Wednesday, November 22, 2017

You make a liar out of Jesus!

On the Biologos site, there is a discussion of Mark 10:6. This post is an expansion of a comment I left there.

In context, here is the passage in question:
2 Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife. 3 And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” 4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” 5 But Jesus said to them, “[Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6 But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. 7 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, 8 and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. (Mark 10:2-8, NASB)
What is this passage about? It is about marriage and divorce. So it should be interpreted as a discussion about marriage and divorce, which I’m not going to do. Which is dumb, right? Yes it is. Well I have to, because the Young Earth Creationists and their, um, scientific foundation as represented by Answers in Genesis consider verse 6 to be proof of a young earth.

The YEC/AiG argument is this: believing there were billions of years between the formation of the universe and Adam and Eve 1 makes a liar out of Jesus is v6 when he says from the beginning of creation. When you look at the AiG “exegesis” of this passage, it is painful to read how they contort to allow the beginning of creation to refer to the end of the six days. It amounts to the computational trick of introducing a slop “fudge factor” into a calculation. Here they grant to Jesus a fudge factor of exactly six days.

For the computer programmers, it is something like this 2
public static final int SLOP = 6; //days 

if (adam.getCreationDay() > SLOP) { 
I believe that we sometimes forget that Jesus, like any other “person”, is not required to be literally scientifically correct if he is not espousing on science (which, in fact, he never does.) He is entitled, like the rest of us, to converse with all figures of speech often which, taken literally, are not scientifically, mathematically or even historically correct. He is not, for example, divinely prohibited from using hyperbole which by its very definition is never literally true. So blindly taking Jesus “literally and simply” (or rather, doing so when it’s convenient) is to tell Jesus that unlike every other speaker, every sentence he utters must hold up under miscroscopic parsing independent of the context and intent.

Even in modern peer-reviewed scientific literature (let alone everyday non-scientific conversation) you can find figures of speech that are literally not true scientifically, but the readers, assumed to be intelligent (and the most neglected biblical hermeneutic is that the bible is meant to be read intelligently) do not conclude that this makes liars of the writers. It is not hard to find sentences in physics literature such as “at this point the electron knows to do X” where “knows to” summarizes the fact that the detailed scientific explanation of the electron doing X is not the point of the present discussion, and it would only obfuscate the main point to litter the text with verbiage just to make the sentence scientifically air tight. Nobody speaks that way, and Jesus isn’t required to.

Jesus is not talking about science or the details of creation in Mark 10:6. He is saying nothing more than “ever since there were men and women, they were meant to bond together in marriage.”

It's that simple.

1 I part ways with those OECs at Biologos who do not affirm a historic Adam and Eve.
2 Although AiG probably programs in COBOL.

1 comment:

  1. Borrowing from L in a previous discussion - if God is infinite and outside of time, why should He be confined by the limits of human language as to what He can and cannot do?

    IOW, is "day" accommodated language because of the limits of ancient Hebrew and the understanding of the original readers?