Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!
Does Concordism Fail?
Denis Lamoureux argues in his book Evolutionary Creation against concordism–the view that there is correspondence between science and Scripture. His argument proceeds by tracing various difficulties found in the biblical text for those who want to argue that it is scientifically accurate. This argument is lengthy, so interested readers should go to the book itself, but he basically appeals to things like the apparent belief in a 3-tiered universe, the notion of the “firmament” as a solid dome across the sky, and more in order to try to demonstrate that the attempt to show that concordism must reinterpret these texts rather than allow them to speak to their background worldview.
After rather exhaustively making this point, he asserts:
It is obvious that scientific concordism fails. There is no correspondence between the conceptualization of nature in the Book of God’s Words and our common knowledge of the Book of God’s Works. (149)
Lamoureux’s argument is lengthy and challenging. I think it presents at least two major difficulties for concordists. First, his argument demands that we who are concordists take the texts seriously at what they are teaching. If we want to affirm that the Bible is scientifically accurate, then we cannot simply dismiss these apparent discussions of a three-tier universe, firmament, and more as “background understandings” of the ancients. Instead, for the sake of consistency, we must explain how these texts will be in concord with a right scientific understanding. This task is one I will not undertake, but I think some have done an admirable job in this regard, particularly groups like Reasons to Believe.
Second, it provides a direct attack at the roots of the concordist position: can the concordist justify their position through the Bible rather than falling into the danger of misrepresenting what the Bible actually teaches and what the authors’ understanding actually was?
I do not take these challenges as insurmountable, but they do provide food for thought. I am wary of arguing the Bible should be anything like a science textbook, and particularly wary of thinking that it might have some kind of prophetic 21st century science written into the background. However, I am equally wary of acting as though the Bible has nothing to say about the natural world and that we can just blithely dismiss anything it might say as background understanding.
What are your thoughts? Does concordism fail? What is the best way to treat the interplay between Christianity and science?
Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)
Denis O. Lamoureux, Evolutionary Creation (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2008).