Wetenschap: God of afgod 1 Wat zijn wetenschap en Bijbel en hun raakvlakken

Vijanden van elkaar

Het is vreemd, maar veel christenen menen dat Bijbel en wetenschap natuurlijke vijanden van elkaar zijn. Alles wat wetenschap in feite doet, is echter de wereld om ons heen systematisch beschrijven. Goede wetenschap berust op feiten en doet daar verslag van. Waarom zijn zoveel christenen daar dan bang voor? Vrezen zij dat een al te helder licht op de feiten wellicht zou kunnen aantonen dat hun opvattingen over de uiterste houdbaarheidsdatum heen zijn?
Natuurlijk, er zijn gezaghebbende wetenschappers die hun status misbruiken om hun privé opvattingen over atheïsme gezag te verlenen, zoals er ook theologen zijn die hun gezag als theoloog misbruiken om onverantwoorde uitspraken te doen. Dat
zegt weliswaar veel over de beperkte betrouwbaarheid van mensen, maar nog niets over nut of onnut van wetenschap, of van theologie.

Wat is wetenschap?

Wetenschap beschrijft de werkelijkheid. Je gaat uit van waarnemingen, vaak meetresultaten al hoeft dat niet. Die probeer je te verklaren; dan krijg je een ‘hypothese’. Vervolgens redeneer je: als ik dit doe dan moet er dat gebeuren, en dat ga je dan controleren d.m.v. experimenten. Als het klopt wordt je hypothese een theorie. Die theorie is een mogelijke verklaring/beschrijving van wat je in de natuur waarneemt, en daar mogen geen uitzonderingen op bekend zijn. Het vervelende is alleen dat zo’n uitzondering altijd morgen kan opduiken. Als dat gebeurt moet je je theorie zodanig aanpassen dat die nieuwe waarneming daar ook in past.
Als dat niet lukt, moet je hem weggooien en een andere bedenken. Maar een theorie is altijd gebaseerd op waargenomen feiten. En die zijn in elk geval juist. Alleen de verklaring daarvan zou tekort kunnen schieten. In concreto: dinosaurussen hebben bestaan; de vraag is alleen: hoe zijn we er ooit aangekomen, en hoe zijn we er weer van afgekomen. Dat laatste
is een verklaring, een theorie, waar je over kunt discussiëren. Maar te ontkennen dat die beesten ooit hebben bestaan is niet aan de orde.

Wat is de Bijbel?

Aan de andere kant hebben we de Bijbel, Gods instructieboek aan ons, ons ‘Handboek-soldaat’, dat ons alles vertelt wat we moeten weten om een goed christen te zijn. Zoals dat Handboek-soldaat de dienstplichtige destijds alles vertelde wat hij moest
weten om een goed soldaat te zijn.

Maar de Bijbel vertelt je beslist niet waar de dinosaurus vandaan kwam, of waar hij is gebleven, want dat hoef je als christen niet te weten. Zoals het Handboek-soldaat je niet vertelde wie de Mona Lisa heeft geschilderd, of waar je die nu kunt zien. En zoals de wetenschapper er van uit gaat dat zijn waarnemingen juist zijn – dat zij de feiten zijn waar hij zich op kan baseren – zo gaat de bijbellezer er van uit dat de tekst die hij voor zich heeft juist is, dat die de waarheid is waar hij zich op kan baseren.

Strikt genomen is noch het een noch het ander volledig gegarandeerd. Waarnemingen kunnen achteraf wel eens vals blijken te zijn geweest, en evenzo kan de Bijbeltekst wel eens verkeerd zijn overgeleverd, en wij lezen hem in elk geval altijd in een vertaling!
Maar door de band genomen klopt dat allemaal wel.

Maar zoals feiten op zichzelf geen betekenis hebben, en eerst moeten worden geïnterpreteerd voordat ze iets voor ons betekenen, zo moeten we ook de Bijbeltekst eerst uitleggen voordat die iets voor ons betekent.

En zoals een wetenschappelijke theorie achteraf wel eens onjuist, of op zijn minst onvolledig, kan blijken te zijn, zo hoeft ook een theologische uitleg niet altijd de absolute waarheid te zijn. Anders gezegd: feiten liegen niet, maar wetenschappers soms wel, en die zijn in elk geval niet onfeilbaar. Maar evenzo: Gods woord is weliswaar de waarheid, maar Bijbellezers en Bijbeluitleggers kunnen, al dan niet met de beste bedoelingen, soms heel scheve schaatsen rijden.

Welke raakvlakken zijn er eigenlijk

U vindt een en ander geïllustreerd in het schema. Wetenschap is gebaseerd op waargenomen feiten en christendom op de tekst van de Bijbel.
Die kunnen nooit met elkaar in strijd zijn. Dat kan hooguit met de uitleg van die feiten en teksten, maar hoe groot is die kans? Wetenschap gaat vooral over fysieke zaken, en de Bijbel over geestelijk leven. De meeste ‘conflicten’ ontstaan wanneer christenen in bepaalde teksten een beschrijving gaan lezen van natuurkundige of biologische principes. Zoals de middeleeuwse kerk in de Schrift de bevestiging zag van een wereldbeeld met de aarde als het middelpunt van het heelal. Daar kwamen geleerden als Copernicus en Galileï mee in conflict toen ze beweerden dat de aarde om de zon draaide, in plaats van andersom.

