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Fundamentalism Meets Sci-Fi: Truth, Falsity and Fiction

Fundamentalism Meets Sci-Fi: Truth, Falsity and Fiction December 7, 2011

The latest in Cake or Death’s series going through the A to Z of modern Christianity is “F” for fundamentalism.

I assume the movie the DVD of which is being returned in the cartoon is supposed to be one of the “Planet of the Apes” movies.

I’d like to suggest that the underlying reason why the fundamentalist in the cartoon is returning the DVD is because he has a worldview that considers all stories to be of two sorts: true, or false. He also holds the corresponding assumption that if it is false, then it is to be rejected.

That approach will screw up one’s appreciation of stories in the Bible every bit as much as one’s appreciation (or lack thereof) of “Planet of the Apes.”

If one approaches the stories in the early chapters of Genesis in this way, then one is bound to either accept them as factual or reject them as lies. I’ve been that sort of fundamentalist in the past, and have been interacting with some who currently hold that view in the comments sections of other posts on this blog in recent days.

But those are not the only options. Fiction is not aiming to provide accurate description. Myth is not about conveying history. And even what we think of as history is subject to revision in light of new evidence.

There is nothing wrong with rightly identifying that many stories do not provide factual information at all, and some provide only partly factual information. But if you cannot learn to discover something of value in those stories, your life will be much less rich as a result. And so will your understanding of the Bible. For if one tries to shield stories in the Bible from such questions, and assumes instead that they are all literal, factual reporting of precisely what happened simply by virtue of their being in the Bible, then one will profoundly misunderstand them.

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