Sunday, March 10, 2002
“Twentieth-century standards of scientific, historical precision and accuracy on the biblical writers does not hold true for any ancient writings. For instance, the Scripture describes things phenomenologically—that is, as they appear to be, even as they appear to us. It speaks of the sun rising and setting. Of course, we know that the sun doesn’t actually rise and set but that the earth rotates. We use sunrise and sunset, even in an age of scientific enlightenment, because this is a convenient way of describing what appears to be happening. Consequently, we cannot charge the Bible with error when it speaks phenomenologically. It speaks in this way, as have people of all ages and cultures.
The same standards of exactness in historical matters were not used in ancient times. Although illustrations abound of the wars, dynasties and reigns of kings in the Bible, round numbers were used rather than precise figures. Today we also do this. When the police estimate a crowd, we know the figure is not precise but close enough for their purpose.
Some apparent errors may be errors in transcription when hand copying the texts. Gutenberg invented the printing press and printed the first Bible in Latin in the 1450s. Although tedious, hand copying had been the method used previously to make Bibles during the centuries before Gutenberg. Remarkably, evidence has demonstrated the overall accuracy of the text from copy to copy over time with very minor mistakes due to the utmost care given to each copy.
In comparing these thousands of biblical documents, some problems as yet do not yield a ready explanation. We can freely admit this, remembering many times in the past when possible discrepancies in a text were resolved when more data became available. Therefore, the logical position would be, where there are areas of seeming contradictions, to hold the problem in abeyance. We can admit our present inability to explain and await the possibility of new data. The presence of problems does not prevent us from accepting the Bible as the supernatural word of God.”
-Paul E. Little, Know Why You Believe
“There is a close parallel between science and Christianity which surprisingly few seem to notice. As Christianity assumes that all in the Bible is supernatural, so the scientist assumes that all in nature is rational and orderly. Both are hypotheses based, not on all of the evidence, but on the evidence “for the most part.”
Science devoutly holds to the hypothesis that all of nature is mechanical, though, as a matter of fact, the mysterious electron keeps jumping around as expressed by what is called the Heisenberg principle of uncertainty.
How does science justify its hypothesis that all of nature is mechanical, when it admits on other grounds many areas of nature do not seem to conform to this pattern? The answer is that since regularity is observed in nature “for the most part,” the smoothest hypothesis is to assume the same throughout the whole.”
–E.J. Carnell, An Introduction to Christian Apologetics