De Italiaans natuurkundige, astronoom, wiskundige en filosoof Galilei en Viviani, 1892, Tito Lessi

Maar de Bijbel gaat niet over de fysieke inrichting van het heelal, die gaat over het feit dat God de aarde heeft geschapen als
geestelijk middelpunt van zijn plan met de mens. Wat hier mis gaat is daarom niet de
interpretatie van bepaalde teksten als zodanig, maar het feit dat de Bijbel wordt gelezen vanuit een totaal verkeerde invalshoek. Waarna die invalshoek vervolgens tot zulke misinterpretaties leidt.
Helaas is die middeleeuwse invalshoek tot ons christelijk erfgoed gaan behoren, zodat dit soort misinterpretaties nog steeds voorkomen. Wanneer de wetenschap dan aantoont dat die niet overeenstemmen met onze waarnemingen, ligt dat echt niet aan die waarnemingen. Ja,
de Bijbel is geïnspireerd, en kan niet fout zijn. Maar onze uitleg van die Bijbel is niet geïnspireerd, en kan er wel degelijk mijlenver naast zitten!

Het schema toont ons dat, en we moeten ons dan steeds afvragen of de interpretatie van de feiten onjuist is, of toch onze uitleg (exegese) van de Bijbel. Maar het schema toont ons ook waar het veel vaker mis gaat: feilbare mensen, aan de ene kant of aan de andere, bouwen op hun begrip van de feiten of van de Bijbeltekst een verdere redenering (bij gebrek aan een betere term heb ik dat maar filosofieën genoemd) die in conflict is met wat we aan de andere kant weten. Maar dat mag je de Bijbel niet verwijten, en evenmin de wetenschap. Dat ligt aan de neiging van mensen die iets willen ‘bewijzen’ om daar hun vakgebied
voor te misbruiken, of dat nu Bijbelexegese is of juist wetenschap.
Maar in feite is het geen van beide, in feite is het in beide gevallen een vorm van bijgeloof. In de komende afleveringen willen we daarom een aantal van dit soort confrontaties wat nader beschouwen.

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Aanvullende lectuur

  1. Rond de Bijbel
  2. Bijbel verzameld Woord van God
  3. Boek der boeken de Bijbel
  4. Boek in onze handen
  5. Bijbel baken en zuiverend water
  6. Bestseller aller tijden
  7. De Bijbel als instructieboek
  8. De Bijbel als instructieboek #1 Lezen van de Bijbel
  9. De Bijbel als instructieboek #2 Effectief Bijbellezen
  10. De Bijbel als instructieboek #3 De Taal van de Bijbel
  11. Nut van het lezen van de Bijbel
  12. Missionaire hermeneutiek 1/5
  13. Missionaire hermeneutiek 2/5
  14. Hermeneutiek om uit te dragen #3 Wetenschap
  15. Hermeneutiek om uit te dragen #7 In Harmonie
  16. Hermeneutiek om uit te dragen #8 Tegenspraak

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Gerelateerd

  1. Herman Bavinck on Traveling and the Theology of Nature Hoe leert men dan nog beter dan voorheen de taal van Psalmen en Profeten waardeeren en de heerlijke natuurpoëzie van den Bijbel verstaan?
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Christian fundamentalists feeding Into the Toxic Partisanship and driving countries into the Dark Ages… #2

In the United States we not only see that religious groups become endangered. Also the female person seems to be placed in a secondary role. We see the growing tendency by several American citizens to consider  the female being as second-class citizen whose place belongs in the kitchen and by her kids. the woman according several man should be subject to a strict social hierarchy. This hierarchy can be observed in every stripe of fundamentalism, from Islamic fundamentalism to Christian fundamentalism and it goes like this:

God/Jesus is the head of the man

Man is the head of the woman, subject only to God

Woman is subjugated to a status which is wholly reliant on having “faith” that her husband will do the right thing because he is specially influenced by God by special decree of the Bible.

Fundamentalist website after website counsels women that if her husband does wrong that the only thing she can do is pray that God will guide him to a different decision, that she is not to disagree with him publicly (or in front of children). She is free (sometimes) to give an opinion, but the ultimate decision is the man’s, because he has special dispensation by God to be in that position. The equal status of women is a threat to this hierarchy, and thus, a threat to God.

According to several writers on the net there is “Anti-intellectualism” at the base of the extremist behaviour of so many evangelicals and for others it is a matter to have everything in control. In order of occupancy of the Oval Office, there is an inverse relationship between the number of Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Baptist presidents of the United States and the percentage of each of those denominations in the broader population. As if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, there are no evangelicals among the current justices of the Supreme Court!

In fact, there aren’t even any Protestants these days!

Dakota O’Leary believes this is why America is seeing so many attacks on women, from trying to pass laws that undermine Roe v. Wade (personhood laws, restrictions on abortions, waiting periods, attempts to push laws to punish abortion doctors, restrictions on being able to get birth control, etc), to going to the trouble of redefining rape as being the woman’s fault, even part of God’s plan, while pushing to give rapists parental rights, to the unfortunate proclamations of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, et. The present president of America even boasted that girls love it to receive the male’s attention and being the prey man has to conquer. Nobody called yet to bring him before court for molesting women, though several women came forward with their story and some even with proof what this man had done to them in the past. To no avail…. He seems to be untouchable.

Many (conservative and evangelical) Americans are convinced that women dress in such a way they demand to be played at and to be raped and that babies born of rape are either a penalty for their attitude or are a blessing from God, (that the female body shuts down its reproductive system when a woman is being raped, etc.).

Controlling women’s bodies while at the same time denouncing “big government” is the popular meme of the fundamentalist mind. Women are simply not meant to destroy that Godly hierarchy set up by the Bible, and in their minds if you can control women, you’ve got half the populace conquered for God.

Fundamentalist anti-intellectualism often manifests itself in a sort of “pseudo-intellectualism” by which those with little or no educational background read a few articles or watch a few videos about a particular subject (usually published by their own religious compatriots, particularly about what a scientific theory is and evolution), and consider themselves “educated” because what they read agreed with their worldview, or, if being highly educated, usually get that education in a fundamentalist educational setting. They even go so far to say that scientists forge or falsify research to mislead pepole and to bring them away from God’s Word. They will then take that “evidence” and proceed to use it against empirical evidence that directly contests and even eviscerates the arguments they have carefully set up around what they have read or seen, and the argument invariably ends with ad hominem attacks against reason, facts, and education — because they have no actual evidence outside of the Bible to use to “win” the argument. A favourite tactic is to call the opposition an “atheist” (or a “liberal”) if someone disagrees with their worldview.

Rick Santorum by Gage Skidmore 12.jpg

Richard John Santorum

By the extremist evangelicals we also may see that education is then “demonized” as being a covert movement to “indoctrinate” the masses in the secular worldview, and thus, part of the forces of Satan. The American attorney, author, and politician Santorum demonstrates this principle admirably. Although he himself is highly educated, with a bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree and JD from Penn State, his Biblical worldview clearly trumps his empirical education and allows him to disregard it as a fly in the ointment in the “light of Biblical truth,” which is, of course, only empirical in that it is in print, in black and white, not empirical that it can actually be proven.

Faith is evidence enough, and reason becomes a threat to faith, thus, reason is from Satan, not God.

A good case in point is the persecution of Copernicus and Galileo by the Catholic Church, regarding the revolution of the Earth around the sun. This old argument, which has been proven in favor of Copernicus and Galileo, has arisen once again to haunt us.

According to a recent National Science Foundation survey, over twenty percent of the respondents believed in the geocentric model popular during the 1500s, that the sun revolves around the earth instead of the other way around. This is old, disproven thinking that comes from the idea that since humanity is God’s creation, naturally, everything revolves around humanity, with humanity at the centre of creation.

Humanity is thus, special. Anything that challenges the idea that humanity is special is thus a threat against God. After all, you can’t feel the earth move, so it must be stationary. You can’t see the stars move (well, you can with a telescope, something called parallax), but you can’t see it with the naked eye, so thus, the earth must be stationary with the sun moving around it.

This is an example of pseudo-intellectualism. You know what you see, but you don’t investigate to see if your assertions are valid under close scrutiny. Fundamentalists cannot afford to indulge in close scrutiny of their ideas, because close scrutiny would most certainly disprove most of what they believe, and they fear, more than anything else, of the erosion of their own faith.

In 1982, forty-four per cent of Americans held strictly creationist views, a statistically insignificant difference from 2012. Furthermore, the percentage of Americans that believe in biological evolution has only increased by four percentage points over the last twenty years.

Susan Jacoby, author of “The Age of American Unreason” and “Freethinkers” sums up the problem of fundamentalist anti-intellectualism succinctly:

This mindless tolerance, which places observable scientific facts, subject to proof, on the same level as unprovable supernatural fantasy, has played a major role in the resurgence of both anti-intellectualism and anti-rationalism.

Copernicus and Galileo were persecuted by the Catholic Church for suggesting that humanity on earth was indeed not the centre of the universe. Copernicus did not suffer much persecution while he was alive, but after he was dead, his hypothesis that the earth revolved around the sun certainly did. Galileo dared to revive Copernicus’ idea, and packaged it in a mock debate between characters in a book he wrote called Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems (Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo) in 1632. The Catholic Church’s militaristic arm, the Inquisition, caught wind of what he had written, and banned his book, and placed Galileo under house arrest.

Now, the Catholic Church’s disagreement with Galileo and Copernicus did not make their ideas less true, which the idea certainly was, and revealed to be true through empirical scientific investigation over a period of years. Instead, the Church deflected the facts as “heresy,” which is something fundamentalists are particularly adept at doing. Ken Ham’s Creation Museum is a testament to this deflection of scientific facts as heresy.

By dismissing evolution as nothing more than a “theory,” (which goes to show pure, deliberate ignorance of what exactly a scientific theory is), we see again the application of the ad hominem attack Christian fundamentalists so love to employ when inconvenient facts get in the way.

The fundamentalists of today are a hardy lot, and they will use anything to win this battle for God — the Bible, which is the ultimate authority, the Constitution, revisionist science textbooks, and revisionist American history (a la David Barton) that “proves” America was a nation founded to be their brand of a “Christian nation.”

Their view of a Christian nation is a very restricted view where there is only place for their Christian conservative doctrinal teachings and where there can only some place for other trinitarian christians as long as they do not go against their views.

Never mind they are not Constitutional scholars. The Constitutional scholars are a threat to them because even though scholars have differing opinions about interpretation of the Constitution, any opinion that differs from the fundamentalist worldview is a direct attack on God. Never mind that the fundamentalist that lives in the general population is not a scientist.

They know better, because the Australian Christian fundamentalist and young Earth creationist living in the United States, Ken Ham and the Bible tell them that there is No Way God would use evolution to create (even though the Bible says nothing on the subject of evolution)

The Bible is black and white. God created the world as it is now in six days, and rested on the seventh.

