Monday, January 23, 2017

Scripture and Cosmology III

Greenwood, Kyle. Scripture and Cosmology: Reading the Bible between the Ancient World and Modern Science. DownersGrove, IL: IVP Academic, 2015. 

Part I, Part II

In chapter three, Greenwood lays out the biblical evidence for a three tiered universe.  He uses the same divisions of earth, heavens, and seas.  In the end, he comes to the conclusion that the biblical writers held approximately the same view of the three tiered universe as their ancient near eastern neighbors.  He notes slight differences, but ends with this quote which nicely sums up the takeaway from the chapter:
These similarities, and even the dissimilarities, indicate that the biblical authors were not engaged in a systematic correction the the pagan worldviews.  We do not see these authors writing apologetic treatises against the scientifically naive viewpoints of their uninspired neighbors.  They do not speak of atmospheric pressure systems affecting weather.  We do not read about the gravitational pull of planets, the solar orbit of the earth or the earth's rotation on its axis.  The texts do not inform us of faraway galaxies, supernovas, comets, or black holes.  In short, the biblical authors wrote according to the best scientific evidence of their time, an observational viewpoint that was best expressed through analogy and phenomenological language. 
This gets succinctly to the point.  The biblical authors assumed approximately the same physical structure of the universe as their neighbors.  They had no divine revelation of the later scientific discoveries that have shaped our understanding of the universe.  If they were "wrong" about the physical makeup of the universe, what else might we as modern people discount about the understanding of biblical authors?

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