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Author Topic:   Why read the Bible literally: take two
Brian
Member (Idle past 3124 days)
Posts: 4659
From: Scotland
Joined: 10-22-2002


Message 1 of 306 (220093)
06-27-2005 2:59 PM


From Here

The reason is simple, there really has been no good reason given for reading the Bible literally in the first 300+ messages.

Brian.


Replies to this message:
 Message 2 by AdminJar, posted 06-27-2005 3:05 PM Brian has responded

  
AdminJar
Inactive Member


Message 2 of 306 (220098)
06-27-2005 3:05 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Brian
06-27-2005 2:59 PM


Tenatively Rejected
Unless you can narrow things down some or provide some basis for furthering the conversation, I don't see where this can go.

I will leave this open so other Admins can comment or so you can revise the OP to offer some hope of this proceeding towards some reasonable destination. As is stands I don't see much hope of discussion.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Brian, posted 06-27-2005 2:59 PM Brian has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by Brian, posted 06-27-2005 3:22 PM AdminJar has not yet responded

Brian
Member (Idle past 3124 days)
Posts: 4659
From: Scotland
Joined: 10-22-2002


Message 3 of 306 (220105)
06-27-2005 3:22 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by AdminJar
06-27-2005 3:05 PM


Re: Tenatively Rejected
Well, there are far too many loose ends for a start.

The question was 'Why read the Bible literally', we haven't had a good answer yet.

Essentially, what the reasons that we have is:

1. Why do we read it literally, well it is just a 'feeling' that we know what should be taken literally.

2. It is obvious which parts are allegorical, but we haven't had an explanation of what makes this so obvious.

3. We have the appeal to authority, Jesus took it literally (which hasn't even been established yet), thus we shoudl all take it literally.

4. We get appeals to authority to read the Bible literally when these authoritities themselves didn't take the Bible literally.

5. We have had the constant dismissal of very important points from areas such as literary criticism, source criticism, archaeological and historical sources, with nothing more than a hand wave.

To get anywhere near answering the question, at least one of these points, needs ot be adquately answered.

For example, the taking some parts literally and other parts figuratively needs to be explained a lot better than simply saying "it's just a feeling, I can't really put it into words."

I cannot speak for everyone else, but I cannot see any explanation that comes anywhere near satifactory.

We haven't had a good reason for reading the Bible literally.

Brian.

PS, I am going off line in ten minutes, so if this doesnt pass inspection, someone else can feel free to take it forward.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 2 by AdminJar, posted 06-27-2005 3:05 PM AdminJar has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
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 Message 183 by DorfMan, posted 09-08-2005 1:01 PM Brian has not yet responded

  
AdminJar
Inactive Member


Message 4 of 306 (220111)
06-27-2005 3:30 PM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.
Brian
Member (Idle past 3124 days)
Posts: 4659
From: Scotland
Joined: 10-22-2002


Message 5 of 306 (220135)
06-27-2005 4:25 PM


Church Fathers, again
You have not proved that. Your entire argument rests on Origen alone,

Let us imagine for a second that Origen is the only person on that list that deosnt take the Bible literally, why is he on the list at all?

Surely you can admit that Origen didnt take Genesis 1 and 2 literally when he wrote these references?

Whenever we meet with such useless, nay impossible, incidents and precepts as these, we must discard a literal interpretation and consider of what moral interpretation they are capable of,

Origen explicitly states that we must discard a literal interpretation, how can you harmonise that with a literal approach, he is saying the exact opposite!

with what higher and mysterious meaning they are fraught, what deeper truths they were intended symbolically and in allegory to shadow forth.

You can hardly get any more explicit than this Faith, Origen undoubtedly states that the certain parts of the Bible were intended to be read symbolically and allegorically. Yet, you still claim that I havent shown that Origen didnt take all of the Bible literally?

