Oct 24, 2013

Al Mohler and the Storehouses of Hail

No one really follows the Bible.  The folks so fond of its manifold condemnations of homosexuality ignore its teachings on slavery, usury, and blood sausage; the tinfoil-hat-wearing prophecy enthusiasts largely shut down when confronted with Jesus' words about "this generation will certainly not pass away" (spoiler alert: it did) or "all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet"; and nobody but nobody believes in firmament cosmology anymore.

The thing is--and those who have read the Bible can back me up on this--there are certain minor incongruities between the Biblical account and reality as it is observed to be, and between Biblical teaching and what have since been found to be dietary, moral, and legal principles conducive to human wellbeing.  The core difference between liberals and conservatives is that liberals admit this--and can therefore occasionally be argued into a less harmful interpretation--whereas conservatives do not.

These differing approaches naturally come to bear on our aforementioned incongruities.  Conservatives either deny that they are falsehoods (young earth creationism), or else deny that they're in there (firmament cosmology).  This denial can reach hilarious levels, such as Al Mohler claiming that the cosmos looks old because God made it look old (this is more broadly known as the Omphalos Hypothesis, or Last Thursdayism).  So determined is Al that the Bible be right about creation that he actually proposes a God that deceives us by planting evidence contrary to revealed truth.  The firmament keeping out the water above the stars, or the foundations of the earth, on the other hand ... nada*.

Liberals admit that the Bible says what it says, and (usually) admit when what it says is wrong, but they deny that it means what it says.  For instance: the first chapters of Genesis are a poem of creation or a parable or a record of people's ideas about God and not really a history.  See? they say, that's a metaphor** just like those passages about storehouses of hail!  Except not, because firmament cosmology really was the going world picture in the time and place of the Bible's writing, and the Biblical authors really do reference it extensively, and not just as metaphor: they praise God for making it and include stories (the Tower of Babel) which make precisely zero sense without it.

Conveniently, both sides have done excellent work demolishing the other.  Follow, as Bishop Ussher did, the Bible's chronology: so-and-so begat so-and-so when he was however-many-years old.  That goes from Adam (made on the sixth morning-and-evening day) to Solomon, and a slightly more approximate chronology goes from there to historical events whose date is independently corroborated.  The Earth, according to the Bible, is young.  The Bible really does say that, and conservatives really do believe it, and they should like to know on what authority liberals reject it.  Of course, liberals reject it on account of it being retarded, which leaves them in the tight spot of either admitting that large chunks of the Bible are wrong, or else pretending that it doesn't actually mean what it very plainly says.

Liberals are right: if the Bible really means that the earth is 6000 years old, then it necessarily falls.  Conservatives are also right: start explaining away the bits you find ridiculous, and there's just nowhere to stop.  You have a book which is either a) wrong or b) metaphor on point after point of morality, cosmology, and history, and you want people to just take its word on the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, and Heaven?  Both sides think not--and both are right.
*Google only turns up three links (one bad and none promising) for "Al Mohler firmament".  If I'm wrong on this, correct me, because that would be amazing.

**"It must be a metaphor because what it actually says is stupid" is a terrible argument--you can't just nebulize a text into respectability, though FSM knows that was more or less what I was up to most of my years as liberal Christian.

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