Literalism and the Bible...a lawyer's pespective

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posted on Feb, 12 2010 @ 06:17 PM
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As some of you know, I am a lawyer. As a lawyer, I feel I can provide incite on the issue as to whether the Bible is or is not literally true. From a historical or scientific perspective, the Bible is probably not 100% literally true. A scientist, archaeologist, or historian can and should question whether it is 100% literally true. However, from the perspective of someone that is trying to learn the rules of conduct the Bible teaches, the Bible must be unquestionably true.


The Bible consists of laws and stories. There are portions of the Bible that read "thou shall not..." or "thou shalt..." There are also portions of the Bible that recount stories. These stories are about people who are engaged in some sort of ethical or moral struggle. Sometimes the stories involve ordinary people facing common situations, but they also often contain extra-ordinary people in uncommon or super-natural situations. However, if we are to look at the Bible as a guide on how to live one's life, then its factual veracity should not be questioned because questioning its veracity takes away the Bible's efficacy as a teaching tool.

Lawyers learn law through a process called the Socratic method. Under the Socratic method, law students read judicial decisions written by appeals courts. The fact patterns in the appeals court cases are often bizarre. However, the fact patterns in the case cannot be questioned because whether or not the events described in the case actually occurred is not at issue, the issue is how the law should be applied to those facts.

When appeals courts or law students are faced with a bizarre set of facts, rather than questioning the validity of the facts and turning away from the case, they often embrace the bizarre set of facts as an opportunity to decide how the law should be applied. It often takes bizarre facts to elucidate how the law should be applied to normal situations.

Similarly, the Bible contains "cases" where it applies its laws to various ethical dilemmas. The Bible often uses bizarre or supernatural events to illustrate its teaching points. If you question the literal truth of any of the Bible's stories, you are missing the point of the exercise. The question is not "did this happen?," but rather the question is "How should one behave under these circumstances?"




posted on Feb, 12 2010 @ 06:40 PM
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reply to post by hotpinkurinalmint
 





The question is not "did this happen?," but rather the question is "How should one behave under these circumstances?"

So how exactly should one behave when an invisible man in the sky tells your father to slit your throat and bleed you to death ?



posted on Feb, 12 2010 @ 06:43 PM
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reply to post by hotpinkurinalmint
 





The question is not "did this happen?," but rather the question is "How should one behave under these circumstances?"


How should one behave when an invisible man in the sky announces that boys that misbehave should be stoned to death ?



posted on Feb, 12 2010 @ 06:45 PM
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reply to post by hotpinkurinalmint
 





If you question the literal truth of any of the Bible's stories, you are missing the point of the exercise. The question is not "did this happen?," but rather the question is "How should one behave under these circumstances?"


How should one behave if an invisible man in the sky tells you that, if you think your newlywed wife is not a virgin you should kill her ?



posted on Feb, 12 2010 @ 06:47 PM
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reply to post by hotpinkurinalmint
 





If you question the literal truth of any of the Bible's stories, you are missing the point of the exercise. The question is not "did this happen?," but rather the question is "How should one behave under these circumstances?"


How should one behave when, an invisible man in the sky tells you that you should kill homosexuals ?



posted on Feb, 12 2010 @ 06:56 PM
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reply to post by moocowman
 


This is a good comment. You may believe God is an invisible man (and you are entitled to) , but in the Abraham story, God is very real to Abraham. To Abraham, God is also infinitely wise, infinitely loving, and always right. Yet, Abraham is confronted with a serious dilemma. This God, who he knows to always be right, is asking him to do something that obviously seems very wrong.

In real life, of course, we will not face a situation that is exactly like Abraham's dilemma. An "invisible man" is not going to ask us to slit our child's throats. Yet, many of us will have to take bold measures or make sacrifices (no pun intended) that seem counter intuitive or even self destructive. For example, many people who want to start their own businesses will literally have to risk everything they own to pursue their dream.

In this regard, the Abraham story can be quite instructive. Perhaps the question presented in the Abraham story should be how sure do you have to be in order to make the great sacrifice? Abraham had absolute faith in God, so he was able to risk everything. Perhaps, one should only take great risk if they have a high degree of faith.

Perhaps the question presented in the Abraham story is whether we should make seemingly self-destructive sacrifices? In the Abraham story, no harm came to Abraham as the result of his sacrifice. Perhaps we should learn that it is sometimes okay to take risks.

