Reading is Believing? Sacred Texts in a Scientific Age

Harris, M. (Keynote/plenary speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference


Title: 'Creating a science of the flood': Science versus theology in the biblical flood narrative

'Creating a science of the flood has not necessarily helped to shore up biblical belief. In fact, the preposterous character of so many of the proposals made belief in the Bible seem ludicrous' (J. David Pleins,When the Great Abyss Opened, OUP, 2009, p.11).

There have been many naturalistic interpretations of the biblical flood narrative (Genesis 6-9) since the birth of modern science, but critical biblical scholarship has shown rather little interest at best, and downright disdain at worst. While many populist and scientific readings of the flood turn it into a veritable historical apocalypse, critical biblical scholars tend to look askance and denounce such approaches as ‘missing the point’. I do not want to disagree with the biblical scholars (because in large part I agree with them), but I will argue that there is a still‘deeper’ point at stake, which concerns conflicting accounts of modernity. After surveying some of these divergent approaches to the flood, I will point out ways in which this divergence is parallel to ongoing debates about scientific method in 'historical' sciences such as geology and evolutionary biology, and carries important implications for theologies of miracle and divine action.
Period26 Mar 201828 Mar 2018
Event typeConference
LocationCamnbridge, United Kingdom