A Scientific Lesson in Avoiding Theologial Nonsense

During a recent business trip out West, I read Thomas Gold’s The Deep Hot Biosphere: The Myth of Fossil Fuels. In a nutshell, Gold’s thesis is that oil is an inorganic or “abiogentic” substance that the earth produces naturally. I got interested in the topic when I was lamenting to a friend that it’s too bad that oil isn’t a renewable resource. He responded saying that perhaps it was and referred me to an article at World Net Daily, which in turn led me to Gold’s book.  As World Net puts it; “The theory is simple: Crude oil forms as a natural inorganic process which occurs between the mantle and the crust, somewhere between 5 and 20 miles deep.”  As one reviewer on Amazon reminisced after hearing Gold lecture years ago,  “Gold started out, ‘I always thought it strange that before the dinosaurs died, the majority of them hiked to Saudi Arabia!'”

Gold does a good job of mustering any number of compelling pieces of evidence to support his theory, which, of course, has direct geopolitical implications as fear mongers and environmental religionists use everything from the “War on Terror” to BP’s little leak to justify everything from our continued meddling abroad to attempts here at home to pass things like the authoritarian and intrusive “Cap and Tax” legislation.   Admittedly, Gold does goes off into la-la land  by using his theory of a “deep hot biosphere” to support the evolutionary myth concerning the origins of life.  But, my interest here is neither science, politics, evolution, or even oil.   Rather, it has to do with logic and theology.   Gold writes:

I spent years puzzling over the conflicting evidence of petroleum formation. For reasons explained in the previous two chapters, how could the abiogenic theory be squared with the equally strong evidence of biological activity? As it turned out, the problem had become a paradox only because arguments on both sides contained an unrecognized hidden assumption.

There are no real paradoxes in science; the apparent paradoxes are merely nature’s polite way, sotto voce, of informing us that our understanding is incomplete or erroneous. With respect to the petroleum paradox, the unrecognized assumption on both sides of the debate was an unquestioned belief that life can exist on *at the surface of the earth.* None of us had considered that a large amount of active microbiology could exist *within the earth’s crust,* down to the deepest levels to which we can drill.

So, here is my question: why are Reformed theologians half as stupid as secularists and scientists when they tell us to “embrace with passion” the so-called apparent paradoxes of Scripture? To modify Gold somewhat, there are no real paradoxes in Christian theology; the apparent paradoxes are merely God’s polite way of informing us that our understanding is incomplete or erroneous.  To put it another way, apparent contradictions in Scripture are God’s way of telling us we need to go back to the exegetical drawing board and recheck our premises.

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3 Comments on “A Scientific Lesson in Avoiding Theologial Nonsense”

  1. Cliffton Says:

    Sean: So, here is my question: why are Reformed theologians half as stupid as secularists and scientists when they tell us to “embrace with passion” the so-called apparent paradoxes of Scripture?

    Cliffton: Both the Reformed theologians and the secularlists that you speak of are equally stupid. There is however a relative difference, that is, relative to each other. The secularlists make no bones as to what it is they hate. In a qualified sense, one could even say that the secularlists are “honest” about what they hate, and they love to tell other people not only that they are haters, but what it is they hate. The other group, the “Reformed” theologians who advocate paradox, are deceptive. Whereas like the secularlists they hate the Truth, yet unlike the secularlists they wish to distguise what it is that they love. Nevertheless, viewing both groups in relation to their Maker, they are equally stupid, they equally hate the Truth, and they equally love the lie. May we anticipate the time when those who love the Truth will, with the Lord Jesus Christ, judge such men.

  2. ray kikkert Says:

    Sean wisely states …”To put it another way, apparent contradictions in Scripture are God’s way of telling us we need to go back to the exegetical drawing board and recheck our premises.”

    Framework hypothesis advocates for example… have been told this … but continue to advocate stupidity. Proud men generally are not interested in the truth of the matter when their intellectual pride is being condemned … and it matters little if that one is admonished softly or harshly…they are not ready to part with pride … it comes first … God’s truth …second.

  3. Hugh McCann Says:

    Half as stupid, yet twice (at least) as culpable?:

    “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” Luke 12:48b {ESV}

    “The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Matt 26:24


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