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.
Um… 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?