Monday, May 15, 2017

Studying The Scriptures II

Many modern scientists are concerned about things being proclaimed as scientific fact that are contradicted by historical science.  Carefully designed demonstrations are used to convince people that a certain belief is true, when in fact it has nothing to do with what is claimed.  A recent example is a demonstration used to convince school children that methane gas is a cause of global warming by injecting methane into a sealed container, and showing a resulting rise in temperature.  What the students don’t know is that increasing the pressure of any gas results in a temperature increase, and the fact that is was methane is irrelevant.   The demonstration would only be relevant to global warming if we show that we are experiencing increasing atmospheric pressure, which no one is claiming. 

 Former editors of the New England of Medicine and the British medical journal, the Lancet have commented that more than half the medical articles they received were scientifically unsound, with some authors cherry picking their quotes from other studies to eliminate any contradictory data, while others simply quote non-existent comments from other well-known studies on the assumption no one will check out their references.   The editors were concerned that possibly life-threatening advice was being accepted based on such unsound scientific studies. 

A similar situation exists in interpretation of the scriptures today, with some people saying you can interpret the Bible to say anything you want.  By using such techniques, we can make almost any article or book appear to support any position we choose, but that does not mean that is what it said.  For example, there was an atheist who said that Bible says, “There is no God,” quoting Psalm 14:1 and 53:1 to support his statement.  It is a distortion of what the verses say.  Both of them state, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God…”  It does not say there is no God, but that fools say there is no God.  Simply taking the time to read the entire passage and get the context   changes our understanding of what the scriptures are actually saying. 

The first step in understanding a passage is to read the entire sentence, taking into account the meanings of the words and the punctuation.  The punctuation can change the meaning a great deal, so understanding the proper usage of punctuation is a useful tool in understanding the Bible.    Unfortunately, those who divided the bible into verses ignored the punctuation in many cases, frequently ending a verse at a comma rather than a period.    A sentence is a complete thought, and the period is used to show where the thought ends.  Commas are used to separate items in list, such as a grocery list of eggs, milk, toast, and bacon for breakfast.  Leaving out the comma between milk and toast changes the meaning , making the list eggs, milk toast(milquetoast), and bacon.    Such changes can result in serious misunderstandings.  Taking the trouble to consider the punctuation is a valuable tool in understanding the scriptures.  Just reading from one period to the next can change our understanding completely. 

Sentences are arranged into paragraphs that clarify and expand one’s understanding, so reading the preceding and following sentences can further refine our understanding of what a passage means.  Without those other sentences we may well arrive at a false conclusion as to what the verse or passage means.  Take the time to read the verse or passage in context to be sure you are understanding it correctly.  

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