand."

Looks like you need to do some further reading on that subject...

highboy said...

So in other words in all that claptrap canucklehead just posted, we're back to the "nuh-uh" response to the PI "contradiction". Awesome stuff. I guess mathmaticians and experts in Hebrew literature are not match for the expertise of anonymous trolls because after all, you can't argue with "nuh-uh". LOL.

As far as "sphere" vs. "circle", its really pretty childish what is going on here. Yes, the Bible says "round". This in no way contradicts "sphere". Why? A sphere is round. Not to mention neither he nor any of the other dissenters here could be bothered to any research about the subject, not even look at the source provided: http://www.geocentricity.com/astronomy_of_bible/flatearth/doesbibleteach.html

Anonymous whatsit said...

"As far as "sphere" vs. "circle", its really pretty childish what is going on here. Yes, the Bible says "round"."

Still can't be bothered to read the verse, I see.

Where does it say "round"?

READ THE VERSE, YOU BIBLICAL SCHOLAR YOU.

This from the guy who attempts to mock others. Wow.

You know this was pointed out to you, don't you?

Anonymous whatsit said...

Can you provide evidence that the Hebrew word "chug" is used to denote a sphere or can't you?

If you can't, what's left to talk about?

Anonymous whatsit said...

"Not to mention neither he nor any of the other dissenters here could be bothered to any research about the subject"

You say this while you don't even go and read the verse... Wow. The irony.

", not even look at the source provided: http://www.geocentricity.com/astronomy_of_bible/flatearth/doesbibleteach.html"

Umm, that's not the source. The source is what you didn't look at.

This is commentary. Not even good commentary.

Captain Stubing said...

Y'know, there's great comedy in a person who's catastrophically proven wrong but who has a chip on their shoulder about that kind of stuff and instead of shrugging and learning from it, doubles down with nonsense and walks off in a huff.

Keep going, Highboy, I don't want this popcorn to go to waste.

highboy said...

"He sits enthroned above the round of the earth, and people are like grasshoppers to Him" (Isaiah 40:22)

Not sure why that isn't clear, though some translations say "circle".

As for the source I provided, it explains in pretty good detail, as does most research that you haven't bothered to do, why this verse does not apply to an "earth if flat" accusation.

1. Nowhere does the Bible say the earth is flat.
2. Even in the translations that say "circle of the earth", its not saying the earth is flat, or that even the earth itself is a circle. "Circle OF the earth" means the earth HAS a circle.

and I guess you're just moving on from the "pi" issue? That's probably wise.

Anonymous said...

"and I guess you're just moving on from the "pi" issue? That's probably wise."

The points were made. You retreated to an argument from authority and from there to demonstrating that you didn't understand an argument from authority. Now you're trying to insinuate victory? Weird.

Captain Stubing said...

"and I guess you're just moving on from the "pi" issue? That's probably wise."

Um, you didn't respond to a few points up there, so - at least that was my impression - I thought you conceded them. Which I thought was wise.

But if you want to maintain that the equivalent of an engineer or construction guy back in those days would hold a rope inside whatever vessel it was by his fingers and work his way around the vessel/container like that, holding it up to the inside of the rim as he went along so he can get that inside measurement...

... instead of measuring the circumference of the thing by running a rope around the outside...

... well if that's your argument, suit yourself. If you'll try to switch roles here for a sec, maybe you can see how that's not very persuasive.

But if you want to go with that, just don't ever accuse anyone here of not being logical ever again, cos your cred is out the window far as that goes.

Anonymous said...

"He sits enthroned above the round of the earth, and people are like grasshoppers to Him" (Isaiah 40:22)

Not sure why that isn't clear, though some translations say "circle".


Hm, "some translations". That made me curious.

Google hits for "enthroned above the circle of the earth": 108,000

Google hits for "enthroned above the round of the earth": TWO

Google is so much fun.

Hey, highboy, does this give you an inkling of why perhaps this "wasn't clear"?

And what's the story on the Hebrew "chug", which is the original word? Are you conceding that it's not a sphere, or what's the story?

Anonymous whatsit said...

"As for the source I provided, it explains in pretty good detail, as does most research that you haven't bothered to do, why this verse does not apply to an "earth if flat" accusation."

If you would actually deign to read it... it doesn't. Surprise surprise.

