The Lampstand July 2017 insert – the Bible and science (part 1)

In the July 2017 Lampstand, the following was the first part of an insert.  This section of the insert reproduced below was titled “The Bible and Science”.  It is a collection of misrepresentations, errors and inconsistencies as will be shown. First part one of The Lampstand’s table:

EC teaches The Bible teaches
There are two books God has provided – the books of science and nature – and both hold equal value in interpreting God’s purpose.  Evolution is scientifically provable, hence the Bible must be understood within this frame of reference.

 

The BASF Foundation Clause states that the Scriptures are ‘the only source of knowledge concerning God and His purposes at present extant or available in the earth’.  While some branches of science yield information that allows us to appreciate the eternal power and wisdom of God the teaching of Scriptures takes precedence over human explanations relating to the origin of life in the current creation.  ‘The law and the testimony remain our ultimate source of truth’ Isa 8:20

 

Evolution proves the existence of evolved human beings.

 

There is no hint or suggestion in the Scriptures of a gradual evolutionary process by which God brought life to the planet.  In contrast the Scriptures consistently speak of a miraculous creation of complex and complete life forms – ‘God said…and it was so’   All creatures were created ‘after their kind’ (Gen 1:3, 11, 12, 15, 21-27, 30; 2:1-3; Psa 33:6-9)

 

Mankind is still evolving

 

Gen 2:1-2 – God finished His work.  Life provides for variation within the species (micro evolution) but doesn’t allow for variation from one species (or biblical kind) to another.

 

One can’t help but notice the first words after “The Bible teaches” are a quotation from a human document.  However, onto matters of substance…

  1. Misrepresentation

Firstly note the misrepresentation of the EC position.  To suggest God provided two books, one of science and one of nature is surely a mistake.  No-one says this.

The Lampstand’s use of the Foundation Clause strays dangerously close to pitting the commandments of men against the word of God.  According to Jesus the operation of creation tells us about God’s character Matt 5:45.  The sky and the sun (which moves over the dome of the sky) every day:

“doth his creator’s pow’r display

and publishes to every land

The work of an Almighty hand”[1]

which of course is a hymn based on Psa 19 which clearly “…asserts that the revelation of God is two-fold – in nature and in His word[2] according to Brother Carter.

EC agrees exactly with Bro Thomas’ approach when he wrote of God’s testimony that:

“The grand divisions of this testimony are twofold—first the evidence he has given of his Eternal Power, and Divinity in what is termed Nature; and, secondly, that which is contained in the Historical Books and the Law of Moses, the Prophets, the Psalms, and the Apostolic Writings.”[3]

To say EC’s claim the bible must be understood through the lens of science is mischievous.  We agree with bro Jardine who said:

“The inconsistency spoken of between nature and scripture, arises not from antagonism, but from the misinterpretations of both. It is man’s interpretation of the one set against man’s interpretations of the other. It is not nature versus scripture, but false science against true theology, or false theology against scientific fact”[4]

If the reality of medicine and geology contradict the Lampstand’s preferred understanding of the Bible this is unfortunate but not EC’s fault.  This might invalidate your preferences and explanations but it doesn’t invalidate the Bible.  God’s Word and the physical world will align to the extent that our understanding of both is perfect – saving for some accommodation of the original hearer’s misunderstandings.

The law and testimony remain our ultimate source of truth indeed.  However our application of its principles can be astray – witness bro Roberts declaration that “Air ships are a dream[5] eight years before the Wright brothers took a day trip to Kitty Hawk.

  1. A consistent approach to Scripture

Christadelphians have long noted Scripture accommodates the limitations of the first hearers on subjects ranging from bodily functions through to demons.  Rather than bring forward a consistent approach to reading scripture, The Lampstand is adopting a pick and mix approach.  Absolute literalism on parts of creation, discredited concordism (old earth creation) in places and accommodation elsewhere (eg the function of hearts, kidneys and roles of demons).

Note the insert speaks of the “origin of life in the current creation”.  The Lampstand hold to an old earth creation model.  Scripture simply knows of nothing prior to Gen 1, “the current creation” is phrase unknown in scripture.  Why does Old earth creationism exist?  Because of geology ie science.  Hence they speak of the origin of life in the current creation – words and an idea foreign to Scripture (see here for the scriptural issues with old earth creationism).  The wrangling of 17th and 18th century priests led to the invention of old earth creationism to try and accommodate geological findings.  In time, more geological evidence has discredited the idea and more importantly, Scripture lends no support to the notion.  One of the quotes the Lampstand uses in terms of instant creation is Psa 33:6-9 which talks of the stars being created in the 6 days consistent with Exod 20:11 and Neh 9:6, however under The Lampstand’s own old earth model the stars were pre-existing and temporarily “invisible” from earth.  Very inconsistent.

A further inconsistency – The Lampstand wants the creation in Gen 1 taken literally.  But they don’t apply the same logic to Psa 104 where God waters the hills, makes grass grow and sends forth His spirit to create (one of the two words used in Gen 1) new beasts.  We know these things occur according to the natural processes God designed and presides over, however the Scripture clearly describes God as doing these things continuously.

  1. Kinds and ongoing evolution

On what basis do The Lampstand assert that “kinds” = species?  No Scriptural one, although it is popular with Christian Young Earth Creationists (who oppose the Lampstand’s Old Earth views).  Note what The Lampstand is doing.  They are insisting on a sole interpretation as the only possible one.  Here again the article falls on the basis of observable fact.  In the last 100 odd years we have seen multiple examples of speciation.  It appears there are quite a few examples a few of which are written up nicely and simply on this Scientific American blog – however only one would lead to the simple conclusion – The Lampstand’s interpretation of Genesis is incorrect.  Simply demonstrated, with a test they put up.  The problem here is by demanding a demonstrably false reading of God’s word they create the risk of people discounting Divine revelation because of faulty human interpretation.

_________________________________________________________________

[1] The Christadelphian Hymnbook 2000 hymn 128

[2] Carter, J “God’s Way” page 26

[3] Thomas, The Apostolic Advocate (3.260-261), March 1837

[4] Jardine, ‘The Bible as a Law of Life and Immortality’, The Ambassador of the Coming Age, (1.6.93), 1864

[5] (2001). The Christadelphian, 32(electronic ed.), 414.

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2 thoughts on “The Lampstand July 2017 insert – the Bible and science (part 1)

  1. Roger Evans

    Interesting that you quote Joseph Addison’s hymn first published in 1712. He clearly held to the old beliefs of geocentrism, Having sung the praises of the unwearied sun, and the moon and stars, he states”what though in solemn silence all move round this dark terrestral ball”. What he meant literally, we so conveniently sing figuratively. But if we treated the hymn as literally as we treat Genesis 1, we would be staunchly teaching the Biblical adage that the earth is immovable.

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  2. Pingback: The Lampstand insert July 2017 – Gen 1-3 (part 2) | Christadelphians Origins Discussion

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