That's a good point... I don't quite agree with this statement though
IOW, those initiated into those mysteries so that they understood the true meaning of the symbols and metaphors being used.
I would put it differently. They were intended for those who were willing and able to think about spiritual truths rather than just literal, physical meanings.
A good example is in John 6 where Jesus talks about whoever eats of his flesh and drinks of his blood would have life. His followers found this a hard teaching and were like "that's just crazy, how can we eat his flesh." But Jesus was talking about a spiritual reality, and comparing what he offered to the manna in the desert. The people who grumbled were taking it literally and did not "have eyes to see and ears to hear" the spiritual message that he was teaching.
But I agree with your overall point. I have said something similar before that those who get caught up in understanding the Bible literally, miss the greater message even though they think they are preserving the spiritual message.
As an example, I work with the youth group at my church (16 years now!) and at the time we had a family attending that are hard core literalists, YEC, the whole shebang and one of their daughters was in the youth group at the time. I was doing a lesson about the exodus and basically told the whole story from Joseph to the Israelites leaving Egypt. When I got to the part where they were leaving, I said "The number given in the Bible suggests there were about 2 million people who left Egypt. Now this seems like an incredibly large number and there may be some other ways to understand these numbers, but the point is... that God brought them into Egypt as a family and he brought them out as a nation. He used their experience (a seemingly negative one) in Egypt to build them into a nation." That is the(a) main point of the story.
Well this created a significant backlash with accusations that I don't believe the Bible is true etc... which I found utterly ridiculous. They want to make a big issue over whether the specifics of a number is correct or not and so miss the big picture. I thought the lesson was very impactful and had a good message; that hard times can prepare us for something even greater than we had when we started. But instead of hearing that, they focused on the literalism. It's just ludicrous.
biblical literalism is a fool's errand in the extreme.
Whoever calls me ignorant shares my own opinion. Sorrowfully and tacitly I recognize my ignorance, when I consider how much I lack of what my mind in its craving for knowledge is sighing for... I console myself with the consideration that this belongs to our common nature. - Francesco Petrarca
"Nothing is easier than to persuade people who want to be persuaded and already believe." - another Petrarca gem.
Ignorance is a most formidable opponent rivaled only by arrogance; but when the two join forces, one is all but invincible.
Re: Simple Example -- any new mutation is outside the kind?
He was also a staunch anti-evolutionist. Back in college (late 1980's verging on 1990) I personally read an English translation of his Théorie de la terre (Theory of the Earth). From his Egyptian Campaign (whose other contribution was to use the Sphinx' nose as artillery practice, thank you very much, Nappy!) Napoleon had brought back many Egyptian artifacts, including a large number of mummies of both humans and animals. Those mummies dated back to thousands of years BCE; according to Wikipedia, the oldest animal mummies date back between 5500–4000 BCE, well before the Flood (https://en.wikipedia.org/...d_non-human_animal_mummification).
The problem for him was that he was still a young-earther. So he looked at the mummies from thousands of years ago, very shortly after creation by his reckoning, and he looked at the same modern animals and he saw virtually no change at all. Therefore he deemed evolution to be impossible.
Minor point, but I don't believe Cuvier was a young earther. He believed that humanity had only been around for a few thousand years, but he noted the enormous variety of extinct animals identified from fossils, and believed that there was a world before humans. The purpose of the Théorie de la terre, the book you mentioned, was to explain what was known at the time about "the series of events which preceded the birth of the human race", as Cuvier put it. While I can't find any claims about numbers of years, it clear that Cuvier thought the world had been around a long time before the few thousand years he allowed for human history.
why do you say mutations have been accumulating for 6,000 years not for only the 4,500 years since the flood.
Mutations would have started accumulating immediately after the Fall. How quickly depends on generations not on years. The Flood would have caused a major bottleneck but it would not have reset things to zero; that is the people and animals on the Ark would already have some mutations.
Taking the Bible as literally true would be extremely foolish. In contrast, medieval and patristic interpreters used the term ‘literal’ to mean the grammatical-historical understanding, which could include a figurative meaning if that’s what the text taught. Thus to them, the ‘literal’ meaning of the ‘the windows of the heavens were opened’ (Genesis 7:11) would include its metaphorical usage for a massive rainfall.
Creationists are often accused of believing that the whole Bible should be taken literally. This is not so! Rather, the key to a correct understanding of any part of the Bible is to ascertain the intention of the author of the portion or book under discussion. This is not as difficult as it may seem, as the Bible obviously contains parables, poetry, similes, puns, parallelism, etc.
We return to the question which forms the title of this article. Should Genesis be taken literally?
Answer: If we apply the normal principles of biblical exegesis (ignoring pressure to make the text conform to the evolutionary prejudices of our age), it is overwhelmingly obvious that Genesis was meant to be taken in a straightforward, obvious sense as an authentic, literal, historical record of what actually happened. http://creation.com/should-genesis-be-taken-literally