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Taking the bible literally

I honestly believe that if a person believes in a creator (I don't, but it's none of my business), it is actually quite easy to reconcile the scientific evidence with the stories told in the bible.
As an example, the story of the original creation. First the original Hebrew text says "on the first day....", it is common consensus in Jewish biblical studies to agree that the text does no literally refer to exact periods of 24 hours but is more akin to the English word "moment" which is an undefined length of time.
I actually heard another interesting theory today. It claims that you can define day as one revolution of the Earth on its own axis, which didn't necessarily take 24 hours when od was busy doing his thing.
The only real problem is that the bible isn't internally consistent..

Anyway, er, um, Discuss!
Permalink John Q Tester 
March 22nd, 2005
This is an old and belabored idea. I happen to agree, but it's been done.
Permalink muppet 
March 22nd, 2005
I think genesis is a metaphoric description of the Tao. Think about it, all God does is seprate this from that. Heaven from earth and light from dark etc.
In tao you have Yin and Yang. The notions of Allness and Nothingness, that in trying to cancel eachother out propels and animated all of existance.

I just think the bible was written for people who cant deal logically with pure abstractions, like allness and nothingness.
Permalink NinjaWanker 
March 22nd, 2005
Personally John, I agree with your interpretation. The problem with the literalists is that they don't necessarily realize that they are believing in an interpretation.

They make the mistake of thinking (and claiming) that they are believing in what the Bible literally says -- and then say the Bible literally says a 24-hour day. They ignore any other possible interpretation.

Thus they buy into an agenda that separates science and religion. Now the Bible also says that God has revealed himself in this creation. Thus Science helps reveal to us what God has done, how God has done it, and some things about the Nature of God. The literalists throw this out when they reject science.
Permalink AllanL5 
March 22nd, 2005
What "day" was the sun created? I can't remember. A day is the period between sunsets. There are some long days prior to the sun being created.
Permalink Yo 
March 22nd, 2005
Funny how no one ever seemed to talk about not taking the bible literally until science showed how much of it was nonsense. People want to believe in god because it helps them believe they are alive for some kind of reason. Most are willing to cast off any aspect of religion that seems silly in light of science, as long as they can cling to the basic belief that the universe was create on purpose.
Permalink name withheld out of cowardice 
March 22nd, 2005
Cling to?

What makes you so certain that the universe WASN'T created on purpose? What an AMAZING series of coincidences, if it wasn't, hmm?
Permalink muppet 
March 22nd, 2005
As I said, the bible contradicts itself. In Genesis, God creates the world including Man, male and female together. Then, in the next chapter, He has created man and then taken his rib and created woman. There is a lot of discourse about these two versions of the creation of man.

The other problem with American BornAgains is that their claiming the bible is literally true, but the forget that their working from what is basically junk.
The King James or Gideons bible is an English translation of Latin, that was laboriously copied hundreds of times after it was translated from ancient greek, which was a translation of the original Hebrew version.

"They accidentally translated the Hebrew word for young lady into the Greek word for virgin. So you see the entire christian religion is based on a misconception." which is also the best pun in the world.
Permalink John Q Tester 
March 22nd, 2005
Wouldn't that be stealing?
Permalink son of parnas 
March 22nd, 2005
I liked the one about the monk who was researching transcriptions and found a minor mistake and broke down in tears. See, the word "celebrate" had somehow become "celibate"...
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
March 22nd, 2005
I'm not certain at all. I think the answer to such a question is unknowable. I just think that one should be careful when he arbitrarily believes the thing he wants to in th eabsence of evidence.

If your argument is that the existence of life is so improbable that it must have been created on purpose, I would respond first that it is a non sequitur.

Second I would point out that the only circumstances under which we would be here to observe this improbable fact is the circumstance under which the improbable fact was, in fact, fact. Not so improbable at all when looked at that way.
Permalink Name withheld out of cowardice 
March 22nd, 2005
+++Second I would point out that the only circumstances under which we would be here to observe this improbable fact is the circumstance under which the improbable fact was, in fact, fact. Not so improbable at all when looked at that way.+++

Just as improbable. This is an empty argument used again and again, and it still holds no water.
Permalink muppet 
March 22nd, 2005
He is GOD. He can make it in a day, a week, a millisecond. He can create the entire universe and everything in it, but he can't slow|stop|speed up time as He see's fit? You ain't very logical, programma.
Permalink Guns don't kill people. Godless heathens do. 
March 22nd, 2005
Anthropic principle.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
March 22nd, 2005
I dont have a problem with anyones beliefs as such, provided that they either A) Dont demand special considerations or B) Are aware that they might be wrong.
Permalink NinjaWanker 
March 22nd, 2005
John, that's not the only problem. In the first chapter he created the animals first and then man. In the second chapter he created man first, and then animals as .... let's say play things. When Adam got bored of.... playing with the animals, God created woman.
Permalink MarkTAW 
March 22nd, 2005
The word 'day' used in the Genesis account is very similar in meaning to the word 'day' used in English. Sure you _can_ use it to mean an unspecified period of time but the phraseology has to support that meaning as 'in my father's day'. As used in the Genesis account there is no such supporting structure, and the account has the whole "evening and morning" thing which specifiically means a literal day.