Here is the sum total of how it "explains" that issue:

"The fact that this verse speaks of the "circle of the earth" can mean one of three things: 1) the earth is not a flat square but a flat circle. If that is true then what of the four corners of the earth? A flat circle has no corners. 2) the earth is shaped in a way that is spheroidal but has a square cross-section somewhere, at the equator, for example. 3) the earth is spheroidal in shape. This latter opinion is further strengthened by observing the reference to the inhabitants as grasshoppers, implying a perspective from on high, particularly, the outermost heaven."

And that's it.

radar said...

Point one - I did NOT get the pictures Woolf claimed were his from his website so they were secondhand. But his complaint caused me to use links to give credit to any picture or cartoon that was not already "signed" by the photographer or artist. Kind of funny Woolf uses the Grand Canyon, as it is a prime example creationist use to point out why the rock layers are a result of flood activity...

Secondly, you guys arguing about the Bible who are not familiar with it are like children discussing automobile transmission repair. You have not taken courses in hermeneutics or Bible languages and you are not qualified to look deep into scripture, especially as unbelievers.

Anonymous whatsit said...

"Point one - I did NOT get the pictures Woolf claimed were his from his website so they were secondhand"

Where did you get them? You can't come to the conclusion they were second hand until you answer that.

Anonymous whatsit said...

"Secondly, you guys arguing about the Bible who are not familiar with it are like children discussing automobile transmission repair."

Except you guys who claim to be familiar with it can't explain the transmission. You run for the first logical fallacy you can get your hands on.

"You have not taken courses in hermeneutics"

If you have superior knowledge to impart, I for one am all ears. But surely you and Highboy have better goods than what's been going on here so far.

"or Bible languages"

Apparently Highboy somehow skipped that as well. He's stuck on how a circle and a ball are both round, instead of telling us something worthwhile about a certain Hebrew word.

"and you are not qualified to look deep into scripture, especially as unbelievers."

a.k.a. infidels. So you're trying the argument from authority again?

Anonymous whatsit said...

Back to that article Highboy was linking earlier. I pasted the sum total of it that addressed the issue. It wasn't much.

But it's even less than it appears. Notice HOW it addresses the possibility that they were talking about a flat Earth and a flat circle? By noting that elsewhere in the Bible there is talk of the four corners of the Earth. And so it can't be a square and a circle at the same time... hence it can't be flat. You get that so far?

Now, about those "four corners of the Earth", earlier in the same piece they address that, quite rightly, by noting that this can mean the four cardinal directions (N, S, E, W) or the four horns (Cape Horn etc.). None of which contradicts a view of Earth as a flat circle.

So, well, Highboy, I did you the favor of reading the "source" you provided. Does it address the question? Nope.

If you have an actual rebuttal, bring it on. If I missed something in the article you linked, point it out.

But why do I sense more evasions ahead?

Anonymous whatsit said...

Oh and this is just great, from the same article:

"This latter opinion is further strengthened by observing the reference to the inhabitants as grasshoppers, implying a perspective from on high, particularly, the outermost heaven."

Because everybody knows you can only observe a sphere from above. You can never observe a flat surface from above.

This despite all human experience to the contrary...

Seriously, Highboy, why did you even link to this article? Did you just google something and link to the first thing you found without reading it?

Jon Woolf said...

"Point one - I did NOT get the pictures Woolf claimed were his from his website so they were secondhand."

Your denial doesn't hold water, Radar.

First of all, the photos are mine and I have the original slides to prove it, so I find your use of the word "claims" to be offensive in a way that your usual ranting about 'darwinists' is not.

Second, by means of my vast Sooper-Sekrit (tm) powers of perception, I can tell that you didn't just copy the photos. You block-copied the HTML for both photos and the accompanying captions directly from my page and pasted them into your post. By doing this, you actually placed links to my photos in your post. That link is still there -- go look for yourself if you don't believe me.

I think it's fairly obvious where and how you got them. Your feeble attempts at denial simply serve to illustrate further how little you either understand or care about the truth.

radar said...

First, the pictures Jon claims as his own were on a site that was comparing the Grand Canyon to the canyon formed after Mt. St. Helens and I don't have that exact site noted. Again, I now put a little attribution notation when I post pictures so no confusion can occur.

Second, I did spend several posts explaining the usage and significance of the word, YOM, and many of the commenters seemed unwilling or unable to grasp the significance of word usages in the Bible within context, so why would I take time with the word for "roundness?" What is the point? Those who wish to disbelieve God cannot be reasoned with and they are not my target audience. I am after critical thinkers with open minds.

creeper said...

"Point one - I did NOT get the pictures Woolf claimed were his from his website so they were secondhand."

