Thursday, November 29, 2007

Every Word Of The Bible: Infallible?

The Republican debate last night brought an interesting theological question into the political spotlight. Is the bible the infallible word of God?

This question is especially cogent in the Republican primaries because of Mitt Romney's beliefs. Mormonism explicitly denies the infallibility of the bible. Joseph Smith, the founder of the Jesus Christ Church of Latter Day Saints, actually wrote his own interpretation of the bible which included what he considered to be divinely inspired corrections to the original text.

This is not to say that Mormons deny the bible. They simply do not hold it to be correct word for word... which is one cause for schism betwixt Mormons and mainstream Protestant evangelicals. There are millions of evangelicals who are absolutely certain that the original King James Bible is literally correct, from the six days of creation through the foundation of the early church.

I am no Mormon (my wife and her family are), but I am no fundamentalist evangelical either. When it comes to the question of the inerrant truth of the bible I can prove with a scientific certainty that the King James bible is not word for word inerrantly correct. In fact the very first post I ever wrote as a blogger was on this very subject!

Let us open the good book to Deuteronomy chapter 14, verses 11-18:
11 Of all clean birds ye shall eat.
12 But these are they of which ye shall not eat: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray,
13 and the glede, and the kite, and the vulture after his kind,
14 and every raven after his kind,
15 and the owl, and the nighthawk, and the cuckoo, and the hawk after his kind,
16 the little owl, and the great owl, and the swan,
17 and the pelican, and the gier-eagle, and the cormorant,
18 and the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.
So the bible gives a list of birds, including eagles, owls, swans, cormorants and so on and so forth, and the very last bird listed is ... "the bat". Do the fundamentalist die hards who believe the bible is inherently correct, really think bats have been misclassified by science as mammals, because the bible clearly teaches that they are birds?! It really is quite simple. Infallible Bible = bats are birds.

The way I see it, those folks who want the bible taught in science class should be exclaiming that there is now a debate about the classification of bats as mammals. In order for a full exploration of the various theories and lines of thought, our children should be exposed to both sides and allowed to make up their own minds as to the scientific validity of what makes a bird a bird and a mammal a mammal.

I rather suspect that even the most dogmatic fundamentalist would have to admit that bats are not birds, especially if caught unawares that there was a scripture which seems to indicate the opposite. This admission is the veritable foot in the door. If the bible calls bats birds, in what other way is the bible incorrect. Remember... the first scientists to posit that the Earth was round were persecuted by the Church for contradicting the words of Jesus Christ detailing that the Earth had four corners. It may be easy enough to say that Jesus was talking figuratively, but it would take a real stretch to look at the list of unkosher birds in Deuteronomy and read that list figuratively.

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