So, quite frankly, anyone trying to claim that Genesis 1 doesn't claim the world was created in six days is engaged in pure wishful thinking.
Permalink Mr Jack 
March 22nd, 2005
Mr. Jack -

The bible is FULL of parables that aren't necessarily literal. The fact that Genesis doesn't say "and each day was 1.42572093192340 million years long" isn't any indication that it isn't allegorical.
Permalink muppet 
March 22nd, 2005
If there was no Earth, who was to say how long a day was?
Permalink MarkTAW 
March 22nd, 2005
What day was God born? Who created God? Does God have friends? Does he go golfing? Does god have a god? Does god have his own bible to worship his god?
Permalink D 
March 22nd, 2005
Sorry to ask this Mr. Jack, but are you actually a fluent reader of ancient Hebrew text?
You see, I am, and trust me the usage is not unambiguous.

Sorry for snapping
Permalink Petty Officer, INS Lahav, Israeli Navy 
March 22nd, 2005
"What makes you so certain that the universe WASN'T created on purpose? What an AMAZING series of coincidences, if it wasn't, hmm?"

There's certainly no way to know that universe wasn't created on purpose. Of course, if you accept that the universe was create on purpose by something then you immediately have to ask what created that? And so on indefinately.

As for the amazing series of coincidences -- you're kinda looking at it from the wrong angle. A bunch of shit happens and you look at it and go "wow, it's a total coincidence all this shit happened". What do you have to base that on?
Permalink Almost Anonymous 
March 22nd, 2005
D,

Since you appear to be a non-believer, how was the Earth created? What created the Universe? Some "Big Bang"? That seems just as unlikely to me as God seems to you.
Permalink jb 
March 22nd, 2005
Who created the universe?

I don't know. I don't pretend to know. I don't write books based on folklore that pretend to know.

Perhaps some questions can go left unanswered ... I can live w/ that.
Permalink D 
March 22nd, 2005
I did it. I made the Earth.

It's just as reasonable, isn't it?
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
March 22nd, 2005
It certainly would explain a lot. ;-)
Permalink MarkTAW 
March 22nd, 2005
If there is a god, why does he hide the "fact" that he exists? Why is the "evidence" so poor? Why is there so much disagreement?

Since not everybody believes in him, either he is defective or does not exist.
Permalink somebody else 
March 22nd, 2005
Uhhhh...hmmm...can't decide how to take that...compliment? insult?
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
March 22nd, 2005
Aaron: the world, the universe, and everything is absolutely perfect (and brilliant set of coincidences as well). So I'd take it as a compliment.
Permalink Almost Anonymous 
March 22nd, 2005
+++Since not everybody believes in him, either he is defective or does not exist.+++

Since you are clearly privvy to the whole nature of the universe, why don't you clue the rest of us in so that we can share in your certainty?
Permalink muppet 
March 22nd, 2005
Muppet is right. Clearly just because not everybody believes in God doesn't mean he's defective or doesn't exist.

See it's all part of God's plan to divide people into two categories: sinners and saints. Sinners, when they die, spend eternity in a very hot and uncomfortable place. Saints get to be on soft fluffy clouds with all the vigins that it would a sin to screw on Earth.

Now, it's generally accepted that if you've never even heard of God you get a free pass as a Saint. The alternative would be to throw a lot of babies, children, and abboriginal tribespeople from the Amazon into hell. Unfortunately, if you've ever had a passing mention of God or had the Watchtower personally delivered to your door then you're going to hell for not believing.
Permalink Almost Anonymous 
March 22nd, 2005
AA -

Well, that was ALMOST funny.
Permalink muppet 
March 22nd, 2005
Though this topic seems to have gone off the rails by now, I will point out that most people don't claim to take the Bible literally. What they claim is that the Bible is true. They will interpret some parts literally, but other parts figuratively or metaphorically, based on this overarching principle.

