I believe that the conversation matters. If in the attempt to realize the reign of God on earth, we cannot engage one another in respectful and grace-filled dialogue, we might as well not even try.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
Billy and the Dinosaur
In today's paper, Billy Graham says that God "created the dinosaurs. They aren't mentioned in the Bible, however, because they were extinct by the time it was written." The more you think about this seemingly innocent comment, the more profound it becomes. Following are my honest questions arising from Graham's observation:
- Question: Why didn't God reveal to the authors of the Bible any information about dinosaurs? Did God pick and choose what to reveal for recording and what not to?
- Question: In order for the dinosaurs to come into existence, flourish, and die out by the time the Bible was written, it seems the earth must be more than a few thousand years old, as the Bible indicates. Does this mean the Bible is not literally true, then?
- Question: Can the Bible properly be called "inerrant" if it fails to mention any hint about the creatures that ruled the planet earth for millenia? Isn't that ommission a "mistake"?
- Question: The omission of dinosaurs was due to the historical context of the Biblical authors, who simply did not have the knowledge of dinosaurs to include. To what other issues might this principle apply? Women leadership in church? Homosexuality? Slavery? The establishment of Christendom? Prosperity / Poverty?
In his simple remark about dinosaurs, Rev. Graham has placed a big emphasis on historical context in the writing and the interpretation of the Bible. He is saying that the Bible was written by particular people who had a particular knowledge base at a particular time in a particular place. Learning about the Bible, therefore, seems to require learning a lot about those particulars, then interpreting the message for our own contexts.
The more we know about the context in which the Bible was written, the more the Bible comes alive for our own context. I was taught by "School House Rock" that "Knowledge is power!" Slogan for the day: "KNOW MORE."