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Talk:Biblical literalism

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This Bible related article has been awarded BRONZE status for quality. It's getting there, but could be better with improvement. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.



An interesting start AKjeldsen. Are you going to be developing this article?--Bob_M (talk) 07:22, 30 July 2007 (CDT)

Yes, I'll keep working on it, but feel free to contribute. I was thinking of using the wp:Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy as a starting point for an analysis of the inerrancy position, and otherwise work through the different possible points of refutation of literalism - scientific, theological, social, etc. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 07:44, 30 July 2007 (CDT)
EDIT: A brief overview of how the different major denominations view literalism/inerrancy would probably be a good thing as well. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 07:46, 30 July 2007 (CDT)
Good.  :-) I think it would be great if we (RW) could at least aim for a more unified position on this one.--Bob_M (talk) 07:50, 30 July 2007 (CDT)
I've tried to sharpen up the definitions a little as I was finding them confusing. --Bob_M (talk) 14:19, 2 August 2007 (CDT)
As of right now the last couple of paragraphs don't seem to fit the tone well, especially the stuff about IQ, which is an uncited, mean spirited attack. I tried to clean them up a bit, and removed a lot of random red links, but it's going to take more work to integrate them, I think. humanbe in 17:33, 30 August 2007 (CDT)

Definition soup[edit]

One suggestion is that 'Inerrant' means there are no errors; 'infallible' means there can be no errors. But this is just arguing over definitions, what is important is how people use them. Cornerstone Church from Clogo 1996 uses inerrant while the UCCF doctrinal basis uses infallible but it's clear both are hinting at the same thing. So I think it's a case of just two general manifolds of interpretation; literalism, and infallibility/inerrancy, as the latter two seem most interchangeable and with minimal difference by the people who use them. Scarlet A.pngpathetic 18:44, 12 November 2011 (UTC)

Although the terms often are confused or misused there really is a distinction. "Inerrancy" means the Bible is error-free on matters of fact. In contrast "infallibility" means the Bible is wholly correct on matters of faith. A related idea is "papal infallibility," meaning that the Pope is incapable of error when making pronouncements on matters of faith; it doesn't mean e.g., that if he says Paris is the capital of Uzbekistan then it must be true. Doctor Dark (talk) 00:08, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

over generalization and screeds[edit]

I removed the generalizations like "never" "all", "cannot", as they simply do not represent reality. I also pulled the rather screedish lines that literalists are low IQ (which actually is not the fact), and that they have low rationalization skills. Christians can be "good", they can be "bible believing", and the line about the "entire body of the religion" or bible holds no water, as entire schisms exist because no one even agrees what ARE those bodies, much less to what level you must ascribe to them, to be a Good Christian.Green mowse.pngGodotCalibrated! let the voting begin! 19:28, 4 November 2012 (UTC)

Paul Bell and mensa, Dawkins is far more precise than Bell ever was at least what we claim to cite from bell. the coorlation that 43 studies found, is between IQ and religious belief, not literalism. If you reword it, it might have some solid information. I don't have the original artcile, just lots of people talking about it.--Green mowse.pngGodotCalibrated! let the voting begin! 21:22, 4 November 2012 (UTC)

3 April 2014[edit]

"Though frequently literalists claim to have read the Bible, upon questioning it is clear they have rarely thought through the various positions proffered in the Bible,"
be changed to
"Though literalists frequently claim to have read the Bible, upon questioning it is clear they have rarely thought through the various positions proffered in it," ?
Civic CatTalk to Civic Cat 21:32, 3 April 2014 (UTC)

Sure, why not. Nullahnung (talk) 21:52, 3 April 2014 (UTC)
done  Civic CatTalk to Civic Cat 18:29, 10 April 2014 (UTC)

Father Vivian[edit]