You will rarely see a fundamentalist in a secular college or university because secular universities and colleges do not agree with their worldview (logically). This is why for the most part they are homeschooled, and go straight from homeschool to fundamentalist universities that teach their worldview.By presenting homeschooling by the parents themselves, who did not receive any educational formation to be a teacher, the kids are squeezed the truth and deprived of sound formation. Opportunities to go to a proper high school or to a good university is taken away. For such children is there only an opening to  universities and colleges churned out fundamentalists who are schooled in law, but only an interpretation of law that fits their Biblical worldview. Lawyers or judges who disagree with them, particularly in Supreme Court cases are dismissed ad hominem as “activist lawyers” and “activist judges” (i.e. enemies of God).

This lack of empirical education is changing American society into one that has eroded science education, particularly with their attempts to force the school voucher issue, which is nothing but a bid to get taxpayers to fund fundamentalist education, yet they object to taxpayer funded public education because “secularism” is persecuting them for their beliefs by simply disagreeing with them (because again, nothing they believe is based on empirical evidence).

Jerry Falwell Jr. has ambitious plans to affect life, law and culture in America, and it’s all being germinated at Liberty University, the fundamentalist bastion his father founded. (Source: Americans United)

The lack of empirical education is eroding American society in favour of a “faith based” education that has nothing whatsoever to do with facts that threaten their worldview. Liberty is something they interpret as the freedom to live in a society based solely on their Biblical worldview and does not at all give any liberty to free expression or freedom of thought. Freedom of religion for others in an inclusive society is anathema to them, because such freedom threatens to sideline them to the fringes. Individual liberty does not exist except for them, because they have an inherent distrust of the individual to make reasonable decisions, unless those decisions are based on their interpretation of Scripture. Thus, mainstream Christians are not their brethren; mainstream Christians are simply misinformed individuals who have deluded themselves into believing they are of the family of Christ, and only the clear lens of fundamentalism can see that mainstream Christians have been deceived by the enemy of God which is secular society. In this lies a big problem. They think they have to spread their ‘true religion’ all over the world and consider themselves as the chosen people of God and therefore they also consider themselves as the connected with the Zionists aiming to have peace in the Middle East. Though they do forget that by their refusal to see and understand that Jesus was not his real name, but that is was Jeshua and that he spoke Aramaic and as such used the word “Allah” for “God” plus that in the present day still millions of pepole use that word “Allah” which disgusts those American fundamentalists. And by their action against that word they bring resentment in several believers their heart. Their action against the use of non-english words for “God” gives not only peevishness, but lets many wonder if they belong to the right Christian religion of worse should not become a worshipper of the Only One true God and have to become Jew or Muslim and leave the Christian Trinity doctrine aside. A pity not more by those extremist Christians offended Christians go looking for an alternative Christianity where there is praised the God of Jeshua (Jesus Christ (Allah, the Elohim Hashem Jehovah) and where they still can use their Catholic or protestant Bibles with that word “Allah” in it when it talks about The God.

The extremist fundamentalist Christians say their sole aim is to “obey” God in creating conditions favourable to the return of Christ – and this one thought, this one design drives American foreign policy with Israel (they believe that when the Jews all return to Israel and the 3rd temple is rebuilt that Christ will return, (but not without sacrificing 2/3 of the Jewish people in the process), then all the remaining Jews will become Christians.

American fundamentalists are only interested in Jewish people and Israel insofar as it furthers the return of Jesus Christ. That is all.

Dakota O’Leary is convinced that because fundamentalists are engaged in the idea that they are warriors in a fight for God, (something Christian fundamentalists hold in common with Islamic fundamentalists), and says

they have the sort of mindset that if it came to it (which it has not yet, I do not think), they would not afraid to die for their faith. Proof of this idea was given a disturbing form by a video game “Left Behind: Eternal Forces,” which advocates killing anyone who doesn’t agree with them (i.e. can’t be converted to their idea of Christ):

Katherine Stewart writes

Aimed at conservative Christians, the game’s story line begins in a time after the “rapture”, when fundamentalist dogma contends that Christians will go to heaven. The remaining population on earth must then choose between surrendering to or resisting “the Antichrist”, which the game describes as the “Global Community Peacekeepers” whose objective is the imposition of “one-world government”.

“Part of the object is to kill or convert the opposing forces,”

Simpson said.

This is “antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said, adding that he was dismayed by the concept in “Eternal Forces” of using prayer to restore a player’s “spirit points” after killing the enemy.

In the game, combatants on one side pause for prayer, intoning, “Praise the Lord”. A player can lose points for “unnecessary killing” but regain them through prayer.

But Simpson counters,

“The idea that you could pray, and the deleterious effects of one’s foul deeds would simply be wiped away, is a horrible thing to be teaching Christian young people here at Christmas time.”

Troy Lyndon, CEO of Left Behind Games Inc., which is promoting the new video, has defended the game as “inspirational entertainment” and said its critics were exaggerating. The game is based on the popular “Left Behind” novels, a Bible-based end-of-the-world-saga that has sold more than 63 million copies.

Dakota O’Leary reacts

Now, while this is a disturbing element, and the Left Behind books have genocidal scenes that seem to justify killing masses of unbelievers because they are incorrigible (not ever going to convert to the fundamentalist mindset), it should be reiterated that fundamentalists are not yet at the point in the US where they want to kill people, so let us not be alarmist. However, that being said, the way some fundamentalists are choosing to portray institutional racism and genocide (as punishment for sin and disbelief) to school age children is disturbing, and it is the belief of this scholar that the elements for radical action portrayed in the video game are there – but would need utter desperation in order to explode into being. It is the opinion of this writer that fundamentalists are not yet this desperate, but attempts to normalize killing for God are disturbing, to say the least. The Guardian had this to say about the subject in May of 2012:

The story of the Amalekites has been used to justify genocide throughout the ages. According to Pennsylvania State University Professor Philip Jenkins, a contributing editor for the American Conservative, the Puritans used this passage when they wanted to get rid of the Native American tribes. Catholics used it against Protestants, Protestants against Catholics.

