Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
#51
Old Yesterday, 01:15 PM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: South East England
Posts: 7,102
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Morris View Post
That's really my point. It's the atheists who who take the Bible literally, and claim the measurements are exact, and the bowl a geometrically perfect circle. The more reasonable people will say that the measurements are slightly off, or else it wasn't a perfect circle.
I don't think the atheists take the bible literally at all. They may point to what the bible actually says and ask the believers to explain why that is not to be taken literally but other things are. That isn't taking the bible literally though is it? That's just asking people to back up their claims and explain their reasoning. That's perfectly fair.

An atheist in general would not give the bible a second thought until such time as a believer makes a claim that something in the bible is literally true. If the believers would say that nothing in the bible is true then atheists would not care one jot.
__________________
I'm saving this space for the first good insult hurled my way
#52
Old Yesterday, 01:52 PM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: "Hicksville", Ark.
Posts: 33,828
Quote:
Originally Posted by Novelty Bobble View Post
I don't think the atheists take the bible literally at all. They may point to what the bible actually says and ask the believers to explain why that is not to be taken literally but other things are. That isn't taking the bible literally though is it?
Yes. That's the very definition of taking something literally. You can take what someone says literally without believing they are correct. If I say I "rolled on the floor laughing" and someone else says "No you didn't. I was watching," that person has still just taken me literally.

And I would also argue against the idea that it's about getting people to explain their reasoning. There may be the occasional person who just asks for clarification, like the OP here. But it's almost always more about debunking or even just mocking beliefs. It's "the Bible says this thing, but that is contradicted by this thing. This proves that Christianity is false, so stop being stupid and believing in that."

The point is that, if they really want to challenge Christian thought, they need to do more than read the Bible and assume that their literal interpretation is the only valid or possible one. Not only are there other ways of interpreting things, but there are even different literal interpretations!

If they're going to have a legitimate argument, it should be an informed one. Read up on at least the basics of how we reconcile the "gotcha" stuff. And just take the time to consider what counterarguments there can be. The various ways of handing the pi thing are just obvious with five seconds' thought, for example.

And stop just saying the same thing fundamentalists do, where you say we have to interpret everything in this one literal way, and if that's false, then the whole Bible is false.
#53
Old Yesterday, 02:17 PM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: South East England
Posts: 7,102
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigT View Post
Yes. That's the very definition of taking something literally. You can take what someone says literally without believing they are correct. If I say I "rolled on the floor laughing" and someone else says "No you didn't. I was watching," that person has still just taken me literally.
If the preface to your utterance was a solemn and serious statement that everything you were about say was important and holy and significant then I'd be quite right to check with you whether your "rolled on the floor laughing" statement was to be taken literally because that could matters a great deal that some statements are literally true and some aren't.

I don't know any atheist who says the bible has to be taken literally, I know lots of religious people who claim that it should, or at least bits of it should, different bits for different people of course. I also know atheists who ask the religious "is that bit supposed to be taken literally?" and " if that bit is supposed to be taken literally why does it clash with this other bit?" I suspect that is where you are getting confused. A request for clarity is not the same as taking the bible literally. The religious claim that bits of it are literally true. I don't know any atheists that do.

If I read another work of historical literature that is a mixture of fact, fiction and fable that is claimed to have a supernatural basis of monumental significance for the whole of mankind then I'd quiz those making the claim about which bits of the text are literally true
and which aren't and for them to explain contradictions and errors. You can't do that without reference to the words that are actually used and if you are saying that such an inquisition would be me taking the text "literally" then I think we are using very different definitions.
__________________
I'm saving this space for the first good insult hurled my way
#54
Old Yesterday, 02:34 PM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 2,476
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kobal2 View Post
So, to be fair, this is sort of a joke question, but I'm interested in hearing serious answers to it from believers and/or Bible scholars and/or comparative religion majors.

So I was reading Genesis 1 earlier today (as you do), and something struck me : for the first three "days" (it never actually says "on the first day, yadda yadda", did y'all know that ? I didn't ! Floored me. Pop culture osmosis is shit) God does something, and then it says "and there was an evening, and there was a morning : that was the Nth day".