Father Vivian removed two edits I made to the article. The responses on my user page have been puzzling. They focus on one part of the edit while completely ignoring the more important part so I will address that here. Discussing the second part seems pointless. 1. " 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." As to any mainstream position, this is absolutely false. The mainstream approach is the historical grammatical method. Look at the Chicago Statement. "WE AFFIRM the necessity of interpreting the Bible according to its literal, or normal, sense. The literal sense is the grammatical-historical sense, that is, the meaning which the writer expressed. Interpretation according to the literal sense will take account of all figures of speech and literary forms found in the text." There are also other approaches. 2. "This, of course, has problems because of translation issues," Sure, of course it does but this statement is meaningless if you're not accurately describing the literalists' actual methods in the first place. The implication is that literalists make no effort to determine what's history or what's prophecy and are hamstrung by whatever unstated problems you people think there are. This completely ignores that there is and has been a lively discussion of various approaches to this problem for many years. See below. 3. "but in practice it usually focuses on convenient and (relatively) modern translations such as with the King James Only movement." First, KJV is a fringe movement, so mentioning only KJV when there is a mainstream approach is irresponsible. Second, it's not clear how this and the first half of the sentence even relate. Third, literalism doesn't "usually focus on convenience and (relatively) modern translations" whether or not you're talking about the KJV. The focus is on what the words mean.: have a look at the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics and Dr. Geisler's comments. "This article treats the matter of "functional" equivalence. Often there is no actual or literal equivalence between expressions in one language and a word-for-word translation into another language. What is expressed (meaning) is the same but how it is expressed (the words) is different. Hence a different construction can be used to convey the same meaning." Protestants can read any Bible translation they want. The task is to understand the intention of the original author speaking in his own voice as inspired by God and how the listener would understand it. Contrary to the section, all literalists repeat all literalists recognize that some parts of the Bible are poetry, some are allegory, some are history, some prophecy. The important question is which is which and that is where some Biblical literalists disagree. Wabansia (talk) 16:27, 27 May 2014 (UTC)

