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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Problem With Rationalizing The Bible

The Problem With Rationalizing The Bible
Joel S. Baden

January 3, 2012

The Huffington Mainstay

For 2,000 verve, the biblical stories in which God changes the course of manner were called miracles. Really, that is the very definition of a enfant terrible. And miracles were the significant aspect of the deity, the ineluctable notation of God's ranking and power. Yet to the same extent the brim of the Enlightenment in 18th century, with its date to practical look at carefully and its hostility to superstition, the manner of biblical miracles has been called all the rage notion. Accomplishments that were scientifically painful were deemed... painful. Yet at the fantastically time, for millions of category the Bible retained and retains its broken up as a store of truth, every succeed (presently, shape) and factual (former).

The conjunction of modern practical look at carefully and obligation to the Bible has led to an captivating turn of dealings. We see an incomplete aim to find a prudent glasses case for some of the outstanding ridiculous biblical dealings, to "expound" them scientifically. Examples of this be loaded. The overwhelm of Originate 6-9, in which the whole world is inundated with water? That was the innocent person of a enormous comet or meteor rolling all the rage the oceanic, creating a large-scale tsunami and massacre coarsely each person on earth.

The plagues in Egypt of Exodus 7-10? They were a natural confine of dealings instigated by a very modern culprit: global warming.

The splitting of the Red Sea in Exodus 14? A coincidence of a very low tide and a very strong twist.

The manna with which the Israelites were fed in the wilderness? Nothing outstanding than a naturally-occurring chuck lichen, or possibly the sap of the tamarisk tree, or, least mouth-wateringly, possibly the emission of the unimportant bugs that feed on tamarisk sap. The list may well go on.

For the disbelieving modern, these sorts of theories, created by scholars and smooth with the termination of definite practical probe, are light on your feet while they extravaganza the dialect (wryly sufficiently from the Bible itself, from the stark freethinker who wrote Ecclesiastes) that expound is nothing new under the sun. Science explains all. At the fantastically time, these theories speak also to the biblical literalist: science, that stark opponent of anticipation, does not subvert but in fact confirms the Bible's truth. The two camps run into in a infrequent instance of harmony: While the Bible says is actually what happened.

The arrest, even so, is that none of these theories about what happened are, in fact, what the Bible says happened. The Bible doesn't say that a comet struck the oceanic, or that expound was global warming, or that it was low tide or that the Israelites ate lichen (or let fall). It says that expound were miracles, originating justified with God, to gauzy or protect, to decode or to raise from the dead. Miracles cannot, by definition, be natural occurrences, no come forth how infrequent or pronounced. It is not that the Bible reflects the convey of knowledge in an former, pre-scientific culture, and that we who are outstanding freethinking involve the aptitude to understand the dealings in the Bible outstanding genuinely. The Bible is not a register of ancient observations; it is a heroic theological piece of information about God's interaction with assistance and the world. Rationalizing its stories does not "expound" the Bible. Rationalizing, in fact, obscures it.

And that is while these theories do not shed light on the biblical lettering in any fundamental way. Group if it were proved that a comet did comprise a enormous overwhelm happening at some face in the past, our understanding of the biblical story of the overwhelm would clear unchanged: it was God's slight for the dissoluteness and hostility of assistance. Group if expound are miscellaneous passable substances in the chuck, the biblical story of the manna is still a story of divine fate at a time of serious choose. Attempts to find some center line of work are precarious at best. For turn of phrase, the stark In order Jewish biblical scholar Umberto Cassuto (1883-1951) optional that the splitting of the sea was definite an reasonable coincidence of tide and twist, but the enfant terrible was that these occurred acid seeing that the Israelites enviable to teed off. This is neither a factual reading nor a practical one, nonetheless its attempts to be every. The power of the Bible comes not from its practical accuracy, but from acid the hostile.

We cannot involve it every ways. The Bible cannot every be a bear of anticipation and digest to modern inspiration of practical clear-headedness. Nor hardship it. For true believers, naturalistic rationalizations support a principal send of the Scriptures, that God intervenes in human associations. Skeptics must surprise why any aim is characteristic through in the first place to extravaganza that biblical dealings really happened. The Bible may be couched as former design, but the claims it makes are claims of anticipation, which no size of positively or damning proof can alter.

In this holiday harden, we may adopt the two stories at the medium of Hanukkah and Christmas (even with Hanukkah is not a biblical holiday, but the face still stands). According to Jewish tradition, the enfant terrible of Hanukkah is that when the Brow in Jerusalem was sacked by the Syrian king Antiochus in the twinkle century B.C.E., the unimportant size of unprofaned oil obtain, sufficiently to cast barely one day, lasted preferably for eight days. According to Christian tradition, the enfant terrible of Christmas is of course the twitch of Jesus to the virgin mother Mary. If we may well extravaganza that in some way one day's assess of oil may well cast for eight by some in spite of that unknown natural token of oil -- or if we may well extravaganza that in some way it is medically prone for a virgin to cede twitch -- who would noble from such an explanation?

Miracles are articles of anticipation, for true believers today and for the Bible as well. Whether they actually happened or not is untrustworthy. But to chalk them up to freak occurrences of manner is crucially to take for the manner every of the Bible and of belief in it.