James put these videos up a few days ago. I was struck by the similarity of the argument of the ID’er compared to the odd ‘philosophical’ argument some Christian thinkers, e.g. Alvin Plantinga, make concerning how the average Christian in the pew doesn’t need to concern themselves with historical biblical criticism because “there is no compelling or even reasonably decent argument for supposing the procedures and assumptions of historical biblical criticism are to be preferred to those of traditional biblical commentary.”
This reminds me of the Marx classic: philosophy is to reality as masturbation is to actual sex.
This mere philosophical swerve may sound good on paper–and hey, let’s face it, lot’s of things sound good and plausible on paper–but when it must pass any sort of reality check it will fail. The “Holy Spirit” showed me in scripture has more dissenting voices than historical biblical criticism, and unfortunately no peer review process. The ultimate problem for dodges such as Plantinga’s, or others who assert that scholars have assumptions and faith-commitments so their faith “beliefs” are just as valid as academic conclusions, is that even if there is “no compelling argument” when the results of both procedures are put side by each one can account for more data and explain the conclusions of the other more easily.
You can verbally masturbate all day about arguments, but when the rubber has to hit the road, historical biblical criticism’s “procedures and assumptions” account for a lot of data. At the same time, these “procedures and asumptions” are rigorously probed and tested– a process that is usually not given much due by such critics. It’s not as if scholars have a reverse creed of “The Bible says it, I believe it, so it’s true;” “The Bible says it, I don’t believe it, so it’s not true!” In fact, while those who wish to paint biblical historical criticism with a large brush and negative connotations as anti-spiritual or anti-faith, I have in fact found this to be a concern to very few scholars. Personally, I know of no one that engages in scholarship to “destroy faith.”
Yes, historical biblical scholarship has assumptions and procedures, BUT, those assumptions are–or should be–rigorously probed, tried, criticized, and tested. A lot different scenario than hiding under a tendentious philosophical shield of “no good argument” which basically means, “I’m going to stick my head in the sand and don’t you confuse me with any of that there book learnin’ or facts.”