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    (Original post by The Assassin)
    PRSOM. Shifting the goalposts my ass
    Always a pleasure Assassin

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    (Original post by Scrappy-coco)
    Oh really? Fairly recent you say? Let's take the example in Genesis you give. Got any evidence that Christians only thought this to be literal until science shone light on this? Seems that Christians and church leaders who argued for a metaphorical reading centuries before any pressure from science begun would show you to be wrong. Actually, it may show the diverse groups of thought throughout Christianity's history (you always have that potential problem when you talk of christian thought in such straight forward, simple terms)
    No, I don't have evidence that individual Christians thought it to be literal until science showed otherwise. These church leaders you speak of -- did they effect any actual change in the stance of their church on the issue at hand? I'm sorry if you understood my mention of 'Christian thought' to imply the existence of a hive mind with a singular opinion; I suppose even the most absurd distinctions need to be made in a discussion such as this.

    I have not denied that there is variation of opinion within Christianity; the continued existence of Christians who still believe the Genesis story to be literally true proves that. The point that you seem be dodging, however, is that the literal view was the view taken by mainstream Christians for most of the last two millennia, and was the cause of much of the initial (and continued) animosity to the idea of humans evolving from other apes (as opposed to being the descendants of two divinely created humans), even before Darwin proposed his theory. You cannot hold up the existence of minority viewpoints as evidence that there hasn't been a recent shift towards regarding some parts of the Bible, the creation myth among them, as metaphorical and non-literal.

    Certainly, there was no 'deciding' of a literal reading over other types, as though the matter was put to bed, but rather debates to and fro from different camps.
    This is, at best, a romantic view. I have not explicitly denied the existence of minority viewpoints and, yet, you've supposed this to be the case. And if you really believe that such a healthy culture of debates existed for most of Christian history when heresy was a capital crime then, well, I really don't know what to say.

    So perhaps your point about sawing the branch had merit IF it was decided as christian doctrine. I've yet to see any evidence of that.
    My apologies. Of course you're right in implying that it must be assumed that the whole of Christendom was a vibrant, diverse community with no dominant view about whether the Bible is literally true or not because there isn't a representative poll with a large sample size from the time showing that most Christians held the Genesis creation narrative to be literally true.

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    I'm being sarcastic.

    More broadly, the many books within the bible provide a framework for understanding the type of literature. How much literal reading do you think there are in poetic psalms for instance?

    The motivation in seeking contemporary understanding is to help show how the initial society understood it, as well as the meaning the authors had in mind. This is paramount when building a case on what a text is saying. It should be the reference point for checking if there is a contradiction.
    I think you've drifted somewhat from my original point:

    (Original post by Hydeman)
    It's a cop-out to say that you can't make a point to me because I'm incapable of perceiving what is true, especially when the basis for this claim relies on the truth of a book which makes a number of claims that any rational person can see are false (and which have quietly assumed the status of 'metaphors' among mainstream Christian denominations in recent years).
    You took issue with a footnote which, even if you were right (and you're not) in saying was mistaken, does not detract from my point that 'the Bible doesn't agree with the view that you're incapable of perceiving what is true' is a cop-out and based on a book that, undeniably, contains some serious falsehoods. That said falsehoods are now treated metaphorically by the majority of Christians when this was not the case in the past (again, I'm sorry, I don't have that representative poll that seems to be the kind of evidence you're asking for) isn't a point that you've managed to refute in my view and, as already stated, has little relevance to what I was saying to Pride.
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    (Original post by Scrappy-coco)
    To an extent but you can show things to be impossible. I forget the specifics but living things can only be so big due to physics. A hypothetical being which surpasses that barrier can be shown not to exist.

    Some say the idea of God is impossible, so there's that route too.
    There is still a lot that Science cannot explain - what triggered the Big Bang? what is the universe expanding into? - and I think we lack the understanding to state anything at those bounds is impossible, particularly if you allow the idea of god to encompass a fairly wide range of concepts as opposed to limiting it to something that is involved and needy enough to be influenced by prayer. As I've already said, I don't see any evidence for the existence of God but I don't understand nearly enough about the creation of the universe to be arrogant enough to state that that there cannot be one.
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    (Original post by Hydeman)

    1. These church leaders you speak of -- did they effect any actual change in the stance of their church on the issue at hand?

