No, he’s saying that the world is the word of God, and that we must interpret it (that’s science) as best we can. The same would apply to the bible, if you think that’s the word of God. If there’s conflict, then it’s the interpretation that must give way, not the word itself. You must then consider whether science’s interpretation of the book of nature or your interpretation of the book of Genesis is at fault. I would suggest that there’s a lot more data in the book of nature to go on, and there’s no good way to interpret it other than the way we do. Even if Jeanson’s case were defensible considered in isolation, there’s the great mass of data on the age of the earth, of the human species, of life, and the nonexistence of a worldwide flood 5000 years ago, etc., etc., that Jeanson and you have to completely ignore. But you can’t just ignore all that stuff, and it all shows Jeanson to be wrong before we even get to his specific claims.
Those with Biblical theology will not be comfortable with the “redefinition” of the Word of God in these posts (considering the two standard meanings of that phrase) but it not at all difficult to understand the excellent points @Mercer and @John_Harshman are making here.
I would word these ideas a little differently (and in more traditional theological terms) even while basically agreeing with what I believe Mercer and Harshman are saying—and perhaps doing so will help @thoughtful to understand:
The Bible describes both Special Revelation (e.g., what God has revealed in the text of the Bible) and General Revelation (aka “natural revelation.”) Both are described as true. Despite the impression one might get from some “creation science” writings and some ID writings which at times pretend that man’s interpretations of the Bible are infallible while man’s interpretations of the natural world are doomed to fallibility, there is no theological or Biblical basis for denigrating what God has revealed in his creation or considering it unreliable. Christians should trust that which is clearly evident in God’s created universe, including the evidence which describes its history and which explains how natural processes unfold. We can trust what we observe to reflect the reality God provided for our understanding of the natural world.
I don’t always agree with the late R.C. Sproul but he provided a useful summary which well describes what many other evangelical theologians have long affirmed:
I believe firmly that all of truth is God’s truth, and I believe that God has not only given revelation in sacred Scripture, but also, the sacred Scripture itself tells us that God reveals Himself in nature—which we call natural revelation. And, I once asked a seminary class of mine that was a conservative group, I said, “How many of you believe that God’s revelation in Scripture is infallible?” And they all raised their hand. And I said, “And how many of you believe that God’s revelation in nature is infallible, and nobody raised their hand. It’s the same God who’s giving the revelation.
It is certainly true that the terms Special Revelation and General Revelation have traditionally been applied to truths about God. Yet many today recognize that—because “All truth is God’s truth”—Christians who are care about what the Bible says about creation should also care about what God’s creation tells us about itself. God has not created a world filled with deceptive evidence. It can be trusted to reflect reality.
Meanwhile, there is no reason to assume that human interpretations of the Bible are flawless while human interpretations of what is observe in nature (as in the work of scientists) is somehow inherently flawed and untrustworthy. Indeed, those of us who have had careers in both Christian theology academia and “secular” science academia would be the first to admit that Biblical theology often experiences more ambiguity and disagreement than that found in peer-reviewed science.
Accordingly, when my analysis of the scriptures conflicts with my analysis of evidence from the natural world, I do NOT assume that God is providing contradictory revelations. Instead, I assume that I have misunderstood one or the other or both. When I experience that kind of apparent conflict, more study and more gathering of evidence (both scriptural and scientists) is warranted. I don’t assume that fallible human interpretations of the scripture must trump all fallible human interpretations of the evidence from the natural world—especially when the former is all too often dictated by beloved man-made traditions while the latter is usually driven by an arduous peer-reviewed process. (Thankfully, the best evangelical theological scholarship is also subject to rigorous peer-review. But that cannot necessarily be said of the “pop theology” found on YEC ministry websites.)
It appears to me that Mercer and Harshman have a better grasp of some of these issues than do some anti-evolution fundamentalists and evangelicals.
Both those assertions are wrong. For example, when have you addressed radiometric dating, and what other good ways are there to interpret radiometric dates? If radiometric dates are correct, Jeanson’s hypothesis is untenable.
Indeed. And that brings to mind another trope which tends to accompany it.
Ken Ham’s Creation Museum has an exhibit one can’t miss the moment one walks through the door into the exhibit hall. [I know this from photos because I’ve never actually visited the museum.] Two scientists are working on a dig site—but the Christian one has a Bible in one hand. I think the caption on a plague is says something like: Same evidence but different interpretations due to different presuppositions and worldviews. Of course, that is a kind of projection: Ken Ham assumes that the “secular scientist” [his term for what we would simply call “a scientist”] reaches conclusions by the same path he does. For Ham, his presuppositions are primary and the actual evidence is secondary (and, actual practice, often superfluous.) For the scientist, the evidence is the starting point and is always primary.
Yet another associated trope. Ham likes to say, “We love science!” What he actually means is “We like sciencey topics!” He does NOT mean that he loves the Scientific Method. He relies on scientific procedures only when they support his presuppositions. That’s why entire fields of scientific study must be casually dismissed the moment they conflict with his favorite interpretations of the Bible. (He never considers that what God has revealed in his creation might be more obvious and solid than his tradition-based interpretations of the various scriptures. He assumes that his theology his infallible while any science that contradicts him is fallible.)
The exhibit is located amidst a pseudoscience pandemic outbreak. Containment has proven unsuccessful thus far. Strict quarantine has not been feasible. (Yes, we are looking at an ongoing super-spreader event.)
If you can’t even look at the evidence yourself in favor of hearsay, your assumption is that your minority interpretation of the Bible must be true. But it seems to me that assumption is pretty weak; otherwise, you’d be diving head-first into the evidence with confidence.