some creationists do believe (and I use that word with a purpose) in evolution and they've adopted it to their cause calling it "adaption within kinds" or some such.
I think you’re missing my point. I was trying to construct a completely absurd delusional creationist/evolutionist hybrid in order to try to illustrate where I think Dawkins may be coming from in his attitude towards pro-science-Christians.
I know about the creationist notion that accepts change within species. If it helps, my notional delusional creationist/evolutionist does not accept change within species. Or the scientific age of the earth. My example accepts none of the actual science, but nevertheless believes in evolution, somehow. If it was a real position, you’d be right that it wouldn’t be an “accomodationist” position because of the rejection of the age of the earth, but it’s not supposed to be a real position, it’s supposed just to be an illustration, in which capacity it obviously failed.
As for the rest of your thesis regarding the Bible you seem to be deliberately picking a somewhat literal reading of the text
I don’t have a “thesis regarding the Bible”, and certainly not a thesis that holds that the literal reading is in any sense the default one. I’m just trying to show that it’s possible to understand Dawkins in more than one way, and that we can try to make sense of his position if we want to.
But to address the point: most people who claim to be, or are labelled, biblical literalists are nothing of the kind. It is not in fact possible to be a biblical literalist and there isn’t anybody in the world (well, if you looked hard you might find someone) who really believes the bible is literally true in every respect.
It isn’t, for example, taken by anyone to be literally true that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven (or whatever the line is). Inerrancy is the point to a fundamentalist, not literalness. Fundamentalists have to interpret too.
That being so, I’m interested in how different interpretations are justified and defended. On what grounds does a believer prefer one to another, and are those grounds rational ? Now certainly as an atheist there’s a line of attack here, but also I am genuinely interested.
I also find it a bit rich that a Gnu
I’m still not a gnu, and didn't become one between the last post in which I said I didn't consider myself a gnu, and this post in which I am repeating that I do not consider myself a gnu.
And that just makes me think your actually a creationist troll!.
And that just makes me think you're not even trying to understand my point.
Again, I was imagining what Dawkins might say. I already said I knew perfectly well that a long standing theological tradition has rejected the idea that Jesus was sacrificed to cleanse humanity of original sin. But the latter is still widely held, including by people who say they accept evolution.
you misread me
I expect I was supposed to interpret you metaphorically.
Philosophy can use science for philosophical arguments but with limitations. Science doesn't need philosophy.
I don’t think I agree with the latter sentence, though I accept your point that scientists can get on with science without knowing philosophy (whereas the reverse may not be true). I think I would say that philosophically informed science is better than philosophically uninformed science. On the other hand, there is a species of “accommodationist” who says that science needs theology, which certainly isn’t the case in any sense. Leaving that aside: your first sentence is close to where I’m coming from.
But what is the objection to the moderate anglican church which seems reasonable and led by an educated group of people and shares the values of most decent people.
Well, to an atheist, I would have thought it obvious that the objection is that they are mistaken in their beliefs.
The objections to creationist, homophobic, fake healing nutcases is easy to define on about any level. Surely you have to recognise the distinction and how easy it is to draw it.
I think so. Sam Harris either invented or popularised the idea that liberal religion acts as cover for illiberal religion, and I don’t agree with that. I think I understand that his point is that if we think well of faith or do not criticise the idea of justification by faith, then that's an argument against illiberal dogma you can't use. I think that's overstated. I do think that sometimes we let illiberal religion through the door on the coat-tails of liberal religion, but that’s a different argument.
Dan's hypothetical suggestion about creationists being YEC and accepting evolution is also a genuine and very often made creationist argument position.
As explained, it’s not. The hypothetical was supposed to be completely different to the position you’re talking about here. It was supposed to be self-evidently incoherent drivel, in order to illustrate a point about Dawkins stance (and also a point about neutrality).
(1) The bible says absolutely nothing whatsoever about the age of the Earth
(2) The bible says nothing about no animal death prior to the fall
(3) The bible frequently makes reference to "all of the world" or "all of the Earth" when quite clearly it is talking about the local region. Therefore, the flood can be interpreted as a local event, according to scripture.
Agreed on all three points. But the Bible still says that God created the world and everything in it. Jocelyn Bell, at least, understands what I’m saying.
I think it is unreasonable for Athists to claim that Christians who accept science are deluded, and that YECs who reject virtually all of science have "sort of got it right".
But is this actually Dawkins’ position? I don’t think that’s clear. If it is, he needs to be more subtle. I see two claims being made. First, that if you believe something it should be for good reasons – and that scientists who apply this principle in their professional lives but not the religious lives are behaving inconsistently. Second, that accepting all of science has theological consequences. Both claims are arguable, I’d say. I’d go no further than that.