So where did you get them, along with this code...

OPEN BRACKET img src="hteeteepee :// www DOT jwoolfden DOT com/jpg/innergorge DOT jpg" alt="Granite Gorge, Grand Canyon" height="330" width="300" /> Granite Gorge, Grand Canyon. The river flow direction is away from the camera.

???

I removed and mangled some tags (adding spaces etc. - it should be obvious in context) because blogger gets picky about them, but all the essential info is correct: the direct link to Jon's website, the actual caption from his website. From the code on your post.

Anyone here can see this info for themselves by going to Jon's link in his previous comment and viewing the page source (something most if not all modern browsers permit).

As was pointed out in that first discussion, there are only two google hits for that caption at the time: Radar's and Jon's. And yet Radar claims he copied the picture and the caption from some other source and had them on his hard drive, not realizing where they came from.

Radar, can you explain how this is even plausible, technically speaking?

creeper said...

"Second, I did spend several posts explaining the usage and significance of the word, YOM, and many of the commenters seemed unwilling or unable to grasp the significance of word usages in the Bible within context,"

From what I recall, you couldn't handle the obvious follow-up questions. But that aside, what's the logic behind "We reached an impasse on argument X, so why should I deal with (badly misrepresented) argument Z"?

"so why would I take time with the word for "roundness?" What is the point?"

What would be the point indeed if you can't read the words in front of you that clearly say that "roundness" is not the issue, but a Hebrew word "chug", which doesn't mean sphere? What point indeed? If you have no argument to bring to the table... don't bother. It's okay. Your concession on the issue is accepted. Bye.

"Those who wish to disbelieve God cannot be reasoned with and they are not my target audience."

Hm. You sure you don't want to rethink that? What exactly was Jesus's target audience again? Does he preach to the choir, or does he reach out to others?

"I am after critical thinkers with open minds."

... unless they disagree with you? '

You make this awfully easy on yourself, Radar.

creeper said...

"Again, I now put a little attribution notation when I post pictures so no confusion can occur."

I don't have a problem with that at all. I don't even have a problem with you using Jon's pictures to begin with, as it seems like a simple amateur mistake, and as along as you then give credit and improve your behavior, fine.

What I don't get at all is when you now subtly cast doubt on Jon's justified claim and pretend there's some other source involved, even though you already admitted it came from Jon way back then. It seems unnecessary, petty and dishonest, all qualities I wouldn't normally associate with a Christian.

radar said...

Okay, I never doubted that Jon took the pictures and I also apologized and gave him credit. The reason you cannot get a hit for the original site I found it on is the same reason I could not find it, it is not on the internet anymore apparently. Again, I never visited Woolf's site until last year, when curiosity caused me to check it out. That is when I noted his love of science fiction and fantasy and wondered why Tolkien and Lewis were left out.

So I am not accusing Jon of anything, but remember that the first time he told me I was using a picture of his was the first time I knew he existed and I just took him at his word. So you can quit casting aspersions, thank you.

creeper said...

"Stuck your fingers in your ears and ignored perfectly valid explanations. In another post long while ago creeper did the same thing on this very blog when we posted the same argument concerning pi from an actual mathmatician and a hebrew scholar."

Yeah, and they didn't work then either. You make a bunch of unfounded claims, and when they don't grow root and yield dozens of converts, you get miffed and blame someone else.

You claim to have shown arguments from "an actual mathmatician and a hebrew scholar" - except the "actual mathematician" merely pointed out that if you introduce various margins of error, you can fudge it to work. Okay, so now we have margins of error.

Does biblical inerrancy come with margins of error now?

The "hebrew scholar" - by that you mean that somewhat enthusiastic fellow that loves to use the word "infidels"? He didn't exactly knock it out of the park when it came to the pi argument.

creeper said...

"The reason you cannot get a hit for the original site I found it on is the same reason I could not find it, it is not on the internet anymore apparently."

Huh. Doesn't Google use caches?

But clue us in here, Radar. How did that specific code and those specific captions get onto your site?

Anonymous whatsit said...

"Even in the translations that say "circle of the earth", its not saying the earth is flat, or that even the earth itself is a circle. "Circle OF the earth" means the earth HAS a circle. "

So if I had an oval-shaped lake, and I talked about the "oval of the lake", would I be saying that the lake HAD an oval?

radar said...

Last time I am going to address this - obviously whoever posted Woolf's pictures just copied directly from him and his site is not on the internet now. I tried to search for it and it happened so long ago I did not remember it. Google doesn't cache things forever. If you do not like that answer then be happily grumpy because I just don't care to talk about it on and on and on.