What about when Origen states:

The Holy Spirit so waylays us in order that we may be driven by passages which, taken in the prima facie sense cannot be true or useful, to search for the ulterior truth, and seek in the Scriptures which we believe to be inspired by God a meaning worthy of him

Faith, please read this: prima facie sense cannot be true or useful, to search for the ulterior truth

It is extremely obvious that Origen did not take the entire Bible literally.

When Origen specifically talks of Genesis, what is it he says?

Who will be found idiot enough to believe that God planted trees in Paradise like any husbandman;

Is Origen saying here that God did plant a tree, or didnt plant a tree?

that he set up in it visible and palpable tree-trunks, labelled the one Tree of Life and the other Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil both bearing real fruit that might be masticated with corporeal teeth;

Is he here saying that the Tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil are literal trees?

that he went and walked about that garden

Did Origen believe that God literally walked about the Garden of Eden?

that Adam hid under a tree

Did Origen believe that Adam hid under a tree?

that Cain fled from the face of God?

Did Origen believe that Cain literally fled from the face of God?

At least be honest with yourself Faith, Origen, one of the greatest of the Church Fathers did not take the entire Bible literally, this is a fact.

and Origen placed it all within 10,000 years

Which is contrary to YEC and the scriptures.

and I believe my understanding of Augustine's catholicizing take on "symbol" is quite valid.

I think it is a lot deeper than just symbolising, but even if it is symbolising, this is not taking the texts at face value.

Also the fact that they all believed in a literal six days is VERY important for the case for literalism,

Just as important for the case against it is the fact that none of them took all of Genesis literally.

obviously so, considering how important it is in the creo-evo debates.

I dont see how this is important at all, maybe you could expand a little when you have time?

In any case you haven't proved ONE thing about the rest of the Church Fathers so stop claiming you have.

I asked you if you would like me to check out the rest of the Church Fathers on that list when I was at uni last Saturday, but, although you replied to the post that I asked you that question in you didnt mention my request at all.

Anyway, you are the one making the claim, it isnt up to me to provide the contrary evidence, you say they took it literally surely it is up to you to support your claim?

Brian.


  
Percy
Member
Posts: 18484
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 6 of 306 (220137)
06-27-2005 4:28 PM


This is a reply to Message 303 from Faith.

Faith writes:

No, it is not always a fallacy. There is a legitimate argument from authority.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_authority

I agree, and if you look at WikiPedia's list for how to formulate a proper argument from authority you'll see it is just a much more detailed version of my own list. Here's Wiki's list, to save you a mouse click:

  1. The authority must have competence in an area, not just glamour, prestige, rank or popularity.
  2. The judgement must be within the authority's field of competence.
  3. The authority must be interpreted correctly.
  4. Direct evidence must be available, at least in principle.
  5. The expert should be reasonably unbiased (not unduly influenced by other factors, such as money, political considerations, or religious beliefs).
  6. The judgement must be representative of expert opinions on the issue (as opposed to an unrepresentative sample).
  7. A technique is needed to adjudicate disagreements among equally qualified authorities.
  8. The argument must be valid in its own right i.e. without needing to appeal to authority at all - except of course to its own authority as entirely valid. (This last point ought to dissuade any who might consider an argument legitimate from authority alone - even if that argument is about the legitimacy of itself as an argument from authority. And, has serious implications for the relevancy of the argument from authority portion - even if valid in its own right - of a greater argument in the first place.)

An intelligent argument for accepting Jesus's authority on the matter of the serpent should address these questions. You can't skip past consideration of these questions to declare that Jesus is an authority on everything, because to do so is to make it an assumption which turns it into the fallacy of argument from authority.

But it is better to never argue from authority, but rather to move past the authorities to consider the same evidence that they did.

You've got a talking serpent, a global flood, a wife of salt and a man living in a fish for three days, and I'm asking you by what intellectual exercise you conclude that such fairy tale events really happened. So far you've offered the fallacy of argument from authority and that the Bible is a self-consistent whole, as well as arguments from faith. I haven't yet seen anything that resembles a rational analysis.

