In response to my last post, Sandra asked about discussion regarding Armageddon. Before I go there, I should say how enlightening was the presentation from Dr. Patricia Williams regarding science and religion. She took us through the history of cosmology, geology, and biology. If you didn't make the conference (or if you did) and would like a cd of the event, e-mail me and I will have cds available for $15. She will speak tomorrow at the adult forum at 9:45 regarding Christianity's contribution to science and preach at eleven. The sermon title is "Where is God?" All of her lectures and her sermon will be on the cd for the $15 price. It is well worth it.
She spoke today about "Science as a Form of Biblical Criticism." We have often thought as science as opposed to religion, but this has really been a recent development. Scientific exploration was really the way thinkers in the Western Tradition regarded giving "glory to God." They referred to two books: the Book of Revelation (the Bible) and the Book of Nature (the natural world). The quest was to discover more about both.
Dr. Williams made a reference to St. Augustine (4th and early 5th century) who said in essence that when the Bible contradicts the Book of Nature, go with the Book of Nature. Today, of course, those who do not understand either book claim that the Book of Nature should be subservient to their interpretation of the Bible. Here is a fine quote from Augustine:
This leads me to Dr. Dobson and others regarding the Bible. The Bible is an ancient text. It is not the Word of God in any sense that can contradict what we know from the Book of Nature. It is not a book of prophecy that we supposedly can figure out future or current events. This is the distortion that has been put forth by many Christians including Dobson. It is a dangerous distortion. It could lead to our destruction. How? Simply put: If the Bible is prophecy that predicts future events such as inevitable war between good and evil, then to work for peaceful compromise is to go against the Word of God. There is no reason to work for peace between enemies of the U.S. Instead, we are on a fated collision course whose end is destruction (and then redemption for us, the good guys--those of course "redeemed by Christ").
"It is a disgraceful and dangerous thing to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on topics non-Christians know from reason and experience.
"If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him trying to support his foolish opinion from the Bible, how are they going to believe the Bible on the important matters of faith when they think the Bible is full of falsehoods on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason?
"Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on us all when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of the Bible.
For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion."
[From John Taylors, Ancient Christian Writers, The Words of the Fathers in Translation, no. 41 New York: Newman Press, 1982, vol. 1, pp. 42-43] From www.soulforce.org
The more we can learn about science and the scriptures (rather than relying on Dobson to interpret for us) will enable us to see what is reality from what is fantasy. More on the nonsense of Armageddon next time.