Friday, July 2, 2010

Truth and Candor

Jerry Coyne has caught a god fan, Joel Hunter, in an act of flagrant candor:

[O]ne must avoid being dismissive or derisive of those who do hold to a literalist view of Genesis because for some, reconsidering the traditional creation narrative introduces questions to which they are unsure of how to respond. Many with this viewpoint feel that if Genesis can’t be understood in straightforward terms, then we cannot know how to read the story of the Resurrection—as a historical account, or simply as a metaphor? Questions like this have the potential to cause them to wonder if they must now question the whole truth of Scripture.
Exactly! It could not be expressed more clearly: impugning the literal truth of Genesis invites doubts about the entire narrative of which it is part.

Not just Genesis but the entire Biblical canon lacks an authoritative reader's guide pointing out which bits are meant to be metaphor, which bits are meant to be The Truth, and which parts are meant for laughs (e.g., the book of Jonah).

The magic sky beast that is credited with inspiring -- or is it dictating? -- the Bible didn't add any footnotes or endnotes. It comes with no hermeneutic framework, no teacher's edition, no scale or legend, no instructional pamphlet, not even an explanatory preface or afterword -- just unadorned words formed into homilies and tales that, again and again, clash with reality as we have come to understand it.

The Bible starts with provably false claims. When other books do this, we call them fictional, extract what we can from them, and move forward. Even those most fiercely attached to the Christian narrative can, once in a while, confess that this logic holds true for the Bible.

No comments: