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Author Topic: Orthodoxy And Scientific Insights In The Bible  (Read 981 times) Average Rating: 0
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Severian
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« on: July 27, 2012, 09:47:16 AM »

What is the Orthodox view on supposed Scientific insights in the Bible? Some websites like this claim that Scripture has Scientific insights unknown to the people at the time. What is the Church's view on this topic, if there is one?

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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2012, 10:45:24 AM »

Allahu Akbar!
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« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2012, 12:17:59 PM »

What is the Orthodox view on supposed Scientific insights in the Bible? Some websites like this claim that Scripture has Scientific insights unknown to the people at the time. What is the Church's view on this topic, if there is one?

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In one of my Arabic classes, two Muslims told everyone of the Quran's multiple scientific insights, including: The Quran says the earth is like an egg, therefore it contains advanced geographical knowledge. The Quran condemns eating pigs, and, as modern science has shown, pork is the most unhealthy of all meats.

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« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2012, 12:43:05 PM »

What is the Orthodox view on supposed Scientific insights in the Bible? Some websites like this claim that Scripture has Scientific insights unknown to the people at the time. What is the Church's view on this topic, if there is one?

+Thank you
Allahu Akbar!
In one of my Arabic classes, two Muslims told everyone of the Quran's multiple scientific insights, including: The Quran says the earth is like an egg, therefore it contains advanced geographical knowledge. The Quran condemns eating pigs, and, as modern science has shown, pork is the most unhealthy of all meats.


Arabic word translated egg does not really mean egg, it is actually a verb, IIRC. Isa could probably tell you more about this. While my Egyptian Arabic is quite good, my MS Arabic is a bit limited.
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« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2012, 01:20:55 PM »

My opinion,

I believe that Science was created by God, and that Science must answer to the scriptures, rather than the scriptures being validated/compared/or proven through Scientific analysis.

This is an authority issue, which I believe the scriptures and the authority of God reigns supreme.

The Science within the scriptures is a fascinating subject, and I do not believe that the Orthodox church would cry foul to interesting Science proven by scriptures.
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2012, 02:23:43 PM »

There may be science in the Scriptures, but the Scriptures aren't scientific. That isn't their point. I wouldn't go around touting scientific truths via divine revelation.
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2012, 02:32:36 PM »

There may be science in the Scriptures, but the Scriptures aren't scientific. That isn't their point. I wouldn't go around touting scientific truths via divine revelation.

Agreed.
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« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2012, 02:55:22 PM »

Pretty much. I loves me some science, but I leave work at work. Those who would depend on science to prove or buttress their faith probably don't have much understanding of either.
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« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2012, 04:00:01 PM »

Pretty much. I loves me some science, but I leave work at work. Those who would depend on science to prove or buttress their faith probably don't have much understanding of either.

Well, I don't depend on science to buttress my faith, but it does have that effect on its own. Many times it raises more questions than answers, but I like that. Understanding on even a tiny scale (and for me, it is more like microscopic) how the universe works via scientific discovery leaves me in awe of its Creator.
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« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2012, 04:25:41 PM »

I was referring more to the claims of the Muslims someone else brought up (and similar claims by Evangelical Protestants) that such-and-such specific passage/verse in the text is itself scientific evidence that proves the truth of their religion. I hope we can all agree that such ideas are silly. Faith cannot be proven by science, because faith is not the kind of rational head knowledge that science leads to.
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« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2012, 05:31:48 PM »

I was referring more to the claims of the Muslims someone else brought up (and similar claims by Evangelical Protestants) that such-and-such specific passage/verse in the text is itself scientific evidence that proves the truth of their religion. I hope we can all agree that such ideas are silly. Faith cannot be proven by science, because faith is not the kind of rational head knowledge that science leads to.

Agreed.
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« Reply #11 on: July 27, 2012, 07:04:32 PM »

What is the Orthodox view on supposed Scientific insights in the Bible? Some websites like this claim that Scripture has Scientific insights unknown to the people at the time. What is the Church's view on this topic, if there is one?