An intellectual argument can still have a foundation of faith. I think you're mistaken to believe that faith must have objective support.

--Percy


Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by GDR, posted 06-27-2005 7:26 PM Percy has responded

  
GDR
Member
Posts: 4814
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 7 of 306 (220211)
06-27-2005 7:26 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Percy
06-27-2005 4:28 PM


Percy writes:

You've got a talking serpent, a global flood, a wife of salt and a man living in a fish for three days, and I'm asking you by what intellectual exercise you conclude that such fairy tale events really happened.

Just a quick point. I happen to believe that the stories that you mentioned are allegorical. They are however in the Bible which forms a part of the basis for the Christian faith. Many believe that these Bible stories are to be taken literally which when compared to the miracle of creation in the first place isn't that big a stretch.

The question is, if you are anything but an Atheist, did God choose to perform these miracles in this fashion or not. To refer to them as fairy tales does absolutely nothing to advance the discussion. Debate by ridicule isn't going to take us very far.

This message has been edited by GDR, 06-27-2005 04:27 PM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Percy, posted 06-27-2005 4:28 PM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by jar, posted 06-27-2005 7:44 PM GDR has responded
 Message 11 by Percy, posted 06-28-2005 8:02 AM GDR has responded

  
jar
Member
Posts: 30983
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 8 of 306 (220217)
06-27-2005 7:44 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by GDR
06-27-2005 7:26 PM


The question is, if you are anything but an Atheist, did God choose to perform these miracles in this fashion or not.

As a Christian I see no reason to consider them more than educational fables, the same as the Story of Hamelin.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion
This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by GDR, posted 06-27-2005 7:26 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 10 by GDR, posted 06-27-2005 8:56 PM jar has responded

New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 9 of 306 (220218)
06-27-2005 7:58 PM


I'm asking you by what intellectual exercise you conclude that such fairy tale events really happened.

Like Jar, I see no reason to take those fairy tales literally. But, if you believe that the biblical god exists, then it doesnt take an intellectual exercise to conclude that god is capable of any one of those fairy tales. If you believe god is capable of them it isnt very much farther to believe that they really could have happened, and even closer next is that they really did happen.

Still though, to answer the OP, there is no reason to read the Bible, well at least the Old Testament, literally.


GDR
Member
Posts: 4814
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 10 of 306 (220227)
06-27-2005 8:56 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by jar
06-27-2005 7:44 PM


jar writes:

As a Christian I see no reason to consider them more than educational fables, the same as the Story of Hamelin.

I agree. Educational fables, parables, metaphors all sound fine. I believe that the stories represent a truth that is far greater than the literal truth.

My problem is when the term fairy tale is used. It is unnecessarily insulting and doesn't lead to any kind of useful dialogue.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by jar, posted 06-27-2005 7:44 PM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 15 by jar, posted 06-28-2005 12:01 PM GDR has not yet responded

  
Percy
Member
Posts: 18484
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 11 of 306 (220362)
06-28-2005 8:02 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by GDR
06-27-2005 7:26 PM


GDR writes:

Debate by ridicule isn't going to take us very far.

There is no intent to ridicule, but I *did* choose the term "fairy tale" for a reason. These events are precisely like those from fairy tales, especially the talking serpent. The only difference is that the stories are not in Grimm's Fairy Tales but in the Bible where they've been inextricably interwoven into Christian theology. Faith claimed that a literal interpretation was an intelligent and rational choice, and I used the term "fairy tale" to emphasize the challenge she faced in explaining that intellectual process.

--Percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by GDR, posted 06-27-2005 7:26 PM GDR has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 12 by Brian, posted 06-28-2005 10:10 AM Percy has not yet responded
 Message 13 by GDR, posted 06-28-2005 10:23 AM Percy has responded

  
Brian
Member (Idle past 3124 days)
Posts: 4659
From: Scotland
Joined: 10-22-2002


Message 12 of 306 (220401)
06-28-2005 10:10 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by Percy
06-28-2005 8:02 AM


I think that the mention of 'fairy tale' highlights an excellent point.

