Literal Interpretation of the Bible: Right or Wrong?

In recent years the growth trend in churches has been among those claiming to be “Bible believing” and with doctrines that describe the Bible as the literal word of God. In fact, so-called “Liberal” churches have lost membership while the fundamentalist congregations keep attracting new members. Some might argue that this is nothing to be concerned about, people can believe what ever they want. True, of course. When it becomes a problem is when these people try to use their beliefs as a guide for how they believe the World should be. Its fine to believe in any religion or god a person chooses, as long as they don’t try to force those beliefs on others or on the system of Government. One could believe the Tooth Fairy created the World in 10 minutes, but when they try to teach it in schools, that’s another matter.

For example, if a person took a literal interpretation of the Bible, than the entire planet was flooded by water that came as rain for forty days and forty nights. The only survivors being the family of Noah and two animals from each species on Earth.
A big fault in the story would be sheer size. A modern day aircraft carrier could not hold two of every species on Earth. And then there is the problem of where all the rain came from. Our atmosphere is not big enough to hold all the water that would be required to flood the Earth. What about diversity? Did Noah go down to Australia to drop off the Marsupials?

The Bible literalists have explanations for these, as well as any other contradictions that might be found in the Bible.
For example, one explanation of the water problem is to say that the Earth passed through a giant deep space water vapor cloud. Water does not exist in deep space except as ice. If that much water was to come to the planet from space, old Noah would have had a lot more to worry about than keeping the tigers from eating the rabbits. It would have destroyed the planet.

To explain how different animals got so scattered all over the globe, they suggest that there was one super continent that divided later when God had another temper tantrum. Of course, continental drift is a scientific theory. But over millions of years and very slowly. And even if it were all possible, it isn’t even a first story. The Bible borrows the story from earlier myths like the epic of Gilgamesh.

The biggest argument now is against Evolution and Creationism. Instead of looking at science and seeking knowledge, they have a pre-conceived notion and try to find a way to support it. To put the “cart in front of the horse” as the saying goes.
The rational mind looks at facts and tries to draw conclusions. The religious mind looks at conclusions (beliefs) and tries to make facts support them. School districts around the country are being forced to add so called “Intelligent Design” curriculum, really a thin mask for Creationism. Evolution has been studied for decades now. As with any scientific thought, it itself has evolved. But the new discoveries tend to support the general theory, not challenge it. If we are to say Evolution is wrong, we might as well go back to saying the Earth is flat and that the Universe revolves around it. It is hard to imagine that we have come no further than this in our learning.

Of course, there are hundreds of contradictions in the Bible, these are only two of the more famous. In themselves, they are harmless. When the problem arises is when the beliefs are taken to be the literal word of a powerful God. This then puts the believer in the position of conflict with sound science. They look upon anyone or any different creed as heathen, To be hated and feared. When a person is on Gods’ side, they feel they have the moral high ground. This can lead to repression of other ideas, religions, or scientific thought. And as anyone who studies history knows, It’s much more easier to kill a person when they are a heathen or heretic. If they are an enemy of God, what rights could they possibly have?

In closing one might ask, why fight to expose the contradictions in the Bible? Because the Fundamentalists are afraid that if some of their book is wrong, then all of it is. Whatever the case, faith cannot be allowed to substitute for science or law. For now, we still live in a free country, not a Theocracy. But there are many who would like it otherwise. And their numbers are growing daily.

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