This question sprung from all the debates regarding the age of the earth. Most of these debates involve scientific claims and their rebuttals. I am convinced that "science" is not the issue. The issue is the definition of "inspiration". The only reason we care about the age of the earth is because Genesis represents its creation as a 6 day process and the numbers that follow add up to to a 6,000 year old universe: and many claims from the sciences suggest otherwise.
So...what are people's "criterion" for inspiration? What does it take for a book to be God-breathed? What can and can't it do?
I anticipate that many will make replies to the effect "I don't have a criterion! I let the Bible be its own criterion." I admire your piety but I don't believe it, not for a second. I propose that everyone who has ever engaged in a debate regarding the age of the earth has a definition in mind for what it means to be inspired--a definition NOT given by Scripture; and that THAT is the sole question of ALL debates regarding the age of the earth. IT WAS NEVER A SCIENTIFIC QUESTION FOR US. ALL APPEALS MADE TO SCIENCE AND THEIR REBUTTAL'S ARE FUTILE. Everything hinges on the definition of "inspired".
So, what are people's definitions?
I'll give a couple prompts which will indicate my intention for this thread (and my implicit position): You need not read them all; they are only prompts.
In order to be inspired, can the author have made a grammatical mistake, or a spelling mistake?
In order to be "inspired" does any canonical author who describes the sun as moving have to know that, in fact, it doesn't move? That is, If he actually thought, at the time of writing, that the sun DID in fact move, would this mean that his production was NOT inspired? Again, If we asked him, does the sun move, and he said yes, does that mean any writing he did (i.e. many of the psalms and Ecclesiastes) would be rendered "uninspired"? This could be put the other way round: if we asked him, "does the sun actually move," and he said "No." This would be evidence of inspiration.
In order to be "inspired" does an author have to know that the world is round? Could he think the world flat and still right inspired works that imply the world is flat (though his point has nothing to do with the shape of the earth)?
In order to be "inspired" does the author have to know the actual age of the earth? i.e. The author of Genesis himself did all the math involved in Genesis, all the number crunching which we are so obsessed with?
In order to be "inspired", does the author of, say, the pentateuch have to know that "the other gods" don't in fact exist; or is it still "inspired" that, at the time of writing, he only thought that YHWH was superior to all of them?
In order to be inspired does an author have to have perfect geographical knowledge of any land he is describing geographically, even when the purpose of his work is something other than geographical exactitude--(i.e. some liberal scholars think Luke did not know the geography of Palestine; but then, Jesus' ministry, not the geography of palestine, was his chief interest).
And finally, If we could somehow (obviously theoretical) conjure up the author of Genesis, what side of our debate (young vs. old) would he take, and why (if you appeal to science, I will gouge my eyes out
I have given numerous prompts to anticipate and hopefully stop the seemingly "pious" answers which would merely quote Scripture, like 2 Tim 3:16.......for of course that verse itself requires a definition for "teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness". Merely quoting will get us nowhere.
P.S. apologies to anyone who actually debates the age of the earth purely on scientific grounds. Frankly, I didn't know you existed. Sadly, this thread is not for you.