It seems you are taking this info from the wikipedia page:
That's fine, if nobody objects here in a day or three, we should change the article to take into account differences between "letterism" and "the historical-grammatical method". Nullahnung (talk) 17:25, 27 May 2014 (UTC)
":It seems you are taking this info from the wikipedia page:" Why? Because I cited the most prominent copy of Geisler's commentary on the most important statement of reformed theology hermeneutics? Thanks for insulting me by assuming that I do not know about something I have been studying for many years. Mention letterism if you wish, but do stay on task and make sure that this misrepresentation of the mainstream position doesn't pervade the article. It is false to paint literalists with the same brush. I am sure that there are people who have not adequately considered the text through the lens of some kind of hermeneutic, but this is not the norm. Stories in the Bible that this site seems to want to smear most are short and simple. You can disagree with how others read them, but it's unfair to make over broad statements about what they know or believe before you attack them. "upon questioning it is clear they have rarely thought through the various positions proffered in it, including myriad inconsistencies or evidence that their God is capricious and violent" So you say. How about some evidence? "To hold such a position either requires an extremely low IQ or an overly developed reliance on cognitive dissonance." I suppose that theologians looking at these questions for hundreds of years had low IQs or were self-deceived. In fact, obviously faulty generalizations like this are better evidence that some uninformed people are more interested in smearing Biblical positions than accurately describing them and then offering whatever commentary they have. I understand that the site is atheist to the core, but I also thought that rationally discussing a subject meant that you wouldn't rely on paper tigers to tear down opponents who don't believe what you say. Wabansia (talk) 14:47, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
I didn't intend to insult you, if I did, then I apologize. I think you should cut me some slack, though, because how could I have known that you didn't take that quote from Wikipedia, you didn't tell me where you got it from and I had no idea how prominent it was, so forgive me.
Besides that I already conceded that you have a point and that we should change the article accordingly. I really don't understand why you're taking the indignation you feel towards this article out on me. Nullahnung (talk) 18:13, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
"though, because how could I have known that you didn't take that quote from Wikipedia, you didn't tell me where you got it from and I had no idea how prominent it was, so forgive me." If you didn't intend to insult me, I forgive you. It's too easy to treat people badly on the internet. But don't you think it's uncharitable to expect someone to tell you where they got a quote, google it, and then make some kind of flip comment like this? — Unsigned, by: Wabansia / talk / contribs
Ok, I concede that too. Nullahnung (talk) 19:12, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
I think there's a point to be made here. Upon reading this article previously, my first thought was folks like Terry Hurlbut at Conservapedia, and I didn't really consider that there might be a more broad meaning behind the term "Biblical literalist." Wabansia, are you familiar with folks like Terry and their views? Do you think it would be worth mentioning the difference between mainstream Biblical literalists and those folks who quite literally take everything in the Bible as pure fact (no allegory at all)? I don't really have much of an opinion on this, but it seems like it might be useful to gather some different viewpoints on this issue. - Grant (talk) 16:55, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
I don't know who this person is. You must understand that all literalists "literally take everything in the Bible as pure fact" and that there are no literalists who do not in principle recognize poetry as poetry, etc. where it is clear this is so. They all believe that the Bible truthfully reports people speaking falsehoods, for example. This goes for letterists for the most part, although they get it wrong often enough and those who use the grammatico-historical method. This is unremarkable. I am aware of nobody who reads the Bible without considering the literary genre at least in principle (see letterists). Perhaps they exist, but they are fringe and it's not fair to paint all literalists as taking silly positions they don't take.— Unsigned, by: Wabansia / talk / contribs
Well this is conservapedia on Biblical literalism. (I've obscured the URL as they may track links from here).--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 20:00, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
I know how to find Conservapedia, but I do not understand why it's relevant. If GrantC is accurately describing that person's position, it's an extremely fringe position that makes absolutely no sense. In any event, that article is actually worse than RationalWiki's. It's not going to help anyone here understand the subject better. Wabansia (talk) 21:11, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
I'm no Biblical scholar, but a cursory look at the WP article on the subject does indeed suggest that CP's view is most certainly a fringe one. The article should probably reflect that, as the article currently goes on as though the views of CP and others like them are the mainstay of Biblical literalism. - Grant (talk) 21:19, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
This may have been an offshoot thing from when RationalWiki was just all about refuting Conservapedia. I agree with Grant that the article needs some changes. Nullahnung (talk) 00:03, 30 May 2014 (UTC)
If CP is wring is this a case of No True Literalist?--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 06:21, 30 May 2014 (UTC)
I imagine most CP stalwarts would be happy to label more mainstream literalists that way. - Grant (talk) 06:31, 30 May 2014 (UTC)
No it isn't. We're not "wringing CP", we're putting them into perspective. It's not about what is "the one true literalism", it's about representing the varieties of literalism in terms of their prevalence and accounting for all of them appropriately in this way. Nullahnung (talk) 11:02, 30 May 2014 (UTC)
I'm pretty sure that "wring" was a typo and that Bob was making a comment about CP's typical "my way or the highway" approach to conservatism. - Grant (talk) 15:19, 30 May 2014 (UTC)
Wring = wrong. Ding dong my word was wrong!--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 15:25, 30 May 2014 (UTC)
Oh my, I failed to spot that one... Nullahnung (talk) 15:42, 30 May 2014 (UTC)
Sorry for the confusion. My bad.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 19:05, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

So what's going on here? Are you guys going to let me edit this article? I'm nearly afraid to edit at all after the warm welcome I got here. Wabansia (talk) 00:18, 5 June 2014 (UTC)

I say go for it. - Grant (talk) 00:19, 5 June 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, go for it. I'm sorry if people weren't polite enough for you initially, if there's anything you put in that people take issue with, we should discuss it like adults and try to come to a compromise. Nullahnung (talk) 15:26, 5 June 2014 (UTC)

