Nearly All Branches of the Faith Error by Taking the Bible Literally.

Whether it’s conservatives who take every word of the Bible literally, or moderates and liberals who take only some literally, all branches should abandon literalism.

We can start with the most incomprehensive parts. The Adam and Eve story with the talking snake is a good one.  Even though they were the first humans on earth, one of their sons who found a wife elsewhere.

There is Noah’s flood that was supposed to have happened even though there is not enough water in the earth’s atmophere to make it possible.  The exodus of Moses should have left archaological evidence, but there is none.  There are the parts about stoning unfaithful women and children who talk back.  The Old Testament is full of things that cannot be taken literally.

The New Testament has some too.  Graves open up and corpses walk out.  Jesus walks on water and does miracles.

Let’s move to the bread and butter of the faith.  It starts with babies being born “sinners”.  There is no reason whatsoever to believe this.  But then, it is said Jesus died and came to life, the purpose being to forgive mythological sins.

There is no proof of either sin or forgiveness.  Both the liberal and conservative wings of the faith would serve their cause by not taking literally any of those parts of the Bible.

A nation interested in critical thinking will find more attractive, I think, a faith based on individuals’ spiritual inclinations that left mythological history behind.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-mcswain/fundamentalist-christians_b_4999800.html

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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34 Responses to Nearly All Branches of the Faith Error by Taking the Bible Literally.

  1. Long John says:

    It’s all bull; that’s why they call it the BuyBull !!

  2. Henry says:

    Jon:“Whether it’s conservatives who take every word of the Bible literally, or moderates and liberals who take only some literally, all branches should abandon literalism.”

    Listen to Jon the atheist who fails to comprehend the bible, tell us how to interpret the bible.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Henry 1:22 “Listen to Jon the atheist who fails to comprehend the bible, tell us how to interpret the bible.”

      I just realize sometimes you need a little help. : )

      • entech says:

        There are so many ways that that book collection can be interpreted, and so many ways that it is, and so many ways that contradict each other, and so many things in it that contradict themselves. You would think the religious would enjoy something negative such as that provided by you and me and all the others as a bit of light relief, after all it is because we don’t accept that God wrote it that we are different, how do you cope with all those that do believe God wrote, that do believe it is the same god but think he meant something different when he wrote for them than he did when he wrote for someone else. Of course I don’t mean literally wrote with his own hand, but caused to be written in his mysterious way, the mystery comes in how many different things the same thing can be said to mean, quite miraculous when you think about it. Actually thinking about it is not recommended, blind acceptance is the only way to acceptance, acceptance of the writer and acceptance by the writer.

        • Fr. James says:

          This is why we have a magisterium.

          • entech says:

            And so much of that depends on “Revealed Truth”, by whom to whom and why? independent corroboration not needed as in these circumstances we have Papal Infallibility?

    • H.P.Drifter says:

      More BuyBull from Mud Hen Henry!

    • noblindersonme says:

      One does not have to be an atheist to use their open mind to interpret or comprehend the history of the Bible- Henry. I as a Christian have always had questions about how the Bible came into being. WHY have you not also shown such curiosity?
      If the Bible is as you want it be , why has it been repackaged , restyled , edited , restricted , refined into whatever the ‘religious leaders’ of those times decided they wanted it be ? If as many ‘true Chrsitians ‘ beleive the Bible is the word of ‘GOD’ , then why in God’s name has it been subject to so much mangling over the centuries?
      Study history Henry , when the Bible was “written’ , 99% + of those living were illiterate , bonded into slavery and were living lives where freedom of thought had no meaning . Emperors , Popes , Kings and their incest riddled families ‘decided’ what and when , the muddy masses were to think.
      I believe the miracle of Christianity is that the story of Christ and his teachings did survive, despite all the corruption of thought and truth over the centuries. That is what faith should be based on today .
      “The Bible’ , could be just a evolved record of what some corrupted minds determined it be. ( Pope Bubba from 1052 decided Mary Magdalene to be not Christ’s significant other , but a sinful whore , and that will be Biblical law!)
      The word of God ,Henry, should not have been refined by Pope Bubba . you don’t have to be an atheist to wonder about such things.

