UK Bishops speak out about Biblical literalism

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The Times Online reports the following last month. (I encourage those interested to read the full article.) (Also, I originally posted that this article was from today’s Times Online, but actually it was from October 5.)

Catholic Church no longer swears by truth of the Bible By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has published a teaching document instructing the faithful that some parts of the Bible are not actually true.

The Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland are warning their five million worshippers, as well as any others drawn to the study of scripture, that they should not expect “total accuracy” from the Bible.

“We should not expect to find in Scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision,” they say in The Gift of Scripture.

The document is timely, coming as it does amid the rise of the religious Right, in particular in the US.

Some Christians want a literal interpretation of the story of creation, as told in Genesis, taught alongside Darwin’s theory of evolution in schools, believing “intelligent design” to be an equally plausible theory of how the world began.

But the first 11 chapters of Genesis, in which two different and at times conflicting stories of creation are told, are among those that this country’s Catholic bishops insist cannot be “historical”. At most, they say, they may contain “historical traces”.

Now I know that the ID movement purports to be based on “purely scientific” considerations, not on the Bible or Genesis, but I also know (we all know) that a substantial portion of the support for ID actually comes from Biblical literalists: for instance, in both Kansas and Dover key players on the respective Boards of education are on record as being young-earth creationists.

Furthermore, we have found that the vast majority of the IDists, even the old earth creationists, reject common descent, believing in some version of the special creation of “kinds.”

So I think it is significant that these Bishops in the United Kingdom have explicitly addressed this issue.

In addition, the Bishops point out the link between Biblical literalism and political fundamentalism. The Times article states,

They go on to condemn fundamentalism for its “intransigent intolerance” and to warn of “significant dangers” involved in a fundamentalist approach.

“Such an approach is dangerous, for example, when people of one nation or group see in the Bible a mandate for their own superiority, and even consider themselves permitted by the Bible to use violence against others.”

Now we see little danger of violence from creationists here in the US (although I am aware that there are militant Christian groups,) but we certainly see those who “see in the Bible a mandate for their own superiority” and who exhibit an “intransigent intolerance” of those who hold other religious views.

In fact, a defining characteristic of the Kansas ID Minority (and of Phillip Johnson, the IDFather of the ID movement) is the rejection and denouncement of those Christians who accept evolution – a rejection based on theological grounds. The creationists in Kansas are certain that they are right about the Bible and about their Christian faith, despite the arguments of both scientists and other Christians (including, of course, Christians who are also scientists.) These folks would do well to heed the words of the Catholic Bishops, I think.

83 Comments

Promoting tolerance and rejecting fundamentalism? It just further proves that Catholics aren’t really Christians.

Britain is becoming a thoroughly post-Christian society (fewer than 25% believe in a personal God - and fewer than 10% go to Church every week), and few of those believe in anything close to Biblical literalism.

Of course, there is always a chance of a backlash - the only significant growing religious movements are the Christian house churches which tend to be fundamentalist and Islam, both of which are more hostile to evolution, but the vast majority of people in Britain believe evolution happened.

I just came across this page - http://www.religioustolerance.org/rel_comp.htm - which shows the results of a survey held in 1991. 76.7% of British people believed in “human evolution” - second only to the then East Germany and more than double that of the USA. I have no reason to believe it’s much different today.

BTW: in that survey - http://www.religioustolerance.org/rel_comp.htm - look at the “Bible” column (number of people who believe “the Bible is literally the Word of God”) in the USA it’s 33.5% the UK… 7%.

Methinks not fertile ground for ID any time soon.

This article was in the Times weeks ago and is typical Ruth Gledhill reporting - not a high level of accuracy.

There is nothing new about this as to my knowledge RC Bishops here in England have taken genesis non-literally since Wiseman became the first RC Bishop in Britain since the 1550s in 1851. In the 1830s he gave some lectures and argued very strongly for a non-literal Genesis and quoted at length form Evangelical Anglican writers like Sumner

It is all old hat.

