The Bible And “Cosmology -- By: R. Laird Harris

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 05:1 (Winter 1962)
Article: The Bible And “Cosmology
Author: R. Laird Harris

The Bible And “Cosmology

R. Laird Harris

We are all aware that in this modern age the idea is widespread that the Bible is in irreconcilable conflict with science. The Bible is assumed to have been worsted in the conflict between Genesis one and evolution. The miracles of the Bible are supposed to be unscientific and those who believe in the cosmology of the Bible are often regarded as pre-Copernican erratic boulders on the landscape, left over after the modern glaciers of science have done their work.

Actually some of this conflict is due to misconception of the Bible’s teaching and its relation to scientific theory. The question of miracle, for instance, is a philosophical, not a scientific one. Even in the matter of biological evolution the conflicts, I believe, are not as sharp as is sometimes supposed—especially if extremes of scientific dogmatism on the materialistic nature and animal origin of man are avoided. The idea is widespread, however, that the Biblical cosmology is hopelessly dated. As iio one now believes the world to be flat, so no one can believe the Bible any more. Even among theologians who should know better, remarks are made that we can no longer believe in the Biblical picture of a three-storied universe. Bultmann adopts this position. He assumes the irreconcilable conflict. Then he asks if we should attempt to make the sacrificium intellectus and believe the Bible in spite of the facts. Finding this alternative impossible, he proceeds to advance the demythologizing theories for which he is famous. There is a failure to realize that there is a third alternative—that the Bible properly and honestly interpreted may be believable after all. Bultmann was quoted somewhat to this effect by Grounds in a recent E.T.S. Bulletin:

The world-view of the Scripture is mythological and is therefore unacceptable to modern man whose thinking has been shaped by science and is therefore no longer mythological. Modern man always makes use of technical means which are the result of science. In case of illness modern man has recourse to physicians, to medical science. In case of economic and political affairs, he makes use of the results of psychological, social, economic and political sciences, and so on. Nobody reckons with direct intervention by transcendent powers… man acknowledges as reality only such phenomena or events as are comprehensible within the framework of the rational order of the universe. He does not acknowledge miracles because they do not fit into this lawful order. When a strange or marvelous accident occurs, he does not rest until he has found a rational cause. The contrast between the ancient world-view of the Bible and the modern world-view is the contrast between two ways of thinking, the mythological and the scientific.

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