    2. The point that you seem be dodging, however, is that the literal view was the view taken by mainstream Christians for most of the last two millennia, and was the cause of much of the initial (and continued) animosity to the idea of humans evolving from other apes (as opposed to being the descendants of two divinely created humans), even before Darwin proposed his theory. You cannot hold up the existence of minority viewpoints as evidence that there hasn't been a recent shift towards regarding some parts of the Bible, the creation myth among them, as metaphorical and non-literal.



    3. This is, at best, a romantic view. I have not explicitly denied the existence of minority viewpoints and, yet, you've supposed this to be the case. And if you really believe that such a healthy culture of debates existed for most of Christian history when heresy was a capital crime then, well, I really don't know what to say.



    4. My apologies. Of course you're right in implying that it must be assumed that the whole of Christendom was a vibrant, diverse community with no dominant view about whether the Bible is literally true or not because there isn't a representative poll with a large sample size from the time showing that most Christians held the Genesis creation narrative to be literally true.

    5. That said falsehoods are now treated metaphorically by the majority of Christians when this was not the case in the past (again, I'm sorry, I don't have that representative poll that seems to be the kind of evidence you're asking for) isn't a point that you've managed to refute in my view and, as already stated, has little relevance to what I was saying to Pride.
    I'll only reply to the important parts where you are actually engaging an not trivially posturing.

    1. I'm saying that there was no official stance to change - there was no official church doctrine on how Genesis was to be read. What is demonstrable, is that leading Christian figures were in support of a non literal readings of Genesis well before there was any scientific pressure to do so. From 3rd century Origen right until just before Darwin's theory with Wesley. Foundation laying figures like Augustine and Aquinas are included. Considering that the book of Genesis is significantly older than Christianity, it seems slightly arbitrary to exclude the list of Jewish leaders who argued similar positions.

    2. You have a rather straight forward way of asserting things without justification. I'm not dodging the point, since the start I've been asking you to show evidence that ' the literal view was the mainstream view taken by mainstream Christians for the most part of two millennium'. You seem to use it as a starting point. The main point I am making, is that there was always the non literal view supported by many of Christianity's leading thinkers. It was as part of mainstream Christianity before Darwin as the literal reading was. The shift towards this non literal stance since evolution is one to be framed specifically to creationists, to the champions of literalists, rather than a shift of Christians period.

    3. With every comment you popular level understanding of Christianity's history becomes more clear. Firstly heresy could only be levied to those who went against church doctrines of the day. Ideas in Christianity with which the church had no official say, were wrestled with betweem many thinkers. Ideas like the soul for example.

    4. Its ironic - it's your sarcastic point which has historical support! A survey of Christianity's church leaders show. Origen was from Alexandria which was a major capital of intellectual thought, Augustine of North Africa, the European, Greek influenced Aquinas compared with the Eastern Orthodox church. The differing approaches after the Reformation - you're absolutely right that Christendom has always been a diverse community (with diverse thought).

    Of course you are being silly - I never implied this is to be assumed. It can be perfectly supported through history of Christian theology and thought.

    5. I just want to point, I never set out to 'refute' what you said but asked you to justify it rather than assert it. There's a difference. Its quite ironic that you end by asserting that the majority of Christians had a literal reading and pointing out you couldn't give evidence! (Not that you this representative poll you keep going on about, but then maybe you are just struggling to think of how to support your claim)


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    not really interested on what beef you have with Pride, however:
    (Original post by Hydeman)
    In many ways, a Christian who believes them to be anything but literal is sawing away at the branch that he or she is sitting on, as it were. If certain parts of the Bible are decided to be non-literal and metaphorical despite previous Christian thought regarding them as literally true, then some sort of mechanism for this shift needs to supplied. What's the criteria for determining what is literally true and what is metaphorical?
    This is the basis of textual/literary criticism. I'll take Genesis for example because that's what a lot of people tend to think. Examining the structure of the creation account in Genesis 1 and 2 we find that it matches the patterns of the Liturgical Hebrew poetry (the symbolism of the number 7, which ends each section with "it was good," starting with "and there was evening and morning" . Looking at words used shows puns and rhetorical plays (for example; mankind = adam, ground = adamah. Man = Is, Woman = Ishah. The serpent is crafty = arum, the people are innocent = aram). Even the proper names of people show allegorical or mythic meanings (adam = "a man", Eve = "life" or "mother of all," Abel = "vanity" or "fleeting".

    Finally that the two stories give different orders of creation (Gen. 1 has all of mankind (gender neutral) created at once, Gen. 2 has two separate instances of creation for gender specific humans). Taken together this shows that we ought not read the Genesis account literally. The point is that a critical understanding is how we arrive at deeper truth than the literal level to find out what some of the authors really meant.