To me it seems no more unreasonable to suppose God created the world in six 24-hour days than to suppose God created the world in six indeterminate-length eons. But the interesting thing about the story is that one of its purposes, perhaps even the primary purpose, is to explain the origin of the Sabbath.

"Papa, why do we rest on the Sabbath?"

"Well, son, it all started waaaaay back at the beginning, before there was anything around at all except God..." followed by Genesis 1.

In this respect it's not unlike Native American myths, for instance, about how the earth came to be or how a particular tribe came into existence.
Permalink Kyralessa 
March 22nd, 2005
somebody else:

God answered your question a long time ago. "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings." Prov. 25:2
Permalink Nathan 
March 22nd, 2005
Nope, that's not how it works at all.

See, I've arranged it such that when you die, you either become your previous worst enemy, a ferret, or a one dollar bill.

Then, after spending some time as that, you get to wear all your clothes on the outside for a change, and keep your feelings on the inside. This resembles what you think of as normal life, but this time it actually works.

Then you get to watch the whole thing from the outside and point and laugh as everyone stuck there makes up their own ideas.

Then you go back into the fishbowl and have to forget what you just learned and start all over again from scratch.

Then, when you think it's all over, I'll turn on the lights and tell you what it's really all about.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
March 22nd, 2005
"I will point out that most people don't claim to take the Bible literally. What they claim is that the Bible is true."

The problem is one of reconciling those things. It is *true* that God created the Earth in 7 days? Is it only true that God created the Earth and the 7 days is just metephorical? It's a pretty fine line to walk.
Permalink Almost Anonymous 
March 22nd, 2005
C'mon, I made the world 30 seconds ago.

I also made it 6000 years ago.

And 14 billion years ago.

I'm making it right now, too.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
March 22nd, 2005
"Well, that was ALMOST funny."

Oh come on.. I think I'm on to something. The only reason I can think of for God not to reveal himself in all his glory all the time is to divide people into believers and non-believers. It stands to reason that if he's going through all the trouble to do that then something must happen different between believers and non-believers.

Wow, this Bible thing practically writes itself...
Permalink Almost Anonymous 
March 22nd, 2005
"To me it seems no more unreasonable to suppose God created the world in six 24-hour days than to suppose God created the world in six indeterminate-length eons."

Why? If you're all-powerful, would getting something done in one length of time be anymore difficult than in another?
Permalink ? 
March 22nd, 2005
Humans create Gods in their own images.
Permalink Peter 
March 22nd, 2005
From earlier post:

God answered your question a long time ago. "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings." Prov. 25:2


The purpose of things people don't like are "unknowable mysteries" and the things that people do like are "blessings from god".

If god is concealing something, how do you "search it out"?

The bible is full of things that sound deep but serve to immunize the religion from criticism.

Makes no sense.
Permalink somebody else 
March 22nd, 2005
"Since you are clearly privvy to the whole nature of the universe, why don't you clue the rest of us in so that we can share in your certainty?" - Muppet.

I did. You just choose not to listen.
Permalink somebody else 
March 22nd, 2005
Religion don't mind critism.

Who cares what you non-believer think.
Permalink Rick Tang 
March 22nd, 2005
"Oh come on.. I think I'm on to something. The only reason I can think of for God not to reveal himself in all his glory all the time is to divide people into believers and non-believers. It stands to reason that if he's going through all the trouble to do that then something must happen different between believers and non-believers.

Wow, this Bible thing practically writes itself... "

But gods were tangible visible creatures early on in man's history. Then as we smartened up and realized that a bear, lion, or tree wasn't god, the conmen with a vested interest in keeping the superstition alive, started stripping away the qualities perceptible to our senses.

Think of Eric Idle from Monty Python explaining it all:

Oh you can't see him now because he chooses to be invisible.

And you can't touch him because he's made himself intangible, guvaner.

And you can't hear him because he always walks around in big soft wool slippers.

God has steadily been reduced to a "god of the gaps" over the millenia. He now only fits into the narrow cracks where we can't shed the scientific light yet.
Permalink Great Expectorations 
March 22nd, 2005
Actually, a lot of religious people hate criticism. They fear it. Questioning their authority is taken to be questioning God.

That's why I prefer science.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
March 22nd, 2005
Yeah, and scientists welcome critism from non-scientist.
Permalink Rick Tang 
March 22nd, 2005
I do, yes.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
March 22nd, 2005
I have no preference.
Permalink Rick Tang 
March 22nd, 2005
You see, a good scientist tries to tear down the very things they hope to be true. You don't see that in religion.
Permalink Aaron F Stanton 
March 22nd, 2005
Sometimes you have to accept that you have to live with uncertainty.

You think all believers are dogmatist?

