Literal Interpretation of the Bible

How is it that religions are still based on literal interpretations of the Bible? To me it seems obvious that while the Bible has many valuable lessons in it, it is not to be taken literally. Many of those stories were passed on for generations before being written down, and many meanings were distorted when translated into other languages.

How is it that some states teach creationism in school! Evolution cannot be denied. Why do people still take it literally?

For future reference: This would probably do a lot better in our Great Debates forum. General Questions is for questions with a factual, objective answer. Great Debates is much better suited for debates about religion. Just sit tight, and a moderator will move this thread over there for you.

The General Question answer to your questions involves understanding that a number of people have more faith in their (perception of their) God than they do in “things of this world,” (including science). Such people do not accept the evidence for the scientific (or historical or anthropological) explanations of the events related in the bible, and hold that a lack of faith in God has caused the various scientists and historians to misunderstand what really happened.

They can get Creationism taught in schools, as long as they can band together in such numbers as to select school boards who think as they do (and who are willing to procede in defiance of Court orders),

Beyond that, your questions wander into the realm of Great Debates (or IMHO if the participants choose to speak from their emotions, regardless of facts).

You know, I ask myself that question all the time. I suppose it’s easier for some people try to misconstrue science than to rely on faith.

Check out
and the legion of other websites devoted to “debunking” evolution.

Actually there are two issues being conflated here. One is whether the Bible is to be interpreted literally. The other is whether the Bible is to be believed at all.

These are not necessarily the same. Whether the Bible is to be interpreted literally depends on whether you think it was meant that way. You could disbelieve every word in it - or be an atheist - and still maintain that the correct interpretation of the Bible is a literal one.

In contrast with the previous posters I would say that it is the non-literalists who can’t face reality. Confronted with the fact that they don’t believe the Bible as taken literally, and not wishing to reject it outright, they reinterpret it into something that they find more acceptable. But we’re well into GD territory here. :slight_smile:

FYI evolution is only a theory…not a fact. Granted there is good supporting evidence for it but it isn’t without its holes. Of course the evidence supporting creationism is especially thin but that doesn’t make evolution a foregone conclusion.

As to literal interpreations of the Bible (or other religious texts) there certainly are some people who advocate just that. However, in my experience they tend to be the lunatic fringe. I’d be surprised if you could get the Pope to commit to the Bible being literally true front-to-back. I have yet to meet a Priest or Minister who goes that far.

I want to see the poor creature that was evolving legs, but they weren’t quite legs yet, but the creature had to drag them around anyway. It’s a wonder that the thing survived it’s term of evolution! But evolution sure does make sense, so it must be more than a theory. It must be a religion!

Let’s get one thing straight – when a scientist calls something a theory, he means it’s a fact. A scientific theory is not just a guess (that’s a hypothesis). A scientific theory is something that has been continually tested and found to be an accurate predictor of behavior.

Evolution is indeed a fact. The only real debate is exactly how it works, or how it applies in any given case.

To quote “It’s a only a theory” is to redefine the concept to suit your interests, a very cheap debating trick.

Whack-a-mole: Please tell me you’re joking. Anyone who uses the phrase “just a theory” needs a serious remedial science course.

Yoyo3500–you do realize that the first creature with “partial legs” lived in the water, not on land? As such, they were very useful for scutting around the water, even if they were not sufficiently developed to bear weight.

i think the original biblical narratives were taken literally and passed on as such
transliteration may have affected the issue
but as said its the truths and the spirit of what was recorded which we really can get to grips with despite our cynisicm

This backs up what RealityChuck says, it also has useful information about creationist non-sense.

Well said…

Although it surprises me that their seem to be creationists on this board. I thought the SDMB was for the removal of ignorance.

Cite please.

What is a “term of evolution”? I think you are demonstrating that you don’t know very much about evolution.

Actually, John Paul II has said quite explicitly that evolution is compatible with Catholic belief, as long as you still affirm that the human soul was created directly by God from nothing. Catholicism has never insisted on absolute literal interpretation of Scripture (though of course some individual Catholics may have) - St. Augustine said back around the 4th century A.D. that the Book of Genesis should not be considered a literal history. IIRC, the American fundamentalist movement only emerged during the 1920’s, and I don’t think it ever really caught on outside this country.

