Reading the intro to this post, I thought I was in for a juicy slice of biblical literalism that I could pick apart piece by idiotic piece. But as I continued, I was pleasantly surprised to find an actual thoughtful analysis of the ‘literalism’ of the bible. The author, though obviously religiously biased (but to each his own), chastises the oversimplification of a mass collection of texts into a dichotomy of literal vs. non-literal interpretations, and instead favors an approach that focuses on the author’s intentions, as any good book should be analyzed, fiction or nonfiction (which is up to you to decide).
“You can’t take the Bible literally!” This is an assertion I’ve heard many times. I don’t agree with it (as stated), but I understand the sentiment behind it. Often it is a reaction to fundamentalist claims about the Bible, such as that it teaches a young earth or creation in six, twenty-four hour days. Christians in the sciences, and other thinking Christians interested in the sciences, rightly raise questions about such views. Sometimes they insist “You can’t take the Bible literally!”
I want to affirm the sentiment behind the assertion, but not the assertion itself.1
I reject it primarily because it over simplifies the matter and because it is a false dichotomy (i.e., literal vs. non-literal are not the only options). Very briefly, consider the following thoughts:
- No one actually reads the whole Bible literally. No one, for example, interprets the dragon in the book of Revelation as an…
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