Before I continue on with further snapshots of my faith(less) journey, I wanted to take a minute to acknowledge the significant population, including some reading this, who generally accept and acknowledge modern scientific conclusions regarding origins and find this no obstacle to their belief in a deity.
This group will say “of course” to my evidentiary findings about cosmology, geology and biological evolution, and perhaps be dumbfounded how such facts could be new to me. With them, I find some kinship in the embrace of reason and non-denial. If we can celebrate our ever-expanding scientific knowledge of the natural world together, then I consider any differences of opinion on the supernatural to be matters of taste and we have no quarrel.
That said, in the spirit of the internet, please allow me to expand on our narrow band of difference for just a minute.
At the risk of broadly generalizing in an area where no two humans hold identical positions, it seems to me that science-and-faith harmonizers interpret portions of the scripture as purely (or partially) allegorical rather than historical. They say the Old Testament tales are there to teach a divine truth to the original audience, in the same vein as the parables of Jesus. A historical good Samaritan isn’t important to the lesson being taught, and neither is a historical Adam. Or Noah. Or Moses.
Probably the best-known modern Christian allegory is C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Certainly students and scholars interpret nuggets of “truth” and “spiritual insight” amidst the take of a lion who is killed in place of another. A comic series I wrote, Neozoic, is an allegory for Israel under the reign of Saul and David all told with dinosaur-kill-squads. On what basis can one say that the clearly-written-by-humans-as-a-product-of-their-time allegories of Genesis are any more divine than these?
The absurd opinions in the writings of Answers in Genesis played a key role in turning me away from Biblical literalism, but I find myself agreeing with them when it comes to the slippery slope of picking-and-choosing what parts of the Bible one chooses to accept.
Once Christian leaders concede that we shouldn’t interpret the Bible as written in Genesis, why should the world take heed of God’s Word in any area? Because the church has told the world that one can use man’s interpretation of the world, such as billions of years, to reinterpret the Bible, this Book is seen as an outdated, scientifically incorrect holy book not intended to be believed as written.
As each subsequent generation has pushed this door of compromise open farther and farther, they are increasingly not accepting the morality or salvation of the Bible either. After all, if the history in Genesis is not correct, how can one be sure the rest is correct?
And despite my skeptical view of the gospels, I’m particularly inclined to agree with these words attributed to Jesus.
“I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?” (John 3:12)
Since the gospels have Jesus speaking about Noah (Matthew 24:37-39), I can’t believe him on earthly things. (OK, that could maybe be Jesus talking about the legend of non-historical Noah, like we might talk about Sherlock Holmes as a common literary communication point. But Jesus also affirms the likely-allegorical Moses and Jonah, said the moon gave light, expected figs out of season, and came out against hand-washing a few times, to mention but a few shaky earthly details. And he may be allegory himself.)
Why would anyone provide leniency on the earthly things that can be verified, but take the non-verifiable heavenly things at face value? If someone claimed to have a dog and a spaceship, but had no dog, would you still pack for his promised trip to Mars? And how could one begin to choose? Is the Bible a buffet where you load up your plate with only what is palatable? To me, such an exercise is to create a personal God in one’s own image.
If the falsifiable claims of the Bible are to be considered allegorical to be relevant, then one is left to rely on whatever remains without evidence… also called faith. (And Hebrews 11:6 applauds you.)
For me, I will start with that which can be demonstrated with evidence to be true and remain skeptical of the rest.
How do you reconcile? How do you choose?