This position of argument is called Irreducible complexity and is usually based on a woefully incomplete view of the facts (or simple wilful refusal to examine them).

What did a fifth finger look like before it was actually a finger? Was it a cyst that evolved? Was it an extra lump of flesh? Did a fifth finger slowly split off from the fourth finger over generations and become a fifth finger? Perhaps there were once five claws that became five fingers simulatenously? What did the interstitial claw/finger look like and what purpose did it serve? But why where there five claws, and not four? How did the fifth claw evolve?

Opus, you seem so sure what “pre-legs” looked like and what they were used for! Surely you must have seen them or know concrete, factual evidence that prooves what they were! Or perhaps you are so certain that evolution is fact and not theory, even more certain than Darwin himself.

It seems to me that the complexity of the universe is too far beyond our grasp and the coincidences that evolution theory relies upon (what are the odds of the eye evolving?!) make the evolution preached by many scientists a premature declaration of wisdom. Hence, Evolutionists rely on a faith-based ideology which, from the point of view of the Evolutionists, is absolute fact. Sounds like a religion to me…

So you didn’t bother reading the linik then?

I sure did read the link. You didn’t bother thinking about my post?

Why, Mangetout’s link thoroughly destroys the “thinking” behind your post.

Off to Great Debates.

DrMatrix - General Questions Moderator

[sub]fixed coding - DrMatrix[/sub]

Wow, where to begin? First, let’s start with the fact that some humans have five fingers and some have six. This alone indicates that creating extra fingers is hardly something beyond the capabilities of nature.

Second, while the existence of things like hands and digits was probably a slow process of growth, once you get a finger, it’s a simple genetic slip to get more. Think of the blueprints to an 80 story building. Each story, except the first, is exactly the same. Some architect’s summer intern is supposed to make copies of every floor. But he is a bit sloppy, and accidentally copies the blueprints for the 45 story twice. When the builders put the building together, Surprise!, they have an 81 story building instead of the 80 they counted on.

Fingers are like the stories of a building–once you have one, making more (or fewer) is easy. It’s getting the blueprint in the first place that took a long time.

To see an example of this in action, look at the number of digits on horses throughout the years. From Hyracotherium to modern Equus, the number of toes on horses has fluctuated wildly. Consider:

Hyracotherium: 4 toes on each front foot, 3 on hind feet. Vestiges of 1st (& 2nd, behind) toes still present. Hyracotherium walked on pads; its feet were like a dog’s padded feet, except with small “hoofies” on each toe instead of claws.

Orohippus: Orohippus still had 4 toes on front and 3 behind, with hoofies, and was also “pad-footed”. However, the vestiges of the 1st and 2nd toes vanished.

Mesohippus: Mesohippus had three toes on its hind feet and on its front feet – the 4th front toe was reduced to a vestigial nubbin. As before, Mesohippus was pad-footed.

Miohippus: 3-toed browsers called “anchitheres”. They were very successful, spread into the Old World, and thrived for tens of millions of years. They retained the small, simple teeth of Miohippus. Genera include Anchitherium and the large Hypohippus and Megahippus.

Pliohippus: Arose in middle Miocene (~15 My) as a three-toed horse. Gradual loss of the side toes is seen in Pliohippus through 3 successive strata of the early Pliocene.

Astrohippus: Astrohippus (~10My) was another one-toed horse that arose shortly after Pliohippus. Astrohippus also had large facial fossae, and was probably a descendent of Pliohippus.

Equus: Equus was (and is) one-toed, with side ligaments that prevent twisting of the hoof, and has high-crowned, straight grazing teeth with strong crests lined with cement.
Members of Equus still retain the genes for making side toes. Usually these express themselves only as the vestigial “splint bones” of toes 2 and 4, around the large central 3rd toe. Very rarely, a modern Equus is born with small but fully-formed side toes. (see Gould, “Hen’s Teeth and Horses’ Toes”.)

Most of the recent (5-10 My) horses were three-toed, not one-toed, and we see a “trend” to one toe only because all the three-toed lines have recently become extinct.