Monday, November 15, 2010

AIG Addendum

As a follow-up to the last post, it needs to be said (since the situations are so parallel), that...

When Galileo used scientific evidence to correct the Roman Catholic church leadership's faulty interpretation of Scripture about the solar system, he wasn't attacking either the Word of God or the Son of God. We all recognize Galileo's interpretation to have been correct and the interpretation of the church (which, incidentally, was shared by both Luther and Calvin) to have been wrong.

In the same way, when William Lane Craig (or any of a host of other committed followers of Christ) uses the evidence from the creation to critique the hopelessly outdated Lightfoot/Ussher interpretation to which Ken Ham has anchored his ministry, he is not attacking the Word of God or the Son of God either.

I spend a good deal of my time discussing history and philosophy of science issues, showing how modern science uniquely arose from within the Christian worldview, and how science depends upon theistic assumptions for its logical grounding. Though it has been popular in the last 100 years to claim that Christianity and science have been opposed to one another, this claim could hardly be more false. In the history of the interaction between Christianity and modern science there has really only been that one case--the Galileo incident--in which church leadership seriously erred in their interpretation despite contrary scientific evidence. Unfortunately, the success of so-called Creation "Science" organizations in our day (like Answers in Genesis) has lent a great deal of credibility to those who would claim that Christianity opposes science. I can't wait for the day when we can look back on young-earth creationism as an amusing, aberrant, anti-intellectual interlude in recent church history.


Keith Sanborn said...

I've always had the impression that the Bishop of Ussher "backed into" his Oct. 15, 4004 B.C. date for the creation of the "heavens and the earth". IIRC, he was trying to justify that the events of Revelation would begin around the year 2000 A.D. and that the end of Jesus's 1000 year reign would complete a 7 millenia saga (for want of a better word) of fall and redemption. Am I on the right track or am I crazy?

Rick Gerhardt said...


Yes, I think you're right. That view--that all of history could be fit into 6,000 years, so that the 'last days' (the last set of 1000 years) were present--was around even during the early days of the church. It had a fairly Jewish origin, with 7 being a perfect number to the Hebrew mindset. But those who held this view (before the time of Ussher) did not appeal to Scripture to defend it (except in very superficial ways, like pointing to the pattern of 7 days of creation). What Ussher did was support this otherwise nebulous view with a fairly contrived interpretive scheme. Maintaining that scheme today involves a much greater level of contrivance, including denial of all contrary evidence (whether from science or Scripture), etc.

Thanks for reading, and have a Merry Christmas!