    (Original post by Hydeman)
    I have not denied that there is variation of opinion within Christianity; the continued existence of Christians who still believe the Genesis story to be literally true proves that. The point that you seem be dodging, however, is that the literal view was the view taken by mainstream Christians for most of the last two millennia, and was the cause of much of the initial (and continued) animosity to the idea of humans evolving from other apes (as opposed to being the descendants of two divinely created humans), even before Darwin proposed his theory. You cannot hold up the existence of minority viewpoints as evidence that there hasn't been a recent shift towards regarding some parts of the Bible, the creation myth among them, as metaphorical and non-literal.
    False. The literalization of Genesis is a rather modern phenomenon coming out of The Fundamentals which is a collection of essays published from 1910 to 1915 as a fundamentalist protestant response to Higher Criticism, which was a continental movement that sought to examine the Bible from a literary and historically critical method.

    Even so, I'm not sure why this is important. Further back though we understand that many Christian intellectuals didn't accept the literal reading of these passages -- dating back to the likes of Aquinas, Galilelo and Augustine through properr studying (exegesis) of the text itself. So really, even if a large quantity of Christians were interpreting it wrongly, that does not mean the story of Genesis is a falsehood, because you wrongly take it something literal was transformed into a metaphorical when it never held the former position in the first place (which we learnt through scholarly works). If you're just merely arguing that people didn't take it metaphorically, then sorry, I'm able nowhere to see any relevance to your point.

    You were asked to give Historical evidence that Genesis was largely taken to be literal, and unfortunately -- none was provided to Scrappy-coco. There's no reason to accept your stance on the matter

    (Original post by Hydeman)
    the points on falsehoods
    Really not sure here. Fine, lots of things in the Bible have things which don't perhaps have any historical evidence or backing and have evidence to the contrary. However, almost everything in our lives are based on myths from nations to self identities, but that doesn't make these things any less true. I think what we need to realise is that objectivity isn't the be all and end all of truth in the world and certainly not when it comes to the Bible. The Exodus is a cultural myth that defines the Israelites; stories like Genesis contextualize the human experience. Just because it is historically inaccurate doesn't diminish its impact or negate its necessity, and your point about not wanting to look foolish in the face of contradicting evidence is meaningless.
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    (Original post by Hydeman)
    They aren't my claims -- for most of Christian history, they were regarded as literal claims. The move towards treating them as metaphors is fairly recent and represents what I consider to be a shifting of the goalposts.

    In many ways, a Christian who believes them to be anything but literal is sawing away at the branch that he or she is sitting on, as it were. If certain parts of the Bible are decided to be non-literal and metaphorical despite previous Christian thought regarding them as literally true, then some sort of mechanism for this shift needs to supplied. What's the criteria for determining what is literally true and what is metaphorical?



    'Contemporary understanding of the texts', as you so generously put it, appears to be motivated by little else than a desire to avoid looking foolish in light of overwhelming contradictory evidence. One particular favourite of mine is the attempt to incorporate evolution by natural selection into the creationist model by saying that yes, species do evolve and that, yes, all organisms are related to each other, but that life itself was originally created by God (which, I hope it's apparent, is a classic God of the gaps argument).

    I can't wait to see how this particular explanation is also turned into a metaphor if (note to Pride, who will undoubtedly read this and attempt to turn this 'if' into 'when' to accuse me of scientific arrogance: I said if, not when) a natural process by which organic molecules give rise to primitive life is eventually found.
    Lol, I actually wasn't going to read this. It was only when I spotted someone say that you had beef with me that I was suddenly curious to understand what he meant. I thought to myself, 'you see, I thought I was just imagining it, but if someone else feels the antagonism, then I must have a point!'

    I think your point about the move (particularly popular in the UK/Church of England/Anglican churches) to argue that there's a compatibility of evolution with creation/the bible/Christianity is interesting. I get asked about that a lot as well, and I think it's a fair point. I personally find the arguments not very strong, but hey, I've discussed it at length with Christians who wholeheartedly disagree. Creationists and theistic evolutionists can go on and on for ages discussing this. At the end of the day, I guess what's clear to me is that both sides have a decent case, but some really important weaknesses. I don't have all the answers.
    What we all agree on however, is that Jesus is the only way. I also would argue that the atheistic explanation for our origins is less believable than either of the theistic explanations - it seems logical for the beginning of the universe to have been caused by something rather than nothing. Cliché, I know. But hey, one doesn't have to be an expert in quantum mechanics to see how it doesn't work.
 
 
 
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