Literalism = Misconception and Incoherence

Literalism = Misconception and Incoherence August 4, 2015

Literalism involves a fundamental misconception Nahum Sarna

The quote comes from p. xxiii of Nahum Sarna’s book Understanding Genesis.

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  • histrogeek

    I’d say the main reason why biology and anthropology are at the heart of fundamentalist attacks on science is the history of fundamentalism. The modernist debates were ramping up just about the time On the Origin of Species was becoming popular. So opposition to evolution became a useful tribal marker, easier to adopt than, say documentary hypothesis theory. Also with Darwin and Huxley being atheists and agnostics, it made the rejection easier.
    Geology in the days of Hutton, Lyell, and Buckland didn’t arouse the same passions because there wasn’t a big internal church debate. Today, it’s seen as part and parcel of the same chronology as evolution, so NOW geology is a problem for fundamentalists.
    By the same token astronomy in Galileo’s day excited controversy because of the Reformation, but inflation theory didn’t because there wasn’t any new controversy to connect with (and of course inflation theory was initially proposed by friggin’ Jesuit).

    • David Evans

      Big Bang cosmology (not quite in its modern form) was proposed by Georges Lemaitre, a Belgian priest who was educated in a Jesuit school. Inflation theory was proposed by Alan Guth, not a Jesuit.

      Evolutionary biology is problematic for many Christians because it denies that the human race is descended from a single couple. No Adam and Eve = no original sin = no need for a Redeemer.

      • The Mouse Avenger

        Yes, but–at least IMO–evolutionary biology doesn’t negate the existence of Adam & Eve (or their life stories), & vice versa. 🙂 I think the Biblical & extra-biblical accounts are both equally true, work together to explain our origins, & are not in contradiction with one another. ^_^

        • David Evans

          The fact of evolution as such may not negate Adam and Eve. However as I understand it, the detail of population genetics makes it impossible that the human race descended from just one couple. I don’t understand the argument completely but there’s a good account here:
          https://biologos.org/blogs/dennis-venema-letters-to-the-duchess/adam-eve-and-human-population-genetics-part-1-scripture-science-and-defining-the-issues

          • The Mouse Avenger

            The fact of evolution as such may not negate Adam and Eve. However as I understand it, the detail of population genetics makes it impossible that the human race descended from just one couple. I don’t understand the argument completely but there’s a good account here:
            https://biologos.org/blogs/dennis-venema-letters-to-the-duchess/adam-eve-and-human-population-genetics-part-1-scripture-science-and-defining-the-issues

            I read that, & it makes a lot of sense to me, too. 🙂 Especially this paragraph:
            After all, Genesis has long been noted to imply that Adam and Eve’s family is part of a larger unrelated population (for example Cain worries about being killed for his sin, leaves to build a city elsewhere, and takes a wife in the process).

            I mean, just because Adam & Eve may have been the first (or among the first) modern people that God created, certainly doesn’t mean that they were the ONLY ones. After all, the Scriptural examples listed in the quote above, seem to imply exactly that. 🙂

            I only wish all Christians–not just the moderates & progressives/liberals–could see it that way. 🙁 When did we ever get the idea that Scriptures had to be read in such a black-&-white, super-duper-oversimplified, etc. manner? I actually find it invigorating & exciting to see how Scripture & science & everything all fit together, even in ways I never imagined before! 🙂