The number of questions (and perhaps answers) the Abraham story poses are numerous and there is no way someone like myself, who is not a biblical scholar, could discuss them. But hopefully, you understand that the story is a rich allegory.



posted on Feb, 12 2010 @ 07:03 PM
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reply to post by moocowman
 


One thing we see from the Bible is that it just does not propound multiple rules, but tells us how to apply the rules that seemingly conflict or may seem draconian. While it is true that the Bible does call for stoning, the Bible also calls for mercy and fairness. You cannot understand the rules without reading the stories that show how the rules should be carried out.

If you read the Bible, it is clear that stoning is not something to be taken lightly. The New Testament, of course has the famous quote "He who is free of sin shall cast the first stone." The Old Testament requires all sorts of procedures to initiate stoning, for example there must be a trial and there must be witnesses to the act. There are also "loopholes" like cities of refuge. Thus it seems, the Old Testament also frowns upon stoning everyone that goofs a bit.

[edit on 12-2-2010 by hotpinkurinalmint]



posted on Feb, 12 2010 @ 07:12 PM
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reply to post by moocowman
 


These posts of you talk about rules, and not stories. Many biblical scholars may question your simple application of these rules. They may say you are reading the Bible too literally, too narrowly, or ignoring the exceptions to these rules.

You may also be ignoring the fact that these rules were written for ancient people living in a different time and place than you. What is important is not the literal words of these rules, but the spirit and the rationale behind these rules. Does the Bible denounce homosexuality because homosexuality is bad in every time and place in history? Or perhaps there was a reason to the ban on homosexuality?

Homosexuality, in antiquity, was strongly associated with Greek culture. Perhaps the Bible denounces homosexuality because it wanted the Jews to preserve their identity and culture, and not have it absorbed by Greek culture. Perhaps the spirit and rationale of the rule is not to avoid homosexuality, but avoid "pop" culture that threatens to absorb and kill off "indigenous" culture.



posted on Feb, 12 2010 @ 07:19 PM
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Another lawyerly perspective I can bring to the literalism debate is that rules almost always have implied exceptions. The first Amendment of the US Constitution reads the freedom of speech "shall not be abridged." If we take this literally, it means that the government absolutely cannot make any laws limiting speech.

Of course courts have found exceptions to this rule. According to well established US Supreme Court precedents, governments are allowed to make rules limiting the right to speak. For example, certain types of speech like incitement and obscenity are not protected by the First Amendment. The government is free to regulate or outlaw speech that is incitement or obscene. The government is also allowed to create time, place, and manner regulations on speech.



posted on Feb, 12 2010 @ 07:21 PM
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Originally posted by moocowman
reply to post by hotpinkurinalmint
 





The question is not "did this happen?," but rather the question is "How should one behave under these circumstances?"

So how exactly should one behave when an invisible man in the sky tells your father to slit your throat and bleed you to death ?

An interesting collection of High School howlers you have there.

The Abraham/Issac was acted out prophecy...
...if you actually read the story you may see it.




posted on Feb, 12 2010 @ 07:22 PM
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Originally posted by moocowman
reply to post by hotpinkurinalmint
 





If you question the literal truth of any of the Bible's stories, you are missing the point of the exercise. The question is not "did this happen?," but rather the question is "How should one behave under these circumstances?"


How should one behave if an invisible man in the sky tells you that, if you think your newlywed wife is not a virgin you should kill her ?

Do you have the biblical reference for that?
I think you are confusing your ancient documents.




posted on Feb, 12 2010 @ 07:27 PM
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Originally posted by moocowman
reply to post by hotpinkurinalmint
 





If you question the literal truth of any of the Bible's stories, you are missing the point of the exercise. The question is not "did this happen?," but rather the question is "How should one behave under these circumstances?"


How should one behave when, an invisible man in the sky tells you that you should kill homosexuals ?

The rule was local and specific.

If you are fighting a war where the survival of your genetics is an issue...
...homosexuals have no value...
...they degrade your chances of survival...
...the rule was given in just such a historical setting.

