Is God’s word difficult to understand? Part I

Editor’s note: Normally I would post something like this under “Fire Back,” since it involves a question from a reader, but it’s such a fundamental and important question that I’m going to devote two posts to it. This first post is written by Surak.

TF writes:

I had a question, but wanted to let you know first that I stumbled upon your website when I read Sarah Salviander’s testimony and watched the well-done slideshow that accompanied it.  I then read the website’s FAQ, several articles, and lots of comments over several weeks.

After reading more than I thought I would, I have a question that keeps nagging at me:  Is truth hard to understand or easy?  I’m not a scientist by any stretch of the imagination (I’m a pastor) but I’ve always loved science, especially when I can connect the dots between my faith and God’s creation.  For most of my life, I’ve held a pretty simplistic view of our world as a result of reading God’s Word, but after substantial reading on your website I feel like my head is going to explode :)  I don’t know if I agree with all of it, but most of it is fascinating and really well-thought out/researched.  My problem is that it is so hard for a person like me to understand (and I think I’m on the average part of the intelligence scale so the majority of the population would be in the same boat as I am).

So would God make the truth about his creation so complicated that only someone well versed in relativity, Hebrew translations, genetics, and 5 or 6 other fields of study could understand it?  Or would God make the truth about his creation simple enough for all to understand?

I’m not saying God is simple or easy to understand or that he wouldn’t want to give us lots of things for even the most intelligent people to discover and ponder over a lifetime, but wouldn’t God make truths as foundational as “where we come from” and “how this world was created” accessible to everyone rather than just a tiny percentage of super intelligent people?

If the truth of creation is as complicated as what it is on your website, I’m afraid I have no chance of ever explaining it to anyone.  If that is the case, then it seems like God made the truth of creation hard to understand and left most people hopelessly in the dark.  Or have we complicated things and there is a truth that is easier for all to access?

When Jesus (who was the embodiment of all God’s truth/love/mercy/etc.) came he was accessible to all, not just the most intelligent, wise, pious, powerful, etc.  He made God’s truth intelligible to even the poor, uneducated of his day, so I tend to think that God would make an important truth like creation accessible to someone as average as me as well.

So what do you think – is the truth (about creation) hard to understand or easy to understand?  And why?

Sarah will get into a deeper discussion of whether God’s word is inherently difficult to understand in Part II. First, I want to demonstrate how easy it will be for the average Christian to acquire the scientific understanding needed to defend scripture.

Here are the four necessary steps:

  1. The basic scriptural and scientific truths are easy to understand. They are stated clearly in Genesis 1 and are fully supported by modern science.

God created this world as a place where beings created in his image could thrive physically and grow spiritually. Science now confirms that the universe had a beginning and was created in the truest sense of the word. The work of Dr. Hugh Ross demonstrates beyond any rational dispute that the universe is finely tuned for the existence of human life.

A more detailed understanding of the truths revealed by scripture and science is required, because there are atheists who have misused science for 150 years to falsely attack Christian beliefs. So, there are three more scientific steps people have to take to be fully able to defend their faith in this scientific age. It is well within the ability of most people to take these next steps.

  1. Genesis 1 makes at least 26 scientifically testable statements. All 26 are entirely compatible with modern science, and most tellingly, all 26 steps in the Genesis account of the creation of the world and life on Earth are in exactly the correct order.

The odds against someone who lived over 2,500 years ago simply guessing the order of natural events are about one in four hundred septillion. In other words, it’s simply not possible for the author of Genesis 1 to have gotten the details of creation right by simply guessing.

This means the scientific evidence clearly demonstrates that the author of Genesis 1 was divinely inspired.

The third step in a scientific understanding of Christian scriptures is a little harder, but I have found that most people are entirely capable of taking it with a little effort and a good slideshow. Christians must be able to defend the belief that God created the universe in six literal days, otherwise atheists are free to ridicule scripture and mislead generations of young people.

  1. Based on the work of Einstein, it can be scientifically demonstrated that the universe is literally both 6 days + 6,000 years old and 14 billion years old. This understanding requires a careful reading of Genesis 1 and a rudimentary understanding of Einstein’s relativity.

In regard to a careful reading of scripture, there was no Earth and no people on the first day of Genesis. That means that time is not being reckoned from an earthly or human perspective in the opening statements of the Bible. Time was being measured through some other means by the Creator of the universe as He created it.

Einstein taught us that time is relative and therefore measured differently in every part of the universe. Gerald Schroeder explains that time during the first six days of creation was by necessity based on a universal measure we can think of as God’s clock. Schroeder points out in The Science of God that earthly time wasn’t used by the Bible until the appearance of Adam and Eve. Therefore, the Bible used universal time through God’s perspective to chronicle time up to the creation of Adam, while the period of time since Adam was measured by earthly time according to human perspective.

Science shows that the period of time before the creation of man can be measured as six days universal time using Einstein’s relativity, and the amount of time since the appearance on earth of conscious humans is most likely in the thousands of years. Therefore the Creationist point of view that the universe is 6 days + 6,000 years old is scientifically defendable and fully compatible with a universe that is 14 billion years old from our current perspective.

