Previously the tools of Literary Criticism were mentioned. The nature of the object being examined determines the modes of knowing. When we study the stars a telescope or radio telescope is used or maybe a simulated computer model; a tunnelling electron microscope is not used although an electron microscope may well increase our knowledge of atoms or matter in some way that will increase our understanding of the stars.
In science there are many disciplines. There are very many different tools and techniques used in the disciplines. Exactly what tool or technique used depends on what is studied and what particular characteristics are in question.
These tools and techniques are used under the scientific method which is itself a tool and approach. Hypotheses are advanced and tested; the frontiers of knowledge are pushed back. New models are conceptualised to explain more fully what is now known of reality or how reality may actually be. Take for example the theory of the atom. Historically the atom was considered like a plum pudding. It was known there were electrons and protons, which were imagined to be all clumped together like the ingredients in a plum pudding. It was then said that this model was obsolete as the atom was now thought of as a nucleus containing protons and neutrons, around which orbited the electrons similar to how the planets orbit the sun. Years later more advanced theory of the atom is taught where the electrons occupy the orbitals, 1s, 2s, and so on, which are actually different energy levels, the location of the electrons are in clouds of probabilities etc. This explains the atom a lot better. However research still continues to taste and see all the flavours and colours of the atom.
Science is imperfect, it is not complete, (nor is prophecy, 1Cor. 14:9!). Science has not yet discovered everything, does not know everything. Even if a working theory of "Everything" was arrived at that explained quantum mechanics and astral physics both together we are so much more than that. Science as we know it is concerned with such a small fraction of creation, according to Christian beliefs.
This is not an attack on science, the facts and discoveries of science should be acknowledged. Personally I enjoy science. However the limitations of science must be faced, if a God who is God exists would he be subject to science? Of course not, the very definition of God spurns the concept. It is no use trusting in science in the face of God who has omni science. C.S. Lewis wrote "Christian theology can fit in science, art, morality, and the sub-Christian religions. The scientific point of view can not fit in any of these things, not even science itself." Screwtape Proposes a Toast and Other Pieces; Fount Paperbacks 1977, page 58, in the "Is Theology Poetry?" piece.
Logical thought is a very valuable and useful thing to have. Personally I believe a lot of people should be more logical. If logical thought is likened to a screwdriver, then with it screws can be screwed in or out. The screwdriver may also be used as a lever, or used to scrape putty out of a window frame although a chisel would be better. There would also be other uses a screwdriver can be applied to, all in all a very useful tool. However if there is a nut and bolt tightly done up then a screwdriver would not do, a spanner would be the tool for the task.
Logic is good and useful however there are limitations. In some cases a story or metaphor would be more useful in application. According to the left hemisphere/right hemisphere theory of brain function the left hemisphere deals with areas like logic, analytical thought and categorization etc. The right hemisphere carries imagination, intuition, artistic creation and so on. As God has made both the right and left hemisphere of the brain then it is only right to use a mixed and integrated approach to his word and of course open to the Holy Spirit's revelation of the scripture. Wisdom from above is open to reason James 3:17.
To take a scientific standpoint only of the scriptures does not do them justice and will impoverish the one who does so. Using the scientific method as the basis of our approach is limiting upon what can be gained. Take the biological knowledge of today and weigh it up with the biblical concept of begetting.
Biologically we know that a person has twenty-three pairs of chromosomes, (if all is right). Half of these forty-six chromosomes came from the father and half from the mother. There is also some genetic material in the mitochondria organelles of the cells. The father contributed none of the genetic material in the mitochondria; it came from the mother's gamete cell, the egg or ova. The sperm's mitochondria, the powerhouse for its beating tail is discarded at conception once the head of the sperm fuses with the egg. So biologically offspring have more DNA from the mother than the father. Genetically it could be said more the offspring of the mother than the father.
In the biblical world-view children were thought to have been begotten by the father-the male parent. The idea being that the seminal fluid from the male was what gave rise to a person after being placed in the woman's womb. The seed for a child was only from the male. The female's role was to incubate the male's seed for the required period. The exception in the bible is one of the first prophesies of a messiah to come Gen. 3:15, which speaks of the seed of the woman in contradiction to the contemporary thinking of the time. The reason is that the Christ had no biological father, Luke l: 34-35.
Biologically the bible is wrong. However should the biblical notion of begetting children be weighed and assessed only by the biological knowledge of this present age? There is a common saying "When in Rome do as the Romans do." The bible needs to be read on its own terms so as to understand. The apostle Paul, without compromising the Gospel, changed his approach of spreading the Gospel depending on who the recipients were. In 1 Corinthians 9:19-22 Paul says "For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews; to those under the law-though not being myself under the law- I became as one under the law that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law-not being without law toward God but under the law of Christ-that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some."