Some modern religionists would like to apply this in a general sense...
...in a modern/post-modern setting...
...I think that is unfortunate and was not the original intention.




posted on Feb, 12 2010 @ 07:27 PM
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You make a lot of sense, and I feel much as you do about the Bible... from what you write, I sense you are a Sunday School Teacher. If you are not, I suggest you entertaine the thought.
I myself believe the Bible is more literal for the most part, but I am open to opinions such as yours... and even acknowledge when I stand corrected. for I will always be a student of The Word.
God Bless You.



posted on Feb, 12 2010 @ 07:30 PM
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reply to post by troubleshooter
 


I think a better intellectual exercise would be to ask him why these rules were written in the first place?

It would be easy to dismiss them as silly, but if he gave them some thought, perhaps he would realize there is an underlying rationale to the rules. The literal thrust of the rules may not apply in our modern world, but the underlying rationale would.

Virginity is not as big a deal today as it was in antiquity. Perhaps the Bible does make too much of a big deal out of it. There are underlying issues the Virginity issue addresses, however. One thing it addresses is honesty and fidelity between spouses. Husbands and wives should be able to trust each other. The marriage is not getting off to a good start if the husband finds out his wife is lying to him.

Another good exercise may be to question whether there are or should be exceptions to the virginity rule. After all, it would be harsh to penalize a woman in circumstances like rape.



posted on Feb, 12 2010 @ 07:34 PM
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reply to post by AlreadyGone
 


I am not a Sunday School teacher. Like I said I study law. There are a great many parallels to the study of law, the study of religion. Even though our modern court system is secular, it has its roots in religious thought.

For example, the first equity courts, whose decisions formed the basis of much of the common law, were religious courts. The English Common Law, upon which most American law is based, was based on Islamic law, which in turn was based on Talmudic law.



posted on Feb, 12 2010 @ 07:35 PM
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Originally posted by hotpinkurinalmint
reply to post by troubleshooter
 


I think a better intellectual exercise would be to ask him why these rules were written in the first place?

It would be easy to dismiss them as silly, but if he gave them some thought, perhaps he would realize there is an underlying rationale to the rules. The literal thrust of the rules may not apply in our modern world, but the underlying rationale would.

Virginity is not as big a deal today as it was in antiquity. Perhaps the Bible does make too much of a big deal out of it. There are underlying issues the Virginity issue addresses, however. One thing it addresses is honesty and fidelity between spouses. Husbands and wives should be able to trust each other. The marriage is not getting off to a good start if the husband finds out his wife is lying to him.

Another good exercise may be to question whether there are or should be exceptions to the virginity rule. After all, it would be harsh to penalize a woman in circumstances like rape.

Again I ask the question...
...what is the biblical reference for the assertion that non-virgins were to be put to death?




posted on Feb, 12 2010 @ 07:37 PM
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reply to post by troubleshooter
 


I cannot quote chapter and verse. I am not sure if the person that posted that line about virgins was entirely correct. From what I recall, the Bible does place some importance on a woman's virginity. I believe the husband of a woman who is not a virgin has the right to get money from the father if the woman is not really a virgin. Please correct me if I am wrong.



posted on Feb, 12 2010 @ 07:44 PM
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Originally posted by hotpinkurinalmint
reply to post by troubleshooter
 


I cannot quote chapter and verse. I am not sure if the person that posted that line about virgins was entirely correct. From what I recall, the Bible does place some importance on a woman's virginity. I believe the husband of a woman who is not a virgin has the right to get money from the father if the woman is not really a virgin. Please correct me if I am wrong.

There is no such reference.

Also the words translated 'virgin' simply refers to a 'young women' of marriageable age.

If the text means a women with an intact hymen...
...it is usually expressed as a women/girl who 'has not known man.




posted on Feb, 12 2010 @ 07:46 PM
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John 16:25 "Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father."

Straight out of the lord's mouth. He speaks figuratively and not literally. Read John 16 and you will glean that the end times may not be some disaster but rather a revealing of truth, where once learned, will unite all mankind.



posted on Feb, 12 2010 @ 08:02 PM
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reply to post by troubleshooter
 


Deuteronimy22:13-21)
"If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her ... and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid: Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: And the damsel's father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her ... and yet these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city ... But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel ... Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die."


You may of course contest Alma, but to do so would immediately bring into question the designation of the mother of jesus. Either way the question in relation into the killing on the orders of an invisible man in the sky is still valid.





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