Meeting creationists on their own terms: understanding the Genesis flood
Maimonides said it best, over 800 years ago. The Divine Teaching is, of necessity, expressed in human language. We don’t believe that God has fingers and hands (Exodus, Isaiah, Psalms, Luke) or goes for walks in gardens (Genesis). I would add that no one takes the commandments in the Bible literally, and when Daesh comes close to following the rules of law laid down in Deuteronomy, we are quite properly appalled. All of this is familiar, but this piece combats biblical literalism on its own terms, shows how it is inseparable from interpretation, and thereby undermines its strongest attraction – the illusion of certainty.
In this post, I am going to do something highly atypical for a science blog: I am going to talk about theology. I want to be very clear about why I am doing this and why you should pay attention (regardless of your personal religious beliefs or lack thereof). I have spent a great deal of time talking to creationists, and what I have found is that most of them are concerned primarily with what the Bible says, and they only accept science when it happens to line up with their religious views. In other words, it’s not that the creationists are unintelligent, it’s simply that they have different priorities. As a result, if you initiate a conversation with creationists by talking about the science of evolution, you won’t get anywhere because they think that the science conflicts with their religion, but if you start by explaining why the science
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Posted on July 27, 2015, in Accommodationism, Creationism, Religion and tagged Biblical literalism, Maimonides, Noah's flood. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.
Perhaps the best example of the Bible’s reference to the whole world which is not taken “literally” is in elsewhere in the Book of Genesis: the story of Joseph in Egypt, where there was a world-wide drought, and people came from all the world to get grain from the stores in Egypt. Genesis 41:57 Other examples are of Solomon getting gifts from the whole world.
1 Kings 10:23; and Jews from all the world were in Jerusalem for Pentecost. Acts 2:5
And in both Genesis and Kings (I just checked) the Hebrew word is, again, ha-aretz (the-eretz), the very word whose ambiguity the original post discusses.
BTW, many English readers may be familiar with the name of the Jerusalem newspaper, Ha Aretz, meaning “The Land (of Israel)”. not, I think, “The World”.
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