(Note: An earlier conversation between Albert, Beth, and Chris took place here.)
Albert gets up on a soapbox and says, “The earth was created in six days and is only several thousand years old, because the book of Genesis says so!”
Albert steps down. Beth steps onto the soapbox and says, “The earth is a few billion years old. The book of Genesis is not entirely clear on this, but science is pretty clear, and science clears up that ambiguity for us.”
Beth steps down. Now Chris gets up on the soapbox. He says, “The earth is a few billion years old. The book of Genesis says it isn’t, but the book of Genesis is wrong on this point.”
The Obvious Agreement
Beth and Chris share an obvious agreement: that the earth is old.
The Obvious Disagreement
Beth and Albert have an obvious disagreement: They disagree on the age of the earth.
The Underrated Disagreement
Beth and Chris disagree on the authority of Scripture. Beth submits to its authority, and Chris does not. This disagreement concerns the importance of the very book on which their religion is based, the Bible. This disagreement is about what a Christian takes to be authoritative. Beth believes Scripture is a sovereign authority. Chris does not.
The Underrated Agreements
Albert and Chris actually agree on what the Bible says. If they were all performing a disinterested analysis of the biblical text, Albert and Chris might well get together to convince Beth that her exegesis of Genesis is poor!
But here is the really important point: Albert and Beth agree on the fundamental issue, the authority of Scripture, and they should treat each other accordingly: with love and respect.
In short, Beth’s agreement with Chris runs shallow, but her agreement with Albert runs deep.
(More articles at www.ThinkingThroughChristianity.com)
Dr. Mark J. Boone is a teacher and researcher in philosophy, especially the history of philosophy, primarily the ancient and medieval eras, writing his dissertation on Saint Augustine. Dr. Boone is the Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Forman Christian College. Mark is an occasional book reviewer for the journal Augustinian Studies and has written articles dealing with Plato, William James, theology and the arts, and religious epistemology. In some of his precious little spare time Mark makes animated cartoons based on famous speeches and dialogues in the history of philosophy, available on YouTube and Vimeo under the username TeacherofPhilosophy.