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Reason for God: Isn’t the Bible a Myth? Has Science Disproved Christianity?

Rather confusing DVD discussion as it digressed a lot from the topic. Korean lady: Do
people believe in the Bible through rational study or cultural pressure? Lots of social
reasons involved in choosing a religion…

Are they good or bad reasons for faith? Is there a possibility that you consider
Christianity may not be true? What would it take?

We cannot all be objective when it comes to the question of whether the Bible is God’s
word. All of us have vested interests. We may want or not want it to be true. Be critical of
your skepticism or wishes as well.

Is there a dichotomy between myth and truth? Does it have to be factually true in
order for it to be important? Art is true for the moment and does not need to be
authenticated by history. More importantly, does it emotionally true? Does it
resonate with your heart?

At one level, for example ethical teachings in Jesus’ parables, its truth does not depend
on whether the good Samaritan is historical or not. It resonates with theological truth
even when it is not authenticated by history.

But on another level, Christianity is not just a set of ethical principles but about God
acting to rescue his people in space-time events. That’s why some acts of God in history
such as the death and resurrection of Christ are important and need to be verifiable. It is
not just collective imagination of believers but something that really took place in order
for it to have the meaning it claims to have.

Some participants in the DVD think history is important. The resurrection of Christ
is a clincher: It changes everything if Jesus really rose from the dead. Why?

That would be a vindication of the claims Jesus made about Himself – a miracle that
authenticates His claim to be God and has authority over everything.

But are the Gospel records of Jesus’ life historically reliable? Isn’t it a document
that has been translated so many times and different parts are cobbled together?

Reason for God, page 100 – 108: The gospels were written too early to be myths as eye
witnesses and critics were alive to verify and dispute the facts. The ‘embarrassing’
content (failures of the disciples, a crucified Messiah, absence of materials on
circumcision, a burning issue in the church) shows that the disciples were not free to
make up stuffs as they went along. Literary form of the Gospels was too detailed (like
footnote names, catching 153 fish, Jesus asleep on cushion in a boat).

See also Craig Blomberg’s Historical Reliability of the Gospels (article).

Culturally Regressive: Does the Bible condone slavery and unequal gender roles?
“Accept everything in the whole bible? I can’t support that.”

Reason for God, page 109 – 113: Consider the possibility that you have misunderstood
what the Bible really say (the context of slavery in 1st century Rome versus New World
slavery). It is possible that our culture’s notion of ‘progressive’ will be outdated soon and
not be absolute. Major in the majors and minor in the minor themes: Just because you
don’t like what the Bible says about gender roles (which even Christians disagree about)
doesn’t mean that Jesus couldn’t be raised from the grave.

Keller: What happens if you pick and choose what to believe and reject anything in the
Bible that offends your sensibility? You’ll have a god of your own making who will
never contradict you. Only if you God can say things that outrage you and make you
struggle (as in a real friendship) will you know that you have gotten hold of a real God
and not a figment of your imagination.

Scientifically Credible: Evolution is very crucial to me and needs to be reconciled

with the Bible in order for it to be credible. Christianity has the burden of proof. I
have not seen any miracle along the lines of what the Bible recorded.

Some non-believer participants in the DVD see the limitations of science – “It brought
me to believe in faith. Science is also a myth. Stuffs about molecules are just theories.”

Or, “Science can’t tell us about love. It’s a methodology (a way of exploring reality) and
can’t come to final conclusions about what is real or not.”

Keller: Science assumes a natural cause for everything so it cannot see a miracle even if it
sees one. Miracle is possible if God exists.

See also chapter 6 in The Reason for God, Has Science Disproved Christianity?

What do you mean by evolution? If evolution refers to a worldview that explains

everything from our morality to logic as shaped by non directed genetic mutation and
natural selection; that is different from evolution as a biological process that explains
how species have changed and adapted over time. One is a faith position like religion
while the other is a scientific hypothesis. The first is in conflict with biblical faith but the
second may just be a scientific exploration of the ways God has gone about in creating
living beings.

Christians occupy different positions on the issue of evolution: God created natural laws
and leave everything to run by natural cause and effect, God created everything through
evolution, God created everything in six 24-hour days just a few thousand years ago, God
performed large-scale progressive creative acts over a longer period.

1) Young Earth Creationists – Ken Ham, Henry Morris, Duane Gish: About 10,000 years old earth,
literal reading of Genesis, question the dating of fossils, reject macro evolution.

2) Theistic Evolutionists - Alister McGrath, Francis Collins, Polkinghorne. God created the initial
materials and set up the natural laws, then guided the whole evolution process.

3) Old-Earth, Progressive Creationists – Hugh Ross, Kenneth Samples. Accepts big bang cosmology,
dating of fossil record, rejects evolution, holds that God progressively intervenes millions of times
to create new species

4) Intelligent Design (ID) – Philip Johnson (reframe the question), Dembski, Meyer, Michael Behe.
ID holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an
intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection: the anthropic principle,
DNA, irreducible complexity, design can be empirically detected.

What is Genesis 1 and 2 really saying? Keller thinks Genesis 1 has the features of a
poetry (“song” about the meaning of creation) while Genesis 2 is an account of how it
happened. The literary genre is “exalted prose narrative”: author is making truth claims
about the world but in such a way that it was not meant to be taken literally.

For example, in Genesis 1 natural order means nothing (light appears before the sun is
created) whereas in Genesis 2 natural order is followed (2:5). The primary intention is to
show that “In the beginning God created”. How he did it (in six 24-hour days or over
millions of years representing 7 epochs) is not the point. Once this is understood,
evolution or any scientific theory is no longer contradictory to the bible because the point
of Genesis is that a personal God created and sustains all things.

Korean lawyer: “If there is nothing bigger than ourselves, life seems depressing.”
But some participants think that life goes on, you can still be happy and moral
without God. You can find truth in a lot of things. What do you think?

Keller: Moral and spiritual realities are like the physical world (The tree in front exists
whether you like it or not). There are moral absolutes: If you live for selfishness instead
of love, there will be consequences. If you are out of touch with God; you are not true to
your nature.
But a lady in the DVD recalls how some Christian college kids experienced serious
turmoil because of an unrealistic code of ethics (moral truths that we have to live by).
What was Keller’s response and do you find it helpful?

Religion says: “Do good, obey the rules – then I will be accepted by God”.
Gospel: “I am accepted by God because of what Jesus has done – therefore I obey”.
This kind of love releases you from fear and the crushing need to earn God’s love
through performance. Instead it gives you a new motivation to perform i.e. because you

are loved and want to please your father. You’d want to do even better. There’s a key
difference in how moral absolutes function in the gospel versus religion.