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        noblinders 1:42 “I as a Christian have always had questions about how the Bible came into being. WHY have you not show such curiosity? ..why has it been repackaged, edited…refined into whatever religious leaders of the time wanted it to be?”

        I caught a comment by Fr. James the other day here. He said that after years of studying the Bible has he come to understand what it really means. The comment was interesting to me because it was identical to comments made by other believers here. They also say their years of study gave them absolute insight.

        The problem is they come to different conclusions. Fr. James is quite far from others here.

        I think what happens is people study stuff over and over. Then, as their lives move along they find approval in the Bible for themselves and come to the conclusion they are really smiled upon by the supernatural god of the mind.

        Other people read it for a long time and then began to wonder, “What were these old guys up to, what were they trying to pull off?” As soon as suspicion creeps in, the door out opens.

      • Wolfy32 says:

        Exactly. I disagree (with Athiests) on one princple. Because there’s no proof of a God therefore there isn’t one…

        There’s no proof that the next dice I roll is going to turn up the number 5, but, people still bet hoping for a certain number. I hate to equate christianity to gambling (Sacralidge). But, to me religion (no matter what religion) is about suppressing free thought and supporting more or less thought control.

        YOu can’t do these things, but I can because I’m your leader… I remember one sermon being about obediance, that God’s ultimate litmus test for whether you’re for him or against him is whether one is obedient of him… Well, how do I know what I’m supposed to obey. The old testament is riddled with incest, pillaging and raping, and not eating pork. The new testament says I should go live in the wilderness like John the baptist and try to convince people that Christ was real…. Umm… both of those will most likely land me in prison.

        Obedience… Heh. If you obey my teachings, you won’t have any of your own thoughts.

        I like to think I’m closer to God in that I’m trying to reach my full spiritual potential by embracing freethinking. Freethinking in terms of allowing room for all of the possibilities. There’s lots of them and to limit myself to any select number of them, would be suppressing free thought. So, as poposterous some ideas may be, I allow room for them..

        Maybe humans are caught in an intersteller war between two warring races or factions. And in some desperation to save the last of their civilization they seeded earth with their genetic seeds. Maybe we’re in the middle of the war and the Christian God is but one faction fighting many other factions. And our numbers are simply needed to keep from joining the enemies numbers.

        Who knows. Maybe there’s nothing, there’s nothing scientifically supporting any possibility… And to limit our thoughts to just one possibility seems rather naive and arrogant of our species.

        Call me a nonconformist…

  3. Doubtful says:

    If you replace error with err I would agree with your title. Unfortunately you then go on to demonstrate that you have no understanding of the value of mythology. You seem to think that myth means lie and totally miss the point. That is not surprising though, as you always do.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Doubtful 11:29 “Unfortunately you then go on to demonstrate you have no understanding of the value of mythology. You seem to think myth means lie and totally miss the point.”

      Interesting post worth a follow up. Please explain how using myth as actual history is “the value of mythology” and helps society. I’d like to learn more about your views on this.

      • Doubtful says:

        You just proved my point. You think that myth can only mean meaningless lie or actual history.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Doubtful 4:44 “You just proved my point. You think that myth can only mean meaningless lie or actual history.”

          Surely, you would have to agree that at least sometimes substitution myth for actual history is harmful. But, you believe sometimes myths are helpful. How about an example.

          • Doubtful says:

            Are you being provocative or are you really that clueless? At what point did I write anything to indicate that I think that substitution of myth for history is ever appropriate? The writers of the Bible did not intend it to be taken as history. It is not history. The fact that some people chose to regard it as history a few thousand years after it was written does not remove the value of the mythology that existed before it was written and continues to this day. It just means that some people have chosen to interpret it differently. The fact that you are unable to discern the value of the mythology and choose to denigrate the Bible and Christianity as if the interpretation of the Bible as history is the only possible interpretation puts you pretty much on a level with those who interpret the Bible as history and believe it is historically accurate.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Doubtful 11:51 “The writers of the Bible did not intend it to be taken as history.”

