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Moderate v Sophisticated Non-Literalism

GeoLaureate8
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3/20/2012 2:59:56 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
I just thought I'd make make a distinction clear that came to mind after discussing religion with PCP.

There is a difference between the metaphorical interpretation of scripture from Moderate non-literalism and the metaphorical interpretation of scripture from sophisticated non-literalism.

The Moderate non-literalism is the result of Christians who don't have a very well thought out position and simply say, "well, I don't believe all that crazy stuff, it's just a metaphor." Or also a result of picking and choosing and ignoring the parts they don't like.

Sophisticated non-literalism is a position which arises when one is already philosophically minded, and probably well-versed in literature and history. This person has arrived at an understanding which is profound and not only more practical, but also far more fascinating and agreeable.

In the video linked is Bishop John Shelby Spong who is a good example of sophisticated non-literalism. He's also the guy in the video about exposing religion, etc. seen in this thread: http://www.debate.org...
"We must raise the standard of the Old, free, decentralized, and strictly limited Republic."
-- Murray Rothbard

"The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended."
-- Frederic Bastiat
PARADIGM_L0ST
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3/20/2012 3:07:02 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
In the video linked is Bishop John Shelby Spong who is a good example of sophisticated non-literalism. He's also the guy in the video about exposing religion, etc.:

There's only a handful of Spong's in this world... The bulk of the United States is made up of dogmatic Catholics and Protestant dispensationalists who want to (as has been pointed out) "comport" the bible with the Constitution and to make creationism a mandatory educational requirement.

I go to a Christian university and there's only one theologian who aligns more with Spong. The rest are dogmatic dispensationalists.
"Have you ever considered suicide? If not, please do." -- Mouthwash (to Inferno)
XDebatorX
Posts: 59
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3/20/2012 3:07:24 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Whether a specific verse anywhere in any religious book is metaphorical or not one has to believe in it and take it seriously. How can anyone truly believe a religion if they disregard certain verses and accept certain verses, are you saying God was wrong in a verse?!

If one disregards verses they either have to believe their book has mistakes or the God they believe in is imperfect! So a believer of any religion has to accept all the verses of the scriptures, period.
GeoLaureate8
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3/20/2012 3:14:39 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 3/20/2012 3:07:24 PM, XDebatorX wrote:
Whether a specific verse anywhere in any religious book is metaphorical or not one has to believe in it and take it seriously. How can anyone truly believe a religion if they disregard certain verses and accept certain verses, are you saying God was wrong in a verse?!

1. I'm a Buddhist, I don't believe in God.

2. Those sophisticated non-literalists I'm referring to do not believe God was wrong in a verse, but rather understand that the Bible was written by man in a language not spoken by Jesus 40-70 years after the fact. Watch the video I posted and you'll completely change your mind.

If one disregards verses they either have to believe their book has mistakes or the God they believe in is imperfect!

Well then they accept that their book has mistakes.

So a believer of any religion has to accept all the verses of the scriptures, period.

False.
"We must raise the standard of the Old, free, decentralized, and strictly limited Republic."
-- Murray Rothbard

"The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended."
-- Frederic Bastiat
PARADIGM_L0ST
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3/20/2012 3:22:25 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 3/20/2012 3:07:24 PM, XDebatorX wrote:
Whether a specific verse anywhere in any religious book is metaphorical or not one has to believe in it and take it seriously. How can anyone truly believe a religion if they disregard certain verses and accept certain verses, are you saying God was wrong in a verse?!

If one disregards verses they either have to believe their book has mistakes or the God they believe in is imperfect! So a believer of any religion has to accept all the verses of the scriptures, period.:

Not necessarily. One has to pay attention to modes of speech in the text itself. There's no way anyone should assume that the Song of Songs is designed to be a literal piece versus being an allegory. Of course, why some people think Genesis is a literary piece indicative of literalism is anyone's guess. It reads like a fireside story designed to teach a moral/philosophy... but so many people treat it as if people living to be 900 years old, wrestling with angels, talking snakes, etc was supposed to be taken seriously.
"Have you ever considered suicide? If not, please do." -- Mouthwash (to Inferno)
XDebatorX
Posts: 59
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3/20/2012 4:47:25 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Buddhism isn't really a religion because it doesn't answer the questions of God and the origins of the universe which is major. It is more of a philosophy, moral code or a way to live your life rather than a religion.