However, it's only on the fourth day that God reportedly sets up the whole lighting system that separates night and day to begin with. Soooo whence the days before ? Was God just a con artist before that fourth day, performing cheap theatricals to make believe there was a day/night cycle ? "Now you see the Universe, now you don't, is that your planet madam ?!"

I'm sure the logical inconsistency has bugged people before, just as I'm sure leading Christian lights from Aquinas to Miley Cyrus have expounded on the subject and sort of retconned/handwaved it away, but how is that reconciled by Bible literalists and suchlike, really ? I mean it's in the first few pages of the book. I've tossed fantasy or sci-fi books aside for lesser consistency crimes. What gives ? Is it a translation snafu, what ?


It's a pretty glaring error, along the lines of did Adam and Eve have belly buttons, and If Adam and Eve only produced three sons (Cain, Abel and Seth) where did the rest of the human race come from? And again after the great flood, if only Noah's family survived, where did the rest of the human race come from? Kind of makes incest inevitable, doesn't it?
#55
Old Yesterday, 02:44 PM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 2,476
Quote:
Originally Posted by kanicbird View Post
Sometimes I wonder if those days are terraforming steps that some super alien race made for us, seeding us on this planet which may have been rogue before their intervention, and relaying the story in a way that early humans could understand it for that time and one day further understand it's meaning.

But as pointed out above God created the day/nite cycle up front, adding sun/moon cycles later.


So how were days measured before the sun and moon were created?
#56
Old Yesterday, 03:18 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: The far canal
Posts: 11,840
Quote:
Originally Posted by DesertDog View Post
Really? So, when evangelicals claim the manuscripts do not affirm anything that is contrary to fact, and the atheists point out that Pi isn't really 3, it's the atheists who are at fault? Interesting take.
The atheists are at fault because they take the phrase "10 cubits" and mentally substitute "10.000000 cubits, and not a hairs breadth more or less" and they take the word "round" and substitute "geometrically exact perfect circle." That is an unreasonable interpretation of the text.
#57
Old Yesterday, 04:03 PM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: South East England
Posts: 7,102
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Morris View Post
The atheists are at fault because they take the phrase "10 cubits" and mentally substitute "10.000000 cubits, and not a hairs breadth more or less" and they take the word "round" and substitute "geometrically exact perfect circle." That is an unreasonable interpretation of the text.
If people don't claim more than the text will bear I don't see it as a problem for non-believers. The "value" of pi in the bible is exactly what one would expect if it were a cobbled together approximation by a fairly basic bronze-age civilisation and that's fine. Once people start claiming divine inspiration by a supernatural being then it is perfectly fair that the text should be held to a higher standard.
__________________
I'm saving this space for the first good insult hurled my way
#58
Old Yesterday, 05:51 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Lincoln, IL
Posts: 24,844
Quote:
Originally Posted by Novelty Bobble View Post
If the preface to your utterance was a solemn and serious statement that everything you were about say was important and holy and significant then I'd be quite right to check with you whether your "rolled on the floor laughing" statement was to be taken literally because that could matters a great deal that some statements are literally true and some aren't.
If you're saying that the more "important and holy and significant" a statement or narrative is claimed to be, the more important it is to know how to take it (literally vs. otherwise), I agree.

If you're saying that the more "important and holy and significant" a statement or narrative is claimed to be, the more literally it is meant to be taken, I strongly disagree.
#59
Old Yesterday, 06:42 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Idaho
Posts: 9,892
Quote:
Originally Posted by Novelty Bobble View Post
If people don't claim more than the text will bear I don't see it as a problem for non-believers. The "value" of pi in the bible is exactly what one would expect if it were a cobbled together approximation by a fairly basic bronze-age civilisation and that's fine. Once people start claiming divine inspiration by a supernatural being then it is perfectly fair that the text should be held to a higher standard.
Actually, since they don't actually present pi and instead present measurements of a physical, measurable object, I'm kind of surprised by the imprecision. You want to measure something round, like a basin, you run a cord around it and then stretch out and measure the cord. That ain't rocket math.
#60
Old Yesterday, 10:08 PM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 1,183
Quote:
Originally Posted by Musicat View Post
Not if your literalist is allowed to lapse into interpretist when it suits him.
In fact, literalism is one of the most interpreted ways of going about it, because literalism doesn't fit the facts.
#61
Old Yesterday, 10:14 PM
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2018
Posts: 1,183
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigT View Post
And stop just saying the same thing fundamentalists do, where you say we have to interpret everything in this one literal way, and if that's false, then the whole Bible is false.
In the fundamentalist mindset, that is exactly the case. Fundamentalists claim the Bible is inerrant and perfect. It is trivial to find absolute proof that the Bible is neither inerrant nor perfect. Therefore all fundamentalists are necessarily and without exception shitheads.
#62
Old Today, 01:56 AM
Guest
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: "Hicksville", Ark.
Posts: 33,828
Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidwithanR View Post
In the fundamentalist mindset, that is exactly the case. Fundamentalists claim the Bible is inerrant and perfect. It is trivial to find absolute proof that the Bible is neither inerrant nor perfect. Therefore all fundamentalists are necessarily and without exception shitheads.
Right. I don't have a problem with saying the fundamentalist, literalist mindset is wrong. I just don't like it when atheists who have only that basic literalist interpretation use it to "disprove" Christianity as a whole.