Think about this, if someone adopted a similar stance to one of Grimm's Fairy Tales as literalists adopt in their approach to the Bible, then they would also argue that the fairy tale can be taken as literal through a rational and intelligent approach. However, they would also similarly struggle to put into words how they arrive at their conclusions, but it is easy to claim that anything at all should be taken literally, but, as we have witnesses, no literalist seems able to put the reasons why an intelligent and rational approach suggests that the Bible should be taken literally, the Bible it self certainly doesn't demand it.

If is was a literalist, the alarming thing for me would be how easily a non-literalist can argue the case for not taking the Bible literally.

Brian.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by Percy, posted 06-28-2005 8:02 AM Percy has not yet responded

  
GDR
Member
Posts: 4814
From: Sidney, BC, Canada
Joined: 05-22-2005
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 13 of 306 (220405)
06-28-2005 10:23 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by Percy
06-28-2005 8:02 AM


I understand your point, but put yourself in the shoes of a literalist. How would you feel if the central belief in your life was labeled a fairy tale; would you feel like continuing a constructive dialogue?
This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by Percy, posted 06-28-2005 8:02 AM Percy has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 14 by Brian, posted 06-28-2005 11:56 AM GDR has not yet responded
 Message 16 by Percy, posted 06-28-2005 1:32 PM GDR has responded

  
Brian
Member (Idle past 3124 days)
Posts: 4659
From: Scotland
Joined: 10-22-2002


Message 14 of 306 (220431)
06-28-2005 11:56 AM
Reply to: Message 13 by GDR
06-28-2005 10:23 AM


I understand your point, but put yourself in the shoes of a literalist. How would you feel if the central belief in your life was labeled a fairy tale; would you feel like continuing a constructive dialogue?

This would actually make me more determined to continue the dialogue!

Put it this way, I certainly can argue rationally and intelligently for not taking the Bible literally, and you have shown that you can do exactly the same. We have yet to experience a literalist exhibiting the same skill. This getting all upset because someone calls a core belief a fairy tale is really nothing other than an excuse to avoid answering difficult questions.

People need to stop being so sensitive on public forums. I can honestly say that if a theist called me a clown for not believing in God I would just laugh it off, what difference does it actually make to what I think is true?

The truth is, many Bible stories do contain the same elements as many fairytales do. In fact, some Bible scholars (e.g Ben Isserlin)actually refer to a "Cinderella theme" when analysing the early books fo the OT. This is essentially the victory of the underdog, the person who wins against all the odds, the snatching of victory from the jaws of defeat. We can easily see this very theme in the stories of Abraham, Joseph, David, and even the nation of Israel itself.

The Bible has a talking serpent, talking trees, and a talking donkey. It is quite interesting that Aesop was plying his trade exactly the same time as the Bible was being written.

Anyway, people need to develop a thicker skin because if you are secure in your faith nothing that anyone says about it would bother you at all, you would feel pity rather than anger and thus feel compelled to continue the dialogue.

Brian.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 13 by GDR, posted 06-28-2005 10:23 AM GDR has not yet responded

  
jar
Member
Posts: 30983
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 15 of 306 (220433)
06-28-2005 12:01 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by GDR
06-27-2005 8:56 PM


On the value of Fairy Tales
or what's in a word.

One of the most influential books (after 1066 and All That) I ran across in my admitedly limited education was a slim volume called Language in Thought and Action by SI Hayakawa. It was required reading back in the 8th. or 9th. grade. It started me thinking about the weight of words and the hidden contexts that they carry.

If you look at Fairy Tales, in most cases they carry some moral lesson. But the term bothers you and many others because of the additional weight and meaning that YOU apply to the term. If I use Fable, or Morality Play, or Historical Teaching, you will probably be more comfortable, but the tale, the story is still the same.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion
This message is a reply to:
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