Russell and Duenes

What Honesty Requires When Evaluating Scientific Claims

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I freely admit that I believe certain things as taught in the Bible, and I believe them prior to any beliefs about scientific theories. I believe that Adam and Eve were real people in history. I believe Abel was a real man in history. I believe there was a real Tower of Babel, and I believe there was a real world-wide flood that covered every inch of dry land on the earth. I think the best biblical exegesis must count the above people and incidents as actual historical occurrences. Thus, when I come to the task of evaluating scientific claims, I do not put aside the above beliefs. Indeed, I start with them and evaluate on the basis of them. So any scientific theory that would require the above people or incidents to be historical fictions is a scientific theory I reject. Should my understanding of Scripture change, then I would be open to a wider range of scientific theories. Honesty requires this.

But honesty cuts more than one way. A person who wants to hold to scientific theories that reject the special creation, out of the ground, of the first man, should be honest about the exegetical constraints that this places on him or her. In other words, such a person, if he wants to hold to the truthfulness and inspiration of the Scriptures, must do exegesis in a manner that makes all the New Testament references to Adam references to a fictional, mythological, or symbolic character. He must explain how the New Testament texts contextually support such an interpretation. If a person holds to scientific theories that reject a world-wide flood, then such a person must explain all of the biblical passages referring to the flood in such a way as to make the flood a fiction or a symbolic story. Such a person must let his beliefs about science dictate what is and is not possible exegetically and historically in the Bible. Honesty requires this.

We should all like to be honest enough to admit that we can’t have our cake and eat it too. We can’t hold to the “goo-to-you” evolutionary story while also holding on to a historical Adam, Eve, Abel, and Flood. The New Testament passages that talk about them must be explained some other way. By the same token, I can’t hold the above things to be historical and also believe in a “pond-to-people” evolutionary story. I admit this, and admit that I’m not currently open to such a story, no matter what current science, tentative and uncertain as it always is, is teaching.



Written by Michael Duenes

April 15, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Posted in Duenes, Science

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