This article makes the case for scripture going beyond authorial intent regarding scientific facts about the universe using an example which seems to go beyond authorial intent regarding the immaculate conception.
Friend of mine. I’ll ask him to participate. In general, if you post a link from another scholar, sent an email or leave a comment to let them know we are discussing thier work.
Two questions I’d like answeres from this perspective:
And this salient point by @Patrick…
Other than the mere fact of a beginning, how are these nothing more than postdictions.
Dr. Swamidass sent me a link to this conversation and asked me to discuss some issues in my blog post which I am happy to do. First, I would say that the goal of biblical interpretation is to understand what the original author meant. I make this very clear in my book The Creator Revealed when I discuss biblical exegesis. Anything beyond that has to be very carefully treated and may be somewhat speculative. However, it seems that the New Testament writers went beyond the original intent at times when applying messianic prophecies to Jesus. Most scholars would argue that Isaiah 7:14 is an example of that. But there are certainly clues in the Isaiah passage that there may be a broader intent. For instance, the child born to the virgin is called “Immanuel.” Also, when Matthew quoted Isaiah 7:14 he was fully inspired by the Holy Spirit. The question I pose in the blog is whether or not it is possible that there are other passages like Isaiah having to do with science that may have a broader meaning than the author indicated. My answer is that it is possible and I quote the expansion of the heavens as a possible example.
I think it is a legitimate question to ask how this is different than the Islamic idea of scientific foreknowledge. First I should preface my remarks by saying that I have many good friends who work among Muslim people and they say that Islam is a very good forgery of Christianity. Something that is a forgery of the truth will actually have many similarities to what is true though it will be missing key elements. So it is possible that Islamic scientific foreknowledge is a good forgery of true revelation. When I look at the claimed scientific foreknowledge in the Koran it is not at all similar to the example I have given of the heavens being stretched out. For instance when it comes to the translation of the Koran, it has changed significantly in modern times to make it more compatible with modern science. But the translation of the Bible has always been “stretched out.” If there is a “rule” that is the key to whether or not there might be this dual fulfillment it would be the rule of Isaiah 7:14, that something in the passage may indicate there might be more there than just what the original author meant. In Isaiah it is “Immanuel”. In the case of the heavens expanding Dr. Ross claims that the Hebrew word itself is a clue that means continually expanding and implies more than just what is written.
I’m making a proposal as a possibility in the blog based on messianic prophecies and how they are used by the NT inspired writers. I’m certainly open to dialogue and discussion about my proposal.
Dr Michael G Strauss
Yes Dr. Ross is claiming that the bible talks about the expanding universe which was pretty much understood to be a fact especially by the time of confirmation by Penzias and Wilson in 1964. But Dr. Ross claims even the accelerating expansion of the universe is in the Bible. Although Dr. Ross made no mention of this until after Reiss’ Nobel Prize winning discovery in 1997. So since the Bible has all the cosmological answers in it, can Dr. Ross please save all of cosmology and physics, the time and expense figuring out the tension in the two highly precise and an accurate measurements of the Hubble Constant. What does the bible say the real Hubble Constant is - in the original Hebrew of course?
What happens with the NT appropriation (using contemporary Jewish methods and a Christological lens) of OT prophetic texts and types (e.g., seed of woman, Israel,angel of YHWH, temple, Davidic messiah, prophet like Moses) is so different than finding scientific details beyond the human author. The first category already has movement in the OT itself, as editors shape earlier material within an eschatological and messianic thrust. But the final outcome (in Christ in the NT), while sometimes surprising, does show an organic relationship with the original(s). It is simply a different thing altogether with the scientific concordism stuff. If it is there, it’s not really comparable to the prophetic stuff IMO.
Now taking a Christological reading of OT creation texts has merit, though I myself walk cautiously here. Even so, it wouldn’t negate the original reading/intention.
From the original intent (within the ANE milieu), this makes perfect sense since the heavens are spoken of like a tent (so imagine spreading out a tent). I realize you wouldn’t disagree with this. I just don’t know on what grounds we’d have confidence that there’s something more to the divine intent (whereas we do have good grounds for the prophetic). What are we going to do with the poles/beams and other structures creation texts use?
I do appreciate your tentativeness with your proposal.
Believe it or not, @Patrick , there are those who frame their questions in just this manner, and then go searching in Scripture to see if there’s some kind of hint of an answer.