When Paul wrote Romans he certainly put in practice the above. Paul used the customs and practices of the Romans in order to communicate the theological and eschatological points he wanted to teach those he wrote to, and these people were Romans. In the Roman's epistle Paul talks about eagerly waiting for adoption as sons, Rom. 8:23, and being heirs of God, Rom. 8:17. For the Romans in their time a son is the one the father has chosen and adopted to be his son. Even though a child can be sired by a roman man, borne by his wife and raised in his house it is not until the man officially adopts the boy as his son is it considered that the child is the man's son. When the man actually adopts his own son, the boy or man, depending at what age the adoption takes place, becomes the father's son and heir. If a roman man was to adopt a child of a slave of whom he was not the natural father then that boy who was a slave would now be considered the son of the man with all the rights and privileges of a son and heir. This adopted son's rights and privileges take precedence over the males naturally descended, if they were not also adopted. Legally, in roman times, sonship was by adoption.
Just as Paul wrote Romans using the familiar forms of reference of those he wrote to so too does being familiar with the biblical frames of reference of the people, places and times advantageous to better discern the truths contained therein. Or at least be aware of the possible need for this before making a judgment of what the scripture is saying.
The biblical view of how children arrive in the womb is incorrect biologically; yet do not let this knowledge preclude the coming to know. The concept of begetting children is valid theologically not biologically. 1Cor.l5:50 admit that it's not flesh and blood that will inherit the kingdom of God. Rather it is the free election of God, his sovereign choice that he calls us to be children of God (Rom.9:l4-29), by receiving his implanted Word. 1Peter 1:23 states "You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God." God used the anachronistic understanding of the begetting of children to explain the truth in the spiritual, although wrong in the physical. The bible is a spiritual book and operating from a natural mindset is detrimental-"The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned." 1Cor2:14. To see God's kingdom a man must be born again which is birthed by the spirit of God, see John3:3; so of course the bible seems like folly when it is approached with the natural eyes only.
The scriptures need to be read on their own terms before they can be understood properly. There is the need to take off the conceit of knowledge in order to receive the knowledge of God. Let not knowledge and wisdom be a snare for us from understanding, from obtaining the knowledge of salvation and personally knowing God and Jesus the saviour. Even from God begetting us!
Most Christians do not have a degree in theology, nor can they read New Testament Greek or ancient Hebrew, let alone being learned in the different fields of science, but they have been granted God's precious and very great promises. Even some whom would argue that the biological view of conception is wrong, as it is non-biblical! Their lack of education in these areas does not preclude them from coming to know and receiving nourishment from the word, for Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
Here is a parable of opposing views demonstrating wrongful approaches. The Greek slave Aesop was telling the fable "The Hare and Tortoise." The Hare had been telling all the other animals how fast he was when the Tortoise seeing his arrogance challenged him to race. At the start line they set off and of course the Hare bounded ahead so that soon Tortoise was not even in sight. The Hare chuckled to himself and slackened his pace. The Hare then spied some tasty succulent grass at the roadside. "Why not stop and eat," thought Hare, "this race is a picnic." After Hare had eaten he thought, "Lets rest a bit and let my lunch settle, I'm so fast I can easily zoom ahead if Tortoise were to reach me." So Hare rested in the warm sun and promptly fell asleep. Soon after the Tortoise plodded by and smi1ed when he saw the Hare.
When Hare awoke he thought "I better go and win this race now." and ran off. As the Hare neared the finish he heard all the other animals cheering and looking he saw the Tortoise almost at the finish line. Putting on a great burst of speed the Hare was not able to pass Tortoise and lost the race.
Among those listening was Professor Sceptical Scientist and also Mr. Fundamental Biblical Literalist who just happened to think that the story told was from the bible. The Scientist scoffed and said, "That's ridiculous! I know animals don't talk and stage races with each other." the Fundamental Biblical Literalist, always ready to make a defence replied, "Of course they do! It's in the bible so there!"
Now we know animals do not talk as we do or stage races with each other. Aesop was not talking about animals but rather humans and their good and bad qualities. Just as Aesop portrayed truths of human nature in fables where animals are personified so too are two types of approach shown to be wrong by using a gross and blatant exaggeration; (in this case the Scientist would not make that error). Neither approach does the bible justice. Even if the fable was in the bible, and the book of Proverbs in the bible does say similar things about diligence, pride and sloth, this would not mean that animals do talk like people, or that we are to believe they do. So too is the believing that humans are begotten in the biological sense not a requirement for believing in the bible. The disbelief of a physical begetting does not constitute disbelief in the bible. The wrong way of believing in the bible, the logic that because God's creating is portrayed in the seven day format must mean a week as experienced in the physical is not accurate, and it is not reasonable. Although an absolute literalistic belief approach to interpreting Genesis and the rest of the bible would attribute truth to it the person and their interpretation will be wrong; for one thing chapter one would be at variance with chapter two. This does not mean God does not mean what he says or that the bible or Genesis is not true. The Word of God uses parables; God is a maker of allegories.
God is a God of light. Proverbs 19:2 states "It is not good for a man to be without knowledge and he who makes haste with his feet misses his way." Christians should be open to reason, see James 3:17. Zeal should be augmented with knowledge.