Should We Read the Bible Literally?


Bill the MaulingBurger poses the question on his blog, the wonderfully named “Culture Watch”.  There’s no culture to be found there, so don’t visit if you like to watch.

His answer is, as you would expect, not entirely straight forward.  He likes to have it both ways, don’t you Billy?  So, when it suits, the answer is yes, of course, you should read it literally, it is the word of dog.  But then, just to be clear, you should also remember things like figure of speech, and not read those bits literally.

In fact, most of us practice selective literalism when it comes to Scripture. That is, we all tend to pick and choose those parts of Scripture which we think should be taken literally. Consider just a few obvious examples.

Ha! No wonder people shun religion – you can’t even agree on which bits are the rules, and which bits are the jokes.

We can even literally describe something that is fictitious. For example, Santa Claus is five foot, eight and weighs 185 pounds. So just because figurative language is used in a passage, that does not mean (as the theological liberals claim) that the passage is non-literal or non-historical.

Or.. it does mean that it is fictional and can’t possibly be historical or literal.

How about this for a bit of fiction then:

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures
From the Novel – The Holy Bible

He rambles on through the blog, trying desperately to show that the bible should be taken literally sometimes, and not so literal at other times, Billy Batter makes no mention of who decides what is literal and then we get to the most clear observation of Bill that I’ve ever seen:

But it reveals that in one sense the Bible is just like any other book, and we therefore need to apply to it the same hermeneutical rules that we use with any other book or work of literature.

Well, not quite like just any other book, most works of fiction tend to be much smaller.  There you have it, you need to study the book, but it’s just like any other book, such as Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings or the koran.

The question often avoided in this type of discussion is this:  Why does a book from god make it so hard to understand?  Does your god need some help from the folks at Ikea on how to develop a proper set of instructions, complete with illustrations and an allen key?  There in is the key to understanding your bible, and the whole of this crazy religious crap.  The book is rubbish, it’s vague and contradictory.  If you have to study it, or have some else tell you how to interpret it, then that should send a warning signal to you that it would be dangerous to consider it anything other than a work of fiction.

Of course the Bible is more than just a human book. It is actually a human and divine book, but that is also the stuff of another article.

Human and divine?  Bullshit.  It’s just made up, and it’s not very good.  I wouldn’t buy it.

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