Veracity

By Sigrid Fowler

All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views  and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.

            These days, I’m thinking about attacks on the authority of Scripture. Human history, especially from the last several centuries, has produced many nay-sayers who, like the snake, murmur, “Did God really say . . .?” in various forms and formats. Truth rings in different ways in this ear and that. Whether or not to believe the Bible is a decision that lands in each particular life, yours and mine. The Bible doesn’t argue the existence of God, the authority of the Bible, or even monotheism as opposed to polytheism. It simply puts down statements like the following: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1: 1); “The fool says in his heart, there is no God” (Pss 14: 1; 53: 1); “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is One” (Deut 6: 4); “Thy word is true from the beginning” (Ps 119:160); “All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Tim 3: 16a); and “The Word became flesh and lived among us . . . full of grace and truth” (John 1: 14). Jesus said,  “I am . . ..” many times—e.g., “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14: 6). We come to our own conclusions about these things—the reality of God, biblical authority, the life, death, and claims of Jesus of Nazareth, as well as arguments of nay-sayers in all those categories.

            What I have to say here reflects some moments when the veracity of Scripture fully  dawned on me. Perhaps some of my steps in this direction will make sense to you. 

            One biblical passage that has the ring of truth for me is the flood story. It became a part of my life the day I heard about research by an engineer who decided to calculate how much water it would take to cover all the mountains of earth. He worked out this question using his professional expertise then connected his findings to another calculation—how much water would come down as rain if volcanic activity disturbed a global vapor canopy. Till that day, I hadn’t noticed Genesis 2: 5-6 (“the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the land . . . and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground”). I knew that remains of woolly mammoths were found frozen in Siberia—quick-frozen, it seems, green plants still in their stomachs—suggesting a whole greenhouse world. Such a global vapor canopy figured in the engineer’s conclusion, and the whole thing made sense to me. Something else—the rainbow promise (Gen 9: 14-16) seemed the announcement of new occurrence. A rainbow would be a new phenomenon in a world with a newly-opened sky, a sky no longer covered by a vapor canopy. Also, humans, becoming vulnerable to cosmic radiation, would age more quickly. NASA says this: “Virtually any cell in the body is susceptible to radiation damage.” The space program writer continues, noting “long-term health consequences of radiation exposure such as cancer, as well as adverse effects to the central nervous and cardiovascular systems” (https://www.nasa.gov/ feature/space-radiation-is-risky-business-for-the-human-body). The shorter lifespans after the flood make sense.

            All this has become for me a won’t-be-budged respect for the plain text of Scripture, the words taken just as they appear on the page. Something else occurred to me when I was mulling over the findings of that engineer. I confronted myself: “Are you really believing the Bible because modern science says it’s all right to?” It seemed an utterly foolish position, as if “modern science” were the unshakeable, unalterable bottom line, my final authority in questions about nature and human life, questions about reality. Maybe I was deifying science.

            Oddly, a line from Shakespeare at one point also became a factor. Perhaps you remember this frequent quote from Hamlet: “The lady doth protest too much methinks.” Queen Gertrude says this to Hamlet (3.2.219). He has asked what she thinks of the play they’re watching. Also watching, we know the play within the play is a trap Hamlet has set to spring out the guilt of the king, maybe her guilt too. The moment is significant. Protesting too much? The expression stuck. To my ears, the universal, determined, and apparently successful attack on biblical authority by nay-sayers seems just that. We’re in a new normal, a foolish status quo that makes the Bible a mix of superstition, fairytale, legend, and Ancient Middle Eastern myth. Why such insistence if the Book is no more than that? It seems phony. (sigridfowler.com)

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