My reward was to have Woolf come here continually to hound me (pun intended) but sometimes he gives me material for blog posts so it worked out fine.

highboy said...

"So if I had an oval-shaped lake, and I talked about the "oval of the lake", would I be saying that the lake HAD an oval?"

The point was that while the earth is a sphere, its also circular. A sphere is circular, round. Its amazing you people think your scoring all these points in the great "logic" debate while playing such a childish game of word salad. So one more time: no where in the Bible does it say the earth is flat. No where. If words mean something like Jon says, then show me where it says the earth is flat. If you can't, you have no argument. Simply pointing to the words "circle of the earth" isn't holding water at all, the earth is circular. Round. Sphere.

"So, well, Highboy, I did you the favor of reading the "source" you provided. Does it address the question? Nope."

Yes it did and you yourself already quoted some of them. But thanks for demonstrating that "stick your fingers in your ears" tactic again.


"Yeah, and they didn't work then either. You make a bunch of unfounded claims, and when they don't grow root and yield dozens of converts, you get miffed and blame someone else."

No creeper, I'm not mad, I'm amused. Actual experts in the fields that are relevant to this discussion have explained this "error" in the Bible your hung up on quite nicely and you simply ignore it. Yes, most amusing. No matter how you want to doctor it up, all you've been able to respond with are "nuh-uh" comments over and over again.

"The "hebrew scholar" - by that you mean that somewhat enthusiastic fellow that loves to use the word "infidels"? He didn't exactly knock it out of the park when it came to the pi argument."

LOL. You and the rest of these anonymous blowhards love to harp on that "infidel" word, as if it in any way discredits anything that was actually presented in the guys argument. Sorry, but as you guys LOVE to point out, derision isn't an argument. And yes, he AND the mathmatician clearly shown you you're wrong. Why? Well geniuses, if you read carefully, you'll see that the mathmatician did introduce margins of error, you can make it work. If you read ANYTHING about hebrew literature, it rarely if at all uses exact measurements, especially when translated. That was already pointed out to you before in the previous discussion and you chose to ignore it. It hardly computes to an "error" in the Bible simply because Hebrew literature allows for rounding off a number. You've said before that this fact would be consistent for a text written by man, but not if it was the divinely inspired Word of God, which is just stupid. The divinely inspired Word of God was indeed written by man and I don't see how man using the features of the language of that time to write the divinely inspired Word Of God somehow makes it less inspired. In any event, it hardly computes to an "error".

highboy said...

"So if I had an oval-shaped lake, and I talked about the "oval of the lake", would I be saying that the lake HAD an oval?"

The point was that while the earth is a sphere, its also circular. A sphere is circular, round. Its amazing you people think your scoring all these points in the great "logic" debate while playing such a childish game of word salad. So one more time: no where in the Bible does it say the earth is flat. No where. If words mean something like Jon says, then show me where it says the earth is flat. If you can't, you have no argument. Simply pointing to the words "circle of the earth" isn't holding water at all, the earth is circular. Round. Sphere.

"So, well, Highboy, I did you the favor of reading the "source" you provided. Does it address the question? Nope."

Yes it did and you yourself already quoted some of them. But thanks for demonstrating that "stick your fingers in your ears" tactic again.


"Yeah, and they didn't work then either. You make a bunch of unfounded claims, and when they don't grow root and yield dozens of converts, you get miffed and blame someone else."

No creeper, I'm not mad, I'm amused. Actual experts in the fields that are relevant to this discussion have explained this "error" in the Bible your hung up on quite nicely and you simply ignore it. Yes, most amusing. No matter how you want to doctor it up, all you've been able to respond with are "nuh-uh" comments over and over again.

"The "hebrew scholar" - by that you mean that somewhat enthusiastic fellow that loves to use the word "infidels"? He didn't exactly knock it out of the park when it came to the pi argument."

LOL. You and the rest of these anonymous blowhards love to harp on that "infidel" word, as if it in any way discredits anything that was actually presented in the guys argument. Sorry, but as you guys LOVE to point out, derision isn't an argument. And yes, he AND the mathmatician clearly shown you you're wrong. Why? Well geniuses, if you read carefully, you'll see that the mathmatician did introduce margins of error, you can make it work. If you read ANYTHING about hebrew literature, it rarely if at all uses exact measurements, especially when translated. That was already pointed out to you before in the previous discussion and you chose to ignore it. It hardly computes to an "error" in the Bible simply because Hebrew literature allows for rounding off a number. You've said before that this fact would be consistent for a text written by man, but not if it was the divinely inspired Word of God, which is just stupid. The divinely inspired Word of God was indeed written by man and I don't see how man using the features of the language of that time to write the divinely inspired Word Of God somehow makes it less inspired. In any event, it hardly computes to an "error".

radar said...

