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The Literalism of The Bible
01-06-2010, 09:50 PM
Post: #1
The Literalism of The Bible
Hello and welcome.

I don't know if you could label this thread as a discussion, or even the start of a discussion for that matter. I see it as more of a collection of logical inconsistencies that have come across in the argument pertaining to how one should perceive the Bible; how it appears (literally)? Or like a poem. Like it contains much deeper meanings and is divinely and intelligently laid out so that it is but the religious side of reality, of which modern science can prove to be true.

Both have their fair share of problems, but I'll start with the side of the argument addressing literalism in the Bible. First, the Bible contains a plethora of pretty elementary contradictions that can easily be pointed out with some light speculating. Second, the Bible also contains many absurdities and physical impossibilities, so why exactly someone would base their morality and lifestyle off of such a fallible and contradictory text written 2000 years ago is beyond me. But, the argument itself goes a little something like this: The Bible is the irrefutable and infallible word of God. Therefore, we should accept as the way to live our lives and raise our children. This begs the question, "if the Bible is the word of God, then why exactly is it written with such utter fallibility?"


Onto the argument pertaining to a deeper meaning in the Bible; that we should not take for what it means literally. The only thing I can say really about this is, well, why? I don't understand why you would try to explain religion with science. Religion is meant to be taken for what it is, if you doesn't please you, then you don't have to believe it.


With all due respect,
Eddison JonesSmile
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01-07-2010, 09:06 PM
Post: #2
RE: The Literalism of The Bible
The Bible should be seen as a collection of 66 (or 72, if you're a filthy papist) separate, individual books. Each book has its own author and was written for a particular reason. Some were written at different times by different authors, each with their own reasons. Context should be considered, always.

In this way we can see that some books of the Bible are to be figurative or mythical (like Genesis,) some legendary retellings of actual events (like Kings and Chronicles,) and some apologetic works (like most of the Epistles.) There is no grand cohesive collective thread, other than the fact that all these authors believed more or less in various branches of the same religion.

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01-12-2010, 04:04 PM (This post was last modified: 01-12-2010 04:04 PM by Stereophonic.)
Post: #3
RE: The Literalism of The Bible
(01-06-2010 09:50 PM)Eddison Jones Wrote:  ...the Bible contains a plethora of pretty elementary contradictions that can easily be pointed out with some light speculating...the Bible also contains many absurdities and physical impossibilities...

Could you be a tad more specific? Give us the single most obvious contradiction or the single most egregious absurdity that you've found in your reading of the text.

http://www.biblicaltraining.org/ --- http://www.ntwrightpage.com/
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01-12-2010, 08:00 PM
Post: #4
RE: The Literalism of The Bible
Why don't you do a search on some of our old conversations, Stereo? I've listed loads of them before. Whole lists.

Of course, that will only do any good if you've learned to approach discussion from an honest position. But I am nothing if not willing to give people a second chance.

So, single most obvious contradiction. Old Testament Law compared with the New Testament. Old Testament Law is detailed, and often highly immoral (i.e., misogyny, slavery, murder, women marrying their rapists, condemning alternate lifestyles, etc., etc.) No one follows those laws today. Not one. Even in the nation of Israel they don't stone people who curse their parents or work on the Sabbath, to my knowledge.

Now, Christians claim that this is because we have a New Testament. A new covenant that replaces the old one. Peter's vision and several of Paul's doctrines back that up. And yet many aspects of Old Testament law are the only basis for most Christian moral standards, and the Bible itself says very frequently that the Old Testament remains scripture, divinely inspired, and necessary to follow.

This has led every single Christian in the world to follow their favorite Old Testament laws, often clinging to them with dogmatic fervor, while utterly ignoring the ones that they find inconvenient. Which makes no sense, is utterly unsustainable, and in fact is one of the scummier examples of religious hypocrisy today.

It is an unreconcilable contradiction. And that's not even playing hardball by demanding the Bible be treated as literal in places where it is clearly literal, like Genesis, which quite simply never happened at all.

Remarkably enough, all these contradictions vanish when you look at the Bible through a rational, intelligent perspective. As a series of books written by a wide variety of men, each with their own motivations and reasons for writing, often disagreeing with each other, certainly not divinely inspired, but doing the best that they could with the human resources and knowledge that they had. View the Bible the way you would view any other ancient text, and it makes perfect sense, and contradictions vanish into context. Of course, that requires that you no longer consider the Bible to be divine truth...

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01-13-2010, 09:31 AM (This post was last modified: 01-13-2010 09:33 AM by Stereophonic.)
Post: #5
RE: The Literalism of The Bible
(01-12-2010 08:00 PM)GTseng3 Wrote:  ...single most obvious contradiction. Old Testament Law compared with the New Testament...

I'm still looking for a tad more specificity. Saying that the Old Testament is contradicted by the New Testament is not much of an improvement (in terms of specificity) over Eddison's original claim that "the Bible contains a plethora of pretty elementary contradictions that can easily be pointed out..."