“In Rwanda in 1994, Hutu preachers invoked King Saul’s memory to justify the total slaughter of their Tutsi neighbors,”

writes Jenkins in his 2011 book, Laying Down the Sword: Why We Can’t Ignore the Bible’s Violent Verses (HarperCollins).

In the fall of 2012, more than 100,000 American public school children, ranging in age from four to 12, were scheduled to receive instruction in the lessons of Saul and the Amalekites in the comfort of their own public school classrooms. The instruction, which features in the second week of a weekly “Bible study” course, came from the Good News Club, an after-school program sponsored by a group called the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF). The aim of the CEF is to convert young children to a fundamentalist form of the Christian faith and recruit their peers to the club.

There are now over 3,200 clubs in public elementary schools, up more than sevenfold since the 2001 supreme court decision, Good News Club v Milford Central School, effectively required schools to include such clubs in their after-school programing.

The CEF has been teaching the story of the Amalekites at least since 1973. In its earlier curriculum materials, CEF was euphemistic about the bloodshed, saying simply that “the Amalekites were completely defeated.” In the most recent version of the curriculum, however, the group is quite eager to drive the message home to its elementary school students. The first thing the curriculum makes clear is that if God gives instructions to kill a group of people, you must kill every last one:

You are to go and completely destroy the Amalekites (AM-uh-leck-ites) – people, animals, every living thing. Nothing shall be left.

“That was pretty clear, wasn’t it?” the manual tells the teachers to say to the kids.

Even more important, the Good News Club wants the children to know, the Amalakites were targeted for destruction on account of their religion, or lack of it. The instruction manual reads:

The Amalekites had heard about Israel’s true and living God many years before, but they refused to believe in him. The Amalekites refused to believe in God and God had promised punishment.

The instruction manual goes on to champion obedience in all things. In fact, pretty much every lesson that the Good News Club gives involves reminding children that they must, at all costs, obey. If God tells you to kill nonbelievers, he really wants you to kill them all. No questions asked, no exceptions allowed.

Dakota O’Leary writes

Educating Christian fundamentalists simply doesn’t work. They do not accept any education that is in direct conflict with their worldview. What remains is to educate the rest of the American populace about Christian fundamentalism and dominionism, educating the American populace about the David Bartons of the world, so that when elections occur, an educated populace can reject the infiltration of fundamentalism on the rest of American society, which will, given the right opportunity (usually in a climate of fear like 9/11), erode American democracy entirely and push our nation into the fringes of the world into irrelevance.

Every American should know that Anti-intellectualism – as advocated by large and vocal elements within the Republican Party is dangerous to the future of their nation. but they also should know that those fundamentalist Christians threaten world peace, by their continuous actions against Muslims and against people who use the word “Allah”.

For the future of the States there is also the education danger, by having the students not to see how the world evolves and how everything is related with each other. Students who are protected from “globalist” views and real science will not grow up to be leaders. If the Americans themselves do not take care of providing a sound education to their children and to give them an understanding of other peoples and other languages they shall have to face a downfall of their nation.

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Dakota O’Leary is a freethinker, and often sassy, scholar of theology and literature. She got her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Theology from the State University of New York College at Buffalo, and her Master of Arts degree in Theology and Literature from Antioch University-Midwest. Dakota is a co-host of the God Discussion radio show, offering insight to the news stories of the week.

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Preceding

Act of Faith held on February 6, 1481

American Christianity no longer resembles its Founder

Christian fundamentalists feeding Into the Toxic Partisanship and driving countries into the Dark Ages… #1

Science, 2013 word of the year, and Scepticism

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Additional reading

  1. Religions and Mainliners
  2. Migrants to the West #1
  3. Migrants to the West #2
  4. Migrants to the West #7 Religions
  5. Migrants to the West #10 Religious freedom
  6. A last note concerning civil rights
  7. Religion, fundamentalism and murder
  8. Religious Practices around the world
  9. Religious Freedom in a Multicultural World
  10. 60 years after creation of European Economic Community, Europeans skeptical about one of their biggest achievements this century
  11. You might be an extrimist if …
  12. Responses to Radical Muslims and Radical Christians
  13. Liberal and evangelical Christians
  14. Christians fail there where Muslims succeed
  15. Engaging the culture without losing the gospel
  16. Back from gone #4 Your inner feelings and actions
  17. Full text of Pope Francis’ Interview with ‘La Vanguardia’
  18. Consequences of Breivik’s mass murder
  19. A New Reformation
  20. Blinded crying blue murder having being made afraid by a bugaboo
  21. The clean sweeper of the whole caboodle
  22. Catherine Ashton on the EU annual report on human rights
  23. Where is the USA wanting to go with the freedom of their people