            I happen to agree with that. But, I’m wondering if you take that mean the entire Bible, as some liberal Christians believe, or only selected parts, as most of our Christian posters on this site believe.

            For example, is it history that Christ died for our sins, or, merely metaphor?

  4. Adam Heckathorn says:

    One thing I’ve payed more attention to over time is Human Nature and how We make decisions and form opinions. I’ve come to the opinion “Mother Nature” doesn’t care about truth. You can come to what ever conclusions You like as long as those conclusions don’t take You and Your entire Clan out of the Gene pool. Our ancestors once lived on much simpler terms evidently as Hunter Gatherers but always in social cooperation with others. Cooperation requires willingness to put the Group ahead of the Individual to a greater or lesser extent. For better or worse We are Social Creatures. I’ve noticed The behavior of People and other Animals can be somewhat Parasitic (selfish) or symbiotic You scratch (My back I’ll scratch Yours) or Self sacrificing. Religious belief serves to justify however We decide to act in a given situation. How We decide to take a part of the Bible Literally or Figuratively is certainly influenced to a great deal by what We perceive as being in Our interest or in the interest of some one We care about. From what I can tell All Societies holds up as a good example self sacrificing behavior like a Soldier Who falls on a grenade, A Savior Who dies on a cross. We expect at least You scratch My back I’ll scratch Yours. We are generally disgusted by blatantly selfish behavior. In fiction depending on the sophistication of the story The Villain is often just plain Evil all the time for example in Cartoons and Action Movies. In real life I’m sure very few really think of Themselves as Villains even when They act in Vile ways We rationalize, justify and Dehumanize Others in order to make acceptable what ever We do. I believe nothing enables this greater than Religious belief and it is incredibly destructive.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Adam 3:07 An excellent review of the sociology of religion. When antropologists visit native peoples in areas mostly isolated from outside influences, they find all aspects of societies complimentary. Thus, they find a society’s marital rules, family structure, version of history and religion all complimenting each other and ultimately all complimenting how they make a living.

      To pretend our own dominate religion did not follow the same pattern is folly. The same for thinking our god is sovereign and independent of these social variables.

      • Adam Heckathorn says:

        As that becomes accepted by more people We will have a better society. The Folks I’ve spent most of My time with over the last twenty Years would have You believe things are bad and getting worse. The reality is Life has improved for billions. I have a friend Who has limped most of His Life because of Childhood polio I was born ten years later and polio wasn’t an issue. I could write for hours on things that have gotten better but progress seems to have to drag some of us along kicking and screaming. My Wife was convinced that it was risky to get the kids vaccinated We only had two at the time They both got whooping cough it makes Me think of a couple of sayings Her Grandfather was fond of “Just because of the Head the whole Body has to suffer” and “Too soon old Too late smart”. These Vaccine Issues are amazing.

        • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

          Adam 7:06 I agree things are getting better all the time. Women, black people, religious minorities including us, asian ammericans and many others have more opportunity than ever before. Gays will be able to marry and have a better domestic and professional lives than anyone dreamed 20 years ago. I hope we skeptics never forget how lucky we are to speak out in public like this.

          Christian spokespersons have their right to complain about “religious liberties.” I hope they also feel fortunate to be able to worship any god they choose.

          • Adam Heckathorn says:

            That’s not to be taken lightly. My ancestors have claimed to be descended from Laurence Saunders Mentioned in Fox’s book of Martyrs. He was burned at the stake by Catholics. (Bloody Mary). For the sake of balance Let Me paste in from anti Catholicism in Wikipedia: Ireland[edit]
            The British Protestant rulers killed many thousands of Irish people (mostly Catholics) who refused to acknowledge the government and sought alliance with Catholic Fance, Britain’s great enemy. General Oliver Cromwell, England’s military dictator (1653–58) launched a full-scale military attack on Catholics in Ireland, (1649–53). Frances Stewart explains: “Faced with the prospect of an Irish alliance with Charles II, Cromwell carried out a series of massacres to subdue the Irish. Then, once Cromwell had returned to England, the English Commissary, General Henry Ireton adopted a deliberate policy of crop burning and starvation, which was responsible for the majority of an estimated 600,000 deaths out of a total Irish population of 1,400,000.”[71]
            In addition to the military conflict and occupation, 50,000 women, children, and men were forcibly removed from Ireland and sent to Bermuda and Barbados as indentured servants