But what is worrying is that more and more Anglican clergy in England are adopting Young Earth Creationist positions and probably now make up 10% of Church of England clergy. In 1971 when I started to train for the Anglican ministry (changing from exploration geology) there weren’t even 1%. What is more worrying is that in the 1860s I can’t think of ONE YEC among Anglican clergy though I have researched it at length.

Michael Roberts beat me to making that pretty much the same comment. It really isn’t a big deal for Catholics to not to be reading the bible literally. I mean the fact that they had mass in Latin until is related to the idea that we’re supposed to trust to priests with their interpretations. If it’s meant to be literal than we don’t need the priest for interpretations. I think it’s more a sign of the influence of protestant views on the general population that the Church is now feeling that they even need to make these statements, which is more disconcerting.

I see the point you all are making - that it is disconcerting that the Bishops evenfelt that they had to make this statement.

On the other hand, their remarks about the negative influence of intolerant fundamentalism are quite timely. And, to someone like me battling young-earth creationists in Kansas, it’s good to have such a clearcut statement on his from Catholics, even if they are in England.

This is definitely old news to Catholics. I do take exception with the article’s statement that Genesis is “not true.” There’s a huge difference between “allegorical” and “not true.” The Cardinals were merely stating that Genesis is read with the allegory in mind to reach the deeper truth. Catholics have been reading Genesis that way since at least St. Augustine.

And for what it’s worth to Jack Krebs, the Cardinals’ statement is equally applicable to U.S. Catholics. The Vatican Document Communion and Stewardship http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/c[…]ship_en.html

approved by Cardinal Ratzinger, now the current Pope, contained this language:

63. According to the widely accepted scientific account, the universe erupted 15 billion years ago in an explosion called the “Big Bang” and has been expanding and cooling ever since. Later there gradually emerged the conditions necessary for the formation of atoms, still later the condensation of galaxies and stars, and about 10 billion years later the formation of planets. In our own solar system and on earth (formed about 4.5 billion years ago), the conditions have been favorable to the emergence of life. While there is little consensus among scientists about how the origin of this first microscopic life is to be explained, there is general agreement among them that the first organism dwelt on this planet about 3.5-4 billion years ago. Since it has been demonstrated that all living organisms on earth are genetically related, it is virtually certain that all living organisms have descended from this first organism. Converging evidence from many studies in the physical and biological sciences furnishes mounting support for some theory of evolution to account for the development and diversification of life on earth, while controversy continues over the pace and mechanisms of evolution. While the story of human origins is complex and subject to revision, physical anthropology and molecular biology combine to make a convincing case for the origin of the human species in Africa about 150,000 years ago in a humanoid population of common genetic lineage. However it is to be explained, the decisive factor in human origins was a continually increasing brain size, culminating in that of homo sapiens.

Not a bad description of common descent, natural selection and common ancestry. The document goes on to make many important religious point without attempting to resolve differences between ID and science, but a number of Church pronouncements support the position that mainstream Catholics certainly see no theological benefit to ID and are very comfortable with evolution. I agree with Jack Krebs that this should be pointed out as often as necessary.

It’s also not surprising that John Haught, a Catholic theologian, was one of plaintiffs’ experts. I don’t know whether the Thomas More Law Society is coming from, but they are not representative of mainstream Catholic thought.

I have a theory about the appeal of Biblical literalism to evangelical protestants, although it’s probably not original since I’ve seen allusions to these ideas from many other people. But I haven’t seen it stated it quite this directly.

As I see it, it comes from two sources. First, evangelical Christianity (as opposed to Catholicism and some other more traditional or orthodox protestant sects) demands, and feeds off, a much greater sense of personal engagment and identity with the group of fellow believers and their common faith. They require a much stronger personal committment in encouraging believers to engage in very overt public demonstrations of their faith like waving hands in the air, eyes shut tightly in praise, speaking in tongues, etc. The evangelical social model involves a rather cult-like absorption into the group. Cult-like, that is, insofar as it promotes a fairly high degree of subsumption of the individual identity to the group, but not to the same degree as a true cult, which essentially reverts people to a pre-adolescent stage of dependency. Yet at the same time, evangelical Christians also seek to actively engage, indeed to conquer in some sense, the world-at-large. The tension between these conflicting imperatives no doubt brings with it a certain amount of inner turmoil for the believer and may amplify the stress associated with the occasional 3 am doubts that plague all believers (which are just a part of having faith). So I think evangelicals have a much greater sense of urgency with regard to justifying their faith to the broader world (and to themselves).

