Tuesday, March 14, 2023

The More We Know

The argument for needing to read the Bible differently in our modern (or postmodern) age usually says something like this: "We know more now than we have ever known before, so we understand things better, and this must change the way we read our Bibles." 

These persons will then go on to say that we understand culture better and know what was going on at the times the Bible was written. We understand archaeology better, so we are able to better date the scraps of the Bible that we have found and know that it was written at a different time than maybe we thought. We understand humans better, so we can understand their motivations for writing the things they wrote at the times in which they wrote them. We understand science better, so we don't "have to rely" on the Bible to tell us how things were created. 

They will say something like, "Human knowledge is always evolving. It's always growing. That's the nature of knowledge. So when we discover something new, we can adjust what we thought we knew to fit what we now know for sure."

The author of the book I am currently reading even says that when the Bible was written, peoples believed that the earth was flat. Since we now know that to be false, we simply can't trust their take on science at all. They were a pre-scientific peoples, so they can't teach us about things that science can teach us about. 

And it sounds convincing, doesn't it? It sounds almost humble. We admit that we didn't use to know things, now we know them, and so, we are growing. We are learning. We are a people capable of change and development.  


The glaring elephant in the room is that if our knowledge is always growing and developing and changing, and if what we know today is leaps and bounds beyond what we were very confident we knew yesterday, how do we know that what we know today is any truer than what we thought we knew yesterday? That is, how can we be sure that now, we know for certain what yesterday seemed so certain and turned out to be false?

And to be fair, I have never read anything in the Bible that advocates for a flat earth. I haven't read these "pre-scientific" peoples putting their "limited understandings" of science into it. So we're supposed to throw out everything they did write based on something they didn't write that we think they believed? For all we know, Israel believed in a round earth and the flat earth theory was "new" in the medieval ages, only to be disproven and go back to the way we thought things were originally. 

See, we have just decided that we know everything, so we're willing to throw out thousands of years of thought based on what we think we know now. And if something seems a little fishy, we're willing to say that our knowledge has grown a lot...but we aren't willing to say that it must then still be growing. We always think we've arrived.

Do you see the trouble with this line of thinking? Do you see why this argument isn't as good as it seems on the surface?

No comments:

Post a Comment