The Problem with Cherry Picking from the Bible

New blog up: The Problem with Cherry Picking from the Bible.  Thanks for reading guys.  I look forward to any comments you leave me there.

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Comment by Reason Being on February 23, 2012 at 1:40pm

Thanks Steph.  I appreciate it.

Comment by Steph S. on February 22, 2012 at 8:41pm

I'm really enjoying your website -- lots of really neat articles to read -- I have to catch up.

Comment by Joe C on February 22, 2012 at 4:05pm

More generally, I should say my response on these issues is often more like what Loren Miller said below: "there is hardly any need to cherry-pick from its pages."  

If someone begins to discuss with me to what extent The Bible should be seen as an authoritative document, my question might be why do they feel these particular stories of human-god relationships should be revered above all others, regardless of what extent they believe the literal words are true. 

Not to say it isn't a fascinating collection of stories. It is an amazing glimpse into the minds and mythos of an ancient civilization, and in many ways an impressive work of literature. But so are many old documents that people do not similarly revere today (eg. the epics of Gilgamesh or such) 

Comment by Joe C on February 22, 2012 at 3:54pm

Yes, i should've been more clear in my question!

In the next two paragraphs i see it taken as a given that any true christian will see The Bible as the literal word of god. And i certainly understand some denominations feel that way, and to various extents. But given the significant number that don't, this does seem worthy of more explanation.

Comment by Loren Miller on February 22, 2012 at 2:25pm

A reference document is either authoritative or it isn't. The Resnick & Halliday physics text which I studied from 40 years ago is probably little different from one more recently published, but in either case, there is hardly any need to cherry-pick from its pages what to treat as reliable and what not to. The same may be said regarding any reliable text on the sciences or mathematics.

Proponents of the bible as literal truth would have us believe it is as rigorous and that it should be taken as literally as I can take my Resnick & Halliday. Yet it contradicts itself repeatedly, contains conflicting reportage, and has no corroboration from any contemporaneous source of its time. An entire field of study - apologetics - has arisen to deal with the immense consequences stemming from the above-mentioned problems, but their proposed explanations ultimately are vacuous and unsatisfying.

The fact is that the bible is a stitched-together document, a patchwork quilt from multiple authors, written before the concept of editing or proofreading was ever conceived, and it shows it ... badly. Never mind the violence or misogyny it contains; it is an undisciplined, incoherent work. The only way it maintains any form of authority is from the organizations which advance and defend its contents, while at some level recognizing the lie they perpetuate.

By any modern-day standard, the bible is no reference-level text, and does not deserve to be treated as such.

Comment by Reason Being on February 22, 2012 at 2:04pm

Joe, I explain my reasoning for this in the two paragraphs after that sentence.

Comment by Joe C on February 22, 2012 at 1:52pm

Could you elaborate on topic 1 more: "the idea of not taking the bible literally should be outrageous to Christians." 

I honestly don't understand this train of thought. I've talked to a number of Christians, and none of them are believe The Bible should be taken literally, nor do they believe it is the direct verbatim word of God. More commonly i hear that it is a book worthy of reverence and study because it was "divinely inspired" human writings and/or a collections of testimony of divine events.

As it stands, this kinda comes off sounding like a straw man argument. If you could go more into why The Bible should necessarily be taken literally, it could certainly clear up my understanding and i'm sure others as well. As of now, the best i can come up with is an exploration of "why these particular books?" but there might be something more general than that i'm missing.

Comment by Reason Being on February 22, 2012 at 10:27am

Thanks.  I really appreciate the kind words and support!

Comment by Daniel young on February 22, 2012 at 5:48am

A classic argument put into well organized words, Bravo.

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