Saturday, April 08, 2006

What is Literally True about Bible Literalists?

The Christian Right claims they believe in the "literal truth of the Bible." They claim it as the basis for their political and cultural stands. But that is obviously not true. If they TRULY believed in the literal truth of the Bible, they would be following the orthodox dietary restrictions so exhaustively laid out in Leviticus. As well as having multiple wives, or at least concubines. As for the New Testament, there is Jesus' own words about no public prayer, care of the poor and sick, and cautions about casting judgment. These "Bible Literalists" don't follow that, either.

So what are they following, in reality? They are actually dogmatists. They aren't following the Bible as much as they are clinging to Christian dogma, rocks of thought worn smooth through many centuries. The flatness of the earth, the evils of sex, and the annoying finds of science are all part of Christian dogma, and have tortured or nonexistent support from the Bible. For instance, the Rapture that so many claim to believe is not found anywhere in the Bible; it comes from the writings of William Miller and led, among other things, to the current beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses.

That is why the dogmatic beliefs of so many religious people, not just nominal Christians, are so impervious to debate or argument. The whole point of dogma is that it is taken whole, or not at all. There are no principles. There is no logic involved. That is why one can't use principles or logic in dealing with dogma. They weren't a part of the equation in the first place.

People who are not dogmatically religious do not understand this. They arrived at their beliefs with some access to principles and logic, and use them in their belief system. This is why there are Unitarians, and Wiccans, and Atheists. They go for the principles, like love, respect for nature, and playing well with others. Some people skip the formal coat and just go with Humanitarianism, or Science, or Progressive Thought. All of these have a lot of room for discoveries of all kinds, and can't get stretched out of shape very easily. If a non-dogmatic person encounters something new, they usually find an underlying principle, or follow a path of logic, and go on.

Dogma has no Principles. It only has Beliefs. That is why it has no flexibility. And when a dogmatic person encounters something new, they just want it to go away.

How do they handle a gay child, science, or moral dilemmas? They don't. They want them to go away.

Dogmatic people have no tolerance for dissent or difference because dogma changes very slowly, in barely discernible increments. The Catholic Church, perhaps the oldest institutionalized dogma currently working today, didn't admit Galileo was right until 1992. Non-dogmatics were astounded. But the Church itself was not. They do not have to pay any attention to Reality. What's important to them is the dogma. And after everyone was comfortable with the whole moving-earth thing, that's a good time to make it part of the dogma. When it won't cause anyone's mind to be changed or challenged.

Since dogma is always playing catch-up, it isn't just a rock. It's a boulder in the path of modernity. Whenever you want to date it from, or however you want to describe it, Modernity does have some requirements, one of which is a certain flexibility regarding Our Reality. At various times it was thought that trains couldn't go very fast, or all the air would be sucked out of them; that pus in a wound was a good sign of healing; that a ship couldn't sail very far without falling off the edge of the world. When these beliefs were found to be untrue, people benefitted. And the ones who challenged this were not, by their very nature, dogmatists. Because a dogmatist can see, with their very own eyes, that a Belief is wrong... and turn away, to cling once more to the Belief.

So it basically comes down to the old saying: it isn't what you don't know that gets you.

It's what you know... that ain't so.


  1. Anonymous4:05 PM

    No offense but you don't have a very good understanding of the Bible. the "restrictions" you mentioned in Leviticus, and many others in the Old Testament, are no longer necessary because Jesus died on the cross. If you had a good understanding of the Bible you would have known this. As far as the rapture not being mentioned I am very confused on what Bible you are looking at. Not only is it not mentioned, it is mentioned in an abundance of places. I won't write them all out because that would take up lots of space but here are some verses: Matthew 24:30-36, Matthew 24:40-41, John 14:1-3, Acts 1:9-11, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, Philippians 3:20-21, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, and many others. It is easy to attack something when you don't even understand it yourself. You clearly have an agenda and went forth with it regardless, because you obviously didn't take the time to understand what you were writing about.

  2. Anonymous10:00 PM

    What do bible literalists believe... They believe that a giant angel named Gabriel will appear in the eastern sky one day and blow on a giant trumpet to signal the rapture, whereupon a select few will ascend upward through the air into heaven, including those who have been dead for centuries :(

    However, I have noticed that groups that take the bible that literally also follow Jesus' teachings just as literally, so they are vary neighborly, charitable and kind... but also very cult-like.