Bible Literalists

old-bible677I don’t have problems with the Bible.  I have problems with people who accept the Bible as the literal, inerrant word of God.

I don’t get the logic of this.  I really don’t.

The Bible is a book written by the hand of man.  Actually, it is a series of many books, and it was men who decided which among many choices of books should be included, and it was men who decided how these books should be arranged.  It is men who translated, or mistranslated, the Bible into all the languages that it is currently available in.

It is men who interpret the Bible.  It is men who disagree as to how the Bible should be interpreted.  It is men who declared the Bible to be inerrant, and it is men who tell us that the Bible IS inerrant.  It was men who told us that the Bible was perfectly translated.  Nowhere in the Bible does it declare itself to be the inerrant word of God, because the Bible did not even exist as a single coherent work until well after the last book of the Bible had been written.

So, men are imperfect.  They are ridiculously, ludicrously, insanely imperfect.  Men are perfectly capable of lying to attain personal agendas.  Men are perfectly capable of reading the same Biblical passage and coming up with as many interpretations of that passage as there are men who read it.

It is men who pick and choose which passages to follow (homosexuality is bad) and which not to follow any more (children who misbehave should be stoned).

It is men who put words into the Bible where no words exist (abortion is murder), and men who are willing to die or kill for these self same non-existent passages.

The point is that, for the average Joe or Mary in the pews, God at no point enters into the equation.  And even for those who have some kind of personal relationship with God, this relationship usually goes no further than a friendship / prove He exists type of thing.  There is still no God there telling people that the man there standing at the pulpit knows what the heck he’s talking about.  And even if there is for some people, there are just as many “Gods” talking to people in other “pews” telling them to believe then man at the pulpit who is delivering an opposite message.

God may or may not have been part of the original inspiration for the work, but it is pretty clear that the Bible is not wholly the word of a perfect being.  If so, then I suspect that the darned thing would be a whole lot clearer, and we wouldn’t have umpteen thousand religious sects that each interpret the Bible differently.

It is the Bible which states a seemingly clear law (Thou shalt not kill), and later in the same story orders the followers of that law to murder innocent men, women and children.  Is killing only acceptable if God decrees it to be so?  Do I get a get out of jail free card if I murder someone and say that God told me to do it?  This clearly is the direction in which chaos lies.

The first two chapters of the Bible are actually the merging of two different books, each giving an alternate view on the creation of the world.  One suggests that man and woman were created simultaneously, and another states rather clearly that man came first, and woman was created much later after the first man became bored.  Was the first man then created with genitalia?  Let’s face it, much of a man’s equipment is not really necessary unless there is a woman around to make pregnant.  And if we are made in God’s image, why the heck would HE need genitalia?  Did He really anticipate His little fling with Mary that far in advance?

As I said, I have no problem with the Bible as a book.  Even if as a book it is largely fictional, it still gives ideas as to how ordinary men and women lived and believed in those times.  If we accept the Bible as only a book, we can find things of moderate interest in there.  But inerrant?  Not by any reasonable stretch of the imagination.  I was tempted to say not by the furthest stretch of the imagination, but this is clearly incorrect…proven by the many biblical literalists out there.

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4 thoughts on “Bible Literalists

  1. another fascinating topic. if i may:

    concerning the logic of the taking the words written in the 66 books of what we have, through many years of studious attention to detail on the part of numerous scholars and historians, come to call “the bible” literally (and within the context of respective histories and use of grammar): i ask you; under the guidelines of the normal use of language, and unless otherwise instructed, in what other way should this series of historical documents be taken; and if not literally, why not?

    concerning transmission and translation: though none of the autographs are known to be in existence today (as is true of most books of antiquity), accuracy in these areas can be rightly attributed to the many hebrew, greek and/or aramaic educated individuals through the centuries who have been responsible for the proper handling of the 700+ hebrew and over 5000 greek manuscripts used for the transmission and/or translation of the old and new testament books.

    concerning interpretation:

    who is speaking? who is being spoken to? all “scripture” – the thing written – does not speak to all people. context must always be considered. and scripture must only be compared to and interpreted by scripture, as “no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one´s own interpretation” (2peter 1:20)

    concerning inerrency:

    one could categorize this as a matter of “faith” alone (if one did not take into account the criteria used to judge the validity and authenticity of all books of antiquity), but, as scripture is based on the nature and character of god, it is considered, by those god believing individuals who, under the rules of logic and normal language usage, read its words literally, to be inerrent. within the claims of the bible god is the god of truth (psalms 31:5; romans 3:4); god´s word is truth (psalms 119:160; john 17:17); and god cannot lie (titus 1:2; hebrews 6:18). this is only by way of explanation and not a forensic study.

    clearly there is much more to be said on behalf of the validity of a literal understanding of the bible. we can talk of general and special revelation, preservation, textual criticism, inscripturation, illumination, canonicity, authority, animation, prophecy, even extra-biblical evidences such as collaborating histories and archeological finds, but, on a final note:

    concerning inspiration:

    “God may or may not have been part of the original inspiration for the work…”

    the english word inspire[d,ing,ation] is a translation of the greek word derived from the words theos and pneuma – god breathed, making it impossible for god not to have been a part of “the work”. i only mention this to ask the questions; which parts of the compiled book do maintain are fictional, and why? which parts do you find to be unclear, and why?

    i cannot answer to the question of why some men “pick and choose which passages to follow”, with the exception of the aforementioned guidelines (history, grammar, context, etc), nor as to why people add to the written word, except to concur with your assessment that “they are ridiculously, ludicrously, insanely imperfect.” but, i assure you, you have not expressed a single doubt about the bible or its teachings that i cannot explain in a sensible way within the perameters of the literal meaning of words in the context in which they were used.

  2. concerning transmission and translation: though none of the autographs are known to be in existence today (as is true of most books of antiquity), accuracy in these areas can be rightly attributed to the many hebrew, greek and/or aramaic educated individuals through the centuries who have been responsible for the proper handling of the 700+ hebrew and over 5000 greek manuscripts used for the transmission and/or translation of the old and new testament books.

    I recommend Bart Ehrman’s book, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why
    HarperOne (February 6, 2007)
    ISBN-13: 978-0060859510

  3. and god cannot lie (titus 1:2; hebrews 6:18)

    But in other places, God does lie. Genesis 2:16-17, for example. Ezekiel 14:9. Jeremiah 20:7. 2 Thessalonians 2:11.

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