How big is the Bible part 5
Bible verse used in podcast:
- 2 Peter 1:20-21
- Romans 10:9-10, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
Canon books of the bible
Do we need to expand the Bible?
Can you know anything for certain? When talking about Godel’s theorems before, it talked about how any formal finite system of axioms will tend to have a metasystem that is larger than the system you are working in. You can always find more things to talk about and more things to learn. But does that mean we will always be missing things about the Bible?
As a side note, even in mathematics, this theorem doesn’t mean what we do know is always missing something. For instance, if we want to know if integers (count numbers, 0 and negative numbers) are even. The basic rule is whether or not the number we want to check is divisible by 2. This is straightforward and you can check a lot of numbers this way. You don’t need more rules and you can always get to a yes or no answer unless you start considering things that aren’t natural numbers (which is the second point of this talk).
Similarly in the Bible, the same is true. But before we get there we need to talk about something else.
20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.2 Peter 1:20-21 ESV
One might try to say, “the Bible is missing information so we need more holy text.” This doesn’t really apply because any book of the Bible needs to come from God as a criterion. You can always get into the history of how the Bible was canonized but this idea that there is missing knowledge to the Bible is an old one that even early Christians had to deal with.
Can we really know anything?
Back to the main topic, when might Godel’s theorem about a consistent system is not complete apply? This issue starts applying when you start combining axioms and you see what happens. For instance, these integers from before, numbers like ⅓ are not integers but is it even? Not all integer can not be expressed as a fraction so what do you do about this? Similarly, we can ask the same questions about our theology.
Let’s take the idea of salvation. It is extremely simple and often people try to add things to it to make it more complicated than it really is. In truth, it is too good to be true because of how simple it really is.
9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.Romans 10:9-10 ESV
1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you–unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,1 Corinthians 15:1-4 ESV
You can search the scripture and find more verses that just emphasize this. But in essence that is it. The reason why it is so complicated is not because of these rules. In short, the above gives a true or false statement that can be asked. What becomes complicated is when you start applying multiple axioms together and then start asking questions. That is when this Godel theorem seems to bring out strange questions. For instance, how should your life look after you confessed? Does the way your life reflect on whether or not you had a confession of sins? If you have free will (or not) does that affect confession? Can you lose your salvation? All of these are questions for another time. But the simple idea of salvation is not hard in terms of how to get it. The complexity (and why people argue) comes from all these layers being put together.
Often this is where people get into trouble. When a new Christan is learning, what happens if there is a contradiction? This can lead to an issue where people drop their system of knowledge (their faith) as a result. Of course, if there is a contradiction then either the Bible is wrong or you are wrong. Figuring out which isn’t hard with the Christian assumption. The Bible is supposed to be right so the way you are interpreting things is probably wrong or incomplete. Often instead of throwing out everything we know, what we should do is evaluate our assumptions and the axioms we think we understand that come out of the Bible. This tends to be hard for many because we like it to be simple and easy. Either everything I have is right or wrong. People have a hard time examining what they know and question why they really do believe it.
Of course many say they do question the Bible and they don’t believe in it but often that is because they don’t really question it. Instead, they are like Eve in the Garden of Eden. Satan came by and told her one thing, she questioned what she knew might be wrong and didn’t search or check the facts. She saw a problem and ran with it.
How big is the Bible?
I presented some ideas in my podcast that are interesting to think and fun to think about. This gets to the question, how big is the Bible? The Bible is a finite book, you can pick it up and hold all of it at once. Yet it describes an infinite God? How can this be? Is the Bible really big enough to capture who God is? If it is, then somehow this finite book has an infinite amount of information in it. If not, then this infinite God needs to directly show himself to you. One thing that comes to mind is the idea that academic study is no substitute for doing many things. You can read about sports or a board game but until you sit down and play them you won’t fully experience them. The books can only get you so far and not everything makes sense until you physically see how everything works together.
Another thought to consider. When does something become approximately infinity? This might seem impossible but in mathematics and physics this comes up in many ways. For instance, if you have a point light (something that shines in all directions) and if you put the light at the focal length of a lens, it becomes collimated (it travels in a column from the source). This means that after the lense all the light will be parallel or “travel in a cylinder” until it hits a surface. In terms of the physical theorem about this, that is only supposed to happen when you are looking at the light after it has traveled an infinite difference after the lens. In the real world, this is impossible, you can’t go infinitely away from something. What you can do is get far enough away so much so that the distance you are at is comparably infinite to the distance between the source light and the lens. Once you do this, the light appears to follow this strange infinite property. On some level, could things be how the Bible works? Could the Bible, expressing an infinite God, be the closes way for us to perceive this infinite God within the limits of our humanity?