Second, in addtion to inner turmoil, fundamentalist, in general, have inherited an “anti-tradition” tradtion, which makes it very hard for them to admit or even to see that they have, in fact, inherited a tradition. This, I believe, is the source of their insistence upon literalism. The underlying reason seems, prima facia, rather noble. Begining with Luther, the leaders of the Reformation championed a kind of Christian populism against the stiffling and corrupt clericalism and heady Scholastic theological ‘tradtion’ of the Catholic Church. The significance of the publication of the Gutenberg Bible powerfully symbolizes this trend. During the course of the Reformation, the hope was that “sola scriptura”, reliance on the Bible alone as opposed to tradition, would lead to a reformed yet reunified Christendom. This hope proved in vain (leading to a break up based on differening interpretaions and theologies) because the Bible is a thoroughly blended concoction of history, myth, allegory, moral teaching and speculation (believers will no doubt take issue with that last one). So, even conceding, for the sake of argument, that the Bible is the “Word of God”, it still requires some thoughtful interpretion here and there. This may terribly annoy a populist ant-intellectual, but it’s a pretty obvious fact to any intelligent person who just takes an honest look at the Bible. Still, many hoped that just by bringing the people to the Bible, one could eliminate all of the corruptions of “tradition” and bring Christians together under a single unambiguous Bible-based understanding of Christianity that any barely literate believer could read out of the Bible for himself.

Thus began the myth of Biblical literalism. I call it a myth, because, although it is often claimed that everybody automatically assumed everything was literally true in the past, Biblical literalism was explicitly repudiated by many of the Church’s best minds starting from the founders like Paul, Agustine, etc. and continuoung through the middle ages (Aquinas, for example). Don’t read too much into this, since, the Catholic Church’s condemnation of Gallileo, for example, although it was based as much on over-zealous Thomism as it was on Biblical literalism, relied on Biblical literalism for justification. So you can’t let the Catholic Church off the hook here. My point is just that the insistence on Biblical literalism was not really traditional or unquestionably accepted, at least by the literati in the Church, prior to the Reformation.

Most of the older “mainstream” protestant denominations have not insisted upon literalism, at least not for some time. They, like the Catholic Church, now have their own “tradition(s)”. This means that they rely upon their respective received interpretations of the Bible to suppport their particular theologies. One can obtain some sympathy with the evangelical’s anti-tradition populism upon considering the Catholic Church’s centralized authoritarian control over theology, things like the Vatican’s “power to define” with regard to acceptable theology and Biblical interpretation. The Catholic Church has always been very authoritarian but, also, in modern times it has grown partly by adopting a kind of sweeping synchretism. This must create enormous internal tensions, so they probably feel they need to retain their tradition of centralized control of theological thinking just to keep from lapsing into chaos. But, moving from Catholicisms hard-to-accept authoritarianism, the presumably opposite extreme of Biblical literalism is at least as problematic. And it’s terribly dishonest.

