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sola scriptura?

science and faith

Recently an e-friend of mine got a tattoo. And talked about it online. He is a Christian with a big following online. Well, the resulting very public hostility is enough to put anyone off Christianity.

You can divide “Bible-believing Christians” into three: those who think the Bible forbids tattoos; those who think the Bible allows tattoos; those who think the Bible does not provide a position on tattoos and leaves it up to you.

Then there’s smacking your kids – again three positions “taught from the Bible”: you mustn’t; you should; make up your own mind.

So that’s already 9 options: tattoo-wearing, kid-smacking; tattoo-wearing, kid-not-smacking;…

Halloween: the Bible is against it; the Bible allows it; the Bible says – make up your own mind. That’s 27 options: tattoo-wearing, kid-smacking, Halloween-celebrating,…

Divorce; women teaching men; 243 options…

The Bible is inerrant, authoritative, or infallible – 729 options

Baptism is for adults only; communion is only for the baptised; homosexuality; 19,683 options…

The Trinity; the divinity of Christ;…

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20 Responses to sola scriptura?

  1. That first chart should be labelled something like “Stubbornness”. It is not an accurate depiction of Faith (in anything or anyone).

    Come to think of it, the second one isn’t too accurate a depiction of Science either – one can develop some wonderful “scientific” notions about the universe by following this process using inadequate experiments, for instance. Actually, the second one could probably be labelled “Faith”, considering the way some people speak about Science.

    What fun!

  2. My problem with the ‘sola-scriptura’ crowd, Bosco, is securely lodged within the first diagram in your post. There seems to be no room for any sort of ‘new’ enlightenment emanating from scientific research and common observation – of how human beings have evolved and understood their basic biological make-up.

    Homosexuals, for instance, are regarded by the S.S. school as perversely motivated to deny the entrenched biblical understanding of sexuality as being polarised to either totally masculine or totally feminine behavioural characteristics.

    I’ve just been warned that I am near the point of being banned from a N.Z. S.S. blog-site – simply because I have different views on matters of gender and sexuality from the Host. Seemingly I am considered a ‘danger’ to theological conservatism regularly promoted in that particular arena.

    • Thanks, Fr Ron for your comment. There was a reason I put homosexuality so low down on my list – because (some in) the church appear to have an (distracting) obsession with it. IMO my point still holds – there will be some who hold that all homosexual activity is condemned by the Bible, some (Tobias Haller, Reasonable and Holy springs to mind) who hold it does not, and some who will hold that the Bible leaves you to make up your own mind on this particular topic. Acknowledging this could/should help us move forward in(to) some (new/older) way. Blessings.

  3. Greeting All,

    It’s interesting to note the major role culture plays in our Worldview. While Scripture should be a major influence in shaping that view, the result is often the case that our Cultures serve to shape our view of Scripture…or even views on tattoos….

    Here’s just one example.

    I was driving through Texas a few years ago. To fight off boredom, I began flipping through the radio dial looking for something interesting to listen too. Texas is part of the U.S. called, The Bible Belt. Christianity is far more in the forefront in the south than it is in other parts of the country. That might seem cause for celebration. Unfortunately, much of it is heavily influenced through their lens of culture. And one of the cultural “beliefs” in the south is that all alcohol is evil and the work of the Devil. Some local counties are even “dry.” They do not allow beer, wine or other drink to be bought or sold. With that in mind, I had landed on a Christian radio station. A local pastor was preaching about something — I don’t remember what. But I do remember one line from his message. He said, “Of course, we know — he placed strong emphasis on the word, “know” as if to say, ‘there is no doubt or room for argument’ here — that Jesus did NOT turn water into wine.” If any of us had been able to press him on the matter, he would have told us that Jesus had made some really good grape juice — nonalcoholic, of course!

    That is a prime example of how culture can and does influence faith. This pastor’s upbringing and beliefs about alcohol were so ingrained that he could not bring himself to even consider the possibility that Jesus had imbibed from time to time…let alone that he made wine at a party where some of the people were catching a buzz.

      • Oh, but they’re not the only ones – we all do that. I remember a preacher in a Northern, Scripture+ culture saying, “Of course we KNOW that Jonah did not spend 3 days in the belly of a fish …” The culture of skepticism and our beliefs/doubts about what is possible also affects our reading of Scripture.

        • Good point Angie,

          We ALL “do that.” Your words cause me to think that I should briefly add the second part of my thoughts regarding that Texas pastor. (I mentioned the first above…) As I drove, I found myself praying, “Lord, what erroneous things do I believe that are merely based upon my own culture?” For starters, I suspect that many of my views on family and money would be suspect. Those of us in America don’t fair well on either of those. Then I remembered the words of C.S. Lewis:

          “If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth, only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.”

          May God grant us the desire and the will to seek truth over comfort.

          Blessings,

          Michael

  4. I like the second diagram. The third box from the top says it all – EXPERIMENT.
    If there is no experiment there is no science. Where then are the experiments for evolution, cosmology, black holes, psychology, anthropology etc – NONE. Hence these are not science – they are belief systems with no scientific experimental basis. Their supporters have hijacked the word “science” to lean on the spectacular success of experimental science and its associate – technology. These disciplines are no more science than are bird-watching or stamp collecting – as interesting as these recreations can be. So Christians shouldn’t worry about science conflicting with faith – there is no conflict. Just stick to your faith and do your (experimental) science – they are totally compatible.

    btw Karl Poppa defined science nicely. He said for a theory to be a scientific theory, it has to be falsifiable. You must be able to do an experiment that could possibly will falsify the theory. If not then it is not science. It also implies that a theory can never be proved by experiment – experiment can only lend support to a theory – which explains why scientific theories are always changing.

    God bless.

    • Thanks, Alfred. I would not agree with your list. I am aware of several experiments in psychology, for example. Karl Popper is, as you indicate, an important philosopher of science. Blessings.

      • Yes, there are some experiments in psychology. I was rather referring to the theories of Freud, Jung and others, although I like reading Jung – but it still not science.

        Perhaps I should have said psychiatry.

        Alfred.

  5. To the contrary Alfred, science is based upon observation and experimentation is but one form of observing. For example, we mere humans are unable to conduct our own experiments in the realm of the science of astrophysics, but nature herself is busily conducting those experiments throughout the cosmos and we humans are conducting vast programs of observation of her experiments all over the planet.

    • I don’t think so, brother. That is where the deceit comes in. You dilute the idea of experiment to make non-science seem like science. Observing is not experiment but observation is an essential part of the experimental process.

      Astrophysics is mathematics and, while mathematics is very useful in describing many natural phenomena, a mathematical construction does not guarantee a physical phenomenon.

      Good luck to you.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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