What might it mean to say that YECs have “sort of got it right”? They patently haven’t got it right because they are at odds with science, so it must mean that they have at least recognised that their beliefs about the way in the which the Bible must be interpreted, and their theology, are at odds with evolution.
And they’re right: it is, as we all know. So if you’re a YEC, what do you do? Well, since the bible is the word of God, and you think you know how the bible ought to be read, then so much the worse for science. But if you’re a YEC who doesn’t want to reject science, you can’t accommodate it within your religious beliefs – your religious beliefs have to change instead. What I’m doing is imagining what a lapsed YEC has to do, as a minimum, in order to be able to accept evolution. There are lots of strategies they could take, aren’t there? But what a critic – and I’m a critic – wants to know is: why prefer one strategy over another?
the book of genesis hasn't been read literally for centuries long before tthe science proved that they were right in reaching that conclusion.
Well. If you read Augustine's reasons (actually his position shifted, but still), though, he talks about the need not to get trapped in positions which are at odds with human knowledge. Proof came later, true. But there's a tendency these days to downplay the huge number of people who did not read Genesis in the way Augustine at one point recommended - indeed isn't the point that Augustine was warning against what others were doing? Anyway, this is besides the point.
Nor do many have any other problems reading other parts metaphorically.
Of course not. You can read any of it metaphorically. Which is the point: given you can read any of it metaphorically, how do you know you’re reading the right bits metaphorically? And what is it a metaphor for?
To me, metaphorical interpretation is in danger of becoming a new form of inerrantist fundamentalism – less dangerous politically, but just as unbending dogmatically. Because it still sometimes seems to be saying that the Bible is never wrong so long as you interpret it right. But metaphor is not the only alternative to “literalism”. Are there not occasions when the reasonable line is “actually, this bit isn’t true at all, even metaphorically”?
A not uncommon non-metaphorical interpretive line is that the Bible was revealed to an ignorant and pre-scientific people and needed to be understood by them, and that’s why sometimes it contains mistakes. So it is possible to accept the bible might be wrong. But again, for most Christians there seems to be a line – not always drawn in the same place – where to interpret metaphorically, or as simple language for simple people, would be to undermine the basis of Christianity. Which invites the question; how and where do you draw that line? I think Dawkins' answer to the points made against his position on this score could pick up on some of these thoughts.
It is unreasonable to expect any Christian to reject science because of a particular unterpretation of the book of Genesis
Very carefully put. I certainly have no such expectation. But I do want to know what makes one interpretation better than another, and what that means for whatever the individual understands Christianity to be.
it makes the job of defenting science that much harder:
Either because they scare certain believers who are then recruited to the anti-science cause, or because it’s another point to counter. Sure, I understand.
But if a particular position makes it harder to defend science but is nevertheless true or probable or arguable or a legitimate opinion on a matter where opinions may legitimately differ, then perhaps you just have to put up with the job being that much harder than it would otherwise be. Other things that make defending science harder include not being able to lie or cheat, and not being able to shoot the enemy. Nobody owes you a living.
However, once you get into this debate, there is the big problem of what it is that religious believers think and there is no consensus on that at all. There are some 29,000 different Protestant sects and denominations and a further 2,000 non-Protestant sects/denominations and this all ignores countless one church independent organisations and the individual views of believers.
Exactly, which is why you shouldn't get into this debate. The plurality of sects is one reason why atheists enjoy the literalism/metaphor/whatever discussion. It’s not about insisting that the literal interpretation is the only authentic one (well, actually, to be fair, I do think a few atheists may think like that, perhaps because of their religious backgrounds or personality traits), it’s about how on earth we determine which approach is the right one - or if there is a right approach. Point is, it's none of the BCSE's business.
this thread is now exceedingly off it's original topic and should be transferred to the sector on Scripture.
In my mind, I’m still talking about strategy.
Perhaps I should ask whether they think the Protocols of the Elders of Zion should be read literally?
Hopefully I’ve explained what this point is really about, and you can see that your comment here was off beam. But your example is revealing. We know, of course, that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a forgery. The best way to understand it, therefore, is in the light of its historical function as anti-semitic polemic. Because we know what the Protocols are, we have an objective reason to prefer one interpretation over another. It ought to be obvious that the same cannot necessarily be said of the bible.
But, as I keep saying, the BCSE is not a Gnu Atheist organisation; The Gnus have another agenda. Criticising religion in general. Our fight is solely with creationists.
As I keep saying: don’t become a Gnu Atheist organisation. Your fight is solely with creationists, not with people who are insufficiently knowledgeable about theology, in the opinion of some evolutionist Christians. People reading this thread would get a different impression of who your fight is with: creationists and people who you say make your fight with creationists harder.