The reason it’s dishonest is that there is, in fact, no such thing as a literal interpretation of the Bible. That’s a striking claim. I will accept that I’m wrong when someone can show me a document that presents a line-by-line written literal interpretation that has been signed off on by all reputable living theologians. Until such time, I stand adamant in my claim: There is NO SUCH THING as a literal interpretation of the Bible. The fundamentalist literalists are dishonest (beginning with themselves) because they are every bit as much the purveyors of tradtional theologies, eg Southern Baptist evangelical theology, Chataqua revivalist theologies and, in some cases perfectionistic Calvinist theologies (although these fundamentalists are not evangelicals but “reconstructionists”), as those more orthodox sects whose “traditions” they denegrate as mere ‘religion’ (as opposed to the “Biblical truth” they claim to preach). All of the evangelical/fundamentalist sects have sectarian theologies, presumed to derive directly from the Bible. But the fact is that not a single one of the fundamentalist/evangelical theologies actually derives simply from an uncontroversial, literal reading of the Bible. They are all based upon the interpretations and theological ideas favored by their founders and their leaders, ie, from their “traditions”. Suggesting that they are any different from any of the other sects in this regard is simply a lie. I know they probably believe this untruth, so perhaps the word “lie” is a little harsh. But I really think they ought to be honest enough with themselves to recognize their dependence upon their own traditional interpretaions of the Bible (as well as their own interpreters). If they could be honest about this, then they might be a bit less sanguine about accepting the notion that the Bible must be interpreted as it might be read and understood by an unsupervised six year old with little understanding of humanity or of nature, because that is precisely what Biblical literalism entails.

I agree with Micheal Robert’s interpretation of the situation here in the UK. Obviously organizations like AIG and people like Dr. Monty White, Philip Bell, and John McKay are having some effect on the church in the UK. Looking at the AIG events calender, and John Mckay’s speaking schedule, there seems to be an overwhelming rush by the evangelical churches here to adopt the young earth creationist point of view. I haven’t heard anyone from the evangelical wing of the church speaking out against organizations like AIG.

John McKay for instance will be on Revelation TV on November 16th (Sky Digital channel 676) and I know for a fact that the interviewer (Howard Conder) will not ask any awkward questions since he himself is a Young Earth Creationist. Unless people phone in to the programme and contradict him he will just have a free run (I have watched him being interviewed before on this channel). I only wish more educated people in the evangelical wing of the church would speak out against this doctrine and point out it’s very serious short comings and errors. In my opinion it (Young Earth Creationism) is a form of heresy. It can only damage the church in the long run.

By the way there’s a piece on Ken Ham’s blog today about the Presbyterian church in the US being too liberal.

A “literal interpretation” is almost an oxymoron, anyway, somewhat akin to the assertion that there exists somewhere a person who speaks a widely-spoken language with “no accent.” For example, it is sometimes claimed that people from Nebraska (e.g. Johnny Carson) have “no accent,” but I can show you several million Britons who would insist that Nebraskans have an “American accent.” I would like someone who believes in a “literal interpretation” of the Bible tell me what the phrase “the eye of the needle” means (as in “camel through”).

Bill: I have heard some people say that the needle is not the same as modern one, like you would use for sewing for example. Apparently the “needle” mentioned in scripture was some sort of doorway or entrance. It was possible for the Camel to get through but only with extreme difficulty.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been told by a friend who’s in the Brethren church.

Peter: Yes, that’s the most sensible interpretation. However, that definition was apparently lost for several centuries in the early church, and there are some denominations which still insist that the “door” definition is incorrect and the passage refers to the need for a miracle.

Surprising few seem to know Eurobarometer polls. Last Eurobarometer 224 was published this summer. Jan-Feb 2005 they asked many interesting science questions in different European countries. In United Kingdom 1307 citizens were asked like this :“Human beings, as we know them today, developed from earlier species of animals” (Table QA10.12). Answer were: UK: 79% True, 13% False, 8% I don’t know. Europeans average (in 25 countries) were: EU: 70% True, 20% False, 10% I don’t know. Most disbelief in human evolution was in Turkey: 25% True, 51% False, 22% I d k.

Claim QA10.8 “The earliest humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs” got in UK: UK: 28% True, 64% False, 8 % I d k when EU25 average answers were: EU: 23% True, 66% False, 11% I d k.

Claim QA10.1.“The Sun goes around the Earth” got this response in UK: UK: 40% True, 56% False, 4% I d k. EU 25 average answers were: EU: 29% True, 66% False, 4% I d k.

Claim QA10.13. “It takes one month for the Earth to go around the Sun” got in UK: UK: 19% True, 61% False, 20% I d k (quite many hesitating?). In EU25 average answers were: EU: 17% True, 66% False, 16% I d k.

