Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The dangers of apriori thought

The famous atheist, Bertrand Russell was once asked how he would respond to God in the afterlife if God existed? Russell's response was, "Not enough enough evidence, God!" Many in our culture want God to spell everything out in crystal clear terminology, not realizing what they are asking. Even those in the Church take the same view and therefore run into difficulties when trying to reconcile the Bible with science. Concerning the evidence, Jesus said that some individuals would not even consider the most blatant evidence (Luke 16:31).

In Isaiah 55:8, God declares, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways." I'm afraid if God were to unleash all of his knowledge on us, our heads would explode. Humans are the only beings with the ability to ponder and reason. If God exists, then there are some things that will never be known here on earth. For example, we will never know exactly how God created the universe from nothing, and this is also true for science. But, we are a group of beings that desire to know the answers to all of life's questions, and this many times causes us to jump to preconceived ideas.

Science is not immune from preconceived ideas. "Piltdown Man" is just one example of science's rush to judgment. Aspects of naturalistic science today consider some views (such as Darwinian Evolution) as settled law, when it is impossible to test this view in the lab. In other words, parts of science cannot meet its own criteria for what should count as truth, because it cannot be tested. Having the ability to test is one of the central tenants of naturalistic science. Science, however, does have aspects that can show physical truths to how nature operates.

Preconceived ideas also prevail within the interpretation of the Bible. Of course, those who see God's word in one particular way don't believe they are misinterpreting the Bible. All Christians, can agree on the essential doctrines, but rifts develop when the non-essentials are considered. For example, how are individuals to interpret the flood of Noah? Most Christians would see this as a literal story of history, but problems develop when the extent of the flood is discussed. In Genesis 7, the flood is described as covering the entire earth. Many interpret this as being a universal catastrophic flood, when read in English. The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and a different interpretation can be rendered. The actual Hebrew for Genesis 7 concerning the entire earth is kol erets, which literally means, "all lands." However, other indications of kol erets as used in the Genesis 7 flood story clearly do not indicate a global event (Genesis 2:13, Genesis 41:57). The point is, the Hebrew has to be viewed in context as opposed to arriving at a preconceived notion by looking only at the English rendition. Besides Scripture, science can be used to verify the validity of Noah's flood. According to science, there is no indication of a universal flood anywhere in the earth's past rock record.

Those who hold a Christian worldview need to do so without preconceived notions. If science is helpful with interpretation, it should be used (Psalm 19:1-2, Romans 1:20). Science, likewise handcuffs itself when it takes an only naturalistic view. If science is interested in truth, then it must not be limited to only naturalism, for there are truth's such as mathematics, logic, and moral laws that can't be explained by testing.

Intelligent design provides a balance between the two extremes of Creationism and Naturalism. Creationism starts with the assumption that God created, where naturalism assumes that any supernaturalism can not be considered. Intelligent Design begins with looking at the scientific evidence to determine if the created order is the product of design. ID is open to the possibility of truth without restrictions on either side. According to ID, all evidence should be considered, whether philosophical or scientific before any conclusion is made. Settling on a preconceived idea is dangerous because truth is not necessarily what one will find.

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