The Heavens Aren't Telling The Glory of God?

The greatest presenting challenge for literalists is the constant struggle they must wage against the witness of creation. To maintain the integrity of their approach to Holy Scripture, battle must be waged against physics, astronomy, biology, and all of the other ways in which human beings have come to understand the depth and complexity of God's creation.

This is an odd thing, as the the hard sciences seem to only deepen our awareness of the vastness of what God has wrought. For all of our sophistication, the intricate immensity of spacetime is not lessened by scientific insight. If anything, science shows us a Creation that seems even more majestic and humbling than when Psalm 8 marveled at it, more terrifying and inscrutable than when God appeared to Job out of the whirlwind.

To quote my main man John Calvin:
"There are innumerable evidences both in heaven and on earth that declare His wonderful wisdom; not only those more recondite matters for the closer observation of which astronomy, medicine, and all natural science are intended, but also those which thrust themselves upon the sight of even the most untutored and ignorant persons." Institutes of the Christian Religion, III.I.v.2
But while none of those evidences...none...are antethetical to a vigorous and living faith in Jesus Christ, they completely incompatible with inerrancy as a doctrine. When Holy Scripture stops being viewed as the rule of life and faith, and instead gets mutated into a schematic diagram of the mechanics of the universe, suddenly Christians are obliged to engage in all sorts of absurdity.

Though creation says it ain't, inerrancy demands that we say it's just a few thousand years old. The earth and the heavens bear witness...but we plug our ears and say LALALALAICAN'THEARYOULALALA at the top of our presuppositional lungs. The purpose of Holy Scripture is to give meaning and import to the natural order that God has prescribed, not to blind us to it.

Here, literal inerrancy has formally done the tag-team swap with ecclesiastical inerrancy in the battle against creation. Moons around Jupiter? Rings around Saturn? It can't be! Geologic Time? Light that's reached us from the other side of the Milky Way? It is forbidden!

But it isn't just creation that literalism must deny. Literalism also must do battle with Biblical passages that articulate the basic assumptions of Near Eastern cosmology. If you're not taking them literally, you can delight in their poetry and celebrate their love of creation. If you are taking them literally, then you've got some work to do if you're going to appear sane.

Take, for instance, the kerfuffle over the term "raqi," which means a solid dome, and was used by the ancient Hebrews to explain the nature of the sky. It's the word "firmament," and it was into this solid mass that the stars and planets were fixed. As with most of the other ancient near-Eastern cultures, the ancient Hebrews viewed the heavens as a fixed barrier, behind which were held the waters of heaven. But such language poses a huge problem for literalism, which is why there's a huge multi-page essay on the site of Answers in Genesis (the founding organization of the Creation Museum) explaining why that word doesn't mean what it always means in it's historical and Scriptural context.

Read that essay through to the author's grudging conclusion. That conclusion is..that human languages are an inadequate vehicle for the fullness of God's truth, and ancient cosmologies aren't adequate vessels for the complexity of God's creation, which we are coming to know fully now. Meaning you can't take them literally.

Couldn't have said it better myself.