You can study June 2005 Eurobarometer_224 poll results (1.87 MB pdf file) here: http://europa.eu.int/comm/public_op[…]eport_en.pdf Tables for each question and each 25 countries start from page 165..

Bill: I have heard some people say that the needle is not the same as modern one, like you would use for sewing for example. Apparently the “needle” mentioned in scripture was some sort of doorway or entrance. It was possible for the Camel to get through but only with extreme difficulty.

What I heard was that ‘camel’ is probably a mistranslation and that a near-synonym meaning ‘rope’ was what was really intended. I don’t know if most scholars accept that, tho.

What I heard was that ‘camel’ is probably a mistranslation and that a near-synonym meaning ‘rope’ was what was really intended. I don’t know if most scholars accept that, tho.

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean ‘synonym’, I meant ‘homophone’. Whoops.

The “eye of the needle” example proves that it’s pointless challenging Biblical literalists over Bible “difficulties” (as they call them). There’s always a way to twist and contort the texts and facts to make them fit.

Heck, they even have an explanation as to why the Bible “appears to say” the value of pi is 3 and not 3.14.

Ironically, these literal explanations tend to stretch credullity much more than saying the error was simply an honest mistake.

The only thing I would add about the prospect of creationism being on the rise in the UK… if it ever gets as bad as there as it is in the States today, then heaven help America because by then I would be expect the USA to be a fully fledged theocracy.

(I doubt either will ever happen.)

The “eye of the needle” example proves that it’s pointless challenging Biblical literalists over Bible “difficulties” (as they call them). There’s always a way to twist and contort the texts and facts to make them fit.

And very very few of them seem to agree with what almost any interpretation, literal or metaphorical, of that passage would imply: you shouldn’t be rich.

And very very few of them seem to agree with what almost any interpretation, literal or metaphorical, of that passage would imply: you shouldn’t be rich.

Exactly - heaven forbid that the Bible get in the way of a good bit of avarice…

Quite…

The fallacy that the US was founded on “Christian Values” misses by a mile. The religious refugees who sailed on the Mayflower were far more interested in Mammon.

Whether or not that’s accurate (and I don’t think it is), it’s irrelevant, because the Pilgrims didn’t found the U.S. The U.S. was founded on the values of the Enlightenment, which came a century after the Mayflower landed.

http://www.religioustolerance.org/rel_comp.htm

I’ve never heard of a theological figure whom I have less respect for then bishop Sponge, who seems to soak up like sponge whatever the latest trend is, and whose primary figure of adoration seems to be himself. He doesn’t seem to believe in anything which is real, tangiable.

I wonder when the Christian church will tell the real story about Jesus and who was the true inventor of Christianity. Jesus was a marginal Jew who was either born to a prostitute, from rape or from an extra-marital affair. Much later he was turned into an enigma of first order by myths made up by Paul. Paul was a guy who never met Jesus and was the real founder of the Christian religion. About 250 years of critical historical research has uncovered the truth about Jesus and examples of these are the works of Gerd Ludemann.

As I heard the “Eye of the Needle” argument, it referred to a gate on the eastern side of the Old City of Jerusalem, now known as the Golden Gate, then known as the Eye of the Needle, because it was very hard to get through on a camel. Not impossible, but hard. Hence the metaphor - not impossible, but hard.

But I think the whole argument is full of it. Jesus didn’t make light demands of his followers. He meant if you were rich, you were damned.

I wonder when the Christian church will tell the real story about Jesus and who was the true inventor of Christianity. Jesus was a marginal Jew who was either born to a prostitute, from rape or from an extra-marital affair.

There’s no evidence to support that. There is, OTOH, a strong evidentiary argument that Jesus never existed at all; e.g., http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_jcno.htm

brooksfoe Wrote:

He meant if you were rich, you were damned.

On the other hand, Paul wrote, “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; rich as he was, he made himself poor for your sake, in order to make you rich by means of his poverty.”

I’ve never really understood why people need to find more “plausible” meanings for the “eye of a needle” passage; even the most extreme of Biblical literalists recognizes that some portions of the Bible are meant metaphorically, and this passage is one of them.