+Thank you
Allahu Akbar!
In one of my Arabic classes, two Muslims told everyone of the Quran's multiple scientific insights, including: The Quran says the earth is like an egg, therefore it contains advanced geographical knowledge. The Quran condemns eating pigs, and, as modern science has shown, pork is the most unhealthy of all meats.




LOLOLOLOL

 laugh laugh laugh

on the other hand , they are in a sense,effectively implementing the evolutionary theory of the male species passing on the genetic material to more than one select and protected female of the species as to increase the chances of procreation and survival of the species to continue the cycle of surviving just for the purpose of passing on the genes.

therefore Darwinian Evolution is also found in the Quran.... eh.. nope!  hehehehe
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« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2012, 11:48:12 PM »

Perhaps I should rephrase the question, what is the significance of these insights to us as Orthodox?
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« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2012, 12:30:33 AM »

They are insignificant.  I used to think they might be, but they're just meaningless interpretations of certain scriptural verses, and borderline Bibliolatry.  We should be mindful of the fact that, as Origen taught, that some parts of the Scriptures may be historically or scientifically incorrect (fiction or doesn't make sense), but interwoven into factual parts to paint an allegorical picture for the New Testament.  One Catholic bishop once put it, "The Scriptures tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heaven goes."

Muslims depend so much on their Quran being magical and inerrant, borderline worshipped.  Christians depend on the Scriptures to reveal to us the important teachings of the gospel and the Christian faith, and so highly venerated.  Any Protestant that wishes to maintain the inerrancy of the Scriptures pretty much also seem to see the Bible as almost the literal Word of God, the second person of the Trinity in written format.
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« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2012, 12:37:38 AM »

Perhaps I should rephrase the question, what is the significance of these insights to us as Orthodox?


My .02 cents? ...

that the bible  first and formost is not a scientific book,if it was , then that it contained only those insights would have made it the most poorly written scientific journal ever by the creator of all that exists! do you see how ludicrous it sounds? it does to me.

however it is not and in the supreme truth it is trying to convey to us humans with our limitted language and understanding, it contains in it certain physical realities that science can measure, study and prove. thus the presence of these measurable and verifiable issues does not make / limit / the bible into being a scientific book or one that attempts to rely on scientific facts known to us, to convey the transcendant reality. even with the present day ' quantum physics' rage, that has within certain circles become synonymous with  all sorts of new age validation of wacko theories and religious convictions, even that is way below the Truth that is being imparted to humanity in the Bible. The bible proclaims the most outrageous claim known to humanity... if we treat it as a book of science I am afraid ,we will miss the entire point of its existence.

so while I am quite delighted with the added insights into the known reality to be congruent with certain events  in the Bible, the main purpose of the Bible is far grander than the known reality. a territory that can not be touched by Science due to the inherent limitations of its methods and the unknowablity of the Author of Creation. He keeps certain mysteries even about His creations up His 'sleeves'.. so ...'' that which eyes have not seen, have not been thought of in human's heart'',... language like this science does not speak... so it is far inferior although what it proves and brings to light,remains part of the grand. so if one finds certain elements of the inferior wisdom here and there used to covey the purpose of the grand , I would not be too suprised..or put too much emphasis on the grand to be atempting to prove the inferior.

forgive me for babbling on, I am tired and sleepy..

I am of course willing to be corrected in all of the above  Wink

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« Reply #15 on: July 28, 2012, 12:39:01 AM »

Ah , mina answered you while I was babbling on, .... there what he said ! Grin
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« Reply #16 on: July 28, 2012, 12:41:47 AM »

 One Catholic bishop once put it, "The Scriptures tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heaven goes."
I thought Galileo was the one who said this. Anyway, good post. So do you think that the supposed insights mentioned in the above link are not insights at all rather misinterpretations of the Scriptures? I also think many individuals in our own Coptic Orthodox Church view the Bible the way many Protestant fundies do, unfortunately.
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« Reply #17 on: July 28, 2012, 12:57:02 AM »

 One Catholic bishop once put it, "The Scriptures tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heaven goes."
I thought Galileo was the one who said this. Anyway, good post. So do you think that the supposed insights mentioned in the above link are not insights at all rather misinterpretations of the Scriptures? I also think many individuals in our own Coptic Orthodox Church view the Bible the way many Protestant fundies do, unfortunately.