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Further related

  1. On Biblical inerrancy and the priorities of fundamentalists
  2. Are there dividing lines between Mainline and Evangelical?
  3. How America’s Endless Civil War Between Protestant Sects Is at the Heart of American Identity
  4. Where Is Reality, as Fundamentalist Christians Think They Are More Discriminated Against Than Muslims?
  5. Christian, Jewish and Muslim Fundamentalists Agree that Natural Disasters Are God’s Revenge on the Modern World
  6. MainlineDecline, Decline-Talk, and Decline-ism — Sightings (Martin Marty)
  7. Sorry LGBTQ People and Fertile American Women
  8. Hate speech is acceptable in Trump’s America – as long as it comes from Christian fundamentalists
  9. Are Christian Fundamentalists Driving Our Country into the Dark Ages?
  10. Christian fundamentalists are driving our country into the Dark Ages…
  11. More about Christian Nationalism and President Donald J. Trump
  12. Hate speech is acceptable in Trump’s America – as long as it comes from Christian fundamentalists
  13. Trump is not a nativist
  14. Party Like It’s Armageddon?!
  15. Chris Hedges: Home Grown Hatred–Anger and Alienation in the US (2009)
  16. Christopher Hitchens and Michael Parenti Debate: Iraq and the Future of US Foreign Policy (2005)
  17. Betsy DeVos and The Christian Right’s “Big Ideas”
  18. Abby Martin and Chris Hedges: Donald Trump and Christianized Fascism
  19. These are the alarming parallels between the views of Steve Bannon and those held by Islamist jihadis
  20. Adsorbing/Deflecting a curse
  21. Satan Sprinkles A Few More Stegosaurus Bones Across Nation To Test Christians’ Faith
  22. The Handmaid’s Tale – An American Dystopia?
  23. Typical Examples of Christian Fundamentalist and Conservative Evangelical Hate Mail
  24. The Evangelical Identity Crisis
  25. Jordan Peterson – Atheist Researchers vs Christian Fundamentalists

Science and the Bible—Do They Really Contradict Each Other?

Nikolaus Kopernikus.jpg

Portrait of Mikołaj Kopernik, better known as Nicolaus Copernicus 1580, Toruń Old Town City Hall

galileo_card

galileo_card (Photo credit: triviaqueen)

The seeds of the clash between Galileo and the Catholic Church were sown centuries before the Renaissance mathematician and astronomer Copernicus and Galileo were born. The earth-centered, or geocentric, view of the universe was adopted by the ancient Greeks and made famous by the philosopher Aristotle (384-322 B.C.E.) and the astronomer-astrologer Ptolemy (second century C.E.).*

Aristotle’s concept of the universe was influenced by the thinking of Greek mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras (sixth century B.C.E.). Adopting Pythagoras’ view that the circle and sphere were perfect shapes, Aristotle believed that the heavens were a series of spheres within spheres, like layers of an onion. Each layer was made of crystal, with the earth at the center. Stars moved in circles, deriving their motion from the outermost sphere, the seat of divine power. Aristotle also held that the sun and other celestial objects were perfect, free of any marks or blemishes and not subject to change.

Ancient Greek philosophers such as Plato and A...

Ancient Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle would become highly revered in the christian world and later also in the medieval Islamic world. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Aristotle’s great scheme was a child of philosophy, not science. A moving earth, he felt, would violate common sense. He also rejected the idea of a void, or space, believing that a moving earth would be subject to friction and would grind to a halt without the application of constant force. Because Aristotle’s concept seemed logical within the framework of existing knowledge, it endured in its basic form for almost 2,000 years. Even as late as the 16th century, French philosopher, jurist and polyhistor Jean Bodin expressed that popular view, stating: “No one in his senses, or imbued with the slightest knowledge of physics, will ever think that the earth, heavy and unwieldy . . . , staggers . . . around its own centre and that of the sun; for at the slightest jar of the earth, we would see cities and fortresses, towns and mountains thrown down.”

Aristotle Adopted by the Church

The fifth of Thomas Aquinas' proofs of God's e...

The fifth of Thomas Aquinas’ proofs of God’s existence was based on teleology (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A further step leading to the confrontation between Galileo and the church occurred in the 13th century and involved Catholic authority Thomas Aquinas (1225-74). Aquinas had a profound respect for Aristotle, whom he referred to as The Philosopher. Aquinas struggled for five years to fuse Aristotle’s philosophy with church teaching. By the time of Galileo, says Wade Rowland in his book Galileo’s Mistake, “the hybridized Aristotle in the theology of Aquinas had become bedrock dogma of the Church of Rome.” Keep in mind, too, that in those days there was no scientific community as such. Education was largely in the hands of the church. The authority on religion and science was often one and the same.

The stage was now set for the confrontation between the church and Galileo. Even before his involvement with astronomy, Galileo had written a treatise on motion. It challenged many assumptions made by the revered Aristotle. However, it was Galileo’s steadfast promotion of the heliocentric concept and his assertion that it harmonizes with Scripture that led to his trial by the Inquisition in 1633.

In his defense, Galileo affirmed his strong faith in the Bible as the inspired Word of God. He also argued that the Scriptures were written for ordinary people and that Biblical references to the apparent movement of the sun were not to be interpreted literally. His arguments were futile. Because Galileo rejected an interpretation of Scripture based on Greek philosophy, he stood condemned! Not until 1992 did the Catholic Church officially admit to error in its judgement of Galileo.

Lessons to Be Learned

What can we learn from these events? For one thing, Galileo had no quarrel with the Bible. Instead, he questioned the teachings of the church. One religion writer observed: “The lesson to be learned from Galileo, it appears, is not that the Church held too tightly to biblical truths; but rather that it did not hold tightly enough.” By allowing Greek philosophy to influence its theology, the church bowed to tradition rather than follow the teachings of the Bible.

All of this calls to mind the Biblical warning:

“Look out: perhaps there may be someone who will carry you off as his prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ.”—Colossians 2:8.

A page of hand-written notes, with a sketch of branching lines.

In mid-July 1837 Darwin started his “B” notebook on Transmutation of Species, and on page 36 wrote “I think” above his first evolutionary tree.