How would those people who interpret “camel” as “rope” or “eye of a needle” as referring to a gate interpret Matthew 23:24 - “Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.”?

He meant if you were rich, you were damned.

Matthew 19:25-26 (the end of the “eye of the needle” passage) - “When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”

The standard Christian interpretation of this passage is: (a) None of us can save _ourselves_ - rich or poor, “good” or “evil” (by human standards), we’re all worthy of damnation. But _God_ can save anyone, even the most wicked of sinners. (a) Being rich - or, rather, making money the most important thing in your life - is one of the many barriers we set up between ourselves and God.

There is, OTOH, a strong evidentiary argument that Jesus never existed at all

There’s very little evidence that Homer existed. Does that mean the Iliad is invalid as a piece of classical literature, or that nobody actually wrote it? For that matter, what historical evidence is there for Socrates, apart from the works of Plato and Xenophon (just as “biassed” as the Gospels) and his appearance as a fictional character in the works of Aristophanes?

here’s very little evidence that Homer existed. Does that mean the Iliad is invalid as a piece of classical literature, or that nobody actually wrote it?

Uh, this is one of the most extreme strawmen I’ve ever encountered. It’s also absurd because the Iliad is, in fact, evidence that someone wrote it, and Homer is the name attached to that person. And besides that, there’s plenty of historical evidence that he did exist and wrote several other works.

For that matter, what historical evidence is there for Socrates, apart from the works of Plato and Xenophon (just as “biassed” as the Gospels) and his appearance as a fictional character in the works of Aristophanes?

Well, that’s more than for Jesus, but indeed it argues that Socrates may not have existed either. But hey, you’ve got something better than evidence to go by, right? Just like Dembski et. al.

P.S.

Plato and Xenophon (just as “biassed” as the Gospels)

It’s not about “biass” (sic), it’s that the Gospels weren’t written during Jesus’s lifetime; it’s authors weren’t withnesses. OTOH, Xenophon was a student of Socrates. I stated that there’s a strong evidentiary argument that Jesus never existed, and I posted a reference from which such an argument can be drawn – it isn’t a proof by any means. You offer nothing to rebut the argument, you just post some very stupid and fallacious BS. Believe what you want, but it has nothing to do with honest intellectual inquiry.

Heddle said

“my personal opinion is that Revelation is mostly referring to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, and the beast is Nero. In other words, I don’t think Revelation refers to some future tribulation. That is a minority opinion.”

Since most authoritative biblical historians would agree with Heddle why is it not the majority opinion ?

Why is it that those who have a fact based outlook on reality rather than a magic based outlook on reality are completely dismissed by the magical thinking crowd ?

They have no binding authority on interpreting scripture, whatsoever, period.

Um, neither do you, right?

Your religious opinions are just that, your opinions. They are no more holy or divine or infallible or authoritative than anyone else’s religious opinions. No one is obligated in any way, shape, or form to follow your religious opinions, to accept them, or even to pay any attention at all to them. You are no more holy or divine or infallible or godly than anyone else.

Right?

buddha,

You do grasp the difference: the Magisterium is comprised of bishops in union with the pope, but that does not mean everything bishops teach comes from the Magisterium? You do know about Ex Cathedra, infallibility,etc. If you read the relevant section in the Catholic Encyclopedia you will see that these bishops are speaking as a group of bishops–much like the American bishops get together and make non-binding statements.

RDLenny Flank Wrote:

You are just a man, Heddle. Your religious opinions are no more holy or divine or infallible than anyone else’s, and you don’t know any more about god than anyone else does.

Dear reverend, please explain this text: “Those who hear you, hear me.”

Blast for a bit of a refresher do a search on PT for all posts that have the word delusion.

Then explain this . … .

He had bought a large map representing the sea, Without the least vestige of land: And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be A map they could all understand. … . .

And then look up “Genko Koan” and meditate on it until you wake up.

Blast.… that’s Genjo Koan

Blast, old buddy. Back for more, are you?

What is the source of YOUR religious authority, Blast? Websites run by “ecological visionaries”? (snicker) (giggle) BWA HA HA HA !!!!!!!!!

