Monday, June 13, 2011

It's Pile on Michael Ruse Day today

Michael Ruse has written an article which states that Adam and Eve are a myth (hooray!) but don't worry, the important bits of the Christian Bible are still True (with a capital-T):
God is creator, Jesus is his son who died on the cross for our sake, this act of sacrifice made possible our eternal salvation -- these claims are unchanged. But what exactly this all might mean is another matter. 
*sigh* I will never have what it takes to be a philosopher, as keeping to an outdated text in light of new knowledge is a special art.  I can picture it: one day reading a sacred text sentence and understanding that it clearly states "A" and means "A".  Then upon receiving some revised scientific fact "F", mumbling to myself, 'Ah, this text says "A" but must mean "B" so that "F" fits.'  The text "A" does not and must not ever change.  Text "A" is assumed to be correct for whatever the definition of correct is now.  It is like numerology: Any number or sequence of numbers can be imagined to have any meaning you want with applied interpretation.  It seems that the philosopher's job is to do the same with sacred texts; keep the words, but have a mental transformation of the text from "A" to "B".  I don't have the mental fortitude to keep assuming such a flawed source text is correct, when so much of it is shown to be bunkum.  I would toss it out and get something more accurate and up to date.  Ah well, I can console myself with the fact I am better paid than a philosopher, without having to go through these mental gymnastics.

Note that the language can force changes to it - see The King James Bible, or the first bibles printed in English/Dutch/German instead of Latin, but the translation is very carefully kept intact.

Science will never be overtaken by theology or religion as far as relevance goes while theology continues to use a source book that is never revised or updated.  Old textbooks are not very useful as they contain outdated information, so are regularly updated and revised, and the old editions pulped for recycling.  Sacred religious texts (Bible, Koran etc) are kept as old as possible so the true word of god is not mistaken.  Anything stated as clear fact in a sacred text that disagrees with science is then classified as metaphor or reinterpreted by theologists; but why is the source text not updated to reflect this new understanding?  Where are the "F" and "B" footnotes?  These texts are the words of God;  his vital instructions to all humans on the most important subjects ever!  Is it not every theologists and philosophers duty to make sure the followers of these texts understand what they "really" mean?

It is almost as if the main goal is to prevent revised knowledge from getting to the vast majority of readers, otherwise they might question the validity of the source material.

How about theologists get together and annotate the bible by highlighting the bits to take literally, and use a different colour for metaphor, and footnote the metaphor to explain it.  Now there's a project just crying out for Templeton funding.

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