          • entech says:

            Adam 11:32 Cromwell was a fine independent Puritan, a complicated man, a fierce hatred of the Catholics and the cause of much division in the Church of England amongst the many divisions were some nice gentle people called (eventually) Quakers. Part of the contradictory nature of Cromwell and his Puritanism was a support for private individual worship, which included the reopening of the Greater London Synagogue, but savagery against those that chose to remain a part of the establishment.
            The slaughters in Ireland and Scotland could rightly be called attempted genocides, or at least laying the groundwork for atrocities inflicted on Ireland, quite acceptable as genocide was encouraged in the Bible. The restoration lead to the Puritans being severely punished for trying to inflict their idiocy on the country and eventually led to the Pilgrim Fathers, seeking religious freedom and celebrating it by hanging the aforementioned Quakers in Boston.

            So the talk of religious freedom comes from a rather shaky start and is an object lesson in the reason why a total separation of State and Church (in all its forms) is imperative:
            “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

          • Fr. James says:

            entech, but the masters of genocide were atheists who eschewed the Bible.

          • Adam Heckathorn says:

            F.R James 4:27 I think that You make the argument for individual rights. If I want My personal rights respected It is Hypocrisy to be willing to let those of others be trampled on no mater how I might feel about Their way of life or opinions. One thing I think about when I see the terrible violence between shia and Sunni’s I think about The Catholic Cathedral right across the street from the big Lutheran church on Broadway in Fargo there was once terrible violence between these faiths but now They sit across The street from each other. I’ve enjoyed working for Habitat for Humanity and been fed by Lutherans one day and Catholics the next. I believe in Human Rights.

          • Fr. James says:

            Adam, I believe in human rights too. I believe they are natural rights endowed by our Creator.

          • entech says:

            4:27 pm.
            Cromwell an atheist :)
            sorry couldn’t resist that one, it is true many of the maniacs were atheist, it is also true that many others were religious. The Abrahamic Bible is the only source of divine sanction for genocide, sanction! there are verses that demand it.

        • H.P.Drifter says:

          Great posts Adam! Keep up the good work.

          H.P.D.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          Adam; Tell us who those “folks” were, where you : “spent most of (your) time with over the last twenty years..”

    • entech says:

      Adam 3:07 Very interesting and well thought out piece of writing.
      If I may extend the interpretation from a sociological view of religion to the answer to the question of where do we get out morality from, we developed it as a survival mechanism, we found it good and useful and adopted it and incorporated it into our way of life. By we, us, I mean humanity in general more complete and beneficial in some places than others depending on circumstances and the need of the time.
      As well as that it clearly explains the true meaning of the phrase, “the survival of the fittest”, such behaviour renders a group better fitted to survive than one that is taken up with internecine warfare and the urge to dominance.

      Interesting thing is that organised religion tries to usurp the morality for itself and claim their god as responsible, doesn’t matter which of the many gods as long as it is ‘my god’.
      Secondly the same groups try to use the survival of the fittest in a corrupted paradigm, “best fitted to survive” is what should be meant and cooperation makes you fitter to survive that violent competition.

  5. Fr. James says:

    Jon, obviously you don’t understand the Bible. You don’t understand literary criticism or our methods of interpretation. I suggest you read Pope Benedict’s 3 volumes on Jesus of Nazareth. Some parts of the Bible are literally true. For example there are Jews, Jerusalem, Rome, Damascus, and certain people did exist such as Jesus, Peter, and Paul etc.

    You state that original sin is the “bread and butter” of the faith. I think it is more of your personal problem. In fact it is easy to prove. Just look at the newspaper and you will see all manner of human sin in action. You fight so hard to avoid the concept of sin and yet those who know you best could probably recite your sins for you.

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