Sunday, 13 July 2014

Playing "Stratego" with The Word

I've just had one of those "I wish I'd said that" moments. Or in this case, "I wish I'd written that."

Steven Wiggins has an excellent piece about how modern folk - like me and thee - must indulge in intellectual gymnastics to come to grips with crumbling Bible claims. "Word games."

Here's the opening paragraph.
The idea is a simple one. When someone undermines, the very foundation of an idea is left with no foundation. We are taught not to undermine ourselves; for enemies it’s okay. Encouraged even. The Bible contains the seeds to its own undermining. The claim that it is a sacred book encourages—even demands—serious attention be paid to it. When it is examined closely, however, it becomes plain that the status accorded it as a book undermines its own claims. Believers can respond in several ways. One is to declare the Bible inerrant and to claim that contradictions are not contradictions and that what history has proven false is actually true. The keenest breed of such inerrantists hardly exists any more, since it does require a stable, geocentric view of the universe, if a universe there be at all. On the other extreme there are believers who make sacred writ so highly symbolic that we need not worry about the obvious factual errors—they were never meant literally anyway. And, of course, every position in between.
Yup. To read the whole post just click across to Sects and Violence. And if you're tempted to think that this is just the work of yet another two-for-a-dollar pundit, do check out his bio/CV.


  1. Oh, sure, another useless academic with a lot of credentials. Hardly credible. What we want to know is whether or not he's going to tell us what we want to hear? If not, we will ignore him. After all, he'd like all of this to go away too, since the implications of people thinking about this to any degree is, in his words, the potential of standing in the bread lines. After the wondrous journey of the Churches of God, I am beginning to think that there isn't anyone out there with credibility that we can trust.

    What to do? What to do?

    The Bible.

    I guess the best you can come up with is that some few passages have brilliant insight into life, the universe and... everything.

    It can't be ignored. After all, didn't T'eal'c point out to Colonel O'Neil that Western Civilization is based on the Bible?

    Aren't most Shakespeare plays based on Scriptural stories?

    See -- we can't do without the Bible.

    So deal with it!

    1. Sorry BOM, gotta disagree. God help us if we didn't have modern biblical scholarship, or we'd all be back in the intellectual ghettoes, questioning nothing that proceeded from the gracious lips of the clergy. Armstrongism is anti-intellectual, huge swathes of the 'evangelical' world are anti-intellectual. Wiggins is pointing out the impact of scholarship on the old, naive view of the Bible. He knows what he's talking about. His points are valid. Hardly credible? Not from where I'm standing.

    2. I agree with you Gavin. Been following Wiggins near daily and he's one of the most reasonable and underestimated biblical scholar bloggers out there. Much more subtle and nuanced (and likable) than many of the other buzzing bulbs in the room.

    3. Perhaps irony and parody don't come across on blogs as well as intended. I guess the irony was lost and I thought it was so very obvious.

      Of course Dr. Steven Wiggins had something quite valuable to say. We need people who are actually qualified to expand on the topics in which they are expert, not some kook who has only an eighth grade education, is a high school drop out and gets his eschatology from the Central Library of Portland, Oregon in the 1930s (and who promotes the most ridiculous scrap ever because he just doesn't know better) in arrogance beyond hubris.

      Shall I start with [begin parody] next time?

  2. For those who need proof:

    "Stargate SG-1: Demons (#3.8)" (1999)
    Teal'c: I know of no Goa'uld capable of showing the necessary compassion or benevolence that I've read of in your bible.
    Jack O'Neill: You read the bible Teal'c?
    Teal'c: It is a significant part of your western culture. Have you not read the bible O'Neill?
    Jack O'Neill: Oh yeah, yeah... not all of it. Actually I'm listening to it on tape. Don't tell me how it ends."

  3. A good article, but I don't entirely agree with the conclusions. See "Is the Bible an incoherent and meaningless collection of writings?":

    1. Those reading "The Christian Delusion" might come to a different conclusion.

    2. My most recent post: The Atheist Delusion?