Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Refuting attacks on the concept of "Two Books of Revelation"

The "Two Books" view of divine revelation not only has a long pedigree in Christianity but has been part of our community's intellectual heritage since before its official formation. In 1837, John Thomas wrote:
The Advocate: For the Testimony of God as it is Written in the Books of Nature and Revelation CONDUCTED BY JOHN THOMAS, M.D. The invisible attributes of God, even his eternal power and divinity, since the creation of the world, are very evident; being known by his works.—PAUL. All scripture given by divine inspiration, is profitable for doctrine, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect—completely fitted for every good work.—PAUL. [1]
As these words were written over twenty years before Darwin published the first edition of The Origin of Species, any assertions that the "Two Books" approach was invented solely to legitimate evolutionary creationism are demonstrably false. The concept of God revealing himself through two complementary "books" has nothing to to with evolution, but rather recognises the fact that if the Bible is a reliable guide to God's purpose with humanity, then the natural world should likewise be a reliable witness to its own origins.

As I've mentioned earlier, the always-excellent Facebook page Science and Scripture is running a multi-part series critiquing a recent paper by Mark Alfree and Matt Davies, two Christadelphian writers who deny the fact of evolution, which criticised the "Two Books" approach. Parts 1-5 can be found here:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

The entire series is eminently quotable, but this excerpt from part 5 in my opinion gets to the heart of the problem with their opposition to the 'two books' approach:
Since Mark [Alfree] and Matt [Davies] already agree that the Bible’s revelation will be in harmony with established scientific facts, they should acknowledge that if evolution is indeed a fact then our understanding of Scripture may need to be changed accordingly. Consequently, Mark and Matt need to demonstrate scientifically that evolution is not a fact; it is not enough for them to simply cite their preferred interpretation of various Bible verses.
Precisely. To date, no compelling refutation of evolutionary biology acknowledged as such by mainstream science has ever emerged from our community. Until that happens, any opposition to evolution emerging from our community carries no weight and can be safely ignored.