Friday, February 14, 2014

Inerrancy and the age of the earth

C Michael Patton lists "Six Factors that Do Not Affect Inerrancy." His post attracted my attention because of a discussion several of my friends have been having on Facebook (provoked by another of my postings). Patton's second point:
2. Speaking According to Cultural Convenience

Sometimes the Bible speaks in accordance with cultural understanding without any attempt to correct that understanding. For example, in Mark 4:31, Christ claims that the mustard seed is the smallest seed in all the earth. This does not necessarily mean that if agricultural science ever found a seed that was smaller (and they have), Christ was wrong. Christ could have just been making a statement that was in concert with the cultural understanding of the day without making a objective universal claim about this seed. The mustard seed was the smallest seed that these Palestinian farmers knew of.

While I don’t have any strong convictions about the age of the earth or how literal[ly] we should take the early chapters of Genesis, it is quite possible that much of what is being said is one of cultural convenience. This does not affect inerrancy, but is a matter of one’s hermeneutics (rules of interpretation). .... [more]