Saturday, May 8, 2010

Creationism: Selective defense of Bible literalism

Creationists defend a literal interpretation of just certain parts of the Bible, while ignoring others. Here are a few examples that demonstrate this inconsistency.

Creationists defend a literal reading of Genesis 1 as referring to 144 hours (6 consecutive days of 24 hours). But they skip over the word “firmament.” As anyone who consults a Biblical concordance and dictionary will discover, the Hebrew word used for firmament (raquia) refers to a thin dome of metal, beaten out by a hammer. A metal dome. We all know that there is no metal dome in the sky, and creationists conveniently ignore this word, or interpret it figuratively. The Answers in Genesis website chooses the figurative interpretation, for the literal one is preposterous. The author claims that the word is used figuratively in other parts of the Bible. But this is not a defense of the creationist position; it merely demonstrates that the Bible itself permits figurative interpretations, and that literalistic ones are not necessary.

Creationists insist on interpreting the Flood of Noah as literally covering the Earth, as described in Genesis 6-9. However, in the very next chapter (Genesis 10:25), the Bible says that in the days of the patriarch Peleg “the Earth was divided.” The Hebrew word used for Earth is the same as the one used in the Noah account—the Earth that was completely covered by water; that is, from the creationist view, the planet. And the word for “divided” literally means a splitting, as with a cleaver or sword. The only literalistic interpretation possible is that the entire planet was cut into two or more pieces. This obviously did not happen. The Answers in Genesis website claims that the passage referred to a figurative splitting of peoples into different cultural groups. They insist that Genesis 6-9, but not Genesis 10, be taken literally.

There are many other examples, such as where Daniel tells the Babylonian king that his rulership extends to the ends of the Earth (Daniel 4:22). This clearly indicates that the king ruled the entire land surface of the planet, that there was no frontier of the empire. Everyone knows this is not the case. In fact, both Daniel and the king knew it. The king certainly knew he had soldiers at the frontier. This indicates, once again, that the people who wrote the Bible did not intend a literalistic interpretation.

Creationists and fundamentalists choose which passages to take literally, and which not, in order to produce the most effective propaganda. In the process, they lose any chance of the rest of us considering them to be honest.

3 comments:

  1. Hello.

    "But they skip over the word “firmament.” As anyone who consults a Biblical concordance and dictionary will discover, the Hebrew word used for firmament (raquia) refers to a thin dome of metal, beaten out by a hammer."

    The Biblical concordance dictionaries I have consulted renders רָקִ֫יעַ as "expanse" not "thin metal dome".

    "The only literalistic interpretation possible is that the entire planet was cut into two or more pieces."

    Are you familiar with Pangea theory? After the flood the continents were dispersed. This clearly indicates there was at one point one continent only.

    "This clearly indicates that the king ruled the entire land surface of the planet."

    Biblical literalism does not deny the existence of hyperbole. Believing the flood has nothing to do with saying the Bible doesn't sometimes use figurative language.

    I hope this clears up a few things. Thank you. Blessings


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