Biblical Literalism and Science are an Explosive Mix

The following cartoon was shared today by Unreasonable Faith and then by Scotteriology (with a twist):

Far worse than combining Biblical literalism with science is combining religious faith with scientific ignorance, as in the example below from Facebook which came via P. Z. Myers:

For an impressive example of the sun’s power on display today, see the video Phil Plait shared. And if that radiation reaches earth, it might lead to people singing this song.

A concluding note: if, having had your fill of humor, you would like a more serious discussion of inerrancy, literalism, and authority, then Joel Watts has a good post on the topic. Here’s a sample:

Either the Text has Authority, or it does not. If it does, then it can be questioned without it becoming a house of cards, dependent upon one interpretation or another.

In the end, it is not the infallibility of the Scriptures which we are defending, but our own.

  • AntiVichy

    PZ Myers is a bigot of the first order.  Your using his work to make jokes is simply a form of Collaboration.

  • AntiVichy

    PZ Myers is a bigot of the first order.  Your using his work to make jokes is simply a form of Collaboration.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Leaving to one side other issues (we can come back to them), exactly what of P. Z.’s “work” did I “use”? I happened to get the above image from Failblog via his blog Pharyngula. What is that “collaboration” with? 

    If Christians would be the first to publicly correct and lament those who spread ignorance in the name of Christianity, there might still be as many atheists, but there would be far fewer who dismiss us as idiots, because they would hear the voices for reason alongside the idiocy. 

    Collaboration is when people either sit silently by when other Christians promote ignorance, bigotry, or any sort of misinformation. And collaboration is when one leaps to the defense of the promoters of ignorance because they are “on your team” instead of trying to simply be on the side of truth.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Leaving to one side other issues (we can come back to them), exactly what of P. Z.’s “work” did I “use”? I happened to get the above image from Failblog via his blog Pharyngula. What is that “collaboration” with? 

    If Christians would be the first to publicly correct and lament those who spread ignorance in the name of Christianity, there might still be as many atheists, but there would be far fewer who dismiss us as idiots, because they would hear the voices for reason alongside the idiocy. 

    Collaboration is when people either sit silently by when other Christians promote ignorance, bigotry, or any sort of misinformation. And collaboration is when one leaps to the defense of the promoters of ignorance because they are “on your team” instead of trying to simply be on the side of truth.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    Hold on a minute… How come when I say, either the Bible is God’s word or it is not, you argue with me, but when Joel Watts says it, its okay? :-)

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    Hold on a minute… How come when I say, either the Bible is God’s word or it is not, you argue with me, but when Joel Watts says it, its okay? :-)

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Oh, I argue with him too. :-)

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Oh, I argue with him too. :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/joel.l.watts Joel L. Watts

    I’m not saying it is ‘either or it is not’ – what I’m saying is that if you take it as God’s word then…. ‘x’. I’ll let the text stand as it identifies itself. Nothing more.

  • http://thechurchofjesuschrist.us/ Joel

    I’m not saying it is ‘either or it is not’ – what I’m saying is that if you take it as God’s word then…. ‘x’. I’ll let the text stand as it identifies itself. Nothing more.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @Joel, I read your post from where the quote was taken, I see where I misconstrued the meaning. However, after reading your post, I seen a lot that I do not agree with, but I don’t want to dwell on that. I did want to say something about your last sentence in your comment here in reference to your post.

    “I’ll let the text stand as it identifies itself. Nothing more.”

    This statement is full of ambiguity. How are you defining “the text” in your statement? Because as I seen in your post, you were making some observations concerning Mark 10:6 because it says “beginning of the creation” and man obviously was not created at the beginning. However, the phrase “of the creation” is left out in the Syriac and Persic versions and also in codex Bezae, and reads, “from the beginning”, as it does Mat 19:4. True, this variant does not have overwhelming support, but the fact that Matthew also does not include the phrase in the parallel account seems significant. I think it is significant enough not to use it as a crux for an argument, when there is a chance it maybe a scribal corruption. So, it is possible that in your postulation, the scribe was wrong, not Jesus.

    • http://thechurchofjesuschrist.us/ Joel

      Of course it if full of ambiguity. So is Scripture.

      I think you are making the same error which the scribe made – trying to force the text to be amended to how you want to read Scripture.

      • Howard Mazzaferro

        I think your way off track. Where did I ever say that I support one reading over the other. I said that people should not make specific judgements about the Bible or Jesus based on uncertain readings. Talk about forcing a reading to say something that it did not. What Bible are you reading? Mine is not ambiguous, maybe a little here and there…

        • http://thechurchofjesuschrist.us/ Joel

          Howard – so we should leave ambiguous textual critical decisions and thus have ambiguous interpretations, but Scripture is not ambiguous?

          • Howard Mazzaferro

            Joel -  No, that’s not the case at all. There is nothing ambiguous in Mark 10:6 regardless of whether the phrase “of the creation” appears there or not. Because as you rightly point out, we need to take the context into consideration. Jesus was discussing marriage, so if Jesus actually said “of the creation” it is obvious that he was merely focusing on the aspect of man’s creation out of the whole creation account, and Matthew confirms this understanding.

