XFiles: Mostly InerrantFebruary 7, 2010 — Deacon Duncan
(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 14.)
Geisler and Turek’s program of indoctrination continues:
If Jesus confirmed that the Old Testament was the inerrant Word of God, then his promised New Testament must be part of the inerrant Word of God too. Of course.
Translation: if you’ve been gullible enough to buy our arguments so far, the rest is going to be easy.
We’re up to the section entitled “How Can the Bible Be Inerrant?” If we start from the assumption that the Bible is inerrant, as Geisler and Turek have been doing for the last several chapters, we’re going to find this a pretty easy objection to answer. Jesus said that the New Testament is inerrant (or rather, he claimed fulfillment of an OT passage in which Isaiah claimed to have been anointed to preach good news to the poor, which is the same thing, right?). Since the Bible is inerrant when it tells us that Jesus said something that modern conservative Protestant apologists infallibly know means that the whole Bible is infallible, we don’t have enough FAITH to be ATHEISTS.
Whoops, sorry, got all caught up in the spirit of Christian apologetics for a minute. Let’s read what Geisler and Turek have to offer in the way of evidence to back up their claims, and then let’s think about it.
The Bible does not have errors, but it certainly has alleged errors or difficulties. In fact, I (Norm) and another professor at Southern Evangelical Seminary, Thomas Howe, have written a book titled When Critics Ask, which addresses more than 800 difficulties critics have identified in the Bible…
As I mentioned before, when I was a Christian, I always had the feeling that the good apologetics must be in some other book that I hadn’t read yet. For me (and for a lot of Christians, I suspect), it was enough just to believe that there was an answer out there somewhere. In fact, it’s actually better for the answer to be somewhere out where I can’t quite get to it, because then I don’t run the risk of seeing the answers and finding out that they’re just as poor as the answers I’m reading now. I can just have faith confidence that they’re 800 good answers.
But are they? Let’s take just a quick look at a couple “difficulties” that Dr. Geisler “addresses” in When Critics Ask:
GENESIS 1:1—How could the author of Genesis know what happened at creation before he was even created?
PROBLEM: Traditional Christian scholarship has maintained that the first five books of the Bible were written by Moses. The first two chapters of the Book of Genesis read as an eyewitness account of the events of creation. However, how could Moses, or any man for that matter, write these chapters as if he were an eyewitness since he would not have existed at the time?
SOLUTION: Of course, there was an eyewitness of creation—God, the Creator. These chapters are obviously a record of creation which God specifically reported to Moses by way of special revelation. The tendency to ask questions like, “How did the chronicler know that minerals preceded plants and plants preceded animals?” betrays an antisupernatural bias and a refusal to consider alternative explanations other than those proposed by naturalistic science.
GENESIS 1:14—How could there be light before the sun was made?
PROBLEM: The sun was not created until the fourth day, yet there was light on the first day (1:3)
SOLUTION: The sun is not the only source of light in the universe. Further, the sun may have existed from the first day, but only appeared or became visible (as the mist cleared) on the fourth day. We see light on a cloudy day, even when we can’t see the sun.
Gotta love that first “solution.” God can do anything, therefore God “obviously” must have been the eyewitness telling the Genesis story, and Moses is just taking dictation. Ok, fine, let’s let that one slide because the next one is much more interesting.
Truth is consistent with itself, which means that true answers have a unique property: if you give a true answer to one question, it will be consistent with all other true answers, even if they’re the answers to different questions. Answers that are not the truth have the converse property: even if you give an answer that sounds plausible in the context of one particular question, that answer will have inconsistencies when compared with other answers.
So, the “solution” to light appearing is that (a) the sun is not the only source of light, and (b) the “creation” of the sun on the fourth day is really just the sun burning through the clouds—the sun existed on the first three days, it’s just that the narrator couldn’t see it until the fourth day.
This solution is just a bit amusing in that it completely overlooks the fact that the narrator in Genesis was apparently unaware of the connection between the sun and daylight (or moonlight, for that matter). Saying “there are other light sources” doesn’t solve the problem of what those other light sources might be, or why we can’t see them today. If they’re part of God’s creation, and they’re powerful enough to produce daylight over the whole earth even without a sun, then we can hardly have failed to spot them by now.
So that leads Dr. Geisler to try out his second rationalization of Genesis 1:14. Let’s put that last answer back in context with the first one, which says the narrator was God the Creator. You see the problem? If we accept the first answer as true, that means that the second answer is telling us that the God Who created the sun was somehow unable to see His creation for three days. That’s a bit awkward, isn’t it?
That’s just the first two of the 800 difficulties, and I haven’t even explored all the inconsistencies in just those two answers. Compound those inconsistencies by 798 more difficulties, and I think you begin to see the problem of trying to prove Biblical inerrancy by the give-each-question-an-isolated-answer approach.
There’s quite a bit more in this section, so I think we’ll break here for now and pick it up again next time.