Even today, many in Christendom continue to embrace theories and philosophies that contradict the Bible. One example is Darwin’s theory of evolution, which they have accepted in place of the Genesis account of creation. In making this substitution, the churches have, in effect, made Darwin a modern-day Aristotle and evolution an article of faith.*

True Science Harmonizes With the Bible

The foregoing should in no way discourage an interest in science. To be sure, the Bible itself invites us to learn from God’s handiwork and to discern God’s amazing qualities in what we see. (Isaiah 40:26; Romans 1:20) Of course, the Bible does not claim to teach science. Rather, it reveals God’s standards, aspects of his personality that creation alone cannot teach, and his purpose for humans. (Psalm 19:7-11; 2 Timothy 3:16) Yet, when the Bible does refer to natural phenomena, it is consistently accurate. Galileo himself said: “Both the Holy Scriptures and nature proceed from the Divine Word . . . Two truths can never contradict one another.” Consider the following examples.

Even more fundamental than the movement of stars and planets is that all matter in the universe is governed by laws, such as the law of gravity. The earliest known non-Biblical reference to physical laws was made by Pythagoras, who believed that the universe could be explained by numbers. Two thousand years later, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton finally proved that matter is governed by rational laws.

The earliest Biblical reference to natural law is contained in the book of Job. About 1600 B.C.E., God asked Job: “Have you come to know the statutes [or, laws] of the heavens?” (Job 38:33) Recorded in the seventh century B.C.E., the book of Jeremiah refers to Jehovah as the Creator of “the statutes of the moon and the stars” and “the statutes of heaven and earth.” (Jeremiah 31:35; 33:25) In view of these statements, Bible commentator G. Rawlinson observed:

“The general prevalence of law in the material world is quite as strongly asserted by the sacred writers as by modern science.”

If we use Pythagoras as a point of reference, the statement in Job was about a thousand years ahead of its time. Keep in mind that the Bible’s objective is not simply to reveal physical facts but primarily to impress upon us that Jehovah is the Creator of all things—the one who can create physical laws.—Job 38:4, 12; 42:1, 2.

The Hydrologic Cycle. Illustration by Tom Schultz

Another example we can consider is that the earth’s waters undergo a cyclic motion called the water cycle, or the hydrologic cycle. Put simply, water evaporates from the sea, forms clouds, precipitates onto the land, and eventually returns to the sea. The oldest surviving non-Biblical references to this cycle are from the fourth century B.C.E. However, Biblical statements predate that by hundreds of years. For example, in the 11th century B.C.E., King Solomon of Israel wrote: “All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place from which the rivers come, to there and from there they return again.”—Ecclesiastes 1:7, The Amplified Bible.

Likewise, about 800 B.C.E. the prophet Amos, a humble shepherd and farmworker, wrote that Jehovah is “the One calling for the waters of the sea, that he may pour them out upon the surface of the earth.” (Amos 5:8) Without using complex, technical language, both Solomon and Amos accurately described the water cycle, each from a slightly different perspective.

The Bible also speaks of God as “hanging the earth upon nothing,” or he “suspends earth in the void,” according to The New English Bible. (Job 26:7) In view of the knowledge available in 1600 B.C.E., roughly when those words were spoken, it would have taken a remarkable man to assert that a solid object can remain suspended in space without any physical support. As previously mentioned, Aristotle himself rejected the concept of a void, and he lived over 1,200 years later!

Does it not strike you as amazing that the Bible makes such accurate statements—even in the face of the erroneous yet seemingly commonsense perceptions of the day? To thinking people, this is one more evidence of the Bible’s divine inspiration. We are wise, therefore, not to be easily swayed by any teaching or theory that contradicts God’s Word. As history has repeatedly shown, human philosophies, even those of towering intellects, come and go, whereas “the saying of Jehovah endures forever.”—1 Peter 1:25.

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[Footnotes]

In the third century B.C.E., a Greek named Aristarchus of Samos put forth the hypothesis that the sun is at the center of the cosmos, but his ideas were dismissed in favor of Aristotle’s.

For an in-depth discussion on this topic, see chapter 15, “Why Do Many Accept Evolution?” in the book Life—How Did It Get Here? By Evolution or by Creation? published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The Protestants’ Attitude

  Leaders of the Protestant Reformation also railed against the sun-centered concept. They included Martin Luther (1483-1546), Philipp Melanchthon (1497-1560), and John Calvin (1509-64). Luther said of Copernicus: “This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy.”

  The Reformers based their argument on a literal interpretation of certain scriptures, such as the account in Joshua chapter 10 that mentions that the sun and the moon “kept motionless.”* Why did the Reformers take this stand? The book Galileo’s Mistake explains that while the Protestant Reformation broke the papal yoke, it failed to “shake the essential authority” of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, whose views were “accepted by Catholic and Protestant alike.”

[Footnote 2]

Scientifically speaking, we use incorrect terms when we refer to “sunrise” and “sunset.” But in everyday speech, these words are both acceptable and accurate, when we keep in mind our terrestrial perspective. Likewise, Joshua was not discussing astronomy; he was simply reporting events as he saw them.