For some reason Google/Blogspot is taking a hard line on possible spammers. So I guess I will have to go to the comments spam page once a week and read and release comments captured.

My guess? Some websites like (chuckle) talkorigins are being considered spam and I agree. So you will have to not drop the URL if you want the comment to publish.

For your information, this blog averages around 6,000 hits or so per week so there are people all over the world who come to take a look. So whatever you have to say may well be read by thousands of people. Just keep it clean and, if you are saying really dumb stuff a lot of people will see it for what it is.

Anonymous said...

"Just keep it clean and, if you are saying really dumb stuff a lot of people will see it for what it is."

Ah, good. I always like to point readers to that amazing performance by Dr. Mastropaolo:

http://radaractive.blogspot.com/2010/07/batting-cleanup-dr-joseph-mastropaolo.html

It must be seen to be believed.

LogicalBible said...

I like the explanation at purplemath.com.

Pi is an irrational number. It can NOT be represented by a fraction or by repeating decimals. It is not practical to lay out the value of pi in a text as it would go on forever.

But if the figure in 1Ki 7:23 is rounded, that fact can be concluded Logically:

P: the value in 1Ki 7:23 is UN-rounded

Q: the value is 3.14159 etc, etc.

~Q: the value is "3"

Calculate ~P through Modus Tollens, and you have a Logical Conclusion.

Some will attempt to employ a "Slippery Slope" Fallacy regarding rounding and other numerical discrepencies in the Bible.

But the other discrepencies can be answered Logically WITHOUT rounding, e.g.

2Sa 24:9 And Joab gave up the sum of the number of the people unto the king: and
there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the
men of Judah were five hundred thousand men.

P: “the sum” Israel “valiant men”. 2Sa 24:9.

Q: “the sum” Israel “800,000” 2Sa 24:9.

1Ch 21:5 And Joab gave the sum of the number of the people unto David. And all they
of Israel were a thousand thousand and an hundred thousand men that drew sword: and
Judah was four hundred threescore and ten thousand men that drew sword.

~Q: “the sum” Israel “1,100,000”. 1Ch 21:5.

(No Variable for "valiant" for Israel in 1Ch 21:5.)

IF the sum of Israel were valiant men (P), THEN their sum was 800,000 (Q). 2Sa 24:9.

The sum of Israel was 1,100,000 (~Q). 1Ch 21:5.

THEREFORE, NOT the sum of Israel were valiant men (~P).

P -> Q
~Q
├ ~P

VALID REASONING.

2Sa 24:9 And Joab gave up the sum of the number of the people unto the king: and
there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the
men of Judah were five hundred thousand men.

Q: “the sum” Judah “500,000”. 2Sa 24:9

(No Variable for "drew sword" for Judah in 2Sa 24:9.)

1Ch 21:5 And Joab gave the sum of the number of the people unto David. And all they
of Israel were a thousand thousand and an hundred thousand men that drew sword: and
Judah was four hundred threescore and ten thousand men that drew sword.

P: "the sum" Judah "drew sword" 1Ch 21:5

~Q: “the sum” Judah “470,000”. 1Ch 21:5.

IF the sum of Judah drew sword (P), THEN their sum was 470,000 (Q). 1Ch 21:5

The sum of Judah was 500,000 (~Q). 2Sa 24:9

THEREFORE, NOT the sum of Judah drew sword (~P).

P -> Q
~Q
├ ~P

VALID REASONING.

But Bible critics tend to be sloths. They use the word "logic" "con frequencia", but they rarely employ it.

Isa 40:22 "...and the inhabitants thereof are AS grasshoppers..."

Did it say, "the inhabitants thereof ARE grasshoppers"? No.

"...that stretcheth out the heavens AS a curtain, and spreadeth them out AS a tent to dwell in..."

We may not take a metaphor and insert a meaning that suits, and then cry "foul".

"It is He that sitteth upon the circle OF the earth..."

What circle of the earth?

Earth's solar orbit?

Earth's galactic orbit?

A Longitude?

A Latitude?

There is insufficient data to claim an error.