Why is "biblical" written with a capital B everywhere? (not talking about when it's at the start of a sentence or title, obviously)[edit]

I know "Bible" is typically written with a capital, but to my knowledge the adjective "biblical" requires no such capitalization. (talk)

That's a damn good question. --Inquisitor (talk) 02:47, 29 October 2014 (UTC)

Rename to "Scriptural literalism"[edit]

The information on this page can certainly be expanded to other religions, such as Islam. However, the article currently approaches this issue from only a Christian perspective. Would it be possible to rename the page and expand it to include literalism from other religions? Sir ℱ℧ℤℤϒℂᗩℑᑭƠℑᗩℑƠ (talk/stalk) 22:14, 9 February 2015 (UTC)

I wouldn't think so, as Biblical literalism is a specific thing amongst (mostly) American Protestants, while literalism in other religions tends to be more theological debates and less woo. For instance, you'd be hard-pressed to find Islamic equivalents, or Buddhist, or so on. You could possibly get somewhere with Judaism, but it would pretty much focus on Hasidic Judaism only (so far as I know). --Castaigne (talk) 22:20, 9 February 2015 (UTC)
Hinduism has Hare Krishna creationism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have some common ground in literalism (see 4.1-4.3), Islam recently has Qur'anic scientific foreknowledge.
Even if other religions aren't currently as heavily into literalism, I still think that we should expand the critique to the general concept of literalism, rather than just Christian literalism. Sir ℱ℧ℤℤϒℂᗩℑᑭƠℑᗩℑƠ (talk/stalk) 23:33, 9 February 2015 (UTC)

Why the hell are literalism, inerrancy, and infallibility all in this article?[edit]

Especially considering that inerrancy/infallibility need not at all be literalist positions, lumping them all in here seems... odd. WalkerWalkerWalker 13:27, 27 August 2015 (UTC)

Christian viewpoint on the different viewpoints on the Bible[edit]

Answering Your Question: Tension Between Science and Genes. Herr FüzzyCätPötätö (talk/stalk) 01:59, 2 December 2015 (UTC)

Wicked problems[edit]

Has anyone come across an apologist explaining how the Bible can contain no errors in light of the existence of the "Wicked Bible," an edition of the KJV from 1631 that includes the commandment "Thou shalt commit adultery?" I'd love to watch the mental gymnastics involved in ignoring that one. Jwebb13 (talk) 22:39, 16 January 2016 (UTC)

Oh, that's easy, the devil did it, and god allowed it to test the faith of his true believers. Why? Ineffability, that's why! Being religious is so easy! (talk)

Interjection from a believer[edit]

The current definition of 'expert' differs greatly from even the recent past. The role of parents, teachers and church elders has never been denied as valuable in passing on accumulated understanding and experience which can help the young believer to understand what he is reading. These are not 'experts' in the modern sense of the word. 'Experts' nowadays are merely those who have been educated into the mindset of the time and have a formal qualification to prove it, quite apart from any personal experience of the matter at hand, and who thereby believe themselves to be above such experience and able to judge it. Literalists are those who claim to have had first hand experience of the Holy Spirit and therefore have access to his illumination on these matters. As fallible humans they don't always get it right, discussion, debate and dark times have always been a part of the church experience, but obvious untruths never stand for long in the light of the Spirit or of the reality that he created, hence the incredible resilience of the Christian faith. On the other hand, those who approach the scriptures without faith as if to place themselves in judgement upon God or to mock him, no matter how well educated, cannot expect to then be given access to his treasures. In the end, those without God (whether by their own choice or his) are in the dark with regard to his mind or heart or purposes, and have no hope of accurately interpreting his recorded communications with us. As Jesus said 'no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again ...I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.' — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

Dealing with Biblical literalists[edit]

Possibly as a Funspace article:

Ask questions such as:

  • Do you read/watch crime fiction? Well the Ten Commandments state 'Do not kill' - and you have done so figuratively (along the lines of lusting after someone means you have committed adultery in your heart).
  • Do you read/watch lifestyle of the rich and famous programs? Then you have broken the 'Thou shalt not covet...' commandment.
  • Do you eat pig-meat, shellfish and other biblically banned foodstuffs?
  • Do you wear clothes of mixed fibres?'