[Credit Line 1]

From the book Servetus and Calvin, 1877

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From the book A General History for Colleges and High Schools, 1900

[Credit Line 3]

From the book Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, 1855

After w05 4/1 pp. 4-7

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Preceding articles:

Where is the edge

The mythical conflict of science and Scripture (1)

The mythical conflict of science and Scripture (2)

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Additional reading:

  1. Living on the edge
  2. Is it “Wrong” to Believe that the Earth is a Sphere? Inclusive the first generation of Christadelphians their views
  3. A dialogue about the earth moving and spinning around the sun
  4. Cosmos creator and human destiny
  5. Everyday beauty

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In Dutch:

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  • Reason Illuminates Faith (in the Middle Ages) (thesoapboxguild.wordpress.com)
    The Genesis of Science: How the Christian Middle Ages Launched the Scientific Revolution, is incredibly readable for its length and depth, and is a credit to its author. I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in science and the Middle Ages. This series of blog posts is my attempt to gain a deeper appreciation for the issues Hannam raises, and to think alongside him as he dives into the lost world of medieval cosmology, medicine, mathematics, and philosophy.
  • Thomas Aquinas’s Works and Philosophies  As an Italian philosopher and (bestessaycheap.wordpress.com)
    Thomas led the Church towards a new expression of thinking. (MSN knowledge and Research). From the beginning he rebelled against a life previously go d sustain the stairs by his family, and pave a road towards success for himself.
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    Although many philosophies were derived from the bookworm thinker, Aristotle, he believed that it focused too na! rrowly on only when a few professions.
  • Galileo (hiddengrail.wordpress.com)
    At the University of Pisa, Galileo learned the physics of the Ancient Greek scientist, Aristotle. However, Galileo questioned the Aristotelian approach to physics. Aristotelians believed that heavier objects fall faster through a medium than lighter ones. Galileo eventually disproved this idea by asserting that all objects, regardless of their density, fall at the same rate in a vacuum.
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    Because Galileo supported the Copernican system, he was warned by Cardinal Bellarmine, under order of Pope Paul V, that he should not discuss or defend Copernican theories. In 1624, Galileo was assured by Pope Urban VIII that he could write about Copernican theory as long as he treated it as a mathematical proposition. However, with the printing of Galileo’s book, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Galileo was called to Rome in 1633 to face the Inquisition again. Galileo was found guilty of heresy for his Dialogue, and was sent to his home near Florence where he was to be under house arrest for the remainder of his life. In 1638, the Inquisition allowed Galileo to move to his home in Florence, so that he could be closer to his doctors. By that time he was totally blind. In 1642, Galileo died at his home outside Florence.
  • Who are the most significant moral philosophers in the history of Western philosophy? (leiterreports.typepad.com)
    1. Aristotle  (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
    2. Immanuel Kant  loses to Aristotle by 364–227
    3. Plato  loses to Aristotle by 414–168, loses to Immanuel Kant by 349–241
  • Unified Truth: Faith and Reason (str.typepad.com)
    Christianity’s engagement with non-Christian thought proceeds from the Christian belief that reason and faith are complementary, not oppositional. Thomas Aquinas’ synthesis of Aristotle and Christianity is a vital chapter in this engagement. His interaction with the philosophy of Aristotle demonstrates both the harmony of reason and faith and the oneness of truth, which are both central to the Christian intellectual tradition….
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    Greek philosophy is not compatible with Christian theology, except in a few areas. In Greek philosophy, the body is bad. In Christian theology, the body is good and will be redeemed eventually by God. Greek philosophy has brought us off course in our understanding of eschatology and other important things on many occasions in the church. I am a bit wary about some of what Thomas Aquinas believes because of that.
  • Galileo Galilei (Scientific revolution) (chrissanchez42.wordpress.com)
    Galileo eventually combined his laws of physics with the observations he made with his telescope to defend the heliocentric Copernican view of the universe and refute the Aristotelian system in his 1630 masterwork, Dialogue on the Two Chief Systems of the World. Upon its publication, he was censored by the Catholic Church and sentenced to house arrest in 1633.
  • Aristotle (megcannington.wordpress.com)
    Aristotle’s works shaped centuries of philosophy from Late Antiquity through the Renaissance, and even today continue to be studied with interest. He was definitely a  prodigious researcher and writer.
  • Knowledge Development History (zahrohtimy.wordpress.com)
    According to Bertrand Russell , among all history , nothing so difficult so astonish or explained besides the birth of civilization in Greece of a sudden. It has many elements of civilization there for thousands of years in Egypt and Mesopotamia. But certain elements have not been intact until then executing Yunanilah race .
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    Archimedes , considered one of the greatest mathematicians of all time , it is based on mathematical principles form temuannya lever, pulley system ( which didemonstrasikannya to attract a private boat only), and penak thread, that shows the planetarium model that can show movement of sun, moon, the planets, and constellations in the sky possibility. In the field of mathematics, the findings on the value of p ( phi ) over the previous approach of scholars. Of his works that is experimental, it is then dubbed as ” Mr. Experimental IPA ”.
  • What’s the record for the longest delayed apology? (chron.com)
    The longest delayed apology I can think of came from the Catholic Church, in 1992, to Galileo:Moving formally to rectify a wrong, Pope John Paul II acknowledged in a speech today that the Roman Catholic Church had erred in condemning Galileo 359 years ago for asserting that the Earth revolves around the Sun.
  • Thomas Aquinas on Wisdom by Robert M. Woods (facebookapostles.org)
    For Thomas, and most Philosophers until the modern world, Philosophy was essentially the “love of wisdom.” To engage in the the practice of philosophy was the faithful pursuit of wisdom wherever it might be found. The primary understanding of truth was saying of a thing what was and not saying of a thing what was not. In a larger sense, wisdom was an understanding of the truth of things. Philosophy was not navel gazing and not ideological manipulation, but it was a diligent quest to understanding the good, the true, and the beautiful.