Just hope Canada and America would not become theocracy.

What does a country ruled by unions called?
Permalink Rick Tang 
March 22nd, 2005
United ...:-)
Permalink Gloria Smoney 
March 22nd, 2005
The story of the Creation, Adam and Eve and most of Genesis up until the Patriarchs was brought back by the Jews from Babylon.
Permalink Simon Lucy 
March 22nd, 2005
The great flood, virgin birth, and a shitload of other stuff was "borrowed" from earlier myths.

Indeed the bible maybe the greatest collection of plagiarised works in history.
Permalink  
March 22nd, 2005
Face it if you try and take the bible literally you're going to hit problems. There are two inconsistant versions of the nativity for example. However, if you look at it as a sincere attempt by believers to connect with God as best they can it makes sense.

Of course that might conflict with dogma but - how can I put this - tough.
Permalink a cynic writes... 
March 22nd, 2005
"The bible is FULL of parables that aren't necessarily literal. The fact that Genesis doesn't say "and each day was 1.42572093192340 million years long" isn't any indication that it isn't allegorical."

The Bible is not "FULL of parables". Parables occur almost exclusively in the Gospels, and they are always introduced as such. The writer of Genesis 1 might have intended it to be allegorical - it's possible - but if it is, there is no indication given either in the account itself or in later references to it.

Quite frankly, unless one has an existing commitment to believing that the Bible contains truth there is no reason to consider the Genesis account anything more credible than the creation mythologies of any of the other ignorant peoples around the world.
Permalink Mr Jack 
March 23rd, 2005
What about the enlightened peoples? What color are they and in what way are their creation myths better?
Permalink Rich Rogers 
March 23rd, 2005
I mean ignorant literally not perjoritavely (sp?). The people who wrote Genesis, and came up with all other creation mythologies were ignorant of what Science tells us about what actually happened.
Permalink Mr Jack 
March 23rd, 2005
But, Mr Jack, those people were ostensibly divinely inspired, so could it not also be that they attempted to word the story in a manner in which the people of the time could understand what was said?
Permalink muppet 
March 23rd, 2005
"The story of the Creation, Adam and Eve and most of Genesis up until the Patriarchs was brought back by the Jews from Babylon."

"The people who wrote Genesis, and came up with all other creation mythologies were ignorant of what Science tells us about what actually happened."

I don't know that such kinds of automatic statement deserve to go unchallenged.

Here are the Babylonian creation myth and the beginning of Genesis for comparison:

http://campus.northpark.edu/history/Classes/Sources/BabylonianCreation.html
http://campus.northpark.edu/history/Classes/Sources/Genesis1.html

I don't see any sense in which the Genesis account is "derived" from the Babylonian account, not without a serious amount of academic Newspeak.

An open-minded reading of the seven days of creation in Genesis tells a story rather reminiscent of our scientific view today. Keeping in mind the intended readership and that it was written centuries before modern science, I would say it is a remarkably prescient account. (The second part with the story of Adam and Eve is clearly a separate chapter of the story and may well be considered a morality tale.)

If you seriously think the Babylonian material is just a different version of similar material, I think you need to provide some justification.
Permalink Ian Boys 
March 23rd, 2005
"An open-minded reading of the seven days of creation in Genesis tells a story rather reminiscent of our scientific view today"

Really.

How open-minded you have to get? Source?
Permalink Rick Tang 
March 23rd, 2005
> Really. How open-minded you have to get? Source?

Read the Genesis he cited:

"Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters" -- before the Big Bang, nothing existed (nothing except God, i.e. the creative possibility of something existing in the future)

"And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light" -- and a Big Bang too.

"Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water ... God called the expanse "sky."" -- after the initial Big Bang, He created Space, i.e. emptiness between matter ... "the waters" meaning interstellar dust, plasma, black matter or whatever that stuff is out there.

"Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." -- some of the matter in space then condensed to form planetoids.

"Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds" -- then non-animal life appeared on the planet.

"Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth" -- early plants created the atmosphere, and were the earliest beings to notice any difference between night and day.

"So God created the great creatures of the sea" -- animal life was then created, in the seas [that's not to mention birds]

"Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind" -- after which, animal life on land.
Permalink Christopher Wells 
March 23rd, 2005
Yep, Chris' ideas are about parallel with mine.
Permalink muppet 
March 23rd, 2005
That is some seriously funny shit. You guys actually believe those ghost stories?

Sorry, the one true religion is Shintoism. I _thought_ this was an enlightened group, but it's just a bunch of fucking Christians. Bah.
Permalink ronk! 
March 24th, 2005

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Joel on Software discussion board.

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