Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Biblical Balderdash

"If the bible said that two and two were five, I'd believe it. It would take me a while to think through what it means, but I'd believe it."

So says one "bible-believing" Christian, and he's not alone. This actually upsets me a great deal because it shows not only a misunderstanding of what the Bible really is, but that human beings are essentially trying to live lives as "brains in vats" with everything around them being pure illusion save that which is literally printed in the Bible.

Let me be clear, I am not saying that Science holds all the answers, nor am I intending to pour scorn on those who believe the literal interpretation of Genesis, but I am concerned that people believe that the Bible is to be accepted uncritically.

I am not going to be able to find a general solution of the Navier-Stokes equations in Holy Scripture. Nor should I think that I should. If the solution there, then I trust the Holy Ghost to lead me. Until then, I will rely on mathematical sources to aid me in this Quixotic quest.

My point us that, although I believe that Science and Mathematics are not capable of obtaining a monopoly on the truth, they do indeed bear witness to the truth. "The Heavens are telling the glory of God". Mathematics is infallible in the truth that it can tell, but this truth can never be complete - indeed the incompleteness of mathematics has been proved mathematically!

This incompleteness is no reason to doubt the truths uncovered by Science. Religion is impregnable to any attempts by atheists to use Science to dismiss it as false. It can't be done, and as of today, I have seen not one single coherent argument for the non-existence of God.

Yet Science does tell the truth. If you drop a vase, it will fall unless there are external entities that prevent that failure. Two and two are four and that is obvious though surprisingly not self-evident. The fact that we have observed gravitational waves almost a century after Einstein predicted them gladdens my heart, and I do thank God for the beauty of Mathematics.

The Bible says that pi is three, but if you read I Kings vii.23 & 26 carefully, this is not a collection of blueprints but a description of the glories of Solomon's temple. Even then, there are interesting features of Phoenician mathematics and mensuration that make it closer to the truth than is apparent. Again, the exact value of pi is not the point: the glory of God is.

The Cappadocian Fathers tell us to revere every word of Scripture carefully, not because it has a literal point, but rather it points to that which is deeper. St Thomas Aquinas would ensure that, following Holy Tradition, we make use of all the senses of Scripture to find the word of God.

Yet Christians must learn not to be so simple-minded as to drive people away from them sniggering at our stupidity for accepting what is manifestly incorrect. To believe that two and two are five based on Scripture really would make a mockery of Scripture. It would make God out to be a liar or at best, inconsistent. Too often, the Bible is carved up into proof-texts to prove a point as to deprive it of any context or depth, or insightful vision of the deep truths of God. We are to be as shrewd as vipers as well as being innocent as doves. This means that, in order to talk with people, to help them find the God we love, we cannot pay for two drinks each worth two pound and expect not to get a pound in change. We are already counted as fools for Christ, why be counted as a fool for oneself?

I am deeply saddened by those Christians who are anti-science, or those who do not think beyond the confines of the Textus Receptus. The integrity of Christian thought starts with Holy Scripture and ends with God. There's a massive distance there and this gap can only be bridged by living the Christian Faith in the world that God made!

While I remain a sceptic on many of the claims of Science on non - scientific issues, I find myself drawn evermore closer to God by the sheer complexity of the world around me, and the fascinating theories that lie behind that complexity.

Of course if two and two were five, then that really would prove that I am the Pope!

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