Make fun of it if you want, but do realize that for those who believe in God as Creator, Author and Sustainer of life, Maker of an orderly and surprisingly knowable universe, it is not a fringe idea, but it is also certainly not the practice of “science” alone in any manner that non-theologians are willing to recognize. And the characterization that most of the successful ones are usually postdictions, after the scientific inquiry has taken place, does not invalidate the kinds of possibilities you’re asking for, here. It is unlikely such things, however, would ever be considered “successful” UNTIL independent validation had taken place. Nor, perhaps, should they be. The Bible itself encourages us to “test all things, and only hold on to what is good.”
Are you teasing here or serious? I cannot tell… but I’ll assume that you are at least somewhat serious. I don’t think that expecting to read beyond the text with no frame of reference makes sense. A sign is a sign because it points to something. One cannot know what that “something” is without context. When God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, but then supplied a ram for sacrifice, that was a story that stood alone. When God told Moses to have his people paint the blood of a lamb over the doorway so that the spirit of death would pass over them, that was a story that stood alone.
When Jesus came as the sacrifice provided by God who keeps the spirit of death from those who are covered in the blood, it was easy to see that both of those stories pointed to Jesus. Similarly to the point the Dr. Ross makes, seeing that stories occurred, individually, at separate points in time, in different places, where both end up pointing to something that occurs later allows many of us to have faith in the foundational text. There is nothing wrong with this.
One should not find fault in the signs because one cannot view the signs in context until much later. A prophecy may not be known as a prophecy until it is fulfilled. If the signs pointed to something that happened concurrently, those signs would not be significant. Surely, things that are not prophecy could be confused as such (one could come to a false conclusion that something was said was prophecy when it really was not), but that is why we gain progressively more confidence with more signs, written by more people, at different times, all of which point to the same person or event.
Okay, I could tell that you were joking. But stop it. This is not a funny place.
I am very serious.
Okay, but if I’m going to tell you, in the original Hebrew, what the Bible says the Hubble constant is, you had better show me that you can understand ancient Hebrew. I don’t want to waste all of that time digging up the answer if you cannot.
Seriously, though, is that all that you have to say in response? You honestly expect a tangential sign to be pointing so clearly toward an event that one (who doesn’t even know that the sign is pointing to anything at all) can predict what it is pointing to? Remember, this text had contemporary meaning and was telling a story in real time. I don’t think you are being reasonable.
No, this is a funny place; it’s just our friend @Patrick finds belief in Jesus implausible because he’s never truly investigated the evidence for the resurrection, nor gotten to know His character. This is to be expected under these circumstances; the gospel itself says it will seem like foolishness to many. So, it’s vital we don’t lose our sense of humor, even with intended belittlements like these, because he knows himself it’s just a caricature of the real thing. Joke’s certainly not on us, here!
You do realize that I am a retired scientist and life long atheist who thinks that many of the world’s problems are caused by reading too much into books of myths, superstitions, and atrocities. So forgive me it I take offense from someone trying to understanding the recent discoveries of modern science by finding correlations in a 2000 year old book of myths and legends.
I’l remove it to be nice.
Odd that the mere whimsy of supposed mythical musing causes offense? What does it do; strain your imagination in an attempt to try and understand? Well then --good, if so!
No not the mythical musing causes offend, it is the actions caused by those musings that causes great harm.
Ah, I see. Public order is threatened; dogs turn up suddenly pregnant; sewers back up, that sort of thing? What sort of mythical musing are you up to?
I didn’t know anything about your background at all, but it is interesting to note. I’m sorry that what I said offended you. I guess that your thoughts and feelings are probably warranted (in terms of what you have observed in the world) and I certainly wouldn’t begrudge you your opinion at all. I guess that, all joking aside, you know that your thoughts about the world’s problems don’t affect whether or not the signs are there, or if they are valid. That’s why I said that I didn’t think you were being reasonable (expecting, for instance, to find the Hubble Constants in Lamentations or Job…)
I do appreciate the challenge that you pose regarding whether or not it is reasonable to expect to find unknown scientific predictions in the Bible based upon the text presented. But, as I said earlier, I don’t think that is reasonable to expect so, because the story (as with my examples) has a real-time purpose and the predictive ability of the details are secondary. So it would be difficult to know when to look for a prediction, and without knowing the discovery, it would be even more difficult to match them all up.
Here I give you just a sample of what I have been dealing with today: Note that we have to ask the Canadian Government to help because the US State Department won’t get involved. And of course, somewhere in the country some pastor is trying to talk to kids in public schools - (we do about a 1000 of these per school year).
Michael, no problem. I am just a little testy today as I am trying to do just a little part in making the world just a little bit better but I keep running into people who claim to be for human rights but really are more interested in their own beliefs. Hey, I’ll get over it and then we can chat about the science of evolution and the science of the big bang and science in general.