So again: give us the single most obvious contradiction or the single most egregious absurdity that you've found in your reading of the text. Please cite chapter(s) and verse(s).

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01-13-2010, 01:20 PM
Post: #6
RE: The Literalism of The Bible
Really? Not specific enough? The fact that the god of the Old Testament and the god of the New Testament are in no way consistent, demand different things, and that even the authors of the New Testament cannot seem to agree on what parts of the Old Testament should be followed or not, that's not a contradiction?

No, I'm sorry. I'm not going to continue feeding you contradictions just so you can ignore them based on semantics. We've already had those conversations, and I have no intention of continuing to indulge your dishonest methods simply because you've been gone a few months.

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01-18-2010, 10:39 AM (This post was last modified: 01-18-2010 11:00 AM by Ahmadi.)
Post: #7
RE: The Literalism of The Bible
I am glad some one wants to argue the literal truth of the Bible, because even President George W Bush hinted against this and earned the wrath of the evangelists. I want to gradually build the case, rather than go full throttle in my first post, in this thread. Let me start with soft spoken, Karen Armstrong:

She is a former Catholic nun and a prolific writer on different religions, including Islam. Let me quote from the Epilogue of her recent publication, The Bible: A Biography (Books That Changed the World), the inclusions inside the brackets, in the text below are my additions:

"What is the way forward? This short biography makes it clear that many modern assumptions about the Bible are incorrect. The Bible did not encourage slavish conformity. In the Jewish tradition especially, as we saw with the story of R. Eliezer, not even the voice of God could force an exegete to accept another person's interpretation. From the first, the biblical authors contradicted each other and their conflicting visions were all included by the editors in the final text. The Talmud was an interactive text that, properly taught, compelled a student to find his own answers. Hans Frei was right: the Bible has been a subversive document, suspicious of orthodoxy since the time of Amos and Hosea.

The modern habit of quoting proof-texts to legitimize poli­cies and rulings is out of key with interpretive tradition. As Wilfred Cantwell Smith explained, scripture was not really a text but an activity, a spiritual process that introduced thou­sands of people to transcendence. The Bible may have been used to back up doctrines and beliefs but that was not its chief function. The fundamentalist emphasis on the literal reflects the modern ethos but is a breach with tradition, which usually preferred some kind of figurative or innovative interpreta­tion. (This is an over-simplification; over the centuries, the Christian apologists have always emphasized the literal truth of the Bible at least to the masses). There is, for example, no single doctrine of creation in the Bible and the first chapter of Genesis was rarely read as a factual description of the origins of the cosmos. (Another over-simplification and re-writing of the history of time of Galileo Galilei). Many of the Christians who oppose Darwinism today are Calvinists, but Calvin insisted that the Bible was not a scientific document and that those who wanted to learn about astronomy or cos­mology should look elsewhere.

We have seen that different texts have been used to support entirely opposed programmes. Athanasius and Arius could both produce quotations to prove their personal beliefs about the divinity of Christ. Because they could find no defin­itive warrant in scripture to decide this matter, the fathers found theological solutions that owed little to the Bible. Slave­owners interpreted the Bible one way, the slaves in quite another. The same applies today in the Christian debate about ordaining women to the priesthood. Like nearly all pre­modern documents, the Bible is a patriarchal text. Opponents of feminism and women priests can find a host of biblical texts to prove their case, but some of the New Testament authors had very different views and can be cited to show that in Christ there was neither male nor female and that women worked as 'co-workers' and 'co-apostles' in the early Church. Hurling texts around polemically is a sterile pursuit. Scripture is not able to provide certainty on this type of ques­tion.

This is also the case with the question of scriptural violence. There is indeed a great deal of violence in the Bible far more than there is in the Qur' an. And it is unquestionably true that throughout history people have used the Bible to justify atrocious acts. As Cantwell Smith observed, the Bible and its interpretation must be seen in historical context. The world has always been a violent place and scripture and its exegesis has often fallen prey to contemporary aggression. Joshua was presented by the Deuteronomists fighting with all the ruthlessness of an Assyrian general. The Crusaders ignored the pacifist teachings of Jesus and signed up for an expedition to the Holy Land because they were soldiers, wanted a militant religion and applied their distinctively feudal ethos to the Bible. The same is true in our own time. The modern period has seen violence and slaughter on an unprecedented scale and it is not surprising that this has affected the way some people have read the Bible."

Karen Armstrong. The Bible: A Biography (Books That Changed the World). Atlantic Monthly Press, New York, 2007. Pages 222-224.
GT

You mentioned that you have loaded a lot of contradictions in other threads, could you please name those threads. May be we can together make this thread Encyclopedic. A new era of freedom and rationality. An atheist Moses and a Muslim Aaron, together leading the exodus of the evangelists, into the Promised Land!

I am second coming of Thomas Paine. If you are a Christian, have you read Age of Reason?
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