Have you found any genes for cobra venom yet in a garter snake?

Why not?

Dear reverend, please explain this text: “Those who hear you, hear me.”

That applies to who, Blast.

You?

Me?

Shelby Spong?

Pat Robertson?

Bill Dembski?

Adolf Hitler?

Jesse Jackson?

How can you tell?

[Profanity removed by Jack - please don’t use this type of language here.]

Mr. Muddle, are you completely unteachable?

Mr. Muddle Wrote:

[…] the Magisterium is comprised of bishops in union with the pope, but that does not mean everything bishops teach comes from the Magisterium?

Pope John Paul II wrote in the apostolic letter, Apostolos Suos, “Certainly the individual Bishops, as teachers of the faith, do not address the universal community of the faithful except through the action of the entire College of Bishops. In fact, only the faithful entrusted to the pastoral care of a particular Bishop are required to accept his judgement given in the name of Christ in matters of faith and morals, and to adhere to it with a religious assent of soul.

Concerning declarations of regional episcopal conferences, Pope John Paul II wrote, in the same letter, “Taking into account that the authentic magisterium of the Bishops, namely what they teach insofar as they are invested with the authority of Christ, must always be in communion with the Head of the College and its members, when the doctrinal declarations of Episcopal Conferences are approved unanimously, they may certainly be issued in the name of the Conferences themselves, and the faithful are obliged to adhere with a sense of religious respect to that authentic magisterium of their own Bishops. However, if this unanimity is lacking, a majority alone of the Bishops of a Conference cannot issue a declaration as authentic teaching of the Conference to which all the faithful of the territory would have to adhere, unless it obtains the recognitio of the Apostolic See, which will not give it if the majority requesting it is not substantial.”

Mr. Muddle Wrote:

If you read the relevant section in the Catholic Encyclopedia […]

Which part exactly of that 8500+ word essay denies that individual bishops and regional episcopal conferences have binding teaching authority in the Catholic Church? Pope John Paul II said they do; you say they don’t. This isn’t even a close call…

Answer the question Lenny.

k.e. Wrote:

Blast for a bit of a refresher do a search on PT for all posts that have the word delusion.

Are you trying to be funny? You’re a moron.

I think it’s time to close this thread, and move on.

It’s been interesting, and I’ve learned a lot. However the conversation has deteriorated today.

Thanks,

Jack

It’s been requested that I re-open this thread. I’ll do this, with a request that people stay on topic, and that the discussion not degenerate into personal attacks.

Thanks for the interest.

Jack

Well, I just have one simple question for all the fundie/IDers out there. It goes:

What exactly is the source of your religious authority. What exactly makes your (or ANY person’s) religious opinions more (or less) authoritative than anyone else’s. Why should anyone pay any more attention to my religious opinions, or yours, than we pay to the religious opinions of my next door neighbor or my gardener or the guy who delivered my pizza last night. It seems to me that no one alive would or could know any more about God than anyone else alive does, since there doesn’t seem to be any potential source of such knowledge that isn’t equally available to everyone else. You pray; I pray. You read the Bible; I read the Bible. You go to church and listen to the pastor; I go to church and listen to the pastor. So what is it, exactly, that makes your religious opinion any more (or less) valid than anyone else’s. Are you more holy than anyone else? Do you walk more closely with God than anyone else? Does God love you best? Are you the best Biblical scholar in human history? What exactly makes your opinions better than anyone else’s? Other than your say-so?

Is it your opinion that not only is the Bible inerrant and infallible, but YOUR INTERPRETATIONS of it are also inerrant and infallible? Sorry, but I simply don’t believe that you are infallible. Would you mind explaining to me why I SHOULD think you are? Other than your say-so?

It seems to me that your religious opinions are just that, your opinions. They are no more holy or divine or infallible or authoritative than anyone else’s religious opinions. No one is obligated in any way, shape, or form to follow your religious opinions, to accept them, or even to pay any attention at all to them.

