Conversations With Craig the christian 4 - Interpretation

Hello all, I got 2 emails from Craig the christian the other day. I am not sure exactly how to handle what he said in the first one. I can’t begin to express what I think about what he wrote.
Craig said: I would say there are certain parts of the Bible that are not to be interpreted literally. A lot of it has to to with the genre of the book. It's not easy to explain. For me, the story of Jonah does not have to be interpreted literally while the resurrection of Christ does. It's more of a case by case basis. I know, that doesn't help much...I'm not really sure how to best explain it.

funny-pictures-ceiling-cat-restsUm… what? The only term that comes to mind, and I honestly mean no offense, is complete cop-out. I don’t know where to start here. I understand what he is saying... that different books were written by different men and some were telling stories and some were telling exact historical events.

But how is anyone supposed to be able to know what is literal and what is figurative? It’s completely arbitrary and random. You just rationalize in whatever way benefits you the most.

So Jonah swallowed by a whale must be a made up story to explain some bigger concept, but Jesus dying, going to hell for a long weekend, then coming back to life literally happened? Who gets to say what is real and what is just made up? You? A minister? The pope? Who gives you that power? And it is power, because simple people listen to priests and ministers and believe whatever they say based on the fact that they supposedly talk for god and would never lie.

Religious leaders are all fallible humans, just like the rest of us. They are corrupted by power, they lie, cheat, think dirty thoughts, make bad decisions, and on and on. Yet you take on faith that powerful men ages ago, and even today, made all the right decisions regarding this collection of books, bound together to make up your supposedly holy bible? And if they said that this story is made up, but that story is totally true because we say so… christians just blindly accept it at face value.

This is cherry-picking of the highest and most egregious order. It lets you take each and every verse in the bible and interpret it however you like, giving you complete control over the message, which basically means the original text is completely arbitrary and rendered virtually meaningless. It could say just about anything and you’d be able to manipulate it to suit your needs. Which is exactly what the pope and every preacher or minister does every day. Whatever message the author tried to convey died with that author.

Certainly you can say that about any kind of story over the ages. But we don’t form religions over the Lord of the Rings or Shakespeare. And scientific principles written down over the years are documented with experiments and results that can be tested and duplicated.


My response to the second email is turning out to be quite long, so I'll post it separately. I need to look up all the verses I was vaguely thinking of for that one, so I'll try to post it later once it's properly referenced.

EDIT at 10:30 PM: I just got an email from Craig about 2 minutes ago. I think Craig has had enough. I offended him (unintentionally) with the above post/email.

Craig, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend you. I was merely expressing my thoughts and opinions and tried to make it abundantly clear that I was not attacking you personally, but I was seriously questioning how the bible is interpreted.

EDIT later at 2:20 AM: so the second email, conversation 5, is complete and ready to post. I don't know if I should wait or not, out of respect to Craig's feelings? I think I'll wait till tomorrow (well, later today, technically) and if I don't hear from him, I'll just go ahead and post it. I want to be thoughtful, but at the same time, I really want to publish it because I think I made some good points worth sharing with the class. What do you think? To post or not to post?


  1. Neece,if Craig thinks the part about Jesus'ressurection is to be taken literally,ask him to explain the 4 different versions in Mat/Mark/Luke /John.....various numbers and genders of folks present;some versions with earthquakes,some not (?not noticed?);dead people up from graves walking around.....I believe it was Dan Barker ,a former minister ( co-pres) who challenged anyone to answer,using the bible,what actually happened at the time of J's death/ is most conflicted.......anyway,good work,trying to talk to Craig...

  2. The uh, topic on Craig's website disappeared after my second post... They were some pretty good comments I made. I think I have the first saved, by I unfortunately didn't save the second. Shame. Ask him for me whether he didn't want to continue the discussion, whether he saw the flaw in his words (I somehow doubt he'd personally say this), wanted to give up his current defense in more favor of a figurative defense as above but was already too deep, removed it to save some face, or that he just didn't have the answers (well that would mean he removed it to save face). He'll probably reply I was trolling or some other nonsense I guess, even though those were probably my most tactful and mellow posts I have made (purely of which was out of respect of you). I really was looking forward to his responses.

  3. Yes, exactly, Rev Tim. All 4 gospels are all over the place with different conflicting "facts".

    Oh, I have also read that I think Matthew originally ended much earlier than how it ends now and that the resurrection and all that was added later. It was either Matthew or Mark, I'll have to see if I can find it, but it was supposedly added onto later.

  4. Which topic? What did you comment on? I just went over there and saw your extremely tame comment on the Pew survey. They always ask biased questions. I don't really put too much stock in such surveys and polls.

    Anyway, what was your comment about? Thanks for showing me respect, GMN. I have to say I always enjoy your perspective on stuff. But I guess if you're challenging someone's faith, which I did as well, apparently, it can be quite difficult to handle.

    By the way, I heard from Craig again a bit ago. But I don't know if he wants to keep talking to me or simply wanted to share a bit more information on how lutherans handle biblical interpretation. Apparently it's an art, not a science! :P

  5. GMNightmare,

    I'm a big enough man to admit when I've screwed up. I moved the post to private after receiving said email from Neece. It was petty and childish and I'm sorry. Yes, even Christians have their bad moments. Being a Christian does not prevent me from acting like a child sometimes, it just makes me human. I have not responded to your latest comment because I seriously need to rethink some things. If I was going to accuse you of trolling, I would not do it on a public board. Anyways, I've set it back to public, but probably won't get around to responding for a few days. I am trying to finish up some papers for the end of the semester.

  6. Yeah, they really were tactful and mellow. You were quite polite, albeit relentless as always. ;)

  7. Post, I say.

    I say this because he already knew you were making these conversations public, therefore, if he didn't want/expect you to post it, he should not have sent it to you.

    Yes, even Christians have their bad moments.

    Actually, that alone deserves a little (mild) spanking.

  8. Ah, I understand. Indeed, you probably didn't even mean for me not to see it anymore (depends on your private settings, as I noticed you personally accept a new poster[before their first post is shown], but once you accept them then they post at will). Unfortunately, I have no persistent cookies on my browser, so I don't maintain a profile whenever I revisit pages.

    I completely understand the workload now as well... In actuality, I probably have a bigger workload at the moment than you, it's just I find these to be a nice break from my basically working 10 hours a day on end of semester projects.

  9. Thanks PF, I am about to post it, but it's all good because he said he replied and said he didn't mind anyway. I don't know about the mild spanking for the christians... it would be awful if they actually enjoyed it! LOL!

  10. Yeah, there is that risk, isn't there?

    Looking forward to it!