Should the results of sceince ever revise our interpretations of Scripture?
There was a time when, according to our Stone-Campbell forefather, people believed that “the sun moved around the earth; they interpreted the Bible to say so.” But when “the investigation of the laws of the material world proved the earth moves around the sun,” their interpretation of the Bible changed because the “truths of science” and the “truths of the Bible” do not contradict.
For centuries people “understood the first chapter of Genesis said that the world was created in the six days enumerated in this chapter. The truths of geology led to the study of this matter–lo!–the Bible does not say this.”
“A truth in the material world thus helps us to understand the great foundation and far-reaching truths of the spiritual world….The phenomena of the material world are the records of God’s work in the world of matter through the ages that are passed.” They must not be ignored.
Facts of science–truths about the material world–are interpretative aides for understanding Scripture. “The theory of evolution–and, in deed, the science of geology–claim that in the material wold the simpler forms of life were in point of time first developed; afterwards, those more complex; that in point of time there has been a regular gradation in both animal and plant life from the simplest up to the highest forms of life…These facts are true in nature…The Bible plainly teaches these as facts, and the facts of the material world, so far as they have been determined, fully corroborate the Scripture statement. These facts, given in both nature and the Bible, are the grounds for the theory of evolution.”
Humanity “stands at the head of all created beings and is the best and highest of material beings, and that all preceding creations in the material world were preparatory steps and stages in refining the material out of which man is made and by which his life is sustained, is positively affirmed in the Bible and corroborated by the known facts of nature. When his highest mechanism of God was completed, God breathed into it a spirit that differentiated it from all the lower creation and allied it to the spirits and to God himself.”
“I believe life had existed on the earth previously to the six days’ work of Gen. 1. The Bible nowhere contradicts this. Man and the higher order of animals and plants did not exist before this.”
“Could we adopt the idea that the six days were long periods of time, we could reconcile it all; but this seems a forced and unnatural meaning of the Bible statement, and I greatly object to these. The statement seems to contemplate our ordinary days. So I say there are some things here that we do not understand.”
“My study of these things has caused me to revise my conceptions of the teaching of the Bible, but the comparison of the facts and truths of the natural world with those of the Bibl log since banished all apprehension of the least contradiction between them.”
Who said this?
None other than David Lipscomb, Salvation from Sin, ed. by F. B. Shepherd (Nashville: McQuiddy Publishing Co., 1913) in his two chapters “Evolution and the Bible” and “Geology and the Bible” (pp. 347-375).
Think we can learn anything from his example?