If you don't mind me throwing my $.02 in (because I like this discussion): I think it's easy to see what you want to see, especially when you have hindsight on your side. Like the verse in Isaiah referring to God sitting on "the circle of the earth"- now that we know for a fact that the earth is round... well, if you're trying to trump up verses to make the Bible look ahead of its time scientifically, how do you not read your knowledge into what it's saying to reach that end?

I think Hiwot's point is excellent:

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the bible  first and formost is not a scientific book,if it was , then that it contained only those insights would have made it the most poorly written scientific journal ever by the creator of all that exists! do you see how ludicrous it sounds? it does to me.
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« Reply #18 on: July 28, 2012, 01:01:10 AM »

^Fwiw, I have heard some say that the word translated 'circle' in that verse is ambiguous in meaning. I do see your point, however.
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« Reply #19 on: July 28, 2012, 01:05:53 AM »

 One Catholic bishop once put it, "The Scriptures tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heaven goes."
I thought Galileo was the one who said this. Anyway, good post. So do you think that the supposed insights mentioned in the above link are not insights at all rather misinterpretations of the Scriptures? I also think many individuals in our own Coptic Orthodox Church view the Bible the way many Protestant fundies do, unfortunately.
I think some of them are downright wrong!  Take Genesis 3:15 for instance.  In its historical context, woman had no seed, only man.  Therefore to say that the seed of woman would crush the serpent's head would make this verse, in its historical context of the understanding of science of its time, very clear about a virgin birth of a man who will destroy the power of the serpent that lead to the fall of Adam.  To say that this verse alludes to the eggs of a female is not correct at all and misses the point and beauty of this prophecy.  The prophecy carries a significant divine foreknowledge in the guise of human understanding of its time.  As many EO would put it, and I personally like the way they put it, the Scriptures have two natures, a human nature filled with divine grace, i.e. human limited understandings of history and science filled with divine majesty and glory that truly makes it a venerable work.

The Isaiah verse that alludes to the "circle of the earth" does not prove that the Earth was a sphere.  St. Athanasius shared his thoughts of the world was to him, which was a flat, round land suspended on waters below, and filled with clouds above, with the sun, the moon, and the stars moving around this flat, round land we call Earth.
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« Reply #20 on: July 28, 2012, 01:07:26 AM »

^Fwiw, I have heard some say that the word translated 'circle' in that verse is ambiguous in meaning. I do see your point, however.

It was the only example that immediately sprang to mind.  Cheesy
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« Reply #21 on: July 28, 2012, 01:09:42 AM »

 One Catholic bishop once put it, "The Scriptures tells us how to go to heaven, not how the heaven goes."
I thought Galileo was the one who said this. Anyway, good post. So do you think that the supposed insights mentioned in the above link are not insights at all rather misinterpretations of the Scriptures? I also think many individuals in our own Coptic Orthodox Church view the Bible the way many Protestant fundies do, unfortunately.
Also, I agree some Copts are misguided, probably due to trying to compete with the Quran, which seems to be missing the point.  We can go above such petty competitions of which book is more "accurate."  The Quran focuses a lot on physical needs of man.  The Scriptures focus on the spiritual, not waste time on physical truths.  Hopefully, Copts in the future will realize this.  No church is without its dark eras.
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« Reply #22 on: July 28, 2012, 02:13:59 AM »

An interesting comment, Mina. Not to drag things too far off track, but I wouldn't have connected the treatment of the Bible by some Copts with an overall "dark era" that we may or may not be in (probably because I haven't been in the Church for very long, so I'm still learning so much). Am I reading you wrong, or are you saying that we are at a low ebb, not only socially (in the context of the 'new Egypt') but also in terms of theological outlook? Hmmm... Undecided

As to the broader topic of the thread, it strikes me that this "mine the (pesudo-)scientific breakthroughs" approach to the Scriptures can be very much against the allegorical method of Biblical interpretation that is the hallmark of the Alexandrian school (in so far as I understand it, thanks to reading about the School of Alexandria in various Coptic books, listening to interviews with some monks like Fr. Lazarus Al-Antoni, etc.). This way of looking at the scriptures was a big draw for me, so I personally do not like the idea of going back to a very simple and one dimensional Protestant-style proof texting, whether its inspired by a need to answer in the style of those who defend the Qur'an (why should we compete with a book that is full of falsity? Our scriptures are true and holy -- the Qur'an is neither!) or some other reason.
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« Reply #23 on: July 28, 2012, 03:26:44 AM »

I do find that many Copts have been so preoccupied with keeping literal the Bible and forgetting what exactly an allegorical tradition means.

