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If it is necessary to subject science to the same criticism that science brings to faith, believers also shouldn’t pin their hope on undermining every new relic or theory, nor should they react by embracing far-fetched “archaeological” claims of their own to prove the Bible literally true, such as the still popular “Young Earth” theory of a 6,000-year-old planet created in six 24-hour days where men romped with dinosaurs. At bottom, many seem to fear that placing Christianity in the stream of history robs the faith of its divine particularity, or that each excavation puts us a swing of the pick-ax away from the bones of Jesus. But according to Christian belief, the whole point of the Bible is to show God working through history, in a definite time and place, conditioned by that era but transcending the mundane.

(David Gibson is the author of “The Rule of Benedict: Pope Benedict XVI and His Battle with the Modern World” and a frequent religious affairs commentator. He wrote this article for The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.)

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