Friday, 18 October 2013

The Plain Reading of the Text?

Creationists often claim they are simply reading the plain meaning of the text in the bible. They claim "It is as simple as that." Here is just one example from Joshua 10:12-15 which demonstrates that they do no such thing. This kind of theology went out of fashion many hundreds of years ago.  Out of fashion that is, until it was revived in the twentieth century by the Creationists themselves.
On the day the Lord gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the Lord in the presence of Israel:
“Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a human being. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel!
Joshua 10:12-15 (NIV)
Creationists will tell you that God simply stopped the earth rotating for a while. Of course, if you read the text again, that isn't what it actually says. "Well", say the creationists, "that would be daft wouldn't it? We know the earth goes around the sun and the rotation of the earth makes it appear that the sun is moving so of course the passage actually means that the earth stopped rotating."

In this way they are interpreting the literal text and extracting a meaning in the light of known science.  Such interpretation apparently is required in this passage but doesn't apply in Genesis.  Only the Creationists know why they are not consistent. Or perhaps they don't think about that.

Interpretation is unavoidable. But apparently the denial that this is in any way done subjectively is handcuffed to being a proper believer and they happily label the huge majority of Christians in the UK as compromisers for choosing to interpret genesis in the light of modern science. 

Creationist followers or dabblers should realise they don't have to choose between their faith and the science.  They can have both and probably save themselves a fortune by not having to purchase all the anti-scientific propaganda that the likes of the Centre for Intelligent Design in Glasgow or Creation Ministries International (Leicester) pump out. 


  1. Didn't Maimonides say something similar to this, way back when? And, crucially, why is the cancer of deliberately stupid literalism taking hold, in the 21st Century, in all three Abrahamic religions?

  2. Indeed, the bible doesn't state the Earth is 6,000 years old, that all fossils are as a result of Noah's flood, that Cain married his sister, that dinosaurs were either present in the Garden of Eden or on board Noah's ark, etc. etc.

    So why are Christians who reject YECism labelled as "compromisers" ?

  3. I suppose non-literal 'interpretation' is OK for a YEC when (a) the science is totally undeniable and (b) when it doesn't mess up your theology in the way that billions of years and molecules to man evolution do...