I do want to emphasize that I do recognize some Orthodox who do take certain passages literally, but only because they verify it with a patristic tradition.  This is not the case with the Copts in question, for they simply see the Scriptures as it is, try to interpret it as best as possible that affirms certain scientific truths today, and wherever it seems to contradict, then whatever "science or history" may teach is automatically false to them.  At the very least, those do back themselves up with Patristics, one can at least engage a way to interpret the Church fathers.  For the Copts who don't back themselves up with Patristics, they in fact make themselves no different from Protestants, and may even use Protestant sources to try to back up their interpretation of Scriptures, which is a sad case.

It is a dark era for some Copts now who utilize this method, and lead them to disagree with certain scientific advances.  Copts are a bit selective.  For instance, most Copts don't mind an old earth, or even animal death before the creation of man, but when it comes to evolution, somehow that contradicts Scripture and therefore evolution is wrong.  But I digress.  This is just an example of perhaps an inconsistent method some Copts use to interpret the Scriptures without at the very least the study of Patristics.  At this moment, there is a Patristic revival with Copts, and I look forward to the next generation of Copts who will bring about this shift of mindset for the Church.
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« Reply #24 on: July 28, 2012, 03:46:49 AM »

To answer your question directly, I would not deny that perhaps there may be a few scientific insights within the Bible--like the universe having a beginning for example or God inventing taxonomy by giving Adam the task of naming all the animals--I think that many Christian sects among the Evangelical camp tend to take this idea too far and read the Bible as if it were a science textbook.

This leads to many silly inconsistencies like Young Earth Creationism for example or the sun staying still for Joshua to finish his military campaign etc. And you then see these Evangelical circles going crazy to try and develop absurd pseudo-science theories to try and prove these inaccurate notions.

Ultimately, I believe that this comes from a misunderstanding of the purpose of the Bible. In most instances I would say that science plays no part in a person's salvation--that is, salvation is attainable for anyone regardless of whether they are scientifically literate or an uneducated yokel. That being said, the purpose of the Bible is to act as a tool to aid us in our salvation in accordance with the rest of the Holy Tradition. The purpose of science is to explain us how things work in our world from a mechanical standpoint. In conclusion, the Bible and Science serve two entirely different purposes and it would be absurd in most cases to compare them to each other at all.

I think that many problems arise when science and the Bible overstep each other due to ignorant people. On the one hand--as I mentioned earlier--you see some religious folks who come to all of these crazy unscientific notions like a 10,000 year old Earth. And on the other hand, you have some spiritualist folks who go into the field of science and try to find a spiritual solution to everything when in reality, maybe there just isn't something spiritual about that particular topic! Keep the Bible and Science separate because they serve two different functions.

Is anyone here familiar with the Russian Orthodox philosopher Soloviev? He developed a concept which he called 'abstract principles' where he argued that there are three main types of questions to ask in order to attain a different type of knowledge; 1)the rationalistic, 2) the spiritual and 3) the empirical.
The first mode of knowledge--the rationalistic--tells us how something works and how we can achieve something, the second kind--the spiritual--tells us what we should try to achieve and/or in what direction humanity should go in, and the final one--the empirical--tells us what humans are capable of and reminds us of our real present situation.

They are all meant to be used in accordance with each other. The spiritual tells us in what direction we ought to go in, the rationalistic tells us how we can go about in that direction and the empirical tells us if that goal is truly applicable and possible for humans. He argued that if you isolate one from the other, then it becomes a useless abstract principle. For example, if I take spiritualism without rationalism and empiricism, it becomes useless because without the empiricism I cannot determine if that spiritual goal is really attainable and possible for humans, and without that rationalism I cannot determine the best path to attain that spiritual goal.

