|For it is so written in|
“”I speak to them in parables
|—some guy who didn't know the Bible was meant to be taken literally|
Biblical literalism is the theological view that the contents of the Bible should be seen as literally true, as opposed to being interpreted as allegory, literature, or mythology. Literalism is the basis of several different pseudoscientific positions, such as Young Earth Creationism, Deluge Theory and the Flat Earth Theory.
Literalism, inerrancy and infallibility
It is important to distinguish between the related, but separate concepts of Biblical literalism, Biblical inerrancy, and Biblical infallibility. Some are used interchangeably depending on who you ask. But going by strict definitions for reasons of precision, however, they are different - many doctrinal bases or confessions for churches and organised sects require adherents to view the Bible as "inerrant" but do not support literalistic interpretations like creationism.
- Biblical literalism. A literalist position insists that every word must be taken as literally true and treats everything as either a historical document or literal prophecy. This, of course, has problems because of translation issues, but in practice it usually focuses on convenient and (relatively) modern translations such as with the King James Only movement.
- Biblical inerrancy. This is the basis that the Bible simply doesn't contain any errors. There is subtle but important difference between this and it being historically accurate as stories can still be interpreted as allegorical, but that their meaning is still true.
- Biblical infallibility is the least radical position. It holds that the Bible is an infallible source regarding questions of faith and redemption, but not on questions of science and history. These people are willing to accept scientific facts like evolution as true.
The actual interpretation of these questions further depends on the various denominations and theological schools of thought.
People who adhere to literalism tend to have never genuinely thought out their religion properly, and instead use it to discriminate against those ethnic or social groups whom they despise. Generally these people have a very low level of IQ, and a basic inability to logically deduct and think rationally.
Another common reason for Biblical literalism is the belief that if one were to take, perhaps the story of Genesis, as being allegorical, then one might take the words of Jesus and the Ten Commandments as being allegorical, and not the direct word of God. This 'all or nothing' view tends to be seen in other facets of life, such as saying that you should not ever tell your children that Santa or the Easter Bunny[ exist, for when they learn that they were deceived then, then they might doubt the existence of Jesus, and as such become atheistic Evilutionists and go on a shooting spree. People holding this view also tend to be the ones who try to find one single flaw in scientific theories such as evolution and declare that the single fault invalidates the entire system.
Some Christians would argue that it is a necessary fact of life that doubting one's own religion and all the things one learned from one's family is the most important step one can take to living the life of a model Christian. Many educated Christians who do not believe in Biblical literalism would maintain that interpreting the Bible literally, and therefore giving the genocidal tendencies of the Old Testament precedence over the love and compassion of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, is fundamentally wrong.
- Problems with biblical inerrancy
- Historical-grammatical method — a related form of Biblical exegesis
- Biblical criticism
- Chicago Statement
- Clergy Letter Project — Denominations that sign this take the position that the Bible isn't meant to be taken literally like a science textbook, with the reasoning that the two serve different purposes. Acceptance of evolution is the main point of the project.
- ↑ Bell, Paul. "Would you believe it?" Mensa Magazine, Feb. 2002, pp. 12–13