I ran across an argument against Christianity that I don’t feel like I can ignore.  The core of the criticism is that if the Bible is an inspired work of God, then it should transcend its culture.  It is claimed, however, the Bible does not transcend the culture (or more aptly cultures) under which it was written.  Thus, the Bible is not an inspired work of God.  Instead, we find in the Bible exactly what we would expect from a group of people living in the ancient Near East.  If God was involved in the writing of the text, then we should find clear evidence of this in the text itself.  For example, we should see the theory of germs clearly displayed in Genesis.

The argument fails for several reasons.  First, the reasoning simply misunderstands the method God used to transmit His word.  Rather than dictating text, most Biblical scholars recognize that God inspired the Biblical authors to write within their own culture.  God is certainly able to communicate that which he wishes through the context of a culture.  This brings us to the second major problem with the argument.  The Bible is written with a specific purpose: to reveal aspects of who God is and how man may be redeemed.  We have no guarantee of full revelation of God nor detailed explanations for the inner workings of our universe.  To assume otherwise is to place a standard beyond the intent of the intended message.  Thus, when we turn to criticisms such as, the lack of the theory of germs with regard to disease in Genesis, we immediately recognize that those topics are simply not germane to the core issue at hand.  Furthermore, we must remember that God is communicating with us.  There is no communication if the means He uses are foreign to the audience He is communicating with.  Let me clarify this with an example.  In graduate school, I took a number of courses on quantum mechanics and statistical thermodynamics.  Those courses are highly specialized and are not well understood by most people outside of my narrow discipline.  Now, suppose I am discussing some of the more interesting aspects of quantum mechanics with several friends who have either no background of science or very limited exposure.  How meaningful is it if I provide them with information on par with my graduate school texts, replete with the respective mathematical formulas and derivations?  In this case, communication ceases, and my goal of transmitting information is obfuscated by their lack of knowledge.  This is comparable to God communicating His word through people within their culture.  The germ theory of disease for example, or any other modern scientific theory for that matter, would only muddy the water by introducing irrelevant ancillary topics.  To be sure, it is not necessary for man to have a good grasp of germ theory for salvation, but it is critically important for man to understand who God is, what the true state of man is, and how man is going to be reconciled to God.   Could God have included these things via direct special revelation?  I believe that He could, but I do not see any compulsion for Him to do so given the overall thrust of the Bible to communicate truth about Himself.

Advertisements