Jesus loves me this I know – for the bible tells me so.
This post is about why reference to scripture and the Christian bible in particular is valid in discussions of the human condition.
Regardless of where you come down on Christianity or the doctrine of biblical infallibility it is a simple fact that for the better part of the last 1500 years the compendium of writing that comprises the Christian bible in various translations has provided a common context and language in the west for the deepest problems of human existence. Few people would argue against the moral imperatives of the ten commandments or the sermon on the mount and the validity of their claims on the lives of men. In fact it is well known that the teaching of the Christian bible shares a high degree of correlation with other great spiritual writing in both eastern and western traditions. I would argue that the fundamental issues of the human condition have not changed radically in the last 2500 years. If the teachings of The Buddha are still relevant (as I believe they are) then based on the correlation of these religious teachings no less the Christian bible.
Some may argue that science has enlightened us so that we can move beyond the superstitions of the ancients. Not only is this idea refuted by the ancients themselves: the fool has said in his heart there is no God (Editor: he is like a man who sits in a tree and cuts off the tree instead of the branch), but the idea itself is logically inconsistent. Science is limited to the realm of the physical and therefore is incapable of definitive statements in the realm of the metaphysical.
Some would point to the excesses and inhumanity practiced in the name of God both in the past and present as proof the teaching of the bible (among other writings) represent the worst rather than the best revelation of the divine. This logic is equally flawed, ignoring as it must that those practices are also identified and condemned in the bible (among other writings) as common human corruption. Will you blame the revelation for the sins of men when it clearly warns them of the danger and outcome of their wickedness?
To discount the authority of the bible is to ignore centuries of successful application of its wisdom to the lives and struggles of men. To discount the relevance of its message is to ignore the discourse of centuries of both the learned and unschooled exploring how man is to find his way in this world and beyond. Denying the bible its say in matters of the human spirit is like disallowing the works of Shakespeare from a discussion on English literature.
The bible speaks from experience and has earned its place at the table.
Footnote: To eliminate potential confusion about the statement that science cannot make definitive statements about the metaphysical, following the “law of least surprise” I use the term “science” here as it is commonly understood today (see wiki)
Science is in modern use, “often treated as synonymous with ‘natural and physical science’, and thus restricted to those branches of study that relate to the phenomena of the material universe and their laws, sometimes with implied exclusion of pure mathematics. This is now the dominant sense in ordinary use.”
Science by this definition excuses itself from areas of study that are not based on phenomena of the material universe. Since God claims to be spirit and truth, definitive statements about Him are outside the boundary implicit in our understanding of the word “science”.