Scriptural Literalism or Scriptural Liberalism?

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MCalavera
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08 Feb 2013, 6:35 pm

From Sam Harris' book, The End of Faith:

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The first thing to observe about the moderate's retreat from scriptural literalism is that it draws its inspiration not from scripture but from cultural
developments that have rendered many of God's utterances difficult to accept as written.


This is referring to the moderately religious who believes scripture is from God but while rejecting any literal interpretation that does not fit with today's modern society. What are your thoughts on this?

I think he makes a very good point.



puddingmouse
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09 Feb 2013, 8:43 am

I always felt like believing in large chunks of the bible were a bit like forcing myself to swallow poison. 'I have to believe this, it's what I've signed up for' at the same time as the rest of my being was rebelling against it. I think all Christians in the modern world have the same experience. The line that the conservatives take is that doing things you don't want to do is good for you and 'believing' things you don't want to believe is also beneficial. The moderates are not taking their medicine properly.

I decided I had enough with the self-torture.



Tequila
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09 Feb 2013, 10:46 am

puddingmouse wrote:
I always felt like believing in large chunks of the bible were a bit like forcing myself to swallow poison. 'I have to believe this, it's what I've signed up for' at the same time as the rest of my being was rebelling against it.

I decided I had enough with the self-torture.


The greatest thing with regard to most people and religion in the West is that you can choose to stop torturing yourself any time you like. Many, many people in this world do not really have that luxury. (See parts of the U.S., the Caribbean, Africa, Eastern Europe and Russia, as well as most Muslim-majority countries.)



Cei
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09 Feb 2013, 12:38 pm

Yes, I think taking absolutely everything completely literally with no thought is silly, but I also think a lot of people cross the line past common sense into just making excuses to ignore stuff, or thinking they know better than God. Is it really faith to only believe the parts that don't actually affect you, and the ones you don't mind? Personally, I don't think so.



ModusPonens
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09 Feb 2013, 1:50 pm

I'm a buddhist but I face the same question. My aproach is to believe in those canonical texts which

1- Constitute the earliest record of the Buddha's words, acording to modern (secular) scholarship;
2- Don't contradict scientific facts (scientific assumptions, such as the mind being solely a construction from its physical support, are not included).

So acording to Sam Harris I'm a moderate. But while my position has much to do with my culture, for any buddhist who knows the words of the Buddha, he is encouraged not to accept things solely based on tradition, or scripture, or reputation of a spiritual teacher. He said to take experience as the decider of what is true and what isn't. In that perspective, it's much easier for a buddhist to adapt to a scientific aproach, due to these words, than a muslim, for example.



puddingmouse
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09 Feb 2013, 2:01 pm

ModusPonens wrote:
I'm a buddhist but I face the same question. My aproach is to believe in those canonical texts which

1- Constitute the earliest record of the Buddha's words, acording to modern (secular) scholarship;
2- Don't contradict scientific facts (scientific assumptions, such as the mind being solely a construction from its physical support, are not included).

So acording to Sam Harris I'm a moderate. But while my position has much to do with my culture, for any buddhist who knows the words of the Buddha, he is encouraged not to accept things solely based on tradition, or scripture, or reputation of a spiritual teacher. He said to take experience as the decider of what is true and what isn't. In that perspective, it's much easier for a buddhist to adapt to a scientific aproach, due to these words, than a muslim, for example.


I think anyone who takes experience as their main measure of truth isn't being a moderate Buddhist, they're simply being a Buddhist.



Tequila
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09 Feb 2013, 2:07 pm

I suppose there are worse people to venerate than some harmless tubby bloke.



Vigilans
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09 Feb 2013, 7:59 pm

Scriptural literalism is stupid, scriptural liberalism is pointless. I say pointless because it often takes serious mental gymnastics to reconcile modern morality with these antiquated documents. Better to just acknowledge their limits and move on with one's personal philosophy instead of getting lost in nebulous metaphor and inference to support an idea clearly wrong


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Tequila
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09 Feb 2013, 8:03 pm

Vigilans wrote:
Scriptural literalism is stupid, scriptural liberalism is pointless. I say pointless because it often takes serious mental gymnastics to reconcile modern morality with these antiquated documents. Better to just acknowledge their limits and move on with one's personal philosophy instead of getting lost in nebulous metaphor and inference to support an idea clearly wrong


I emphatically agree. These are very, very old documents compiled in a completely and utterly different world to our own. Life has changed so completely from 2,000 years ago or 1,300 years ago that it's time to let it rest.



Kraichgauer
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09 Feb 2013, 8:09 pm

Is anyone seriously going to accept the OT dietary laws, endorsement of slavery and polygamy, the subjugation of women, or the call for genocide?
With the exception of the most extreme fundamentalists, the sane people who make up the rest of Christianity - even evangelicals - aren't going to accept most of those countless, often morally ambiguous rules.
And then there's the simple matter that Christ himself was hardly a literalist, and was greatly criticized by the fundamentalistic religious leaders of his day. To put love, charity, and compassion over the law is actually more keeping with Christ's message, rather than slavishly obeying the letter of the law.

-Bill, otherwise known as Kraichgauer



Last edited by Kraichgauer on 09 Feb 2013, 8:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Tequila
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09 Feb 2013, 8:10 pm

Kraichgauer wrote:
Is anyone seriously going to except the OT dietary laws, endorsement of slavery and polygamy, the subjugation of women, or the call for genocide?
With the exception of the most extreme fundamentalists, the sane people who make up the rest of Christianity - even evangelicals - aren't going to accept most of those countless rules.


It comes across as anti-human to try to live up to a 2,000 year old book anyway.



ModusPonens
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09 Feb 2013, 8:43 pm

Tequila wrote:
I suppose there are worse people to venerate than some harmless tubby bloke.


You're thinking of Hotei, not the Buddha. Hotei is a chinese icon which, for some reason, got to be known as the Buddha in the western world.



Kraichgauer
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09 Feb 2013, 9:18 pm

ModusPonens wrote:
Tequila wrote:
I suppose there are worse people to venerate than some harmless tubby bloke.


You're thinking of Hotei, not the Buddha. Hotei is a chinese icon which, for some reason, got to be known as the Buddha in the western world.


Really? I've been calling the wrong guy Buddha for my whole life, then!

-Bill, otherwise known as Kraichgauer



ModusPonens
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09 Feb 2013, 10:12 pm

Kraichgauer wrote:
ModusPonens wrote:
Tequila wrote:
I suppose there are worse people to venerate than some harmless tubby bloke.


You're thinking of Hotei, not the Buddha. Hotei is a chinese icon which, for some reason, got to be known as the Buddha in the western world.


Really? I've been calling the wrong guy Buddha for my whole life, then!

-Bill, otherwise known as Kraichgauer


You'll be reborn as an insect for that. :P :lol:



Tensu
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09 Feb 2013, 11:18 pm

ModusPonens wrote:
You'll be reborn as an insect for that. :P :lol:


Meh, might not be so bad, so long as it's a dragonfly.

Or tiger beetle.

I've heard it said that a lot of scripture was never meant to be taken as literal, and literal interpretations are really a more recent thing.