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4-1 ds

When confronted with awkward examples of literalism, biblical literalists like Ken Ham point out that some biblical passages are literally poetry and artistic imagery, and that is certainly true.

There are still significant problems that are always ignored, though.

RJS (rather than Dr. McKnight) of Jesus Creed posted this article, where he discusses the tendency of biblical literalism to be more along the lines of philosophical foundationalism, which he asserts is often the same for strident atheists.

Flat earth? It is hard to claim artistic speech or poetry with the four corners of the earth. Revelation 7:1, while it is a vision, it is hard to assert it is merely figurative. Revelation 20:8, where the revelator likens the army to the sands of the sea, but at least he indicate that is simile. Isaiah 41:8-9 can hardly be seen as God speaking metaphorically. There is textual uncertainty in that one though. Isaiah 11:12 is a pretty straight forward statement of four corners.

There are enough references to corners, and other references indicating the ability to see all the earth from great height (or vice versa), that it is easy to argue for a flat earth, yet nearly all Christians reject the notion. We know good and well it is spherical and has no corners. That is a problem generally ignored by biblical literalists.

The bible indicates the earth is firmly established and cannot be moved. The Psalms assert it twice. While obviously poetic, the statement is clear, not presented with an apparent intent of artistic licence. It is reasonable to suppose the Psalms are remembering David’s song when the ark of God was returned, as recorded in I Chronicles 16. Again, poetic, but not presented as metaphor in any way. It seems obvious the biblical writers understood earthquakes, so they could not have been intending to mean the ground never trembles. They seem clearly to have meant the earth was on a stationary foundation that couldn’t be kicked over or disrupted. Again, no one supposes this means what it seems plainly to mean. Another ignored issue among biblical literalists.

There is, also, the use of the word for heaven. The bible regularly uses it to indicate the air, where the birds fly, and the sky where the celestial bodies are, and for the abode of God, and then there is the heaven of heavens reference. Real hard to get literal with that much variability in one word.

While many of the biblical assertions about heaven, such as where God stores snow, hail, and lightning, can be justifiably taken as figurative, it is quite hard to get around Genesis 1:6-8 when one insists on strict literalness in the rest of the first chapter.

These links open each verse with several translation in parallel. Clicking a version heading for a verse will open the chapter in that translation. Note the tool bars toward the top of the pages. The interlinear shows the Hebrew and transliteration, with ready links for the word or (more informatively) Strongs’ rendering of it.

Obviously the only way to take these statements literally is with this graphic:

4-1 ds

I’m not sure I’ve ever even heard of anyone espousing that concept. That is, there are still a few people, typically claiming backing from their sacred writings, that the earth is flat, or that the earth is actually stationary with all the universe revolving around it. (Not only Christians do this.) But I’ve never heard of anyone trying to claim this graphically depicted view that so closely matches the statements in the opening chapter of Genesis. No one in modern memory asserts the universe is filled with water and that the sky is firm enough to separate out some air for the earth to sit in within.

I also have trouble seeing how to take literally the waters gathering together in a single place, yet the very next verse refers to seas (plural). It is verifiably obvious that all the water is not gathered in just one place, and the fact is confirmed right there in the remainder of the statement using the plural for large bodies of water.

Check it.

I’ll close by quoting RJS’ closing:

“The foundationalist approach to knowledge is the root of many errors. We need to read Scripture for all it is worth, from beginning to end. But the foundation of our faith is in God and in the person of Jesus Christ, not in the “plain” reading of Genesis 1.”


Orthodox bishop Metropolitan Nicholas:

“Research that is done to challenge God, has the disease of prejudice. Research is done to discover scientific truth. What problem is there with someone wanting to broaden the horizons of their thoughts and knowledge? God is approached better this way. God is not an ideology that we should by all means defend, but we believe in Him because He is Truth. In this sense, even scientific truth reveals Him. If He is still questioned, it is time to find out about Him. A believer who fears scientific research, fears the truth. Perhaps he is a believer who does not believe.” is an excellent resource.

On Valentine’s Day, they posted this love note regarding the #hamonney debate:

I’ll second this one:  Read the rest of this entry »

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