Friday, 29 October 2010

On the literal interpretation of the Bible

One thing is clear: that Christians who undertake a literal interpretation of the Bible (claiming that the cosmos was made in six days, for instance; or that Joshus made the sun stand still at noon) are more than in error. They are blasphemous. I don't doubt their blasphemy is unconscious, and therefore forgiveable. But they are inconsistent to their own beliefs.

Christians must believe that God is Truth, or they could hardly call themselves Christians. Indeed, any Christian will believe that Truth is the cornerstone of their faith. To believe that there is only one mode of truth, a narrowly literalist A-maps-to-B correspondance understanding of Truth, is therefore to believe that God Himself is narrowly literalist and bound by correspondance; is to foist your own finite, limited, human understanding of 'truth' onto the God you worship. Because, of course, God's truth is much more than narrowly literalist. The Bible does not describe a pedant God. God's truth is surely much grander and wider, much more metaphorical and wide-ranging, than this. Neither Shakespeare's greatest poetry nor Beethoven's symphonies are true in the narrow pedantic literalist sense; yet they are truer in ways closer to God's truth than any timid legalistic faux-precision.

So: by insisting upon a pedantically literalist interpretation of the Bible, you are attempting to confine God upon the procrustean bed of your own mental limitations. Don't.

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