Saturday, 08 December 2012
This is a question that every Christian may face at some point in their life, if they have not many times already. What would you do if you came across strong evidence, as close to definitive proof, that science, history, etc. was inconsistent with a particular section of the Bible, or your interpretation of it?
As an example, let's say we find Goliath's skeleton and it turns out to be 5 foot 3 inches, not the monstrous 9+ foot tall individual described in scripture.
Or as a more relevant example to many American Christians, I will borrow a crude notion of evolution often used in Creationist circles. Let's say one day a population of chimpanzees turns into humans, showing that speciation, the generation of new species from old ones, is indeed factual, giving definitive proof of evolution in a relatable organism.
Or to hit closer to home, what would you do if we found Jesus' bones, without any question, laying right where the gospels say He was laid to rest, effectively disproving His physical resurrection?
An appropriate answer for what you would do in any of these scenarios, or some others you can come up with, is not, "That will never happen so I don't have to worry about it." I want you to imagine that these do happen and the probability that they are correct is 99.9999999%. In other words, you'd be deceiving yourself if you said you didn't believe them.
So what would you do?
Would you throw out the Bible? Would you throw out that book of the Bible? That chapter? The relevant verses?
Would you determine that the Bible is fallible? How would that affect the way you read the rest of the Bible?
Would you state that your interpretation of that section of the Bible has been wrong all this time? What if you can't think of another equally likely (or even close to that) interpretation of those verses? And let's say you asked every pastor, priest and rabbi and they didn't have a good alternative interpretation either?
Would you simply throw out the data that conflicts with scripture or your understanding scripture?
Or do you have some other way to deal with this cognitive dissonance?
How do you respond? Has something like this ever happened before, and what was done to address the contradiction? What would you do if something proved scripture false?