Religion: a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
http://dictionary.reference.com...
XDebatorX
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3/20/2012 4:53:12 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 3/20/2012 3:22:25 PM, PARADIGM_L0ST wrote:

Not necessarily. One has to pay attention to modes of speech in the text itself. There's no way anyone should assume that the Song of Songs is designed to be a literal piece versus being an allegory. Of course, why some people think Genesis is a literary piece indicative of literalism is anyone's guess. It reads like a fireside story designed to teach a moral/philosophy... but so many people treat it as if people living to be 900 years old, wrestling with angels, talking snakes, etc was supposed to be taken seriously.

A true Chrisitan has to believe the Bible's creation story. It specifically says

==Book of Genesis Chapter 3 Verses 1-4==
"Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:"

If a Christian disreagrds these verses they either have to say the Bible contains error, that God is wrong, or God was being crazy in these verses which means they believe God is imperfect. This is very simple...
http://kingjamesbible.com...
XDebatorX
Posts: 59
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3/20/2012 4:55:34 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
It's a different thing when people say to not take something literally these days. Nowadays to not take literally means to not take seriously...
XDebatorX
Posts: 59
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3/20/2012 5:01:54 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 3/20/2012 3:14:39 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:

So a believer of any religion has to accept all the verses of the scriptures, period.

False.

Yes this is true, a true believer of any religion has to accept all the verses of their sacred scripture. If they do not accept any verse then they think it is flawed. If they think a verse is flawed then they believe their scripture is flawed. This then makes the religion flawed even it is one verse. Who then would follow a flawed religion??

This is simple, for example you are a Buddhist. If you don't think all of Gautama Buddha's teachings are perfect or that one or two should not be followed than you don't have a perfect religion. If you don't have a perfect religion, why do you follow it is the simple question...
GeoLaureate8
Posts: 12,252
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3/20/2012 5:09:18 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 3/20/2012 4:47:25 PM, XDebatorX wrote:
Buddhism isn't really a religion because it doesn't answer the questions of God

Utterly false. How are you going to tell me, a Buddhist, and think that you're right? You think I'm some uneducated religious adherent? I've read the scriptures, learned from the scholars, the Dalai Lama, and philosophers, and taken college courses on religion and philosophy.

The Buddha addressed the subject of God multiple times (and no, I'm not talking about "devas" and "gods").

See here: http://www.debate.org... (Post #3)

and the origins of the universe which is major.

Once again, utterly false. The Buddha did in fact discuss the origins of the Universe.

http://www.debate.org...

It is more of a philosophy, moral code or a way to live your life rather than a religion.

A moral code? No, that's merely a small part of it. It is both a philosophy and a religion.

Religion: a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe,

Uh, how does Buddhism not cover this? This is precisely what Buddhism comes face to face with and answers.

especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies,

Notice the word "especially." It's not a requirement that there be creations and superhuman agencies.

usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
http://dictionary.reference.com...

Yes. Buddhism has many practitioners who are devoted. Some have "ritual" observances. And yes, there is a moral code.
"We must raise the standard of the Old, free, decentralized, and strictly limited Republic."
-- Murray Rothbard

"The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended."
-- Frederic Bastiat
GeoLaureate8
Posts: 12,252
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3/20/2012 5:30:03 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 3/20/2012 4:55:34 PM, XDebatorX wrote:
It's a different thing when people say to not take something literally these days. Nowadays to not take literally means to not take seriously...

I agree. Which is why I made this thread. The majority of people who claim to take the Bible metaphorically simply don't take it seriously. But there are some who are self-identified Christians, but take a more sophisticated interpretation of the scriptures and theology.

At 3/20/2012 5:01:54 PM, XDebatorX wrote:
Yes this is true, a true believer of any religion has to accept all the verses of their sacred scripture. If they do not accept any verse then they think it is flawed. If they think a verse is flawed then they believe their scripture is flawed. This then makes the religion flawed even it is one verse. Who then would follow a flawed religion??

Well, you're obviously not accepting the whole package so you're only a Christian in some regards. Or perhaps you're a Christian in the true sense of the word. Both are possible. What if the true meaning of Christian wasn't someone who followed their text down to the letter, but understood the deeper meaning and understanding of Jesus' message. A message which has been distorted by the church.