How is this relevent? I don't know; but it seemed worth mentioning.
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« Reply #25 on: July 28, 2012, 07:28:01 AM »

If the science is correct, if it affirms Truth, the Orthodoxy will, of course, accept the Truth. However, the main goal of orthodoxy is not the affairs of the world; orthodoxy is much happier entering into direct communion with God, having a relationship with Him, and acquiring direct knowledge of Him through the Grace of The Holy Spirit. Orthodoxy is a science, too -- it deals with how to relate to God and the neighbor and how to worship God (correctly, or the orthodox way). So, it's not so much that orthodoxy may oppose science, but the absolute need for it. There have been Saints who entered Heaven from this life, or who Healed people, or other Miracles; so then, you see why earthly science may come in the way, or seem cumbersome, even obsolete. We have something more Precious & Powerful, we have God Himself who can do anything.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2012, 07:33:17 AM by IoanC » Logged

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« Reply #26 on: July 28, 2012, 11:21:36 PM »

What is the Orthodox view on supposed Scientific insights in the Bible? Some websites like this claim that Scripture has Scientific insights unknown to the people at the time. What is the Church's view on this topic, if there is one?

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In one of my Arabic classes, two Muslims told everyone of the Quran's multiple scientific insights, including: The Quran says the earth is like an egg, therefore it contains advanced geographical knowledge. The Quran condemns eating pigs, and, as modern science has shown, pork is the most unhealthy of all meats.

As someone who roasted pork this evening, I think Science has solved this problem. There were five known instances of commercial pork in the U.S. causing Trichinellosis during the years 2002-2007: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5809a1.htm
Most cases were due to eating bear (for those so inclined). I do not know, but I suspect pork may be safer than beef and chicken these days.
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« Reply #27 on: July 29, 2012, 02:44:10 AM »

What is the Orthodox view on supposed Scientific insights in the Bible? Some websites like this claim that Scripture has Scientific insights unknown to the people at the time. What is the Church's view on this topic, if there is one?

+Thank you
Allahu Akbar!
In one of my Arabic classes, two Muslims told everyone of the Quran's multiple scientific insights, including: The Quran says the earth is like an egg, therefore it contains advanced geographical knowledge. The Quran condemns eating pigs, and, as modern science has shown, pork is the most unhealthy of all meats.

Modern science actually has shown that beef is the most unhealthy of all meats, as the fat calories in them are extremely high and one of the causes of the obesity epidemic....

...plus if one has to choose between trichinella and spongioform diseases, pork over beef any day.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2012, 02:48:19 AM by minasoliman » Logged

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« Reply #28 on: July 29, 2012, 02:57:54 AM »

Amen to that, Mina! My poor brain is porous enough already...at least if my GRE math scores were any indication...
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« Reply #29 on: July 29, 2012, 08:03:19 AM »

What is the Orthodox view on supposed Scientific insights in the Bible? Some websites like this claim that Scripture has Scientific insights unknown to the people at the time. What is the Church's view on this topic, if there is one?

+Thank you
Allahu Akbar!
In one of my Arabic classes, two Muslims told everyone of the Quran's multiple scientific insights, including: The Quran says the earth is like an egg, therefore it contains advanced geographical knowledge. The Quran condemns eating pigs, and, as modern science has shown, pork is the most unhealthy of all meats.

As someone who roasted pork this evening, I think Science has solved this problem. There were five known instances of commercial pork in the U.S. causing Trichinellosis during the years 2002-2007: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5809a1.htm
Most cases were due to eating bear (for those so inclined). I do not know, but I suspect pork may be safer than beef and chicken these days.

Pork is actually safe enough now that you can cook it just to medium, or even medium-rare.
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« Reply #30 on: July 29, 2012, 08:03:19 AM »

My opinion,

I believe that Science was created by God, and that Science must answer to the scriptures, rather than the scriptures being validated/compared/or proven through Scientific analysis.

This is an authority issue, which I believe the scriptures and the authority of God reigns supreme.

The Science within the scriptures is a fascinating subject, and I do not believe that the Orthodox church would cry foul to interesting Science proven by scriptures.

So reality must answer to the bible not the bible to reality?What if the Judeo-Christian Bible is a false document?
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