            What I was talking about was your statement of, “but we cannot ignore the fact that if this verse points to a Young Earth Creationism, then Jesus was wrong. In Genesis 1, humanity wasn’t created first, but last.”

            I was merely pointing out that someone would have to ignore the context, what Matthew said, and the variant reading to come to this kind of conclusion. So yes, I do say we should leave ambiguous text critical decisions that amount to conclusions like this. The context and Matthew alone make it quite obvious what Jesus was saying, the variant reading just puts it over the top. And nothing here makes the overall point of what Jesus was saying ambiguous. You would have to toss out common sense to make this Scripture ambiguous by thinking Jesus was saying man was created before the earth.

            • http://thechurchofjesuschrist.us/ Joel

              You are correct – there is nothing ambiguous in Mark, not even the textual variant. Christ is not speaking about creationism, but about marriage which means if you take that verse out of context and pretends that it applies to a false notion of creationism, then you are making Christ wrong.

              Variant readings, in my opinion, or interpretations upon the text. Why do I want to take them into account?

              • Howard Mazzaferro

                I don’t quite understand what you are saying in that last sentence.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @Joel, I read your post from where the quote was taken, I see where I misconstrued the meaning. However, after reading your post, I seen a lot that I do not agree with, but I don’t want to dwell on that. I did want to say something about your last sentence in your comment here in reference to your post.

    “I’ll let the text stand as it identifies itself. Nothing more.”

    This statement is full of ambiguity. How are you defining “the text” in your statement? Because as I seen in your post, you were making some observations concerning Mark 10:6 because it says “beginning of the creation” and man obviously was not created at the beginning. However, the phrase “of the creation” is left out in the Syriac and Persic versions and also in codex Bezae, and reads, “from the beginning”, as it does Mat 19:4. True, this variant does not have overwhelming support, but the fact that Matthew also does not include the phrase in the parallel account seems significant. I think it is significant enough not to use it as a crux for an argument, when there is a chance it maybe a scribal corruption. So, it is possible that in your postulation, the scribe was wrong, not Jesus.

    • http://thechurchofjesuschrist.us/ Joel

      Of course it if full of ambiguity. So is Scripture.

      I think you are making the same error which the scribe made – trying to force the text to be amended to how you want to read Scripture.

      • Howard Mazzaferro

        I think your way off track. Where did I ever say that I support one reading over the other. I said that people should not make specific judgements about the Bible or Jesus based on uncertain readings. Talk about forcing a reading to say something that it did not. What Bible are you reading? Mine is not ambiguous, maybe a little here and there…

        • http://thechurchofjesuschrist.us/ Joel

          Howard – so we should leave ambiguous textual critical decisions and thus have ambiguous interpretations, but Scripture is not ambiguous?

          • Howard Mazzaferro

            Joel -  No, that’s not the case at all. There is nothing ambiguous in Mark 10:6 regardless of whether the phrase “of the creation” appears there or not. Because as you rightly point out, we need to take the context into consideration. Jesus was discussing marriage, so if Jesus actually said “of the creation” it is obvious that he was merely focusing on the aspect of man’s creation out of the whole creation account, and Matthew confirms this understanding.

            What I was talking about was your statement of, “but we cannot ignore the fact that if this verse points to a Young Earth Creationism, then Jesus was wrong. In Genesis 1, humanity wasn’t created first, but last.”

            I was merely pointing out that someone would have to ignore the context, what Matthew said, and the variant reading to come to this kind of conclusion. So yes, I do say we should leave ambiguous text critical decisions that amount to conclusions like this. The context and Matthew alone make it quite obvious what Jesus was saying, the variant reading just puts it over the top. And nothing here makes the overall point of what Jesus was saying ambiguous. You would have to toss out common sense to make this Scripture ambiguous by thinking Jesus was saying man was created before the earth.

            • http://thechurchofjesuschrist.us/ Joel

              You are correct – there is nothing ambiguous in Mark, not even the textual variant. Christ is not speaking about creationism, but about marriage which means if you take that verse out of context and pretends that it applies to a false notion of creationism, then you are making Christ wrong.

              Variant readings, in my opinion, or interpretations upon the text. Why do I want to take them into account?

              • Howard Mazzaferro

                I don’t quite understand what you are saying in that last sentence.

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  • http://thechurchofjesuschrist.us/ Joel

    or = are. I think that the proper way is to get to what the text was originally and then allow that textual variants are often times interpretations. Why would I would to count reception when I am exploring original context?

    • Howard Mazzaferro

      I’m not sure I understand, are you saying you reject the whole field of textual criticism?

  • http://thechurchofjesuschrist.us/ Joel

    or = are. I think that the proper way is to get to what the text was originally and then allow that textual variants are often times interpretations. Why would I would to count reception when I am exploring original context?

    • Howard Mazzaferro

      I’m not sure I understand, are you saying you reject the whole field of textual criticism?


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