For my own part, I accept about 90% of Buddhist doctrine and scripture. But I only I identify as Buddhist for descriptive reasons and to paint a concise picture of what my views are. However, I have an individual philosophy that is my own. It heavily incorporates Buddhist philosophy which I have deemed to be true and reasonable, and some fascinating. However, there are others who have an individual philosophy, but they heavily draw from Christian doctrine, but don't accept every letter of it. Call me a true Buddhist or not, I don't care, but I know where I stand.

This is simple, for example you are a Buddhist. If you don't think all of Gautama Buddha's teachings are perfect or that one or two should not be followed than you don't have a perfect religion.

The Buddha: "Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it."
[Kalama Sutta]

If you don't have a perfect religion, why do you follow it is the simple question...

The Buddha: "My teaching is not a dogma or a doctrine, but no doubt some people will take it as such. I must state clearly that my teaching is a method to experience reality and not reality itself, just as a finger pointing at the moon is not the moon itself. An intelligent person makes use of the finger to see the moon. A person who only looks at the finger and mistakes it for the moon will never see the real moon. My teaching is a means of practice, not something to hold onto or worship. My teaching is like a raft used to cross the river. Only a fool would carry the raft around after he had already reached the other shore, the shore of liberation."
"We must raise the standard of the Old, free, decentralized, and strictly limited Republic."
-- Murray Rothbard

"The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is, not to be skillfully attacked, but to be ineptly defended."
-- Frederic Bastiat
PARADIGM_L0ST
Posts: 6,958
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3/20/2012 5:53:13 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
If a Christian disreagrds these verses they either have to say the Bible contains error, that God is wrong, or God was being crazy in these verses which means they believe God is imperfect. This is very simple...:

Why couldn't it simply be allegorical? Do you believe Jesus' parables were designed to be taken literally or do you think there was a greater philosophical point behind it? Why couldn't the same be said of, say, Genesis?
"Have you ever considered suicide? If not, please do." -- Mouthwash (to Inferno)
XDebatorX
Posts: 59
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3/20/2012 6:42:15 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 3/20/2012 5:30:03 PM, GeoLaureate8 wrote:

Well, you're obviously not accepting the whole package so you're only a Christian in some regards. Or perhaps you're a Christian in the true sense of the word. Both are possible. What if the true meaning of Christian wasn't someone who followed their text down to the letter, but understood the deeper meaning and understanding of Jesus' message. A message which has been distorted by the church.

For my own part, I accept about 90% of Buddhist doctrine and scripture. But I only I identify as Buddhist for descriptive reasons and to paint a concise picture of what my views are. However, I have an individual philosophy that is my own. It heavily incorporates Buddhist philosophy which I have deemed to be true and reasonable, and some fascinating. However, there are others who have an individual philosophy, but they heavily draw from Christian doctrine, but don't accept every letter of it. Call me a true Buddhist or not, I don't care, but I know where I stand.

This is simple, for example you are a Buddhist. If you don't think all of Gautama Buddha's teachings are perfect or that one or two should not be followed than you don't have a perfect religion.

The Buddha: "Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it."
[Kalama Sutta]


If you don't have a perfect religion, why do you follow it is the simple question...

The Buddha: "My teaching is not a dogma or a doctrine, but no doubt some people will take it as such. I must state clearly that my teaching is a method to experience reality and not reality itself, just as a finger pointing at the moon is not the moon itself. An intelligent person makes use of the finger to see the moon. A person who only looks at the finger and mistakes it for the moon will never see the real moon. My teaching is a means of practice, not something to hold onto or worship. My teaching is like a raft used to cross the river. Only a fool would carry the raft around after he had already reached the other shore, the shore of liberation."

Oh I understand now. Buddhism doesn't have a doctrine that you must follow but a tool, a guide, a way to live your life. Thanks for solidifying my convictions about Buddhism. No, I do think you are a true Buddhist because Buddha himself said not to worship him or follow his teachings completely and 100%.

I agree with some of the ideas of the Middle path in Buddhism. For example, non-extremism where your don't over indulge or under induldge is a good concept. This is also in Islam. For example:

The Quran says:

==Surah Al Araf Chapter 7 verse 31==
"O Children of Adam! wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters."
"And eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allaah) likes not Al-Musrifoon (those who waste by extravagance)"
http://scholaris.com...

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
"The son of Adam does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach; for the son of Adam a few mouthfuls are sufficient to keep his back straight. If you must fill it, then one-third for food, one-third for drink and one-third for air."
Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2380; Ibn Maajah, 3349. Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 1939).