No Scientific Revelation in the Bible

As several other bloggers have already mentioned, Jesus Creed featured a post recently about John Walton’s emphasis on the fact that the Bible includes no scientific revelation. Here is a relevant quotation from Walton, a leading Evangelical scholar with particular expertise in Genesis:

I just want to make two quick points here. The first one is that in the Bible there is no scientific revelation.That’s such an important point. Israel is not getting any new understanding of the material world, its mechanisms, its operations, or anything of that sort. No new information. Now they can observe the world, and they might make some of the same observations we make when we observe the world in our modern times. But they didn’t get that by revelation.

In other words, anything that is in the Bible about the workings of the material world were things that Israel already believed and that all the nations around them already believed. Like I mentioned with the waters, the waters above and the waters below in Genesis One. Everyone in the ancient world believed that. That’s not kind of a breakthrough revelation. And that is true all the way through the Old Testament.

Also on Jesus Creed, RJS blogged about faith and vocation as a scientist.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere, Claude Mariottini interacted with Scot McKnight on letting the Bible be the Bible. And there was a response at Jesus Creed to Claude’s suggestion that in Genesis 3, the serpent is right, having correctly grasped the divine attribute of grace and God’s penchant for changing his mind.

Nick Matzke responded to Casey Luskin. Also at The Panda’s Thumb, Richard Hoppe shared a link to an open-access article on how information about evolution is communicated.

Paul Braterman said “Don’t say Darwin unless you mean it.”

Hemant Mehta has a post about a creationist speaker spouting misinformation and claiming to represent “truth.”

Allan Bevere looked at whether conservatives consistently disagree with science more frequently than liberals. Science and Religion Today discussed the study that sparked that, providing lots of charts and data.

  • Michael Wilson

    love the image

  • Beau Stoddard

    What would you consider scientific revelation? Would you consider the expansion of the universe? Burial of human waste? Earth was free standing? To argue this if fairly useless. If you must fit the Bible into a textbook category it would probably fit best under history.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Putting the entire collection into one category is inappropriate. History certainly does not fit all of its contents as a descriotion of their genre.

  • Beau Stoddard

    Also are you aware of when Israel was formed Biblically? It doesn’t appear you are.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I’m not sure what you mean by “when Israel formed Biblically.” Israel was formed before it had anything like a Bible.

  • J

    Okay, so then here’s the question: Why not?

    ( And just premptively: I accept no variation of the idea that god keeps himself hidden so as not to preempt faith.)

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I would say it is because these are human writings, not ones that contain divinely-revealed contents. These are things that humans wrote to express their religious beliefs, not literature God wrote to dictate their religious beliefs.

      • J

        I invite you to guess how I feel about books that contain nothing but human religious beliefs.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          If you are like me, then interested in studying this fascinating aspect of human culture. But I’m not sure why I am supposed to guess…

          • J

            Then suffice to say I am not like you.

  • newenglandsun

    Try contending this when you live in a house with people who are strong proponents for scientific revelation in the Bible.

    Right? Like I’m really going to challenge that bats are mammals in favor of them being birds or is this the secularists’ way of telling me “there is no god”?


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