January 3, 2015 by acontraryspirit
So far, I’ve found a listing of the books of the bible in close to chronological order as well as a little three dollar booklet that gives a quick background on each book of the Bible. My brother in law gave me the theology book I had wanted, “Sacred Word, Broken Word: Biblical Authority & the Dark Side of Scripture” by Kenton L. Sparks. I feel as prepared as I think I can be to explore the Bible from a viewpoint as outside of my Christian background as I think I can get.
The listing I have has me starting with Genesis and interspersing Job. So I’m about a quarter through Genesis, mainly the creation story and the begotten of Abram as happened. And with Job, I’m about halfway through the book. I’ll save anything on Job until later.
Only having read 11 chapters into Genesis so far, I don’t have a lot to say that I didn’t already have some thoughts on. It has been interesting rereading the Bible seven years after I used to read it for guidance. I’ve actually found it more interesting when it does not have all the weight of needing to give me the answers to life. Everyone knows Genesis starts out with the creation story. And, if you’ve read my blog before, you know that I have been watching a lot of Cosmos 2.0, hosted by Neil DeGrasse Tyson and reading Rob Bell’s series on What is the Bible? via tumblr. In both of these series, I have found a great deal of wisdom about the world around us and I find it more and more odd that some people have a difficult time reconciling that both a spiritual text and science have a lot of wisdom to share about the world around us.
In one of Rob’s posts, he says this great thing about how truth does not have to be fact for it to ring true. The way I feel about my wife and choosing to commit to a life with her is a truth for me, but it cannot be fully explained by facts. So the Bible is not inerrant. Some believe it is but I agree with others that this line of thinking causes more problems than it does solutions. The Bible is not inerrant, but it contains truths about people in the world, their experiences, and how they worked through them. The value in that is that these are truths we can relate to that also provide morals. Like fables but often with real people and real events. But I don’t think the reality value is found in the real people and real events, it’s found in the real truths that connect with the reader. Approaching it this way, reading the Bible almost feels like reading a really long play or story, told through multiple books. And I think it has more to say to me that way.
So creation; everyone knows it’s told as 1 day, 2 day, red fish, blue fish. Science gives us a way, for some, to fill in the gaps, for me, to correct and enlighten the creation story. I don’t know what started the universe but I have an idea of how our planet and solar system might have started and it is fascinating! I mean, yes, Genesis’ creation story has a nice ring to it with the prose and all but science has fleshed that out. God made Adam out of dirt and breath (air). Guess what? We evolved thanks to the oxygen in our atmosphere and the microscopic life that evolved from the oceans and the earth. Oxygen>air>breath; dirt>microscopic life….wow, these stories don’t really seem conflicting. Imagine that. I should also point out here, that I am taking the approach of understanding the Bible as a group of people trying to reach the masses in ancient times, which helps to place the way Genesis and other books are written, as well as what they contain into context.
Jen and I had dinner with a friend last weekend and actually had a great time talking about some of this stuff. She said something that was so refreshing to hear; that I have never heard in a church, but always from people my age who have a problem with religion. She said that what drives her nuts, is when people say, in defense of their religion, science is wrong. There is just no way we came from monkeys (which is wrong, it was apes I think…) and there is no way evolution is true, it’s just a theory. My friend hit the nail on the head. This drives me a little nuts too. We should appreciate the great minds of our time and those that came before us who had the courage to explore and ask questions and find answers.
But on the flip side, we need to appreciate and treasure the value in the shared human experience of seeking no matter whether that seeking is in the scientific realm or the spiritual realm. We want answers. Sometimes the truth is best explained by science, and sometimes, it is best explained in a beautiful piece of art, a book, or a description of an experience that has no factual explanation, except that others believe in that experience and may have had it too.
Back around Thanksgiving, I found this post someone had on Facebook about Einstein. Everyone knows he was brilliant, but this keen and intuitive observation, his acceptance that there is more than one kind of truth in the human experience, is pretty simply and nicely put and it’s explained well in this article, although I disagree with the author that the scientist offers no solace to believers. I’m not one that would consider myself Christian, but having grown in the church, I find the excerpt this author provides from Einstein’s speech quite comforting. It releases me from the burden of having to deny one part of the truth of the world around me that I find impossible to deny.
“If one conceives of religion and science according to these definitions then a conflict between them appears impossible. For science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be, and outside of its domain value judgments of all kinds remain necessary. Religion, on the other hand, deals only with evaluations of human thought and action: it cannot justifiably speak of facts and relationships between facts. According to this interpretation the well-known conflicts between religion and science in the past must all be ascribed to a misapprehension of the situation which has been described.”