Culture, Scripture’s Meaning, And Biblical Authority: Critical Hermeneutics For The 90’s -- By: William J. Larkin, Jr.
BBR 2:1 (1992) p. 171
Culture, Scripture’s Meaning, And Biblical Authority: Critical Hermeneutics For The 90’s
Columbia Biblical Seminary
Columbia, South Carolina
Western civilization is undergoing a fundamental worldview paradigm shift from modernism to postmodernism. The modern era of science and philosophy, with us since Descartes and Newton, is yielding to the postmodern age born of Einstein, quantum physics, Whitehead, Wittgenstein, and Saussure.1 The old mechanistic model
BBR 2:1 (1992) p. 172
of the universe with its “naive realist” epistemology is no longer viewed as tenable. That an independent, neutral “knowing subject” could have objective, verifiable knowledge of the world leading to affirmations of universal truth is now summarily dismissed. Instead, postmodernism posits a holistic model in which the fundamental stuff of the universe is “a dynamic nexus of internal relatings, actual and potential.”2 This universe cannot be fully known and, therefore, known with certainty, because at the most fundamental level the phenomena will not yield to a means of measurement that will, at any one time, comprehend all their properties. Heisenberg’s indeterminacy principle has taught us that.3 Unlike a bullet or billiard ball, a subatomic particle, such as a photon or electron, has either a precise velocity or a precise position, but not both at the same time.
Further, the practice of postmodern science has supposedly given the lie to the independent status of the “knowing subject.” “All knowers are participants in that which is known.”4 A quasar emits a photon which is deflected by a galaxy 100 million light years from earth. An observer on earth must choose whether to see the photon as a particle or a wave. Because of these characteristics of postmodern science, the epistemology of the postmodern worldview must see all knowledge as no longer certain or objective. Postmodern science no longer views the articulation of its findings as the presentation of the truth via a set of universal objective facts, “but rather as a set of research traditions born out of a particular community of inquirers and unintelligible outside the lived practice of such communities.”5 Its truthfulness does not extend beyond the community of scholars who operate with the same interpretive scheme.
BBR 2:1 (1992) p. 173
The impact on hermeneutics of such an epistemic shift to t...
Click here to subscribe