[b-hebrew] Supernatural faith and scientific faith

K Randolph kwrandolph at gmail.com
Mon Jul 20 20:10:05 EDT 2009


On Mon, Jul 20, 2009 at 12:53 AM, Rolf Furuli <furuli at online.no> wrote:

> Dear Yigal,
> I agree with you that we should not belittle people who have a faith
> different from ours. You mentioned "faith, laws of nature, and
> scientific method," and I think it would be fine to say something
> regarding the relationship between them (I changed the subject from
> "Genesis 41: 1: "Two Years of Days"").  I think this discussion is
> relevant for b-hebrew, because it deals with methodological issues
> related to the study of the Tanakh.
> I suppose that all list members want to use scientific methods when
> they work with the Tanakh. But in connection with this, there is one
> disturbing situation. In order to follow scientific methods, we must
> leave out anything that is metaphysical. God and supernatural acts
> supposed to have been done by him are per definition metaphysical and
> must be rejected. We therefore are led into the position that we
> study a text (the Tanakh) where all the authors to a great extent
> ascribe particular acts to God, and ascribe their own texts to God,
> but God must a priori be excluded as an explanatory factor on the
> basis of scientific principles.
> …. But we should not be
> too hasty to reject information found in the Tanakh because it
> appears not to conform with modern scientific theories - because we
> may not be in a situation of faith versus knowledge but rather of
> supernatural faith versus scientific faith. ….
> Best regards,
> Rolf Furuli
> University of Oslo
> I do not buy the belief that there is a difference between “supernatural
faith versus scientific faith”, rather both are types of religious faith—one
supernaturalistic faith, and the other naturalistic faith (only physical
nature exists). The adherents of both can utilize the scientific

As for science, its roots are found in the
 therefore this claim that science can give only naturalistic answers is a
corruption of science. In fact it is adding a religious element (naturalism)
to the scientific
is absent from the methodology itself.

In the application of the above to Biblical Hebrew—we have to question just
what is a scientific approach to Biblical studies and to the history of the
Hebrew language? Is the Documentary Hypothesis scientific? Or even the
question of proto-Semitic language?

In the history of the Documentary Hypothesis, we find that it is based on an
à priori belief of evolution, i.e. the religion of naturalism. In the eyes
of those who say that science = naturalism, that is enough to say that the
Documentary Hypothesis is scientific. For naturalists, that trumps even the
fact that there are no observable data to back up the claims. But in
reality, that there are no observations to back up its claims makes it mere
religious/philosophical speculation. The lack of observations excludes it as
a scientific study. That the Documentary Hypothesis is taught as a fact is
the de facto imposition of a religious faith on students.

What about proto-Semitic? Again it is a theorized language based on certain
presuppositions that may or may not be correct, there are no observations to
back it up. Therefore, it too is a non-scientific belief.

What about the history of the Hebrew language? We have certain documents
that claim to be historical, be we can neither accept those claims nor
reject them based on science, because of the lack of observations.

What can science study? The language itself as preserved in surviving texts,
variant readings based on found texts, vocabulary, sentence structure,
syntax, context, etc. We have had plenty of scientific discussions on this
list dealing with these subjects.

Note: the scientific method has nothing to say about God or non-existence of
same, whether or not evolution occurred, or was it a creation instead,
that’s why I did not discuss these issues in this posting.

Karl W. Randolph.

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