Literalists Have a Choice

Literalists Have a Choice December 2, 2014

Literalists have a choice to make

If the biblical account of creation is literally true, then the creator is maliciously lying in the great book of nature, which plainly says otherwise. If it is not literally true, then literalists are in error in their hermeneutics. So literalists have a choice; admit their hermeneutics are mistaken, or call God a malicious liar.

Paul Braterman


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  • TomS

    I have heard this argument:
    It is necessary to create the world with the appearance of having a history. The moon, for example, had to appear at some phase, that is, as so-and-so days old. God, knowing that humans would be mislead by this appearance, expressly told us in the Bible what the true age of the Earth was.

    On the other hand, an advocate could argue that mere human standards of morality do not apply to God. Just as God can kill people, take away their property, enslave them, even those who are as innocent as babes and dumb animals; who are we to say that, if a human did it, would be called not being plain spoken, that it is a fault when God does it? (Do we have the right to be told all the details of the creation?)

    • Matthew Funke

      Okay, but did he have to create the *entire* Universe to appear as if it had a singular, specific, consistent history? Why would He make it appear as if it had this history across multiple independent lines of inquiry? He could have made everything yield inconsistent results so that we look to some other revelation for the answer if He wanted us to look to the Bible to find out how old the Earth and Universe are.

      And we kind of *have to* rely on our understanding of what’s good to determine God’s actions to some extent, don’t we? Otherwise, how do we know when we’re pleasing Him? How can we trust Him when He says that He’s got something good for us after we die?

      These “explanations” seem to create more problems than they solve.

      • TomS

        Of course, you realize that I am not personally promoting this, but just reporting this as a response which I have heard. Personally, I don’t see how any of the creationists avoid the “chicken or egg” problem of Omphalism. (OEC and ID, not just YEC.)
        Might one turn your question on its head and point out that given the conceptual framework of the Ancient Near East that there was no way that the Bible could not have been written to contain the evolutionary history, and therefore the best that could be done was to make it clear that what was written could not be taken literally, and thus if one is interested in the scientific questions, one should look to nature.

        • Matthew Funke

          Oh, sure. As a Christian myself, I tend to think the point of the creation story is not to serve as a natural history. (What exactly the point is seems to be left as an exercise for the reader; I’m inclined to think it more spiritual than scientific, regardless of what it turns out to be for.) But I *used to be* a YECist, and it was pretend “answers” like the ones you provided from that camp above that almost drove me away from the faith entirely.

          And FWIW (which isn’t much), I tend to think there are clues that one shouldn’t take the story literally. (The man is named “Man”, the woman is named “Life”, they’re in a garden called “Pleasure”, and the central conflict is eating from the Tree of Knowledge? And they’re goaded into it by a *talking snake*, and no one thinks that weird?) But stronger theological minds than mine have attacked the problem, and I’m open to listening to anyone with an interesting angle. Just don’t tell me that your angle is consistent with “‘real’ science” when it clearly isn’t.

  • Dan

    Whovian Ken Ham would say that the evidence is not free from our presuppositions. True Christians(TM) like himself would look at the evidence from a biblical perspective and declare CREATION, while the unsaved (everyone else) would look at it from a secular perspective and shout EVOLUTION! So the quote you gave, while sensible to rest of us, would not fave those who are predisposed to a literalist mindset.

  • Dr. Dee Tee

    God didn’t write a book of nature. That supposed revelation is made up and all information read into its pages by unbelievers and pretend Christians.

    • Interesting – you don’t think that God made the natural world? What an interesting heresy!