Can you show me anything to indicate otherwise? Other than your say-so?

morbius Wrote:

I never said that Jesus never existed — I said there’s a strong evidentiary case for that position. OTOH, you “tend to think that he did” — oh, well, I guess that settles it.

You maybe right that Jesus never existed but I tend to think that he did

Can you and Tevildo kind of try to remember what scientific reasoning is and how it works?

Here is Gerd Ludemann’s homepage.

All of which takes non-contemporary texts as factual, so it is circular, or irrelevant.

I’ve have a response from Gerd Ludemann about no non-biblical sources mentioning Jesus and on the idea that Jesus didn’t exist.

GERD LÃœDEMANN Wrote:

There are non-biblical sources from the first century about Jesus, i.e. Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20. 196-200 where we hear about the martyrdom of James, the brother of Christ. Other passages in Josephus might be interpolations, though is unlikely. People who say that Jesus did not exist fail to account for the sudden rise of Christianity.

Lenny, you still haven’t answered the question. What does it mean when Jesus says, “Whoever hears you, hears me”?

RDLenny Flank Wrote:

You pray; I pray. You read the Bible; I read the Bible. You go to church and listen to the pastor; I go to church and listen to the pastor.

Is this rhetorical or factual, Lenny? I’m genuinely interested.

Blast, Lenny won’t be around till later in the afternoon.

I reckon that leaves it up to me to ask you: Why do you think anyone here should care, one way or the other, about your opinion–or Lenny’s, for that matter!–about what some supposed religious figure supposedly said about some totally non-scientific topic?

This saying may have great meaning for someone somewhere in some life setting, but what possible relevance can it have to the question of whether or not ID or evolution has the better evidence to explain the current diversity of life on earth? In the here and now, not in the great by and by?

Why is this a moral or religius issue for you in the first place, for crying out loud?

There’s a reason Lenny likes to refer to his pizza kid: I know how to tell the difference between questions–like what topping a customer might want on their pizza, what music they might want to hear on the jukebox, and what color sweater complements their shoes–of personal preference and questions–like whether or not Joe X drove Car Y through the red light at intersection Z, whether Hurricane A is more likely to threaten City B than Bayou C, or whether fossil F indicates a likely intermediate between fossil G and living species H–that require the objective evaluation of physical evidence.

Or, to put it the way Lenny might:

Blast, Your religious opinions are just that, your opinions. They are no more holy or divine or infallible or authoritative than anyone else’s religious opinions. No one is obligated in any way, shape, or form to follow your religious opinions, to accept them, or even to pay any attention at all to them.

Lenny, you still haven’t answered the question. What does it mean when Jesus says, “Whoever hears you, hears me”?

Blast, you still haven’t given me the clarification I asked for. Who, exactly, is the “you” in that statement?

Is it you?

Is it me?

Is it Bishop Spong?

Is it Pat Robertson?

Is it Adolf Hitler?

Is it Jesse Jackson?

Who, exactly, does Jesus say is speaking for him.

And how can we tell.

Syntax Error: mismatched tag at line 26, column 2, byte 2179 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.12.3/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187

Is this rhetorical or factual, Lenny? I’m genuinely interested.

I’m not an atheist, Blast. You’d know that, if you’d been paying attention.

Why is this a moral or religius issue for you in the first place, for crying out loud?

Ever notice that **no** IDers, not a single one of them, ever wants to tell us about the much-vaunted-but-never-seen “scientific theory of design”.

But heck, EVERY ONE OF THEM is more than happy to tell you all about their **religious opinions**.

I suppose that is because ID is science, just SCIENCE, I tell ya, with NOTHING TO DO with religious apologetics, nothing AT ALL WHATSOEVER.

That’s why I love fundies so much – they are by far their own worst enemies. And the funniest part is that they don’t even realize that they are shooting themselves in the head. (snicker)

Oops, I forgot one item in my last post …

GERD LÃœDEMANN Wrote:

The best book on related issues is Gerd Theissen/Annette Merz, The Historical Jesus, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998 with detailed discussions of Josephus, etc.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Jack Krebs published on November 6, 2005 10:02 AM.

Francis Collins presentation was the previous entry in this blog.

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