What other questions could be asked? (talk) 18:17, 23 February 2017 (UTC)

Literalism = "inerrant."?[edit]

Is it true to equate literal and inerrant? I know that many literalists believe the original text was inerrant. However, modern text can contain editing errors.— Unsigned, by: / talk

Do you mean "Is it correct do do it?" or "Is it true some people do it?" or "is it really the same thing?"Bob"Life is short and (insert adjective)" 18:46, 29 September 2017 (UTC)

Isn't your page biased[edit]

Quote: "Circular reasoning is an argument in which a person begins with the point that he or she is trying to prove. Well-meaning Christians who seek to prove the Bible is God’s Word have often used this fallacy. For example, a person might say, “The Bible is true because it says it comes from God.” While the argument is true, it is not a valid logical argument, because it uses the conclusion to prove its conclusion.

In contrast, to say something is self-authenticating is to say it is true without offering additional proof. A good example is a notarized document. A notarized document can be submitted as proof in a court of law because it has already been authenticated as true in another context. Some claim the Bible is self-authenticating in the same sense, because it has been proven by other means, such as external history or archaeology. While this is true to some extent, it is not true in the same sense as a notarized document.

To show that the Bible is self-authenticating, we can look at some ways the Bible can be demonstrated to be true through external means. There are two means of logical reasoning, deductive and inductive reasoning. Deductive reasoning uses the premises of an argument to prove the conclusion is certainly and undeniably true, such as 2+2=4. Inductive reasoning instead compiles evidence to show the likelihood of a conclusion’s truth. This is the better option for argumentation about the accuracy of Scripture.

To provide inductive evidence for the trustworthiness of the Bible, you can offer many lines of evidence to increase the likelihood that it is true. This can include external history that supports the Bible’s events, archaeology, early manuscripts, the quality of agreement between manuscripts, and other lines of evidence. These means can provide ample support to show the Bible is trustworthy and accurate; yet the view that the Bible is inerrant is based on a theological argument.

Biblically speaking, Scripture claims the Bible is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16–17). If it is breathed by God, and God is perfect, Scripture must be perfect (Psalm 19). Another way to say this is that God is true (Romans 3:4) and God breathed out Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16–17); therefore, the Scriptures are true. Many have argued from these and other passages that the Bible is self-authenticating, that it proves itself true within its own words. However, this is a deduction based on Scripture itself and is unacceptable to anyone who does not already agree with the accuracy of the Bible."


Recommended Resource: I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norm Geisler and Frank Turek

God bless -- (talk) 14:40, 28 June 2019 (UTC)Jhonny

Yeah no. If that were true then it could apply to literally any document that claims to be true. Also Frank Turek is a shit source since all he does is declare himself right and then use fallacious arguements to try to prove his claim after the fact. It's almost as if he's full of crap and he knows it... He also either doesn't understand jack shit about the opposing side (non-believers in general) or is too dishonest to admit he's strawmaning them. TL;DR special pleading attempt for for circular reasoning for Biblical literalism #879 has failed. Please come back when you have something better than "because I say so." ☭Comrade GC☭Ministry of Praise 15:17, 28 June 2019 (UTC)
There is no doubt that some things in the bible are true. Jerusalem is mentioned in the bible and Jerusalem exists.
There is no doubt that some things in the bible are not true. The world was not created in seven days - notwithstanding the claims of biblical literalists; and the earth is not flat - notwithstanding the claims of biblical flat earthers.
So if the bible is a mixture of fact and fiction how can it be self authenticating?Hubert (talk) 14:39, 29 June 2019 (UTC)