The last necessary step in a scientific understanding of Christian scriptures has to do with evolution. From the time of Thomas Huxley, the science of evolution has been misused to falsely attack Christian beliefs. The idea that humans have evolved from apes is dishonestly presented as evidence against God’s existence.

  1. Again, a careful reading of Genesis 1 reveals something extremely important both scripturally and scientifically. Genesis says that humans were first made (Gen. 1:26) and then they were created (Gen. 1:27). This is confirmed in 1 Corinthians 15:46-47: The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.

In other words, according to the Old Testament and New Testament, God made the human body with earthly materials. When that was accomplished, God created the human spirit in his own non-worldly image. It does not matter that evolution is scientifically correct in its finding that the mortal human body is biologically related to that of other primates. The basics of evolutionary science are entirely consistent with the biblical account. What matters is that the body is only the worldly vessel for the immortal human soul.

Evidence is abundant that human beings are fundamentally different from every other life form on Earth. Since the unique human ‘consciousness’ is one of the great unsolved scientific mysteries of the universe, science is in no position to deny the existence of the human soul or spirit.

With these four connections between scripture and science, Christians will be able to adequately understand the intimate agreement between modern science and Christian scripture well enough to defend Christian beliefs. Simply put, Christian faith in the Bible as the literal word of God is supported by scientific evidence.

Everything else is just details. Just as we have pastors to explain the details of hundreds of pages of scripture, we have scientists to explain the book of nature to us. God presents challenges that test our faith, but those challenges are not insurmountable.

7 thoughts on “Is God’s word difficult to understand? Part I

  1. This is a very interesting site. I like reading scientific articles on here and anyone who visits your site can learn a lot about science. However everyone who comes here needs to be careful when comparing the unique scriptural interpretations found here to 2000 years of Biblical understanding. TF is correct. The Bible is not impossible for average people to understand and one does not need to jump thru hoops altering the clear meaning of scripture in order to make it comport with the latest of atheistic evolutionary Beliefs in order to remain true to empirical science. The nature of time at the fringes of the universe is an intriguing discussion, and there is no doubt that science supports scripture, but then you swerve into supporting Evolution, saying, “It does not matter that evolution is scientifically correct in its finding that the mortal human body is biologically related to that of other primates. The basics of evolutionary science are entirely consistent with the biblical account?” None of that is true. There is no evidence of it. I am amazed you would say that. I also believe what you said above is a misrepresentation of both Genesis and Corinthians 15:46-47. You are probably relying on the unique interpretations of Dr. Schroeder who fails to recognize his own Jewish Messiah as described in the Old Testament in which he is such an expert. So although I enjoy your site, and look forward to seeing an article on the “discovery” of “gravitational waves” as has been in the news today, I do not agree with some of your theology as it seems to be twisted in favor of satisfying the claims of “science falsely so-called” —in some cases, unintentionally, invalidating parts of essential Christian doctrine.

  2. However everyone who comes here needs to be careful when comparing the unique scriptural interpretations found here to 2000 years of Biblical understanding.

    Yes, one needs to be circumspect about throwing out many years of accepted interpretation in light of evidence to the contrary. But as I explained here, once the evidence is overwhelmingly against that interpretation, you have no choice but to accept that your interpretation is wrong. Also, you are assuming that your particular view represents 2000 years of biblical understanding, when it more closely represents 50 years of one particular North American interpretation.

    In terms of evolution, the problem is that you don’t even understand what it is you don’t understand. Surak will comment further on that, since I did not write the article.

  3. I did not intend to bother you any further, Sarah. I was commenting on things Surak wrote and theological flaws and logical assumptions I noticed in his comments above. I did not expect you to respond. I hope you are well. So, are you saying that my interpretation of a literal Genesis, Adam as the first man, no death before the Fall, and a cataclysmic worldwide flood has only been around for the last 50 years…and only in North America? If Dr. Schroeder’s theories supersede my views, does that then mean that Dr. Schroeder’s interpretations of the Old Testament and theories of time-dilation as they apply to Biblical chronology are more than 50 years old? Besides, as insightful as you may think they are, Dr. Schroeder’s opinions are merely unprovable theories. Do you think we should change 2000 years of Biblical scholarship and Christian theology based on a theory, a theory in which there are problems of inconsistent reasoning? And, I’m wondering exactly to what “overwhelming evidence” are you referring that invalidates my understanding of scripture?

  4. Your view of Genesis has been around in general form for quite some time, but I speak of the more specific and rigid anti-science flavor that young earth creationists have adopted since the 1960s.

    The Belgic Confession, which dates back to the 16th century, holds that there is no discrepancy between scripture and science, since both were given to us by God. Further, it says that if there is a seeming discrepancy between the two, it’s because we have misunderstood the data, scripture, or both. You do not seem to accept the possibility that our understanding of scripture could ever be flawed.

    If you read Nahmanides and Maimonides you will understand that the particular view of Genesis to which you hold is predated by commentary that is far more in agreement with the record of nature, which wasn’t discovered until hundreds of years later.

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