What is the basis of Biblical credibility? Why should one believe the claims of the Bible verses the claims of any other book or individual claiming to have some kind of Divine message from God? Is the Christian required to blindly accept the Bible as true? – without any rational or logical basis for belief and in possible opposition to the significant weight of empirical evidence? Must the Christian faith subscribed to a form of fideism?
Personally, I don’t think so. The Bible itself cites empirical evidence over and over again as a basis for a rational faith in its metaphysical claims (to include fulfilled prophecy, credible eyewitness testimony, and accurate historical accounts). Along these lines, consider also an interesting discussion recently posed to this forum between myself, Dr. Paul Cameron (the one to whom I’m directly responding), George, and Pastor Bob Helm:
Do you really know what you are signing on for with your acceptance or acquiescence to Sean’s views on scientific evidence or data which I described as non-sense?
GEORGE “Query: where is the specific evidence that supports a 6 day creation that you absolutely believe in?”
SEAN “As I’ve explained to you several times before, the weight of evidence for a literal creation week rests on the credibility of the Bible”
So according to this any scientific evidence for the reality of a 6 day creation is based on the credibility of the Bible.
The same is true of the credibility of any historical claim by anyone. A rational belief that something happened in history as described by some historian, such as Josephus for instance, is entirely based on the established credibility of the author (given that the event itself cannot be directly evaluated). How then is credibility established?
“…and those elements that can be subjected to testing and potential falsification. Such elements include a recent creation of all life on this planet and a worldwide Noachian-style Flood.”
I am now confused – don’t the evidences for these evidences rest on the credibility of the Bible?
No. These Biblical claims are actually open to testing and potential falsification by comparing these claims with the evidences we have in the natural world. In other words, is there actual evidence of a recent worldwide Noachian-style Flood? Is there evidence of mass worldwide extinctions as a result of this Flood? Is there evidence for a recent arrival of all life on this planet? If the evidences are consistent with the Biblical claims, the Bible gains credibility. If they are inconsistent with the Biblical claims, the Bible loses credibility. It’s quite a simple and rational concept and it is used all the time.
As an example, consider the claims of the Book of Mormon regarding the origin of the American Indians as being one of the “lost tribes of Israel”. This claim can be tested, genetically, to see if it’s true. Clearly, this claim is effectively falsified. And therefore, for the rational person, this falsification of a key claim from the Book of Mormon significantly undermines its credibility with regard to those claims that cannot be directly tested.
What exactly are the testing procedure for the credibility of the bible if no historical criticism can be allowed?
Who said no historical criticism can be allowed? Historical criticism is perfectly fine – as long as it can be empirically supported with the weight of evidence. So far, however, Biblical critics have been on the losing end so many times its hardly worth counting. The Bible has be vindicated over and over and over again in the face of the “higher critics”… only adding further to its credibility.
Beyond that there are no cogent models of either the young life or the flood. Both of these have been rejected by the conventional science because there is no objective evidence for them short of religious assertion. Simple things like the Grand canyon as an evidence of a universal flood are rejected by geology. It is hard to conceive of how large eolian sandstone deposits (Coconino) could be placed within layers of clearly sedimentary deposits within a single flood.
The Grand Canyon wasn’t formed by the Flood. It was formed after the Flood by the catastrophic failure of a large inland lake and then subsequently by catastrophic failures of lava dams that suddenly released huge volumes of water.
As far as the Coconino Sandstone is concerned, there is good evidence that it was catastrophically deposited by water. It simply does not represent a desert or “eolian” environment at all.
“These claims can be tested in a potentially falsifiable manner.”
How exactly without critiquing the Bible which is viewed a source of scientific evidence or of proposing testable hypotheses?
The Bible should be critiqued in a critical manner before accepting it as credible regarding anything it has to say about history or God or other metaphysical “truths”. Fideistic faith, without any ability for testing or potential falsification, is worthless if one wishes to move beyond wishful thinking and a personal fantasy world.
“And, in my opinion, the Bible’s claims are supported by the significant weight of evidence that strongly suggests a very recent arrival of all life on this planet and a truly world wide Noachian Flood that produced much of the fossil record/geologic column.”
Now we get to it. Opinion can now be part of the “weight of evidence” which fits entirely with the Pitman model of science where personal anecdote is equivalent to the literature of science if it is based on some scientific process of personal hypothesis testing and conviction based on that method independent of any repository of knowledge, expertise or consensus.
Again, you defined “science” as the consensus of experts. That means, does it not, that it is impossible for anyone to come to any rational conclusion, via scientific methodologies of any kind, which are opposed to the consensus of mainstream scientists? If this really is your position, you just removed many famous scientists, who personally opposed the consensus of experts of their own day, from the realm of science.
Consensus means nothing if it is opposed to the clear weight of evidence – evidence which can be and often has been discovered by a single individual.
“Given this evidence, the Bible’s claim that God made it all in just one week of time is far more consistent and credible than are the neo-Darwinian claims for hundreds of millions of years of life existing and evolving from simple to complex on this planet.”
So now we have the completion of the circular argument. The evidence for the features of nature that support the fiat creation and the flood is the bible account and this evidence shows the credibility of the Bible and its account of the events.
The argument is not “circular” at all. Credibility is established by independent evidence, outside of the source itself. Once established, it is perfectly reasonable to cite the source as being most likely accurate with regard to those claims that cannot be directly tested. Tell me, why do you believe in the truth of the historical claim for the what happened during the Battle of Issus between Alexander the Great and Darius III in 333 B.C.?
Bob you have stated earlier;
“I believe that its sciences classes should ground students in an understanding of Neo-Darwinian evolution and the arguments for it. However, I believe that the arguments for ID/creationism should also be presented, and that the students should be taught how data can fit into this paradigm.”
If you accept the Pitman doctrine of science you will not only have to teach students about ID/creation and how “data can fit into this paradigm” but you will have to revise you ideas about data and will have to teach an entirely new way of understanding “weight of evidence” or data as being not just the peer reviewed literature of science but every hypothesis testing analysis, anecdote and piece of religious writing based on the Bible. Some in ID have accepted that as you will find if you look at what S Schiller has written in the thread on the blindingly obvious”. You will need to teach both theistic science; the science which is required to sustain ID arguments as Sean has done here and conventional science as it has been done for many many years which assumes only natural process a particular method of science and an accepted repository of scientific knowledge. The repository of knowledge that is the basis of modern western technology and medicine beloved and embrace by almost all students.
Do you want students to be taught these 2 methods of science and allowed to arbitrary choose what they would like according to their preconceived prejudices?
If our schools do not teach the rational basis for why the church disagrees with mainstream scientists, you undermine the very reason for having a church school – rather than adding yet another secular university, funded by the church, that promotes the usual philosophical Darwinian dogma.
Again, Darwinism isn’t science, but philosophy. The weight of actual empirical evidence in hand is completely opposed to the notion that random mutations and natural selection can create anything beyond very low levels of functional complexity – even if trillions of years of time were available. Your argument that some future discovery will come along to explain how it happened via some mindless mechanism isn’t scientific either – it is a philosophical, even a religious, argument that is based on wishful thinking, not the current weight of evidence that is actually in hand.