There are legitimate angles to go with, like the lack of proof, certain theological problems with unsatisfying answers, concepts of rationality, and other such that can be brought up. But "I interpret the Bible this way, and that way doesn't actually work, therefore Christianity is wrong." As far as I'm concerned, they are just begging the question, since they will inherently by their own biases pick an interpretation that creates flaws.

And, yes, that does mean that Christians often do the opposite.
#63
Old Today, 04:22 AM
Guest
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: South East England
Posts: 7,102
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigT View Post
I just don't like it when atheists who have only that basic literalist interpretation use it to "disprove" Christianity as a whole.
I think you need to accept that atheists don't have a literalist interpretation of the bible any more than they have a literalist interpretation of "The Lord of the Rings". If you don't claim any of it is factually correct or that it sets out universal laws and dictats then no-one will be pushing back on what the words actually mean.

Show me a piece of writing that is purely fictional, decorative and for entertainment only and I'm going to enjoy it or not purely on aesthetic merits. Tell me that the same piece of writing is in fact some form of binding contract that should be used to govern the behaviour of humans and the rule of law then you can be absolutely sure that I'll be scrutinising the small print.

You can't escape the problem that, if you base your religion on the writings of the bible (and you do....) then what is written, what it says and what it means is massively important. If you say that the evidence for the truth of Christianity comes from the book (and it does, that is all there is) then if the book itself is riddled with errors, contradictions and outright fairy-tale you are going to have a hard time making the case.
__________________
I'm saving this space for the first good insult hurled my way
#64
Old Today, 06:58 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: The far canal
Posts: 11,840
Quote:
Originally Posted by Novelty Bobble View Post
I think you need to accept that atheists don't have a literalist interpretation of the bible ...
Except that some of them do. The pi=3 claim requires a degree of literalism beyond that of the worst fundamentalist.
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:45 AM.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: [email protected]

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: [email protected].

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: cat eats weed mirror pronunciation pumpkin cost marinade vacuum 190 cc redonkulous origin wound tighter than braunschweiger recipes shuttle columbia bodies ww2 parachute material high credit us volts short change con slot sofa heated kitchen sink dremel dental whoppers junior suffocating plastic bag open freezers caller number 9 best pick reports roof spacing is roulette fixed abstaining votes bacteria smells snopes wd40 vc 21651 a mash 8063 cum laude pronunciation strode family preachers hcl name calling a girl buddy some girls are bigger than others lyrics meaning of the name sherlock funny rudolph the red nosed reindeer what happened to big gay al spy game dinner out why do democrats wear red ties how much does best buy car stereo installation cost can you buy beer with a walmart gift card tempurpedic swedish sleep system can i be charged with dui after the fact how to use moth balls safely best store bought coleslaw mohawk valley pasteurized process limburger cheese spread how to remove screens from vinyl windows central air vs window unit how to select all photos on google photos longest us state name what is it called when a song has no words just music through the honking and horns swiss army watch tool to remove back why are pants called a pair along the same vein eye prescription 20/20 leaving a cat alone for a week does blue and yellow make green john deere string trimmer manual why does stewie have an accent enola gay dolphin and whale why are europe and asia considered separate continents guy with one testicle pics lever action vs bolt action yogurt antibiotics same time