Monday, August 28, 2006

Taking The Bible Literally

From Rasmussen Reports:

Not surprisingly, the Bible Belt region lives up to its name with states like Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee and West Virginia containing the highest percentage of those who believe the Bible is literally true. Alabama and Arkansas came out on top as 75% say they believe the Bible is literally true. West Virginia (70%) and Tennessee (68%) are close behind.

Here are some passages from the bible (all Deuteronomy - I just went to a bible site and started looking randomly) that I assume people in Alabama, Arkansas, West Virginia, and Tennessee take to be literally true:

Deuteronomy 23:2 No one born of a forbidden marriage (Or one of illegitimate birth) nor any of his descendants may enter the assembly of the LORD, even down to the tenth generation.

Deuteronomy 25:5 If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband's brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her.

Deuteronomy 25:11 If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, 12 you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.

These are silly examples that obviously were written thousands of years ago by desert people with, shall we say, differing cultural values than ours today. As I would understand it, we are no longer bound by the above laws or many of the other laws in the bible regarding things like slavery, sex, gender roles, etc. Society has "evolved" since the various books of the bible were written and many of the stories, laws, and rules contained within it are an anathema to a modern people.

So how do large majorities of the people in Alabama, Arkansas, West Virginia, Tennessee and other places where they take the bible to be literally true juggle passages like the above with the modern world?

I'm not ragging on religion here or religious thought or religious faith. I have enormous respect for people of faith and spirituality. What I am wondering is how anybody in this day and age can still take the bible as literal truth.

But isn't it true that, as a "new covenant with the Lord," the New Testament was supposed to supercede the old? In other words, no contradictions to deal with. Not that I'm out to defend the New Testament mind you. I'm sure that a defense mounted by one agnostic amphibian woudln't be taken too seriously. :-)
I suppose that could be so, kvatch, but many of the literalists seem to take Genesis and much of the OT literally too (e.g., world created in 7 days, Adam and Eve are the forbears of all, etc.)
kvatch is right. I still can't work out why fundamentalist Christians in favour of pre-Christian teachings. Well, I suppose I can, they are more in tune with their beliefs.
Christ supposedly distilled the important message down to "Love god with all your heart and mind and soul, and love your neighbour as you love yourself."
There are very few who are willing to follow the Christian teachings, despite using them as a cover.
But I'm also with the frog in that it is purely academic observation :)
cartledge, there's a line in Woody Allen's movie Hannah and Her Sisters that goes something like: "If Jesus every came back today and saw what was going on in his name...he'd never stop throwing up."

I think that pretty much captures it. for me.
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