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  #51  
Old 05-19-2018, 01:15 PM
Novelty Bobble Novelty Bobble is online now
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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.
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  #52  
Old 05-19-2018, 01:52 PM
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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 05-19-2018, 02:17 PM
Novelty Bobble Novelty Bobble is online now
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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.
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  #54  
Old 05-19-2018, 02:34 PM
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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 05-19-2018, 02:44 PM
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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 05-19-2018, 03:18 PM
Peter Morris Peter Morris is online now
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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 05-19-2018, 04:03 PM
Novelty Bobble Novelty Bobble is online now
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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.
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  #58  
Old 05-19-2018, 05:51 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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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 05-19-2018, 06:42 PM
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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 05-19-2018, 10:08 PM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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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 05-19-2018, 10:14 PM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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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 Yesterday, 01:56 AM
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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 Yesterday, 04:22 AM
Novelty Bobble Novelty Bobble is online now
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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.
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  #64  
Old Yesterday, 06:58 AM
Peter Morris Peter Morris is online now
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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.
  #65  
Old Yesterday, 10:43 AM
Novelty Bobble Novelty Bobble is online now
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Except that some of them do. The pi=3 claim requires a degree of literalism beyond that of the worst fundamentalist.
OK, well as I say, I think we differ on what it means to take the bible literally.
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  #66  
Old Yesterday, 11:38 AM
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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.
I for one am perfectly willing to admit that in the sport of taking potshots at christianity, sometimes atheists play on easy mode.

It doesn't mean we can't rip into other variants, but when echos of literalism show up (and have you seen the OP of this thread?), sometimes we just grab the giant hammers and start whacking the moles as they pop up. (Over and over and over...)
  #67  
Old Yesterday, 02:28 PM
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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.

What about atheist fundamentalists?
  #68  
Old Yesterday, 04:14 PM
Novelty Bobble Novelty Bobble is online now
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What about atheist fundamentalists?
I think you mean ideological fundamentalists who might also be atheists, seeing as the fundamental core of being an atheist entails not having a belief in god........and that's it (and we've done this argument many times before)
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  #69  
Old Yesterday, 04:30 PM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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What about atheist fundamentalists?
Atheism can't have fundamentalists, because the point of fundamentalism is having a strict set of beliefs. Atheism is one missing belief, and there's nothing else attached to it.
  #70  
Old Yesterday, 06:43 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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Atheism can't have fundamentalists, because the point of fundamentalism is having a strict set of beliefs. Atheism is one missing belief, and there's nothing else attached to it.
There is no Fundamentalist Atheism because there is no published/written work that could set out the fundamentals to which one must adhere to be recognized as an atheist.

That said, there are definitely fundy atheists, (some posting on this board), where the word fundy has come to mean a judgmental person who takes his or her own beliefs and tries to impose them on the world with no possibility of legitimate discussion.

And that said, it should be noted that there are nearly as many views as there are people and any discussion that treats all atheists as if they were fundy atheists is as wrong (and stupid) as acting as though all fundamentalists are judgmental or all religious persons are fundamentalists.
Pick a specific person (Franklin Graham, Madalyn Murray O'Hair, whoever) and one can discuss the particular beliefs that person espoused. Making widespread declarations about members of groups and what they must believe is silly.
  #71  
Old Yesterday, 08:23 PM
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There is no Fundamentalist Atheism because there is no published/written work that could set out the fundamentals to which one must adhere to be recognized as an atheist.



That said, there are definitely fundy atheists, (some posting on this board), where the word fundy has come to mean a judgmental person who takes his or her own beliefs and tries to impose them on the world with no possibility of legitimate discussion.



And that said, it should be noted that there are nearly as many views as there are people and any discussion that treats all atheists as if they were fundy atheists is as wrong (and stupid) as acting as though all fundamentalists are judgmental or all religious persons are fundamentalists.

Pick a specific person (Franklin Graham, Madalyn Murray O'Hair, whoever) and one can discuss the particular beliefs that person espoused. Making widespread declarations about members of groups and what they must believe is silly.


This is a good clarification, although fundy would still be short for fundamentalist, which atheists by definition apparently cannot be. But they can be enthusiastic or overzealous sometimes.
  #72  
Old Today, 01:18 AM
DavidwithanR DavidwithanR is offline
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I think there's no justification for accusing people of being overzealous or fundy or whatever, when all they've done "wrong" is insist on the only reasonable possibility that exists. Like a person who insists that there are no whole numbers smaller than 1.
  #73  
Old Today, 09:10 AM
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I think there's no justification for accusing people of being overzealous or fundy or whatever, when all they've done "wrong" is insist on the only reasonable possibility that exists. Like a person who insists that there are no whole numbers smaller than 1.


There is also no justification for someone who feels compelled to pop everyone else's balloons, like the person who tells a child there is no Santa long before they were ready to give up that particular belief.
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